October 2018 Prologue

Tab titleNews and Rumors

[ENVOY’S OFFICE, TRAVAKI ENCLAVE IN FREEHOLD; OCTOBER 8, 2018 (WR)]

Leaning back upon her hinged swivel-chair, Penelope Gold-Tongue ran her fingers through her braid, brow furrowed with thought.

Although outside was bright with the light of an early fall afternoon, her office in the Iron Kingdom’s Freehold enclave was occluded with thick steel bars and plain curtains and lit with artificer lanterns. It was once filled with awards, statues and other artifices worthy of the Iron Kingdom’s envoy. But she had sold most of the more ostentatious items in financing the freedom of Malak Travak and securing a home for herself and her daughter. Instead, it was filled with books and notes from her hirelings’ investigations.

Beneath her, the hinged, swiveling chair was the only thing of monetary worth in the study now, a one of a kind gift from Bolt Anvilsmith of the Golemic Advancements Guild. It was comfortable enough and the blankets draped over it and over her provided her with some solace after long hours of perusing notes and interviewing her hirelings.

But more valuable than the chair were the multitude of notes and tomes that she had accrued across a few short years. She was no scholar or academic – but she was skilled in the tallying of numbers and the management of an office. She used those skills and spent her coin for the last few years toward the accomplishment of one goal: the destruction of the Immortals.

Her people bore the scars of their depravities: the death of thousands were at the feet of Fang-zhara during her initial invasion of the Iron Kingdom and the more recent rampage during Malak Travak’s entombment. Lector’s undead minions were much a part of the latter… though that Immortal and his Blood Lords had injured Penelope in a more personal manner – on occasion, she touched her stomach and grieved for the child that the Blood Lords broke within her.

No – all of them needed destruction. Even “gentle” Vallah was suspect, only tolerated by her because of his own declaration that they were all abominations and needed to be destroyed permanently.

The letter on her desk folded into itself without her fingers to keep it open. Penelope had read it dozens of times but the words upon it remained difficult to grasp – the, plagued and ravaged town of Northwall now marched south to Freehold, reanimated and made hungry by Lector’s unholy magics.

The other missives and notes on her desk told similar stories: that Lector himself was seen in Freehold and driven back by the Freefolk and that the Brotherhood’s internment facility was attacked by a gigantic Lich.

A reckoning was upon Freehold once again, but she was so close. She stopped herself from tugging her braid in frustration.

Penelope was no warrior. She only had healing magic. She could not possibly fight this like They could.

But she had other ways, she was an Iron Dwarf after all. She had pen and paper and more capital to burn. The Iron Kingdom Envoy moved the letters aside to unbury the document beneath them. With a short flourish, she completed and signed the sale of the swiveling chair. It was a pittance of its truth worth and she already knew where she would spent it on – but it was an evil most necessary.

After all, Penelope had already lost one child to the Immortals. She would burn a hundred such chairs and all the comfortable blankets upon them if it meant that her daughter would have a future of safety and prosperity. And while the Immortals reigned upon Midworld, no such future existed for anyone.

A knock on her thick, steel banded door freed her from her ruminations. The voice calling her name outside was familiar, so she made to open it.

For the first time in days, Penelope smiled at someone that was not her daughter. “Eva Caterwaul – what information do you bring for me, today?”

Rumor (anyone may read this):

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