The Mark of Tyranny

Parallel to the Party - Inside the Golden Tower

While the party ascended the Golden Tower, the world continues around them...

The sun was not yet over the horizon, but already Azad could tell it was going to be a scorching day. Sitting with his feet up on the table in the Council Chamber, Azad had decided on taking Ilim‘s form today. The balding dwarf was usually busy enough that he didn’t have to worry about being discovered in the same room at the same time, and it let him enter anywhere in the manor freely, without question.

Not that there is that much to see in here, but you never know what might be worth a few coins.

With a muted creak, the heavy door to the Council Chamber drifted open. Azad’s hand went to his waist, where he had concealed his best dagger beneath his sash. His hand drifted back to normal when he saw it was the Thri-Kreen, Cha’ka and, the shadowy woman, Elthea.

Wait… I’m supposed to be a servant, aren’t I? Hells.

Azad sprang to his feet, and swept a low bow, his beard brushing the floor. Cha’ka and Elthea barely seemed to notice him. They seemed to be discussing the outbreak of some sort of sickness in the city.

Spectacular, soon I’ll be elbow high in corpses again, reeking of rot. The worst part is that this time it won’t be my fault.

With another low bow, Azad swept out of the room, transitioning his form to that of Elthea as he left the room.

She will be busy for some time. I wonder what the notes in her study might reveal…

Bite strolled down the hall, listening to his brother, Slice ramble on about a minstrel he had seen in the street. Bite considered himself an excellent listener, mostly because he found it very hard to interrupt people.

“…Absolutely abysmal string work, it’s like he mugged a real minstrel, then tried to play the lute with his teeth, while drunk.”

Nod. Tilt head. Look interested… I wonder if the Cactus flowers outside the walls are in full bloom yet. Could transplant some of those in here, add a dash of red to the garden.

Elthea passed them as they rounded the corner, looking lost in thought, a slight smile painting her features.

Wonder what she is on about. Pretty little number though… Ah well.

“…Then strung up by his own lute strings, so the children in the Warrens could beat him with sticks!”

Something tells me he isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The joys of family.

Wake up, dammit! I haven’t walked all this way just to watch you die in some healer’s sick bed!

Kes’s eyes fluttered. Aristes jumped to his feet, yelling for one of the Preserver Mages that oversaw the Hospital.

That’s my woman! Take more than a 40 foot drop and an explosion to slow her down.

When he came back, Kes had a smile on her face that lit up the whole room.

Moiraine squinted her eyes, looking out over the sandy dunes. The bleak desert landscape stretched forever in every direction. The only landmark is a dark obsidian spire, a few leagues distant.

Where are you, you bandit bastards? Justice has come for you!… That was terrible. I think I need a better battle cry.

“So… do we head towards the dunes, or towards the other dunes?” A collected female voice cooed up at her.

One of Harzen Scorchedskull’s Battle Mages had walked up to stand behind her, Jenora, if memory served..

Impudent woman. If she couldn’t rip apart bandits with their mind, I’d likely abandon her to the scavengers.

“There are bandits out here, I know it. They’ve been hounding our trade routes for weeks. They’ll show themselves, and we will be ready for them.” Moiraine turned her attention back to the vast expanse of sand. Off in the distance, there was the glint of sunlight off of metal.

The light will show the way. Hmm, that’s better.

On the peak of a wind-swept drift around a hundred miles to the north-east of Moiraine’s group, Nihlus Vor lay placidly, his eyes half-closed as he casually watched the road. Down in a hollow behind the dune, twenty Tyr guards and two Preserver Mages attempted to stay out of the sun. Without much luck.

Two days sitting on this hill, and what do we have to show for it? A few harassed independent merchants, a panicked courier, and twelve sets of perturbed refugees. Light, if there isn’t a caravan along in the next few hours, I’m aborting this little…

Nihlus’s eyes snapped open, as a plume of dust in the distance came within view.

Too large for an independent trader, too fast for a column of refugees or foot traffic.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears we didn’t come this far for nothing! Get on that armor!”

Cha’ka folded his hands, both pairs of them, and rested them in front of them. The Council Chamber, which had stood empty since Lyssandra, Leta, the Dragonborn Arena Master, and Harzen Scorchedskull entered The Golden Tower, now buzzed with discussion.

“The disease spreads too quickly for an effective quarantine, and we can’t simply let it spread unchecked.”

This from Elthea, the Shadow Genasi that led The Preservers in Moiraine’s absence.

She’s a hard woman, but I think her heart is in the right place. Despite her being a templar of Nibenay…

Elthea had confided in Cha’ka her true allegiance a week ago, after much difficult soul-searching it had seemed. Cha’ka trusted her, though he was unsure what would happen if her loyalty to Nibenay were ever in conflict with his loyalty to Tyr.

“These people have done nothing wrong, we can’t simply butcher them! Surely your healers can do something!”

Aristes, a tall and brutish Hengeyokai, stood up from his chair, his protests drowning out every other noise in the room. Beside him sat a slender woman, still wrapped in bandages, who reached up to lightly pull him back to his seat. Kes had been wounded severely during the Tournament of Tyr, and had only today left the Preserver Hospital. Aristes had burst into the Council Chamber, demanding to speak with Leta, and took a seat, refusing to leave till he spoke with her.

Those two seem to be two sides of the same coin. Sweet and idealistic, but ultimately unable to make hard choices. Still, this one is not one to criticize standing up for your ethics…

“If my lords and ladies will excuse my input,” the dwarf butler Ilim interjected, “But it seems like these sick folk could be a handy weapon. Why not ship them off to Draj, let whoever survives the journey infect that whole mess of a city?”

That’s odd. Ilim is not one to suggest something as drastic as weaponizing the ill. Great One preserve us, he is not the type who even speaks unless spoken too.

“That’s horrifying! These are people, not objects to be so casually discarded!”

Slice was looking more agitated than he ever had, and Cha’ka had known Slice for almost a year now. His brother, Bite, stood alongside Slice, their Orange and Purple cloaks matching Cha’ka’s own, marking them as guards of The Council. With an exasperated click, Cha’ka stood, and took on a bit of his old persona, one he thought he had left on the other side of The Ringing Mountains.

“Silence. This one must speak, and the clutch will listen. These sick, these infected, they are an immediate danger to the pack, to Tyr. If we do not cut out the infection, the city will suffer. They must be removed, swiftly and painlessly, with no exposure to the healthy. They have been rounded up into a manor, and all guarding the manor have been warded. They must never leave. For the good of the pack. It is decided.”

Just this once, and this one can leave it behind.

Losk scrambled over the low wall between buildings. The chittering behind her increased in volume, frustrated at the difficulty of finding her.

Ha, that’s right, you bastards. The Warrens are MY lair! You’ll never match me in here.

With a sudden jump, she flipped up onto a short building, then crouched down behind the edge of the roof, and watched the street below.

Two large, many legged shapes skittered down the streets, their pink shells glittering wetly in the afternoon light. One of them raised up it’s head, and cast about searchingly, seeking their prey. They skittered on, looking in alleys as they passed.

Why are they after me? There are ex-slaves they could gobble up everywhere, but they stay focused on me. Once they are dead, I shall have to speak with the whore. Her magical talent has it’s uses at least.

With a grin, Losk unsheathed her twin daggers. She was going to enjoy this.

Adran leaned back in her saddle, surveying the city from a bluff to the north of Tyr. Underneath her, Tulli, her Inix, grunted, and pecked at a nearby bit of plant growth. Adran waved her hand, and the growth flowered into a full fledged meal for Tulli.

So easy to aid the growth of new life, yet without tending, it will wither and die, before it can even truly begin.

That is why the choking weeds must be cleared away! The cleansing fire is required! Only then can this land be born anew!

With a sigh, she turned her attention back to the city. The sun was starting to set, and the shadows from the mountains were covering the city. The Golden Tower was the only area still lit, it’s reflective stone catching the light.

This city is the closest to redeemed of any in this land, but I fear for it. Assassins, Undead, Gladiators, and Mages rule it. And yet…

Adran cast her gaze towards the farms outside the walls, newly built and heavily guarded by the city. Already, crops were starting to approach harvest, aided by the mages of the Preservers.

We will see what will happen. We will not act until we are sure, but these upstarts may be the salvation of this land yet.

With a gust, the wind blew out the candle.

“Light! Where is a bloody light?”

Casting about in the darkness, Titarion waved his hand, conjuring an orb of blue light to hover in the air. With an annoyed sigh, he stepped out of his tent, he looked around. His men were still hard at work, picks and shovels biting into the dark stone and loose soil underfoot, their once white uniforms stained by hard work. In a nearby giant of a canvas tent, his mages pored over what artifacts they had found, searching for something to aid them in their mission.

Titarion eased his temper, unable to conjure up much energy to be angry at his men, hard at work as they were. It was not their fault, he was simply frustrated at his lack of findings. Looking up at the starry sky, Titarion sat down on a large nearby boulder, arranging his chainmail for comfort. With a muttering, he opened the water damaged book again, trying to find where he left off.

…The Green Age…The Teachings of Rajaat…The Red Age. Hmm, a bit between there. Ah yes, The Pristine Tower. Where are you hiding?

Titarion adjusted himself on the boulder again. It was too nice a night to be trapped inside anyways.

Come on, you infernal tome. Reveal your secrets to me. There is much to do, and so little time.


HeskAmity HeskAmity

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