Wisps of gray hair hung about King Johar Ulond's wrinkled features as he bent over a round, wooden table situated in the middle of a somewhat small room. A map of Fargona was stretched out across the flat surface of the table, and examining the map alongside the king were Hallum Ebboter, Lord Catos Boutheret, Lord Talach Lolinnor, Lord Ferand Oborgon, and Gunthur Simelo.
“This was where the last reported disappearance occurred,” Gunthur said, his hand hovering over the map as he pointed at a bold X placed at the edge of the Oldkin Desert. “A caravan was on their way to sell their dragons in Arddyn, but in the middle of the night the dozen puks they had with them disappeared without a trace. Their cages were carefully examined and there were no signs that they had been tampered with or damaged in any way.”
Johar's brow furrowed, making him look even older than he already did. “Just like every other incident...,” he murmured. The aged king's sharp grey eyes scanned the rest of the map, taking note of each of the X marks that were scattered about the map. “Have you learned anything new about the disappearances?”
Gunthur sighed regretfully. “Unfortunately, no. All we know is that the missing dragons were seen in a trance-like state before they simply vanished. Even when closely watched, the dragons still somehow manage to get away without being noticed.”
The king nodded, already having guessed as much, then snapped his gaze to Hallum. “What have you found out about the sorcerers who died?”
Hallum grimaced. “I'm afraid I don't have much information to offer, Majesty. The healers have found no sign of damage on their bodies, and as far as they can tell, theirs no damage on the inside either. Nor are their any signs of a struggle where the bodies are found.”
The king scowled at this. “Whoever or whatever is doing this definitely has evasion down. Without any clues as to what's happening with the dragons and sorcerers, we don't have even the slightest idea of where to look.” A frustrated sigh escaped his lips before he addressed the three lords. “What observations have you made regarding the dragon tamers?”
All eyes turned to Catos, Talach, and Ferand. They were all especially interested in this information; after all, not only would the dragon tamers make powerful allies, but since they held a special connection with dragons as well as weak magic, they could be linked to both cases.
“We've been keeping a careful watch in the villagers surrounding each fortress,” Lord Catos began, “and by collaborating our finds with the information Gunthur sent us from Issathon, we've formed a list of people we believe to be dragon tamers.” He nodded to Talach, who produced a scroll from within the folds of his robes. Johar unrolled the scroll proffered to him then, after a careful scan of its contents, handed it to Gunthur. The Draconic's leader raised an eyebrow at the names listed.
“Some of these names seem familiar...” He stared at the list for a moment longer before his eyes lit with recognition. “Ah, that's right. Alexander Baldwin is the son of one my riders.” He passed the list to Hallum, who nodded in agreement after glancing over it.
“Thia Rondamar is Rolland Rondamar's daughter. I hear he's been trying to bring her back to Issathon for some years now. She's become quite a well-known mercenary.”
“And Rutack ShadowBlade is one of my best Infiltrators. It doesn't surprise me that he's on there,” Johar said, motioning toward the list in Hallum's hand. “Since he's under my command, we won't have to really search for him. As for the others, though... Hallum, have the Rondamars share any information they have on their daughter with you. Gunthur, see if Alexander's father has any idea where he might be right now. Also, I want both you and Hallum to form squads to find the others on the list. Lords Catos, Talach, and Ferand, share what you've learned with them.” His gaze darkened, a brooding look coming across his face. “Something terrible is coming to Fargona... I can feel it. It would be best if we've gathered the Dragon Tamers before it arrives.”
A quick scan of the crowded room showed no one that appeared to be an enemy, and after Katul materialized from the shadows by her side after doing a round of the room, she strode over to one of the tables and took a seat, those around her edging away as Katul bared his fangs threatingly at them. A serving maid approached her, undeterred by the tatzelwurm glaring at anyone and everyone, and set a drink in front of the female mercenary, Thia's face familiar that she didn't even need to ask what she wanted. The cloak-clad woman nodded to the maid, her face still hidden beneath the hood. If someone came in looking for her, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Her caution was rewarded when the feline snake at her side raised his head before disintegrating back into the shadows. Thia turned her head slightly to the side to see the same soldier from the streets walking in through the door. Of course, he approached the innkeeper first, a rule among information seekers. Innkeepers always had the latest gossip. As the two conversed, Thia took another sip of a drink in pretended indifference as the Elf Ear spell took effect, her hearing rising to a point many would find unbearable without training.
“...was coming here. Have you seen her?” The words became clearer as Thia focused in on the conversation until it seemed as if she was right there next to them.
The innkeeper frowned a moment, appearing to be in thought. “I'm afraid not,” he said in a deep, baritone voice. A lie. She knew he'd seen her come in, but she also knew he didn't want to lose a well-paying customer.
“The king's offering a reward if she's found,” the soldier added.
Drat. Only a fool would turn down the temptation of piles of riches from King Johar Ulond himself, though she wasn't sure why he was helping her parents find her. She quickly shut off the spell, rapidly weaving her way toward the door. She didn't need to listen to know that the innkeeper was giving her away this very moment, especially when the soldier's voice shouted for her to halt. Instead, she dashed out the door; a shadow flickered momentarily in the light of the torch set by the doorway, telling her that Katul was hot on her heels. The sun had fully set in the time that Thia had been inside the inn meaning the tatzelwurm would have an easy time hiding his presence.
Footsteps pounded behind her, but Thia didn't look back. Only when a flickering white barrier formed in front of her did she halt. On the other side of the barrier, half a dozen men stood with a fae seated on the shoulder of the foremost one, no doubt the cause of the barrier. Thia glanced to her right and left, cursing under her breath when she realized there was no way to escape. Unless... “Katul!” she called. The dragon didn't need to be told what to do as he sprung seemingly from the ground, his physical form spinning to slam into the soldier that had been chasing them. However, he didn't stop to make the killing blow, instead simply leaping off the fallen soldier to run back the way they had come, Thia quickly following.
Questions were racing through Thia's mind as she ran down the dark streets. The uniforms those men had worn were from the king's Royal Guard. But what were they doing here? Was the king really looking for her? If so, why? Her thoughts were brought to a halt at the same time as her feet as she let out a gasp and fell to the ground. Katul skidded to a stop a few feet ahead, his worry pricking at the back of Thia's mind as he gazed at her. That had definitely been a spell, which meant they had a sorcerer with them. Rising quickly to her feet, Thia clenched her hand. Soft pricks of light showed through her fingers, and when the glow intensified to the point that her hand was like a lantern, she shut her eyes and opened her fingers...
A bright burst of light exploded outward, blinding the group pursuing her as they attempted to shield their eyes. When they opened them again, both the women and her dragon were gone.
Thia rested against a thick pine tree at the edge of the tone, taking deep breaths as her lungs filled with the crisp night air. Katul stood next to her, only panting slightly and not as worn out as his tamer. But than again, he hadn't been the one using spells. With a small huff, Thia rose after only a moment of relaxation. Their pursuers would find them soon enough if they stuck around here. She set off at a rapid pace, Katul jogging along beside her for only a few moments before he disappeared from sight, though she knew he was still there, silently watching and following.
She wasn't necessarily running away anymore; to the contrary, she was going where they wanted her to. When it had been only her parents searching for her, she hadn't thought much of it and had merely been irritated by their constant attempts. But the king? That was a different matter all together, and she wanted to know what was going on. And so, the female mercenary and her tatzelwurm started the trek to Issathon and King Johar Ulond's castle.
Roleplayers, bond with your dragons, if you haven't already. The kings men will be looking for you, though it's up to you whether they find you or not. One way or another, make your way to Issathon.
Rutack ShadowBlade, the king has sent a messenger to recall you to Issathon.