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Old February 16th, 2013 (11:27 AM). Edited February 18th, 2013 by SV.
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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Roland Grey- Duānkǒu, Shinguo

“Twelve days...” Roland began to utter as he adjusted his bright, steel armor in preparation for their docking in Shinguo. “Twelve days on this Gods-forsaken piece of rubbish you southerners pass as a ship. Tella be praised with her gift of the earth, for I have long grown tired of these waters.” He hissed, glorifying the sight of land, not particular on the location.

He had only ever once been to Shinguo before then. It was back when he was a squire, and was sent to the foreign, strange lands as an apprentice. This was before the darker times, before the assassination of the Ethorian King Eliwood, and the collapse of negotiations with Vanaheim and Falke. Those times seemed like a dream now, as if they never actually occurred, perhaps a tale now from an old book of myths. Although to be fair, it wasn’t as if those times were perfect to begin with. Aerion has had its share of problems long before. The difference between then and now is that in those times, the problems of the world seemed reparable. Now, the deterioration of the world had reached a point that occasionally made Roland wonder if the next day would be his last.

Roland walked off of the ship, admiring the landscape of the nostalgic land. Even if it had been so long, it did not look all that different. There was a peculiar combination of serenity and mystery about this land that he had felt the last time he was here, and so again this time. His eyes fixated on the man who had greeted him, along with his posse of sentries. He wore an outfit that seemed to indicate his importance, but he still had enough humility to greet them with a bow, though that was probably a custom of the land. Roland was not sure. It was a while since he was last here, after all, and although the land may have been wondrous, he didn’t quite find it all that important enough to remember.

“I assume you are the ‘friend’ the monks spoke of.” Roland said to the man, who raised himself from his bow to meet the gaze of the knight from Ethora.
“Indeed, Ser Knight.” The man answered, his accent thick with the stain of Shinguo in him. “I am Yoshuro, royal advisor to Taiki Okane, Emperor of Shinguo. I am here to provide you council, and direction.”

“You greet us with quite a large number of your bodyguards.” Roland noted.

“Ah. I apologize for this manner by which you are greeted. I assure you it is merely for appearances. Both for myself and you. You see, it is not often that we receive foreign visitors, especially ones so well-armed. And it is not often that the people of Shinguo would see me traveling without the necessary security arrangements, especially to meet such foreigners. I promise you that for the purpose of maintaining the rouse of secrecy as well as the appearance of normality, this is the best course.”

Roland glanced across the group of Shinguo elite guards, their faces hidden behind the traditional masks of their uniform, but he seemed to accept the reasoning the man known as Yoshuro gave. “So, you have some knowledge about a shard of Ard-“

“Hold!” Yoshuro exclaimed, holding a hand up to obstruct Roland from finishing his sentence. Yoshuro eyed the green plains of the countryside, examining it as if to see if they were being watched. “It would be best if we were to speak of this in my estate here in Duānkǒu, where our conversations are shielded. If you would, follow me to my estate. It is not far.”

As Yoshuro had said, the walk to his estate was a short one. His residence was by far the largest and most easily noticeable of all of the homes in Duānkǒu. Rather it was more of a mansion among shacks, something that obviously didn’t fit with the serene environment it was placed in. In fact, Roland felt that way about the man in general. Where the port town appeared more as a minor fishing village, Yoshuro seemed bred for the city life, where he was probably daily pampered and spoiled, wearing the finest clothes the lands had to offer, and eating the rarest of delicacies. He seemed a connoisseur of all items of rich value. Roland did not doubt that even as they approached his estate, this was likely not even his primary place of residence.

The mansion was decorated with engraved silver and gold, with the front gate guarded by statues of bright, golden mythical beasts (along with the Shinguo elite guarding beside them). All around was a fence thrice the size of any man, with sharp edges at the end to keep the townfolk at bay. Roland was certain with the combination of guards and fortification, they would have their conversations ‘shielded’, as Yoshuro put it. But Roland couldn’t help but wonder from whom exactly they were hiding it from to begin with. The monks mentioned ‘nefarious groups’, if he recalled correctly. The origin of which, he did not know. But he reckoned he would soon find out.

As Yoshuro led them inside, Roland found the interior of the mansion to be just as majestic as the outside, if not more so. Tapestries, paintings, and rare art were hung from the walls. The finest linen decorated the ceilings and windows, and suspended from the ceilings in each room were chandeliers, every one of intricate and unique design, and as Roland noted, none of them being the same.

They were led from this room into an adjacent one on the side. Yoshuro motioned for the guards inside the home to depart from the room they now stood in, what appeared to be a library of sorts, where resided a collection of books and scrolls that, while did not quite match the magnificent one of the monks, did come close to its size and wealth of knowledge. Yoshuro walked over to the door which led to this room, and closed it shut, the knights all gathered inside. He locked it, and then wandered over to a desk which was located in the middle of the room. A few open books lay there, though he did not seem interested in them at the moment. The man stood behind the desk, hands clasped behind his back as he gazed upon each of the knights, examining their features in preparation of addressing them.

"I will skip right to business. It is how I have always done things. Have any of ever heard of the...oh how you would say it in your tongue...The Dragon Stone?" Yoshuro said as he made eye contact with each of the individuals before him. It didn't take long for one of them to respond. With some frustration.

"I didn't come hear to talk of some Dragon Stone. We are here for the Orb of Ardo-" Roland said with a powerful roar, before being pulled back by his brother, Percival, who had kept to himself ever since the departure from Ekilore.

"If my memory serves me correctly, none of my fellow men and women here are from your esteemed country of Shingou nor do any of homelands have extensive knowledge of Shingou, leaving us at a loss of words concerning most of your history. However, I have spent some time with merchants and nobles who spent time within your borders and I have heard of this artifact. This "Dragon Stone" as you call it, was it not held by a hero of sorts and responsible for Shingou's rise to prominence?" Percival interjected, showing some of his knowledge gained as a member of Robert Welm's court.

"You have more knowledge that I would've given any of you credit for," Yoshuro said with a noticeable widening of his eyes. "You are..."

"Percival, milord."

"Well, Percival. You are partially correct about the Dragon Stone. Generations ago or so the stories go, a young traveling wizard had come across a stone and gained immeasurable power. It was said he could create anything from nothing. At the time, Shingou was experiencing great hardships such as famine and disease. The country was at a breaking point and a civil war was all but guaranteed. But then, miracles were appearing left and right. Suddenly, fields were overflowing with crops and the people were healthy. Tensions gradually eased and the uprisings were calmed. The savior of Shingou was the young wizard and he was heralded as a hero. He decided to continue his good work across Shingou and aided the people whenever he could, using his gifts as a charity. In his old age, he took an apprentice with the hopes his student would continue his good works."

"Let me guess," Roland said. "He didn't."

"How astute, but not the whole truth. At first the student was filled with great promise and served the aging hero with great enthusiasm. However, the powers he had learned and further amplified with the Dragon Stone corrupted the young apprentice. In his prideful recklessness and greed, he took the stone for himself and killed his master. Using the stone he terrorized the land, summoning monsters to do his bidding and eventually taking the throne of Shingou for himself. Luckily for the people of Shingou, his tyrannical reign was brief and he was successfully overthrown by a group of upstart rebels led by a young lord."

"What happened then?" Percival asked, fully captivated by the story.

Yoshuro walked from around the table, grabbing a book on his way before continuing his story: "The freshly defeated apprentice was sealed away in a a believed to be abandoned temple in the mountains to the north. The stone was sealed with him as it was believed to be too dangerous for lesser men to possess."

"So what? What does the Dragon Stone have to do with anything?" Roland was clearly getting angry. The story had dragged on for long enough.

"You must be Roland. I have heard about you. Well Ser Roland, it so happens that the Dragon Stone is in fact a shard of the Orb of Ardor," Yoshuro said with a grin revealing a artistic recreation of the Dragon Stone. It was a red shard, clearly broken off from a larger work. Percival nodded his head, agreeing with Yoshuro's sentiments.

"I take it that we are tasked with entering the sealed temple and reclaiming the shard," Percival said. "Sound easy enough."

"Don't be so naive," Roland said. "No doubt there is something stirring to make it far more complicated than that."

"I wish Lord Percival was correct, but indeed you, Ser Roland, are in the right. Since being sealed, the student had earned a new...legend. And with it, a new name: The Necromancer. The Ryuuse mountains have since them been cursed. Monsters, particularly undead manifestations roam the mountains, often terrorizing the northern villages. It is a common belief, almost a myth now, that the Necromancer is at the heart of the problem and uses the Dragon Stone to power his dark magic. If you truly wish to claim the Dragon Stone or the shard of the Orb of Ardor if you prefer, you will have to find the temple, cleanse it and defeat the Necromancer. Do that and you will have not only the shard, but a legacy in the land of Shingou. Of that, I can promise."

A Legend once told me that roleplaying is about bringing people together and celebrating creative vision.
Paired with the Artsy Infinite and the Spectacular Shak
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