Third Day, Fifthmonth, Year 356
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Chapter 1: The Battle of Palanthas
Trumpets blared from the High Clerist Tower, blasting starkly across the still, solemn dawn. Knights of Solamnia thought of their loved ones, tightening their grips on the hilts of their swords, bracing for the dragonfear to sweep over them. The Blue Lady’s forces had been sighted in the skies to the south, approaching on the horizon. The city of Palanthas, the “Jewel of Solamnia”, was under attack.
The High Clerist Tower was sacked in a single day. The outnumbered contingent of knights laid down their lives to defend it, a tribute to the hero Sturm Brightblade who had done the same, four years prior. Others retreated, galloping back through the city gates of Palanthas bloodied and with heads sagging in shame, raggedly leaning from their horses, the gates slamming shut behind them to make way for the hasty preparations of the city’s last stand.
The Blue Lady’s army penetrated those gates the following morning, breeching the city proper. At the vanguard of the assault was Lord Soth. The death knight and his Reaper Army swept through the city gates and into the vulnerable heart of Palanthas, shriveling the souls of all who laid eyes on them. Livestock dropped dead where they passed. Veteran knights threw down their swords and shields and ran screaming for their lives. The Blue Lady’s secret weapon, Lord Soth and his Reaper Army had been - up until now - held in reserve, a testament to Lord Kitiara’s remarkable military command.
Blotting out the sun, a flying citadel came to hover low in the sky over the city, its shadow creeping over the last rays of hope. Blue dragons spread panic, blasting the sprawling, majestic architecture to rubble with their lightning breath. Draconians rained from the sky, leaping from the citadel to glide down and form ranks of roving patrols in the city streets.
The army of the Blue Lady was fiercely loyal to its commander, and fought as such. Well-paid and highly disciplined, its ranks were made up of experienced veterans of the former Blue Dragonarmy, with many victories under its wing. Residents of Palanthas cowered in their homes and prayed, or ran wildly through the streets trying to reach the docks. Others weeped in alleys. Small contingents of Solamnic Knights made stand after stand, forced to retreat again and again. Soon, all that would be left at their backs was the sea.
A lone Solamnic Knight rushed through an alley in the chaos, searching for allies. A blasted tower, blown apart by blue dragon breath, had rained down marble boulders on the rest of his contingent, decimating it, trapping his fellow knights under a ton of rubble. Whether by sheer chance, or by will of the gods, Sir Darvig Squireson was still alive.
There are times when retreat from battle is, in the very end, the wisest choice. If there are no more knights left alive to fight, then the war is lost!
The words of his father, Lord Knight Dero Squireson of Solanthus. Sir Darvig remembered those words now, as the prospects of defending the city grew bleak. The young Knight of the Crown had been present at the city gates, just hours ago, when Lord Soth had broken through, a scene that would forever haunt his days as well as his nights.
Lord Soth, Knight of the Black Rose, mounted upon a nightmare with flaming eyes and hooves, rode straight for the gates...then stopped before them.
“Lord of Palanthas,” called the death knight, voice hollow, as if it had just leaked out of the nearest coffin.
“Surrender your city to Lord Kitiara. Give her the keys to the Tower of High Sorcery, name her the ruler of Palanthas, and you may live on in peace. Your citizens will be spared their lives, and your city will be spared destruction.”
Lord Amothus stood upon the wall above. Few present could bear to look upon Lord Soth, eyes averted at their feet. But the Lord of Palanthas met the gaze of the Knight of the Black Rose, though his mouth was parched. He cleared his throat, and swallowed dryly.
“We will buy neither peace nor beauty at the price of our freedom,” he called, mustering conviction.
“Then buy it at the price of your lives!” Lord Soth ushered words of magic. The city gates froze over with a sheen of ice, and brave men shriveled. The gates blasted open in a wave of cold from beyond the grave. Lord Soth’s minions materialized, seemingly from thin air, charging into the city.
Sir Darvig had run for his life, as many knights had. His contingent had regrouped shortly after, mustering in the Temple District near the Great Library, before the blasted temple had fallen and crushed them. The immense blue dragon responsible stuck around, circling for another pass. Darvig hustled across the open square, making for an alley, calling and rallying a few others caught out in the open, calling on them to take cover from the marauding dragon. One of them was striking. When he first saw her, Sir Darvig thought her to be the Golden General herself. She wore gleaming dragonmetal armor, and possessed the sort of ethereal beauty only attainable by elves, who were said to live for all eternity, their beauty everlasting. But when Darvig saw that the elf was alone and not accompanied by twenty gold and silver dragons, his hopes sprung a leak, deflating. She was alone, like him.
The two had retreated into the alley together, followed by a dwarf and a kender that had fallen in behind them. The dwarf had been cursing loudly, swearing various oaths to Reorx that I have to leave out because they're mostly unprintable in a respectable, family tale such as this. The kender, looking to enter the Great Library, which seemed to be closed today for some reason, had been waiting nearby for a blue dragon to come and blast open the sealed doors. Why the Great Library was closed today, Echo could not imagine. Finally giving up since there were so many other exciting things happening, the kender quickly tagged along with the knight, elf, and dwarf running into an alley.
Cariannan Oakleaf, the wearer of the dragonmetal armor, had finally reached Palanthas a few days ago. The elf, having come all the way from Silvanesti, had come for a singular purpose - and that purpose had nothing to do with being caught in the middle of a war of humans. She had been seeking her brother, an Aesthetic of the Great Library. She had traveled all this way to tell him that Silvanesti was free of Lorac’s Nightmare. He could come home. Cariannan had spoken to one of the Aesthetics...Bertrem, was his name. Bertrem had turned white as egg when Cariannan had mentioned her brother’s name to him. She soon learned that her brother had fled a month prior, after committing some sort of unthinkable and outright criminal act. No one knew where he had gone. Furious, Cariannan had demanded to see Astinus, but was declined by a meek but resolute Bertrem. Astinus had sealed himself into his chambers. He was not to be disturbed.
Last edited by Bong Bellowsmoke; 03-15-2016 at 07:20 PM.
The Red Condor shrieked at Sir Darvig in full wrath. Wings flapped storms of fire across the sky. "The Mage-God grows in power swifter than it appears to Paladine. This I know. A warning," Sargonnas told Darvigl, "for you to give to Paladine in your prayers."
“I will,” Darvig uttered.