Waiting for Dahlia, I thought about the recent events. So many strange ones had happened...the breaking of Skybark causing others to flee to our side...arrival of the Elder Ones...return of the Emporium and a rash of attacks on both caravans and cities. How were they are linked and who was behind it...Minax? My thoughts were interrupted by a heavy sigh.
Looking around, I found that Dahlia had joined us. She seemed disinterested in the parchment she glanced at. She sighed again, "I suppose you have heard the news?"
I shook my head no.
She frowned, "First Weld and now Emporium...pulled away from my investigations for this."
"Ah, to be expected." I told her. "Has the King consented?"
"Yes, the ambassador is in the Royal Chambers as we speak." Dahlia replied. "He requested a closed audience."
I saw that Dahlia was disturbed by the request. "Is that wise my Lady?"
"No, I don't trust the Emporium." Slyly she smiled at us. "How should I put this... perhaps you all should just intrude? It's not like you know he wants a captive audience..."
She didn't have to ask twice. We hurried to the council room interrupting the meeting.
"Perhaps this isn't the time. Your people need your attention." Elowen scowled. "I simply wanted to introduce myself to you."
King Blackthorn smiled. "Please continue."
"No, no. I see you are busy this eve. This was an informal courtesy for a gracious King." Elowen bowed.
Annoyed at our presence, Elowen looked around. "Perhaps, I could stay until the rabble has finished.
King Blackthorn nodded for him to continue.
Elowen Redcrest waved his hands. "Long before we departed on our journey of trade, We were your citizens." He smiled slyly. "I see no reason why we should renounce our citizenship."
King Blackthorn reassured him. "You said you also had news to share." The King looked at us suppressing a laugh.
"Oh yes, the news." Elowen turned to address us. "I just told King Blackthorn we will gladly share any information that pertains to the safety of the realm."
"Oh, and how did you learn of this attack?" I questioned.
Elowen Redcrest frowned then smiled, " Let's just say... a little bird flew around my head and whispered to me."
I wondered if it was the same little bird that warned of the bank attack in Trinisic...busy bird.
"I had word of that also." the King looked around. "I assume that is why you, the Royal Spies, came?"
"Yes, Sire." I agreed. "We were told that Captain Corian would meet us."
"Maybe a few of us should check Minoc and report back." Demoss suggested bowing to the King.
"Ever diligent Demoss, "King Blackthorn nodded in approval. "No need, Dahlia's spies have already done that...ah Captain Corian."
Bowing, Captain Corian approached the King. "With your leave Sire" and he ushered us out.
"She doesn't trust Elowen Redcrest either?" I asked.
"No...nor does the King. he is up to some sort of a ruse." Captain Corian advised us. "These merchants seem...duplicitous at worse, greedy at best."
"That little bird does seem to turn up conveniently ." I said. "A little to convenient."
"I bet they had something to do with the attack on Trinisc and now Minoc." Demoss asserted.
Captain Corian agreed. "But I don't think directly. Our experience with the Traversis Emporium...the Traversis caused havoc and the Emporium made the profit."
"Except for Simon." I reminded him.
"Simon was Traversis." Lady Thalia added.
Captain Corian nodded, "But he did twist some of the Emporium into action. But now...the matter at hand."
Captain Corian's gate set us to the forest outside of Minoc. There Captain Corian left us to deal with another issue. We approached the city without incident. Fanning out, it didn't take long to find Strange Robed figures by the bank.
Following one of the figures, I found Demoss trapped on his ship. "Get help!" he hollered.
Finally the city was cleared. Having joined us Captain Corian studied the battle field. "They seemed determined to enter the city...I'll leave more guards."
"Those reminded me of the Traversis." Lady Thalia said thoughtfully. "It is me or are all the groups we have dealt with in the last four years reappearing?"
Turning one over with his foot, Captain Corian frowned. "You could be right Lady Thalia...but we have another pressing matter to attend to."
Captain Corian waited for the discussions to stop. "I have been told by Frosted Dreams that one of his people have gone rogue. It is headed for Ice Island.
"A rogue Weld?" I echoed in shock. "Who and why Ice Island?"
"Frosted Dreams wouldn't say more. The information seems to be a peace offering." Captain Corian replied. "We must hurry and stop it from escaping."
"Could it be heading to the Dungeon?" Flaps asked?
Without further delay, we left. Luckily we arrived before the weld could reach the dungeon.
"No, Elder One," Lady Thalia replied. "We seek the reason you are here. It is unusual to find an Elder One in these lands."
Shattered Dreams looked thoughtfully at Lady Thalia, "My reason to be here? Who told you."
"The Emporium?" I asked in surprise. "Are you involved with the Emporium?"
"The Emporium? What next...am I just some a foolish Weld seeking a different way." Shattered Hoped laughed. "What have they told you then...lies I can assume."
"I meant no offense. You mentioned the Emporium." I replied stepping back. "Frosted Dreams only told us you were here."
Lady Thalia moved in front of me. "As I told you, we are merely curious why you are here."
"Three sides?' I asked in puzzlement. "What are those?'
"Shattered Hope smiled...sharp teeth showing. "The three sides I refer to being your Weld, the Weld from our side, and the Emporium."
"Would they allow that to happen I wonder..." Shattered Hope looked at me.
I shivered, "I wouldn't. We can offer you amnesty and refuge as we did the others.
"Amnesty, refuge...little words with little meanings." Shattered Hope growled. "I saw what you did with Minax for peace."
"It is a prison of her choosing. " Lady Thalia declared. "We seek to keep her there since she has destroyed the land before."
Shattered Hope laughed roarously, "We see opportunity and take it...there they painted us into corners, but here we are free."
"They really have said nothing haven't they?" Shattered Hope said thoughtfully. "Pity they do not. They painted us into corners...left us to suffer and rot...here we are free."
Shattered Hope raised a claw. "I've heard what you've done to my kind. You may outnumber me but I'll die before bending to others." With another roarous laugh, Shattered Hope swiped his claw at me." Then Summoning Fragments of Hope, he attacked.
Resting after the battle, Captain Corian, studied the sword Shattered Hope had carried.
Captain Corian turn it to show us the blood. "It looks like it was used for blood sacrifices...was it going to use it even if we hadn't come?"
"Recently we have found two people doing blood sacrifices." I said shuddering. "Necromancers use blood sacrifice...the Travsisty?"
Lady Thalia nodded. "The Weld originally fled from necromancy.
"That they did." Captain Corian agreed. "Still I don't understand...it wanted to die? Why do I feel the Weld and Emporium are hiding information."
"Shattered Hope said that the Weld, Elder Ones, and the Emporium formed some sort of triangle." I said, "Working together?"
"That could be. " Captain Corian frowned. "It mentioned it was trapped...painted into a corner...as were others."
Captain Corian handed the sword to me. "Make sure to deliver this to Dahlia for me.
"It will be done." bowing I took the sword. Sadly I looked once more at Shattered Dreams. This didn't bode well...an Elder One wanting to die. With much to ponder, I left to find Dahlia.
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Strange Robed Figures And Shattered Dreams
Sitting by the fire, I thought over the day's events. I was still surprised that Dahlia had us interrupt the King's audience with the Emporium's...