Of Swords & Crowns

Chapter 1: Prelude

Eight heroes, each in the city of Lucerta for different reasons, are brought together by a mysterious figure that offers them a job...

Of Swords & Crowns

Part I: Lucerta
Chapter 1: Prelude

Our Cast:

Dachir (Taylor) Dark Elf Battledancer

Katsumi (Elizabeth) Human Paladin

Lu Piroliin (Maddie) Half-elf Favored Soul

Quiora Sebastian (Miranda) Halfling Rogue

Rivuna Rakatha (Courtney) Elf Wizard

Solania Piroliin (Becca) Human Sorceress

Tarathial the Halt (Trevor) Elf Urban Ranger

Temeth Cav (Connor) Human Fighter

Sunday, March 24th 1215 AY

Tarathial the Halt walked into the courtyard of the manor that Sunday afternoon, his childhood friend Rivuna at his side. The two of them were slightly wary of the job they had been offered, but, being in a new city with no income and little food, they could use the coin.

This was the manor of the nobleman Dethan Cen, who Rivuna had recalled was a prominent noble in the city of Lucerta. Details about the man had eluded her, however, and so Tarathial was afraid they were taking a big risk by coming here today.

Nevertheless, they had come.

“Where did Polidora go?” Tarathial asked his companion, referring to the third member of their party, a naive young elven woman who often got into trouble.
“She ran off almost as soon as we got shelter at your halfling friend’s abode,” Rivuna said, shaking her head. “I just hope she doesn’t do something stupid.”

The two reached the front doors, breaking up their conversation. Tarathial reached out and knocked twice, then waited. A few moments later, a middle-aged man with a receding hairline opened the door, a sour look on his face. He was dressed in the garb of a servant, though his stance and posture told Tarathial that he was much more important than the average worker.

“Who are you?”
“My name is Tarathial,” the elven ranger replied. “I was hired by a man named Xanatos yesterday, he told me to meet his employer, Dethan, this afternoon at his manor.”
“Oh, yes,” the man said. “Dethan will be with you shortly. Please wait in the atrium and I will announce when he is ready to see you.”
“Thank you,” Tarathial nodded. Rivuna glanced at the ranger, and Tarathial returned the gaze, but they said nothing.

The pair was led to the atrium, which was fitted with benches for comfortable seating, and various tapestries and other decorations to appease the eyes of guests.

There they would wait.

Quiora Sebastian stood near the manor, watching the two elves enter, but staying out of view herself. She was wary of this Xanatos and his employer, and wanted to check out the surroundings before she went inside. The building was old, one of the first buildings to be built when Lucerta was being established, excluding the castle itself. The Cens were of a long line of loyal Cerano citizens, and Dethan was no exception. Even in the few short years she had been in the city, Quiora had managed to gather quite a bit of information on the settlement and its inhabitants, something she prided herself on. She knew the back alleys, the black markets, and the secret rendezvous points forward, backward, and sideways.

After all, when you worked in the trade she did, it always helped to be on your toes.

After a few routine sweeps through the area, the halfing’s interest finally peaked, and she couldn’t resist going inside. She was met by the same middle-aged servant she had seen the elves encounter, than led to the atrium, where she flopped down enthusiastically onto the bench beside Tarathial.

“Hello friend!” Quiora grinned as she saw the look of annoyance across her seriously-countenanced friend’s face. “Miss me?”
“Where were you? Skulking about as usual?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Of course, how foolish of me,” Tarathial said sarcastically. “I had somehow forgotten that you were an impetuous rogue.”
“And darn glad about it, too!” Quiora added.
Rivuna looked on skeptically.

The halfling set down her large backpack, which took up almost as much space as her own body, with a clump. It was a little clumsy-looking, but she carried almost nothing inside, so it weighed almost nothing. She used it in case of emergencies when hiding was a good idea. She could fit inside the bag easily, almost symmetrically.

Just another perk about being small.

Lu and Solania walked in silence towards the manor where a man named Xanatos had told them to meet their new employer. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything to say—there certainly was—but something just lacked between them. A thing called communication. They had forgotten how to relate to each other.

And so, they saved themselves the pain, and said nothing.

Lu did feel for her sister however. Normally, the oldest sibling was the responsible one, the one who looked after the rest of the family. Not so with Solania. Lu had always been the one keeping everyone together, sometimes even before her mother—Solania’s step-mother—had died. Things had been good between them and their father, but those days had long passed. Now, Solania was retreating deep inside herself, and their father was becoming angrier and angrier as the days passed.

To make matters worse, the two had taken completely different paths: Lu had joined the priesthood of Nathan, but Solania had taken to the streets, and, to crime. The only thing they had in common now was their shared lineage, and their shared magic.

Lu was a priest, but she did not gain her ability to cast spells from what most clerics did—meditation, study, and prayer. Instead she had discovered that, from a very early age, she could innately summon the powers of the divine to aid her, more from a force of personality then from any discipline.

Solania was a sorceress, another innate spell-caster. It was said that her birth mother was also once a powerful magic-user, but their father seemed to never want to talk about it.

They both had innate magic, but what they had done with it was another matter entirely. Lu had used her abilities to heal the sick, aid the wounded; she had become a vital force in the clergy of Nathan, whether the other, more disciplined priests would recognize that fact or not. Solania used her magic to trick others, con them into giving her their money.

Sisters that, though they shared a father, were vastly different.

They walked in silence.

Temeth sat in a chair at the Bottle and Blade, armor adorned, sword in hand. He thought of all the times he had wondered whether or not he would ever see his equipment again, whether he would be able to hold his sword one last time. Those moments had been many, usually after he had wasted all of his money on alcohol and sat in a gutter with a terrible hangover. He had wondered if anything would ever change.

Then a man named Xanatos walked up to him and offered him a job.

Temeth had been wary at first. Many “job opportunities” like this one had the possibility of being scams—tricks to get you to sign your life away doing labor on some galley or lumber-camp. When he had considered the job again, however, he had realized that he had nothing to lose. He had no money, no future, and absolutely no hope. This was his last chance, he had thought. One last shot.

And no, not a shot of alcohol. A shot at life.

Temeth looked over at his friend Dachir, an old war companion of his, who had just returned from journeying afar. After the war had ended in an uneasy ceasefire, the dark elf had set off on an adventure, his wanderlust getting the better of him. Sometimes Temeth wished he wouldn’t have gone. He probably wouldn’t have ended up like he did if Dachir would have been there. But there was no point in regretting that now.

It turned out that Dachir had been offered the same job. Temeth could just imagine it: he and his friend, in arms once again, just like the old days. Almost. Except this time, they had baggage. No more dreams of grandeur, just a last chance at a life worth living.

All in all though, things had been looking up. He had his weapons and armor back, his old friend had returned, and they both had a fresh start. Dachir glanced over at him and grinned—the same grin he had always had when they had been fighting together back in the war. Temeth flashed a grin back, then got from his seat. Together, they set off towards the chance they both had for a new beginning.

It was times like these when Temeth could believe that the gods might be real.

Katsumi was on her way, winding through the streets of Lucerta like a courier with an important message. After seeing that Eraeh was alright, she had set out like a thunder bolt to the manor. She may not accept the job, but after the kindness she had been shown, she didn’t hesitate to honor the agreement she had made with Xanatos.

Just a day earlier, she had been in shackles, but now she had armor, clothes, food—the only thing that was missing was her sword. But she would have that soon enough as well. She was sure of it.

The manor was in sight shortly, and when she reached the front doors, she was greeted by a bald man who led her to the waiting room. There she was surprised to find seven other people waiting: two elves, a half-elf, two Cerano, a halfing, and a dark elf.

There was a long silence as she entered the room. Apparently, none of them were expecting her. She couldn’t blame them, though: Tehkoni were not in abundance in Ceran, or anywhere other than Tehko, for that matter. She thought for a second that she saw the Cerano male show a glance of hate, but she couldn’t be sure.

Katsumi, after standing awkwardly for a few moments, took her seat by the rest of them.

Slowly but surely, the conversation that the others had been engaged in started again.

“Excuse me,” the middle-aged man said as he entered the room again. “But Dethan is ready to see you now. If you will all enter the hallway—” The man pointed to one of the corridors nearby. “—Dethan’s study is the third door on the left.”
“Got it,” Temeth said. “Second door on the right.”
The man looked like he was about to correct him, but instead he sighed and walked away, muttering to himself.

The adventurers stood there awkwardly for a few moments, until Temeth started along the corridor, motioning for the rest of the party to follow.
Even thought Temeth had given the butler a hard time with where they were supposed to go, he unerringly led them to the third door on the left, and the eight of them entered the dusty chamber. There were scraps of parchment lying everywhere on any open desk space in the cramped study, along with books by the score and ink and pen thrown about as well. A dozen or so candles and two torches lit the room with their fiery glow, either ensconced on the wall or laying on the desk. The main desk in the back of the room held a large tome that was pulled open, and behind the desk, turned away so that the heroes could not see if their was an occupant, sat a wooden chair.


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