Tears of the Lost

Chapter 5 - Uninvited Guests (The Nethermore Storm)

Wherin our heroes are forced to defend their pastries from uncouth aggression.

(Scribe’s Note: This document was entered into the Ironwood historical documents by the Speaker of Chaos, one Highlord Nalath of Rhial. The conversations within do not seem to be accurate in tone, though they may be in content. Those of us at the Scribe’s office felt it best not to irritate the Highlord by questioning his rendition of events.)

Breakfast

It was nine o’ clock in the morning, which was far too early but was depressingly becoming a recurring event in the life of a man who had otherwise known that time as the moment when the party would really be stripped down to just the most dedicated revelers, or else end. There were two reasons to be awake at such an hour. The first was the fact that the Council of Ironwood had decided on the devilish time as appropriate for breakfast, and there was much that could be missed by not attending.

The second was jelly doughnuts.

The conversation at breakfast was rather ordinary that morning, which was unfortunate in that it helped bring on a desire for sleep, but good, in that Highlord Nalath felt it calmed his madness a bit. It should be noted, with some acclaim that he checked his mirror only four times during the meal, though it cannot be said that the meal was not interrupted.

Before we arrive at the interruption however, it is worth providing a sample of the ordinary conversation, so as to distinguish it from what followed after.

Stirring Conversation

“Would it be possible, my Prince, to pass the ice-grape preserves?” Inquired Highlady Sophia of Prince Roland. As she asked, she smiled, and it is not for this historian to say if the smile was coquettish, but it is also not his place to say that it was not thus.

“With good will, my lady.” Replied the Prince, in his usual smooth and dashing manner, though spoilt a bit, this time, by the small bit of egg that was caught in his whiskers.

“Is there anything pressing, this morning?” Asked Nalath, eyeing the last two jelly doughnuts with a strategic gaze. “If not, I would fain take a day to see my Lady Coral, who is still ensconced with her family in Begma.”

“ME FORK SAUSAGE.” Came the bearlike growl from Ezekiel, his mighty hamfist tightly clenched around a serving fork. He proceeded to follow his statement with the described action, reaching across Lady Gilva’s plate while she (and the rest of the table) pretended not to notice.

“Not besides the matters we always have pressing, nothing I believe, that will not wait at least a day.” Always a woman of action, Gilva’s speach was direct, but not blunt. She honed it, one might say, as a warrior hones a sword.

“Excellent. Perforce, I can always be reached by the Trumps, and I do not believe it will be too long a dalliance.” Sinuously, covered by the distracting flourish that accompanied his words, Nalath claimed the second to last jelly, thus bringing the issue of the last doughnut to a head.

“We require recovery time, in any event.” Declared Wren, shifting as if to alleviate the pain of her broken arm, but no one at the table was fooled. Her good arm was now a few inches deeper into the table, within striking distance of the doughnut. “Though I fear I will be wounded for some time, even with the best of care.”

Roland frowned at Wren’s cunning gambit, shifting forward while playing a sympathy card. Not to be outdone, he turned his chair slightly and leaned against the table, giving himself some key additional reach. “Yes, that seemed like a nasty business, from your tales of that black cathedral.”

Logrus Trouble

It seemed to be Sophia’s turn to establish a forward position on the doughnut, a move that all but Nalath (who was in the throes od jelly ecstasy) dreaded, for she was well known for her sly dougnut-capturing ways. However, instead the lady appeared to be turning a bit green, or perhaps purple. It is difficult to say with the Chaos-born.

It was then that Nalath’s arms began to move, and the power of the Logrus stirred within him. Everyone but the Bear looked on in shock, wondering if perhaps Nalath was preparing to take the last doughnut by force of Logrus, and if it would be permissible to answer a double-doughnut grab with naked steel.

However, the affliction appared to be spreading, as lady Gilva and lady Sophia both began their own Logrus summoning as well. Nalath managed to halt his, though the experience was clearly costing him dearly.

Consternation filled the room, and the Amberites sought answers from the Chaosians, but they were unfortunately consumed either with some strange Logrus working, or resisting it. It was then that Lady Wren spied a dreadful storm in the direction that the Logrus power was reaching out, and moved as best she could to the window to observe it, dread growing in her heart.

It was not long (though it seemed so to those afflicted) that the Logrus trouble was resolved, but poorly on all accounts, as the power of the great twisting power was greatly drained, stolen for some dark use.

Even as dreadful as this mystery was, it had to wait to be investigated, as the storm was quickly becoming a more pressing issue. Lord Nalath identified it as the same sort of storm that had attended the finale of the War of the Black Road (Called in some places by the name Patternfall) and that the very sanctity of Ironwood and the Immortals within was now in danger.

Much frenzied discussion occured, and it was settled that allies must be called, and as much care as possible must be taken to protect Ironwood. First, however, everyone had persons and places elsewhere that needed to be bulwarked against the storm. Nalath went to Rhial, and by all accounts was harrowed there by his attempt to defend as much of his family Ways as he could from the Storm. Servants, agents, and favored companions were gathered to places of safety, mostly Amber, or Ironwood.

Anathama

It was at this time that Lord Zythanimerius was called upon by the Council to aid them, and refused. Having spurned their request so soon after making his own demands, he was declared no friend of the Council, to be cut off from recieving aid in any of his own dark endeavors for so long as his arrogant attitude remained.

Brand

The Amberites remembered how their people had survived the last storm, by the power of the Eye of the Serpent (which they call the Jewel of Judgement), and so they summoned the Eye’s current wielder, Prince Brand. By flattery and praise, they convinced him to spend his energies in the defense of Ironwood.

As the final preparations were being made, the castle was made secure against the physical winds. Lord Myrrden strode forth to watch over the castle guard, while Lady Wren went to the Chapel of the Unicorn to seek guidance and aid.

The Storm Strikes

Neither of them found their efforts in vain. Wren recived some sort of warning, while Myrrden beheld dark shapes upon the wind. By Trump and page the word went out, We are under attack!

The Council marshaled it’s forces at the base of the fortress to defend the main doors, and gathered themselves in their high tower to withstand the beasts that could fly. Much might be said about the bravery of the demons and men that fell on the lower levels, but they were not the only defenders that day.

With terrible power, a great hound-like creature with leathery wings tore its way into the Council room through a window. Aghast, the Council formed up to defend their home, their place of power, their dougnut.

“To arms, faithful Council members!” Cried Roland, striking a most dramatic pose.

“Yes, we’ve done that.” Growled Myrrden, who had indeed drawn his sword already. “Try hitting them.”

Roland flashed Myrrden an irked look but let it pass, letting the remark kindle his rage against the enemy, which perhaps was crafty Myrrden’s aim the entire time.

“Where is the enemy, Wren?” Asked Nalath as he was pulled through a trump. His answer came in the form of two hundred pounds of charging, slavering hound, as the beasts beset the group from all sides.

Many were the spells cast, the swords that flashed, the tables thrown. Early in the battle the Bear leaped out the window, grappling with a hound in the most savage manner, snarling and frothing at the mouth as he rent the creature with his very teeth.

Roldand displayed caution, cutting down his foes but ultimately suffering little in the way of wounds. Sophia’s energies were spent in an amazing display of athletic swordsmanship, while Wren was vallient but too badly wounded from the Cathedral to contribute overmuch.

Nalath and Coral stood together, and tragically fell together, overwhelmed and off balance from the moment they entered the room. Indeed, it was a dark day in Ironwood, with scarely two of the Council still able to stand when the smoke had cleared.

Alone and forgotten on the floor, admist the ruins of the great Ironwood Table, the treasure of Ironwood was smote asunder. Bright red sprang from a terrible gash and pooled on the floor. The last jelly doughnut, alas, ruined.



Epilogue: Marcus arrives and we are all appalled at Ezekiel Snakebear.

The aftermath was difficult for everyone. Even the Bear, who had somehow become a snake, and come through the battle with no wounds, had his own suffering to endure. For into the hall the next day came Marcus, of House Rhial and House Snakebear, with a tale of two decades of woe.

Abandoned by his father in a dire hell-shadow, beset by the storm and abandoned through all of his formative years, his anger was easy to understand. The rest of the Council rushed to help the boy, but there was little comfort to give when his own father remained cold to him, haughty, and unwilling to admit his gaping fault.

So it was that the wounded members of the Council made their way to Amber. As with breakfast, there were two reasons. To see the state of Amber after the storm, and to give the much-abused Marcus a chance at his birthright and a better home.

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Drascus

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