[This post provided courtesy of SPC Mike Hunt—yes, that really is his actual name— the player of Draxxus]
The sun began to rise as the battered heroes emerged from the Temple of Aureus, tired from their bloody battles against the impossibly large hordes of undead. Though victorious, a trusted companion had fallen in battle. The party stopped to catch their breath, and gather up the treasures amassed by the dragon they had just sent back to its eternal rest. Amongst which was found a large wooden tube, capped in gold, and littered
with Draconic pictograms, upon his touch, Tayle’s vision blurred and his hand appeared as a draconic claw, and images of a battered Dragonborn warrior trudging home flashed before his eyes. When the link was broken, his body fell to the ground, eyes taking on a golden hue and lids fluttering. As quickly as he fell, Tayle was back on his feet, and the party ventured off to Barradin’s Hold, Xanathan’s beaten body born aloft on Draxxus’ shoulder. As they approached the quiet village of Haeven that Trifus proposed a more inconspicuous method of transporting the treasure, as well as the body of the fallen Xanathan. Tayle was sent into the town to procure a small horse and wagon with which to carry their goods, and the journey to the Hold continue.
Upon the party’s return to the Hold, they were met not with the familiar sight of Lord Tremayne colors flying on the parapets, but instead the banner of the young King Connor. Taking lead, Trifus approached several of the guards. The guards however knew nothing except that the King had arrived only about a week prior, with no notice, and that Merrick had standing orders to see the adventurers as soon as they arrive at Barradin’s Hold. Led by Trifus, Draxxus and Grunthar, wagon in tow, hurried to Merrick’s office, where they quickly exchanged words. The party relayed the happenings of their previous quest, and how they fared in finding and eliminating the Necromancer. Merrick listened quietly, drinking in the story being spun before him, growing somber after hearing about the death of Xanathan. After a deep exhalation, he began:
Merrick: As you have clearly gathered by now, the King is currently residing inside the walls of Barradin’s Hold, arriving shortly after you set out on your journey to find the Necromancer. Connor has been here almost a week now, and has never once spoken to Cedric as to why, although he does seek audience with all of you immediately. Something about the King seems… different.
Merrick seems clearly hesitant to send the party before the king, and instead, a secret meeting between Lord Tremayne and themselves is arranged in the stables. Tayle arrives at the stables after having been retrieved by Grunthar at Trifus’ behest, and only moments before a worn down, older version of the Tremayne the party remembers appears. Lord Tremayne graciously greets his returning champions, and listens intently as the again relay the happenings at the Temple of Aureus, to include the difficult promises some of them had made to appease the sullen deity.
Tremayne: I know you have had words with Merrick, and he has told you all he knows. Unfortunately, I know not more than he. The King has not seen it fit to share with me the reasons for his sudden appearance.
Trifus: My Lord, you look unwell. Has something come over you?
Tremayne: Ah, keen eyes Sir Trifus. Since the absence of Strahd our magical forces have been… lacking. I have since imbued another with similar powers. A warlock named Barthram.
Trifus: My Lord, our allegiance is foremost to you, and as such, how would you have us interact while in audience with the King?
Tremayne: (visibly moved by the sentiment) I would have you act as you normally would while before the King, however we should not mention the business with the Necromancer. If questioned, it was a simple bandit uprising.
The conversation moves to the acquired treasure, and what to do with the body of their fallen comrade.
Tremayne: Draxxus, I want word sent immediately to Xanathan’s sister in The Aerie. Let it be known that we shall have a heroes’ funeral for him, and if she should so choose, she is more than welcome to remain here as one of my own. As for the treasure, I would only request a standard tithe.
Draxxus: Lord, there is also this…
Draxxus shows the draconic tube to Tremayne, who quickly responds with shock and awe. He reaches out and lightly places his hand on the object. At his touch the pictographs seem to come alive, and distant draconic battle shouts can be heard ringing in Draxxus’ head.
Tremayne: I would not let this object from your sight, Draxxus. I believe this is the last extant battle standard from the Arkhosian Empire.
Draxxus dipped his head in gratitude, before the group gathered their belonging and went to clean up for an audience with the King.
As the party approached King Connor, they couldn’t help but notice that he looked much better than the last time they stood in his presence. His hair has filled out and some of the lines in his face had filled in. However he was dressed very plainly, and his face read completely neutral.
King Connor: I am pleased to see you; when last we spoke it was not on the best of terms. I only wish I could have told you more at that junction, but what I say now is best kept behind closed doors.
The king motions for the guards to stand outside the room, leaving the room empty but for the King and his chamberlain, Tremayne, Merrick, and the party. The Lord Chamberlain leans forward and places a scroll in the King’s outstretched palm.
King Connor: (to Lord Tremayne) Im sorry my friend, I know how this looks…
King Connor: (to Trifus) Sir Trifus, do you speak for this group?
Trifus: I do, your majesty.
The king then handed the rolled up scroll to Trifus. As the scroll was read outloud, the group of adventurers standing before the kind grew increasingly somber and looked from one to the next; Trifus finished reading and re-rolled the scroll. King Connor takes a slow look around the room.
The scroll reads:
Be it so known that the bearer of this charter has been charged by the Lord Protector, acting for the greater good and authority vested within them by the Crown of Lyonesse, has granted the right of exploration and travel within the wilderness known as the Greenbelt.
Exploration should be limited to an area no further than thirty-six miles east and west and sixty miles north of Kennet’s Trading Post. The carrier of this charter should also strive against banditry and other unlawful behavior to be encountered. The penalty for unrepentant banditry remains, as always, execution by swordor rope. So witnessed under the watchful eye of the Crown Council, under authority granted by Connor MacGregor, King of Lyonesse.
King Connor: It seem there are far less of you than there were last we met.
Tremayne proceeds to explain to the King the various reasons for his diminished forces, to include death, separate mission, and personal affairs.
Tremayne: My Liege, I believe I have two suitable additions to this team of adventurers. My right hand, outside of these walls, and the last surviving heir of House Neverwinter.
A slender man clad in leather armor that the party had seen many times, but had never given a second look, walks into the throne room, accompanied by a blonde armor-clad female. The young man seemed far different than before, he seemed to radiate authority, and his eyes had taken on golden hue. The female emanated a cold air of nobility, and her golden hair cascaded over her shining mail.
Tremayne: (gesturing towards the young man) This is Barthram, a young man whom I have granted my power. And this (gesturing towards the woman) is Caelynn, the heir to the Neverwinter House.
King Connor: I cannot stand for Orkenay seizing contested land near our borders. We need to bring enough law to those parts that we can reclaim the lands for Lyonesse. Those lands currently have no protection, and as it stands I don’t even have enough men to send there. We must reclaim the Greenbelt for Lyonesse to again rise to its former glory.
Trifus: My King, what should happen if we encounter forces from the neighboring countries?
King Connor: I have no soldiers to send you at this time, however, know that as emissaries of the crown, any attack made against you will be as though made against the crown itself. I have also heard that you have made promises to reinstate a certain temple. While I don’t have any soldiers to send you, I do have civilian labor. For now we will cut back the growth around the temple and build a path leading to it, and when you have taken back the Greenbelt we shall uproot the temple and relocate it to an area of commercial prominence. Caelynn, should the castle of Neverminter be restored, I will see to at the your family will also be restored to power in that area. Trifus and Tayle, in regards to your destroyed homes, when the Greenbelt is restored, your people will be given land and everything they will need to establish a new life. Draxxus, Clan Ashirokk will also be given land, free from our laws, but tithes are still to be paid to the crown.
Trifus: Do we have permission to conscript people to assist us with our mission?
King Connor: Conscription against a person’s will is tantamount to slavery, so no. However, as nobles, Caelynn and Draxxus may allow people to pledge allegiance to my name and assist you on your mission.
Tayle: Is there a way that we can get a writ of credit for supplies that we may need to assist the people in these wilds?
King Connor: I shall grant you a stipend of 200 gold per month to begin. As you begin to prove successful I shall increase your stipend. I will also be expecting bi-weekly reports by raven. Cedric, I must take my leave. Again, I am sorry for the way this has played out.
The party of adventurers take leave of Lord Tremayne, and begin to prepare for this long endeavor. Tayle ventures to his home and retrieves a single sprig from the Sacred Tree. Grunthar purchaces necessary equipment, and melts down some coins to make both gold and silver tipped arrows. Caelynn prepares a letter home, with limited details on the events to come, and speaks to the remaining members of the party on how best to prepare for this adventure. Trifus prepares a call to arms looking to gather as many people to his cause as possible, prepares a letter to his people, speaks with Tremayne on the topic of setting up towns, and begins preparations for Xanathan’s funeral. Draxxus returns to his clan in the Wyrmsteeth, first delivering Tremayne’s letter to Xanathan’s sister in regards to the pending funeral, then presenting Trifus’ people with his letter, and finally speaks to his father about the challenge before him. Before returning to Barradin’s Hold, Draxxus presents his father with the Arkhosian battle standard, stunned by this enormous piece of history, Kraxis requests that his son carry the standard into battle and bring honor to the clan. The party meets back at Barradin’s Hold, and gathers for Xanathan’s funeral.