Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!
Just before open court convened, we went back to the keep. When we arrived at the guard post, we were told to surrender our weapons. Galinndan made a comment at the table where we lay our weapons along the lines of, “I know, I can use my disguise skills and join you and Bor at court.” I looked at him – then at the guards only four feet away who had clearly heard everything he said. “Why don’t you just let Bor and I handle this?” The city of Karn had not been kind to our rogue. He had crossed his guild’s wishes, tried to arrange the theft of his own comrades, had been kicked out of court by the Vizir, and now this. Fate was not favoring him these past few days.
We went to open court and were greeted by an older gentlemen in formal garb, armed with a menacing sword. The Master of the Court – Uthar Danielson. “You must be the friends of Matthias.”
“We are.” I introduced ourselves to him.
“Alright. I will usher you in. You must be respectful of Lord Sklaver and wary of his Vizir.”
I nodded and straightened my robes. I had never spoken to a true lord before. My palms were sweaty. Bor looked bored by the formality and that almost made me chuckle.
Danielson opened the doors and announced, “Coming before the court of Lord Andrew Sklaver, Tenth of his Line, Lord of Karn, Master of the Rolling Plains – I present Bor Boskin and Theren Meliamne of WhiteRock.”
The walls of the long vast chamber were adorned with massive banners, most bearing the icon of a snake stabbed with a down thrust sword, bleeding red on a field a green – the Sklaver signet. Some of the tapestries showed battles, one shows a dragon being slain by a knight standing on the beast’s head, running it through the eye. The light penetrating the room showed the dust hanging in the air.
Lord Sklaver sat at the far end of the court room, on a gnarled wood throne of twisted tree roots. Next to him sits Krof Lorraine in a smaller seat who was clearly flush with anger at our arrival. Off to the right, at a table flanking the stairs before the throne, sit his loyal advisors and son. Four members of the Royal Guard were present, armed with halberds and swords. It made me wonder, had there been attempts on his life in the past?
Lord Sklaver himself was at least sixty years old, if not older. His right eye has a milky cast to it. The Lord’s wrinkles are long and deep and his skin almost looks like worn leather. His bony fingers held a silver wine goblet in his hand that had clearly drooped enough to spill on his flowing purple robe. Against the gnarled throne was propped a massive mace, the symbol of his power. It is encrusted with jewels, silver, and gold interwoven in the wood – a true piece of beauty. As we stood before the throne, I caught a whiff of urine, old sweat, and wine in the air around the old man.
We both bowed deeply. Uther Danielson cleared his throat. “State your business before this court.” Slowly we stood upright.
Before I could speak I saw Krolf Lorraine lean over to Lord Sklaver, speaking just loud enough for us to hear. “These are some of the farmers I told you about sire, the ones that claim they carry a message for your ears – one stolen from a Gray Rider.”
Sklaver glared at us. “No one would dare slay a Gray Rider. I find your presence here suspicious.”
Lorraine had clearly planned on us getting to Sklaver, and had attempted to poison that well. “He was attacked in the Gellesian Fields my Lord. We traveled there and recovered his message at great personal risk. We brought it here for your ears and yours alone.” I shot my own stern look at Krolf Lorraine who was clearly not moved.”
“Go ahead – relay your message then.”
I pulled out my copy of the message and read it to him.
To Lord Andrew Sklaver of Karn
My lord – two months ago the Order of the Fang marched to the north east in pursuit of a dark force that emerged from the Fangs of Kraylor. The force numbered most of our garrison, 400 men and horse, almost our entire legion. They road into the mountain pass at Sever and never emerged.
We have sent parties in search of them but no trace has been found. The Order is down to a mere 30 noble knights, nowhere near enough to protect the realms of men from what lies at the bottom of the gash.
I beseech you to send us reinforcements – holy warriors that can help us defend this keep or can assist with finding what has become of the missing legion. I ask you keep this information private. If word were to get out of our plight, it might cause panic.
This is our most desperate hour. Any and all assistance is honored at our gates.
Sir Karrick of the Silver Blade
Acting First Shield, Order of the Fang
Lord Sklaver said nothing for a long moment as he took in the words. It hit me then, that we had fulfilled our quest. We had completed the ride of The Gray Rider. Weeks of journey and peril all came down to this moment. Great satisfaction swelled for a moment in my heart. It was dashed quickly as Sklaver spoke.
“”How do I know that this is not some sort of ploy – a plot to lure off my Royal Guard to the Gash and leave Karn open to some sort of attack? One of the other lords of the realm no doubt his eyes on my realm. Besides, the paladins guarding the Gash have done so for decades and have protected the lands from the blackness imprisoned there. You men could be instruments of a coup…”
Bor responded. “We honored the request of the Rider. We are not tools to overthrow you. We were simple men from WhiteRock. You are our liege lord and we are loyal to you.”
That answer seemed to satisfy Sklaver, at least for a moment. “How did you recover this message?”
I replied. “We went to the Gellesian Fields and found the person that had taken the message – Lexa Lyoncroft. We fought with her, then struck a bargain to obtain the contents of what she had taken.”
Lord Sklaver winced for a moment. “Lexa Lyoncroft? She is a myth, a story to frighten travelers to take safer roads or stay at home. The Sisterhood of the Sword was absolved years ago. I have heard her name ever since then, always spoken by questionable men of shady character who claim they have seen her. I doubt she exists. The Church has assured me that all but a handful of the Sisterhood have been accounted for. If she did live, the Church would pursue her to the ends of the world to kill her. Your mentioning her only makes your story more difficult to believe.”
“That may be, but we have spoken truly. Lyoncroft is quite real, I have faced her both in battle and parlay. The Church may pursue her, but she lives. We met her, we prevailed – eventually – not without some loss on our part I might add. We traveled long and hard to come here to provide you with these words my Lord,” Bor chimed in.
For a half minute, Lord Sklaver said nothing. “Your story may be true – but these are dangerous times. Caution is always prudent. Wouldn’t your agree Krolf?”
The Vizir shot us an icy glance. “If you believe them my Lord, then I must as well. Perhaps, Lord Sklaver, the solution is simple. We will send only a dozen men to the Gash…a gesture of our resolve. We can impress these messengers to accompany them as guardsmen. If their message is false, I can order one of our Lieutenants to met out the Lord’s justice and kill them. If they speak the truth, they would be free to go. If they are liars, it will send a powerful message to those that would attempt to deceive the throne.”
Sklaver nodded and grinned, his yellowed teeth showed. “Excellent idea.” He looked at me squarely. “You and your comrades are now impressed as members of my guards, troops loyal to me and the realm. You will go to the Gash. If your words were a lie – you will die. If you spoke the truth, you shall be released from duty. You will depart on the morrow. You will report to Lieutenant Rygar here at dawn.”
“Thank you my Lord,” I said, bowing and backing towards the door.
We exited and saw Danielson close the massive doors to the throne room behind us. Bor put his hand on my shoulder. “What just happened in there?”
“Krolf Lorraine got some revenge for us going around him and appearing in open court. In short; we were just drafted,” I replied. “It’s not so bad. We go to the Gash and we’re free of service. I mean how hard can that be?”
Bor flashed a wry grin. “You get to tell the others.
I hope you have enjoyed the saga thus far. Here are the previous parts if you have missed any installments. Enjoy!