Lord British stood with his eyes closed and listened
intently to the many sounds of the Royal Garden. Not the busy sounds of
the city, which rode softly in the background, but the sounds that, the
garden itself made. A gentle spring wind whispering though the full, out-stretched
arms of the trees. Birds quietly sang and talked with each other. It was
very tranquil. He waited patiently for one of these sounds to tell him
what to do, and smiled inwardly at his own foolishness. He couldnt
explain the visions that he had seen, but only that he had seen them.
The one that showed this garden as dying seemed particularly absurd at
It was much easier, he thought, to think
you were going mad, then it was to actually go mad. He grinned outwardly
this time at his own joking nature. The past few weeks had been a torment
for him, but the visions violence had slowly begun to subside. As
it had been so many times in the past, the Royal garden
was the lone refuge for a mind in turmoil. He opened his eyes and stared
at the blue sky. A small group of adolescent clouds drifted by on a lazy
breeze. A bright sun gentle bathed the scene in its warmth.
M lord! Might I have a moment of your
time? a voice boomed from somewhere beyond the tallest of the orfleur
flowers. He knew it was Geoffrey, but waited to respond. Geoffrey appeared
through the branches of a low hanging willow. This scene seemed less real
than the many of the visions hed had of late.
Slowly he emerged from thought.
Yes, Geoffrey, what is it? he said, looking
up from his moment of solitude.
MLord, Geoffrey said, briefly bowing
to one knee. I must talk to you about sending men to Bucs
Anger flared in Lord Britishs face, and his
eyes, suddenly enraged, turned towards Geoffrey as his moment of peace
quickly evaporated. Has this not yet been done? I ordered it so
several days ago, he said, trying to rein in his frustration.
Aye sire, and for that I do apologize. Thou
hast not been thyself as of late, and so I did not have the opportunity
to discuss this with you further. I beg thy pardon, but I feel that we
must proceed with caution in this venture. I have ordered Halston to have
the ships ready, and to stand by for my command, but Bucs Den is
not a friendly place, and I fear that sending men there without being
prepared might jeopardize the lives of all involved.
Did I not impress upon thee the urgency of this?
Lord British asked angrily. I must know what is going on there.
Now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. NOW!
I understand that sire, but if the soldiers
that I send dont survive the landing, then they could not possibly
return to deliver information unto us. I wont give up three of my
best soldiers without giving them a fighting chance. The last sentence
came out louder than Geoffrey had intended. Surprised by his own insubordinate
tone, he averted his eyes from Lord British and took a comfortable step
His words struck home to Lord British causing him
to sigh and rub his eyes. Geoffrey was fearful that his outburst would
draw the wrath of his lord, but he also felt the weight of the past few
days lift from his shoulders. For better or worse, hed at least
voiced his concerns.
Considering your visions of evil, Geoffrey
continued, in a more even tone, I thought it best to be careful.
Thou speakest true, my friend, Lord British
said, clapping his hand upon Geoffreys shoulder. These last
few weeks have been quite a strain on me. We should not rush into that
vile place ill-prepared. Is there no way to garner some information and
then send in our people when we are ready?
Aye, sire. I will discuss this with my informants.
But let me explain what we shall do to prepare
and they continued to walk through the gardens.
* * *
Cool lamplight filtered down onto the gray cobblestone
street in the middle of the capital city of Britannia. The soft yellowish
glow wasnt necessary on this clear night however as the two full
moons hung high in the clear night sky. Pale light drifted down upon the
city chasing shadows and thieves out of the streets and into their own
dark places of refuge. Broken reflections of the canopy of stars and moonlight
rippled in a multitude of tiny pools that had settled in-between the rectangular
stones that made up the city street.
Suddenly, the slam of a door broke the serenity of
the darkness as a laughing couple burst from the Blue Boar tavern. A path
of bright light fell from the door, and a cacophony of music and conversation
filled the street. The door closed, clearing the street of the boisterous
tavern noises and the couple continued home arm-in-arm safe from harm,
as the pair of moons smiled upon them.
Inside the Blue Boar, a bear of a man cloaked in fine
leathers and silks boisterously added his voice to the symphony of chatter
in the drinking room. Another round of drinks for me and the ladies
my good man, he bellowed as he clapped the back of the taverns
waiter. You should join us my friend, there is plenty to drink and
tales for all!
Sure, sure Dupre. The smallish waiter
agreed smiling. When the tavern keep will allow, but for now I have
my hands full. The young man gathered wet, empty goblets, and wiped
the splatters and spills which surrounded the happy figure of Dupre. Laughter,
outrageous tales of drinking and adventure, and general joviality filled
the table, as they always did when Dupre was present.
BAH! Just give me a moment with the tyrant and
youll be here at my table for the remainder of the evening,
the big man snorted, and he began to rise. He was huge in terms of both
build and stature, and blunt when it came to dealing with the likes of
stingy tavernkeepers. The waiters hand settled on his shoulder and
guided him back to his seat.
No, no, no, Dupre, good friend. Ill join
you in a moment, but I would like to leave here with my job, Marcus
laughed. Dupre was not easily outmaneuvered, but the young waiter did
manage to guide him back to his captivated audience.
Well, if you say so, Dupre agreed, dejectedly.
But I expect you to share a pint with me before the night is through,
he said with a playful wag of his finger. He returned his attention to
the two, beautiful ladies sitting with him, as well as a small crowd of
listeners who had gathered to hear his tales.
Oh yes, now where were we?
You were telling us about when you were confronted
a daemon that stole your appearance, a voice answered from the crowd.
yes. Well, we were in search of the
Codex, and I was leading the party to the depths of Deceit
wait, it was Hythloth. He furrowed his brow, and nodded, agreeing
with himself, then continued on into the tale. Something changed.
Something wicked. More evil than the Lichs lair, or the Daemons
altar. The moans and monstrous laughing had stopped, and we realized that
we were in a room shrouded with a slightly metallic mist
He paused again and slowly lifted his goblet. After
taking a large gulp of Abbey wine he glanced down at his goblet. Dupre
was a regular and as such had his own special, silver goblet encrusted
with the silver serpent.
we could make out through the
five different shadowy figures. Each one standing still. I moved
to the front and one of these unidentifiable creatures matched my move!
Fear settled upon my heart. Strangely, I found these monsters vaguely
He paused again. This time he looked around at his
captivated crowd. A particular young man was leaning a bit too close for
Son, could you check on that wine? I find myself
rather parched, he said to the youth. The boy only nodded and ran
off towards the bar, returning to Dupre the comfortable space he needed.
It dawned on me that the ROOM was the evil.
It had recreated each of us in a malformed copy. I immediately dove into
the fray with my Viking Sword of Vanquishing
A single roar
of hearty laughter rang out from the silent group, and Dupre stopped in
By the virtues Dupre, do you never tire of telling
that story? a graceful and elderly man laughed. Further more
do you not tire of failing to do it justice?
IOLO! Dupre exclaimed jumping to his feet
as he saw his friend emerge from the crowd. The aging bard was very proper
and handsome and wore only the finest clothing. In his hands he held an
intricately carved lute. A wide grin brightened his face, as it always
did when he saw friends enjoying themselves. After exchanging a strong
handshake, they fell into a more powerful hug.
Come now, Dupre. You know that Geoffrey led
that expedition. If I remember correctly, you were bringing up the rear
with Jaana, Iolo smiled and his grin grew even further till it broke
Damn thee Iolo! Why do you always interrupt
that story when I begin to dispatch the daemons? Dupre said, disappointed.
Come now, lets fill that mouth with wine while I finish my tale.
Dupre turned back to the crowd to begin anew, but
his listeners had dissipated.
DAMN! I should thrash thee for this! He
sounded angry, but the smile belied his tone.
Dupre, you will have them captured once again
once I leave, Iolo said in a more serious tone. I have grave
news, or what I feel is grave.
What is it friend? asked Dupre, his eyes
narrowing and his face growing worried. He took the wine from the young
boy whod just returned to the table. Dupre dropped of a couple of
gold coins into the youths hand. A push in the young mans
chest sealed the deal for the bottles of wine and started the youth on
I do not know, exactly, Iolo continued,
ignoring the exchange with the boy. There are strange things afoot.
Lord British refuses audience with everyone, including me. I fear for
him. I managed to corner him in his quarters, and he seems quite upset.
I cannot locate Nystul, and Xavia is of no help.
Aye, it sounds strange, but nothing GRAVE old
friend. I mean Nystul has always been a strange sort anyway
Durpre said frowning, as he took a long drink directly from the wine bottle.
Dupre, listen to me. Something is wrong. Geoffrey
is particularly serious about this. Our liege is looking to send people
into Bucs Den.
Dupre laughed aloud and turned to face Iolo. HAHAHA!
Geoffrey was being serious? Iolo, when have you ever known that man to
not be serious? This sounds suspiciously like something youve twisted
farther than it was meant to be twisted. Why in the name of the virtues
would they want to send anyone to Bucs den? Tis a rat infested hole
of a place, and their beer is always stale.
Dupre, PLEASE! Iolo said, becoming more
frustrated with his old friend. I come to you as a fellow adventurer,
and as a friend. On my honor as a bard, Dupre, we need to find out whats
going on. We must talk to Nystul or perhaps travel to Moonglow to speak
with Erethian. I know, I know, you do not like him, but he does see and
understand things that are beyond what you or I can.
Dupre said, resigned to following
Iolo off on a fools errand. At least help me finish my wine.
MARCUS! Come finish this wine with me, Iolo and I have business to attend
to, he called, winning him the glare of the tavern keep. All
I ask is that we try Nystul first. You know how I feel about magic, which
means Moonglow is NOT my favorite city, and I am even less inclined to
go there since it means well have to travel.
All right, all right, Dupre, we can try Nystul
first. I just hope that everything is ok, Iolo said as he drained
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Tuesday, March