Pathfinder Kingmaker

The worst of nightmares

Zion's troubled night

The light glowed green around him in the deep forest, filtered through the many layers of leaves. A cool, damp wind gave him a slight shiver, and the strong scent of damp, old wood dominated his senses. Zion could hear the voices of faeries, their lilting, high-pitched voices unmistakable and beyond comprehension. They seemed excited, and at the edges of his vision he caught glimpses of them flitting here and their, on branches and in the air.

Frozen in place in a deep forest glade, he felt warm breath on his neck and could just hear a shuddered breath follow. He could not move. The warmth of the breath on his skin increased, as if whatever or whoever was behind him was very close, and breathing just next to him. He realized that he was wearing only his sleeping clothes – a loose shirt and baggy shorts.

He felt a greasy hand on his left forearm. He could was still unable to move. Footsteps to his left, and into his field of vision he saw her appear. She was a little thinner than when he’d last seen her, and wore only a pair of knee-high fur boots. She was filthy, with layers of oil, grease, and dye spread across her bare skin. Her hair stood at all angles, caked with dirt that obscured the pink and green colors. Her eyes were wild and bloodshot, and she stood before him, her mouth just slack.

“You denied me once…” she half-spoke, half-breathed.

Zion woke with a start, sheets soaked from his fever. The poison had run its course, and the healing magic applied to him had done what it could, and he knew he was not at his best. He knew it would be days before he would be able to transform again, and that his spells would be limited. He also knew, fever aside, that the dream represented reality: Tessara, the Mad Bitch Queen as she was known by most, was back.

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Zions eyes slammed open. He was in bed in a sweaty slumber with poison still coursing through his veins.
Next to him the priest who was attending him fell back in rapt fear when he heard Zion exclaim in Draconic, “The Bitch Queen has returned.”
Zion stumbled from his bed with father altidore filling closely behind protesting his moving. "My lord… "
His words were nothing with the fate of Silverstep hanging in the ballance.
“My armor. Where is it?” he spoke in a raspy voice.
“Your chambers sire. Where it should be… And you back in bed…”
The silver king walked to his study where he kept important scrolls. There in a box in the back of a locked drawer, was the scroll she wrote professing innocents and love for Zion. He withdrew the scroll. He made his way to his gear. It was cleaned, repaired, and hanging with care.
He slowly began stripping off his bed clothes. His servant stepped in to help with his tasks of washing his sweat covered body then donning his armor.
His movements helped his sore muscles and the task of getting ready for a fight made easier.

Once his battle armor was strapped on and items if war placed correctly, he adjusted his more offensive weapons. His staff was fully charged and his wand of lighting had more than enough to weaken any field army. He knew that his spells were sorly depleted but could still mount a terrifying onslaught with just his items he carried. The trick was to stay away from her more ground based atracks. He still had the ability to fold dimensions of the need arose, and even once could disintegrate a creature, and some flashy damaging but the consitant detonations of fire and ice would have to wait.

Zion quickly made his way to the balcony so he could go see the besieging forces in the distance. There he summoned a horse made of the whispy stuff of illusion under him and he launched into the air riding a hundred feet above the ground.
He was remembering his hate he had toward her. Her manipulations of the kingdom, her alternate identity causing chaos in his home, and how she attempted to win his heart through a vague letter.

She was out there somewhere. Seething he thought, “you’ll not walk away from me this time girl.”

The worst of nightmares
 

Zion galloped out of the city and headed north, directly at the forces arrayed along the King’s Highway. They were dug in about 1/2 mile north, and his approach was obvious, as he intended. Just shy of what he figured was their archers’ maximum range he dismissed the spectral mount and took to the air, arcing high above the front lines as cries of anger and alarm swept the enemy camp. They were arranged on the forward slope of some low hills, and behind their front lines he expected to see more than was there – a good amount of the force they’d started with, according to his scouts, was not there.

‘No matter,’ he thought, pushing aside consideration of where those troops had gone until after he did what he came here to do. For the next few minutes he fly back and forth over them, erecting first a wall of fire on top of their front line, then blasting them with lightning, ice, and more fire until he’d almost expended his powers and those of the items he carried. He and they would need to rest to recover, but he didn’t want to use up everything he had right now. If he could hurt this force enough, perhaps when the relief force arrived they would have an easy time of routing them and then, joined with the city’s forces, would have be able to make a good stand against the larger force to the south.

As he completed his work he soared higher, using his enhanced senses to get a better view of things. The force to the south was larger, and well-arrayed, it seemed from here. Nothing more to the east or north. Tracks and other evidence of movement along the highway, toward the west – whatever troops had peeled off from this group had already made for Misthaven.

On the western horizon, probably 20 miles away, he saw a dust cloud, and smoke.

The worst of nightmares
 

Once his few remaining offensive spells were depleted, Zion made his way back to his home in Silverstep. He landed roughly on his balcony where his attendants greeted him with concern on their faces.
“I’ll be fine my friends. I need to get to tje capital to warn the other kings of what is happening. I fear there is a battle going on right now just 20 miles to our west. Bring me some of the children who are hiding here so at least some of our number will be guaranteed to be safe.”

Zion limped to his throne leaning heavily on his spear. He thought back to the battle he just waged. ‘I hope that gives us some relief. Not as many of their forces live, and less than what we thought are arrayed against my city.’

Moments later, a small band of urchins tentatively came into his throne room wide eyed as they have never seen such opulence, nor as many books or ever hope to in their lives.

“Come children” he spoke" let us take you away from here so you may live long and happy lives." with that he groaned to his feet and with the last ounce of his magic they faded to nothing, only to reappear in the throne room at the Tuskwater.
Once the magic faded, he fell to his knees as the kings jumped to their feet. Once they recognized who it was, calls for a liter were made.

“I’ll survive fellow kings. I have a report. But first, see to the children and lets hope they’re not to be turned into war orphans.
The war is well underway. We all have been caught flat footed here. Someone knew of our abilities, defenses, and who we are. She has come home. The Mad Bitch Queen, Tessara. She came to me in a dream after she poisoned me with her cursed vines. I tried to send them scurrying but… She knows my abilities. I fear there is a battle already taking place 20 miles to the west of Silverstep. I don’t know numbers or disposition, but if there is one who is as powerful as the Kings, they’re going to have a rough go of it. Thank you for letting me get my report out. Now I need rest and see my family.
If there is someone who can counteract magical poison, her filth is still in my veins. It is keeping me from getting the rest I need to mount a worthy offence.”

Zion finally collapsed into a heap with his eyes rolling into the back of his head. The last of his endorphins finally gave out, and exhaustion took hold.

Reg whispered to Anton… “Two days ago he turned into a dragon, now he is unconscious about to soil himself. Am I a bad brother to think this is strangely fitting?”

The worst of nightmares
 

The kings and their assistants had been in the middle of a working breakfast when Zion appeared, and the food became an afterthought immediately. Once Zion stopped talking and slumped into a chair, it was Reg who spoke first.

“That bitch! She dies this time! DEAD!” raged the half-orc, just about given in to his more savage side. Anton’s faced darkened and his scowl and tight jaw spoke what no words could convey. Others in the room began talking almost at once, creating an instant din of surprise, fear, and anger.

Seconds passed. Anton looked Reg in the eyes and they shared a moment of understanding. Pik, a stunned look on his face, looked at them both and waited. Anton slammed his fist down, knocking over several of the unit markers and other pieces on the map of the realm. Silence followed the echo.

“I am not going to give a speech,” he began in a calm, hard tone.

“The Dragoons are already on their way east. We have, in our stores, the means to transport ourselves there, now, with a few picked men. I will go; Reg, you will accompany me with my Guard, and we will end this problem today…today!”

The worst of nightmares
 

Within minutes, Reg and Anton were outfitted in their battle gear and surrounded by Anton’s personal guard of seven elite warriors, each wielding enchanted weapons and other implements from the castle’s armory. Healing potions, powerful magic armor and weapons, and other magic items picked up over years of adventuring by the kings were all about to be put to use – expended in defense of the realm. Much of them had a layer of dust, having sat for so long, valued by unused.

“Pik, see that we’re followed by whatever you can spare, but don’t deplete the constabulary of the cities,” Anton commanded as Tomax, a local mage of considerable power, unrolled a single black scroll. Once it was clear that Pik and Anton were done, the frail main began reading in a guttural tongue. Just as the group of nine began to blur and a slight breeze picked up around them in the sealed room, Anton spoke again.

“Take care of my family…” and then the group suddenly disappeared, leaving only some dust blown into the air as the breeze quickly settled.

The worst of nightmares
MurphyIVE

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