The First Land Herald/439-04-05

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Article Number: 62
Dateline: 439-04-05

Yesterday, I rallied the Bards and our allies for an attempt at diplomacy with the Dragon Priests. I will admit, when Ayrell proposed speaking peacefully with our ancient enemy, the very one who so recently made a pointed attempt on my life in the sanctum of my guild (see the Herald article from 437-09-10), my blood boiled. However, I have come to respect her dedication to diplomacy and acknowledged that we might at least learn something we could use against our foe. With some Bards voicing agreement and others calling for blood, we came to a compromise: attempt diplomacy first, but make preparations for the battle that would almost certainly ensue.

To our surprise, the S'Kra Mur who met us, the Ecclesiarch Suulnir, offered peaceful discussion and made no moves to attack us, inviting us instead into the Temple deep within the Black Spire, with its altar carved into the maw of a Dragon. Grudgingly, those present gave voice to their curiosity and stayed their hands. We began by allowing Ayrell to speak without interruption, and as time grew on and we realized that a true opportunity presented itself, Ayrell stepped back and everyone engaged with Suulnir in an orderly session of questions and answers.

Suulnir first claimed that she represented a new faction of Dragon Priests, one with a "unified purpose." Those who attacked Aesry and the Bard guild were, according to her, of the "old vanguard," and have now "come around to [her] way of thinking," and those who specifically attacked the Bards were no longer "intact." She would later confirm that she does not view the Bard guild as an enemy. However, she denied being the Dragon Priests' leader, saying that the title of Emperor belonged to the Dragon, Ael'tharaxus -- though she would not speak his name. "I am, simply, one who preaches a new way."

About her new way, she gave some hints without saying much. "It has taken thirty years for the Dragon to come to full ascendance. His brilliance has given us the largest hope of all, and thus unified purpose. The deaths of Hhrsaraa and of Tenebraus were a setback to some, undoubtedly. We have taken the better part of three decades to recover from the fragmentation. But with every setback comes an opportunity. An opportunity to establish a new order among the servants of the Dragon. And the Emperor has finally established himself on a unified throne that stretches an Empire that claims territory from the gates of Raven's Point to the Nirefrei River, and to Steelclaw Clan. For the first time in nearly four decades, we have a singular goal. The breeding pits again twist with life. The assassins have sharpened their blades. And now, our Emperor brings us guidance and hope. The children of the Dragon will usher in a new era of enlightenment that you will be honored to witness."

She would later clarify some about this era of enlightenment, saying, "We have a glorious unified purpose -- the creation of something new, something beautiful. A new dawn of reborn magic the likes that have only been seen by the Shunned. Glorious creation will be wrought, and you will behold the works of new magic that we shall manifest something both brilliant and divine." When Ayrell probed if the glory would be peaceful, she responded, "This glory is not of conquest, no." When asked of Necromancy, she replied, "It is strictly holy, and divine, not some filth to be polluted by demons," and later also stated that the Emperor would not "sully himself" in pursuit of the divine fire himself.

She also clarified that they do not intend to wake the World Dragon, and that the Immortals will remain "precisely where they are." Nothing would change in relation to our relationship with our Immortals. Zamara told me later that Suulnir privately revealed to her that the Dragon may also be accepting of followers outside the S'Kra Mur. She also said to Zamara that "the powers of the divine were intriguing when harnessed away from the Immortals."

When I asked what was the need for blood, for which grooves are so clearly built into their altars, Suulnir said, "We have rites that we must maintain, lest we lose our focus." We probed her further on the the tapestry nearby, which reads, "Blood brought the World Dragon forth. Blood will sustain it. Blood will bring the World Dragon forth once again. Those who give themselves freely to the World Dragon will rejoice when the dynasty resumes in cleansing fire." To this she said, "If you also read the tapestry, it states quite clearly that the blood is given willingly. Blood is given to the Divine." Zamara later told me that, before we arrived, she witnessed Suulnir offer both a lizard and a mouse on the altar. They did not glow or vanish as offerings to the Immortals do, though.

Amazingly, Suulnir also claimed to offer the same peace that Ael'tharaxus offered Ferdahl Aemmin. "The promise of peace remains. Even here in the Spire, we have kept the word of the Emperor. Much as the Emperor promised we would not attack the city, we have not. I cannot, naturally, speak for all who serve the Dragon, given the schism after the death of Hhrsaraa. But I counter that we have expectations as well, ones that I feel the Dragon did not adequately communicate. Simply, we reserve the right to defend ourselves using any means we see fit, and no wall will stop us, especially not one that simple ruffians could bypass." However, she refused to formalize this treaty, claiming to be simply a spiritual advisor, so I formally requested to meet with the Emperor on behalf of the Bards. Who knows what will come of that.

Mother Whiteburn had the insight to probe the Mur's aura and discovered that she carries "the mark of the divine, in the form of favor." She asked the priestess about this and from which of the Immortals it originated, but Suulnir only said that she did not follow Peri'el. When later Mother Whiteburn obtained permission to examine her more thoroughly using the Clerical chalice artifact, she discovered that, despite the favor Suulnir carries, none of the Thirteen have granted it. She reads much as one who has obtained favor from the Triquetra or the Great Pack.

Angel was granted permission to perceive Suulnir as well, and she reported that Holy magic clings to her, and that she was ensorcelled with a number of spells: Mental Focus, Tranquility, Refresh, Psychic Shield, Sure Footing, Ethereal Shield, Ghost Shroud, Ease Burden, and Lay Ward. Curiously, these spells come from several different schools, and I never witnessed anyone casting on her -- most seemed to expire around the same time, too, which brought upon her a strange appearance of disconnection, her mien troubled for a moment. I further questioned Zamara, the one person I knew to speak with her before the group arrived, and she confirmed that she too did not cast upon her.

During our conversation, we noticed more than once a strange grinding noise coming from within the corridors of the Spire, as if a large creature were sliding through hallways much too small for its body in the lower chambers of the citadel. When asked about it, Suulnir replied, "What, you begrudge me my pets? Perhaps one day you will meet them. They are quite lovely; we are working on ensuring that it (sic?) has adequate space."

The talk was cut short by one adventurer known for claiming to be a Dragon Priest, Atuen. He insulted Suulnir for "succumbing" to us, after which Raikage leaped out and slew her. Curiously, her corpse trembled, writhing as if propelled by a larger force. A golden serpent rose from her ashes, drawing her back to life. Zamara later told me that she thought she almost saw wings upon the serpent, though I did not see any. Atuen and Raikage were repaid for their actions with consuming naphtha, fired and ignited by sentinels who slipped from the shadows. These were shortly followed by a full unit of armed Dragon Priests.

With a gesture, Suulnir appeared to bring calm. She allowed for us to leave in peace, then, which we did. Though not without more questions than answers.

Bards, we have much to discuss. We will be gathering soon. By the lute and fist, we remember.

Navesi Daerthon True Bard, Zoluren's Herald Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

Real Date: 04/05/21



Dragon Priest (Cult)

Dragon Priest Empire


S'Kra Mur

S'Kra Mur/Beliefs#The World Dragon

World Dragon