An Audience with the Autumn Lady
The Meeting opens up with typical pleasantries. They announce the attendees:
- Issuman Albaiar, Patriarch of House Albaiar
- Nebbianych Matielna, Matriarch of House Matielna
- Dynn Illumviar, Overseer of the Eastern Wood
- Cia’Loregna, General of the Norwood
And when the announcer turns to introduce the party, The Lady interrupts and introduces them as who they really are.
“Malik, Bastard Son of the Spire and favored servant of House Liadain.”
“Calidore, Shadar-Kai Prince.”
“Wyk, my dear Wyk, THE Halfling Prince.”
“Rennore, the Hoarfrost Prince.”
Calsar turns his head to see if someone is standing behind him when the queen addresses him as Rennore, the Hoarfrost Prince. His hand goes to his chest and he clutches something beneath his shirt with a thoughtful look. It’s a very strange sight, as he’s never paused to consider anything since you’ve known him.
Na’Yumi sat in casual, polite silence as the Autumn Queen introduced the court. The apparent secrets of her companions revealed however was another matter entirely. While she certainly did not expect Marid to be someone of noble birth, the fact he was operating under a false name was almost expected. Calidore’s standing was also expected to a degree, given the standing of his father in the mortal realm and the sway that his mother held in the Shadowfell. Wyk was a curiosity, but only because of the very open-ended term of ‘Great’ in reference to the halfling’s father. The assumption was not that of a king (much less the king), but rather a member of nobility perhaps, or a very powerful merchant. Calsar… well, that seemed to know if he was coming or going only a portion of the time, and given his reaction he seemed just as stunned as everyone else.
“Naeuthamira, Legacy and sole survivor of House Ulthuan.”
Wait, what? Na’Yumi blinked and for all the world looked as if she had been punched in the stomach and then kicked in the face. Mother and father are dead? What about Llewellenar and Kaeyrthoriae? House Ulthuan was not a small house by any means, and her clan was strong. This made no sense! How could she be the last? Yes, her sister may have very well left House Ulthuan to side with one of the Shadar- Kai… and that may explain something, but not everything.
“Duncan, Knight of the Black Rose.”
“Anae, precious Anae, the Dawnbreaker.”
As the Lady introduces her guests to those assembled, Anae wills herself not to show her surprise. So many secrets… but those who keep them usually have their reasons. Glancing at her companion’s faces, she sees that these introductions have taken at least a few of them by surprise, and then her attention is called to Marid… no, not Marid. Malik. There will be time to reflect on the title given to her by the Queen later, and to hear Marid/Malik’s story.
“Welcome to my home!” She throws her hands in the air as there is an UPROAR for the space of 5-10 minutes, with most of the guards eyeing their weapons. The silence when she looks back down at them.
“Yes, My Queen. Ahem…. As you are all quite aware, an army of Tielfings have landed on our eastern shore, and begun raiding villages and burning down some of the forest.”
Shock and awe at the mention of fire.
“These creatures are immune to fire, and thus they thwart our druids efforts to stop the blazes. They must be stopped, but they come and go from the beaches as mirages along the sands. We cannot stop them nor infiltrate them ourselves, as we would surely be caught.”
She breathes, “This group before you is proven in combat, and knowledgeable in the ways of Tiefling combat. They can infiltrate their group disguised as survivors from a recent raid and put a stop to whatever magic they are using to conceal their movements.”
“What!?” cries Albair, “Why should we let these fools do what all of your armies cannot, Cia’Loregna!?”
There is an uproar in response from the guards which is silenced by a hand from The Lady. “Well,” she asks, “why should we let you do this?”
Marid’s eyes widen, just a little, at the Autumn Queen’s mention of his true name and title, but he says nothing until she turns back to him once more. His voice rings out fiercely across the Court, and suddenly he sounds nothing at all like the wise-cracking youth which his companions have come to know.
“You honor me deeply, Your Majesty, and offer me that which I desire most. To strike out against these usurpers who invade your homeland, I would gladly do as you ask, for the honor of both our Houses.” A predatory gleam flashes in Marid’s eyes as he continues. “They are are lead by an upstart pretender, Gedjik Reborn, who has taken rulership of the Obsidian Spire from my family. We held the Spire in faithful stewardship for High Queen Lyssa, your ally of Old, for many centuries. I remain a faithful subject of Her Empire, and it is my wish to honor your ancient alliance. To see both our troubles ended, I will rid you of this scourge.” Marid’s voice rises louder, as if challenging the Court to gainsay him. “And if I must, I shall go all the way to Sarldom and take back the Spire itself!”
He stops for a moment, calming himself. Although his rage is still perceptible under the surface, Marid’s voice returns to its usual tone, resounding clearly through the Court as he smiles at the Autumn Queen. “With the backing of House Faerloch, I will not fail Your Majesty.”
Marid turns aside and acknowledges his companions, his voice low. “I will explain all this later...” Somehow he manages to convey both an apology and a warning before he asks ”...are you with me?”
Wyk stands a half a second after Marid asks his question, though without acknowledging Marid or his question directly, and, with his eyes still fixed on the Lady, says with boldness and clarity, “My Lady, as before and again now no question need be put to me, I will serve.” After this simple yet definitive statement he sits back down and patiently waits the other’s responses.
Calidore gives a slight nod. “Of course I am. I could do no less.”
In response to Malik’s question, Anae quietly rises to her feet and bows politely to both he and the Autumn Queen. “I will join you.”
Calsar replies with a simple “yes” when Marid asks if we are with him. However he stops short when Duncan speaks, his concern for the Eladrin drawing his attention…
Rising, Duncan nods to Marid before turning to the Queen. “In ages past, bonds of blood between man and elf were forged in battle. Your people and mine, we stood together in defense of this great forest against the ravages of the Dark Lady and against the tyranny that would be imposed by the Storm Giant. Those bonds have not been forgotten, and as a knight in service to my Queen I stand here ready to once again lay down my life, my fortune and my sacred honor to renew that alliance.”
At the mention of the Dark Lady and the Storm Giant, the room hushes… and The Autumn Lady’s eyes take on a passionate glow…
The Eladrin sat in stunned silence, pulling herself out of it only when Marid addressed her, or rather the group. ”...I’m sorry Marid…” Na’Yumi replied, her voice barely above a whisper but loud enough to break the silence. “I need to return home.”
“Please, My Lady,” The voice of Nebbianych Matielna dribbles over the silence Duncan’s words provoked, “Why should we bother these poor creatures? If it is mercenaries that House Faerloch wishes to employ, House Matielna can supply a wide variety of expertise – maybe even a Tiefling or two.” She glares down at Marid, but gives a softer look to Na’Yumi, “The elfling is obviously homesick, My Lady, let her go.”
Marid’s eyes dart back and forth between Na’Yumi and the Autumn Queen for a moment, conflict visible on his face until he seems to reach a decision. He speaks quietly to his friend and sometimes rival, “Na’yumi… if you’re the last one, rushing home might be dangerous. But you won’t be going alone.”
Quickly turning back to Lady Rhianwen, Marid’s voice resounds across the Court once again. “Majesty, it would appear we have more to discuss… much more. What has befallen House Ulthuan in Na’Yumi’s absence?”
Na’Yumi looked first to Marid and whispered low enough that he and those nearby could hear her. “I appreciate the concern Marid, I really do.” She stood then and stepped forward, the natural shadows about her form lengthening and growing darker. Her once lively crystal blue eyes grew dark and dangerous as she looked to Nebbianych Matielna. “Mercenaries? Homesick? You know not of what you speak. We who are gathered here before you now are hardly mercenaries. Mercenaries act only in their own self-interests and for material gain and reward. They would accept no task unless there was profit to be made, no matter how dire the circumstances. We are heroes. Heroes do what they do not for material gain, profit or because it is easy…they do it because they must; because no-one else would see to the tasks laid before them. We are not here because we hope for a reward.We are here because we were asked to be here. We offer our aid because it is what we do.”
Na’Yumi gestured to her companions, barely perceptible bolts of electricity slithering along her arm and fingers as she did so. “While my companions may not take insult to being referred to as mercenaries, let me assure you that I do! My family and my House has for ages long since past endeavored to hold back the darkness. While you and your kind dallied in the forests and hills and even struck out against others who you viewed as trespassers, we sought to keep those that would destroy the world at bay. It was we, of the Silverwood and House Ulthuan who kept the Great Dragons at each other’s throats through all of the Ages! Were it not for my House and my family, it is likely that this meeting would never occur, for they would have claimed victory long ago.”
She then directed her full attention and wrath towards Nebbianych. Slithering bolts of electricity played about the Eladrin’s form as she spoke, shifting and resonating with her words and breath. “Do I seek acknowledgment for the past deeds of my family? Hardly. I tell you this because I would have you know that my lineage is not a lineage of cowards, that I am not so weak of will that I would scurry home in the face of danger or because I am merely ‘homesick’. If the latter were the case, then I would have returned to my own libraries and laboratories long ago! Something has befallen my House and my family that has rendered me the last and I have every intention of finding out what it was and doling out my vengeance accordingly!”
The Eladrin calmed then and leaned upon her crystalline staff as if her sudden burst of anger had drained all of her energy from her. “My apologies Marid, Duncan, Calidore… I… hate when we are compared to simple mercenaries…”
“Apology accepted, Lady Na’Yumi,” Calidore replied quietly. “But, perhaps, it is not us you should be speaking to.” He nodded to where the Autumn Queen stood. “Her excellency may take issue with such an outburst.” He gave a slight shrug. “Or not.”
Marid regarded Na’Yumi dispassionately throughout her tirade, showing no outward reaction. Inwardly, he rather fervently hoped the ground would crack open and swallow him up before Na’Yumi finished, but the ground stubbornly remained solid beneath his feet for the duration. Another fine mess....
He stepped into the breach of silence quickly, hoping he had read the situation correctly. “Please, Na’Yumi…calm yourself. And you need not apologize to me; rather to the Autumn Lady, who I believe was about to tell you of your family….” And NOT to Matielna, Na’Yumi. The Queen seems displeased with her Court, and you’re making them furious, as she hoped you would! Marid cast a polite look in Her Majesty’s direction, silently begging her pardon and asking her to continue…
The Autumn Queen seems almost indifferent to the exchange, and when Marid falls silent, she speaks: “Naeuthamira, I have spoken of many things tonight, some things that were…” She looks at Maird, “Some things that are…” she looks at Anae “And some things… which have not yet come to pass.” She looks directly into the eyes of Na’Yumi and the power conveyed in the look overwhelms the rage burning in the Silver Elf returning her emotions to that of a still lake.
Nebbianych turns to address The Lady, “It is obvious these mercenaries are not fit for your court, my Lady. Their rudeness is an affront to us all and a shame to their houses.” She address the party directly, “House Matielna will serve the court’s needs, my Lady. We will supply the means to get this task done, just say the word, my Lady, and it shall be.”
“Why does this have to be so complicated? People need help. We can help them. The more time we waste with this” Calsar’s gaze sweeps over the court “the more people will get hurt that we could have helped. If Nebbianych wants to help too, that’s great. Together we’ll be able to save even more people. This political posturing is a waste of time.”
She was already spent from the exertion of letting her anger go the way she had, but why was she suddenly so angry. Worse insults had been levied against her in the past. Was it her family and House that was such a sore spot with her? Na’Yumi resolved to look into the matter further. The looks she had gotten from her comrades told her that she had crossed some line. When her eyes were locked in the embrace of the Autumn Queen’s own, visions of those words flowed freely. She understood…now, what to do about it.
Calmed now, the Eladrin sunk to her knees, clutching her staff as if it were the only thing keeping her tethered to this world, the spark of chaos gone from her eyes. For now she ignored the words of Nebbianych, her attention moved to Marid, her crystalline eyes somehow dulled, almost lifeless now and her voice a hollow whisper. “Whatever it takes to make things right…”
Wyk chuckles rather loudly at Nebbianych’s words then stands on his chair that he might be seen by the court. In a loud and clear voice he begins, “My Queen, if you will permit me?.” he bows then turns and addresses Nebbianych. “House Matielna” he says without respect, “is naught but puffed up air, a whisper in the wind which is heard but where no action is seen. House Matielna” he repeats without respect, “seeks to serve only with the honey of the word, without the work of pollination. House Matielna” he repeats a third time much the same as before, “is naught but an oak without acorns, rooted in place without the seed of action.” He pauses briefly but continues before he can be interrupted, “You, Nebbianych, say we are mercenaries but mercenaries are hired with gold. I see none here being offered. You, Nebbianych, say we are mercenaries but you offered your own services in the same way. According to your words and the timing of them. You, Nebbianych, say we are mercenaries but we have offered our services freely without want of payment. We seek to serve the Queen, and we will succeed. For you see, our reputation is one of action, as witnessed in the city of Durein. We will complete the goal set before us, and in that you may safely rest.”
There is an audible wince from the crowd at the insults hurled at House Matielna. Nebbianych is infuriated at Wyk’s words and opens her mouth to reply, but no sound comes out. Bound by the truth of his words, repeated twice and thrice, she is forced to remain silent in front of these accusations.
The Autumn Lady smiles, and addresses the court, “If there are no other objections to the plan set forth by Cia’Loregna…” The crowd remain silent, not daring to speak, “Then it is decided. I assume, therefore, that you have a token of your good faith?” She looks directly at Marid.
Malik ibn Fiongall, Bastard Prince of the Spire, bows deeply before the Autumn Lady. “I must beg your indulgence, Majesty…it is but a trinket, unworthy to be presented in your Court, yet I believe I can remedy that….”
Malik produces a small, ornate, intricate puzzle box from the folds of his cloak, and begins manipulating it rapidly as he continues speaking. “This was presented to me by the dwarven smith of Clan Silverbeard, at his curio shop in the low quarter…I do hope that his excellent work pleases Your Majesty. For my part, I have not seen its like anywhere else….”
Malik finishes working the box’s complex mechanism, and its lid smoothly opens. He reaches inside and pulls out a pebble-sized object wrapped in paper. Under his breath he mutters, ”No, not worthy at all.“ He pockets the item and replaces it with a platinum ruhk coin from Sarldom, closing the box, acting as if nothing had happened at all. “Gedjik will pay, your Majesty, if not in treasure, then in blood, and fire.” Bowing deeply again, Malik presents his gift to her.
The Lady receives the gift with a smile, and then proceeds to enchant an Arcane Blessing upon you. A cool wind blows through the chamber and magical lights begin to dance, and settle upon you. When it is done, you realize that she has bolstered your arcane powers.
- In-Game Effect: One of your items gains 5 levels( or a +1)
“Go with the blessings of the Summer Court then. Avenge Elohim’s savage forest.”
And with that, the meeting is adjourned. You are all quickly moved to gather supplies and equipment for your journey.