Ch. 5: For Glory, Honor, and Empire
Trumpets blare and electricity can be felt throughout the city as the Glory Games are set to begin. People have descended up Imperial City from all over the Fortis Empire. Spectators and athletes alike are a buzz. These are the first Glory Games in over 5 years because of turmoil and civil war. However, now that Emperor Fortis has returned peace and stability to the empire things are beginning to return to “normal” as the older folks like to say.
The different academies are the main competitors in the games although there are a few individual athletes who have managed to find their way into the games. The Roland Academy has traditionally performed quite well over the history of the games. However, their domination is being challenged by the House Atlantic Academy. The House’s new breed of “thinking soldiers” has proven to be a change from the traditional. Several smaller academies have also seen some success from time to time as well.
The games are held in the Arena of Heroes, a tribute to the men that have served in the Fortis Empire’s armies. There are statues and memorials throughout the massive arena depicting the heroes of the empire’s history and their great deeds and accomplishments.
There are five different events that will take place over four days.
1. Master Horse Race
2. Chariot Race of Death
3. Top Shot Archery Contest
4. The Gauntlet (Obstacle course)
5. Tournament of Swords.
Winning any one of these events can bring honor and glory to the winner’s family and academy.
There is also money to be made during the games. A shrewd man can make a fortune while gambling on the different contests.
The games start with the Emperor entering and taking his seat in the arena and the masses are awaiting the emperor’s arrival. However, as the drums beat and the trumpets blare it is not the emperor who emerges and takes his seat. Instead it is an Imperial official. The crowd’s roar ceases and only the murmur of rumors and questions can be heard. An uneasy mood fills the arena. It is short lived as the trumpets and drums begin again and the athletes are starting to filter into the arena for the parade.
Our group makes its way to the registrar’s office and sure enough, Cyrus Salvador has gotten any of the characters that qualified in. You take your place in the parade line.
If no qualifying athletes:
You find seats to watch the games.
After Gib finds out that Rac E’Car is participating in the games he may speak with him.
“It is so very good to see you my friend, and here in Imperial City of all places at the Glory Games! How have you been? We have missed you at the House Atlantic.”
“I have continued your research and while I am not as talented as you we are making progress on our computational device. I have also began branching out and working on a new project. I have been trying to create fire from rocks. A difficult concept to understand for sure, but I am convinced that some rocks could be ground into a fine dust or powder if you will. They would become quite combustible if in the right state.”
“If you ever make it back to the House Atlantic I will show you my work. Perhaps you can help me. It was good seeing you Gib. I hope your travels go well and that our paths cross again soon.”
After watching one of the heats of the horse race a man approaches your and hands a message to Gib.
Or – After the final sword match of the tournament a man approaches Gib and hands him a message.
“Follow this man. General Tyrell.”
The group quietly filters out and follows the man to a building several streets away from the arena. The man leading you says something to the man sitting in the chair outside and he stands to open a door. In the room is a cellar door leading you down into the network of tunnels that you traveled through upon arriving in the capital city. The leader lights a torch and tells you to follow him.
The four of you make your way through the tunnels and emerge after a long walk. You are greeted by three Imperial Guards. One of them steps forward and asks you to follow him. As you emerge from this room you are astonished to find yourself in what you can only presume to be the Imperial Palace. It is lavishly decorated and a sight to see. The guards lead you to a chamber and open the door. Lying on a bed in front of you is Emperor Nathaniel Fortis. Sitting at a desk next to him is General Tyrell and in the corner is a large stern looking man that you have not seen before.
“The magnificent athletes (or champions) of the Glory Games. So much for keeping a low profile.” Quips the Emperor.
“No matter. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. The journey I will be asking you to take will be a long and arduous one.”
You notice that Emperor Fortis is bed ridden and looks as though he is in pain. It appears as though the rumors of his injury being more sever are true.
“So these are the young men who saved your life Nathaniel?” The large man in the corner of the room steps forward into the light. He is wearing impressive robes and several gold rings on his hands. Attached to the belt around his waist is a scabbard housing a massive broad sword, his beard hides most of his face and you can only imagine the large mouth that it hides beneath. The voice is a clear, deep, and strong one that sends a chill down your spine.
“Why yes they are, Shay.” The emperor winces as he tries to sit up. “I’ll let them introduce themselves.”
“I am King Shay McMasters of Beinn. Any friend of Nathaniel here is a friend of mine. I must say, the twist of fate that brought you together is quite amazing. He has told me your story. Perhaps another twist is awaiting you.”
General Tyrell rises from the table he has been sitting at. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but we do have pressing matters to attend to. Should we brief them of what is happening?”
“Yes general. Let me start by asking these gentlemen what they know. What say you, have you come across any Intel regarding the happenings within my empire or in all of Kantros?” Asks the Emperor.
General Tyrell motions them over to the table. On the table is a map of all of Kantros.
“As you know (or) there was an assassination attempt on King Acre. They have his assassin in captivity and I would assume they are trying to get information from him. We do not yet know if there was a connection between that attack and the one on Emperor Fortis. The Sah’ra have been dealing with even more attacks from the Bairing Islands than we have. The raids are larger and more common. Just three days ago we received a message from King Acre that he would like to broker a peace treaty and a military alliance with us and the Beinn Kingdom. The assassination attempt and the increased attacks have made even the King feel uneasy. As if that weren’t enough, there are rumblings out of the Confederation of Vallos of a growing rift between the three ruling cities. One of Aldemir Vallon’s associates was caught smuggling slaves. There has been an accusation that he was doing this at the request of Vallon himself. Why, we do not know. We also do not know who he was selling the slaves too. It may be in connection to the slaver you killed, Jericho Aimes. Regardless, the other two families, the Jerstons and the Welleks are up in arms. We believe that they could be possibly mobilizing their armies as we speak. While the Jerstons and the Welleks have been willing to do business and have been friendly to the Empire and the Beinn, Vallon has been less so.”
Shay McMasters steps over to the table. “As you can easily see this is a perilous time for Kantros. Unfortunately for us, Nathaniel here is injured and laid up for a while. He is the one man who might be able to get everyone on the same page and unite Kantros against the Bairing Islands and stop their raids. He might just be able to prevent a war here on the main land as well.”
General Tyrell “This is where your party comes into play.”
Emperor Fortis “I need you to run damage control until I can recover from my wounds. I need you to be my eyes, ears, and be messengers. Explain to them General their mission.”
“With the request for an alliance with the Sah’ra it provides an opportunity to ensure peace between our three kingdoms. It also provides an ally against the islands, an ally that we will need if we ever hope to invade and end the threat once and for all. However, with war in the Confederation a real possibility, an alliance could be perceived as a threat to the three ruling families. Especially the family of Vallon who still harbors very real hatred towards the Fortis Empire. We cannot have the ruling families of Vallos believe that our empire, the Sah’ra, and the Beinn are going to team up against them. That is why we would like you to discretely travel to the capital city of Acre and meet with King Acre and propose the alliance that King McMasters and Emperor Fortis have drawn up.”
McMasters interrupts, “This is where me and the emperor disagree. He wants this done discretely, I want this done loudly. It will let the Confederation know we mean business, and if those barbarians on the islands find out all the better. I have proposed to send a squadron of my finest soldiers to Acre, Nathaniel here says that is too threatening.”
The emperor has now managed to prop himself up and he offers a rebuttal. “We were just over this Shay. This could very well be seen as a threat. We cannot chance that. Sending these men gives us the best chance to do this quietly until things calm down. Leave the diplomacy to me and I’ll leave the head cracking to you.”
The group shares a laugh and General Tyrell draws their attention back to the map.
“The journey will be a long one. You will unfortunately have to make this one on land. The raiders up north would surely sink your ship and we cannot guarantee you safe travel around the southern part of Vallos at this time. Here is the peace treaty and the alliance that you are to deliver to King Acre.” He hands you a leather pouch containing the papers. “He will most surely agree to these terms. Whether or not he does you will send word back to us via raven. You should not have any problems traveling through the Empire and the Sah’ra will treat you well. We will send word that King Acre is to expect you.”
“Just in case you do run into trouble I have something for you.” Emperor Fortis motions for a servant to bring him a small box. The emperor opens the box to reveal four rings bearing the lion crest of the Fortis Empire. “Take these rings. They show that you are official agents of mine. Should you get into trouble crossing into Sah’ra show them. They will guarantee you safe passage to the capital city. Keep them safe and hidden. While they may mean friend to some, others it means foe.”
Each member steps forward and takes a ring form the box on the bed next to the Emperor. These rings give you +1 to your Charisma attribute.
He continues. “After you have finished with your mission return to Fort Navaro. I will hopefully be recovered by then and will meet you there. In the meantime, I can only pray to the gods that war hasn’t broken out in Vallos.”
“Any questions?” Asks the general.
“I cannot tell you how dangerous this mission could be. You may face no challenges at all or you may run into hurdle after hurdle. I can only hope that your strength, skills, and ingenuity can prevail.” With that the emperor’s physician enters the room and begins to shoo everyone out of the room including King McMasters and General Tyrell.
The general gives the group a requisition list for horses for the journey across Kantros. He excuses himself and begins talking to a group of officers as they make their way down the hallway.
“Well Gents, I wish you the very best on your journey. I honestly don’t understand why Emperor Fortis is willing to trust you, but if he does then so do I. Nathaniel and his family have been dear friends and allies of our kingdom and of my family for generations. Please don’t let him down, if you do, you’ll have to answer to me.” You can see a large smile beneath the robust beard of the King. He turns and heads down a dark hallway.
The group acquires their mounts and then heads back to the Emperor’s Jewel to get their belongings. As the men get their stuff Marco’s first mate is waiting in the lobby.
“Sir, we have been docked now for several days. Where are we headed next? The men are starting to get restless.”
Depending on what Marco says he can have improvements done to his ships.
Extra Sails – 25 gold Roll D4 and add that many movement for the Sea Bitch.
Armor on hull – 30 gold Roll D20 and add that many HP to the Sea Bitch.
Secret compartments –20 gold Add in secret smuggling compartments.
The group finishes gathering their belongings and packs their saddle bags. If they so choose they may stop by a local merchant on their way out of town.
After shopping you head out. You pass beneath the gates of the Emperor’s Wall and marvel and the massive defensive structures. You think to yourselves about where you are heading, a foreign land that none of you has ever been to.
Your journey to the other side of Kantros takes you through the city of Centreville, home of the House Atlantic Military College. The first leg of the journey goes easily and according to plan without any issues.
As you approach the outskirts of the town you can see the keep of the college rising above the skyline of the other buildings. This is the learning place of Gib Ekans and his friend Rac E’Car. The House Atlantic is under the command and tutelage of Hyperion Gateway, a master tactician and impressive scholar. The House Atlantic is a new military college, focusing on the other elements of warfare besides strength, speed, and brute force. Here the students learn mathematics, science, literature, art, strategy, and tactics. The young men are encouraged to sharpen their mind, not just their body.
As you ride up the college it is clear that it certainly is newer but not nearly as intimidating as the Roland Academy in Imperial City. It just so happens that Gib’s friend Rac is in the court yard practicing his sword fighting with another student.
“Gib!” Yells Rac as he sees his friend and compatriots ride up. “Didn’t think I’d be seeing you this soon again. What a surprise! Are you just passing through or staying for a while?”
“Let me go get Master Hyperion, he will want to see you.”
Rac heads into the keep, one of 7 or 8 buildings that make up the House Atlantic College. He emerges again with a rather large gentleman by his side. It is Hyperion Gateway, a man who looks a little tubby but exudes a charisma that is hard to miss.
“Welcome to the House Atlantic. Gib it is good to see you again. What brings you back? Last I had heard you had been over at Centerpoint celebrating the Emperor’s coronation.”
“Introduce me to your friends.”
“If you have time, you all are welcome to use our facilities and train. I apologize for having to excuse myself, but I have a curriculum issue to deal with. Let me know when you have finished your training and are ready to leave.”
At the House Atlantic you have the choice of training several attributes or skills. In order to receive a training bonus you will need to complete several tasks. Unfortunately because of the journey ahead you only have time to train twice.
Intelligence training – Train with Professor Stark
Charisma training – Train with Professor John Freeman
Wisdom training – Train with Professor Kenobi Yodak
In order to train a skill the student must visit Master Ignignot Urr.
After everyone has finished their training Rac approaches the group and asks Gib if he would like to see the new work he has been doing.
Rac takes the group to his workshop in one of the other buildings on the campus. It is a cluttered workplace and it is clear that clutter is the form of organization being employed.
“Here are the different compounds that I have been working on. This one I call sulfur. I have been mixing it with this one that I call nitrate. I haven’t been able to find the right combination yet and haven’t had very promising results. Perhaps I need another element, something that could serve as a fuel for the burn. I don’t know but here is a little of each. Experiment and maybe you can have more success than I.”
“Well I have to get back to class. I have a siege warfare class starting soon. I hope our paths cross again soon my friend.” And Rac and Gib embrace and then he is off.
The group heads to the keep to meet up with head master Gateway. However, he is waiting for them in the door way talking to one of his school officials.
“I trust your training went well. As you can see we take a new approach to training here at the college. Unfortunately I have just received an order to report to Imperial City. I guess there is an escalating issue in the Confederation of Vallos. It appears as though the ruling families are at odds with one another. The Emperor is calling in some of his advisors and generals. I must be off. God’s speed to you on your travels.”
Master Gateway heads off with his official and you are now free to go.
The journey continues eastward for your group over the next couple of days. As you approach the middle of Kantros the massive mountains begin to fill the skies. The center of Kantros is home to incredible mountains and massive forests. It is truly awe inspiring and has served as a natural boundary between the east and west. There is only one true road that passes through the middle, however, numerous back paths and trails are used by hunters, smugglers, and bandits all the time. This area is especially known for its dangerous bandits that have hideouts and bases tucked into the dense woods and mountain valleys.
Your group takes another day to reach the midpoint of Kantros, Centerpoint City. This is the city that your group was at when you first met. The city is really a city in name only, it is more of a large town, but still significant because of its location none the less. Perhaps you can find a place to stay so that you can bathe and sleep in a bed for the evening. Maybe you can even enjoy the company of a woman should you choose.
You make your way into the town and head to the local tavern and inn. The party puts their horses up in the stable behind the tavern and heads in. Inside the inn you approach the hostess.
Players must negotiate rate for room(s).
After the settling in at your rooms you have a little down time to relax and enjoy the comforts of civilization after being on the road and traveling over the last couple of weeks.
1. Tavern – Can eat a hot meal, small talk with the locals or other travelers, or play “Panic at the Dice-Co.”
2. Visit the brothel.
3. Browse the local blacksmith’s shop and apothecary.
- Meal 2 silver.
- May talk to bartender. Gather Information: 12
- Player initiates conversation.
- Bartender: “Rumor has it war is about to break out in the Confederation of Vallos. The last merchants to come through here from there said things are getting bad. Supposedly there is a major power play between the ruling families, each is trying to muscle each other out. It all started when Vallon was found hiring a man to run slaves. Hard to believe. Anyways the merchant that was here last said there probably wouldn’t be many travelers coming out of Vallos anytime soon. He saw soldiers of Vallon making their way out to control the roads and bridges in an attempt to lock Vallos down. The Jerstons and the Welleks have called an emergency meeting in the capital city of Tyree according to him. I hope whatever happens it happens fast and without bloodshed. The Confederation supplies a good bit of food for Kantros.”
- Overhear conversation between two men sitting at table next to bar. Listen: 12
- “I just dropped off a load of iron from Beinn in Imperial City and man the city is nervous. I was talking to one of the soldiers there and he told me that the Emperor has just sent an army of several thousand soldiers to North Point. I guess the raids up north have gotten so bad that they attacked even the North Keep itself.”
The man sitting with him responds “That is incredible. Those barbarians are really causing some trouble, chaos really. A trader from Sah’ra said they were being attacked too. Those fools from the Bairing Islands need to be dealt with once and for all and shown what civilization is really like. They are evil men.”
- Play Panic at the DiceCo. Max bet is 2 Gold.
If Marco visits the brothel he is immediately recognized and swarmed by the women of the institution. His legend and the stories of his last trip have the ladies buzzing and hoping that he chooses them for his quest of self satisfaction.
Blacksmith’s Shop and Apothecary
Unfortunately because of the problems throughout the lands of Kantros there are very little supplies and things for your group to buy. Very few merchants and traders have passed through Centerpoint in the last couple of weeks.
After spending the evening the group is recharged and ready to head out. It is early in the morning and the sun is just peaking over the mountains as you hit the road heading west to Sah’ra.
After riding for a day your party sets up camp for the evening. The night progresses well enough until…
A large figure wearing a dark cloak approaches your group.
A deep and dark voice that sounds like it is from the depths of the underworld itself emanates from the figure.
“I seek the one that is filled with the darkness. He must join our ranks and be sacrificed to the dark lord. His darkness will add to our strength.”
“You all will die. I will take the one full of darkness with me.” Willpower Check – 12
After battling for several turns…
Suddenly another figure emerges from the forest and jumps into the battle. It moves like lightning darting back and forth in its white cloak. It engages the figure in black and an epic duel commences.
After trading blows the figure wearing white starts speaking in a tongue that is not recognizable by any in your group. The figure in white then takes its sword now glowing like it is white hot and in one fell swoop strikes down the figure wearing black.
You move slowly towards the figure in white as the man stands over the slain combatant. The figure in white removes the hood of its cloak revealing an elderly man. Lazarus immediately recognizes it is Abraham, the master of the White Hand Assassins, and drops to one knee.
“Master, you saved us. I am in your debt.” Lazarus says towards his master.
“Rise my son. This was a battle I was afraid was coming and honestly, is one that you alone or your friends could win.”
Abraham bends down and removes the hood of the dark figure. The man inside is still alive but is slipping the surly bonds of Kantros. The dark figure begins to chuckle to himself and says…
“The legion has awoken. Our master from across the waters is calling to us. As we get stronger we will bring him to us and Kantros will be consumed when he crosses to this land.” With that the figure begins to deteriorate and a strong wind blows the ashes of the figure away into the darkness of the night.
“Lazarus I am afraid your condition is a symptom of a larger problem. This warrior was a member of the Legion, a dark cult dedicated to plunging Kantros into despair and darkness. What I am speaking of is known by myself and maybe only a handful of others in all of Kantros. When the ancients came to Kantros and brought with them knowledge, small kingdoms began to emerge. One of those kingdoms was ruled by the group that became known as the Legion. They were evil to the core; it corrupted them into monsters and demons. However, after generations of war against those who would not submit they were defeated and pushed into the mountains of Kantros. Almost all of them boarded ships and sailed away, to where we do not know. A small number remained here, hiding away in temples constructed in the mountains of Kantros, waiting for the return of those that had left, hoping that someday they would consume this land. It appears as though they are awakening. Our order, The White Hand was created to purge Kantros of evil which the Legion consume and thrive on. It appears as though we are not doing our job well enough. Did he say anything to you?”
“That is not good at all. According to the myths and legends that have been passed down through our order they will track down and sacrifice those with evil inside. Once enough evil has been collected it will act as a beacon or signal for the rest of the Legion to return. With them will come their dark lord or king, an entity that is said to have an insatiable thirst for conquest. The Legion will continue to pursue you Lazarus. Whatever it is inside of you they want it. I do not know what is in your past that is so evil that it calls to them, but you must make a choice. Will you be a force for good or a force for evil? Remember, destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice, at that choice is yours.”
“I must be going. It appears as though I have much work to do. Fulfill your mission for Emperor Fortis, he may be our only hope if the Legion come back.” With that the old man walks into the tree line and disappears as if he was never there.
After your encounter with the member of the Legion you regain your composure and rest up until dawn breaks. You pack your supplies and head on the road towards Sah’ra. After riding for several hours you approach the massive fortress protecting the eastern boarder of the Fortis Empire, Fort Navaro. Designed by Benji Navaro, a general of the Fortis Empire nearly 200 years ago, it is still an incredible structure. The road leading into the massive fortress is surprisingly quiet.
As a group you must decide whether you would like to approach the fort or pass by on the road that runs alongside and then crosses the Kawa River.
If Players choose to enter:
You ride towards the gatehouse of fort and notice several guards at their post. An archer raises his bow and puts an arrow in front of your horses.
“Halt. Only official Imperial personnel.”
Players must present their rings bearing the Imperial insignia of the Lion to gain entrance to Fort Navaro.
There are a number of loud clangs and the ground beneath your mounts trembles as the titanic gate begins to open. It opens only part way to reveal 5 armed guards approaching you. They quickly and quietly examine your rings. One of them looks back and signals a man to come forward. He is clearly an officer, he looks at the rings and then asks you to dismount and follow him.
You are led through the gatehouse and into the courtyard of the fortress. Waiting for you is the commander of the Fortress, General Lionel.
“Welcome gentlemen, I am General Lionel, how may I help you?”
Just play it by ear depending on what they ask for.
If players choose to pass Fort Navaro:
You continue on the road next to Fort Navaro and marvel at its size. It truly is a simple of the Fortis Empire’s former glory.
You soon arrive at the bridge that crosses the Kawa River, and ride over to the other side. Your party now finds itself in the northern part of the Confederation of Vallos. Just as on the Fortis side, the road appears empty and quiet.
The days ahead are easy enough as you head further north the only thing that changes is the heat. Grass, trees, and animals become few and far between. Eventually the grasslands give way to sandy dunes and you cross the Wadi river at the only major bridge. You cross and it appears as though there is no one around, suddenly a group of me on horseback appear over a hill and begin riding at you at break neck speed. One man is a standard bearer with a flag showing the brown flag with and yellow scorpion of the Sah’ra.
The riders soon circle you and a rider asks “What is your business here?”
“Do you have proof of your intentions?”
“Very well, we will take you to King Acre.”
Over the next couple of days you travel through the sweltering heat of the desert and by the Scorpion’s Lair, the ancient fortress where the Sah’ra won their independence against the Fortis Empire centuries ago. The Sah’ra are a fiercely independent and proud people but they have warmed up to outsiders as the decades have worn on. As you approach the capital city of Acre you marvel at its majestic architecture which is completely different from anything that you have ever seen in the different parts of Kantros. The spire of the palace can be seen from over a mile away.
The escorts take you through the heart of the city showing off the wealth and splendor of Acre. Numerous fountains provide the water needed for the city to sustain itself and its people. Without the wells below the city it would not be possible for the thousands of inhabitants to call Acre home.
The palace sits on the coastal side of town. Its upper levels easily peer over the stone walls that protect the city and provide for breathtaking views. Soldiers can be seen manning their posts throughout the city and you can feel the tension that sits in the air from which you assume can be attributed to the assassination attempt on King Acre and the Bairing Islands attacks.
The escorts ask you to dismount and your horses are cared for. You are taken into the main hall where you can see the throne of the king. Adorning the walls and huge room are trophies of exotic game and art. A large dressed in fine robes approaches you and blocks your sight of the throne.
“Greetings and salutations. We have been expecting you. I am Vizier Elsen, chief council to King Acre.”
“King Acre would like to welcome you to our wonderful city. We hope that your journey was a safe one. The journey from one side of Kantros can be long and difficult. I am sure Emperor Fortis filled you in on your mission and our situation. King Acre has given me orders to take you to him upon your arrival, so if you will follow me I will take you to his study.”
Vizier Elsen takes you through the palace to the King’s study, under the ever watchful eye of guards present in almost every room. The doors open to show books on shelves from the floor to the ceiling. An elderly gentleman sits at a desk studying one of the dozen books on his table.
“My king, the officials of the Fortis Empire are here.”
The old man stands up from the table and grabs the cane that was leaning against the table. He approaches your group and extends his hand and takes a bow.
“Welcome my new friends.”
You bow and pay your respects to the king.
“I believe you have something for me? I am not going to drag this out with unnecessary pleasantries, I am too old and do not have time for that.”
Vizier Elsen steps forward and takes the two copies of the peace treaty and hands it to the king. King Acre pours over the treaty, a sharp intensity fills his eyes and you can tell that while he may be old, the great king has not lost his wits or his mind.
“Everything appears to be in order. Emperor Fortis has delivered a treaty as promised. This will help ensure the safety of my people even after my death. It is good to have powerful friends, especially during these difficult times. Vizier Elsen, would you please get me a writing utensil.”
The vizier goes through one of the drawers and pulls out a quill and some ink and without the pomp and circumstance that usually precedes or follows the signing of a treaty King Acre makes his mark. Wax is poured next to his name and the king pushes his ring to it giving the treaty the official scorpion seal of the Sah’ra. His name and seal are next to Emperor Fortis’s and King McMasters. The procedure is replicated with the second treaty and it is given back to your party to return to the Emperor.
“So it is finished. Thank you for making the journey. I know it probably wasn’t the easiest trip. Tell me, with whom am I making history with?”
“If it pleases you I would like to invite you to stay for a couple of days before your return journey. It would honor me if you would accept it as a token of my appreciation.”
“Vizier, please make arrangements for the gentlemen to have one of the suites overlooking the sea. They will enjoy it and will help them relax and unwind. Also, please have a message drawn up and sent to Emperor Fortis by raven. Make sure it leaves at once.”
“As you wish my king.” Vizier Elsen heads out the back door.
“You will most certainly enjoy your stay. We may not be the most powerful or the wealthiest in all of Kantros, but we do know how to treat our guests. I would like to invite you to a dinner this evening. I will send someone for you after you have had a chance to rest. In the mean time follow my servant here and he will show you to your room.”
The four of you are taken to your suite and you are not disappointed. It is massive with five different rooms and a large balcony with breathtaking views of the sea. You unpack and relax. After a while there is a knock on your door. It is another servant ready to escort you to dinner.
The dining hall is impressively decorated and the table is adorned with food that looks and smells incredible. Vizier Elsen welcomes you and shows you to your seats at the massive table. Other men and women slowly filter in, dignitaries, generals, and other advisors fill up the spaces. Suddenly the room goes quiet and everyone stands. In comes the old king with a woman much younger than him at his side. The woman is a masterpiece and the perfection of the female form. Her beauty is absolutely stunning. The two take their seats at the head of the table and the meal progresses with course after course of food.
After the last food has been eaten the King stands and raises his goblet.
“To our guests and new allies of the Fortis Empire. May peace between our kingdoms last for a thousand years.”
Everyone drinks to the King’s toast and everyone begins to visit. Eventually the different people begin to filter out. The king and his lovely wife make their way over to the four of you.
“I trust you enjoyed the food. Maybe a little different than what you are used to back home. I apologize, where are my manners, I have not yet introduced you to my daughter, Isla.”
The young lady curtsies. “My father tells me that you gentlemen brought the treaty. We are in your debt. The protection of the Empire cannot come at a better time for our people.”
“Isla here will be queen and ruler of Sah’ra after my time here has passed. She is the one that convinced me to reach out to Emperor Fortis. She will make a fine queen. Well gentlemen, if you will excuse me, I must retire. These old bones can only handle so much excitement for one day. Isla, I will see you in the morning.”
King Acre heads out and several in his entourage follow.
“If I may, I would like to show you back to your room for the evening.”
The four of you follow the young lady as you begin the walk back to your room.
“My father is lucky to be alive. He too was almost killed by an assassin, much like your Emperor. We have heard of the attempt on his life. Very discouraging it is. Even more troubling are the attacks on our people. Many of those living in the smaller towns and villages have had to leave their homes and are now living in one of our three cities. If is becoming a little more crowded than we would like. How bad have the raids on the northern part of the Empire been?”
“I am sure you are well aware of the troubling news coming out of the Confederation as well. Just another reason why I wanted my father to find friends and allies. Unfortunately his health has been deteriorating quickly. Ever since my mother passed away a couple of years ago he has been just passing the days by. I am an only child, and the responsibility of ruling will fall to me after he passes. I do not look forward to these troubling times. Tell me, would you be willing to do me a favor?”
“I do not know you gentlemen, but you must be men of honor to be trusted by your emperor. Would you please help me solve the mystery surrounding my father’s assailant? I want to know who tried to kill my father and return the favor.”
“We did capture the would be assassin alive, unfortunately he died just days before your arrival. However, we did find this.” Isla removes from her cleavage a letter. “It is a message for the assailant. It is partially translated, however, I am no good at such things and I do not know who to trust with it. There will be those that will not want me to be queen and I must find out my friends before I trust this to someone. You four on the other hand, have no allegiances and would be willing to kill for money I assume?”
“I am glad to hear that we can be “friends”. I look forward to getting to know you all more in the future and hopefully we can be of assistance to one another in the future. Unfortunately, here is your room. Here take this letter, see if you can translate it for me. Let me know if you discover anything in the morning. Good evening, rest up. I am sure tomorrow will have many surprises.” With that she hands over the letter and heads down the hallway.
You head into your room and open the letter. To your astonishment it is written in the same script as the coded messages you already possess, the one from your would be killers in Jeros and the letter you found in Jericho Aimes tent. It has had several words already converted or translated, however, it still appears to be quite complex. Perhaps if given time the messages can be translated. However, that will have to wait. The four of you head out to the balcony where you begin to let your minds wander.
It is an absolutely gorgeous evening. It is partially cloudy but there is just enough of a break for a couple of stars to break through for a peak.
On the horizon though are what appear to be ships with lanterns, lots of them to be exact. More and more fires are lit until it appears as though the sea’s horizon is full of them. Marco rushes to his room to grab his telescope. He pears over the horizon.
“You are gonna want to see this.”
Each of you takes a turn looking through the telescope. The lens reveals an armada of Bairing ships, armed with catapults, trebuchets, and balistas preparing to fire.
“It is going to be a long night, and not the kind that I usually like.” Marco says.