Nightblades & Mermaids
Shona peeked out through the window from her room at the Sapphire Sand Inn, overlooking the street below. Emerald Mermaid Supplies, near the warehouse district, could be seen under the crimson light of the Red Moon. There was candlelight flickering from within. Amroh Oakseed, the supply shop's owner, was who Shona was wary of. An Elf who, after enduring centuries of sailing the breadth of Ansalon's oceans and seas as a veteran mariner, was someone in this town who had quite a watchful eye.
There was flickering light coming from his shop. Likely he was home. Good. Dark, dusky Kalaman was silent tonight, except for the waves of the Turbidus Ocean crashing into what was left of the docks of the port town. The ragged flags of Castle Kalaman blew listlessly in the salty wind. The castle that towered over the town from the center of the city, it was indeed elegant and ancient, comprised of sweeping parapets, buttressed walls, and slender golden spires reaching skyward. Its courtyard still contained a few of the ancient marble statues that had survived the last four months, and was steeped in the gray, drab, shadow of the cursed forest of Nightlund south of the town. There appeared to be no fuss in or around Castle Kalaman, Shona saw. The rest of the buildings in Kalaman were steeped in darkness as well. Mer-Kane Maps was quiet. The Open Air Market was quiet, except for some scrounging gully dwarves. Business seemed as usual, for the late hour. Shona let the shutter close again, softly with her fingers, alone in her darkened room. She had just succeeded in her assignment tonight, her first successful kill as a Nightblade.
Shona looked down at the weapon that had done her dirty work, now cleaned of blood. The nightblade was the weapon of all in her guild, and upon acceptance into the fold, was granted one. Rumors were amuck about who created them, for they were powerfully enchanted blades. Some claimed it was Lord Soth. Others claimed the blades were the razor sharp fingernails of Zeboim, the spiteful sea goddess. The Gnomish Committee on Interstellar Metallurgy was still in debate, but a growing consensus believed they were swords from outer space.
Shona had deduced that it was a Black Robed wizard that created nightblades for the guild, based on what she'd pieced together from other members. The craftsmanship of the short sword was finer than any blade Shona had ever seen. Not only that, it was said to be made of starmetal, the rarest of metals known to mortals, even more scarce than the dragonmetal used to forge dragonlances. It was also harder, sharper, and lighter than any sword she'd ever gripped. Its blade had a shadowy-blue tint, a strange metal indeed. She'd been training with the sword for months and months, before the Nightblades would send her on her first assignment. Her work done, she was now free to lay low in Kalaman, or to appear locally to the handful of people she had met around town, so as to not appear suspicious. These included Amroh, and the kind Shala Mer-Kane, owner of Mer-Kane Maps. Through generations of Mer-Kanes, the shop persevered, the longest-running business in Kalaman. Inside the cramped shop was a treasury of local and far-flung cartography - diagrams of famous or infamous towers across Ansalon and other architectural wonders, illustrations of mountain ranges and ancient cities, nautical charts and an unfathomable amount of other charts covering walls and ceiling alike in exquisite calligraphy. All Shona need do now is report back to Neraka of her success. The journey would be long, many weeks. The guild would be pleased and she would be well compensated. Afterall, Shona had just assassinated Lord Genton, Ruler of Kalaman, in his bed as he slept in Castle Kalaman, and had escaped back to her inn room without leaving a trace.
Shona knew not what Lord Genton had done wrong, or why he was to be assassinated. During the end of the War of the Lance some four years ago, Shona was not yet of age to go to war with Takhisis's Dragonarmies, Flying Citadels, and draconians as Lord Ariakas launched his invasion from Neraka to conquer all of Ansalon. The War of the Lance had been lost, however, when the Golden General - said to be an Elf of blonde curly locks and supernatural beauty - rallied defeated armies of Solamnic Knights and other members of the Whitestone Council, while gold and silver dragons entered the war in full force. The most exceptional military commander of Takhisis's dragonarmies, however, survived the war.
Dragon Highlord Kitiara Uth Matar, also known as The Blue Lady, had regathered the largely successful Blue Wing in Sanction, along with defeated remnants of other branches of the Dragonarmies. Dragons and Draconians alike licked their wounds. Over the last four years, as Shona became of age to fight and begin training in her guild, The Blue Lady contracted the Nightblades into her service. Though one might call a Nightblade a Dark Knight, truly, they were not Dark Knights. Instead they were invisible, virtually unknown and unheard of.
The Blue Lady had her sights set on Palanthas, the "Jewel of Solamnia", as her first conquest, with Lord Soth and his 13 banshees in bone chariots hauled by wyverns, and 13 skeletal warriors upon nightmarish horses, as her vanguard. She had previously kept what was known as The Reaper Army in secret reserve, a testament to her remarkable military instincts. Now, the mere presence of Lord Soth at the gates of the High Clerist Tower would cause even the bravest of Solamnic Knights to shrivel, and Lord Amothus of Palanthas. Soth would issue Kitiara's terms for surrender as one of the last remaining Flying Citadels came to hover over the city, ready to rain draconians by the thousands off its edges to glide down into the city streets, licking their poisonous saliva onto their short swords, completely bypassing the defenses of Palanthas's city walls and the High Clerist Tower that defended Palanthas from the pass through the mountains some twenty miles south. Meanwhile, the mighty Blue Wing would be coming from the south, east, and west, and remnants of the Black Wing would harry Palanthas's port on its northern side, the Bay of Branchala, to prevent escape from the city by ship.
It made sense to Shona why Lord Genton of Kalaman would be assassinated, when she thought of the broader scheme of The Blue Lady's tactics. Kalaman was a vital port town. One who controlled Kalaman controlled the only shipping lane from Eastern Ansalon - Neraka, Kern, Nordmaar, the Blood Sea Isles, The Dairly Plains and Flotsam region, Khur, Balifor, and the Silvanesti Forest, to Western Ansalon - Palanthas, the numerous city-states of Solamnia, Northern & Southern Ergoth, Abanasinia, Lemish, Sancrist, Kharolis and the Tarsis region, Ice Mountain Bay, and the Qualinesti Forest. That was power. The Blue Lady's Army would be focused on conquest of other lands and would meet resistance. The assassination of Lord Genton would cause disarray in Kalaman, but a puppet replacement would soon bring coin and momentum to the Blue Lady's War, most likely an aurak draconian in disguise as Lord Genton.
Launching from Sanction, The Blue Lady's Army had taken flight to conquer Palanthas, by surrender or by force. That had been four months ago, and none of it seemed to matter now. None of it. Shona retreated to sit on the edge of her bed and reflect.
About four days after the Blue Lady's departure from Sanction, Shona noticed the constellation of the Five-Headed Dragon, the Queen of Darkness, was fading in Krynn's night sky. In its vast void, a single New Star, brighter than any other in the sky, blazed palpably over Ansalon. At its appearance, Shona had been frightened to the core of her being, running blindly to escape the intense power of the New Star. She had left the city of Neraka by that time, but had been navigating the long journey through the mountains in the direction of Kalaman on her first assignment. When she had at last gathered her wits on the Night of the New Star, she was thoroughly lost in the mountains surrounding Neraka, adding weeks to her journey.
Shona had then navigated the Forest of Lahue - said to be ruled by a green dragon named Fume - when a second New Star appeared in the night sky near the first. Again, that night, she had fled for her life from the Twin Stars staring down at her like the searing eyes of a god.
Crossing the thin strip of land with the treacherous bogs of Estwilde to her south and the Turbidous Ocean to her north, the Night of the Third Star came. Again, Shona buckled under the power and ran in fear for anywhere with her heart in her throat. Something apocalyptic was happening.
Rumors were rampant since she'd arrived in Kalaman a week ago, giving herself time to thoroughly stake out Castle Kalaman from the window of her inn room. "The end is coming!" "The Final Volume portends it!" "A Magestorm has destroyed the hamlet of Ohme!" "Fizban's angry! Palanthas is a city of ghosts!" More and more ships were limping, half-sunken, into Kalaman Harbor. More and more starving refugees were flocking from nearby villages to the relative safety of Kalaman, clinging to their children and hope. More and more clerics of the death god Chemosh labored about the town to collect the dead and unceremoniously pile them into carts swarming with flies. Earlier in the day, Shona had witnessed a red-haired kender harassing the hooded black-cloaked clerics wearing masks of yellowed goat skulls that covered their faces.
"Raistlin's a god now too you know! All he has to do is FIREBALL Chemosh and you're all TOAST!!" the kender had taunted, in the process of slinging a rotten plum at the grim reapers with her hoopak. The plum missed and crashed through a window to hit and slime a dwarven blacksmith on his sweaty hot forehead as he worked. Much cursing ensued in the aftermath.
The name Raistlin had been a household name among most folk in Ansalon for a few years now. He was dubbed a "Hero of the Lance". The name Raistlin Majere was associated with others who had made a name for themselves during the War of the Lance, like his twin brother Caramon Majere, Tanis Half-Elven, Sturm Brightblade, the elf Alhana Starbreeze, the dwarf Flint Fireforge, the plainswoman Goldmoon, and others, even a kender named Tasslehoff Burrfoot.
Shona felt feint, and scooted herself onto her bed further, nightblade beside her. What was happening to the world? There were too many rumors and it was difficult to decide what to believe and what not to. Should she even risk traveling alone all the way back to Neraka to report the successful outcome of her assignment? Afterall, her sword was hers, now. She'd been given it, but she'd earned it tonight. Its hilt lie in her grip as she thought. If anyone in Kalaman might know something of fact useful to her, it might be Amroh, perhaps, or even better, Shala Mer-Kane. Shala was keen of mind, and much kinder than the sometimes suspicious Elf. Shona leaned into her pillow with sword still in hand.
She would sleep on it.
take it away Cat! Feel free to start with Shona waking in the morning if you like, let me know something she wants to do muahahaha
Last edited by Bong Bellowsmoke; 11-13-2016 at 10:59 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.