The now-official Knights of Nubereg arrived at Myth Seretyn as prisoners of Endless Winter, the Great Wyrm White Dragon.
Unarmed and exhausted after a several days travel through harsh terrain, the group was not ready for combat with such a powerful foe.
However, instead of battle, the dragon greeted them as a sovereign would welcome a foreign visitor. Endless Winter knew who they were and from where they came.
The attack on Nubereg, the dragon knew, would be repulsed easily enough. he needed the town’s attention so that he could speak with their representative.
A thousand years prior, the dragons of the world were all thrall to Thenacus the God-Emperor.
In His possession were the Ten Orbs of Dragonkind, and all dragons of the world were helpless under their power.
Even in this earlier time, Endless Winter was ancient among his kind, and he grated under the yoke of Thenes, despite the Emperor granting the chromatic dragons free reign (with a modest annual tribute). So he was pleased to see the Emperor defeated and cast down from godhood.
In the time after, the ten Orbs were held in trust by ten stewards, one of them the first lord of Nubereg, Sir Brise Nubereg.
Nubereg and the dragon came to an accord, to be known as the Covenant of Winter: In so long as the White Orb was kept from the hands of mortals, no white dragon would attack any man or make war upon human lands.
But now, the Orb has fallen into the hands of Thenes again. A dark sorcerer, self-styled heir to the original Thenacus, possesses the Orb, and now the Covenant is broken. Thus Nubereg will be destroyed, then the Children of Winter will sweep across all the strongholds of man.
With a heroic display of diplomacy, Sir Henry pledged that as a Knight of Nubereg and a paladin of Bahamut he would recover the Orb and again remove it from the hands of mortals.
Endless Winter agreed to stand his armies down, for a short while.
However, he could not vouch for a small cadre of white dragons who no longer accepted his authority among their kind. Two renegade white dragons have quietly built up their armies to bring ruin to the Kingdoms of Man, and the loss of the Orb was the excuse they’ve so long waited for.
Endless Winter would agree to a temporary truce, until the Orb was again hidden. However, they Knights of Nubereg would have to deal with the renegades themselves.
He also assigned Halsaephus, his loyal soldier to accompany the group, to aid them in their tasks. Whether they wanted it or not.
The first dragon renegade, Einfrikrieg, was closest to Myth Seretyn.
According to Hal (“Halsaephus is when I want to impress someone,” he said), Einfrikrieg was young but very influential; a potential rival to Eternal Winter. While he had no qualms eliminating the dragon, he knew it was little more than a politically-motivated assassination.
Einfrikrieg made his domicile in a conquered mountain dwarf stronghold. The dwarves had been long-since slain. Now a tribe of dragonblooded kobolds plied the mines, making rich the dragon.
The group infiltrated the mines, and fought ever inward until they faced Einfrikrieg in battle. With him was his mate, and their own clutch of wyrmlings.
The battle was brutal, with Sha’Riven and Damien nearly killed for their efforts. Hal was disgusted by the whole affair. Pressed for details, he revealed the Covenant of Winter was followed strictly to the letter. While no human settlement or individual was attcked in the last thousand years, elf, dwarf, gnome and untold other non-human lands were razed by the white dragons.
The greatest prize taken by Eternal Winter was Myth Seretyn. And ancient snow elf city, it once ruled the mountains and valleys as far as the winds reached. But internal sabotage and external assault resulted in its subjugation by the dragon. To this day the residents elves were slaves to the dragon, Hal among them.
But he digressed. As long as he was killing white dragons, even under orders from another white dragon, he was content.
Hardly was Einfrikrieg’s clan dead than more whitespawn under the banner of Myth Seretyn appeared to lay claim to the dragons’ hoards.
Damien was able to pocket some choice gear before the hordlings converged on the loot. With the whitespawn was a snow elf knight with orders for Hal and the Knights of Nubereg.
The second renegade dragon Skaldziij had amassed her forces to begin a campaign of terror across the lands of men. Advanced parties of frost giants and hordlings were spotted up and down the eastern coast. If the dragon was slain, her forces would soon disperse or turn on themselves.
Hal was less than friendly with the knight, and the reaction was mutual. But orders were orders, and the group set off toward the inland glacial lake where Skaldziij made her lair.
The journey was treacherous, as not only arctic but aquatic hazards slowed their approach.
They did not have the element of surprise unfortunately, and the dragon’s armies attacked.
The battle was met, but as the group fell back, another force of hordlings and elves from Myth Seretyn joined the fight. Thus engaged, the group were able to skirt the armies and meet Skaldziij in battle.
Again battle was met, and Sir Henry took what would have been a fatal blow if it wasn’t for his trollish heritage. As he recovered, Aki took the lead and made a killing blow.
Grist and Damien stole into the dragon’s inner chamber to take some baubles before the Myth Sretyn crew could stake a claim.
But just as Damien put down his guard, the gnome attacked him. Still angered at the merchant’s drug dealings, now was his opportunity to exact some justice.
Damien would not lay down and die so easily however. When the rest of the group came to the hoard chamber, only Damien remained alive.
Returning to Myth Seretyn, the group secured the truce with Eternal Winter. Dir Henry and Sha’Riven were equally disgusted with the agreement. While they had essentially consolidated and solidified an evil dragon’s power, the city of Myth Seretyn remained under his control. As well non-humans would still be subject to the white dragons’ depredations.
However, they could at least take small comfort knowing Nubereg would not be attacked again. For now. There was a measure of peace, though the cost was immense.
Eternal Winter had one final demand, the Knights of Nubereg would take Halsaephus with them to ensure the White Orb when found was returned to its place of safekeeping.
With their new associate and poor Grist’s body in tow, the battered group returned to Nubereg.
Aki convened with Fossil and Etaine, while Hal and Damien brought Grist to the gnome miners. It was decided to simply say he was slain defending the town, and not give further details.
Unwilling to participate in the charade, Sir Henry retreated to the temple keep and sought guidance. He had surely done the world good by slaying some deadly and wicked dragons, but doing so he only made another dragon’s position stronger.
Sha’Riven found him, and they both took comfort knowing neither was happy with their recent “triumphs.” A moment passed, and they kissed. Sharing so much in the past weeks, they finally were allowed to accept the feelings that were growing between them.
Some time later, they rejoined Etaine as well. Though they knew more hardships were bound to come, they knew now they would face them together…
Done with Grist and the gnome issue, Damien and Hal were then found by a familiar face.
Charlen of Rhole repeated her offer, unperterbed by the snow elf’s affronted response. She told them both that they would be well rewarded with the recovery of the Orbs, and that neither of them owed anyone their allegiance, save themselves.
She again simple melted away, and Damien and Hal decided it was time to disclose this offer to the rest of the group. Or rather Hal was going to tell the rest anyway, so Damien might as well ’fess up.
Reunited, and with a new (albeit with no choice in the matter) member, the Knights of Nubereg set to work figuring out what to do next.
Hal took this time to express his gratitude at being out from under Eternal Winter’s nose. As long as his people were slaves to the dragon, he would not serve willingly. While he freely admitted he was under orders to betray the group once the Orb was retrieved, he swore that he would die before allowing the beast to get the Orb.
Damien came clean about the offer given by Chalen, but was defensive about keeping it secret as long as he did. If he intended to sell out his companions, he would have done so already.
Etaine and Fossil shared their findings, and the name of their enemy. If the Empire of Thenes sought the Orbs of Dragonkind, then they were bound by duty to all free peoples to prevent this.
A scrap of a record remained of the First Lord Nubereg, speaking of the Order of Io. Io was the all-father of dragons, Good and Evil both. His mortal followers were a secretive organization, with members hidden throughout the world.
If they could find this Order, they might have an idea of the location of the other Orbs of Dragonkind.
A week passed. Wounds were healed. The gnome miners, with a generous donation from two dragons’ hoards, set to rebuilding the bridge to Denhagen.
The Knights of Nubereg, new members and old, set towards Denhagen again, to find the Order of Io.