Of Villains and Vicious Deeds By WarderDragon A gentle breeze wafts languidly across a morning sky; bearing with it the subtle scents of wildflowers and images of the spring thaw to come. It was almost too early in the season to be thinking about wildflowers, you muse absently as a cherry blossom dances on the wind before your eyes, but these were strange times. Born beneath the ever cloud-capped peaks of the Serpents Spine, the wind blew south, cutting a sinuous line across the Samlethe forest and into the lands now occupied by the Dark Tower and the Queendom of Shieba. Down it roamed to the Realm of Queen Dawn; and sang it did amongst the tangled trees of North Britanny and across the shores of Locke Lake, until at long last it beat against the serpentine standards recently erected upon the bastions of Castle Britannia. It would have been a beautiful day, you think bitterly, if not for the storm clouds that followed that wind into Britannia, marring the northern horizon. Storm clouds, and rumors of war. “Read all about it,” he shouts in a high pitched voice, a young paperboy in an cerulean coat. “Conspiracy! Murder! Tales of Villains and Vicious Deeds! Read all about it!” You pass the boy a single gold coin, a Magincian Crown, and are handed a copy of the Stratics Herald. “Thank ye, Sire. Thank ye,” he intones with a tip of his feathered hat, before returning to resume his work. “Betrayal! Wars and Rumors of Wars! Tales of Dark Princes and Witches! Read all about it!” As you flip the paper open, your eyes wander across the numerous articles written within. Stories of a champions’ tournament and investigations being led in Ravenshire. A full-paged ad taken out by the Keep Britannian Clean Campaign, elaborating on the many reasons Gargoyles are a danger to the Realm. An editorial questioning the sovereignty of the independent states. At last, your eyes descend upon a section dedicated to the latest rumors and gossip being spread throughout the realm. While you know that they are merely rumors, and may only carry the faintest grain of truth, a select few passages seem to leap off the page and demand your attention. A secretive gathering of masked and hooded conspirators is rumored to have taken place late this last evening within the Dungeon of Deceit. The nature and purpose of this clandestine meeting remains unclear, as does the identity and allegiances of its four cabalistic masters. Nevertheless, the tale has been confirmed by a reclusive wandering healer who had been camping the rocky crag above the citadel when the conspirators first arrived. He claims to have overheard mention of 'treasure' and 'villains of the crown.' He also claims that sometime just before midnight, the conspirators began leaving one by one, riding south into the artic tundra surrounding Dagger Isle. A plague has erupted in the City of Occlo, claiming more than thirty lives before being contained by the collective actions of the local healer’s guild. The infection, called the Black Death by some, is noted by the flushed appearance of the victim, whose flesh becomes dotted with black boils, and whose spittle becomes flecked with blood. Death comes within a week of the first symptoms. The presence of such a virulent plague in the heart of winter, at the bottom of the trading season, leads some to suggest the disease was magically sent. An investigation is being ordered. Naturally, either Minax, the Dark Tower, or the Gargoyles are to blame, depending on whom you ask. A caravan west of Vesper was attacked by slavers at dusk a fortnight ago as it was hurrying towards the shelter of the Crossroads Keep in the Old World. Only the appearance of two knights belonging to the Kingdom of Dawn snatched victory from the bandits, who attacked with sleep poisoned blades and arrows (“at least fifteen strong”). Caravans moving through the northern roads are being told to triple the strength of their guards until further notice. A brigand has recently attempted to barricade the Town Guard Garrison in New Britain, hoping to trap Corporal Brackus within. This individual is armed and considered to be dangerous, and any sign of disturbance in West New Britain should be reported to the Town Guards immidiately. The Game of Houses, called Daes Daemar, has been gaining increasing popularity amongst the upper class of New Britain and New Trinsic. The Great Game, which is described as the system of intrigues played by noble houses in an ever-escalating bid for political and social power, was first popularized in Nujel’m before becoming favored by the elite of Magincia. With the influx of exiled peers from the Sosarian Isles, the Game has become increasingly an everyday part of courtly life in Britannia, and some worry this could pose a danger to the young and inexperienced warrior queen. The corpses of a middle-aged nobleman and his bodyguards were discovered three nights ago in the woodlands north of New Britain. The man doesn't appear to have been killed for his wealth, as his embroidered silk coat, coin purse, bejeweled sword, and other pieces of adornment were left on his body. The men each seem to have been cut down in battle by a lone swordsman. Disclaimer: This piece is related to a player-ran storyline or event. While there certainly may be overlap between player-ran and event moderator sanctioned storylines or events, the above is meant for storytelling purposes only and reading will not give you an advantage during event moderator sanctioned events. If you have any questions, please contact WarderDragon via Private Message.