The Resurgence

Carlisle's Sister

“You really don’t have to keep coming, you know. I know you have things to do.”

She always said the same thing whenever he came to visit, and he always snorted derisively.

“I’m gonna keep comin’ to see you, and there ain’t much you can do about it.” Carlisle turned to his sister and smiled.

She was a beautiful girl. She had her father’s stern eyes but her mother’s warmth. She remained seated at the table in a dimly lit kitchen, watching Carlisle as he busied himself making a cup of coffee.

Clarissa Elderwood sighed and shook her head. “You’re all the rage, you know. Everyone’s wondering what those contraptions of yours are going to get you into and when they’ll finally land you here.”

Carlisle smirked and cocked an eyebrow. “Awh, you know I got a while before I do. ‘Til then, you’ll have to keep me honest.”

Clarissa laughed, warming the room. “You know I miss you. It’d be completely selfish to ask you to stay, but I know you will someday.”

Carlisle paused and then nodded. “Yeah, I reckon I will sometime. Might bring some friends with me. I just wish we had more time.”

Clarissa gave a sad smile. “I know, Carlisle. I wish we did too. Will you walk me to the door?”

Carlisle sipped his mug to hide a frown. “Yeah. I suppose I could. Time already?”

Clarissa nodded sadly. Carlisle cast his eyes downward, then set down his mug and offered his elbow to Clarissa.

“Shall we?”

“We shall.”

He escorted her through the dark manor, opening a heavy wooden door that led to the backyard. The backyard was well kept, which Carlisle was happy about. It was large and walled off, mostly empty except for a large statue of Chauntea.

Carlisle stopped before it and frowned, turning to Clarissa.

“’Til next week, right?”

Clarissa nodded, a single glimmering tear sliding down her face. She embraced her brother as long as she could.

Within a minute, Carlisle stood alone embracing the empty air. He opened his eyes and sniffed, hastily wiping a tear from his eye to prevent its escape.

He glanced at the statue, one that had been here for seven years. It was beautiful, dark stone carved to perfection at Carlisle’s insistence.

An inscription was hammered into its base, glowing with a faint yellow light from a well-paid for enchantment.

“Here lies Clarissa Elderwood, beloved daughter and sister. May her memory never fade.”

Kelthar's Tenement
Moments from a day in Kelthar's background

Kelthar’s Tenement

Kelthar’s old lodgings can be found in one of Wyrmroost’s shittier areas: Greycourt Square. Decades ago, extravagant housing designed to expand the marketplace turned out to be too extravagantly priced for the lack of demand. Public outcry over the promised increase to taxes ensured they were never levied and the underfunded project performed a sort of reverse alchemy. Opulent designs transformed into squalid slums, appearing suddenly and alarmingly, like an open wound, infected and festering with crime, on the edge of the market district.

Today, Kelthar enters his tenement. His purse is heavy with his latest score, and he has sown shut the pocket that holds it. The building is crowded, and the hallways a cacophony of the fierce arguments and crying infants whose noises osmose, dulled and muffled, through thin doorways, cheaply made and rarely maintained. The occasional junkie slumps at a landing; his limp body leans against flimsy rails that could give way and send him toppling at any moment.

Waking the addicts as if charged by the gods, Ms. Laverne Coralis stalks the stairwell, wielding her broom like a divine hammer. Her gray hair whips around her head in unruly brambles as she cracks the ribs of drug-addled “freeloaders.”

“I’ll charge you rent for this fuckin’ landing, you fuckin’ junkie bum!” she screams. She nods quietly to Kelthar as the fleeing man stumbles past the half-elf. Kelthar tips his hat to Laverne and winks, tossing her a recently stolen coin.

“I’ll have the rest of the rent on time this month,” he promises. He is lying.

She knows he’s lying, but she lets him get away with it. She charges him far more than she legally should, anyhow. That’s the price of silence. But, to be honest, she’d have stayed silent for a lot less. Criminals are risky business, but Kelthar at least makes her laugh. He smiles as he passes her.

“Bridge tomorrow?”

“You always cheat,” she says.

“Yup,” he says.

“Noon,” she says. He grins. At tomorrow’s game, he will cheat ten times. The ladies will catch him twice. Elderly eyes aren’t normally so sharp, but in the tenements they have to be.

Kelthar reaches his door on the fifth floor and mutters the incantation to disable the spell that protects it. He can hear his neighbors listening from inside their apartment across the hall. He pulls a rock from his pocket and tosses it at their door. The clack resounds down the stairwell and the door springs open. Two halflings, a man and a woman, stand in the archway. Dreadlocks hang down like beaded curtains over their shoulders. The man swipes his hair back and the cascading beads click in rapid percussion. His name is Gelf Swiftfoot and his wife is Seline. Seline smiles at Kelthar and gives him the bird. Kelthar smiles and returns the gesture. Gelf sticks his tongue out.

“We weren’t listening,” he says.

“You’ll never break in,” says Kelthar.

“Maybe we already have,” Seline posits. Kelthar stifles a laugh.

“If you ever manage to get past the door,” says Kelthar, “remember to sprint in.”

Kelthar unlocks the deadbolt, slides his apartment door open, takes a deep breath, and sprints in, slamming the door behind him. Inside, from either side of the doorway, two rigged crossbows fire, low and high, their bolts sinking into the walls, which are pockmarked with bolt holes. Kelthar inspects the keyhole, no signs of picking—the poisoned needle is still there.

Across the hall, the Swiftfeet plot their next break in; their contacts, servants and cooks in the wealthier neighborhoods, have told them who plans to be away for a time.

“Do you think he’s ever been in our place?” asks Gelf.

Seline smiles and opens a drawer in the table. Gelf looks inside and sees a message, crudely carved by a dagger.

“Kelthar 1, Swiftfeet 0”

Gelf chuckles and makes a mental note to figure out how to disable the needle he saw when he last inspected Kelthar’s lock. He should simply ask Seline. She figured it out two days ago.

In his apartment, Kelthar takes a small pouch of gold from his jacket. He crosses the room, slides his dresser a foot to the side, and loosens a floorboard. He throws the gold into the hollow. The rent will not be on time this month.

Stormborn's Choice

The throne room was bare, the hoard of the red dragon having been moved some time ago to more secure accommodations. Wide swaths of light poured through the arched windows, framing a table in the center of the room. Ahalo Stormborn sat at its head, flanked by Rungnar the Farseeing and Sevra. Across from him sat the wizened form of a very old man in magnificent robes.

Archmage Coronus Melseri was the very definition of ancient. His robes seemed to swallow him whole, and his wrinkles threatened to suffocate him. He had long, pointed ears, longer than any Elf Ahalo had ever seen. His eyes, however, burned a bright blue that gave the indication that the Archmage was still very much alive and very powerful.

“You know why I’ve called you here, yes?” Ahalo’s voice cut through the silence, bouncing off the walls.

“Yes, yes. Nasty business, this all was. They’ve surrendered, though. There is no doubt that you are recognized as the ruler of Wyrmroost, as the Stormborn clan has always rightfully been.”

Ahalo sighed and surveyed the old man. “Your mages tried to kill not only myself, but others who worked toward my success. This is not to be taken lightly, Archmage Melseri.”

The two men locked eyes and sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. A servant’s approaching footsteps caused them to look up.

“Tea, sirs?” The young woman offered a cup to each of the men, who took them and nodded in gratitude. The Archmage raised the cup shakily to his lips and sipped, giving a warm smile to the servant as she left.

Coronus sat his cup upon its saucer and leaned forward. “King Stormborn, I do not take this lightly, I assure you. An all out attack on the King, why, it’s unheard of! The mages responsible have been dealt with and I will be cracking down on our rules and self-governance. This kind of thing won’t happen again.”

Ahalo nodded. “You’re right. It won’t. What the Arcanum did is the highest form of treason, Archmage Melseri. I should have every one of your students put to death.”

Coronus clucked, waving a hand dismissively. “It was a misunderstanding, put down without more than a little fuss! Death is too cruel a punishment for them. Think of their families, my lord!”

“Think of the families of my men your people killed. Should they be placated with such talk? Will they see this is a little misunderstanding? What kind of message would it send if the King of Wyrmroost allowed the Archmage that killed her sons to flee back into his tower?”

A loud bang reverberated around the room as Archmage Melseri sprung to his feet, arcane energy crackling around his fingertips.

“You mean to threaten me, human? You threaten ME with death?”

Ahalo stood as well, and spoke with just as much conviction.

“I do not make threats, Archmage, I pass judgements. You are guilty of treason. Your students are guilty of treason. Therefore, I give you a choice. Your students may pay the price of treachery…or you do.”

Archmage Melseri froze for a moment, then began to laugh. “You jest. You know that killing me will bring ruin to you and this city? She will see and SHE. WILL. ACT.” He spit these words at Ahalo, then clutched his chest and rasped for breath.

Shaking his head, Ahalo began slowly walking to the other side of the table. “You think me frightened of some old woman caught in her fever dreams? Surely YOU jest. Now, Archmage, who will pay the price?”

Archmage Melseri narrowed his eyes at the King and spoke, every word dripping with venom. “You cannot kill me, you short-lived fool. I have lived your lifetime a hundred times over and I will live it a hundred times more! You are a mouse threatening a dragon. Death threats…bah! A mortal daring to threaten one of the last-”

Ahalo slammed the table with a fist. “I wouldn’t give a damn if you were Pelor himself, Arkadan. You can die just like everyone else. Would you rather sacrifice them, then?”

The Archmage snarled, electrical energy bouncing between his fingertips. “You’re wrong. You can’t kill us. It’s in the Pact. No mortal magic can kill us, and I don’t think you a God.”

Ahalo frowned, shaking his head at the old man. “No…I’m not. I also don’t need to be.”

Before the Archmage could respond, Sevra’s form appeared behind him. A blade flashed and plunged into the chest of Archmage Melseri. The mage screamed as the poison did its gruesome work. Coronus had a look of disbelief frozen on his face as he fell, and his body slumped limply against the marble.

Rungnar growled, then spoke. “Were you telling the truth, little King? Will the others be spared?”

Ahalo nodded, not taking his eyes off the corpse of one of the last living Arkadans. “The rest will be spared. We will institute a council of mages, ones loyal to us. This will never happen again.”

Sevra cleaned her blade, stowing it at her side. “Were ya really not afraid? I dunno if she be real, but da Empress could be a scary ting ta be messin’ with.”

Ahalo shook his head, turning his head sharply to the doorway of the chamber. “I was more afraid of seeing someone like her.”

All eyes turned upward to the woman striding across the marble, the sound of her footsteps snapping like gunshots. She was dressed finely in black silk, accentuating her beautiful figure. A long cloak and scarf wrapped around her, ink black and ruffling with feathers. Her face was pale except for face paint that blacked her eyes and mouth. She held out a hand, causing the Archmage’s limp body to rise and float gently to her.

As the corpse neared, she took it into a loving embrace. She looked at King Ahalo Stormborn, and smiled. “The Pact is broken, mortal. The Resurgence is nigh.” At this, she gently kissed the cold lips of Archmage Coronus Melseri and disappeared in a cloud of jet-black feathers and the cawing of birds.

The King stood in silence for a very, very long time.

Ballad of Blackwings

O, when the dragon’s eyes burn cold
The tales have foretold
Of a fury borne of scorn

When brothers will fight
And fell wings will take flight
The world’s flesh will be burnt and torn

Without courage and steel
We will falter and reel
From a torrent of fire and bone

Scales will flash bright
As we fight with true might
To struggle to protect our home

  • This was a popular tune a long while back. Dunno who wrote it, but its somber and tells of the dark days before the Resurgence. I prefer happier pieces, but this one still gets played during times of war or hardship. ~Remley
On Thyrria
Tidbits by Aristacro

Thyrria, as we know her today, was founded long ago during the First Sun when the Arkada set foot on her verdant shores. The Arkada of course being the progenitor race of both Man and Elf, though that subject is best left for another manuscript.

The First Sun saw the dawning of the Resurgence as well, and it is told that the gods themselves walked amongst us. The gods and demigods saw the Arkada as equals and lived together in harmony. As is the nature of the divine, however, some of their number grew bold and wished to subjugate them.

Shar, Cyric, Baal, and Umberlee conspired to make the Arkadan Empress, Thyrria, bend the knee. The means of the deception has been left to speculation, as only the divines can understand their own machinations. Suffice to say it only half worked, and the Arkadan people made a divine bargain in order to give up their immortality to become far more powerful. This created the first humans and the first Elves.

Empress Thyrria, retaining her Elven features, went on to rule for the next few centuries. I will be exploring this in a future text.

Welcome to your campaign!
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