My Dear Ilanna,
My farm lies in shambles, leaving me no place to which I may return. One night, an envoy from the king encroached upon my fields and dispatched my undead farmhands with little effort. They delivered to me a letter requesting my presence at the new king’s coronation to shed light on the mysterious forces pillaging nearby lands. Had they not been sent directly from the king, I would have reformed my undead horde to tear them apart where they stood. But, since that would not bring me closer to you, my love, I held back. Gathering what little possessions I desired to carry, I set off to see this new king.
Cresting the final hill to my destination, the sight of the king’s castle was enough to cause both hesitation and awe. The sun lit up the tall keeps with the golden afterglow from the surrounding wheat fields. It was a perfect gem of civilization I didn’t care to reenter after my near decade absence from regular human contact. The glimmer of hope that I might gain more information about you kept me pressing onward.
I arrived at the gates and presented the letter as it instructed. They had me sign my name to confirm my identity, handed me a voucher for 700GP, and told me to enjoy myself at the carnival. After living a life of dark solitude, the carnival I walked into was simply overwhelming. Booths were set up all around the square with pathetic merchants begging for the attention of any who stepped too close to them.
Skirting the edges, I quickly discovered these people of the court weren’t at all amenable to necromancers. My queries for any others who share my love of undeath ended with them bolting off or taking me for a jester. Embarrassed by my misunderstandings, I went back to watching the booths. A shady looking man started up a conversation with me, introducing himself as Elwin. Apparently, he had heard some of my inquiries and I began nervously rambling about my background and the advantages of certain undead. I remarked that skeletons can be better than zombies because you don’t have to worry about the fleshy bits. He laughed, calling me, “Farmer Fleshy-bits”. I didn’t appreciate the stinging humor at my expense, but at least I managed to keep talking with someone at the carnival.
The coronation finally started and they brought out the new king who looked to be slightly younger than me. In the middle of the ceremony, I was summoned into the keep and placed around a horseshoe-shaped table with five others, including Elwin. We acknowledged each other with nods, but I could tell he had been summoned here with similar pretenses to my own. The other four consisted of a man impatiently tapping his foot against the floor, two dwarves (one turned out to be a female, but I wasn’t sure at the time), and a halfling.
Lord Hadraxel marched into the room with a host of soldiers and the queen hitched to his side. Sitting back in the king’s throne, he gave us all a chance to speak, which I used to ask about what had become of Lord Chaxon after his inability to defend the lands given to him. Lord Hadraxel told me Chaxon had been promoted to the general of the King’s armies. I demanded an explanation to this and how it related to why I was summoned. He replied it didn’t matter.
A row of archers filled the balconies above us. Lord Hadraxel declared us to be the six assassins prophesied to kill the king on his coronation day. He showed us confessionals we each had signed earlier. This was the same letter I had signed at the gate to gain entrance to the coronation ceremony. The liars changed the text to have me confess to a prophecy they likely planted to seal up power for the new king. The way the queen kept her hands all over Lord Hadraxel all but confirmed to me what was going on.
Our verbal protests turned violent when one of the dwarves drew out his warhammer. With a snap of Lord Hadraxel’s fingers, the dwarf dropped his hammer and began stripping of his armor and clothes. Lord Hadraxel hit a button on the throne and the floor surrounded it dropped to reveal a spiked pit. The other man at the table tried to jump the gap, but failed and landed at the bottom. From his cries, he didn’t die.
Joining the action, I rose to summon a zombie next to the throne, but was cut short when an arrow hit me from the archers up top. I kept focusing on my casting, but fell into a dark haze. My spell failed as I dropped into an inconvenient slumber. When I awoke, the guards where attaching fetters to us and hauling us off. The man who fell in the pit had several scars lining his skin. From the looks of the rest of this group, they didn’t put up much of a fight after I went down.
The guards mumbled something about it being to late to execute us and promised to do it in the morning in full view of the crowds. I tried to spot Lord Hadraxel, but he had evidently taken his leave after the struggle. The guards lead us back outside to take us to the dungeons.
While coming through an alleyway, a man darted around the corner and barreled into us, knocking us off balance an onto the ground. He got back to his feet and took off again before our guards could react. Four armed men wearing black armor bolted around the same corner he appeared from. Ready this time, one of our guards shot one of them with a crossbow bolt. Seeing his friend bleeding out on the ground, a black-armored soldier threw out his hands and sent a charge of light that disintegrated the guards. Having never seen magic so powerful, I was grateful to have been on the ground.
The remaining three black-armored men circled around us looking for something. A black book radiating power lay in the dirt. The man that crashed into us must have dropped it. I snatched it and hid it beneath my robes, feeling its raw power against my skin. Still in chains, we didn’t stand much of a chance. However, nothing could ever keep me from you my love.
Death’s Neglected Son