An epic search for the Amethyst heptagon leads a party of fresh graduates through the northern reaches of Ustalav. Based in Karcau, the party visits places like the dark Castle Jarovich or the dangerous alleys of Carrion Hill.
"She is a Vampire, I have been directly informed by the one whos very arts made her that way"
"If we don't know where shs is than that is going to slow our progress of rectifying the problem though, but she must resurface soon to claim her payment... and at that point there will be a conversation about the terms"
Victoria looks about for a fresh glass of wine somewhat expectantly.
"What would mother make of all this" she muses solemnly.
She is below Vizyalesh...where else could she be... Dumitru remarks somberly, he turns his glass of wine in his hands, the crimson fluid that so much looks like the thing Lucretia is craving for.
This time I won't accompany those who venture down to here. Sasandra says Our last encounter was exhausting and I don't dare to meet her again anytime soon.
Veredan looks at Solaric One of us should go with Victoria, the power of good might hold the vampire at bay. then he looks at Cairn As far as I understood, you are something like Victoria's bodyguard and a friend of Gorian Damasco? Then you should also come with the group that is going down there.
St. Just seems a bit annoyed by the whole situation, obviously the soldier in him is willing to accept the vampire's help to rout out the goblins Whatever you do, do it quickly, the monsters are marching to Belfurth and we don't need another enemy at our backs.
"This time I won't accompany those who venture down to her. Our last encounter was exhausting and I don't dare to meet her again anytime soon."
"That is a wise decision, your Highness! We will keep you apprised of the situation. I have great confidence in the Countess Victoria. Her skills at diplomacy exceed even my own. I have no doubt that we will resolve this situation once and for all."
"One of us should go with Victoria, the power of good might hold the vampire at bay."
"Naturally, that is what I'll do! The Inheritor guides me strongly in this matter, Veredan. Besides, I am becoming all too familiar with the way down there."
Turning to Victoria, Solaric declares, "Your Grace, I can lead you to the Chamber of Lucretia Livgrace. We can depart at your earliest convenience."
"Very well, Veredan. I will leave at once and report back tonight when I return to the temple."
Turning the Wizard, Solaric asks, "Are you up for another trip down below Vizyalesh, my friend? I will understand if you have had too much for one day, but I am sure you will find it most illuminating."
Solaric leads Victoria, Mr. Stern, and Johnric back across the city to Academy Square and then down into Lucretia Livgrace's Crypt.
"Follow me, and watch your head. It is just down these stairs and into the next chamber now from here."
The black spires of Vizyalesh - a monument to the darker side of Ustalav, the place where Sorcerers and Necromancers have been trained for centuries. Especially for Cairn this place possesses a special aura, the Szcarni have always feared and loathed it and climbing down into the belly of that thing is pretty much the last thing Cairn would have wanted to do.
Down in Lucretia's crypt, you instantly realize that several things have changed. Purple tapestries line the walls and large, many-armed candle holders are arranged in a large circle around Lucretia's throne. At first glance she seems to be alone but quickly cou can make out dark figures just outside of the candle light...there are many of them and as you draw nearer they step closer and place themselves between the candle holders forming a circle around you.
Pale young men and women wearing rather old-fashioned gowns and garments. Her bodyguard has also waxed - about half a dozen of armoured men stand behind her throne.
Lucretia smiles and rises most elegantly, her crimson lips and hair forms a strong but still alluring contrast to her emerald eyes...
Cairn tried to stand where he wouldnt be observed but knew that was probably impossible here. Walking down those steps into this dread place was even worse than walking down into the basement of that tailor shop just a few days ago...death seems even more certain here...shouldve run when you had the chance fool...uncle Gorian will box my ears when he hears this... so he took the same advice he had that night and held his head high even as he eased his hands towards his waist and wished he had his axe slung over his shoulder.
"Ahhhh such a pleasure" Victoria smiles elegantly "I rather appreciate your decor, and I see you have wasted no time assembling a host" she eyes the men at arms. "I have come to see how this bargain is unfolding, you see I was rather curious to hear that people were entering a deal without considering a contract in full, a disastrous affair I am sure you can imagine... I was no less than ourtaged to hear that you have been left oh so very exposed to finding that no payment would be forthcoming to you as you would be unable to satisfactorily prove you had lived up to your side of the bargain as there was no way you could be measured fairly against the original terms... what with simply being tasked with 'defending' good Karcau you might be denied payment until the end of time. At what point would we judge your work as complete? at what level of minor inconvenience would we judge the defence as being a failure? When a citizen was mugged on a road?"
"I can only thus find that under the laws of Karcau the contract is unfair and punitive, and thus null and void, should you wish it. Perhaps we could begin over..." Victoria offers, rather suggestively.
"Let us begin with what defence, precisely you wish to offer, for I understand the toll you wish to exact upon the city for the service... a Blood Magic I presume, no the blood isn't for drinking now is it? You could siphon off any number of willing vessels who long for the gentle and subtle embrace, no I suggest you have a very different use in mind for the blood. So come now, lies do not become us, speak plainly... we are not so different you and I, indeed both our histories relate to blood in our own ways."
Aw, you are an insteresting one...why hasn't my descendant or anyone else told me about your existence? she looks around and her followers only shrug and laugh nervously Anyway, your tries to read my mind have misled you - I need the blood for them... and she makes a sweeping gesture They are my spawns...they have slept as I did...in Karcau's basements, in the city cemetary, the sewers and other uninviting places. They need to be fed and I won't let them sip on the blood of Karcau's living ones...they don't know when their hunger is satiated and would kill the people, drain them empty... so I decided to demand a sacrifice of blood. And this leads us to your second question: Defending the city - I understood our agreement this way: From the north several armies and warbands are on the march and only together we stand a chance to destroy them - once that is done, we can speak about further agreements. My coven is what I will offer in the defense, these "young" men and women possess powers mortals can only dream of and while you will fight during the day, my children will fight during the night - our enemy will have no breathing space.
all the while Lucretia spoke with the air of a general or elder statesman - you have to admit that she seems to know what she is talking about.
Johenric catches up the speech and soaks up all pieces of information; it seems like Johenric is caught in a time warp.
More to himself than to anyone else but a bit louder than whispering Johenric says in a way sounding like re-citing a lecture.
This is an interesting combination of conditions. The major question is how will the stakeholder involved in this decision process decide? Which logical reasoning will they apply to justify their decision? A very good example fitting in any schoolbook about the process of decisions. During the decision process, at point in time when a decion has been taken by an individual, they have put all facts/parameters into a logical sequence - they establish a logical order which justifies the decision. Prior to this point the facts are structured in parallel. This describes, from a logical perspective, why persons decide differently when facing the same facts. They establish a different kind of hierarchical order...it is quite exciting to witness this paradigm in reality...
Out of his fascination Johenric tries to perceive as much details as possible which he will for sure document once he returned to the Academy.
"Then if that were all true you would need only a few sacrifices for the blood, and certainly wouldn't need to have so many samples from so many people, in fact we could take up a collection from many sources, the prison population perhaps...but that is neither here nor there for you are somewhat compelled to act in defence of the city regardless of 'payment' for if we require your help to be triumphant then it follows you suspect we would fail without it, and if we fail then you end up with nothing and need feast on Goblins. Your terms of what you demand are exact, however what you offer remains nebulous. At what point would there be an agreement as to whether your compact had been fulfilled? No, if you are demanding payment for service then you are a mercenary, and mercenaries come with precise terms. If you wish to offer us a significant trophy in return for payment, then we must agree upon whom and for how much. If you seek a part payment up front then similarly we can discuss terms, but what we wont do is start bleating like sheep after you have just freely fleece us"
You're a real jobsworth my dear. Let's agree on the following terms: You - and by you I mean the city - donate enough blood to feed my coven - in return my forces will organise the defence of the city by night. That includes raids and excursions - obviously we can't leave the city for longer than one night - we need our resting places. Once the threat to the city has been overcome I will be given a small fiefdom somewhere north of the Kronstein Ridge - so not in, but at the border of Sinaria - you may call it the first line of defence or something like that. Agreed?
"Ahhhh see now we are getting closer to the mark. You will provide me with the numbers of your coven and your requirements for them in some measurable quantity and I shall ensure deeds and agreements are drawn up to reflect such a contract. Your request for a fiefdom is rather close to my heart, if I may be so indiscrete, however I have found matters a little...slow...on that front, it appears to get anywhere with the Court one must wear shiny armour and swing a sword in contests of popularity; I do hope I can press the terms on your behalf a little more urgently"
"Terms will be in your hand presently, I shall see them back to you within a day. I have a few such contracts to draft with other 'allies', and no doubt they too will want their pound of flesh, just maybe not as literally as your case"
Victoria politely bows out.
Once outside "Solaric, you can trust her as far as her interests go, at present they are threatened and as such she will be firm and fine friend, once she is stable and good Karkau secure, then you might reconsider. The real problem is that whilst she might be at least reliable enough to act in self interest we can only speculate at what the burning hunger of her coven might drive them to do if her control wavers. I think you can understand well enough where I am going with this Solaric, and I am sure your hand will not quiver nor your heart equivocate if the time comes that they need to be dealt with"
"Time for you to prepare for your tourney, I need to send communications a bt further afield, to some other allies"
Victoria will get the details of what the bloodsucker needs, and seek that the blood be drawn from prisoners and debtors, their blood at an agreeable price per pint to be forgiven as debt to Karcau - It's still cheaper than paying and equipping soldiers, allows them to do their part in defemce of the city, and everyone wins. Meanwhile she will seek to communicate with her friendly Black Dragon, Mother is clearly not answering...
Solaric also bows and leaves with Victoria and the company. Once outside, Solaric asks, "So what do you think? Can we trust her?"
"Solaric, you can trust her as far as her interests go, at present they are threatened and as such she will be firm and fine friend, once she is stable and good Karkau secure, then you might reconsider. The real problem is that whilst she might be at least reliable enough to act in self interest we can only speculate at what the burning hunger of her coven might drive them to do if her control wavers. I think you can understand well enough where I am going with this Solaric, and I am sure your hand will not quiver nor your heart equivocate if the time comes that they need to be dealt with"
"Victoria, I have no doubt that I can trust her to take the blood of our people, but can I trust her to protect our people and not be . . . . well . . . . you know. . . . evil! I really do not feel at all comfortable trusting a vampire to aid this country in our cause. I really do wish I had just left her alone."
Solaric walks at her side for a bit in silence, until he finally says, "I have always been a man of absolutes, and I am so less comfortable in all of these gray areas. We certainly need help in battling the darkness that rises upon against us. I do not deny that. However, I hate the thought of creating more evil to do so! Is this simply the way Ustulav works?! I suppose it is better to have the evil that we know than the evil we don't, but I still wish we didn't have any evil at all! Please tell me, your Grace, is accepting Lucretia's help really going to help the people of Karcau or do you think I have made matters worse?"
"She will be evil, but evil in and of itself is not a problem so long as rules are obeyed and contracts enforced. The secret to swimming in the grey areas, Solaric, is to still maintain a clear set of rules, a little more flexible perhaps than you would like, but certainly no less than guidelines"
"Whether it is for better or worse that she is freely roaming about is a bit moot now, for the milk is now spilt and we can only play the cards we have... if nothing else, if we keep her occupied elsewhere for now, even on a basic level, its just one less thing for us to have to have to deal with, for now. Don't concern yourself with the trustworthiness of evil agencies, quite often self-interest is the strongest motive of all."
Johenric staying outside walks a little bit behind the others.
Interesting. I always see the balance, whereas the evil and the good declares openly their point of view. Victoria is a good example for believing in the order of all things regardless of their motives. Do I know what is the right answer to this situation? No, not in a determined way. But I must confess that designating no opionion, gives you the option to observe everthing without any prejudice. According to theory this should be the best way to make a clear decision. However, to take a decision even the neutral observer has to designate a point of view at a certain point in time...this is a paradox....
The contract is set up and the notaries of the court produce an agreement everyone can live with. Quickly the other preparations are made and soon Lurcetia and her coven can sustain by drinking the blood of prisoners - at least the vampires aren't picky.
When the sun rises, the whole city waits in anticipation for the outcome of the last contest - the fight one versus one.
@ Vicky: Do you want to travel to the black dragon?
"Don't concern yourself with the trustworthiness of evil agencies, quite often self-interest is the strongest motive of all."
"I will trust you, Victoria. Could you kindly see to the legal arrangements of this agreement and please keep Sassandra and myself informed. In the meantime, I will report back to Tanor Veredan back at the House of the Vigilant Flame. I have one more event in the morning, but let's meet up tomorrow after the closing ceremonies. Hopefully we will be ready to depart early the following morning. Fare well, for now."
Turning to Johenric and Cairn, Solaric adds, "Good night, Johenric, Mr. Stern. I will see tomorrow. Fare well."
The dark elf priest of Iomedae walks intensely, like a man with a purpose, as he walks along the cobblestone streets of Karcau to return to the house of the Vigilant Flame. Once he returns the temple, he waves to the guards and moves directly inside to Veredan's office. Knocking politely on the door, Solaric enters upon hearing the Swordknight.
"Good evening, Sir. I have returned from the crypt and found it very informative. This is not an easy situation, my Lord. Lucretia Livgrace plans to use the blood of the people to build an army to face the evil that threatens us from the north. She plans to use this army of spawn to defend the city of Karacau. I certainly do not like this in any way, but I am not sure that I like the alternative either. The threat from the north is very real, especially if giants, ettins, and trolls are fleeing south."
"At the moment I am not sure how else to defend Karcau. My hope is that if Lucretia can deal with the immediate evil that threatens our city, that it would give us time, and valuable time for Karcau's Chosen to continue on the search for the remaining shards of the Amethyst Heptagon, lest we forget that! Once we have solved that problem, then we can deal with Lucretia and her kind. I certainly do not have the wisdom of St. Lymirin, but I will ever continue my prayers to our Inheritor and trust to her guidance."
Solaric walks about the office pondering the predicament and finally says, "Tanor, you have always been like a father to me, and I do not mind telling you this. I fear I may have erred in my judgement. I am not sure that compromising and working with these evil forces is a good idea. I want what is best for the people and for the coming of the Inheritor's Kingdom, but I am not sure how this will work out in the end. What are your thoughts on this matter? I cannot help but ask myself what St. Lymirin would have done in this situation."
Victoria lets herself in to the Black Inn once more, simply walking in now, familiar with the place and its inhabitants. She does not make herself too comfortable, as she is not staying long...
"Sisters, I have now met the Vampire in question, so I ask you, do you simply see a deal being made for peace, or is she to meet an eternal slumber? Make your choice."
"Should you wish her dead then I would ask if perhaps you have a weapon or tool at your disposal to do so? At the very least we will need to cull her henchmen as a matter of course once the defence of the city is complete. A pre-emptive strike, as once the threat to the city is passed the next threat will come from her underlings. I wonder if there is a way to taint the blood, perhaps with a curse? Perhaps something that takes some time to works its way through them?"
"If you know of nothing then I will need to consult the library and research a weakness and a weapon, I already have an agent to deliver it"
How far away was the Dragons Lair from the City?
"So much to do, those petitions before the Court are still pending, a Vampire to deal with, a Dragon to entreat, a Rag man running around from beyond the grave, and an Evil on the Kronstein ridge...so much to do"
Tanor listens to everything you say without interrupting you. Once you have ended, he rises from his chair and walks to Acts of Iomedae the heavy tome with its gilded letters always lies open on his desk.
Whenever evil lured Iomedae, her spirit was the strongest, never accept the easy way, never fall for promises of the dark... Tnor stops reciting and looks at you...
The sister's inn is mostly empty - only some travelling merchants sit at a table and enjoy their booze, the locals already know that many of the inn's visitors never leave it again...
Murna hops down from the stool she was standing on to swirl the pumpkin stew
Lucretia is not just a normal vampire. she looks over to the men at the table just to check they don't eavesdrop she's an arisen, vampires created by magic not by a kiss - that makes her invulnerable to most anti-vampire weapons. I guess she can even walk in sunlight.
But her spawns are normal vampire thralls. Merca adds, without looking up from her knitting work.
A ride to the dragon's lair and back would take about a day.
"Whenever evil lured Iomedae, her spirit was the strongest, never accept the easy way, never fall for promises of the dark... Tanor stops reciting and looks at you..."
'I know you are right. I think perhaps in my effort to be open to open to the good in others, I have made this mistake. At the time I did not detect any evil and as a result, I permitted her to live. First thing in the morning I will speak with Victoria and I will see to putting an end to this wretched bargain. Thanks again, Tanor. "
Solaric departs from Tanor Veredan's office and returns to his room. That night, before going to sleep, Solaric meditates in silence and then prays in all sincerety, "Mighty Inheritor, forgive me for my failings and let me open my heart to your presence. Let me be at one with you that I may do your will and bring your glory into this world as we prepare for the coming of your realm. I ask this in your name. Let it be so!"
The next morning, Solaric seeks out Victoria before the first event. If she is able to find her, Solaric rushes up to her and declares.
"Your Grace, I have found you at last! Forgive me, but I have come to the realization that I cannot permit any deal to be made with Lucretia. I now realize that she must be destroyed and Karcau must be free of her hold. I wish to go and put an end to this immediately. Will you and the rest of Karcau's Chosen join me in battle against her and her small army of spawn?"
"A deal has been struck, Solaric, and whether we are in favour or not the terms are plain and explicit. The contract will be honoured, by both parties. Right now we are all best served by your attentions on the tournament, we have come too far to change course for other quests right now, so steel your nerves against your righteous concern and perhaps I will investigate measures to limit any trouble she might cause"
"Go now, your Lady needs you and I know you wont disappoint"
Victoria beams her warm and friendly smile to Solaric, appearing as trustworthy and gracious as ever.
"I must travel afield today, I shall be back in a day or so, I am sorry I cannot stay for the match but the urgent matters you talk of need urgent attention and I must always put the needs of the People first"
Can I assume then that Solaric just goes to the tourney and does not contact the others?
After Solaric returns to the temple from his short talk with Victoria, Tanor is already waiting in his cell.
Solaric, I think have to explain something. In general we priests of Iomedae are bound to follow her example...but it is no coincidence that she has become a goddess and we are her preists. She was extraordinary in terms of strength, willpoer, charisma, determination and many other things. She would have killed the vampire instantly without even thinking about striking a deal with it, but we...I think we are in no position to act that way...
the high priest seems embarassed by his own weakness and gazes at the floor.
The swamps south of Karcau won't ever make it into the local tourist brochures - today it's cold and wet and soon your clothes cling to your body - actually a nice sight, but the only ones watching are the lizardmen and bullywugs that serve the great black one who calls the swamp his home.
After several hours of exhausting travel you reach the village of the lizard and frog creatures. They remember you and quickly scurry away to tell their master who has come to meet him.
Once they have arranged that, they guide you through their village to the gigantic black tree which the dragon still uses as its lair. This surprises you a bit, you would have thought the monster had returned to the underground catacombs you cleansed of the cult.
The monster, fully healed from all his wounds and now in the prime of his power looks far more impressive than during your first visit. Black horns long as lances protrude fom the back of its neck and as it opens its maw, teeth the size of swords greet you.
The dragons smirks as you approach and lays a tiny book aside he was reading
A pleasure to meet you again hell-breed. What brings you to my realm?
Meanwhile his minions bring herbal teas and smoked fish.
After filling Salvatore in on all that had transpired the last few days and giving warning of the Black Inn, the vampire infestation and the threat from the north coming; Cairn will spend the night at the Shark Pool and return to the tournament grounds in the morning.
"Tanor Veradan, you have no reason to feel shame! This was my doing and I will carry this burden as long as I may. Although I am not immortal, I have no doubt that I will not falter in my determination to follow the will of Iomedae! If we open our hearts, she will guide us and bring us to that place where we can make a difference. I will not dwell on my failings for that will not serve our cause either. We must trust her every step of the way that she will use us as we are, doing what we can do with what we have in hand use. Whether it is our longsword or the holy symbol, or whether it is with words or blades, the Kingdom of Iomedae will come and we will play our part in her glory! Come now, Veredan. Draw your blade and join me in our call!" Solaric draws his longsword and declares heartily, "For Victory! For the heart!"
That is fine. The conversation with Victoria did not happen.
The Sczarni youth wondered... which uncle?..has to be Gorian...
No, I havent seen him. Ive been with lady Victoria since I departed here days ago. I'll be leaving with Karcau's Chosen to meet this goblin war party soon, maybe as early tomorrow. There is also fear that the Ragman is still haunting Karcau if only in dreams to date. These are dark times Salvatore. Any directives or words of wisdom?
Victoria sweeps into the Dragons camp somewhere between a welcome guest and royalty on tour. She strides confidently to the Dragon as an equal.
"My dear, I am so glad to see that time has been most kind to you, restoring your mighty physicality to once again equal your insight and mental strength. I am glad that such a friend has made such a magnificent recovery. Your loyal subjects truly reflect the wisdom and efficiency of your rule"
Victoria tries to discern the title of the book.
"Several matters bring me here, one is to converse with a likeminded soul, but no doubt small talk will follow once the urgent matters are raised. The first is one you'd be aware of, an army is on the march from Kronstein, Ice Goblins and more make their way down the mountain, driven out by a great Evil - one you and I have encounterd in the past, the one inflicted upon you a great travesty, an injustice. The next issue I have is for information, you are a great wyrm of vast knowledge when it comes to this realm... it seems a Livgrace has become a vampire through magical means and has raised a small retinue of henchmen through more traditional vampirism, I suspect she will need to be put to an eternal rest...perhaps you might know of such matters or of her possible future motives based on historical interests, and lastly my matter of seeking Jarovicha, and asking again would you consider relocating to such a place when the day soon comes? It was home to Wyverns, but they are poor cousins... Jarovicha needs a symbol to drive hope and strength into its populace and I believe changing the crest to that of the Black Dragon is just what they need. I need someone of your knowledge... and majesty"
"The Rag Man is not quite dead, and this bothers me, but is he just the puppet? I believe so...something dark whispers from the Ridge. Anyhow, I ask you Great Wyrm, what aid can you lend us, and will you take my hospitality? Is there anything I might be able to aid you with...perhaps a small matter you had not deigned to deal with?"
Andreanu grins and pours some wine into his crystal glass
Just wait here - he normally returns during the early morning hours.
Assuming you wait:
The sun has just risen above Lake Prophyria as the door to the Shark Pool opens and the mountain of man commonly referred to as Gorian enters. As he notices you he smiles and gives you a hug a polar bear would have been jealous of.
Cairn, how are you, do you like Karcau...and did you find a job?
About a mile to the south Solaric finds the torunament place colourfully adorned. A ring of sawdust has been prepared for the fighters and large stands on all four sides of it have been errected for the many expected spectators.
Some knights are already there and the judges are about to prepare the drawing of the pairings.
The book the dragon has just read was an elven tome about the art of dragon hunting.
The dragon listens with great attention and more than once there is a spark of interest in his pitch-black eyes
You are a welcome guest at this place and I have always enjoyed speaking with mortals - their view of the things - altered by their ephemerality is always refreshing.
I have long sensed that a great power has risen in the north. The ripples it sent through the web of power covering our world felt like earthquakes. It stinks of undeath and Thassilonnian magic...I'm not sure who is responsible for it, but your guess is a good one - the master of the one you called Ragman.
The vampire is unknown to me, but vampires are no match for my species...but you're right, I can see why they're a threat for you humans - humans are normally only cattle for them, so you should beware. There are those who love their cattle and feel respsonsible for it and those who just feed on it - find out what kind your vampire is.
Jarovicha? A remote mountain village if I remember correctly...I take it for granted that should I make my new lair there, I had your protection, but on what will I sustain? Are there large swamps?
"It was a dark place, wooded at least, I will investigate the options of swampland for you... of course there was good feeding to be had around those parts, the clutch of Wyverns we faced there were of a rather incredible size and they certainly weren't starving. You will of course have my protection, and I shall ensure fresh books come for you from my contacts at the Karcau academy."
"If you could be so indulgent, the occasional pass through to watch the Ice Goblins would be most appreciated, if only to corral them and keep their front towards the city more narrow... if they learn these swamps are not to be trespassed they will provide an easier formation for us to deal with... of course should you choose to make a more robust appearance, I will have the Bards from the Opera or the theatre write a song aboutit, and ensure a piece at the next round of plays... I am sure that the nobles would like that, a polite reminder of your majesty. Oh, it's also a long way home, could I trouble you for a ride back to Karcau, aloft upon your most mighty wings? Perhaps we could fly over the Goblin host and examine them more carefully?" Victoria hazards, keen to see how obliging her ally might be.
Dark does not mean good...if the woods you speak of have the quality of mangroves, I would be most interested...if not, we have to find a temporary solution, cause over time, the forests will turn into swamps by my mere presence. he seems to be very proud of his environment-changing abilities. A short excursion - a surveillance mission...mhm...I haven't done such a thing for several human lifetimes - but why not, I feel a bit rusty anyway. But I can't allow you to sit on my back, hundreds of generations of bullywug chieftains have dreamt of this, it just wouldn't be fair - I can carry you in one of my claws though. after a moment of further consideration, he adds Maybe those bards you were speaking of would even write a play about me...and that play would be published as a book later...
"Claws!? I feel scandalised that I would be pawed and manhandled in such a way!" Victoria pauses for dramatic effect, then laughs. "Let us be aloft then and get to this surveillance... I could not feel safer than to be held aloft by such mighty majesty"
Victoria still slips on the Ring of Feather Falling, just in case...
Solaric's mood brightens at the sight of the colorful decorations.
"I, Solaric Zekkaran, have arrived and await my pairing."
The dark elf looks around at the cheering spectators and thinks about the fate of the people of Karcau.
These good folk do not begin to realize the evil that threatens their lives. The Inheritor willing, I will protect them and keep them safe. However, first I must win this tournament and find my place at Sassandra's side. May we ever work to bring peace and justice to this fine city.
The judge nods friendly and points at a black board
Your first fight has already been determined, Sir Zekkaran. You have to fight Olander Valsho.
Valsho is second to last at the moment and what you have seen of him during the tourney does not really worry you.
The dragon grins and creeps out of the gigantic dead tree. He lets you climb into his paw and an instant later two powerful strokes bring you up into the air. The sudden lurch nearly makes you vomit, but somehow you manage to keep your composure.
My first excursion since many years...shall we take a flight over the city?
the dragon's voice thunders - you have no idea how you are supposed to answer, your voice doesn't carry further than 20cm you think.
Solaric proceeds to the site of his match. Once he arrives, he kneels down in prayer, opening himself up to the Inheritor's guidance.
"Create in me a pure heart, Blessed Inheritor! Open my heart to the faith you've instilled in all who seek to see and know your face. Let my going in and coming out be in accord with all that you would have me do. As the call comes, here am I send me use me!"
After his prayer, he stands up and proceeds into the ring. "Well met, Olander Valsho. I am Solaric Zekkaran, Knight of the Vigilant Flame. Where do you come from, my good sir? I am honored to face you in open combat."