Chapter Seventy-Seven

November 10, 2012


26th of Woodmonth


We talk a bit more with the old elf before being led back to the Golden Dragon Inn.  As we are sitting there, I notice a man walking rapidly toward our table, looking quite tense.  He stops behind Briggette.

“Can I help you with something?” Ulric asks him.

“I must confess, Sir, I am not familiar with your colors.”  We realize he is Grozneyan when he speaks.

As Ulric explains that we are a new house, Briggette turns to look at the man.  He is quite close to her, and she asks him to move back.  He seems surprised to see a female and apologizes and steps back.  He says he knows we are from the West and asks to speak to Ulric in private.  He excuses himself and walks off with the man.  I surreptitiously follow.

“I recognize your accent from East Grozney, but you wear no colors,” Ulric observes.

“I serve no Grozneyan house,” he replies, “and who I do serve must remain hidden.”  He goes on to tell Ulric that he has been in the service of a “house” here, though they are not a house in the Grozneyan sense.  The family has many enemies and asked him to protect the children from the enemies.  He brought his last minor charge here to protect her.  He explains that he is a man of his word, and he has pledged to protect this house.  He wants us to take the girl back to Grozney to protect her while he leads their pursuers away in another direction.  Ulric agrees to the task, and the two men make arrangements to transfer custody of the girl the next morning.  He bows and they part ways.

Meanwhile, back inside the building, Arany looks up and excuses himself.  Briggette asks him what is going on, and he says he doesn’t know, “perhaps nothing, perhaps death.”  He walks over to a man on the other side of the room.  When the man stands, we see that he is wearing a robe that looks as if it is made of copper.  The two converse for a moment, then step outside.  Briggette resists the urge to follow them.

We come back and Briggette and Boian are debating Arany’s exit.  I decide to go out and see what is going on.  I see the two in the street, and I notice that the foot traffic and horses seem to go around them at a wide berth, though no one seems to really see them there.  I am able to catch little pieces of their conversation, though the noise makes it difficult.  “Well, I suppose,” Arany says, “I should introduce you to her, then.”  They turn to walk back into the bar, both going past me without noticing me there.  I, too, go back inside.

Arany walks up to our table with the man in tow.  “This is Countess Sir Briggette Bellyn von Zurwald Heltragen.  It is she whom I serve.”

Briggette looks up and sees that the man’s skin has a slightly coppery tone.  “Are you a dragon?”

He answers with a long name in draconic, Arany’s full dragon name, “says he is here to serve you.  Is that the case?”  He looks at Briggette.

“I’m sorry, she doesn’t yet have mastery of the tongue, but yes, he is,” I answer in draconic.  He replies that he is disturbed by my heritage, but that my accompaniment of the servant of the Law-Giver vouches for my veracity.

He switches to common and talks with Briggette about Arany being in her service.  He questions Ulric about his reason for being here since he is a representative of the Duke.  During this whole conversation, I notice that Arany is quite deferent to this dragon.  He tells us that our part of the duchy is beleaguered with evil dragons.  We discuss the black we met in the swamp, and he tells us that dragon is very old.  After a bit, he stands to leave, and once again, everyone moves to get out of his way without being conscious of it.

We sit for a bit more before going to bed.  The next morning, when we come downstairs, our guide is waiting for us with her feet propped up on the table.  She has breakfast set out for us.  “Where are we going today?”

“I’m going to see the Knight of the Province; I don’t know about you,” Briggette answers.

“Oh, Cuthbertine issues,” the elf sounds disappointed.  I decide to go with Briggette, Boian and Finn to meet him while Ulric and Arany go into town to the market area to commission some works.

We are met at the keep and conducted inside.  It is very Spartan and utilitarian inside with plain tapestries on the walls for warmth rather than decoration.  None of the furniture is upholstered.  At the end of the table, there is a chair that sits an inch or two taller than the rest.  On the ceiling is an elaborate fresco of Cuthbert fighting the Serpent Mother.  Then First Knight enters, an older man with an unsettlingly piercing gaze.

“Lord Protector of the west, what brings you to my assignment?” he asks.

“I’ve come to pay my respects,” she answers.

“I would expect that, but what brings you to town?”  She explains our reason for being in Fianna, and he gives us a large meal of breads and meats.  He tells us that pressure from the mountains has increased in Fianna and that the war with Tomasina has escalated quite a bit.  We talk strategy for a bit, then return to the Golden Dragon Inn.

At the appointed time, Ulric goes to meet with Gregor, the Grozneyan man from the night before.  He introduces us to a beautiful 15-year-old girl named Alyssa.  Ulric officially takes her in his charge and parts ways with Gregor.  They, too, return to the Inn.

Introductions are made all around, and the girl looks suitably stunned at Briggette’s station and dress.  After a while, Ulric buys a round of ale for everyone in the bar and does everything in his power to ensure everyone has a great time.

The next day, Boian takes Briggette to visit her ancestral home.  As we approach, Boian looks over, “Ulric, I vouch for her safety here.  Please remember that before you draw your weapon, no matter what you think you see.”

We enter a bar with a vividly painted sign of a serpent, and Boian goes over to the barkeep and gives the man a long, elaborate handshake.  The man comes out from the bar and leads us into a room where he turns to lock the door behind us.  A doorway opens in the back wall, leading to a corridor which ends in a house lit from within, but we see no torches or lit stones or anything.

Boian tells us that this is Briggette’s ancestral home.  It used to be a house on the street, but had to be hidden.  A man of about fifty enters dressed the same as Boian with the same tattoo down his arms.  He drops to his knees in front of Briggette.  She seems flabbergasted.  He look at her, “We’ve been looking for you a long time.”  He turns, “I never thought Boian would be the one to bring you back.”  Before we part ways, he closes his eyes and says a little prayer for our group.  He warns me against giving in to chaos—not just evil.  He answers a few more questions, and we spend a few hours there with him talking, after which we return to the Inn.  We stay in town for a few days, then sail for home.


On the fourth day of sailing, we notice a small dot on the horizon; however, it is not actually on the water, but rather, it is up in the sky.  We decide to beach the ship, and Briggette climbs into Arany’s saddle, and they take off toward the threat.  Arany sees that it is a roc, and flies immediately back to the boat to inform us of the danger.  He tells us that if we are perfectly still, it will not notice us.  The strategy works, and eventually, it passes us by.

When we land in the Mladenov lands, Joe is there to meet us.  He escorts us through their lands, and when we get back to our own, we see a Cuthbertine flag flying from our castle wall.  When we ride in, Gustav is in the courtyard.  He greets us appropriately and says Aethelred is here to see Briggette with a letter.  Another letter has come for Ulric.  Both letters tell of a dragon threat which Brannick, Quinn, Silas, and Count Stefan have gone on to fight it.

We meet Finn in town the next morning and make for Brasov to take care of the threat. Iulien had been kidnapped, and Briggette is able to revive him.  He tells us that Silas must have brought him home, but he doesn’t know how the battle went after that.  Worried, Briggette uses her magical device to call Silas to us.

He arrives ready for battle, and finding none, proceeds to lecture us about using the device at the wrong time. However, he makes plans to retrieve the others and bring them home.