[Damn it, had to remove the wiki links. Looks like I’m going to have to redo the wiki pages. BLARG]
The first thing Brandis the sorcerer, Pique the monk, and Kittibuss the bard noticed as they raced out of the Lich King’s lair with the mysterious tiefling was the blast of hot, dry air that slammed into their cold, clammy bodies and filled their lungs. They were in the middle of the desert.
Two years ago, the Lost Light caravan, having just crossed the Strait of Tyral and settled on the Nevelen mainland, was overtaken by a large contingency of undead, led by a dark and powerful Lich King who took our three heroes prisoner, throwing them into the deepest pits of their dungeon. In these two years they were tortured and chained up in individual cells, forced to wear metal headbands that muddied their thoughts, making it next to impossible to think or speak.
“About five months ago,” said the tiefling, who introduced himself as Athrow Heretan shortly after the carriage began moving, “you were relocated to the Jerusucán Desert here in Septech, traded to the Lich King Denegar for reasons unknown to us. This was to our benefit, however, as previously we had no clue where you were. Scouts of ours managed to spy you shackled on a black-hulled sailing ship leaving the Parasidean port four months ago.”
“Wait,” said Brandis. “Who is ‘us’?”
“Ah, of course,” Athrow replied, “my apologies for thrusting you into this situation. We are called the Remnants. We are scholars from Beregin studying the location of divine artifacts that may still contain traces of divine essence, so that we may collect them and use that power to shape a new god.” He paused, taking in the others, then added, “Or … help promote those destined by the prophecy to godhood. Whichever is faster, I suppose. We had, ahem, colleagues within the Temple of the Light who learned of the orbs the deva filled with part of their divine spirit. We were ready to negotiate the release of these orbs into our possession when the temple was sacked. Our colleagues traveled with the caravan, which was then destroyed, and our knowledge of these orbs was lost for several months. We knew that you, Brandis, and your traveling companion Christopher Winchesterson, had touched two of the orbs and absorbed their essences. We have reason to believe that Christopher was killed in the caravan attack, and fear that his divinity was dissolved into nothing, which is very unfortunate.”
He paused, shuffling in the cramped quarters of the carriage. Pique was seated next to him, and Brandis and Kittibuss were across from them, and much more comfortable as they were both smaller. Outside, the desert wind whipped at the side of the carriage and the four camels pulling the carriage snorted and huffed.
“What about the others?” Pique asked.
“As far as we know, everyone besides you three were killed,” said Athrow.
“All our friends—!” Kittibuss exclaimed, and buried her face in her hands.
“What of the dragon?” Brandis asked, obviously eager to ask the question. “And those Dragonborn abominations?”
“Uranbrulf flies free,” Athrow said. “Lady Maralgia and the Tirusian Dragonborn are currently combing Nevelen for any signs of the other deva orbs. The Remnants, in a way, were formed in an attempt to counteract this, as we have reason to believe that the Dragonborn are attempting to resurrect Tiamat, the ancient Goddess of Dragons, or to form a new goddess in her place.”
“That’s … not good,” said Kittibuss.
“It gets worse,” Athrow said. “First, three of the orbs were located in the temple itself, and we can only assume that the Dragonborn found them. And, in addition to the deva orbs, the Dragonborn are searching out the lairs of every evil dragon in Khalin. They believe that the divine essence, coupled with a host and the five most powerful evil dragons in Khalin, is enough to complete their plan. Uranbrulf was the first dragon they found, as he was fat and lazy. But they have found two more, a white and green dragon, both much older, leaner, and fiercer, and it is only a matter of time before they find the other two. In other words, the good guys are about five steps behind at this point.”
“And the deva?” Brandis said. “Are they all gone?”
Athrow shrugs. “We don’t know. The last we heard was of your friend Kesher taking the body of Corcus to the top of the Cherook Mountains to give him a proper burial. He may still live, but it wouldn’t matter, as he imparted some of his essence into an orb as well.”
“Could they take the deva and … squeeze some divinity out of them as well?” asked Pique.
“Unlikely,” said Athrow. “The deva are powerful enough that the Dragonborn know not to mess with them. Even Uranbrulf had difficulty in his fight with Kesher. What’s important now is to find those other orbs before the Dragonborn do.”
“We already did,” said Brandis as he worked his mind to try and clear the remaining fog from the headband. “We had Andelu’s orb—Christopher took the essence from it. Then Quinn’s orb, which I touched, was in an ancient catacomb. Aloni’s orb was in a cave but some Dragonborn had found it already, but we managed to steal it back. Victobar did, specifically, as he could look like anyone he wanted.”
Athrow’s face brightened a bit and he began to think. “We might be in luck, then. Perhaps Oterkoth took it after he sacked your caravan.”
“Who’s Oterkoth?” asked Kittibuss, who at this point was trying to memorize names and places for the story she would eventually tell.
“The Lich King of Brynn Valley,” said Athrow.
“Oh, that’s good,” said Pique, “nicely tucked away in the hands of a Lich King.”
“Well, at least it’s not with the Dragonborn,” said Athrow. “Ideally they would have one orb per dragon, and one for the host. That’s six. But since Christopher and you, Brandis, have absorbed the essence of two orbs, that leaves them with four physical orbs and one—”
“Maybe two!” Kittibuss explained.
“… Maybe two bodies with divine essence, ones that can be manipulated into serving as the host of Tiamat.”
“Or the host of whatever the Lich Kings want,” said Pique.
“Yes. Essentially, two forces are trying to hasten the arrival of the New Gods through nefarious means,” said Athrow. “And the Remnants are here to try and stop them.”
“So what do we do next?” asked Brandis.
“I think the next step is to return to the ruins of the Temple,” said Athrow, “and see if we can find the three orbs there.”
“That sounds like a bad idea,” said Kittibuss.
“Well, it’s the only way we can—”
Athrow’s words were cut short as the carriage came to a sudden halt. Ahead of them was the gruesome sound of a camel screaming as something was either crushing it or slicing at it. Brandis looked out of the small side window just in time to see said camel’s body go hurtling into a sand dune, dead, its throat sliced with a jagged cut. The other camels began to shriek and the carriage driver screamed and jostled the carriage as he leaped off and ran away, his screams quickly fading into the distance.
“Never a dull moment,” Athrow said.
(to be continued … ON SUNDAY WHOAAAAAA)