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     The Duke of Charr

Emote: Howl sits on his throne room, alone, picking something out of his teeth.

Emote: Korg Stomps into the throne, fuming.

Korg- Howl. We have a problem.

Howl – Ah, hello the…what?'

Korg - Noipros has accused us of attacking Viseron. He married Lady Targareyen, and is now regent of all Tyria.

Howl’s mouth twitches

Howl – He…he what?'

Howl Blinks. Breathing intensifies

Howl – That…rat-faced…PIG BASTARD! Threatening

Korg - Agreed

Howl – How… HOW…DARE HE! THAT…AND HE…AND I THEN…AND… Threatening

Korg – Howl

Howl – I WILL I- WHAT?'

Korg – Try to calm down. We need a plan.

Howl’s face is wild Howl – Plan?'

Korg – Yes.

Howl – I WILL…. I WILL… I… Howl seems to notice Korg, as it for the first time.

Howl – I… Howl takes a deep breath

Howl – Yes, that would seem…to make SENSE. Howl Growls. 

Korg tentatively places a hand on Howl’s shoulder.  Howl trembles in rage.

Howl – I will…rip his fucking head off…'

Korg – Surely you will…but for now, it is the Royal army we need to worry about. And more, besides.'

Howl – And he…he has…he has…a royal…fucking…army. How grand. How grand for dear Noipros.

Korg – Reports are scattered…but I have heard whispers… Lucas Winchester is dead. Undoubtedly Noipros will appoint a loyal thrall in the Grove. And undoubtedly he has much power in Rata Sum.

Howl – (growls) Oh, of course, he will, of course… Right then. Oh, Noipros, `this’ is not how we do things, this is `beneath’ us…

Korg takes a deep breath

Korg – Also…

Howl – What?

Korg – It seems a large number of the nobles in Reach were killed as well. An accidental fire, as they say…though we know how true that is.

Howl – (laughs) Oh, but of course. But of course.

Korg – Whatever you once thought of Noipros…he is an enemy now…and a base and gauche one at that.

Howl – To say the LEAST! Very well…yes…fine. FINE NOIPROS. You don’t wanna play the game anymore? Very well. Let’s see how you like my wrath.

Korg – I have some basic plans…if you with them.

Howl – Oh, I do too…but speak.

Korg – We need to have our name cleared of this baseless accusation…strip Noipros of his lands, titles, and power once again. And then…we need to prepare for the storm to come.

Howl – We need to `strip’ him of FLESH FROM HIS BODY! (growls)

Korg – We need both the Norn and Pinky.

Howl – I know we do.Howl’s lip twitches. Howl’s eyes glance off to the side.

Howl – Vialeth!

Vialeth – Squawk?

Howl removes Vialeth from her moa form immediately

Korg – The Norn should be here too.

Vialeth – Duke Howl? What is it?

Howl – Yes, I will get the damn Norn.

Vialeth – Is something wrong?

Korg – Silence. We will explain soon.

Howl takes out a coin and fiddles with it.

Howl – Damn…useless…fucking…thing!

Draugr Brandrsson appears out of the shadows quietly, holding the coin, his face solemn.

Draugr – Duke.

Vialeth is surprised.

Howl – There you are. Oh. Draugr, Vialeth, Vialeth, Draugr.

Vialeth – Is…is this safe?

Korg – You two, we have grave news.

Howl – Let him `try’ anything. I am in no mood.

Draugr looks over the sylvari, his face betrays nothing.

Howl grinds his teeth.

Vialeth nods, giving her attention to Korg.

Draugr then turns to study Howl, his eyes traces, taking in microdetails.

Korg – Noipros has accused us of attacking Viseron, almost killing the King. He has married Lady Targareyen under these false pretenses, and is acting as standing King.

Howl – (growls) Fucking Noipros.

Draugr – Hmph, should have killed him when we had the chance.

Vialeth – Noipros! So…that’s what this was all about, then. He just wanted the throne for himself.

Howl – Oh, YOU THINK?

Korg – Howl. Come down.Howl growls, clenching and unclenching his fists.

Draugr stands with his arms crossed, his weight shifted onto his right foot, his face relatively impassive.

Korg – Vialeth…unless the Duke sees fit to assign you another task, I plan for you to find out the truth about Viseron. If possible, find where he is.

Vialeth – As..as a moa?

Korg – Under the circumstances, I think you as you will be more effective. If barely. But if you wish to be a moa…Howl through gritted teeth, but, calmer.

Howl – Can you…remain…undetected…as yourself?

Vialeth – I…I think I can.

Korg – You better. For your sake.

Draugr – Hmm…see me before you leave Vialeth, I can help with that.

Vialeth – I’ll do my best. I’d…I’d like not to go back.

Korg – To being a Moa?

Howl – And our’s (growled)

Korg – Or to go back to Reach?

Vialeth – Oh! I didn’t mean… I meant to being a moa. I…I’ll do as you ask.

Korg – Good. That is good. Draugr.

Draugr – Hmm?

Korg – If they take these steps, then military action is not beyond

(Missed these parts)

Howl – No. I have plans for Draugr.

Draugr – No, I’d imagine not.

Korg – If they enter our swamp, I want you to show them the full pesti- Howl?

Howl – I have plans for the Norn.

Draugr raises an eyebrow

Howl – Draugr.

Draugr – Duke.

Howl – Do you have… `Howl takes a very deep breath, and manages a sardonic smile… Do you have any fellow Norn you can draw upon?

Draugr thinks for a moment

Draugr – I have some people that will do me a few favors…how many do you need and for what purpse?

Howl - Loyal, trustworthy ones?

Draugr grits his teeth

Draugr – Yes.

Howl – How many can you get?

Draugr – How many do you want?

Howl – At least twenty.

Draugr – Hmm… I can get half that, but they’re good.

Howl – (growls) Fine

Korg – How about those who would be loyal for four walls, a roof, and food in their bellies?

Howl – I want you to gather these men, and take them to Gendarran. Take them…someplace…(sigh)…someplace…out-of-the way.

Korg – I have an idea.

Howl – What?

Draugr – They would be trash, gutter sitters, the Norn do not tolerate weakness, those who work for such simple means are either tired or weak. The first is acceptable, the second, shameful.

Howl – No. Ten loyal, good folk that we can trust.

Draugr – I can get you those

Howl – Excellent. Yes. Good.

Korg – Go to Mrot Boru…in Brisban. A short march west of there you will find the ruins of Fort Koga.

Howl – Fort Koga?

Korg – It has some ghosts, but they are mostly docile.

Howl ponders.

Draugr’s eyes glitter at the implication

Korg – But its stone walls. And defensible terrain.

Howl – Go there, under the pretence of being refugees from….

Howl ponders

Korg – From Jormag.

Howl – You are refugees who’s village were burned by Svanir… (grunts) `Or’ Jormag.

Draugr – They disguise as a mercenary group, the bandits of the area provide all the reason they need to be there, they can disguise themselves as that. No Norn would run so far from Jormag.

Korg – Howl? Is that acceptable to you?

Howl – (Growls louder) Fine.

Draugr – The calls will take perhaps twenty minutes, then I wait. What should I do in the mean time?

Howl - `Establish’ yourselves, and await further instruction. Meantime? Get ready to move. Pack.

Vialeth – Wait…Draugr? You said you could help me…stay hidden somehow.

Draugr – Ah yes, one moment.

He reaches into his pack and rummages around, he pulls out a dark stone, he pauses, holding it for a second, then he tosses it to Vialeth

Draugr – Attach that to a pendant.

Vialeth – A pendant? What will it do?

Draugr – Speak the words "Noxus" to activate it, and "Luxus" to deactivate it. Shadows will cling to you and so long as you avoid the light, none shall see you. I cannot do anything about noise but that should help at least a little.

Vialeth – Thank you. I don’t know who you are, or what you do for Howl, but…you have my gratitude.

Draugr – Be careful how much you use though, it must recharge on moonlight and is good for a total of about two hours walking around  once charged.

Vialeth – (nods) Understood.

Howl – Draugr. I am very angry now. But, heed my words.

Howl's fists still shake lightly.

Howl – Your…mate… What is his name? Draugr – Tora. Howl – Tora. If you do this for me. If you do this… Mark my words. There will be no man, Charr, Sylvari, Norn or Asura in Tyria… Who could bring him to harm. Do you understand me? He will be untouchable. Draugr relaxes ever so slightly. Draugr – I undersand. Howl – Good. Well? Anything else? Draugr looks at Howl strangely but says nothing. Korg – Well, then… you two know what you’re doing. Go do it. Vialeth bows.  Korg salutes.  Howl still fumes, silently.  Korg nods at Draugr.  Draugr steps back into the shadows and is gone, he nods respectfully to Korg Vialeth – I’ll find Viseron. And I’ll find out the truth. Good luck, until then. Korg – Good luck. Korg waits until Vialeth is gone and as Draugr to make sure Korg – Howl Howl – What? Korg – Who is your military commander? We need a plan. Howl – Who else, you fool? You are. Korg – (blinks) Very well..do I have your permission to move forward? Howl – Yes, yes, do whatever. Howl let’s out a very frustrated sound, and kicks over his throne. Breathes heavily. Korg hesistates for a moment…and then he hugs Howl from behind. Korg – It’ll be okay, my love. Howl lets out…another sound. A sob? Howl – Why don’t…we just…we just… Leave… Korg – Just you and me? Howl nods, deflating. Korg lets go of Howl long enough to move in front of Howl. How’s eyes are teary. Korg hugs Howl again. Korg – Its play, my beautiful dear… I will not allow anything to harm you…and…besides, I promised you a crown…not the life of a fugitive. Howl – You…will make me…king. That is what you said to me… Korg – I will do it. Howl is quiet for a moment. Howl – For me…there would be no queen though, I do not…I do not…like women… What…what will they call you then, I wonder…? Howl nestles his face in Korg’s shoulders. Korg – Well…if his Kingship would have me…they will call me whatever he tells them to call me. Howl - …Beloved. Korg… K-Korg…  I… His eyes fill with fear. Howl – I… I-I… I..I-I… (pant) I….looove…you… Korg kisses Howl…long and deep…before pulling back. Korg – I see you now…my beauty…a great king…with a crown of brilliant crystal. Howl lays his head on Korg’s shoulder, and sighs. Howl – I don’t need a crown…I… (quietly) just need you. Holds Howl, mocking him gently.     

          The False Kings’s Escape

Howl the servant clears his throat, and walks straight into the court, his pointed noise stuck up in the air. Noipros – Can I…help you? Howl bows Noipros – Queen Targaryen. And King Noipros Howl – Apologies, your Grace. Howl bows Noipros – Better. Rhaenara – All is well, charr. Rhaenara side eyes Noipros Howl – I am an envoy formally sent to the Queen, and…King, and the Court of Divinity’s Reach on behalf of House Fauxfang.  Noipros shrugs Noipros – Oh? Howl bows Rhaenara ponders Noiros – And? Rhaenara feels her blood boil at the mention of House Fauxfang. Howl – Yes. I have a formal message to be relayed by my Lord, the Duke Howl Fauxfang, the Humble. Noipros laughs Noipros – Humble? Howl – That was my input to relay. Noipros – Oh, sorry, my friend, continue. Rhaenara looks on, waiting for the message. Howl stares blankly forward, not looking at either the King or Queen. Howl – The Duke Howl would like to inform you all the charges against him are false. His Dukeship did in no way harm the King Visceron. That these claims have wounded him deeply, for he only holds the Crown in the highest or regards. Noipros – Does his dukeship have any proof? Howl – Yes. Noipros – Where is it? Rhaenara – The proof is all on the King’s body! Howl’s tone is flat Noipros looks intensively Howl – The body was left with claw marks. All Charr have claws. The proof of his innocence is the entirety of his Court, his servants, and myself. Noipros – Did you witness Howl committing the crime? Howl – I witnessed him in his House the entire week that this crime was committed. Noipros ponders Rhaenara – Why would any other charr have the intent to harm the King, but the Duke? Noipros – You do realize your duke is a Mesmer? With a simple snap of his fingers, he can trick all of you. Howl – I realize no things, only the Duke has insight. The Duke would also have the Court know that Howl is not the only Mesmer at play. Noipros crosses his arms Noipros – The duke must realize which Mesmer plays the game better. Howl – What Mesmer could benefit from the death of the former King? This humble servant knows not. Howl turns his blank eyes to Noipros Noipros – Until the Duke proves his innocence, his is an enemy of the crown. Rhaenara looks on, listening to the back and forth Howl – Games? Yes. Howl spoke to me of games to me, before he sent me on his way… How’s ear twitches Noipros stares blankly Howl – He told this humble servant that you broke the game, Noipros. You ruined the fun. He is very sad. Noipros – Oh is he? Rhaenara looks at Noipros confusedly. Noipros – Servant, look at me. Rhaenara – What do you mean by all this… Howl’s eyes at Noipros, in his general direction. Noipros places a gentle hand on his queen’s shoulder. Noipros – Howl ruined the game years ago when his father killed mine. Rhaenara freezes up, trying to ease to the King’s touch. Howl – I have no instruction on this. Your state is irrelevant. Noipros – As is your message. Leave before I have you escorted. Howl – Hear me, Court of the Reach… Noipros crosses his arms, listening carefully. Howl – The Duke Howl was wrongfully accused. The proof is not. He formally asks that you see reason, and not cast aside the greatest ally to the Crown, the one true loyal amongst all other lords. Rhaenara adjusts her posture, trying to look as regal as possible. Howl – His eyes wept for the former King, his eyes weep for the current King, and his eyes weep to see you all turn on his…. Noipros – You know, my queen, this messenger seems awfully like a lawyer. Howl – The entirely of his House in the Arbor can attest to his innocence, at once you must refute your claim. Noipros – I did not realize this was a trail. Howl – We beseech ye. After all, there are greater risks, aren’t there Noipros? Noipros guards surround the messenger. Noipros – You’ve overstayed your welcome. Howl – Are there not….Dragons….to contend with? Rhaenara freezes at the word `dragons’. Howl – You have ruined the fun, and now…and now… Noipros – Guards! Noipros guards surround and lean close Rhaenara calls out to the messenger as guards surround him. Noipros – What…are you… Noipros sees the messenger’s face distort. Howl stares into Noipros’ eyes Rhaenara – Let the Duke know, that H-Noipros? Noipros – No…I… I love…the game… Noipros notices the messenger’s fangs elongate, and glows purple. He hears a faint whisper `the game is over’ Noipros – LEAVE! GET OUT! Howl vanishes. Noipros clutches his head and kneels. Rhaenara – Guards! Search the Palace! Search the city! Noipros – Rhaenara…. Noipros headache dissipates Rhaenara – Noipros, are you well? What was that? Rhaenara kneels Noipros – I…I don’t like you very much… You know that? Rhaenara looks around. Noipros takes his crown off and holds it in his hands. Noipros – But. I respect you, enough to tell you what I really want. Rhaenara chuckles, and says loud enough only for Noipros to hear. Noipros holds the crown close to his chest. Rhaenara – I’m glad the feeling is almost mutual. I agree with not liking you. Rhaenara looks back at the nobility, smiling to indicate that all is well and good. Noipros – Can we go somewhere private? I need to tell you something. Noipros takes his queen gently by the hand. Rhaenara smiles Noipros – Of course, love. Noipros free of the sight, of nobles, frowns. Rhaenara puts a hand idly on her focus. Rhaenara – Yes? Noipros – That messenger… He’s reminded me of who I am. Of why I’ve killed, and why I did what I did. Rhaenara – I could have reminded you of that by showing you where the toilets are. Noipros chuckles Noipros – Oh my sweet queen, careful now. Rhaenara – Just because we are in this together, and because you’ve saved the One True King, don’t presume I don’t know what kind of person you are. Noipros – You don’t think I’ve noticed have you? At the mere mention of dragons, your expression…changes. Rhaenara – Well, of course. The sigil of my House is the dragon of my ancestral lands. That messenger could be sending a threat to my House. Noipros – I’ve worked with the Inquest for years, my love. I can smell dragon energy from miles away. But no, that’s…not what I pulled you here. Rhaenara looks disinterested. Noipros – Kudu has stolen from me something very…important. Rhaenara – A pacifier, perhaps? Noipros looks irritated Rhaenara – What is it? Noipros – A crystal…from Kralkarorik. Rhaenara tries to control her expressions Noipros – He’s broken it and I need another. Mordrenach is coming. Rhaenara laughs Rhaenara – An Elder Dragon? I did not come here to listen to you joke around. Noipros – Very well. Noipros takes the crown in his hand and looks at Rhaenara solemnly. Noipros – You are just as useless as I thought. Noipros drops the crown Rhaenara looks on at the display of foolishness, thinking `almost as pitiful as a centaur who can’t run’ Noipros – I resign as king. Let your kingdom fall part. Mordrenach is all that matters. Rhaenara – Oh, finally, I can take out all these diapers from the room then. Noipros – Oh...by the way… I’ve received reports of farmers leaving Queensdale over the expensive tax. Nobles aren’t too happy either… Your kingdom will fall into debt. Rhaenara – Maybe if we had an intelligent Master of Coin, hmm? Noipros – We? There is no more we, my love. I have business to attend, and you will not help. Good luck, your grace. Rhaenara bows Rhaenara – Make sure to flush yourself on the way out! Rhaenara calls over the guards. Rhaenara – Guards, find the Master of Coin. Bring him.                              Scene 2 Blintoc is messing with his coins. Noipros gasps for air Rhaenara’s guards are running around outside. Noipros – Raza, Blintoc, collect your things. Raza – My Lord, welco- By Grenth, what happened? Blintoc – What? Why? Noipros – Don’t ask questions. Just do it! Go, collect your notes. Blintoc – Are we going on a vacation? Raza is panicking Noipros looks around frantically Noipros – Yes. Yes we are. Blintoc ponders Blintoc – Seems irresponsible. Noipros – Get your things! Blintoc – Also, we can’t afford a vacation. Rhaenara’s guards outside `Where are the Masters of Coin and Whispers?’ Raza gets some files Noipros slams the table Noipros – Now! Raza – Should we burn the rest? Noipros – Yes. Start a fire. Blintoc – Well, good golly, Mr. Noipros, you seem quite in a rush. Maybe you should calm down. Noipros kicks the box and Blintoc falls down Raza starts a small fire Noipros – Do it what I say now, or you’ll die. Please. Go. Noipros grabs Blintoc and carries him out Rhaenara’s guards run toward the fire, ignoring Noipros, and run to alert the Queen. Raza looks back at the rising flames, laughing Blintoc – Mr. Noipros! Who is this lady? Rhaenara – Guards, you fools! Clean up this mess! Blintoc – She seems like a bad guy. Noipros – Hush. Blintoc ponders Blintoc – Er…girl. Rhaenara – The bastard did it after all. Noipros puts his hand over Blintoc’s mouth. Blintoc – Shush? SHUSH?! Noipros – Nice work, Raza. Blintoc bites with his sharp point teeth. Noipros recoils. Rhaenara – Guards, ground all airships and blockade the docks. No one leaves or enters the city. Raza gives a huge, unsettling grin to Noipros Blintoc – Now I have had quite enough of this nonsense! Rhaenara looks on at the war room, in ruins. Blintoc – What is the meaning of this?! Noipros kneels and grabs Blintoc by the collar. Noipros – Listen to me! We are no longer welcome here. Blintoc – What did you do?! Noipros – Nothing. Blin, nothing. Blintoc – Sounds like it. Noipros – Listen, we have to go. Back to Rata Sum. Blintoc – No! I have an important job to do! Raza – Oh thank the gods… Noipros – You’ve done your job. Blintoc – What? Noipros – You’ve done it well. Blintoc – I mean, I know. Noipros – We need to return to Rata Sum and from there, to the Dragonbrand. Blintoc – But don’t know why I would stop now. Noipros – Maybe in the future, Blin, but for now… We leave. Blintoc scowls Raza – The guards, Noipros… Noipros – Come closer, guys. Let’s get out of here. Blintoc sulks. Noipros creates a portal to Queendale.

         The Duchess of Snow

Servant – L-Lady Taiga, wake up. I have bad news to tell you. Melissa looks down at her with a tired expression and ticked off. Melissa – Yes? What is it you woke me up for this time? Servant – I am afraid tell you that, umm, your mother and father…just died on their quest to kill the dragon, Jormag. I am very sorry My Lady. But I was requested to ask that we immediately make you the new ruler of Hoelbrak. Melissa – I cannot believe it. You waking me up to play another prank on me. If this is a prank, then you have a bad taste of them, my parents are the best hunters in the country, how could they just be defeated that easily? Servant – I am not joking my lady, honest, I am deeply sorry for your loss, we need a new ruler and that is you. Melissa slams her fist down onto the bed, breaking it in half, mixture of feeling sad and angry. Melissa – JORMAG!!! He kills hundreds of my people relentless, and now my parents, he will pay. Melissa stands up and puts on her coat. Melissa – Servant, where are the guards who went with them? Any survivors? Servant – I am afraid only one has survived and he was the one who told us. Melissa – And where may I find this soldier of mine? Servant – His is in critical condition at the Great Lodge, we are doing all we can to save him my lady. My lady? If I may ask what I can do for you, well since your family is well… Melissa – Tears are for later servant, I was taught to take action and not cry. I have later time to mourn them, as bad as I did not want to be the next ruler and just focus on being a great hunter, I must carry on my family’s will. So, is the soldier awake right now? Servant – I’m afraid not, my Lady. He passed out after saying the Duke and Duchess of Hoelbrak was dead. We are preparing a party in your honor to be crowned the next Duchess of Hoelbrak. Melissa – A PARTY!!? I have no time for parties and fancy things, I seek revenge on Jormag… I will feast and drink til my heart is content when he is long and dead. So, does the other Dukes, Duchess’s and the Kingdom know of their passing yet? Servant – No, why? Melissa – Good, prefer them not to be here breathing down my back right now. Want to get Hoelbrak back on its feet before we tell the world of me. I will be on my way to the Great Lodge to check on my soldiers condition, you come with me.                           Scene 2 Wolfborn – Oh my lady, how are you feeling? Melissa – Not the best, but enough about me, how is the guard who was brought in? Wolfborn – He just woke up, our healer from Bear treated him. Melissa breathes a sigh of relief Melissa – Is he able to have visitors talk to him right now? I like to know something. Wolfborn – Yes, but not long visits, make it short. Melissa nods and goes to find him Valla – Oh, my Lady, you doing alright? Melissa – I was told you knew where the guard who fought alongside my parents was, where I can I find him? Valla – Oh, did the Wolfborn tell you? We took him to Bear to rest, he fell asleep as they we’re carrying him out, if you want to see him…you might should wait till tomorrow. Melissa – Alright, my questions will have to wait then, his recovery is needed, he might know something to help me defeat Jormag. Melissa ponders Melissa – So, do my people know of their rulers demise? Valla – No, just me, the servant who I sent to you and a few other knights. Melissa – I see…very well then. Keep me posted on the guards condition, I need think and process all that has happened. Valla – Okay my Lady, take care and rest well.

Truth Seeking

Vialeth – Pelumba! You got my note! Pelumba – Vialeth! Is that really you? Vialeth – I…yes. I thought it would be safe to trust you. Was I right? Pelumba looks around and grabs Vialeth’s arm and pull her towards the pillar. Pelumba – What are you doing here? Vialeth – I don’t think…I can tell you that. But I don’t mean anyone any harm. Have you been well? Have the other guards? Pelumba – The other… Yes, yes we’re all fire, but what are you  doing out in the open?! Do you know what would happen if you were seen? Of followed?! I shouldn’t even be talking to you right now! I shouldn’t even be talking to you right now! Vialeth – I’m being careful. I have…a bit of magic I’m using. I won’t get you into trouble, Pelumba, that’s not why I’m here. But I need information. Pelumba – Well I am glad to see you, and unharmed at that. What do you need? Vialeth – I need to know what I’m getting myself into. I’ve heard only…rumors, of what’s been happening in Divinity’s Reach, but nothing definite. And if you know the location of King Viseron… I’m not here to hurt him, I swear it! I just need to know where he is. Pelumba – The king? I’m afraid I don’t know, I haven’t heard word of him for some time. Vialeth – That’s all right. I’ll find out…somehow. But what’s happened here? Things are…everyone seems on edge. Pelumba – Oh yes, I suppose things would seem off it you haven’t been here for a while… Vialeth – They say…that Lord Noipros is king, now? Pelumba – Yes, Lord Noipros and Lady Targarian were wed, but there was a terrible… I mean to say… At the reception, the building collapsed in on itself, a fire I’m told. All the nobles that attended were killed. Vialeth – That’s awful! And…terribly suspicious, I think. Pelumba – I think you and I can put together what probably REALLY happened, but there’s no proof. Vialeth – There wouldn’t be, I imagine. But Rha…Queen Rhaemara was unharmed? Pelumba – She and Noipros were elsewhere at the time, as far as I know she’s fine. Vialeth – Thank the Pale Tree. Pelumba – Actually I saw her not too long ago. Vialeth – Did you? How is she? Noipros hasn’t…done anything to her, has he? Pelumba – She seemed very...what’s the word… Displeased? Like she wasn’t happy to be there. But who could blame here? I doubt Lord Noipros was at the top of her list. Vialeth – Of course he wasn’t! But Ko- I think he lied to her to get her to marry him. And I’m here to disprove that lie

The Boneyard

Matithias arrives with his crew on the beaches of Orr. A ship pulls to the sand and a platoon of soldiers hop out to secure the area. The land of Orr is not as dangerous as it once was but the presence of the undead still lingers. He commands his troops to refurbish an abandoned pack base. Matithias – I want these walls fortified before my feet dry! Lierrn, I want you to oversee the camp supplies. Make sure we are stocked and prepared for anything. Lierrn salutes Lierrn – Yes, sir. Permission to speak freely, sir? Matithias – Speak. Lierrn – It’s just that…there’s been talk, and the soldiers have been complaining. They don’t understand what we’re doing here. Sir, what are we doing here? Matithias – You know coming to Orr feels a bit like coming home to me. I suppose it’s more appropriate now than ever. Lierrn raises her eyebrows very slightly but doesn’t say anything. Matithias – My parents met here. They were just kids at the time. They didn’t know much of anything, they just knew that there was a dragon and that their kingdom needed them. Lierrn – You parents were soldiers, here, Sir? Matithias – They were. My mother was a captain. My father was a blacksmith. Lierrn – I…see. Are we here to find them? Sir? Matithias – No no, I wouldn’t trouble you with that. They passed quite some time ago. Lierrn – I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Matithias – But I’m not just telling you that for no reason. You see, before my father passed, I was his apprentice. He taught me almost everything he knew, but he was called back into action before he was able to teach me one last trick. No, we are here so I can do my father proud. So I can accomplish a task he only ever dreamed of perfecting. Lierrn – What’s that, sir? Matithias – You’ll see when I get back. Lierrn looks defeated. Lierrn – Of course, sir. (salutes) Matithias – I’m going on a little expedition on my own. You are acting commander until I return. Understood? Lierrn – Understand, Sir Matithias! (salutes) Matithias stops and prepares himself for battle Lierrin – Hail, traveler. Matithias – Uh…hello? You are, not like most undead are you? Lierrin – I am like every other risen in Orr. When the dragon died, our will were returned to us. I have no memory of my former life, but I have no desire to harm the living. But…you’re not living, are you? Matithias – Smell it on me, can you? Lierrin - …Something like that. You are undead, but you are not of the dragon. What are you doing in Orr? Matithias – Perhaps you can help me. I’m looking for the dragon. Lierrin – You’ve found it. Lierrin gestures to the bones around them. Matithias looks around the large cave and sees nothing but bones. Matithias – Excellent. He pulls out rusttooth. Lierrin watches impassively. Matithias runs his hands over a larger skull embeddid in the ground. Matithias - Let’s get started He begins to saw into the bones

We Are one

Viseron flutters his eyes open, his head spinning. Viseron – Wh…Who is that? Primordus – Arise. It is your time. Viseron feels no pain, yet her remembers all that occurred Viseron – Who’s there? Where am I? Primordus – You are in my domain. You are in my mind. You are my mind. I am your mind. I am you. You are me. We are one. Viseron looks around, wondering where the voice is coming from. Primordus – There is no need to wonder, you are in my mind. My mind. Our mind. I summon you. Finish the duty you were born to do. Viseron – Duty? Who is this? Who commands the King? Primordus – I am your God. I am you. I am Primordus. Viseron – (laughs) Primordus? PRIMORDUS? Is this a prank? My dead loser of a father told me about you to scare me at night. Primordus – You should be right to be scared of me. I and your God. I am you. You are me. We are ONE. Viseron – I don’t know what game this is, but I’ll follow along. Primordus – (note: Missed first part) vessel. Your mother called me. I am you. You are me. We are one. Viseron – My mother? My mother hated the stories about you and the other Elder Dragons. Primordus – Your mother is not who you think she is. Viseron is confused, and begins to wonder if this is all really happening. Viseron – P-Prove your power… Viseron whimpers and a sensation of dread casts over him. Primordus – As you see fit. Noipros – The one…true…king. Howl – All…hail. Viseron – You… How did you? Noipros – The true…leader… Howl – Hail to the king. Primordus – Look at them. Feel the rage flow through you. Noipros – Pretender King Howl – What king are you? Noipros – Foolish mistake…. Howl – Maybe… I’ll be king instead. Viseron – Begone! Noipros – Product of incest… Viseron – Stop this madness! I-Incest? Noipros & Howl laugh Viseron – STOP THIS PRANK! I DEMAND IT! Noipros laughs deepers Noipros – We are the true kings… Primordus – You can stop it. Do it. Kill them Howl – Can’t do it. He’s scared. Viseron – W-What… What is this. Howl – (Laughs) He’s a coward… Puny welp. Noipros – We will rule. Primordus – Are you a coward? Do this first test. Noipros – We will be king of the ashes… We… Howl – Will… Primordus – Gain their power. Gain my power. I gain your power. I gain their power. I am your power. I am all power. Noipros – Rule. Howl – We are one. Noipros – We are one. Howl – Two souls, one soul. Noipros – Two minds, one mind. Viseron lunges forward in a blurred frenzy, attacking the two that taunted him for so long in his life. Viseron – STOP THIS! Noipros laughs Viseron – STOP! STOP! STOP! Viseron cries Viseron – Go…Go Howl flickers in the smoke Howl – Fool. Noipros – Do you not see? Primordus – Do it. Do it. Gain their power. Gain it. Feel it. Feed off it. Noipros – We are one soul. Howl – You are none. Viseron – I… I am the King. Noipros – Noipros… Howl – Howl… Viseron – I am your King. I command you…. Begone! Howl – True kings. Noipros – We will be the only ones left… Viseron – You will never survive. You will never endure! I say again, as your King, BEGONE! Howl smirks Noipros – Begone…??? Noipros burns alive Noipros – Hahahahahahahahah!!!!!!! Primordus – You did it. You are power. You have power. I have power. We have power. You are me. I am you. We are one. Rhaenara – Viseron? Viseron. Wake up. Viseron! Viseron opens his eyes, to the vision of his Aunt. Viseron – Aunt Rhaenara? Wh-What’s going… Rhaenara - Viseron, wake up. Viseron, my son, it's time for you to rule the kingdom.

Reunion

Howl sits on his throne, digging his claws into the arm of the chair, being generally moody. Korg enters the room, smiles and nods. Howl flusters slightly, turning red under his fur. Korg – How are you feeling? Howl – Um. Fine. Korg – Just fine? Howl – Better…now. Korg chuckles. Howl’s mouth twitches a little. Korg – Anything you’d like to discuss with me? Howl – Have you heard from the Norn or Vialeth? Korg – Not yet, though I did speak with the norn before he left. Howl – Did you? Korg – Yes. Howl – What of? Korg – Strategic and tactical conversation about the potential war to come. Howl – There will be no war. Korg – Hopefully not, no, but we should prepare anyway, dear. Howl – There will be me beheading Noipros, and that will be fucking end to it (growl) Korg – Shhh. Calm down. You will see him die, be assured. Perhaps we should discuss lighter topics. Howl – I’ll have him stuffed…he can keep my Moa company- Oh…lighter topics…fine. Yes. Korg – I have been considering the proposed expedition. With your permission, I plan to recruit the most loyal soldiers and craftsman for the task. Howl – Yes. The sooner the better. Do this. Korg – It will be done. And…may I say? Howl – Please. Korg smiles and gently clacks a horn against Howl’s. Korg – You look beautiful as always. Howl flushes, his ears turn down in embarrassment. He mutters something unintelligible in response. Korg frowns Korg – Something wrong? I meant no offence by it. Howl – No! No… Korg blinks Howl – I…thank…thank you…Korg. Howl raises his paw and places it atop Korg’s on the chair next to him. Korg tilts his head Korg – For what, Howl? Howl – For the compliment. (mutters) Well…g-guess you just…leave me speechless. Korg – That’s my line. Howl leans over and places his head on Korg’s shoulder Korg takes a paw and gently strokes Howl’s mane Korg – You are alright, aren’t you, love? Noipros grunts and wrestles Howl – Yes…I am with you…so…so I am well…my...my…love. Noipros looks at the guard intentively Korg leans back in his chair slightly and giggles at Howl Little Bub’s armor clanks in the distance. Large grumbles and disputes carry on from outside Noipros – Let go of me now! Noipros nods at his captor Korg – You’re adorable. Almost like you…the great, strong. Duke of the Arbor has never done this before. Little Bub – Fat chance! I’ll take no time in gutting you right here. Noipros looks at the guard Howl – No. I…haven’t. I… Korg blinks in surprise. And then looks up at Noipros and snarls. Little Bub pushes Noipros towards Korg, and Howl Korg lunges up and towards Noipros, drawing his sword Howl – Y-You…you can see him? Korg – You! Howl – YOU CAN SEE HIM, TOO, KORG, RIGHT? Korg – Wh-What? Of course I can see him. Little Bub – I found this one outside of the gates. I knew you’d just love to see him. Noipros coughs softly Howl – LOVE TO SEE HIM? OH YES! OH! YES! Noipros – The…chaos… Little Bub grins under his mask. He gives a slight nod to Noipros before returning to his post Howl – SEE HIM. CUT HIM… Claw him to bits. That’s what we Charr do, isn’t it, Noipros? Noipros acknowledges the nod. Howl draws his blade Noipros – Howl… Howl – YOU! Howl shakes all over like a leaf Noipros – I’ve…lost…everything… Korg – Not everything. Not yet. Howl – YOU WILL BE LUCKY TO HAVE A HEAD LEFT AFTER THIS, YOU TRAITOR! Noipros – Howl… the Mordrem… Don’t ignore them… Howl – SILENCE. Little Bub grabs his arm and lifts him to his feet Little Bub – Would you like me to throw this muck in the slammer? Korg snarls at Noipros. He then turns to Little Bub Howl – No. Korg – No. Howl – No no no. Korg – Leave, guard. Howl – He won’t be staying long. Little Bub – Wouldn’t it be more fitting to kill him in front of everyone. Howl growls, low and long Korg – You kill Lords in front of everyone. You kill scum in front of no one. Howl – Wouldn’t that be nice, Noipros? The whole world thinking you’re just Mesmering yourself away. Hidden in the world, somewhere…but you’re really rotting away underneath my House. Fodder for the grass. Wouldn’t that…be…nice. Noipros – Such is the game… Howl – Didn’t you get my message? The game ended. Korg – I mean, to be fair, this is almost certainly not even Noipros. Noipros – I know…friend… Howl – Friend? You come here, to me…after all these words, and you speak the word…`friend’’ to me? Noipros – The sword…that’s Tyberious’s sword isn’t? Howl’s lip twitches Howl – Yes it is. Noipros – Fitting… Howl – (sneers) Oh? How so? Korg – Guard. Leave. Little Bub – Use him as an example. Korg – Your objection to us killing this traitor has been noted. Leave. Now. Little Bub – Very well. Korg closes the door Noipros – That blade… My father died by that blade… Howl – Oh, not just yours, Noipros. Did you ever wonder how he died? Noipros – I don’t care how he died… I only care who did it… Howl grins, showing all his fangs Howl – He dragged me out on a hunting trip… All the way talking to me about the way of the warrior. How I would grow strong with a blade, like a big…tough…muscley charr…just like him…all the while mocking me… He never…ever approved of my…heh… my ways my…magic…and he kept going on…and on…and on…and then… Noipros – (chuckles) Are you gonna cry? Korg punches Noipros in the kidney Noipros coughs roughly Howl – He took out this blade and handed it to me…said…what was it…something about how I would someday, you know…eventually make him proud. Like I wasn’t good enough. LIKE I WASN’T PERFECT THE WAY I WAS. Noipros – I always accepted you… Howl – So…what I did…is… (chuckles) Noipros falls, feeling weak Howl – I took out my pistol. He never let me have bullets in it…but I didn’t need them… Howl waves a paw, and a phantasm of Howl appears next to him, holding two pistols, and grins Howl – Sometimes…when you’re hunting…accidents happen. Noipros – You’ve always had double intentions… Howl - Shut up, you traitor. SHUP UP. ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, AND MAGIC ALWAYS PREVAILS. Korg grabs Noipros roughly, covering his mouth Howl – Let him go, Korg. Stand back. Korg growls but releases Noipros. Noipros smirks Howl – Noipros… Magic… Always… Noipros – Always… Howl flicks out a paw, and cast signet of humility Howl – Prevails. Noipros clutches his head Noipros – Aaaaahhh!!! Ahhhh! Squa…. Noipros begins to grow feathers… Little Bub, upon hearing the squawk busts through the door unleashing a bellowing roar, smashing the door from its hinges Noipros – Ann… Howl – WHAT IN THE WORLD?! Howl’s surprised Noipros – SQUAWK! Little Bub picks up Korg and throws him into Howl, picking Noipros up and fleeing as fast as possible. Howl – NO! NO!!! Howl screams Howl – NO!!!!!!!!!! Little Bub is screaming at Noipros. Little Bub – That almost got you killed, you fool! Thank Dwayna I was around! Noipros – I had to know… Howl sinks his blade into a pillar next to him. Korg – He will die another day. Howl – I had him. Korg – This is the third time. Howl – I had him… Korg places his paws on Howl’s shoulders Korg – Next time…just let me kill him…and his head will be my gift to you, love. Howl – Get the men assembled. Get them moving. Korg – It will be done. Tomorrow. Howl – I want that establishment built. Korg – They will be. Howl – I am so…tired…of this. The Game really is over… Korg – No… The game isn’t until one person wins…or all players give up. Howl – Fine. The Game’s not over. Howl turns to look at Korg, his eye hard Howl – But I will be the one to end it. Korg – We. Howl – W- Howl sighs Howl – We. Sorry. Korg chuckles Korg – No offense was caused Korg gives a lick on the cheek. Howl sighs again, deflating...frowning. Howl – Take me to bed, Korg… Take me away. Korg – I will shelter you in my arms, my love. Come…let us retire. Korg offers a paw and Howl takes it

Trickery

Noipros struggles heavily with the transformation. In a desperate attempt, he casts signet of humility on himself, and takes a deep breath and kneels Noipros – I had to know what his army looks like… Aneirahh begins to transform, a black mist form upon his body and begins to reveal someone. Not a frog…but a human. Noipros – Not very impressive… Noipros coughs Noipros – I’m glad you were there. Aneirahh – You could have gotten yourself killed. Noipros brushes himself off Noipros – Yes…tooo risky… But I know where he lives now… Aneirahh rests his hand upon his shoulder. Aneirahh – But I’m glad you’re okay, friend. Noipros – And I know what he’s preparing… The Norn wasn’t here.. Aneirahh, help me up. Aneirahh – I’m surprised they didn’t suspect me as the guard to be quite honest. That…Korg seems a stern critter. Aneirahh helps Noipros to his feet and pushes him slightly, but catches him. Noipros – Thank you… Aneirahh – Hehe, got ye mate. Noipros – Now…I suppose we have business to conduct? The chemical bomb trick, very impressive my little Asuran friend. Aneirahh – Well, that’s me, I guess. The master of bodily illusions and such. Noipros – I wouldn’t abuse that power if I were you. Aneirahh – Shame I’m a terrible swordsman. Noipros – Howl might see through it next time. WE have to be more careful.. Aneirahh – I better keep it low key, but I know what I’m doing. Something smaller it shall have to be. Noipros – Howl…he looks flustered… Aneirahh begins to shrink, and turn into a bird. His wings flap as he turns to Noipros and land upon his shoulder. Noipros pets the bird slightly. Noipros – To the Dragonbrand, we go.

The Time Before

Draugr runs his fingers through Tora’s name, holding him tightly. Tora held Draugr’s left hand with his right, and rested his left paw upon Draugr’s chest, stroking it a little. His tail played around Draugr’s right arm… Draugr traces a particular pattern in Tora’s fur, like a code. Tora moved his tail in response, making a similar, coordinated pattern. Draugr – Good. You’re sure? Tora swished his tail a bit more, left and right and…ended with a rapid flick, stiffening up a bit… Draugr’s eyes glow black and he turns his face into Tora’s forehead, whispering a phrase that echoes with power, the air around them darkens and thickens, sealing them from prying eyes. Draugr – Do you want to go ahead and ask…or do you want me to try and explain first? Tora – Could you explain? Tora tucked himself toward Draugr, letting a soft murr vibrate off his body… Draugr – Hmm…where to begin…first of all, walls have ears…listeners everywhere, some for the Duke…others not, I don’t need them listening in any more than necessary… I’m sure the Duke heard everything we said to each other in his castle…which was why I said it there. As far as he knows, I’m sending you away to be safe…which is all he needs to know. Draugr hums at Tora’s purr and holds him tightly pressing a soft kiss into his mane when he finishes speaking. Tora mumbles `Spirits…’ and shook his head. Tora – I’ve never dealed with all this…political nonsense… You were always one for that… Draugr – Hmph, you underestimate yourself, but no matter… (hesitates) I want you safe from all this…but…you do not seem inclines to leave me anytime soon… Tora – I can’t knowing your safety can’t be guaranteed… Draugr – If that’s the case…then I have something I’d like you to do… Tora stroked Draugr’s arm, tracing down from his shoulder to the palm of his hand. Tora – That is…? Draugr – The Duke is not known for his forces…and if this comes to a fight, he’d need them…or I will if things go…poorly. I want you to gather the old gang together, call in favors, build up our arsenal of magical tricks and trinkets again. Tora held onto Draugr’s left arm, thinking aloud ``When was the last time I…?’’ and sighed Tora - I can do that. Draugr shivers at Tora’s touch unconsciously Draugr – I do not expect the Duke to always be the best choice…and if another opportunity presents itself…I’d like to have some firepower backing me up. Tora – Right, right… But I wished that…you know…we wouldn’t get back into this. Draugr – (sighs) Tora, love, we’ve been round and round on this… Tora rubbed his thumbclaw on Draugr’s wristscars. Tora – I know, dear, but…well, I’m a bit tired is all. Draugr – So am I love, and these next few months may only bring us hardship…but I will make you a promise… Tora rested his head upon Draugr’s shoulder, waiting for the promise… Tora – Mm? Draugr – If and when this is over…if we’re both still alive and ourselves…then we will retire…forever, maybe adopt some runts of our own to do dirty work, how does that sound, hm? Draugr presses his lips to Tora’s forehead gently. Tora learned into Draugr’s lips Tora – Sounds wonderful… I’ve always wanted a little cub running around the house, you know? It would make the place more…lively… Tora closed his eyes and pushed closer to Draugr, his tail starting to wrap around Draugr’s leg… Draugr closes his eyes and breaths deeply, inhaling Tora’s scent, but they snap open and his hand grab’s Tora’s tail… Draugr – That tickles love. Tora giggled, unwrapping his tail from Draugr while passionately kissing Draugr, leaning into him… Draugr laughs and returns the kiss, releasing Tora’s tail as he shifts Tora underneath him.

It  Begins Here

Noipros throws his father’s sword and armor into the pyre Aneirahh – It’s been a long time, friend. Noipros – Aneirahh?! (hugs) I haven’t seen you since school…was it? Aneirahh – I’m glad you remember me! I heard the news, I’m…so sorry. Yes, yes! Those were the days. Noipros – My father…dead. (chuckles) Aneirahh – I can’t believe it, either. Noipros – He wasn’t the best man I know but…he was my only father… Aneirahh – He treat me with respect, and dignity. Serving under your family, I felt more like friend than a servant. Noipros – You remember, haha, when he gave you the scholarship to study at my school? Imagine that…a servant alongside a nobleman… Aneirahh – Haha! Yes, I remember when he found me teaching you how to read and write. I thought he’d be furious… But no. He, was quite encouraging of that fact. Noipros – And all of that taken away…by Howl and his family… Aneirahh – I heard. Noipros voice slightly breaks Noipros – We…use to play games by the lake… A human and a charr… Looks I can only trust my kind, huh? Noipros wipes a single tear from his cheek Aneirahh – I remember watching from the window some days. Simpler times. I guess so. Noipros – Aneirahh, I…won’t be staying here much longer. Aneirahh – Where will you go? Noipros – House Noipros won’t survive if I stay in Divinity’s Reach. I..have been studying a possible place I could go. Aneirahh – Yes…? Noipros – If I can prove myself that is… Rata Sum. Aneirahh – Interesting. Any particular reason, or just visiting? Noipros looks at the flames Noipros – A reason? Howl. Aneirahh – I see. Noipros – I could use a man of your caliber. I won’t let this go unpunished. Aneirahh – Say no more. It’s the least I could do for his hospitality. Justice must be served. Noipros – Yes. Howl want to play. Let’s play. Aneirahh – Indeed. I feel I have to share something with you. It’s imperative I show you. Noipros – Can you show me here? In front of all these…mourners? Aneirahh – Of course, not now. But do you remember that particular time, I turned myself into a cat somehow? Well…I’ve focused that ability. I believe I could be one some use. A pawn if you will. Noipros – (whispers) You…did it? Aneirahh leans over, and nods assertively. Noipros looks into the flames, instead of frowning and crying, Noipros’ expression changes to something sinister. Noipros – To Rate Sum, we go. Aneirahh – Yes, let’s go. I will show you on the way. Noipros – (laughs) You were not kidding

         Across Orr

Matithias returns from the graveyard on the other side of Orr, dragging a large dufflebag behind him. Matithias - It was. This camp is looking better already. Lierrin - I'd done my best, sir! Matithias - I can see that. Do one more thing for me. Call the men forward, I'd like to speak to them. Lierrin - (salutes) Yes, sir! SOLDIERS! Form up! Sir Matithias wants to speak to you! Matithias - Soldiers! I know this hasn't been an easy journey. I know many of you are confused and unsure of what going's on. I take full responsibility for that, and I'm going to clear the air. You are here because you are Tyria's last line of defense. You are here because you loyal few have dedicated yourselves to your country without question and that is a noble feat you should be proud of. But the world is rapidly changing.  And as such, we are forced to change it. I know you are tired, I know it seems like I'm not telling you everything. For that, I apologize. But you are all soldiers that I've trained with, fought with, and bleed with. That is a bond that we will forever share. For those of you who are still unsure of where you stand... Well, I get it. If any of you doubt my leadership, if any of you are don't think you can keep going, I'll understand if you with to leave. But for those of you who wish to stay, I can promise you one thing. I can promise you that everything we do from this point forward, will be for the good of Tyria, and that each step we take, we will take together. Not just as a squad, but as a people! Now, I ask you... Who will join me?! Soldier: I will be honored to join you. Matithias - Excellent. Now then, I've got a special project I'm working on. I'll be quite busy with that. But as a reward for your unquestioned loyalty, tonight you will feast like kings! That is all for now, we will form up first thing tomorrow. DISMISSED! Lierrin?  A word? Lierrin - Of course, sir! Matithias - We will celebrate tonight, because tomorrow, we prepare for battle. Lierrin - For battle? Against...the Risen? Against who? Matithias - Against the man who stole the world. Lierrin blinks

             The Letter and the Priory

Korg - News from the capital, dear. Howl - Oh? Korg - It turns out Noipros has stepped down from the crown. Rhaenara, I believe, should still be serving as Queen regent, but Noiprosis is in an...uncertain position. Howl jumps Howl - He what? Korg - He's stepped down. He's no longer the king regent.  Howl - What is his plan? What is his game?! Korg - I wonder if he even knows what he wants. Seems more like another person behind him pulling the strings, the way he bounces between thing to thing. Howl - Or... Do you suppose...there's...hmm... There might be...yes... there might be some larger goal, that we can't see. Korg - Perhaps. But his short stint as king seems...odd either way. Howl - We need to find out what he did in the Capital while he was king. So we can find out what he plans, and see that his head is removed before he accomplished it.  Korg - Besides assassinate half the nobles in Divinity's Reach in a fire?  I guess we shall have to hear from Vialeth.  Howl - No word yet? Korg - Not in my knowledge. Perhaps a moa is on the way. Howl - Let's hope. Korg - Until then, I plan to begin interviews today...anything you'd like me to ask them in particular? Howl - No. I trust your judgement. Korg - (smiles) Thank you, love. I shall do my best to live up to you. Howl's lips twitch up in a small smile. His eyes soften slightly.  Korg - How long do you wish to keep Vialeth in Divinity's Reach? Howl - (smiles) Let's see what she does... See where her... loyalties lie. Korg - Yes, of course. A good thought.  Howl - Do you disagree?  Korg - No. (to himself) Maybe I could do it, then. Howl - Do what? Korg - Retrieval mission. Something of great value for our future plans. Howl tilts his head and frowns. Howl - Where? Korg - The private storage of the Durmand Priory. Howl raises his eyebrows. Howl - Very well... D...Don't...get caught. Korg gives Howl a kiss on the cheek Korg - Do not worry, my love... I can get in and out no problem... I have friends...and...skills no living soul knows of.  Howl turns and pulls Korg into a hug. Howl - You sure do, love. Korg - Well...one day, perhaps I'll have to show you, too... Howl hugs Korg tighter. Korg - Don't worry for me...keep yourself safe...I...I will leave it at nightfall. I hope to be back by down...but we will see. Howl - Do you have to leave at nightfall. Korg - It is the best time...but until then...we have all the time we want...and a nice sunset to watch together. Howl - There's a nice view of the sunset...from my...from our bedding chamber, you know... Korg - I hear its the best. Howl smiles...and a servant enters the room. Korg traces a paw along the curve of Howl's horns. Howl's eyes flick to the servant. The servant flinches under his gaze. Servant - A raven, your Grace. Korg closes his eyes with a small sigh, and moves out of the way. Howl holds out a paw. The servant brings it to Howl, and turns to leave, glaring at him as he leaves, and reads the letter. He smiles softly, and holds the scroll out to Korg, Howl - From Vialeth. Korg takes it, with his eyebrows raised as he does so. Korg - Well...I suppose the time for those loyalties to be proven is here. Howl - ``I am going to do something that might be very stupid.'' Yes, this will be very interesting... Howl makes a finger-pyramid with is paws. Howl - Good girl, Vialeth...very good. Korg - We'll see... Howl - Yes. I think it's time to get out of these clothes and...slip into something more comfortable. Korg - Oh? I didn't know I was even more comfortable than those... Korg traces a claw along Howl's exposed chest. Howl takes Korg by the paw and leads him out of the room. Howl - Much more.

      Back at Rata Sum

Noipros breathes in a sigh of relief. Noipros - I feel...at home. Finally. Inquest Researcher - Duke? You return?! What are you doing here? I thought you were king? Noipros - My position as king was merely...a waste of time. How goes the research? Kudu taking the last chaos crystal must have affected us, no? Inquest Researcher - I'm afraid so. Kudu's rebellion has cost us and at the same time, given us new assets. The Crucible of Eternity is under our control. Noipros - And the surrounding area? Mt. Maelstrom? Inquest Researcher - We will soon spread our scientists all over the land. The Mount will be your soon. Noipros - Good. Kudu's rebellion might have given us something after all. Inquest Researcher - There is one more thing, my duke... Noipros - Oh? Inquest Researcher - Ley line energies have surged in the Maguuma Jungle. Mordrenach has begun his assault on the Wall. Noipros - Oh....then it begins. Inquest Researcher - We have also discovered the remains of Keino's airship. No sign of him, my duke. Noipros - He's certainly dead. It doesn't matter. Inquest Researcher - My duke... We can configure your greatsword to...speak to him. Noipros - To... Inquest Researcher - The Crystal Dragon. Ah. Well, let's get this over with. The researcher fiddles with the Gem, causing it to shine brighter. Noipros clutches his head and enters a strange dream... Noipros - I...My Champion... Where...are you... Noipros sees a large storm of purple approach him, in the form of Kralkatorik. Kralkatorik - Palawa Joko approaches... Where is the egg? Noipros cowers in fear. Noipros - Give me time, I must defeat Mordremoth! Kralkatorik - You have wasted mine. This petty game you play. Enough. You will travel to the Crystal Desert. You will stave off the Liches's Armies. And if you survive, you will bring me the egg. Noipros - Yes...but...what do I get in return? Kralkatorik - You get to continue existing, human. Noipros shudders profusely. He hears a faint voice call out to him. Inquest Researcher - My duke? Noipros awakens Noipros - Anything...else to report...? He says looking tired Inquest Researcher - There is one thing. A new Duchess rises in the Shiverpeak Mountains. She goes by the name of Taiga. I think you should travel there. Meet with her. Perhaps she may help us. Noipros - I think...I will...

      The Duke and the Duchess

Melissa Taiga sits and sighs, looking down at her parents picture. Melissa - Guess it's time to get ready for tonight's part. Is the food ready? Local - Yes, Lady Taiga. Melissa - Good, now I am going to gather my people. Hope they take the news my parents died well, they all looked up to them. Get our soldiers gathered and citizens... I have a speech to prepare before the party. Local - Yes, My Lady. EVERYONE, GATHER HERE, LADY MELISSA HAS A FEW WORDS!!!! Melissa - My people!!! I know you been asking when my parents are due home from fighting Jormag!!! It is...it is hard for me to tell you all this, but... But they're no longer with us...the dragon Jormag slain them both, along with some of our finest men and women. But don't cry or feel sad for they were people who we all looked up to and will always have a part of them, inside of us.. I, their daughter will rule and take their place as Duchess of Hoelbrak... AND TOGETHER!!! WE WILL KILL JORMAG AND RESTORE PEACE TO SHIVERSPEAKS!!! The crowd cheers Melissa - Now...my people, we will feast like royalty and party in Duchess Elizebeth and Duke Samuel's name... TO MY PARENTS!!!! She raises a her mug to toast to them, smiling at her people, trying to look happy for them. Noipros observes the crowd, and spots one Norn woman. He whispers to himself `She might be the one.' Noipros - Excuse me? Where is the Duchess Taiga? Melissa - That would be me...who is asking? Noipros - Oh! I apologies my lady. The Duke of Rata Sum, Jonathan Noipros. Melissa - Duke Noipros? Well, it is a pleasure to meet you. Noipros - The pleasure is all mine. My lady, may we speak in private? Melissa - Sure. Noipros - Don't worry about your guests. They will be entertained accordingly. I've brought in a lovely band for you. Shall we? Melissa - So...what do you want to discuss? He signals the band to begin playing. Noipros - My lady, I must be blunt and quick. Melissa - About? Noipros - The jungle dragon rises in the west. Jormag is the least of your concerns. He will soon consume everything in his path. Melissa - I have heard from my people whom has traveled there.  Noipros - I need your help. Anything you can provide to defeat him. Melissa - Mordremoth is more terrible I heard than Jormag? But...what about my promise to kill Jormag to my people? Noipros - Promise? You'll have to break many of those as a Duchess. Noipros taps his shoulder Noipros - I know. Melissa - Know what? Noipros - Promises must be broken to be a good duke. You can't please everyone. Melissa - I guess your right. Though I am new to ruling, why come to me of all people? Noipros - Well, I won't take none of your time. Consider my suggestion.  He bows Melissa - No need to consider... I see this as a opportunity. If I kill Mordremoth first, it will shake Jormag to his core and then I can take him on. Noipros - Perfect. I'll take my leave. Enjoy the feast. Melissa - No need, you may stay and help yourself to the food. Well, guess I'll see you later on.

                 The Queen

Rhaenara looks annoyed, but continues her speech.  Rhaenara - I understand you are all confused, but it is time to rejoice! The crown is back in the hands of a true Targaryen! Minister - What of King Auron? She looks wearily at the minster. Rhaenara - The King has awoken from his sickness, last night. He is still in no state to ru-be present, and as such, I will continue to rule in his stead. She looks around at the nobility, anxious of their questions, trying to block out their yelling. She spots a familiar face from behind a column, and her eyes light up.  Rhaenara - I will allow Minister Tyrell to address further questions, I must attend to His Grace. Rhaenara - (whispers) You must not be seen, follow me quietly. Vialeth nods, as Rhaenara tries to keep her composure among all her emotions. Rhaenara - Vialeth...I... What are you doing here? Vialeth finds it hard to speak Vialeth - It's bee so long, I... Rhaenara - You could be killed. Rhaenara searches Vialeth's eyes, feeling old memories washing over her. Vialeth - I know. I'm taking a risk right now. But it was important that I find you! There's something I need to tell you, something important. Rhaenara - That you find me? Are you crazy? You... Vialeth - And I... I wanted to see you, I admit. Rhaenara - See me? But, after all that's happened... Are you sure? Vialeth - It's been so long, and when I heard you were back in the capital, I... I missed you, Rhaenara. Rhaenara - I... I've missed you as well, my beautiful flower. Listen... What happened with my brother... Vialeth - I... At this time, it seemed like something I had to do. Rhaenara - I know. I harbor no ill will. Vialeth - I will understand if you did, but it seemed like...I don't know. I just wanted to... (sigh) But I'm not here for that. I need to tell you something, about your...about the King. Rhaenara - King... Oh! Viseron. Vialeth - Duke Howl didn't hurt him. I can't say how, but you have trust me, I know he didn't. And, although I have little evidence to give you, I think I know who did. Rhaenara tried not to let her rage and her confusion spill over, and chuckles. Rhaenara - And who... Who would hurt him? Vialeth - The person...who had the most to gain. Your...husband. Rhaenara recoils Rhaenara - Husband... She rolls the word around her mouth Rhaenara - Hus...band... Vialeth. Why are you really here? Vialeth - I can't tell you everything. I...I won't. I'm here on someone else's account, someone who I think has Tyria's best interests at heart. Someone who wants you to know the truth about what happened to Viseron. Rhaenara - Tyria's interest are my interests. And my interests do not concern that because I now know what happened to my s... My nephew. Tell me, Vialeth. Who are you here representing? Vialeth - I can't tell you who it is. But if you like, you could give them...a message, from me. Maybe they could be an ally.  Rhaenara - An ally. All Houses of Tyria are allies to House Targaryen.  Vialeth - But we both know that's not how the dukes and duchesses see it. Rhaenara - Then for those that don't see it that way, I can arrange to have them not see anything else, either. They are loyal to the Crown, or they are dead. Vialeth - Like you did at the wedding? Rhaenara pauses, staring right into Vialeth's eyes. Vialeth can't hide that she's a little disturbed by that. Rhaenara's voice softens a little, reminded by who she's talking to. Rhaenara - Vialeth... You know how this works. You play the game of thrones, our you die. And I will win. Vialeth - And I want you to win! You know I do. But you don't have to do this alone. If there are others who share your interests...who can support you... Rhaenara - We made a promise, long ago, under the trees outside the palace, do you remember that night? It was beautiful. We should never keep a secret from each other. Please don't keep this secret from me, now, of all times. Vialeth - I would never keep a secret from you, you know that. Especially not an important one. But I want to do the right thing...this time. And I think the only thing that would happen if I told you now...is more this. More mistrust. More suffering. More deaths.  Rhaenara - I think it would be quite the opposite, my love, but... I have no choice but to trust you. I know you keep my interests at heart and if you think this is what I need then... Please just...I need you to convince me... Vialeth - Convince you?
Rhaenara leans in, going to kiss Vialeth, but recoils. Rhaenara - I... No. If you say so, then I will trust you. Vialeth - Please! I'll...I'll make things right. I have to! For what I've done...and for you. Rhaenara - For us. Rhaenara smiles wearily at Vialeth. Vialeth smiles back at her, her face, for once...hopeful. Rhaenara's face flashes a look of concern, remembering.  Rhaenara - Vialeth?  You must leave, though. You'll be caught, we've been here too long. Ignore the palace, there are too many guards protecting the King.  Vialeth - You're right, Rhaenara. I knew I could trust you to do the right thing, I never should have doubted you. Thank you. My queen.

                The Crystal Desert

Noipros studies his surroundings, observing the quiet town, it's dark, no one will notice him? He remembers his role in this war. He solemnly sighs. Noipros - The gate... He starts hearing voices in the head. ``You ruined the game... Husband??? Nooooo.... Howl - Traitor... Noipros - No.... Nooo.... NO!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD, HOWL!!!! He smacks his head. He murders the two guards, opens the gate, to the Crystal Desert.          

               The Return of King Viseron

Rhaenara flips open the book, interested.

Vialeth - My lady... You summoned me?

Rhaenara turns around at the sound of the most angelic voice there is. She bows to Vialeth

Rhaenara - My Vialeth, thank you for coming back. 

Vialeth - Oh..don't... You shouldn't be bowing to me...

Rhaenara - I was reading a very interesting book, `The Bloodline of Tyria', you should read it sometime.

Rhaenara smiles. Vialeth smiles back, a little awkwardly.

Vialeth - I'm glad that I got to see you, one last time. But... why did you call me here?

Rhaenara - I'll get to that soon enough, love.

She waves away her question.

Rhaenara - Anyway, I have something to show you, shall we? Oh, but wait, you can't be seen in the city like this. Here, drink this.

She hands her a vial

Rhaenara - It's safe, I promise.

Vialeth takes the vial from Rhaenara's hand and drinks it in one gulp.

Rhaenara - Perfect.

Rhaenara picks up the cat and snuggles it in her arms. Vialeth looks at her trustingly.

Rhaenara - I have requested you to come back to see someone very important. 

Rhaenara smiles at the Ministry Guard, allowing her entrance. She speaks in hushed tones at Vialeth.

Rhaenara - Do nothing reckless, you are safe here. No one else is up here. I will not follow, but you must go through the doors ahead. 

Rhaenara looks at Vialeth, putting her down, and letting her transform back. Vialeth shakes herself off. Rhaenara holds Vialeth's hand, assuring her. Vialeth enters the room and was surprised.

Vialeth - Viseron!

Viseron looks out at his castle, unable to leave his room.

Vialeth - I mean... Your Majesty.

She kneels

Viseron - Vialeth, it has been... A long time.

He smirks at her.

Viseron - There is no need to kneel to an old friend. Rise, Lady Vialeth.

Vialeth - If you wish it, Majesty. I heard you were hurt.... You look... I mean, that must have been awful.

Viseron - If it weren't for that joke of a duke, Kevin. I'm fine now, I have regained memories, and learned... New things while I have rested.

Viseron places his hands on his lips.

Vialeth - I am glad to hear it, Majesty. But the Duke...so it was Noipros who did this to you?

Viseron - Do not call him a Duke. He is stripped of that title, and he is to be stripped of his right to live.

Vialeth - That is only fair. But I am glad to hear my suspicions confirmed. To think that he and Rhaenara were...

Vialeth can't bring herself to say the word `married'

Viseron - Do not worry, I know. My aunt has caught me to speed. No need to sugar coat it. I have come here to thank you.

Vialeth - For...yes. Of course. But you have no need to thank me. I didn't... I mean, you are my king. Of course I will do whatever needs to be done for you.

Viseron - You do not even know what I am grateful for, do you?

Viseron turns around to look back at the castle. Vialeth follows at a safe distance.

Viseron - I want to thank you for giving me this.

He points at the palace.

Vialeth - For killing him, you mean.

She is surprised out of politeness for a moment.

Vialeth - I did what I had to do.

Viseron - Rhaenara has told me, what he intended to do. Thank you, Lady Vialeth. I know now, what she has sacrificed for me. Something only a true mother would do...

He thinks to himself, looks up at Vialeth, and smiles to himself.

Vialeth - She has fulfilled that role for you, hasn't she? She cares about you a great deal.

Viseron - My Lady... You do not know... The truth. She treats me like my mother, because she is my mother. All this, it was meant for me. 

Vialeth - She...but that doesn't make any sense... Surely King Auron would know if you were not his son.

Viseron - I am his son.

He laughs softly to himself.

Vialeth - Then...

She looks briefly horrified, but hides it quickly. 

Viseron - That changes things between you and her, doesn't it?

Vialeth - I will never love her any less. Your Majesty. 

He twists his face before responding. 

Viseron - Nevermind that. I have learned why. I need not tell you, even though you are one of the few I will not...harm.

He lingers on that word before continuing.

Viseron - I know now I am the one that was meant for this world. I know that I must get to Mordremoth. And to do that...I need to stop others in my way. If you find the idiot fuck pretending to be the duke, then send a raven in my direction, I want to know where that scatter-brained fool is.

Vialeth - Of course, Majesty. 

Viseron - He can't get to the Dragon before I do.

They both bow at eachother.

Viseron - Now, leave. I have business to attend to. I don't care where you go - have a go at my mom before you get that flying fuck named Noipros, she's been stressed lately. (laughs)

She grimaces, and tries not to show it.

Vialeth - As you wish, Majesty. (bows)

Viseron ignores her words, too caught up in his thoughts and devices.

                    Power of the Dragon

Blintoc looks sidelong at the twitching armaments of Raza. He sidesteps away from her. Noipros emerges from the gate, glowing red with crystal power.  Raza catches the reaction out of the corner of her eye, and smirks. Noipros takes a deep breath. Raza - Oh, finally. Noipros smiles as Blintoc nods at him. Raza - So... Welcome back Noipros - Loyal, aren't we? Raza - Some...new acquaintances or mine knew when you'd be back. Noipros - Raza, how is everything in Rata Sum? Raza - Running smoothly.  Noipros - Blintoc...you haven't spoken. Is something wrong? He shrugs Blintoc - Not really. She seems to have everything handled so far.  Noipros studies's Blintoc's face. Noipros - You've done well, Raza. Palawa Joko is repelled for now, and the Crystal Dragon...names me his champion. (chuckles) Noipros - And Raza? Raza - Yeah? Noipros - What of her location? Raza - She's been quite busy, actually. Noipros - Ah... The naive little thing... Raza - She's been in Divinity's Reach for a while.  Noipros - Then I know where she's headed next. Every Sylvari finds their way back. Return to Rata Sum, you two. With Joko repelled, we may finally focus on Mordremoth.  Raza - Noipros... Noipros - Hm? Raza - Will the power of the crystal dragon work against Mordremoth? Noipros looks distracted, staring at the red crystals around his new armor.  Noipros - It will have to. Raza - We all know how that happened with the airship last time.  Noipros - Keino... We won't make the same mistake. Blintoc - And...wouldn't we just be swapping one world conquering and consuming dragon for another? Noipros - (chuckles) I do what I must. Blintoc - For who? Raza - That sounds a lot like Keino. Noipros looks down at Blintoc, concerned. Noipros - For who? I've...never been asked that before. Blintoc shrugs. Noipros - No. I do it..for me. For my house. I sacrificed my will to fight the jungle dragon. That's more than anyone else has done. All except for Keino... Blintoc - Well...one could argue means don't justify ends. Noipros stares at Blintoc blankly. Noipros - I won't let this petty war of dukes stop me. Even if it means I have to brand Tyria from the Ring of Fire, to the Shiverpeaks. Go, to Rate Sum now. I have a visit to take care of. Raza - Yes, milord.  Raza salutes as Blintoc is taken aback.

                Intensity

Vialeth walks toward the Grove as Noipros looks closely and recognized Vialeth from a distance. 

Vialeth feels a little uneasy... Nowhere to rest and she still has a long way to go.

Noipros confirms it's Vialeth by the bow and taps her shoulder. Vialeth was surprised.

Noipros - Shhhh, little leaf... You thought you could hide from me.... 

Vialeth - Duke Noipros...

She is on her guard.

Noipros - Have you enjoyed hiding in Divinity's Reach? Or were you somewhere else? 

Vialeth - How did you... How long have you been following me?

Noipros - As soon as you entered Divinity's Reach... I knew. You forget, I'm a noble.

Vialeth - Were.

Noipros - Yes, exactly. Were. What did you tell Rhaenara?

He gets closer and closer.

Vialeth - I told her what you did to Viseron!

She backs away.

Noipros - Bad move. You realize I hired you to fix Divinity's Reach? 

Vialeth - You hired me, and then you were going to kill me. Duke Ho... I was told, that you were going to kill me. 

Noipros - (laughs) Ah, I see. The game. I knew there was something wrong with that moa at Viseron's coronation. 

Vialeth - I should take you back to Divinity's Reach. People are looking for you there. The king... He asked for you in particular.

Noipros shakes his hands in a mocking fear.

Noipros - Ooooo, how I shake!! A terror consumes me!

He leans closer and Vialeth takes out her daggers.

Noipros - Put those away...before you hurt yourself.

Vialeth narrows her eyes ``Do you think I'm a fool?''

Noipros - Yes. You should run while you still can. In fact, I'll give you a headstart.

Vialeth - I'm done running. You should pay for what you did to Viseron. 

Noipros laughs

                                        The Bones of Zhaitan

Matithias stands on a stage before his men, the sun's first light glimmering over the horizon.

Lierrin - Attention, soldiers! The commander is going to speak!

Matithias - Thank you, Lierrin. 

He clears his throat.

Matithias - First of all I would like to thank you all. For staying here with me, and for being patient with me. It was important that being here be your choice. Especially considering we're ``off the grid' as it is. You are some of the finest warriors I'be had the pleasure of commanding, and that is why I have asked you to be here. I've kept you in the dark about my motives for the past few days, I apologize for that, but I've been quite...busy. 

He stands next to a large crate and looks in it.

Matithias - Hmm. Yes, good. All here.

He turns to his men.

Matithias - I don't know how much you know of our king...or former king, if the word I have is up to date. Noipros. Our good friend the duke, has achieved something terrible. He has found a way to harness the power of the crystal dragon. Now I know this is alarming, but his power is still at an early stage. Which means with your help, we can rub him out before he gets too powerful. Now some of you may be wondering how we can do this.

He reaches in the crate.

Matithias - This is the Godskull Slayer. A sword I crafted out of the bones of Zhaitan. With it's power, I should be able to match that of Noipro's crystal. However, on the off chance it doesn't. I've also made this. 

He pulls out various pieces of armor, one after another. Large, heavy pieces of armor...made of bones. He removes his helm. 

Matithias - This is what I have been up to. Now I know this is shocking, especially for those of you who have not seen my face before. But for those of you who are still willing to fight with me, for those of you who will stand by my side. I will protect you. And together, we will clense the land of evil. But we can't do it with what we've got now...

He pulls the crate to the center stage. He pushes the crate over, out falls a large number of weapons made from bones.                   

                     Changing Sides

Howl sits on his throne, a plate of grapes untouched on his lap. He stares off to the side. He is alone in the throne room.

Blintoc - Hello, Duke.

Howl - Who the fuck?!

Blintoc - I don't believe we've been introduced...

Howl glowers, seething up at the Asura

Blintoc - My name is Blintoc. I am an ...`associate' of Noipros.

Howl draws his blade.

Howl - How lovely to make you acquaintance, little Asura. Is that all, or shall I kill you now?

Blintoc - I'm not here to fight. I have information for you.

Howl raises on eyebrow, and sighs. He sheathes his sword.

Howl - Fine. 

Blintoc - Noipros has made questionable decisions recently...but he has crossed a line... I am afraid I must reconsider alliegances.

Howl stares blandly up at Blintoc.

Blintoc - I am unsure if you are strickly aware of his current involcement with respect to the Elder Dragon Kralkarorik?

Howl - ...I had suspicions.

Blintoc - Well..based on new information I am forces to conclude that he has been claimed as a thrall of the dragon. He claims to have gone to the Crystal Desert, defeated the great lich lord, Joko, and then returned, names the crystal dragon's champion. He seems to be completely focused on Mordremoth. I believe the phrasing he used was basically `I will Brand all of Tyria if I must.' So... He seems not to care of an elder dragon kills everyone, so long as its the dragon he prefers. I hope you can understand how this might shake my confidence?

Howl - (sigh) I don't care...

Blintoc - Care or not, the information is delivered. I head to Reach next. If you have any word for the queen reagent or the king?

Howl - No. 

Blintoc - I didn't suspect so, but..well..it's polite to ask.

Howl - (sigh) Is that all?

Blintoc - Yes. I have better things to do than talk to you.

Howl walks up to the grapes on the floor, and looks at them a moment, then kneels to pick them up. 

                                      The More

Howl sits on Korg's seat, staring at the floor. Sighs and frowns. He looks up and sees an image of Noipros. Howl - Not you. (groans) I thought... I was done with you. I'm... I just... I can't, Noipros. I-I told you...the game... the game is over. I am done playing. I have...a chance...okay... Please, stop...? He stares at Noipros...frowning. Howl - ...I don't care anymore...  Noipros stares back smiling Howl - I let all my pets go... I thought I let you go. I just... Noipros crosses his arms. Howl - ...No... I can't, okay? Noipros disagreed and frowned. Howl - I can't do it anymore. I'm sick of it all.... I don't want...  ...To do it anymore. Noipros touches Howl's face and frowns. Howl doesn't feel anything. Howl - I love Korg.  Noipros is sad at this. Howl - All I want in this world...is...Korg, can't you understand that.  Noipros disagreed Howl - Can't you...see, I don't want to fight. I don't wanna... I just...want... (mumbles) Cottage on the hill... Noipros smiles and extends his hand out. Howl covers his eyes wit his paws. Noipros forms a fist. Howl - I just want Korg...I just want... I just want Korg, just want Korg, just want Korg. Noipros emulates skipping rocks on a lake. Howl - (mumbles) Just want Korg. Cottage on a hill. Korg. Go... Noipros shakes his head solemnly.  Howl - (sobs) I'm scared, Nopy.  Noipros smiles Howl - I'm so scared. Noipros gives a warm smile, holding How's foot. Howl - He's gonna die... I just know it, and I'll be alone...I'm... I'm... Noipros gently rubs it, but his hand phases through his fur. Howl - I...(sniff) I... Korg enters the throne room. His armor is only a little bloodstained. Korg - Howl, dearest! Howl - I... (sniff) Korg! Korg - I- Are you alright, love? Noipros was sad and then disapates in a butterly storm. Howl - I...I...I'm fine, this is just...this is nothing...I was...um... Um... Korg - You're crying, dear... Korg brushes a tear off How's face with a claw. Howl - It's...It's...nothing... Sorry. Um... I just... Korg still looks concerned but nods. Korg - If...if you're sure...I trust you. Howl cleans his throat and hugs Korg. Korg is surprised for a split second before he hugs Howl back, wrapping his arms around his love and holding him tight. Howl - Don't ever leave me, Korg... Korg - You're okay, my darling duke... I am here. Oh, sweetie... I'll always come back to you.  Howl sniffs loudly Howl - I was...worried... Korg - Oh, dearest...there hasn't been a battle yet I couldn't walk out of...but...but I'm sorry I worried you. Howl nods into Korg's shoulder, but doesn't say anything. Korg - Hey...cheer up, love... Everything worked out...and now we have it.  Howl mumbles something. Korg - Oh, Howl...my darling, darling Howl... Korg gently rubs Howl's back, trying to reassure him. Howl - I don't want it. Korg - What? Howl - I don't want it anymore... I don't want any of this! I just... I just... Howl clings to Korg tightly. Korg - You don't have to choose, dear... I will always be here for you.  Howl - But what..what if...? Korg - What if...? Howl - Something happens I can't... I can't do this anymore, Korg... I just... I can't. I can't deal with Noipros, I can't deal with...any of this!  Korg - Howl...you have to be strong...and I know that you are. You know what will happen if...we let this all go. Howl is quiet for a moment. Howl - Is this...what you want? Korg - What? This throne room? Servants? Power? No... No..I only want you...but we both know the price we have to pay...in order to be together...to be safe.  Howl's paws clutch Korg's clothes tightly, sniffs, and looks at the floor. Howl - Give it to me, then. Howl holds a paw out. Korg pulls out of the hug to get room to reach. He reaches into his pack and...very carefully...removes an intricately detailed Hourglass. He places it in Howl's grasp. He looks at it dully.  Korg - Glint's Lair...is in there.  Howl - I see. Let's get ready, then...  Korg - For the trip to Dry Top. Howl - (nods) And...(sigh) Auric. Korg - I have heard stories... Tarir should not be a bad place to live. Howl stows the Hourglass. He opened his mouth to say something, but nods. He extends his claw. Howl - Will you come help me get ready? Korg - Of course...and, if I may say, love... I think you will make a fine father to it.  Howl doesn't respond.

                                Preparing For The Thorns

Noipros enters the port, twiddling his fingers. Raza is muddling about suspiciously, awaiting Noipros' return.

Noipros - Raza?

Raza - Aww, milord! Welcome back.

Noipros - Where's Blintoc?

Raza - He's off running a few errands, he mentioned. 

Noipros - Errands?

Raza - He did not specify.

Noipros - Probably nothing.

Raza - I trust everything went well?

Noipros - The Sylvari is scared. Rightly so anyway. She'll deliver the message. And regrow the arm.

Raza - I still have my agents keeping tabs on her, just in case. The arm?

Noipros - Nothing important. I need for you to prepare somethings. We must leave Rata Sum. 

Raza - Oh...

Noipros - I know... But it's time.

Raza - And where to?

Noipros - The Maguuna Jungle. 

Raza bears a nervous look

Noipros - Raza...do you think...we are capable?

Noipros seems nervous as well.

Raza - That depends on what we'll be doing. 

Noipros - Defeating Mordremoth.

Raza - Well... Only one way to find out.

Noipros - With the help of what remains of the Pact, my asurans and I may stand a chance.

Raza - Right?

Noipros - Right... I've already told Ameirahh to meet us at Verdant Brink.

Raza - Don't worry, it's a tall order...but...we'll make it through okay, always have.

Noipros - If Blintoc is around, tell him too. I wouldn't want his work to be in vain. 

Raza gives a reassuring smile.

Raza - I will. 

Noipros - The Duchess Taiga will assist us as well. And as for Rata Sum... I've contacted someone to take my place as regent. 

Raza - It served our purposes will enough. Besides, there's too much attention here, I can't be at my best. 

Noipros - Are you not interested to hear who will be duke? Regent Duke that is...

Raza squints her eyes, and silently listens. 

Noipros - Well, I've summoned my grandmother. She's...uh...capable.

Raza - Hmm... Do I know her? I don't think we were introduced. 

Noipros - Have you ever heard of the Archmage Renatia Noipros? The woman took down entire camps of Centaur on her own.

Raza - Sounds vaguely familiar...

Noipros - Whenever my father was at war, she was...there. After my mother's death, she's been more than just a grandmother.

He looks down.

Raza - Ah, so a more than trusted ally, that's very wise.

Noipros quickly looks up again.

Noipros - Anyway, prepare your things. We leave at dusk.

Raza - Yes, sir!

                                   Part 2

Noipros studies the schematics.

Howl - Heya, Nopy!

Noipros crystal sword sparkles. 

Howl - Check out my new duds! Man, I'm gonna look so cool...

Noipros ignores the illusion.

Howl - Hey, don't you like it?

Raza peeks around the corner, concerned. Noipros grabs his head as Raza is confused. Noipros peeks over his shoulder, staring at Raza. Raza quietly observes the odd behavior.

Noipros - Stop it. You're being dumb. 

Howl - Remember, that time by the waterfall? I told you my DEEPEST DARKEST secret. Uh huh.

Noipros - Secret? (chuckles)

Howl - Yeah! Remember, and you didn't even freak out or anything. 

Noipros - I didn't?

Howl - Don't think my dad would understand like you did, Nopy. 

Noipros - I...didn't.

Raza gathers her things, and begins collecting data crystals for transport. 

Noipros - Is this the price I pay? The price of failure? You tormenting me.

Howl - Nope nope nope, sure is no better friend than my Nop! Nah, that's not it. 

Noipros - Not it? Hah...

Howl - You're gonna have to see their faces every time you fall asleep, though.

Noipros - Who's faces...?

Howl - Well, everyone you killed, silly. 

Noipros looks startled. 

Howl - Boy, there's a lot of them. All dead.

Noipros - I...didn't... Rhaenara...

Noipros grabs his head, his crystal sword shining bright.

Howl - Y'hear that?

Noipros - No.

Howl - That's the sound of burning people, Nopy!

Noipros - Burning?  The wedding...

Howl - Yeah! The nobles!

Noipros - I did that...

Noipros falls to the floor. Raza still hears all of this babbling from Noipros.

Howl - I guess you could say they're charred now, Nopy! Get it! Cause I'm your charr friend.

Noipros - I did that... Howl?

Howl - Yeah, buddy?

Noipros - Why must we fight?

Howl - Well...I guess it's because you're a monster, Nopy.

Noipros looks at his armor.

Noipros - No.

Howl - Kinda sucks though.

Noipros - I'm a champion... No! 

Howl - Cause, if you're a monster, which you are, a really terrible one - that kinda makes me a monster, too. 

Noipros - Why don't I feel it anymore? The connection we had. Is it still there?

Howl - Guess I don't need you anymore.

Noipros grabs Howl but phases through.

Noipros - You need me!

Howl laughs

Noipros - Like I need...you.

Howl - Silly boots! Noo...you need me. 

Noipros - We don't deserve this...

Howl - Oh, I think we do. Well...you do. Murderer. 

Noipros - (smiles) And you're last. When you die, I can finally be at peace. 

Howl - Nah, you can't kill me. You're not that suicidal. 

Noipros - I can finally...die. 

Howl - Hey, Noipros. 

Noipros - Mordremoth awaits me. I can't... What?

Howl - I'm really excited to go to this ball. 

                      Never Trust Anyone

Raza Derilus arrived from the northern shores of Orr, by ship, from Rata Sum. The Inquest agents gladly welcomed her arrival, but did not fret over her presence. Nor her intent. Raza sets out a sigh of relief.

Raza - Ahh, finally. Away from that blabbering lunatic. Now I can get back to it. 

She hears nothing in the deep dark, and begins to here voices coming from the crypt.

Raza - Be quiet, you morons...

??? - We thought you wouldn't show!

Raza - Of course I would show...too much is riding on this. I trust you have the artifacts?

She sees the priory members showing off three remarkable powerful artifacts.

??? - There weren't easy to lift from the archives, y'know.

??? - We hope it's worth it...

Raza - Trust me, you've all done splendid work.

She gathers artifacts, and with a bit of magic, conceals their true nature.

Raza - You all are dismissed, and I wouldn't go back to the priory if I were you. Just lay low until I tell you otherwise. No doubt they'll be looking for you after stealing these

The priory members bicker and plot their next course of action, while Raza returns to the surface.

Raza - Oh... And don't stay here too long... Unless you want to end up food for the remnants of Orr.

She laughs, stops, ponders, and muddles to herself.

Raza - I hope these will please the justiciar.