Before the Darkest Hour

Gathering the Flock

The 4th of Ches, 1374DR; The Sky above Halruaa

Sandath knew he would find his master in the pleasure cabin of the skyship`s aftercastle. The aging jordainni banged the knocker on Tethyrian bluewood door and paused for a few moments before opening it. The smells of incense and sulphur mingled with smells of body sweat as he crossed the entry corridor lined with heavy silken tapestries. Finally he stepped into the windowless, half-lit room where his master lay sprawled on a low recliner, casually peering into an ancient tome layed across his lap – his alabaster skinned body naked as the day he was born. From a sea of pillows and silken sheets that owerflew from a large bed in the darkened back of the room several pairs of lustful eyes were watching him. He felt uneasy as he felt their gaze on him. Though his master was keen on collecting extraplannar flesh toys, Sandath was circumsized as a part of his jordainni training.

Turning to face his master, the jordainni spoke – „My lord Protarch , we have docked with the Nightwing “. Not sparing a single look to Sandath or his harem of Pleasure Thralls from Evergold, he strode to the room`s exit, dimly lit by daylight seeping through the curtains. Braclets, earings and neck chains jingled as a fine silken robe of bright yellow and red flew from a hanger to wrap itself around the wizard as he walked pass Sandath and into the corridor leading to the Skyship`s sundeck. Sandath had no choice but to follow in his master`s footsteps – although the jordainni was centuries younger then his master, he had difficulty keeping up.

The pale blue sundeck of Netheril`s Hope gleamed like ice under the afternoon sun, here and there crew was seen manning their posts. A flutter of powerful wings could be heard above the main mast – one of the ship`s manticore riders was making a swoop until the beast and rider disappeared behind the starboard railing. First to greet the wizard was a tall creature of sleek but muscled build, every inch of his manner and equipment revealing his extraplanar origins. „Our lord is on deck!“ the creature growled to the surrounding crew – „lower the bridge to the Nightwing !“ The crew obeyed. The only person that they feared more than their wizard patron was their captain – a Gish named Ra`aas Ji`li`kaii.

Immediatly a silvered bridge emerged from the port railings propelled by the Weave itself to touch against Nightwing`s starboard side. The two skyship`s glided side by side in the clear heavens above Halagard, they were different from eachother as night was from day. Nightwing was as Shar to Selune of Netheril`s Hope – its form revealed darkened skeletal creatures bound to the outside of its black hull, and packs of robed silluethes standing on its deck. Three figures emerged to step onto the bridge, ready to board Netheril`s hope . The first of the figures was the necromancer Tinias of Halagard. Tinias was on his own path to immortality, as shown by the pale skin that was once a rich color of dark olive, his beard he dyed with khol, to hide the yellowish grays. He was clad in robes of woven gold, heavy necklaces lost in their folds. Behind him followed his Jordain advisor Melek, last to step on the bridge was a Servent of Mystery, Hoster Drajin – the highest ranking priest of Mystra in Halagard`s Pearl Temple.

After he stepped onto the deck of Netheril`s Hope , Tinias the necromancer made a courtly bow to his host. Sandath watched in trepidation the sphynx-like features of his master. Although the two wizards corresponded occasionally and had their Towers within quarter of a mile apart as the lake gull flies, they hadn`t met in person since the fall of the Great Wizard Akhlaur – but what were years to these men that counted time in centuries. Finally, in accordance with High Netherese costum, Sandath`s master spread his arms and opened both his palms facing his golden clad guest.

As he accepted Tinias`es short lasting embrace the wizard spoke – „No amount of perfume hides the stench of the grave, Tinias“. Disturbingly, the necromancer remained outlandishly serious as he tried to grimace his thin, painted lips into a laugh revealing a set of yellow teeth – „ You noticed? My dear Elderic the Protarch , is this your way of wooing me? I would be a dull plaything, really… “ Now it was Elderic`s turn to laugh, as he gestured Tinias to stroll with him along the deck. The wizards departed, while their escorts remained a respectful distance behind. When they reached the broad forecastle, Tinias broke the silence – his features bent into a semblance of a smirk. „ So I must ask you Elderic, have you and Iantyr undone Zalathorm`s Palace? “ Elderic`s features remained troubled, his gaze fixed on the manticore rider making another swoop around the skyships. „ I can tell you this – the last two persons that asked me that same question are now locked in stasis atop of my tower. But nevermind the past, tomorrow we hold the Council right here in Halagard. I`ve called all the surviving Elders that wish to join us.“ Elderic`s gaze now fell to the sprawling city of Halagard hundreds of feet bellow as he continued through a grin„ Offcourse, I also sent a message to Greila, Matteo and Meldrathar to stop us if they can. “

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