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Chapter VII: Revelations

This talk of closing portals the Sorceress holds power over, of enemies waiting behind the veil of this world different than his own shadows, and now of dragons, Asher felt like they were getting further and further away from their, no, his own goals.

Fighting the symptoms whilst ignoring the cause? Is that right?

It is true that he himself had no power against the Sorceress, if what the information presented today and what he read in the journal was to be trusted.

Maybe these portals hold some answers to her powers, as well as the means to stop them. I will assist the others for now.

Though, unless they need something stolen, I can do very little against a dragon .

Wolf Rawrrr

Date: October 11th (Saturday), year 3321
Location: Tyr's Retreat, Darkvale Mountains
Weather: A clear and cold Autumn sunset.

Around 18:30 h
The Great Hall, Tyr's Retreat

Raziel made no remark to Carn's defense, but the drakkar could feel the weight of the angel's gaze upon him, studying him. He had earned Uriel's attention as well, though the Angel of Light seemed ever so friendlier and more understanding in comparison. Maker only knew what they were thinking at that moment...

"I did not mean to imply that the fault was with Carn's team," Battojutsu offered, in way of apology.

"Yet they could have erred unknowingly, no?" Violet suggested.

"I'm not convinced that they have," Meric shook his head. "Something isn't quite right here. Carn and his team were investigating the area, they'd made their presence known among the villagers - yet no one thinks to warn them that a dragon is lurking nearby? So either they hadn't known - hadn't noticed a dragon living nearby - or that dragon just happened to be passing by at the same time. None of this makes sense."

"You can't hope to make sense of a thing until you learn enough about it," said a new voice, in a strong northern accent.

It belonged to a man standing next to Bann Teagan and the dwarven ambassador, Fyke. A man who hadn't spoken at all until then, but who'd been introduced at the beginning as Viktor Aiden Maksimir, the Bann of the Frigid Plains. The Chosen might have remembered that he was one of the few people missing at Ilhirel's table during the banquet in Alicante. Bann Maksimir looked like the very image of a powerful Folk. He was lean and tall, taller than most humans, pale of skin, and had the characteristic pair of canine teeth common to most Frigid Folk, clearly visible when he spoke to those near him. His outfit was equally betraying of his heritage, including a dark suit with a layered tailcoat with many fine details and colored trims. He conducted himself with the grace and finesse one would expect of royalty, yet his features were equally possessed of that feral appeal unique to the Folk. In many ways he was like Henvei (to the Chosen that had met him). The only somewhat atypical thing about him was his hair - black, where most Folk had blonde hair.

"And we do not yet have all of the information that is required," he continued. "Describe for me this dragon, please," the bann politely asked.


A White Budgerigar Staring Into The Abyss
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -

After the apology, Carn gave a silent sigh. More or less, he'd now forgiven Battojutsu, but as for Raziel… That thought was put on hold, for Carn felt that Raziel was staring at him, or through him. Carn's eyes slowly moved towards Raziel before they involuntarily snapped on his gaze. In that gaze, Carn saw a chilling indifference. At once, Carn bounced his eyes away, landing on the Angel of Light. Uriel’s sight was a tender and kind one. While the angel was very alien, she felt somewhat familiar. Though, not in the way that one has already made acquaintance with someone but in the way that one sees similarities between friends and strangers.

"Describe for me this dragon, please," the bann politely asked.
Carn snapped out of his daze.

“Y-yes,” Carn stuttered when he was caught off guard. Carn softly cleared his voice before speaking forwardly. “The dragon’s body was night black and lined with spikes. It also had two horns. Given its size, I presumed it was a young adult. That is what I saw until I was knocked down a steep slope.” Knocked down a steep slope. “That is all,” Carn said in his usual tone, though the volume was quieter. With that, his head dipped slightly.
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Wolf Rawrrr

The Bann of the Frigid Plains listened patiently to Carn's description, stroking his goatee and nodding along as each new detail was added. "Yes, yes, yes," he murmured, "That confirms my suspicions. You see, there have already been reports of this dragon in various locations around the Frigid Plains. Most curious, since dragons rarely come into the Plains. And now this wayward creature. Most curious, indeed..."

Natalis looked intrigued as well, and he wasn't the only one. "Where was it sighted before?" he asked.

Bann Maksimir thought about it for a few moments. "Near the northern mountain range, a few months ago. Then again, a little ways southeast of there, not long after. We were sure that was going to be the end of it, when a few weeks later it was reported again by a group of hunters near the edge of the wilderness, directly east of the City. The final time was just two weeks ago. It was seen by a merchant caravan traveling along the Royal Road."

"They could see it from the road?" Meric asked in surprise. "It was close, then. And apparently... making its way south?"

"So it would seem. Most curious, no?" Bann Maksimir mused once again.

Most of the people around the table looked quite perplexed about the whole thing, except for Laurolf of course, who more than anything else, looked about ready to go out and slay the dragon in question. There was no response from Raziel or Uriel, who appeared content to simply listen for now.


Dannigan's Lady

" 'Unprovoked' doesn't have to mean Carn's team did anything wrong," Maggie pointed out. Even though the conversation had moved on somewhat, she still wanted Carn to know someone else was on his side, even if it was a stranger. "It sounds like this dragon isn't acting like others. Could it be migrating, maybe? Do dragons migrate? Maybe that put it out of temper, and it just took it out on the first group of people it came across."

As she listened to the others, particularly Bann Maksimir, another thought struck her, and she added slowly, "Or... what if it used to live in the place the portal is now? And now it's out of a home, and trying to find a new one? Or somehow knows who's responsible for the portal and is headed for the capital?" That was a scary thought, and the priestess's apprehension showed plainly on her face.

Wolf Rawrrr

Meric shook his head at Maggie's suggestions, looking dissatisfied. He opened his mouth as if to speak but then seemed to change his mind. He likely didn't think any of it made any more sense than what they'd had so far, and was naturally feeling frustrated. Bann Maksimir's words rang true; perhaps there simply wasn't enough information available to arrive to a conclusion, regardless of how many conjectures they made.

When no one came forward with a new comment on the matter, Raziel spoke at last.

"Whatever the truth may be, it does not change the fact that you will likely have to account for the dragon upon your return."

"Yes," Knight-Commander Natalis agreed. "We must assume that the dragon will still be nearby. It would be best to avoid that confrontation, but I'm afraid there might not be any choice. We will see to it that you are prepared. You cannot let anything, not even a dragon, stop you from locating that gateway. The entire mission hinges on that."

A'kal let out a sigh. "And once we locate the gateway?"

Uriel answered him. "You will alert the Hellguard. I shall give you the means to do so."

"Remember," Natalis reminded, "It is crucial that you maintain the element of surprise. The gateway, and its surrounding area, will not be unguarded. The enemy must not be alerted to the attack. In the meantime, the Resistance will be moving into position around the remaining gateways. We will be waiting only for your signal - once you are successful in securing the gateway, we will coordinate with the Hellguard and begin the attack immediately.

"Any questions?"


A White Budgerigar Staring Into The Abyss
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -

Though residual emotions of regret and anger still clung to him, Carn was set on returning North to complete the mission. Because of that, he wasn’t keen on asking questions. Besides, what more could they learn? All the information had been splayed out, and anymore would be mere speculation. Instead of talking more, they could be preparing and resting for the upcoming journey and mission. As such, Carn stood silently watching the attenders to see if anyone would speak up.

Wolf Rawrrr

"What kind of defenses can we expect at the gateway?" A'kal asked.

"Based on the intelligence we've collected from the other sites, minimal," Natalis answered. "A few sentries. The gateways are primarily defended by their remote locations and the fact that they're one of Ilhirel's best-kept secrets. Do keep in mind that an entire army lies just beyond the threshold, however. We are not looking to draw it out. But the real danger will be the sentries not posted at the gateway. The ones patrolling the wider perimeter, or stationed in the nearby village. The village, Haven, is the only settlement within many miles of the area in which we believe the gateway is located."

Meric nodded. "It is a given that Ilhirel's agents have a presence there. There's nowhere else to get their supplies from, either."

"It is imperative that you do nothing to alarm them until you are ready to secure the gateway. Carn's team was there under the guise of mountaineers. A cover you could easily reuse, particularly given that the team's leader was left behind to recover from his injuries."

"Why not go in as dragonslayers, hm?" Laurolf seemed excited by his own proposal. "It'd be no surprise for a drakkar to return not just to retrieve an injured friend, but to avenge his fallen ones!" He paid Carn a firm nod at that, as one proud warrior might make to another.

"Also a possibility," Natalis commented. "We will leave the details to you. Now, I assume that all of you will be going? The Chosen are somewhat of a large group, even with a few of your members unaccounted for, as I understand. Which reminds me - one of your group, a certain gentleman by the name of Valtieri has arrived to Tyr's Retreat via portal earlier today. He was injured and is now being treated - nothing serious as I'm told, but it prevented him from attending this meeting. And another - Sanya Sarkov of the Kossar has sent word of his inability to attend but is planning to join with one of the other teams to aid us."

Meric frowned. "You're suggesting that we should split up?"

"The other four teams would all benefit from additional help, and the Chosen are made up of highly skilled individuals. We would be increasing their chances of success while reducing your group to a more manageable number for the mission."

"Then we should determine who goes where." A'kal said.

A period of silence ensued, in which people were starting to contemplate what was said. It was unexpectedly broken by Dina, whose mind was apparently made up faster than anyone else's.

"I will go North," she said, jumping off the throne and stepping forward.

The Knight-Commander's jaw nearly dropped to the floor, but he wasn't the only one stunned by the young queen's announcement.


Kaerri's Man. =)
Auri Grashaal the Insatiable

- Drakkar Ambassador to Asgard -

Auri declared. "I am going with Maggie."

He softly scratched his chin. "How precisely do we destroy the gate we are after? And Carn?" He addressed the younger drakkar, "what do you recommend we take along should we encounter the dragon?"


Dannigan's Lady

Maggie nodded. "I'm going north too," she said, as if it were a given and she was only speaking up as confirmation. Which was more or less the case; after all, she'd already stated her intention of helping wherever the Resistance needed -- and this was where she was needed, it seemed. Dina's announcement didn't surprise the priestess; she had guessed the girl would want to be on one or another of the teams, and this was the one that seemingly needed the most help.

"Just to make sure I understand, though," Maggie added, "We alert the Hellguard upon locating the portal or upon actually securing it?"

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