t was always easier in stories.
The good triumphed over evil. The lines were drawn, the cause was clear and just, the world saluted the rightous and condemned the wicked.
It was always easier in stories…
The companions, their leader Malcom was gone and presumed dead, their mission a failure, their identities held in the hands of a pious an painfully honest priestess, and what did they have to show for it? The shattered body of a man named Gordianus, a man with a job, a wife and two daughters.
No bards would sing of this night, they all knew.
But Jules, Caithas and Elana were alive, and despite her better judgement, Ariel seemed in no rush to turn the rebels in to the proper authorities. On the contrary, whether by her own secret past, Caithas’ honest pleas or reasons unknown, the Sister of Delrodin appeared to throw her lot in with the ragged band. Still, she didn’t know the full story…and these things have a way of coming back around again in a world like this one.
When your faces are on wanted posters, strewn about every street corner, one cannot be too picky about friendship; the companions took what they could get.
With their identities safe for now, Elana and Ariel began the painstaking task of reuniting the broken solder with his wife and, eventually, his children. Elana, of course, is the only one of the pair to know the truth: This man’s paralysis was a direct result of her group’s late-night river-ride and wall-scaling. If Ariel knew…but she doesn’t.
And the secret grows and festers, as all of its ilk do when left untended.
Jules, whether through necessity, desperation or sheer selfish desire to live to see another sunrise, takes over the mantle of leadership with ease. Seeking out Langbard, Jules is able to secure a meeting with the rebel guard, along with those pledged to the cause that would have followed Malcom, had he been there. At the meeting, names are exchanged, noble houses are outlined and questions are answered. By the end, Jules has more than an assumed lead role; he has a plan. And an Amour with a plan is a dangerous thing, especially one with nothing to lose and a world to gain.
And where was Caithas in all this? Seeking out a good buzz at a bar, the foolish half-elf. But perhaps the gods, whatever was left of them, smiled on the ranger; perhaps Lady Luck kissed his furrowed brow a time or two in his travels; or maybe he just had a way with people. However it happened, Caithas found himself drinking with a learned and respected professor named Harald who not only knew much and more of the city that was mostly a stranger to Caithas, but also spoke Ancient Demerian, the language used for the coded message that needed breaking.
But without the key, without the password that unlocked the puzzle, no amount of translation would yield the necessary information; still, a friend was a friend, and on this side of town, the rebels had few. Harald was a man that would be called on again soon, it seemed, if Jules’ plan to rally the noble houses played out as the young nobleman wished.
The plan, a multipronged approach that would utilize all of the companions’ skills, was complicated in the extreme, and yet, at the heart, was as simple as wind and water: Get the nobles. The Empire may have the superior training, numbers and armaments, but the Crown was many miles away, across a great ocean. This was Svorinn. Here, the nobles were the ruling class, and if they could be made to see how much they had to gain…how, without the Empire and its taxes, they would not just be noble, but rulers…perhaps their greed and grasping would finally have some use.
Jules and Elana would play up their noble lineage and roots; Ariel would use her piety and the natural respect for the holy; and Caithas…well, Caithas would enter illegal bar fights, hoping to gain favor with one of the less-reputable Houses. To each his own strength, as they say.
And all the while, through the scheming and plotting, deep underground somewhere, buried in a forgotten jail…Malcom woke up. His locks on his cell would stop a trained pickpocket…but not a soldier who shot acid from his fingertips. And now he roams the underground cells, where he should, by all rights, be dead; and now he secures a weapon or three; and now he plans his escape. He is subdued, beaten, but now unbound and always unbroken. He will crawl through filth, lay in death or kill as many men as it takes…but one thing is clear: Malcom means to rise again.
But what world would he rise to? After all, what could a god-blessed soldier, a warrior touched by fate and divinity, supposedly destined to lead, expect when he returned from the dead…?