For years the pirates of the Serratan Sea have raided ships sailing to and from the Daelish kingdoms of the north...Now they've got their eyes set on the coastal town of Gullport on the remote island of Coralesh. But why now? And for what fell purpose do they covet the island?

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Episode I: Rescue at Stillwater Bay
Prologue


FIERY WORDS




Flames danced silently from several low-hanging torches ensconced on the walls of Blackthorn Hall, illuminating the meeting chamber of the high council of Gullport as Lady Lucretia Hess sat in a high-backed, intricately carved oak chair. The low cut dress of saffron coloured silk which clung to her narrow shoulders and rounded hips, and the bejewelled necklace that dangled between her breasts served to accentuate her beauty. And though she had seen forty summers, she had the supple frame of a woman ten years her junior, for she had born no children.

Besides Lady Hess, four others occupied the room in which she now sat. To her right a smallish girl of no more than eighteen sat in a simple wooden chair. Her large round eyes and timid lips were partially concealed by a shock of wild raven hair which hung down over her face. She wore a sleeveless leather jerkin, with a short, frayed skirt and striped silk leggings. Ahead of them on to the left stood Lady Hess’ guardian Bulwark, a mechanical warforged construct from a bygone age, who’s broad metallic shoulders cut an imposing figure. But it was to the other two figures in attendance on which Lady Hess focused her gaze. They sat at the far end of a long marble table facing each other and were engaged in a heated argument.
Lord Ellikar the White Tempest, a slender eladrin dressed in white enamelled plate armour sat on the right. His ageless face was unreadable; his ice-blue eyes betrayed no emotion. A winged helmet sat in the table in front of him and a jewel-encrusted trident leaned on the wall behind him.

“The tiefling Emberheart, along with two others saw them together,” he said to the dwarf sitting across from him.

Lady Hess cursed her husband, the lord governor, for his absence this night.

“These are the same foreigners who murdered me dockworkers shortly thereafter I take it? Murderous drifters. And the she-devil; lies and half-truths seep from her sultry lips with every breath. Is me clan to be condemned on the words of murderous drifters and a demon-spawned whore?” thundered Adkir Bronzeknuckle, his eyes wild with hate.

The dwarf’s ebon beard was neatly trimmed and he dressed in fine black leathers. By dwarfen standards he was meticulous in his hygiene. Yet despite his seemingly refined appearance, he was a temperamental dwarf prone to fits of violent rage.

“Do you deny that five of your dockworkers were in the company of a Hrunnish slaver last night at the Drunken Harpy?” the eladrin asked.

“If Ombi were here, he’d tell you-“

“And where is Lord Ombi this eve Adkir? He is conspicuous by his absence at this dark hour,” interrupted the eladrin.

“I might say the same for our lord governor; or your mistress for that matter,” replied Adkir. “Not that it’s any of yer damned business, but me brother’s off the island at the courts of the dwarfish clans of the eastern Volgarns.”

“Still in search of a queen for your clan of beggars and thieves is he?”

The dwarf’s heavy brow flushed red with anger at the insult and he bristled with barely contained rage as he slammed his meaty fist down upon the table.

“By Moradin’s beard, insult me clan again eladrin and I’ll cut off yer head and sh*t down yer throat!” he roared.

“An idle threat from a gutter-born rat such as yourself Adkir,” replied Ellikar.

In an instant the dwarf had liberated one of his axes from its loop on his girdle and he made as if to jump over the table at the armored eladrin. In reaction to the outburst, Bulwark grabbed his bastard sword and moved protectively in front of Lady Hess, his powerful limbs displaying an unexpected speed for one of such bulk. For his part, Ellikar had not moved. His slender, tightly muscled arms remained folded across his chest, yet he eyed the dwarf as a panther does an unsuspecting elk before it pounces. Lucretia did not doubt that the eladrin warrior would be on his feet and brandishing his wicked trident long before the dwarf had the chance to cover the distance between the two, but she would not let it come to that.

“Enough!” she cried, rising to her feet. Despite her lithe frame, her voice rang with the authority of one used to governing the petty squabbles of merchants and courtiers. “Master Bronzeknuckle, you offend this hall and this house with your violent behaviour. Leave us and see that you cool your fiery temper before standing in my presence again. And be warned, if we find you or your kin had anything to do with the mischief that occurred this night, the full fury of Hess justice will come down upon you.”

Adkir slowly backed away from the table. “Me brothers and I are sick of your constant accusations against our house. When you discover those responsible for Ellikar’s troubles this night, we will expect a full and proper apology,” he said, venom dripping from every word. As he stormed out of the room, his smoldering eyes never once left the eladrin across from him.

When the last thump of the dwarf’s iron-shod boots faded into the night, Ellikar rose slowly, and with a calm deliberateness, donned his winged helm and took up his trident as if going through some long-practiced ritual. He then turned to Lady Hess. Though she was full of confidence and bore a regal authority, she felt herself shrink at the imperious gaze of the fey-born eladrin.

“I leave this matter to you then Lady Hess. But mark me, if justice be not done, then vengeance will. For I shall bring a red ruin upon the house of Bronzeknuckle and every last miserable dwarf in the Foreign Quarter if I must.”

“Justice will be done Lord Ellikar. You have my word,” she replied.

With that, the eladrin gracefully bowed from the waist and backed out of the room, leaving the wife of the lord governor to her troubled thoughts. As Lucretia regained her composure she sat wearily back into her chair.

“Bulwark, have Commander Vaas fetch the trackers and set them on the trail of the missing eladrin. Bahamut help us, but they must be found. If not, we may have bloodshed in the streets.”

“As my lady commands,” replied the warforged.

As Bulwark lumbered out of the room, Lady Hess turned her gaze toward the slim girl with the luminous eyes who sat beside her, as if seeing her for the first time.

“I do not like the angry dwarf with the wild eyes,” the girl said softly. “His mind is clouded with a blood-soaked mist, and madness creeps in the shadow of every thought.”
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