Paper Tigers

Under the silent stars

They chose to camp on the precipice of the cliff the heavily scarred Dragonborn had referred to as ‘The Dragon’s Tooth’, Arago ensuring the scroll of Feather Fall was nearby in the event of a rude awakening. Clouds spread out below them like a blanket over the rippling surface of what seemed like a vast ocean of trees. A few minuscule fire elementals lazily drifted around the arcane camp-fire, falling back and rising in a slow rhythm inscrutable to all but themselves. Roksana was the first to break the heavy silence that had descended upon them after the confrontation at The Earthsmith’s Shrine.

“It was simply a mistake, tensions have been high with Bael-Turath, they regarded us as mercenaries and acted hastily, nothing more.” He muttered, his trembling hands betraying the inner turmoil his candid tone sought to conceal. Xandrilla, ever the pessimist, shook his head, protective charms clinking gently with the movement.

“No mistakin’ the madness in their eyes,” He growled. “The damn insanity is spreadin’, ’tis true what the others say.”

“The others say a great deal,” Urir’s muffled voice came from beneath the mask, and they saw him twist his gloved hands in anger. “Fear-mongerers, trying to convince us that Ruul’s days are numbered. No doubt fed by agitators working under the Wyrm and Devil.”

“I know what I saw back there Urir.” Xandrilla snarled, his eyes flashing dangerously.

“The actions of a few do not represent the state of a whole empire!” Urir snapped back. “The King may be unquestionably mad, and it is within the realm of reason to believe he has sent orders to slay all non-Minotaur folk with impunity, rather than these ludicrous claims that the madness is somehow spreading like a disease!”

Xandrilla stood, hefting the hand-axe from his back and Urir tensed, hand slipping towards his belt, when Arago’s voice, clear and authoritative, made them pause.

“I have heard rumours of similar nature from my dreams.” He stated. The others stared at him, interest and no small degree of apprehension in their faces. “Some tell me that the King gazed beyond the stars, and cursed his people with the truth he saw that day. Others tell me a figure wormed its way before the throne, and whispered terrible things into the King’s ear.”

“Do they say who this figure was?” Roksana whispered. Arago frowned.

“It was a strange word they used to describe this figure. Edlon, it is a word I have not seen since my days in The Inquisition. By some priests’ reckoning, the word means Foreigner, or perhaps Outsider would be more appropriate. Though, my tutor, who studied the celestial language, had another translation for it.”

“What was it?”

“Drifter.”

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