_It’s a bright and sunny day. It had stormed the night before, and the wind tosses the ocean’s waves onto the shore relentlessly, but on dry land it is peaceful and calming.
Iriai Roiyaru, a Dragon Mage of the Saurian tribe from Haz’Kodur, is walking along the beach. It is the first time she’s ever seen the ocean, let alone this much water in one place, stretching on as far as the eye can see.
She wandered here from her home a few months ago, passing through the city of Tuo’Rath, then west over the mountains to the merchant city of Portsmouth, where she spent the past few days sight seeing.
The city is a wonderful place, many sights and smells foreign to her, quite different from her home in the volcanic mountain in the court of the Dragon Lord. But the city is not all peaceful. Using the art of Enchantment, her mind has flitted from place to place and found many dark fears; fears of invasion.
Even now, walking along the beach of the harbor, she could see the square white sails of the Atlantican ships, just sitting still in the bay, broadsides aimed at the town. She had picked a poor time indeed to leave home.
The storm last night had crashed a ship against the reef, and today its cargo and debris is carried up onto the shore by the waves. Among them, she finds the figure of a man, lying prone in the sand. He is dressed in traveler’s clothes and leather armor, and carries two swords in his belt._
“Ok lets see what happened last night….
I beat up that barbarian dude who tried to have his way with his new wife.Who was 14.
I helped her escape hardship…
Saw some racists beat on some elfs…
Beat up racists…
Ran from soldiers…
Hid from soldiers…
Found ten crowns in a bag in the forest…
escaped goblin trap…
snuck onto a boat…
Yup….thats when I got here in the sand…facedown…unconcious…Some storm…happened…or whatever I was asleep."
He got up.He looked around.He saw a saurian female and decided to got talk to her and make sense of what happened.
“Hey…where is this place?”
Iriai Royaru: Iriai looked at the man quizzically. “You’re one the western coast of Ravenwood.” she said, with a slight strange accent. “How’d you come to be here?” she asked.
Joseph: “No idea…but I shall be on my way.Do you know of any nearby towns?I must get to a city as soon as I can.”A nervousness in his voice.
Up the beach to the north you can see the walled city, Portsmouth. Debris clutters the sandy shore, and weaving their way through the wreckage are three men, being pursued by armed soldiers. You hear one of the soldiers call out “Stop them!”, and Joseph spots a lifeboat hidden nearby. The men seem to be running for it.
“We gotta help!”
Joseph engages the men.Finding out they are elves he lets them pass and talks to the soldiers.
“What are you doing?!”
_The three men reach the boat and shove off into the bay, rowing quickly, not along the shore toward the harbor opening, but toward one of the military boats in the middle of the harbor. The soldiers stop on the water’s edge, and the captain storms over to you. “You fool! Why did you let them escape? Those so-called elves were the Atlantican ambassador and his spies! Now that they’ve escaped, those ships in the harbor can begin barraging the town with impunity. Atlantica has declared war on the entire continent of Ravenwood!”
Walking over, the second in command explains further.
“You see, one of the Ambassador’s men is an illusionist, though, not a very good one. he was able to change their physical appearance to look like elves, but not their clothes. That’s how we spotted them.”_
Iriai: “Skilled in the art of Enchantment no doubt.” said Iriai, who had come up while they were talking. She turned to one of the soldiers, consumed in curiosity. “What is Atlantica?” she asked.
Joseph: “Oops my bad.Its um…a promise I made to a friend of mine.And I am with her…although I can’t say the name is unfamilar to me I am unfamilar with its origin.”
_The captain of the guard sputters and bellows a few more unintelligible phrases, including a few insults, before being gently encouraged to go rally the men by his lieutenant.
The lieutenant turns to you, arching his neck to look up at Iriai. “The royal city of Atlantica is that island out there.” He said, pointing out to the middle of the harbor opening at a collection of high walls and towers that seem to rise out of the sea. “They’ve taken it upon themselves to police these waters, but also enforce law here in Ravenwood as well, despite the existence of independent city states and provinces. They claim that there’s been an unbalance of power and are declaring war against the non-human races on this continent, and will roll right over anyone that stands in their way. We’ll be doing what we can to defend the town, but many civilians are going to leave, heading east over the mountains to the city of Tuo’Rath. They need to be warned that Atlantica is on the warpath.”
The lieutenant pauses for a second, looking the two of you over. “Say… you two look like able bodied youths, i have a proposition for you. Would you please escort our refugees to Tuo’Rath? There’s money in it for you. We need all the trained soldiers here to defend the city, but there are wild creatures and bandits along the road, they’ll need some looking after. What do you say? Will you do it?”_
Iriai: Nonhuman races….That means they’ll be after saurians too! thought Iriai. “I’ll do it.” she agreed almost immediately.
Joseph: “This is the first steps of adventure.It will be the first steps on the battlefield and the last steps when I reach my grave.Thats an old saying amongst hitchhikers who are given a job.It is said saying it will bring wealth and good tidings to the adventurer.It also means yes.”
Joseph stretched for a sec.
“Where are these people?I want to get started right away.”
The lieutenant scribbles a quick note on two pieces of paper and seals them with his signet ring, handing the letters to Joseph and Iriai. Pointing to the east side of the city he says: “Give these letters to the headmaster of the caravan, they will instruct him about your duties and payment.” Then he ran off to join his cohorts.
Joseph: “Come on!Oh by the way….I am Joseph Sarrows.”
Joseph did a small bow.
“What is your name?”
Iriai: “Iriai Roiyaru.” said the white saurian, her attention one the letter that had been handed to her a moment before. The paper was a creamy white with intricate designs on it, and the signet seal was red. “Alright, let’s go.” she said, twirling her quarterstaff and making the air thrum.
_As you round the corner of the southern wall you see a stream of wagons, horses, oxen, people, and various small animals and cattle pouring from the east gate along the main road.
You find a man waving the people along, he seems to have an air of authority, despite being of slightly portly build and wearing workman’s clothing and a broad rimmed straw hat.
As you draw near, he spots you and leaves the direction of traffic to one of his hired men. “Well, what have we here? A saurian and a human? Tell me lad, did this one fly you over the bay and drop you in? You look barely drier than seaweed!”
He chews on a stem of hay lazily while he waits for your response, but hefts a weighty hammer over his shoulder with considerable ease._
Iriai glared at the man coldly. “I did not! I found him on the beach!” she said. Then she glanced at the hammer, and made a mental note to keep an eye on it, in case it’s owner decided to swing it.
“And even if she did I like swimming I am young after all…tell me what time is it? It is adventure time my good man and thus we must go grab our friends and go to very distant lands so I bid you farewell.”
_The headmaster chuckles and his belly jiggles slightly and the tip of the hay sticking out of his mouth bobs up and down.
“You’ve got a lot of spirit, the two of you. What can I do for you?”_
Joseph: “We are here to help the refugees!My partner here has a signed order to prove it.She will just give that to you.”
_The headmaster accepts the letters and looks at them a second. “Ah, the lieutenant’s seal.”
Opening them, he reads the lieutenant’s hastily scribbled message and purses his lips. “Alright, that will do well enough i suppose. We’d been hoping for more skilled fighters to accompany us. Looks like you’re to be paid in full upon our safely reaching Tuo’Rath.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve been down this road before, except perhaps the lady here. It’s a day’s journey to the town of Stromburgh, we’ll be stopping there for the night. After that it’s a day’s journey up the Worldspine Mountain range, and another day’s journey down again, with only half a day between the mountains and Tuo’Rath. If all goes well, we should be able to make it there by noon on the fourth day.”
Looking behind him, he sees the last wagon pull away from the city, and the gates slam shut. “Alright! Looks like we’re off! Come get acquainted with some of the other guards as we travel.”
As you move away from the city, the sound of distant cannons echo across the water and over the city like rolling thunder. Luckily they were still to far away to hit the town, but that would change all too soon. A nearby refugee gasps, “we left just in time!”_
_You spot a young man, average height and build, moving down the caravan toward the two of you. His sword is in its sheathe, but his shield is on his arm. His wavy hair is tossed in the light breeze and a quick grin flashes across his face, but eyes retain a hint of alertness. You notice every few steps he takes he glances with one eye off to the south.
“You two must be the additional recruits! Welcome to our little tea party. My name is Peregrinus, and i’ll be your host this evening. Right this way ladies and gentlemen!” he says in a joking tone, and turns to keep up with the caravan, glancing over his shoulder to make sure you are keeping up._
Iriai: Iriai Was stunned by what happened. Everyone here might have been killed if they had stay for a few minutes more! she thought. She looked up when she saw Peregrinus walking up to them. She didn’t say anything, and wondered why he kept glancing Southward.
_the caravan proceeded to the east along the main road for almost an hour without incident, the constant sound of cannon fire echoing behind you. Looking back at the town, you see the blue glow of magic flashing periodically, it seems to coincide with the cannon fire as it hits the city.
As you march onward, glancing curiously toward the south you see occasional poofs of dust that erupt from the grassy plane, though you cannot see what is causing them.
Around midday, the report of cannon fire is reduced to mere rumbling in the distance, and the Worldspine Mountains loom before you, dark and misty on the eastern horizon. At their base, you see the dark green of a forest peeking into sight. Having come this way before, Iriai knows that the village of Stromburgh is there on the edge of the forest, and the caravan should reach it safely by noon the next day, if all goes well.
Unfortunately, it does not. Suddenly, two clouds of dirt and grass erupt from the earth next to the caravan. As the smoke clears, you see two, giant worm like creatures towering 35 feet over the road, one on each side. Their hides are tough and leathery, their backs covered in thick chitinous carapace, and their heads, eyeless gaping maws of teeth._
Peregrinus readies his sword and shield, shouting: “it’s the Terra Wurmlings! Quickly! They’ll eat the cattle!”
Joseph attempts a lunging attack.
The giant wurmling reels and thrashes about from the deep gashes inflicted by your short swords. It attempts to retaliate, lunging with its circular mouth to eat you, but misses.
Iriai made a flying rush at the huge worm and struck it across the face with her quarterstaff, manipulating the air to make it strike harder.
_Iriai’s charged attack knocks the wurmling’s head backward, slamming it into the ground. It’s body goes slack and stops moving.
The second Terra Wurmling hisses angrily at its mate being killed. Viciously, it retaliates against Iriai. Lashing out swiftly, it crushes her body in the maelstrom of her teeth.
Peregrinus sees Iriai’s bloodied body in the teeth of the monster and shouts: “No!”
Twirling his sword over his head, Peregrinus hacks his broadsword into the side of the creature with all his might, a fiery light in his eyes.
Over the next hill, a wingless Saurian appears running in the caravan’s direction. He has golden scales, short blunt horns, and is dressed in orange robes, a sword in one hand, and a staff in the other. An intent look is in his eyes, and you can see that his right hand glows with magic._
Iriai screamed in pain and rage at the crushing attack. She suddenly stopped when the gold saurian ran towards them.
_As the golden saurian drew close to the creature, he raised his hand. The air around his sword began to ripple and bubble, then the air seemed to draw close around the blade of the weapon as he aimed it at the wurmling, letting loose a jolting of invisible energy that hit the creature with such force that its body was knocked back so hard you could hear its spine snap.
Standing over Iriai, the gold saurian offers his hand to her.
The daughter of the great Dunadon? Fancy meeting you here. Come, let’s get you patched up, my lady.
Now that he stands closer, Iriai recognizes him as one of her father’s primary pupils. Though he never held any office of importance, you remember your father spending much time with him and Acting Primarch Scurdon.
The caravan master comes over to the four of you.
You all alright? We’re not going to make it to Stromburgh tonight, so we’ll make camp here. You’ll have plenty of time to rest up and heal your wounds. I think we have a healer in camp.
The sun has begun to set below the western sea._
Iriai’s eyes widened as she recognized the saurian before her. Wordlessly she took his hand and stood up slowly, painfully.
_That evening, the wagons circle up, campfires are lit, small groups gather everywhere to rest and eat.
As they sat around a campfire, a healer tended to Iriai’s wounds, Peregrinus ate his food slowly, savoring each bite of the small meal, and the Saurian sat opposite Iriai, firelight illuminating his golden scales brightly, and dancing in the darkness of his eyes as he stared at her intently, a pensive expression on his face._
“I had heard that you had disappeared from the city, your highness, but i did not expect to see you making a return journey so soon. Are you in fact returning home, or are you still journeying?”
“I’m not ready to go back yet.” answered Iriai quietly. “If I went back now, I’m sure my father will forbid me from ever leaving again.” Iriai glanced up, her purple and orange eyes that inspired her name were reflected by the fire like a flaming sunset.
Joseph looks over his shoulder several times throughout the meal.He has a frightened look on his face.
“Has anyone here seen a oh I don’t know…undead dragon?”
Peregrinus: “Undead Dragon! Aint no such thing around here bud. Though, i’ve heard tell of one over on the western continent, across the sea. Mostly unsettled territory and ancient ruins.”
A quizzical and unsettled expression comes across his face for a moment.
Peregrinus: “You… haven’t been there have you?”
_The golden saurian sits still, absorbing the fire’s warmth into his body.
“Far too cold this far away from the volcano, isn’t it? No, i don’t reckon Lord Dunadon would allow it at that. Though… you might not want to stay away for too long. He’s changed since you’ve left. He’s getting old, Princess Iriai. Far too old, and far too soon… Eveyone is worried he might not last much longer. Everyone, except that blighter, Scurdon. You know how eager he was to assume the role of Acting Primarch in your father’s stead. I think he’s just biding his time till he can assume the throne, permanently. And with you gone, there’s no one to stand in his way. Our Lord has many children, but he only blessed you with the Seal of the Empyreans, the royal birthmark.”
Gazing up into the starry night, he breathed a sigh.
“Tell me, what brings such a large company as this into the wilderness this time of year? The Festival of Spirits in the Human city, Tuo’Rath, was several months ago, and yet there were not this many travelers then.”_
“I’m just not ready yet…” repeated Iriai, looking away. When the other mentioned the company, she looked back. “Atlantica declared war on Ravenwood, and launched an attack on Portsmouth. These people just barely escaped.”
_"I see… That is most unfortunate. My own task takes me in that direction."
Turning his head to look at Joseph.
“Is this true? You were on the western continent? Tell me, this… undead dragon… was it in the frozen wastes, in a valley where the sun does not shine?”_
Joseph: “Yes…and if you know that then you must have a guess of to who I am?”
_The golden saurian closes his eyes and lowers his head, pensively.
“Who you are… Ah, yes, you refer to the rumor of the fabled Citadel of Lewt. So you are a treasure hunter then? And, by your reaction, you’ve found one of the sacred treasures? Other than that, I cannot divine any other knowledge about you, I am not a mind reader after all, and I am not well versed in… Human interests. Indeed, one of the four Dragon Lords held one of the sacred treasures required to open the gateway to that world. Though he has since disappeared…”_
Peregrinus suddenly interrupts.
“What? Another world? How did I miss this legend?”
He seems visibly disturbed by the thought, while the saurian cops a slight smirk.
_"There may be many worlds, boy, not all of them pleasant. As I was saying, the Dragon Lord who protected one of the thirteen sacred treasures has disappeared, and it has long been thought that he may have died somehow… This also pertains to my mission."
Turning to Iriai, he continues.
“As your highness should be aware, ours is a diminishing race, though the reason for it is unknown. Around the world our kind has been silently vanishing, as though some mysterious force were working against us, simultaneously throughout the planet. It is my duty to uncover this mystery.”_
Iriai stiffened. She was dimly aware of the fact her race was dying out, but she hadn’t quite realized the importance of it until now. Maybe she should help too.
After a night’s rest without attack, everyone fully healed. However, during the night you notice Peregrinus did not sleep well, but in the morning, he acts like nothing’s wrong.
As the caravan packed up to head on to Stromburgh, the golden Saurian packed his own meager belongings and prepared to head out in the opposite direction.
Before he left, he slipped a note over by Iriai’s bedroll where she could find it.
The note reads:
“When you reach Tuo’Rath, please visit an old man who lives there, by the name of Andre Crowsworth. Please give him my regards concerning the events that happened there. Be sure to ask him about the Grand Arcana. I don’t know what it is, or what it means, but people seem willing to kill over it. My own mission is too pressing to stop and investigate, and I’ll not encourage you to find it yourself, but keep an eye out for your own safety. The people involved in this have no scruples.”
As the caravan rolled out, the unnamed Saurian could be seen, walking resolutely toward the invaded city of Portsmouth in the west.
The rest of the day passed without event, and the caravan reached Stromburgh that evening, just as a storm began rolling in over the jagged peaks of the Worldspine Mountains to the east, and beyond them, Tuo’Rath._