2 weeks after the visit in Bellsegallia
Duke Caes of Iyanala returned to his palace midday, after receiving a count from a small county in the town square. As he entered the castle, one of his servants told him that his wife- Lucia of Xantas- was entertaining guests. This surprised him, as typically he would know when people of high stature entered the city. He went to the great hall to see what was going on, and he saw his wife, sitting at the table, talking to four cloud fairies. His wife, the observant woman that she was, waved him over, and when he got closer, the four fae curtsied their pearly white dresses. Three of them grabbed a letter and fluttered to him with it. He took it, and the one that didn’t grab the letter- clearly the others’ superior- said to him, in a voice that he never got used to coming from such a small creature:
“Welcome back, Duke Caes. You and Duchess Lucia have been summoned by the Triarchs, along with the other members of the Council of Ghratos to Pontentium to discuss important matters.”
To Pontentium? He had just been there a few weeks ago, to discuss the trade with the Belsegallians. There must have been something important for them to call not just him- but every Council member there.
“What could be so important that they want the council to convene in the capital?”
“The matter of the Champion,” she said.
5 days later, Castle Pontentium on the River Stanumn
Duke Caes and his entourage arrived in the castle, where they were herded to the Great hall- and great it was indeed- golden tapestries, depictions of unity between Ghrateans- Cloud Fae, Amisans, Xhaasans, Xarbans alike. In the room, at the head of the table, sat the king of Amisa- an older man whose reign had always been fair, the King of Xhaasa, younger in comparison, who was known for his honor (and sometimes troubling advocating of military means) and in the middle of them, the Great Governor, Diabena, Duchess of Stannumnia, lands of the River Stanumn that both seperated the two lands of Ghratos and brought them together.
on the sides of the long table were the Council of Ghratos- the highest ranking members of the Ghratean nobility, as well as their entourage- spouses, trainees, nobility without land, and more- But their leaders, the members of the Council, consisted of 8 High Dukes, 4 from Amisa and 4 from Xhaasa, (Including Caes himself) The King of the Petty Kingdom Xarba (Who was of the same stature as any of the High Dukes) and the Clan Queen of all of the Cloud Fae hives that resided over Ghratos. (Although she was actually of the lowest rank out of any of the other Council members.)
Chatter populated the room- Lucia and he were talking to the Duchess of Shaalsa, a Xhaasan coastal duchy, about how things were faring on the coast. Very quickly, the room quieted down as the Great Governor raised her hand.
Although everyone had been rather amicable before, now was the time to discuss the true matter of them arriving at Pontentium. The Champion.
The Great Governor cleared her throat. “Friends, we have convened today because of fear. Ghratos is not a weak country- it never has been, and it never will be. But we have caught wind of powerful magic users outside of Ghratos, nations of extreme power that could threaten the safety of our nation if they so wished- we do not presently think that these people. planning to attack us, at the moment, but no great victor won because they prepared at the last moment.” The kings nod to each other, and three servants walk into another room. The Great Governor continues. “We have decided to bring back a tradition that has not been used for more than a century. We have decided to choose a Champion.”
Someone- The Duke of Tolaro, a Xhaasan duchy, spoke up at this. “But this means that the Artifacts have been real this entire time? I was under the assumption that it was a legend.”
“Fact devolves into legend when people no longer remember the sources, Duke Alos,” she said.
Caes himself was also surprised- it was said that these weapons were forged by the God of sun and the Goddess of nature themselves- to reward their subjects for their union, and to celebrate the decisive of the Dark Ages that plagued Ghratos only 40 years prior to unification. Caes wondered if that part of the legend held true. Still, there were clearly more pressing matters.
“And if any one of you still doubts the existence of these objects, see them for yourselves.” in this precise moment, the servants seen leaving the room before came back, and Caes could hardly believe his eyes.
Each one of them was holding one of the Great Artifacts- the Spear of the Sun, the Shield of Nature, and the Sword of Light. The spear shocked him, because he could instantly tell what it’s tip was made of- sunstone, condensed to near perfection. The Sword was even more shocking, because he couldn’t even fathom what made it up- it was not a white sword, as some depictions of it were- it was seemingly made of pure light.
The King of Xhaasa spoke now. “You can see clearly that these weapons are powerful, but they aren’t where we need them to be. The sunstone in the spear hasn’t been given the sun’s energy in over a century, the shield needs to be reinvigorated with the power of nature, and the sword’s light is no longer pure.” Caes couldn’t believe any of these weapons could become stronger then they already looked. The King of Xhaasa continued. "This is the other reason, besides choosing the champion themself, we brought you here. We need nominations for the Champion’s companions- They will all have to travel to bring the weapons back to their full potential. "
The Duchess of Shaalsa interjected. “Why not split the weapons up and create three parties to do this job? That would be more efficient, which would let the Champion get into action more quickly.”
The King of Amisa replied, cutting off the Xhaasan king’s response. “Because, at least one of these tasks will need to be performed outside of our borders, if not two. The existence of the Champion is to be contained to the nobility in this room, and I don’t think that we could disguise parties marching through the territory of other kingdoms without explanation. The entire operation needs to be kept secret. Consider it a test of skill for the Champion, to ensure we’ve picked a quality candidate.”
Silence overtook the room. It was much more complicated than anyone initially thought. Then, a hearty laugh came from the Xarban king, the other lizardmen around him looking a bit fearful of what he would say.
“Look at you lot of fools! Afraid of a bit of covert operation? What has our union come too? Duke Dimodi * couldn’t even hold a diplomatic mission proper-”
*Dimodi= Tiny, small. In reference to Caes signing as Duchescina during a trade mission with Belsegallia.
Caes calmly looked at the lizardman, the so-called “Petty King.” “Little Duke, eh? a funny joke. I wonder what the remnants of your brother’s army would think of it.”
Caes continued after a second. “I, for one, have an individual I would suggest to accompany the Champion. Abyas Iterrin- a former soldier that I led into battle. He would provide combat experience to the group, needed for fending off highwaymen others like them.”
After Caes finished speaking, the Duchess of Litora spoke. “I would like to nominate Auria, my star pupil of the art of satopotes. She is the most powerful user that our military has produced in over half a century.” Murmuring among the Amisan rulers- apparently this girl was well known around Amisa.
The Clan Queen of the Cloud Fae affiliated with Ghratos spoke. “I can provide two of my ladies to assist the Champion’s group on their quests.” Finally, the Xarban King spoke again, although not in as brash a tone as he had used when he first spoke up. “One of my men can accompany this group- though i have no clue how you’d disguise him outside of Ghratos.”
“It can be arranged,” the Duchess of Litora said. Caes knew that the Amisans had developed potions and such that could bring illusions onto an individual, so they would most likely make one in advance of an escapade outside of Ghratos.
The triarchs deliberated for a moment on these possible options before the Great Governor spoke. “We have decided that the individuals picked out to be the companions of the Champion are adequete for the tasks we need them to perform. Now all that’s left is to choose the Champion themself.”
Caes wondered who exactly the candidates for champion were- regardless, it appeared that things were to get very, very, interesting.
He had no idea how interesting things would be getting.