Lord Dupre missing?
I suppose there's never a good time for Britannia to need our aid, but did it have to be during a wedding reception? The gem turned red last night, and the call was put out a bit sooner than usual. The Royal Guard has grown accustomed to a number of hours of preparation before they are summoned, but tonight there seemed to be some haste.
Again we were summoned to the halls of Lord British's castle. This night, Kalis Sevren appeared once more, but with him was Odric, an alchemist of some renown, and not Iyona. Apparently she was still upset about the appearance of Baron Lenshire last week, and was brooding somewhere. Kalis still hadn't determined what was going on there.
Kalis followed the usual greetings and pleasantries with a startling revelation: Dupre has disappeared!
This news caused concern for Odric as well, and thus he was present to help in finding Dupre. Odric took the floor, informing us that he had been doing some asking around, and had finally arranged to meet with Lord Dupre's contact. The meeting was to take place soon, and Odric felt that the Royal Guard's presence would be welcome at the meeting.
Odric offered to supply transportation to the meeting spot, and cast a Gate spell for everyone to enter. On the other side we found ourselves in a jungle, with a ruined building nearby. This building was the meeting spot, apparently, and the Guard filled the ruins to wait.
"Could be that she is late," Odric muttered after a few minutes of waiting. "I believe that this is the right meeting location."
He paced a few more times in the cramped area. "Yes, yes. I am sure this is the right location," he went on, half to us and half to himself.
We didn't wait much longer for a visitor to the crumbling building, but it certainly wasn't what anyone expected!
Some demon-like creature, called a "Relentless Tracker", appeared outside of the building, a sickening red color. "What the Felucca is that!" someone yelled, and I echoed the sentiment. It seemed to be a trap!
The Royal Guard are a powerful force, and even this slight surprise didn't stop them from leaping into action. These Relentless Trackers were no simple beast, though! Many warriors fell within seconds, and more of the Trackers appeared! The many tamed white wyrms that had been stealthily hidden in the ruined building suddenly sprang into action and came down upon the ambushers, and with the combined might of all there, the Trackers seemed to suffer losses.
I tried to help where I could, but as should have been expected, these beasts were unswayed by my enchanting music. Limited to the role of a healer, I tried to make myself useful, as there was much need for healers, but I'm afraid I myself because a victim once as well.
After many minutes, the battle was over. Friends and companions helped each other recover their belongings and their souls, and soon everyone was gathered in the meeting place, where Odric had waited out the fight.
"Seems as though someone knew of this meeting," Odric said without humor. "There is no sign of foul play here," he continued, echoing the thoughts of many -- what if the contact had been slain here?
"Well, Odric," Kalis said gently, "I fear that her safety may already be in doubt. So who is the mysterious contact of Lord Dupre's?"
"Her name is Malabelle."
I remember this name from my childhood, when my grandfather told me tales of Britannia. Others had the same thought, including Kalis.
"Was she not a pawn of Minax's?" he asked Odric. "Do ye trust this Malabelle? Or perhaps we should wonder how Dupre was able to trust her... either way, if she is your contact, we best make haste."
"I am told she is trusted by Dupre. That seems like a good recommendation," Odric replied feebly. "She has a home in Minoc. I will open a portal to take us there."
Odric's next gate indeed took us to Minoc, on the western edge of the city. This Malabelle had a small cabin there, but she was not to be found.
"Her house has been ransacked!" Odric exclaimed as we entered the small home. It was noted, however, that no body was here, nor blood.
"Nay, and that is a good sign," Kalis offered.
Odric suggested that, since she was not found here, she might be found nearby here in Minoc. The Guard filtered out of the cabin and spread out, looking for any other signs of Malabelle.
No sign of Malabelle was found, but it was confirmed we were on the right trail, for the Relentless Trackers once again appeared and attacked our party. Having experienced these creatures in battle before, the heroes were quick to attack once again, taking advantage of every weakness they knew.
This battle was more ferocious than the last, and there were many deaths: man, woman and wyrm. The demonspawn all died in the end, but it was quite an effort to drop them all. Having seen them in battle for a second time, I noticed that these Trackers were as difficult as some of the paragons that have been found in the land of Ilshenar, and shortly after the battle, I heard some say that they received some minor artifacts as reward for their hard work in slaying the creatures. Well earned in my opinion!
"So what shall we do now, Odric?" Kalis sighed once the Royal Guard had gathered once more. "It seems the trackers know of this place."
"Well, I know that if Malabelle felt she was in danger that she might go the the safe house." Odric answered, looking a bit scared. "Yes, I hope that she is well and waiting at the safe house."
Once again we all flowed into a moongate to the far reaches of Britannia, but this time the area felt familiar. We were back at the Trapper's Huts! Very curious... could the invasions of Britannia and Dupre's disappearance be related?
The huts, however, were not vacant as they were the last time we had been steered here. There were two people to be found in the southernmost hut -- one dead, one alive.
It came as little surprise, I think, to find that the dead body was that of Malabelle. Standing over her corpse was a formidable man, a masked warrior named Belo Ondariva.
"Slow like sheep you all are," he taunted as we came rushing into the building. "Your families will be enslaved, and I will build my strongholds out of their bones! You hear me, your bones!"
Threats and challenges were issued from many Britannians, hoping to bring this foe out into the open for a fair (or not-so-fair) fight. It was also noted that this man's name was indeed similar to the clue we found in the pirate's den: "Ondar". So it was true; the disappearance of Dupre, the death of Malabelle, the Relentless Trackers, and the invasion of Jhelom were all tied together.
Ondariva ignored the taunts and jests. "Screeching monkeys, your loose tongues will wash my boots when I return." He then walked through walls of fire and poison as if they were air. "I will trample on the backs of your fleeing comrades as I pillage this bloated land. You are already my servants, as you now go forth to herald my coming."
"Fools! When I get back, you all will beg for mercy!" he screamed, and in a burst of flame, he was gone!
"It seems we now know the mystery of that parchment..." Kalis began, but was interrupted by yells from outside the cabin. More Trackers had appeared!
I think this battle went the longest, but it was hard to tell because of the spreadout area in which it happened. Again, I tried to heal as best as I could, while avoiding my own need for a healer. The small army of wyrms that the Royal Guard had available -- good to see dragonkind fighting for Britannia for a change -- did much to help stop this third wave of demons.
Everyone gathered around Kalis and Odric once more to listen for their next move. "Someone spoke about the scroll in the raiders cave," he counseled. "It seems that the inscription on that scroll bore part of his name... perhaps we have found the person behind the attacks on Yew and Cove?"
I had almost forgotten about Yew and Cove! They had been under siege for so long, it had become commonplace to think of them as orc cities now. I snapped out of my reverie as Kalis continued.
The ranger addressed the alchemist directly. "Odric, is there anything we can do?" He gestured to the body of Malabelle on the floor. "I am just concerned of what she may have told us for information."
Odric regretfully informed everyone that Malabelle was beyond the range of his powers, and that there was nothing else that could be done here. Gates were opened up to return to Lord British's castle.
Once again Kalis took to the dais. "...what of this Belo Ondariva?" I could just make out as everyone was settling in. "I have not met the likes of him before."
Kalis went on to lament the fact that our only source of information about the whereabouts of Dupre had been slain. "Even though she did serve Minax in the past, she deserved a better fate," he said with a sigh.
"For now, seek out any word or news on this Belo Ondariva." he decreed. We must discover who this person is and where he comes from. For I am certain that once he is found, perhaps Dupre shall not be far away."
Someone in the audience mentioned the new exotic islands that have recently been discovered.
"I have heard of these new lands as well." Kalis replied. "It might be wise for ye all to go forth and search it out, seeking for this Belo Ondariva. For myself, I am going to go inform Clainin of what has happened."
Kalis looked the crowd over one last time. "My thanks for your help this eve and for your bravery in battle."
And with that, he was gone. I stuck around for a few more minutes, asking if anyone had any of these artifacts that they could show me. Some had them with them, and they were fine items, of the same vein as those carried by the paragons of Ilshenar.
As people dispersed, there was talk in small groups about the areas of these new lands, the Tokuno Islands, where they might start their search for clues. Myself, I have had little experience in these new lands, and thus haven't the first clue where to look. I hope to hear of any clues that citizens of Britannia might find!
As I write these words I feel a tinge of guilt, and fear, as a voice echoes in the back of my mind:
"You are already my servants, as you now go forth to herald my coming."