Blood Red Storm

The sun rose blood red.

Varsuviux was gone, the battle was over, and we had lost. The antidote was destroyed, Winfrey lay dead, and the phylactery was in the hands of our enemy. We had failed.

Alistair, Clare, Gilder, Gambit, Osirus, Zecht and I all stood on the roof of the manor, planning our next move. It wouldn’t take more than a few days for Varsuviux to break the enchantment on his phylactery and become truly unstoppable. All was lost, it seemed.

We raided the vault of the manor before setting out. Our destination was the seaside cave that Reginald was hiding in. We had a meeting, and came to the conclusion that Varsuviux was most likely to strike Gilder’s hometown next. It would be our only chance to kill him, as he wouldn’t have unlocked his phylactery yet. Only one problem; he would have an army. We continued to speak, and eventually Alistair went outside for some air.

Within minutes he was shouting for us to come outside. A figure had appeared on the shore. It was a dragonborn with leathery wings and soot-black scales, who introduced himself as Vantas. He knew all of our names somehow, and addressed us with an offer.
He had an army to rival that of Varsuviux, and said that he would help us defeat him. He also told us that we would owe him something in return, for him to claim at a later date. I told him that I’d write up a contract for our agreement. He said that’d be fine, and that we were to meet him at an island twenty clicks north of where we were. Gilder knew of no such island, but we set sail all the same.

In the meantime, I wrote up the contract. It outlined that we were united in our cause to destroy Varsuviux, but after the terms of the contract were over, neither party was in debt to the other. Trying to extract payment of debt would violate the terms of the contract, which would essentially hand the person in question’s soul to my father. I didn’t want my company to be in debt to anyone, you see. And besides, we were doing a favor to this Dragonborn as much as he was doing to us.

When we arrived at the Island, we were greeted with the sight of a beautifully sculpted marble wharf. In fact, most of the island was dotted with ornate marble sculptures and walkways. The Dragonborn was waiting for us on shore. He signed my contract without first reading it, and then delved into a long-winded story about how our ancestors were buried on this island. They would have something in their tomb that would help us destroy Varsuviux.

Despite the fact that we’re all sure our lineage can’t be traced, we decided to venture in anyways. After a short time walking along a marble path, we met a couple bald men who told us that we would have to pass three tests: One of skill, one of strength, and one of knowledge. When we made perfectly certain that there was no way to bypass these tests, we grudgingly set off.

The first test was the one of skill. We would have to hit a target dead center from across a river, during a wind squall, and then scale a cliff wall. Alistair was up to the tasks, and achieved victory in a short time. Our next task was the test of strength. Obviously Clare was up for this one. She entered a Colosseum and, after a long and drawn out fight, managed to kill a stone golem. We patched her up and continued onwards to our final test, the test of knowledge. I answered some riddles and we headed up to the burial chamber.

Inside, we found four sarcophagi, each bearing the surname name of one of our ancestors. I found a chest full of ancient, original musical scores written by my ancestor, and a toybox full of innocent little goodies beside Winfrey’s ancestor. I took both of these things. Alistair found a pile of solid gold oranges, which he took. Clare’s ancestor was buried beside racks and racks of weapons. She thoroughly examined each one.

When we approached the center of the room, three pedestals rose from the floor, one corresponding to each of our ancestors. Winfrey’s pedestal didn’t rise. Atop each one, there was a magic ring, similar to that which Varsuviux wore. They were imbued with good-aligned magic, a sure sign that our ancestors certainly didn’t share the same views as us.

As we put the rings on, something amazing happened. Our poison was cured. Suddenly the world seemed clearer, and for the first time since we had been conscripted by Varsuviux, we felt something called hope. Alistair started free running around the room, while Clare danced and brandished her ancestor’s weapons. I played a jovial tune on my lute, and we walked all the way back to the ship.

Vantas was waiting for us there, with thirty ships anchored offshore. His army had arrived, and with the newfound power of the rings, we were ready to make our last stand against Varsuviux. Without any further ado, we set sail for Gilder’s hometown.

The end of this strife was on the horizon, and I would do anything to reach it. Let it be known that The Black Dragon Company will not serve as a pawn for the likes of anybody. Not even Varsuviux.

—Wilward Jones

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