Lord British was startled awake damp with sweat by
the suddenly loud, irregular clapping of the curtains leading out onto
the balcony of his bedroom. He slowly opened his eyes, and stared at the
mural that graced the ceiling of his bedchamber. For the past several
mornings, the once vibrant colorful images appeared to have been sapped
of energy, as though they were painted with the lifeless, grayish morning
light that was filling the room around him. The lifelessness of the painting
was reflected in Lord British because as of late he woke each morning
listless and fatigued.
The flapping of the curtains became louder, and more
violent. As if watching himself in a dream, he felt himself lean forward
drawn by the sound. Long skeletal fingers of the arid dawn pushed into
his already warm room. The balcony doorway appeared to be a large winged
creature caught in a hunters trap, desperately struggling against
its bonds. The beatings of its finely woven wings came in erratic, powerful
snaps. Almost unaware of his own movement, Lord British felt himself rise
from his bed, and move towards the balcony.
Something is not right, he heard himself
The morning winds came strong and hot into his face,
causing long claws of gray hair to curl about the back of his head. He
felt as if he were staring into the gaping maw of an angry Ancient Wyrm.
Slowly he saw his arm move and part the curtains revealing the courtyard
and royal garden. It was in a state that he had never seen before. Emaciated,
fruitless trees wrestled weakly against the arid wind. A herd of leaves
rustled into view as they swirled and danced amid a cloud of dust. They
galloped through the dying tangles of the royal garden. No living thing
moved in the courtyard. No birds song filled his ear; no quietly
feeding fawns caught his eye.
He found himself turning hoping to return to his bed
chamber. The body of a dead crow drew his attention. It was lying motionless
on the stone pavement of the balcony. Although it had not been there the
day before, it appeared to have been dead for a long while. Deaths
grip seems to have frozen it in mid-flight. Its blackened feathers were
broken and its mouth was slightly open . Its eyes had long since shriveled
leaving pits of blackness behind.
GEOFFREY! Lord British bellowed as he
strode back into the bedroom. Grabbing a robe emblazoned with the silver
serpent, he opened the heavy oaken bedroom door and continued into the
Yes, sire, Geoffrey said, as he slowly
walked from the Royal Library, holding a copy of The Travails of The Avatar.
Is there something wrong, sire? He asked in response to his
Lords furrowed brow.
Where is Nystul? Lord British said loudly
through the confusion which clouded his thoughts. Something is amiss
and I fear the worst
He is still in his chambers, Geoffrey
said. I have tried to summon him, yet I have been unsuccessful.
I know he is within - I can hear his incessant scribbling, Geoffrey
smirked. What is wrong, sire? How may I assist thee?
I feel as if I am being beset by evil. Every
time I open my eyes, I expect to be staring face to face with a nameless
daemon. Its stench rides heavy even upon the morning winds. We must do
something. Something has happened, and we must find out what.
Begging thy pardon, MLord, but I am unsure
as to which thou art speaking. Art thou feeling ill? Geoffrey said,
offering a hand to perhaps lead his Lord back to bed. He was concerned
by the intensely confused look that stood upon his Lords face and
by the sweat that fell from his troubled brow, and never having seen his
Lord in such a state, he feared the worst.
No, Geoffrey, I am not ill, Lord British
snapped. He closed his eyes, concentrating on the words he needed to speak
to make his point clear. He had no wish to berate Geoffrey for his misunderstanding,
but sometimes the warrior seemed as thick as a stone. He opened his eyes
and took Geoffrey by the shoulder. Geoffrey continued to look perplexed.
I need you to send some of thine best warriors to Bucs Den
to have a look around. Something is not right. We must find out what has
caused the pirates to become so active as of late. Im not sure why,
but I know that the cause of my consternation is there. He smiled
briefly, and walked past Geoffrey and continued down the hall heading
towards Nystuls quarters.
Can it not wait till the morrow? Halston and
I were to reassign the guard duties today. Perhaps if thou wouldst visit
NO! Geoffrey, I am NOT ill, but I AM becoming
angry, Lord British barked, as he turned and stared grimly at Geoffrey
causing him to stand rigidly at attention. Go now! Summon Halston
and do as I ask. Evil has resurfaced in this world, and we must know in
what incarnation it is, and I will not hear another word on the subject.
Aye sir. Perhaps, the Followers have gathered
once again? Geoffrey said, unsteadily, yet still at attention.
Perhaps, yet I dont feel as if they are
the cause of this imbalance. They may certainly be playing a part,
Lord British said, softening his tone knowing Geoffreys intentions
were sound. Make certain that 3 of your finest go at once to Buccaneers
Den, he said. Lord British, then, turned and continued down the
hall and out of sight.
Aye sir. I shall see that they depart within
the hour, Geoffrey said out to the retreating sound of Lord British.
He quickly moved towards the barracks yelling, HALSTON! GATHER THE
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Thursday, March