The Kingless Land
Book 1: Black Scales
Opening Monologue by Sir Christopher Loxley:
To outsiders, we are the Forgotten Kingdom of the North. We export neither conquering armies nor mad witch kings nor cursed bloodstone. We are a peaceful people preferring to be known for pinewood, iron bars, and jewelry.
The home that the outside world sees as a hazy spot on a map, I know for it's beauty and it's horror. I have run through the pines and wrestled with blink dogs. I have ridden the windswept hills and mountains where grain and grass wave like the ocean. I have sailed the Moonsea with the fisherman. I have knelt before King Imphras IV and told him all was well in his land.
I was there when Kyra'tala Anslara, Mother of All Fire, a red dragon the size of a castle, took our king from us.
In the year 1095, when the hobgoblins descended from the mountains like a plague, slaying and pillaging and enslaving, Captain Imphras united our ancestors and drove the monsters from the land. He was our sword, our shield, and in our name he accepted the heavy weight of the crown.
His sons had born that weight for a century of peace and prosperity. Now the burden rests upon the brow of a nineteen year old widow.
Queen Sambryl is our last hope for peace.
I will not fail her.
Chapter 1 Atashi wa kawaii dechi.
Many would know stark terror at a tender smile from a dragon the size of a barn. After all, she was baring a mouth full of polished ivory fangs the size of daggers.
"Thank you for coming, my precious disciples," Akrissa Nan'kylara An'fyrania spoke in a voice like a thousand cellos. "I have called you here, so to speak, to bid you good night.
"Some of you were here when a few of the Twelve Lords of Impiltur, paladins all, came too ask my aid against my old foe Kyra'tala Anslara after she slew the king. I was reluctant. Not because I feared that the combined might of we thirteen would be insufficient to the task, but because I knew that a power vacuum would result. Kyra'tala, you see, was called the Mother of All Flame for her habit of hunting down all other red dragon women in the neighborhood, that she might have her pick of the bachelors. Then, when bachelors vie for her affections, she devours those she does not favor, eventually leaving her children and a few cowards the only red dragons in the land.
"With that tyrant gone, the lesser dragons of Impiltur and surrounding lands are stirring from their hiding places and surely letting the plots they've been hatching since time out of mind be set into motion. Anything I might do too hold them in check must wait a few years. I have bested Kyra. I have devoured a quarter of her horde and added another quarter of her own. A deep sleep is coming for me, one that will bring strength and power well beyond my previous dreams.
"As such, I ask you, my precious disciples, too walk among the people of Impiltur in my place. Be my eyes and ears, my teeth and claws.
"The army of Impiltur will need Swordpoints in the years too come, adventurer's too take the lead against the monster's of the wild's. The signet's you will find in the next chamber will get you audiences with the 12 Lords, or even the Queen. There is a gift there for each of you as well.
"I pray for each of you too find success and strength and luck, my precious disciples."