April 2017 Prologue



The shadows danced with the flickering of the candleflames, lending Karasu a fearsome aspect that moonless night. Her frown deepened as her informer droned with his report. He knelt face-down before her in the inferior position that suited him as an underling, muttering secrets into the dirt. Stuck in Port Dawson and several days away from Freehold, she would have rather read a report than heard it – but times were different now than they were in Kenrei and literate help was hard to find.

He finished the report with “Karasu-sama, I hope this pleases y–”

“Pleases me?” She put one foot atop her underling’s head and ground his face into the dirt floor of the warehouse. “What kind of information is this? What kind of informer are you? You are telling me nothing that I already know!”

“Mercy!” He pleaded after she lifted her foot. His bloodied, broken nose added snivel to his pleas. “I’m just a lowly worker – I barely saw anything at the Wave-strider ship. Only shadows and feathers and screamin–”

The foot came down, strongly, repeatedly and with the mercy associated with crows and vultures.  Karasu only stopped when she heard the scrape of boot against dirt. She recognized the intent behind it and did not turn to face the newcomer.

“Boss Karasu. Black Serpent of the Dust Vipers. I heard you were second only to Boss Gemma before it all went tumbling down” The tall Elf’s shadow radiated power. Likewise, his blade was sheathed but there was a deathly aspect to it that gave Karasu pause. “But you’ve switched from carving lotuses to paddling rafts, the rumors go. What a world we find ourselves in!”

“What do you want, Gaius? I’ve no room for games” she gave her underling one final kick before turning to face the Shaedling, tattooed arm behind her with a knife. He would tell of this meeting, of course – but only what she wanted him to tell.

“I need help – as per before. A relic of my Krieger has been stolen, my brother has been gravely wounded and—“

“And you want me to find the cause of all of this? Are they so precious that you would risk coming here yourself?“

“This is everything to me, now that he has grown strong with the devouring of so many Parasites. I’m calling my favor” a coin with a black serpent fell at her feet. “Or does that mean nothing?”

She picked the coin up with her free hand, but she never took her eyes off of the Elf. Karasu touched the coin with two callused fingers and it vanished immediately into her aspect.  “Hai. It means something, even now – especially now”

“Then we have work to do and much to go over with regards to my quarry. Unlike your useless informant, I know the Black Chalice renegade who attacked the Wave-striders last night and what they were seeking”

Karasu raised an eyebrow in surprise, but she showed little else in emotion except anger and annoyance before her hands moved in a blur. She cast her throw backwards and the knife caught the underling by the throat. His gasps filled the air until the poison gave him silence.

Gaius peered at her stunned or perhaps contemplating his next move. His hands did not reach for his sword but there were other ways a Dammerlicht could kill. Expertise in Sorcery and Witchery were the hallmarks of that currently beshadowed house.

“I know this as well” her eyes narrowed and she caressed the serpentine tattoo upon her arm. “Eshuu Shadow-eater, your old enemy. How is he alive and what do you think would bring him to Freehold?”

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Callas Selvarion Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Fir’bolg Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Gotterdammerung Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Ixia Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Jotunbrud Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Labyrinthium Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Kali-Ishtar Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only