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Previously: A New Post at Gammeltårn Party Supplies Perils Old and New Unsought but Welcome Out through the Market The quay was crowded with sailors and merchants who hurried between the boats, barges, and ships at dock. Smaller craft suited to the plying the island's rivers had nestled into the berths along the outer wall of the structure, while the seaworthy vessels were docked in the dredged-out depths of the inner harbor. The air was filled with shouting and laughter in countless tongues, and wares in all manner of boxes and caskets were piled all about. The Lord of Førstlys and his second son, Kjell, accompanied by Ulrik Dunwald and trailed by a small retinue of guards, forged their way through the bustling throngs. At the end of the quay they passed through the sturdy bastion that served as customs house, watch tower, and lighthouse, and out once more into the autumn sunlight. Beside the pier lay a ship unlike any they had ever seen. Brilliantly white and glistening with gold, it was larger than even the great Kaliphlian dromons that had sought shelter in the harbor during the Elemental Crisis, all those years ago. Before Kjell could find words to remark on the sight before them his father had hurried onward to the elf. The mysterious visitor, who had promised passage across the impassible seas that guarded the southern coast of the Burial Isle, strode forward to greet the approaching men. "My friends," he said, offering an outstretched hand, "the hour is upon us. Let us make haste, that we trade not kind winds for long farewells." Kjell's father took the elf's hand and spoke solemnly. "I fear that I shall never show you the true depths of my gratitude. Though perhaps fortune will yet favor me, and you shall grace our halls again ere the end of my rule. At that time I shall certainly try." The elf smiled and bowed his head, then turned and swept down the gangplank. The Lord of Førstlys turned to Kjell and placed an arm upon his shoulder. "My son, may the gods guard your footsteps and their wisdom guide your hand. Bring your cousin home." "As you will father," Kjell replied. He bowed, turned, and, followed closely by Ulrik, boarded the ship. The crew of elves moved deftly to cast off and set sail, and soon the quay was shrinking across the widening water. As Kjell lost sight of his father amid the teeming shadows and forms of an increasingly distant Førstlys, a wave of fear and resentment washed over him. He hated the formality and decorum that kept him from embracing his father in the face of uncertain fate, and he hoped with all his heart that that had not been the final farewell that they would share.
Previously: A New Post at Gammeltårn Party Supplies Perils Old and New Unsought but Welcome The autumn sun had nearly reached its zenith as Kjell and his father made their way from the stronghold and down to Førstlys' harbor. Avoiding the prying eyes of the High Road, they took the Watchman's Way and picked a path through the bustling Lower Market. "Father, know that I do not question your judgment, but I must know why you entrust me and my task to this envoy," Kjell pressed as they walked on. "You speak as though you are old friends, though I have never heard his mention." His father was slow to respond, pacing deliberately through the crowd with his guard behind him. "When I was young, perhaps not even half your age, we hosted this very same elf in our halls. He spoke little of his origins, though he told many tales of our own island, as if he had lived several lifetimes upon our shores already. During his short stay he taught my siblings and me to read books and scrolls from my grandfather's library that even our most learned scholars could not decipher, and he showed my father and me many of the island's secret and forgotten places. He was among us for but a few seasons, and then, quite abruptly, he departed and did not -until this day- return." "So why return now and entangle himself in our domestic affairs? While I am grateful for his aid, I am loathe to let a new friend fight our battles for us with so little a commitment of our own strength." Kjell grumbled, his legs aching to reach their destination with more urgency than his father would allow. "As he told us earlier, he believes that this domestic affair aligns with his own task, and coincides with his purpose in returning to these shores," his father replied. "Though, as to our commitment, fear not my son. Some of your compatriots returned from their ranging this morning, and have volunteered to join you in relieving your cousin. Ah! Here comes one of the very same hardy fellows!" The lord of Førstlys halted and waved as a tall, swarthy, mail-clad man cut a path through the crowd, his heavy grey cloak billowing behind him. Kjell recognized Ulrik Dunwald and his confidence swelled. It would truly be a boon to have a company of Skygger at hand. Ulrik reached them, stopped, and offered his sword as a sign of fealty. "My lord, I am yours to command!" Kjell's father inclined his head in acknowledgment, and Ulrik turned to Kjell. "My captain, it has been to long since my Shadows and I have ridden at your side. We are happy to do so once more." "And I am happy to have you at my side, old friend," Kjell replied, offering an outstretched hand. "Then let us make haste," Ulrik exclaimed. "Glory, and a ship, await!"
Previously: A New Post at Gammeltårn Party Supplies The elves had arrived in the harbor of Forstlys as the first light of dawn warmed the horizon. Hastening forth from their ship, they had immediately requested an audience with the lord of the isle. Now they stood in the hall as Kjell and his father strode in, several guards of the Stromvakt following closely behind. One elf wearing armor trimmed in green stepped forward and bowed low as the men approached. "My lord," he began,"I wish that my return to these shores were in happier times and on business less urgent, but I fear that I bear word of trials and troubles yet to befall your lands." Kjell felt his father bristle beside him, weighing his answer to a greeting that some might consider a veiled threat. "Friends," the wizened lord replied,"your arrival here is quite unexpected, and your news, it seems, unwelcome. We have seen much trouble already of late, and had hoped that the worst was put behind us. You must tell us more of this new threat. From whence does it come? What are we to expect? Why does it come now?" "Alas, my lord, to describe the origins of this evil would be to tell a tale that spans millennia, for it is tied to the fate of the same people who built these very halls three ages ago," the elf explained, gesturing at the ancient stones around them. Kjell struggled to hide his shock at hearing this, but if his father were surprised he concealed it quite well. "I would know all I can of the trials we are to face," contested the lord. "The day is yet young. Come, tell us all you can, ere your errand carries you onward, as I'm sure you've many more to tell this news." The emissary then related to them the tale of the Pinnothen, who had come to great power in the north of Historica - long before it was known as such - until they fled internal strife and untold disasters and followed their Chosen Prince into the east. There they found vast lands, called the Great Wings, in the grip of countless slavers and the many dark elf kingdoms who employed them. The Pinnothen hosts freed and embraced every slave they found, and drove the elves before them relentlessly. The cunning and cruelty of the Eastern Drow could not withstand the righteous fury of the Chosen People and the vengeance of former subjects let loose upon their old masters. In their new home, the Pinnothen created a mighty new empire that far surpassed the power they had known in the west, and which still stood unrivaled. With their armies crushed and their once-vast holdings reduced to a handful of remote, barren islands, the Drow turned to dark sorcery as a means to regain their strength. For years uncounted they labored and practiced, perfecting the art of swaying the mind and enhancing the body. Eventually they perfected their rituals, and began to grow their ranks once more with a fierce creation spawned from their hapless prisoners and few remaining slaves. The creatures they created took their name from the mark left by the unholy magic that had made them: the Hand of Corruption. Slowly, the Drow explored their new strength of arms, lending their beasts in small number to various warlords and despots, sowing chaos wherever possible and testing the potency of their creations until, finally, they found an enticing target. While the Pinnothen remained unchallenged and unassailable in the Great Wings, an insolent would-be ruler named Raavage had found great success with a relatively small contingent of the Hand of Corruption in the old homeland of the Pinnothen. Though he may have ultimately been defeated, Raavage's efforts had taken a heavy toll on the people and the land, and Historica was now ripe for conquest by a greater force. The Drow finally had their opportunity, and would hold nothing in reserve now. "My presence here is as a warning," the emissary finished. "You must prepare yourselves, and guard your alliances cautiously. The Drow will sow seeds of discord among you to ease their advance. I fear they have already begun to infiltrate the ranks of those who would oppose them. My people have already captured many of their spies upon the seas east of here, and I am certain many more have eluded us." Kjell immediately thought of the strange exchange with the Rigr that had recently brought him here to Forstlys. "My lord," Kjell interjected, "before our guests take leave of us, there is more I must ask of them..."