Friends of Justice and the Eternal Struggle for Goodly Goodness!
My Life as King
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 12, Decembriest, 1411.
What in the world have I gotten myself into? King? The only thing you’re fit to be king of is this bottle of wine, Jewbie my boy. To be fair though, king these days isn’t what it used to be. Tymanther, my homeland, used to stretch from the Sea of Fallen Stars in the north to the Shaar Desolation and the Gulf of Luiren in the south, and nearly as wide. Now, only the capital, Djerad Thymar, and two provinces out of twenty have sworn allegiance to me; with another dozen or so fallen into the hands of Palorax’s captains, who have grown greedy and cruel under the tyrant’s reign. The remainder are cautiously neutral; either waiting to see where the chips finally fall, or distrustful that I will be no better than my predecessor. Reports of violence, looting, sabotage, and unrest pour in daily. I even hear with a heavy heart that my good friends may have been ambushed on the road south to the port city of Delzimmer; however no bodies were found so it is impossible to discern the outcome of the engagement. Knowing those scoundrels; I’m quite sure it was bloody, and after what I’ve seen them capable of I feel in my heart that they must have been victorious.
Enough idle thought! If my reign is to last out the month I must gain control of this situation; I must convince the neutral territories to remain united under the crown, and disarm or destroy the loyalist insurgents. All that I know for certain is that I have not much time to unify my people. Dark whispers of trouble in the east, beyond the Dragonsword mountains, have reached my ears. Animals have been slaughtered, crops burned, and entire villages gone missing. I have dispatched scouts to assess the situation, but have yet to see any return with news. I fear that what we heard and saw on the night we slew the lich may come to pass, and soon.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 21, Decembriest, 1411.
There was another attack in the market today; twelve dead I’m told, including several children. These cowards won’t even show their faces and fight, instead they plant overloaded fire crystals in some common object that trigger when touched. I wish I had more troops to spare to patrol the streets, but the rebels that overthrew Palorax for the most part are not soldiers, but common folk and craftsmen, and wish to return to their normal lives, or the ghostly semblance of normalacy that exists today. As is, my forces are spread too thin already. Raids on caravans are growing in frequency as the newly self-styled warlords try to better their position for the inevitable conflict to come. Two, in particular, seem to be gathering the most support: Brakar Thane, a noble hailing from Methmere who controlled the treasury for Palorax and ran off with a good chunk of it in the chaos following his death; and Gorra Drago, an old captain in the reeducation division who was one of the most corrupt and vicious officers they had to offer. For now, neither has the ability to lay siege to the city, so for now they collect tribute from their lands, build up their forces, and spew vile lies about me to anyone who will listen. Time is on their side, as every moment that the kingdom lies shattered and divided makes me look unkingly and unable to exert control. I would love to take either one of these bastards head on, but I don’t have the troops to do it yet. My best bet then seems to be to try to consolidate the southern provinces, which currently are neutral but hold large numbers of Palorax’s soldiers, hiding out in the mountains and generally making trouble. Once they are cleared out, the attacks and raids should lessen, and people will see that I am actually helping this kingdom.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 19, Jantorg, 1412.
We mounted an expedition to the southern provinces to clear out some of the bandit camps that have been raiding caravans bringing supplies up the dust road. It was grim work, as most of these outlaws were starving desperate peasant people with no other option to turn to, and who’s land and property were stolen by Palorax’s troops to begin with. Their ambushes constantly harried our advance, and we lost many guardsmen to their damn fire crystal traps. We we finally reached their main stronghold; a crude fort made of earth and timber, they thought to the last man, woman, and desperate, starving child. As we breached the gates, they set off crystals and torched the whole structure instantly. We were forced to withdraw and leave the wounded to burn. As I questioned one of the surviving rebels, he bragged that they had killed a group of adventurers that fit the description of my friends, now famous (or infamous) throughout the land for their heroics in the death of Palorax and the capture of the capital. “We burned up that traitor paladin with fire traps, and then rolled a giant rock on the warforged. He went CRUNCH but good haha.” He said, choking on his own blood. “Then that little sorceress and priest burned up poor ol’ Roy, but then we set the drakes on them, and your friends were ripped apart. Their screams were music to my ears…” He choked one last time and then shuddered and lay still. I could not let my own troops know how I felt. Silently, I rose, my eyes on the smoke and fire, obscuring the horizon.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 30 Jantorg, 1412.
I returned to the city to find unrest reaching a boiling point. Food supplies have dwindled as troops and bandits alike have scoured the countryside and raided caravans. Worse, bloody flux has broken out in the lower quarters, with a hundred dead a day and rising. My scouts report that Brakar Thane has nearly consolidated the northern provinces and lake territory, and is negotiating trade agreements as the “True Dragonborn Government” with the Imaskari across the bay. Meanwhile, Gorra Drago is burning farmland on the eastern border, and some say gathering fell war beasts from the Dragonsword mountains and beyond. Both have started paying bounties to any outlaws who raid caravans headed to the capital, in an effort to starve me out. Hopefully, with the southern roads cleared, trade can resume and people will have food to eat.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 1 Marzazz, 1412.
My research into the orb has reached a dead end. My assumption of the corrupting influence of the orb proved correct, as my research assistant Davos slipped while moving the orb and allowed it to touch his hand. Immediately his skin began to blister and boil, and in his madness he slew two servants in the halls before the guards brought him down. Since then, every night I have had strange and dark dreams, of demons rising from the ground, of hideous shapes writhing in the dark, and last night, of my friends aboard a ship on some foreign shore.
I have bigger problems to deal with right now anyway. Scouts have reported that Drago is on the move in the east, with hordes of Palorax’s guard, mercenaries from the Dragonswords, and great war beasts. I have called all able bodied men of the kingdom to arms, as fortunately we have weapons and armor that fleeing troops left behind in abundance. I cannot stay holed up in the capital forever, so we will take the field and harry, harass, and give them a taste back of the bitter raiding we have had to swallow for these last months, then fall back and fight from a fortified position. At least now that grain shipments from Delzimmer have started arriving along the dust road the city won’t starve. To keep merchants from price gouging and people from rioting over food; I have put Alyssa in charge of distribution. She is a gifted administrator; much better at running the day to day affairs of the country than I am. I have decided that since I have no heirs (that I know of anyway), the line of succession should fall to her. We will marry on the morn tomorrow, and the day after I shall march to meet Drago.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 2 Marzazz, 1412.
Eight thousand Dragonborn stand before me gleaming in the morning sun. As I inspect them more closely, I notice that many are too young or too old, that their chain mail and boiled leather is battered and worn, and that behind the proud expressions they wear is the fear of the combat to come. I ride my review in a suit of ornate gold and black plate, with the ruby studded crown of the Dragonborn on my brow and my greatsword glowing faintly on my back. Despite their fears, youth, or infirmity, they have done well in the last few weeks, training and drilling themselves to the breaking point. Now the only thing left to turn these farmers and craftsmen into soldiers is to temper them in real battle. I would be a fool to try to meet Thane’s mercenaries or Drago’s killers on the open field yet, but a few weeks of hit and run tactics should be enough to whittle them down and weed the stupid and weak from my own men before the inevitable siege of the capital. I had but one night with my new queen, the people love her well and will follow her to the death in case anything happens to me. Our celebration last night was modest, with today’s march to war looming over the festivities. We will have to throw a proper party when we are victorious. For now though, I must focus on the task at hand.
“Dragon-Men! Today we march to war!
We fight to destroy those who would bring the opression and cruelty of Palorax again to our fair kingdom. These petty tyrants would enslave all free races, bleed the land dry to feed their own appetites, and murder or imprison anyone who spoke against them.
They would make pacts with demons and evil forces, and bring darkness to this land that would never be lifted.
You all have heard of the day in the capital when Palorax fell!
As I slew him, his body burst asunder into a grotesque form, a mockery of all that is good and wholesome. As the undead monstrosity too was slain, the great demon Errtu, lord of the Abyss, appeared and razed the palace to the ground. Now I hear news that Gorra Drago has raised fell beasts and now marches to burn the capital and slay everyone still living.
This cannot happen! We will stand against these forces of evil and despair with the silver light of Bahamut shining by our side. We will repay the raiding, pillaging, and burning of the countryside with the coin of justice! We will crush the enemies of this true Dragonborn army, just as every Dragonborn army has done for three hundred years! Onward, men! For Tymanther! For your King!"
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 8 Marzazz, 1412.
We are dug in just ten miles from Drago’s army. The situation is worse than I have feared; three days ago he and Thane met and agreed to join forces to lay siege to the capital. Combined, they now number almost thirty thousand troops, including two thousand heavy horse against my six hundred. Worse still, Drago has brought scaly, tusked monstrosities from beyond the Dragonswords, three stories tall with eyes that burn like embers. My scouts tell me he plans to use them as mounts for the vanguard and to operate his siege engines.
Still, there may be opportunity here. Tomorrow they will likely camp in Halifax valley, a broad plain bordered by Ash Lake to the south and the bluff with the ruins of Unthalass to the north. In their arrogance they have sent out few patrols, while I have tasked hundreds, with orders to kill or capture any of Drago’s scouts on sight. As far as I know they do not know that I have even raised an army to face them yet. So far, only one of their outriders has survived an encounter with ours, and he is safely in our camp, being…. questioned. He has already revealed a valuable piece of information: that tensions are high between the two armies, as their leaders have not yet come to an agreement on how to divide the spoils after the capital falls. Another possible point of conflict are the war beasts, as they make Thane’s mercenaries nervous, and the largest of them has already broken lose once and eaten a few horses. Last night I sent one of my best scouts Captain Tekkis, to lead a party dressed as beggars and whores into the camp to try to steal some uniforms and battle standards. They returned this morning with a hundred tabards, several standards, and best of all, a warhorn from Drago’s armory. I’ve got a plan in mind that’s not very chivalrous, but no one has ever said that I fight fair.
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 12 Marzazz, 1412.
Dusk. The worst time of day to fight; when the eye can’t adjust between the bright sky and darkened ground, and everything is dim and indistinct. Men are tired from marching all day and setting up camp, and have begun to quarrel and drink. I am garbed in one of Drago’s sergeants’ uniforms, with a hundred of my best cavalry. Our faces are covered in red war paint, making us look even more grotesque in the fading light. The rest of my army is waiting on the bluff a few miles to the north, awaiting the signal.
We reach the edge of Thane’s forces; I can feel the sour and suspicious looks at our uniforms and standards. “Make way,” I growl. “I have a vital message for General Thane from General Drago. Make way, you louts.” We approach Thane’s tent, a massive dome of red and gilded canvas. A suckling pig roasts on a spit, sending a mouthwatering plume of smoke skyward. I approach the door; the two guards block my path with their pikes. “Halt! What is your business?”
“I have an important message from General Drago regarding our upcoming victory.” I hand them a scroll with Drago’s seal, pressed in wax, and hope the illusionary spell on it passes muster. They eye it but let me pass. The tent is richly decorated, filled with heavy tapestries and solid furniture. Two more guards stand inside. Thane sits at a carved wooden table; a pretty serving girl pouring his wine. Old, obese, and with grease dripping off his jaw scales from the roast partridge in front of him, he rumbles
“What is the meaning of this interruption?”, barely glancing up.
“Sir” I bark, “I have a message for you”. I hear a scuffle and a shout outside.
“Alright, no need to shout. Let’s have it.” I hear his guards behind me draw their swords; I heard steel bite into flesh, gurgles, and the crash of armor hitting the floor. The girl screams. I now have Thane’s full, wide eyed attention. I remove my helmet and set it on his table.
“The King” I hiss, “Sends his regards.” He tries to draw his sword but the pommel hits the bottom of the table and catches. My blade flashes out. His head tilts back, nearly parted from his body, as a crimson spray erupts from his neck. I grab my helmet and smack the still screaming girl across the face with the back of my armored glove, sending her spinning to the floor, unconscious. My men form up beside me as we stride out of the tent, mount up, and ride hard to Drago’s camp, killing everyone in our path.
The rest of the night was a haze of blood and flame. As we rode down Thane’s troops while they ate dinner, others found their horses and gave chase. We reached Drago’s lines and sounded his warhorn his short, sharp blasts. “Betrayal!” we cried, “Thane is attacking! He seeks to kill our leader and steal the crown!” The mob of Thane’s angry soldiers on our heels immediately reinforced this notion as they rode over Drago’s men in their rage to reach us. Captain Tekkis and his team split off and went to set the war beasts loose and kill their handlers. Meanwhile, the rest of us rallied beyond the edge of the camp and blew the warhorn in one long, echoing note. The camp had erupted in chaos behind us, with Drago’s and Thane’s forces fully at each other’s throats. The moon had just risen, and I could see it shimmer softly on the sea of steel pouring down the side of the bluff and across the plain like a rising tide.
Dawn finally illuminates our night’s grim work. Ten thousand lay dead before me, with another six thousand captured and the rest missing or fled. Captain Tekkis is one of them, crushed under the body of Drago’s largest beast. They say he sent his first spear straight and true, right under the rider’s helmet. I see Drago’s black iron mass crumpled a dozen yards away, a wooden shaft sprouting from under his fearsome helm. Tekkis’s second hit the beast in the back of the throat as it roared down to swallow him whole. My musing on the dead was interrupted. “Your Majesty!” shouted one of my knights. “We’ve found a prisoner you should see.” I follow him to the area where Drago’s baggage train had once been. Before me, thin, haggard, and dressed in rags, is Valrynn Redscale. I rush up and embrace him.
“I thought you were dead.”
“So did I.”
“Much has happened since you were taken prisoner.” He raises a brow and looks quizzically at my crown.
“I can see that. I always said you’d amount to something, Jewbie my boy, if you would only stop drinking for a moment. I now see that I was correct.”
“Well, you were right about one thing Valy, I haven’t had a drop for weeks, and it’s killing me! Let’s head to my tent; I’ll have them bring us a whole cask of Blamakar golden ale and I’ll tell you everything that has happened in the last few months.” After a few steps, I stop dead in my tracks, realizing something.
bq. “What is it, Jewbie? Did you issue a kingly decree and already consume all the ale in the kingdom?”
“Uhh, Valy, now don’t panic, she’s perfectly fine, but there’s something I need to tell you about Alyssa…”
King’s Log: Dragon Date: 18 Marzazz, 1412.
The long road to Waterdeep stretches out before me. At least this time I leave my homeland a hero and not an outcast. A hero, but not a king either. With the return of Duke Valrynn Redscale; cousin to the old king Bragarr the Just, who ruled before Palorax seized power. I could have ignored his claim; having won the throne fairly by might, and fresh from victory over the insurgents. Plenty of Dragonborn would have lined up behind me, but I’m sure that Duke Redscale could say the same, as he was much loved and had plenty of friends. I had no desire to plunge the kingdom into another civil war. Besides, I could not do that to my oldest friend, who sponsored my entrance to the academy, and who was the one voice that spoke out for me at my trial and banishment.
And then there’s Alyssa. Alyssa, his young, pretty, intelligent wife, who after his disappearance organized the resistance, who helped us defeat Palorax, and who helped me keep the kingdom together in the chaos that followed. Alyssa, who I have always been fond of, and she of me, who I knew could rule the kingdom if I were killed, and who I chose as my queen. She will remain queen of course, the first with two kings though! I gingerly rub the bruise on my jaw from where Valrynn walloped me when I told him. He cooled down quickly though; as he understood the situation, and was relieved to hear his wife was unharmed; as Drago had taunted him with lies about her torture and death.
We returned to the capitol in triumph. When we reached the palace and Alyssa saw Valrynn at my side, she rushed to embrace us, weeping. In the days that followed, I abdicated the throne. At the ceremony, I removed the crown from my brow and placed it on Valrynn’s head. As he rose, I knelt along with the rest of the city. He drew a jeweled broadsword, rubies set into the hilt that flashed like the sun, and tapped my shoulders. “Rise, Marshall Jewbie, Lord Protector of the Realm. I task you to seek out threats to the Dragonborn people, and destroy them utterly. The armies of Tymanther stand at your disposal.” He tossed the sword up into the air. The whole assembly gasped, but he caught it lightly, perfectly balanced on two fingers, and held the hilt out to me. I took the sword and saluted. The crowd erupted. “Hail King Valrynn!” “Hail Jewbie, Defender of the Dragonborn!” I turned to Alyssa, standing next to her true king. I embrace her and kiss her cheek. “Milady, as your husband, unbeknownst to us, was alive and well, our marriage contract is void. I have begged and gladly accepted forgiveness from your true husband and king for our trespass, as he understands the circumstances that lead to it. May you both have a long and happy reign.” The king and queen embrace and kiss, more cheering. With spoils gathered from the battle, a feast and celebration the likes of which Tymanther had not seen for an age was held. I awoke sometime midafternoon the next day to find a message from Valthrune waiting for me. He had made a discovery about the demon, it read, and it was vital that I travel to Waterdeep to meet with him. Also, my friends were alive! I would meet them on the Docks in Waterdeep in two weeks. I hastily packed my gear, let the king know I was on a mission of vital importance and bid him farewell, and rode hard into the setting sun.