With the Brass Orb of Dragonkind in their Possession, the so-called Knight of Nubereg teleported back to Nubereg. Once they arrived, they saw the town was again under attack.
Small, scaly creature, not much larger than kobolds were surging from the north. The town was in shambles, and the population was retreat to Nubereg Keep.
the group attacked the horde from its left flank, breaking up its cohesion. This allowed the remaining garrison not killed in the previous attack to charge out from the keep and drive off the reptilian force.
The damage was assessed, and it was not good. While the first attack was a surgical strike – in and out quickly – this attack was strictly to cause damage and casualties. While civilians were evacuated to the keep as quickly as possible, the town was hit very hard.
As well, the salt mine north of town was hit by the attack, and its main shaft collapsed. The group proceeding there at haste, and their combined efforts helped recuse the humans and gnomes within.
There were some injuries, but the miners were able to all be saved. Many of the gnomes had prior combat training against just such an enemy, and had they not brought down the mine, they could have aided in the defense.
As it was, one of the gnomes confronted Damien and had to be restrained before coming to blows with him.
Screaming “poison merchant” and various gnomish epithets as well. Damien denied any knowledge of what the gnome was saying.
The gnome told the group that due to massive drug use among his fellow gnomes, and since the way into town was blocked, the mine was crippled. Several of the gnomes were going through severe drug withdrawal, and violent altercations between users were commonplace. The gnome, who called himself Grist, said a human merchant in town was providing the narcotic to the gnomes.
Damien again denied his involvement. He admitted that he did import items for a gnomish miner, but he never bothered to find out what the items were (and since the Dashers held a proverbial blade to his neck, he would not have even if he wanted to know). Sir Henry was done with all of Damien’s half-truths and evasions, so he simply cast a compulsion that forced the truth from him.
All this proved Damien innocent of dealing drugs, but still complicit in trafficking them. Lady Nubereg promptly vouched for him. The gnome dealer meanwhile was quickly incarcerated.
With the immediate damage dealt with, the next step was to figure what the attackers were, and why they attacked.
Back at the keep, the clerics of Bahamut coerced the soul of one of the dead attackers to answers some questions.
What are you?
Why did you attack?
Where did you come from?
The spell forced the corpse to speak the truth, but the answers were not very clear.
A child of Winter!
The Covenant has been broken!
The Hall of Winter!
None of these answers made and sense, so the next step would be to somehow follow the back trail of these attackers and stop further attacks.
So now there was many actions to take.
1. Follow the path the attackers took and stop further attacks.
2. Uncover whatever possible information on the two Orbs.
3. Find out who attacked Nubereg in the first place.
4. Find out why they want these Orbs to begin with.
The first task was given to Damien, Aki, Henry, and Sha’Riven. The angry gnome Grist offered to join them. The mountains west of Nubereg were the likeliest place the reptilian attackers came from, and he had years of experience traversing the hills and hunting small scalyfolk.
The second task was why the group sought out Etaine to begin with. She and Fossil would remain in Nubereg – Etaine for her scholarly skill, Fossil for his undefined “connection” to the Orbs.
Before the company parted, however, Etaine made good her claim on the Common Road and Lord Nubereg official knighted the group. In deed and in name they would be henceforth the Knights of Nubereg.
West and north the trail wended, and Grist and Aki took the lead in the wilderness. As the mountains grew closer, the snows began to fall.
Sha’Riven made certain they were magically warded against the cold, and Aki was quite at home in the sub-zero climate. With snow obscuring any sign the attackers might have left, it fell to Grist to use what he knew of such creatures to track their likely location.
It took some time, the creatures were not kobolds, and they did not seem to have any trouble in the wintry climate. But finally the signs of a camp were found.
There was a large group, but with careful tactics, the “Knights” were able to get the tactical drop on them.
The quick ambush was stopped when the reptiles were joined by a group of elves, all training bows on them.
The leader of the elves demanded the surrender of the group. He promised no harm if they disarmed. It took some convincing for Aki and Grist, but diplomacy won the field this day.
The elf commander introduced himself as Halsaephus, a Winter Guard of the Ancient city of Myth Seretyn.
Sir Henry demanded to know why Nubereg was attacked. He asked what sort of covenant was broken, and who the Children of Winter served.
Halsaephus (or Hal as he insisted later) only offered that he was sent to put the town to ruin because his lord commanded it. His scaly associates were the Children of Winter. He had no other answers. However, if the group would promise their parole, Hal would deliver them to his master. Perhaps they would be able to determine why Nubereg caught his ire.
At the same time back in Nubereg, Lady Etaine and Fossil delved back into the ruins of the ancient temple where Fossil first emerged. Since the rest of the Knights left town, the warforged and wizard had been pouring over Etain’s research. Between her findings with the Brass Orb and what scant history she could dig up about the temple, it appeared both first first mentioned right around the same time.
The temple was built by the first Lord Nubereg, apparently a holy paladin of Bahamut. Not as a tomb she she first thought, but more as a reliquary. Etaine and Fossil did some cursory tests, and found the chamber with the destruct mechanism was warded against any means of divination. Whatever reason the First Nubereg had putting the White Orb here, he did not want it to be found.
One a different note, they also discovered the likely identity of the Archdruidess in Fossil’s vision. Lord Nubereg’s records spoke of Petal, his former companion. Nubereg and she had a falling out over something he called his “Covenant,” The same words spoke by the dead scalykind.
A final note brought that there ten orbs in total, with ten guardians entrusted with them. Aside from himself and Petal, Etain’s ancestor mentioned “the Four Elves” and “the False One” in his notes.
Fossil also learned more of his own kind, the so-called “Warforged.”
Living constructs first designed as soldiers for the original Crafters of the Orbs, the secret of their creation was long lost. Imperfect imitations were created some time later, and some method of their creation still exists even to this day.
“I am not as unique as I first thought,” he mused.
He surmised that his creation was somehow linkedto the White Orb, which was pretty evident at this point. He wondered if the other unaccounted eight Orbs had his “cousins” as guardians also.
The next question: Who attacked Nubereg?
Etaine was able to determine this from the remains of the invaders. The Empire of Thenes, and more to the point, the “White”; the personal Guard of the Emperor Thenacus himself. A dragon-obsessed man from a dragon-obsessed kingdom, Thenes had five armies of fanatically loyal followers.
The Black: They serve as the internal security (and brutal Secret Police in all truth) of Thenes. Its First Minister was a secretive man with an extensive network of informers and assassins.
The Blue: Unholy Knights solely dedicated to the Emperor, revereing him as a God himself. Argog, Grand Patriarch of Thenes serves as their commander and spiritual leader.
The White: Whom the Knights of Nubereg were already aacquainted, led by the brutal warrior Marshal Nemina.
The Red: The Elite of the Elite, they are magic-using shock troopers, often mounted on specially-bred draconic steeds. Their leader, Ferras Conflagrot, was second only to Thenacus in power in the Empire.
To test a theory, they performed a simple divination test, and their experiment was a success. When trying to locate the Sunken Grove that housed the Brass Orb, and despite having intimate knowledge of its whereabouts, they could not scry it. Thus it was a safe guess that the other eight Orbs would also be hidden from magical detection.
So if that was the case, how did the attackers find the White Orb?
Under armed guard, Hal made certain the group was treated with respect due to prisoners of war. He treated Sha’Riven with particular respect, as both an elf and her role as a Chosen of Solonor Thelandira. Sir Henry was surprised that he was quite annoyed by his attentions…
The journey to Myth Seretyn was long, cold and punctuated with moments of mortal peril. Stripped of their weapons, the group was put in danger more than once when random mountain creatures attacked. A mountain giant and several ogres the second day harried the jailers and prisoners alike.
After a second attack by a tundra landwyrm a day later, Hal agreed to let the group retain their weapons, on the understanding Nubereg would be scoured from the world if the weapons were turn on the Myth Seretyn cadre.
After a travel time a week and a day (and more attacks by local fauna and humanoids), the Knights of Nubereg beheld the great and ancient Elven city of Myth Seretyn.
Within the walls of the great city were more snow elves, and the Children of Winter. So too were frost and stone giants intermingling. The Knights of Nubereg were again relieved of their gear.
Finally in the central palace they were granted an audience with the Master of Myth Seretyn, the great wyrm white dragon known to mortals as Endless Winter.