The Taste of the River Lethe is Bitter



In the swirling fury of naval warfare, the Nethminion Rising may have just discovered the most important target of all. A dark barge, heavy with canons, skirting the edge of the battle. What is it’s purpose?

The lights in the upper hall of Ost Lachrunyanen promise to burn late tonight as the Warlord, His Highness Prince Celethor Carnen, holds a council of war. General Aglarndak Naurloth, Admiral Niall Moonblessing, Prince Kelroth Carnen, the Earl of Greycliff, Duchess Eqximiye Carlack, Speaker of the Eldar and Lord Telandir Ellantra of the Defenders of the Seldarine fill out the upper portion of the assembly. Also present are the Baronet d’Affenwood, Fo’wyn Tiranyaare, representing the Church of the Seldarine, Lord Councilor Yestamir Carnen and Sir Thangil Elendu, Knight of Fennas Ear. Various attendant staff and officers circulate as well, taking notes, and providing charts and reports. Overseeing food and drink for all is the redoubtable Mistress Yolanda Butterburr and the bustling kitchen staff of the Ost.

As everyone settles in their seats and is being served, Celethor frowns at the Speaker and nods in her direction.

“Lady Carlack, why are they here?”

Eqximiye turns and looks at the remaining members of the Company of Shards, including the newly resurrected Nique and Umbrecrom, who are seated along the wall behind her. Smiling prettily, the Speaker for the Eldar glances back once more at the Warlord.

“They’re my staff.”

“And him?” The Prince nods significantly at Y’Draesk.

“He’s temporarily acting as my secretary.” She looks at Y’Draesk pointedly. “You can write, can’t you?"

Shaking his head, Celethor sighs and raps his knuckles loudly on the tabletop, calling for attention.

“Alright everyone, let’s get this started. Yesterday we successfully repelled the largest naval force assembled in nearly three centuries. Well done.”

He pauses, allowing the room’s occupants to express their jubilance with grins, applause, enthusiastic pounding of backs and resounding cheers. Celethor waits patiently for the furvor to die, his expression carefully neutral. After a few minutes he raises his voice and continues, the room quieting rapidly.

“Yes, yes! You all have every right to savor this victory! But it was not accomplished without substantial loss.” Gathering the room with his eyes, he says, “Fourteen naval ships now rest in Deep Sashelas’ domain, including the Brilliant Starshine and all her hands. That’s nearly half of our effective navy. The losses among the civilian vessels that were impressed or volunteered in the defense of Silmaros Bay number in the dozens. Damaged vessels in the scores. It will be weeks before we have a thorough assessment of casualties. And yet, the damage inflicted upon the enemy was even more grievous. Admiral Moonblessing?"

Taking up a scrap of parchment, the high elf rises and studies it for moment with her remaining eye.

’’My Lord, we estimate forty-two ships sunk, and another twenty-eight heavily damaged. We feel those numbers are pretty solid and it accounts for nearly sixty percent of their forces. Take into account that their losses were largely what served as their ships-of-the-line and the picture looks even better. Six of those vessels were command ships. We have confirmed kills on Captains Grim Bittal, Quogg, and Markosian, and while Black Annie is unaccounted for, her ship was confirmed destroyed as it tried to break engagement with the Wrath of Korathor. Additionally, N’Dethiel’s strike team captured Nyvsh Dirg and Umragig Bloodrose! That’s six of the big fish neutralized. The Foamfollower and the Wavespinner, along with half a dozen wingships have been formed into a battle group that is even now running down the scattered ships that fled the battle. We expect those figures to rise."

The admiral smiles tightly, bows her head to the warlord and returns to her seat.

“Thank you, Naill.” The Prince flashes a brief smile and addresses the room. “Lords and Ladies, we can safely say that the backs of the Corsair Kings have been broken. Once a full assessment of the engagement is prepared, my staff will see that copies are made available to you all.”

Waiting until the cheers die down once more, Celethor looks next to his brother, Kelroth. “Kel? Give us quick summary of your team’s action yesterday?”

Prince Kelroth rises and looks thoughtfully around the assembly. He smiles at his brother and asks, “Just the sea battle? Or do you wish a recap of the land battle too?”

After a moment’s consideration, the Warlord shakes his head. “Let’s leave that as a separate matter for now, I’ll brief those that need to know the details later.”

Kelroth nods and continues his report.

“I and my party and noble guests, teleported to our staging vessel, The Nethminion Rising, from which we would sally forth, with the orders to attack high value targets of opportunity. The ship was under attack at the time from sahuagin and foundering in a gale. We cleared the ship of attackers and put the ship in order to continue the battle with the pirates. Shortly, we observed a large, barge like vessel, that we had been told was part of the pirate fleet, and saw it severely damage a elven heavy warship that was attempting to close with it. Using magiks to conceal ourselves from it, we closed with the barge. Divinations told us that the ship was at the center of a vast underwater army of the undead that was avoiding the majority of the sea battle. This action led us to believe that this vessel had some special purpose to which the pirate fleet itself might be but a ruse. The decision was made to board, disable, or scuttle the barge as best we could. Using a magik phantom of the Nethminion Rising as a diversion, we boarded and engage elements of the crew of the barge, which were all undead, save one. That one was him whom we have come to know as Lucian Godswrath. While we were fighting with the Captain and crew of the barge, my goodly nephew Yestamir, at great peril, made his way around the outside of the ship to the open portholes where their weapons would issue forth fire and missles. Yestamir, from earlier contact with smaller versions of these weapons, knew that they could be caused to malfunction. Seeing the opportunity, he went through the opening, did ignite the charges that were stored at ready for the weapons, with the hope of causing a fire. The resulting conflagration, caused the remaining munition to explode, destroying the deck the weapons sit on, and the whole side of the ship! Sensing opportunity, he then made his way to the other side of the ship, and repeated his attack with similar results. This caused the ultimate destruction of the vessel. Before this, the remainder of the my party dispatched the bulk of the command crew of the barge, and left before the ship sank. We now know one of the crew was a banshee."

The room waits in pensive silence as Kelroth pauses a moment to take a sip of his wine.

“Others we are speculating on but think that their kind have not been seen since the First Children of Coramorphus have walked among us. Lucian Godswrath escaped before the ship sank. He imparted to us that ‘This changes nothing.’ From our estimation, we believe that this ship’s target was Ty’Athalael, the city of our cousins, the sea elves. At that point, having expended the majority of our spell battery, taken significant casualties, and finding ourselves considerably distanced from the rest of the fleet in a damaged vessel, we withdrew as best we could and contacted the flagship for further orders."

As the Earl sits, many an eye in the chamber shine with unasked questions, yet Celethor holds up his hand and bids them hold off until all reports are completed. He gestures to include his fellow Warlords, General Naurloth and Lord Ellantra.

“We three have been charged by the Regent and the High Council to lead our people into war. Yesterday was but the first major action. While a deadly blade aimed at the heart of the realm has been turned, it now falls upon us to take the offensive. Vinya Avignon is currently under siege and Lord Ellantra departs this evening to take charge and spring the trap that has been long in the planning. Over the past year, we’ve deliberately allowed Vinya to be undermanned in the hopes of drawing out the Syndec’s troops and now, at last, they’ve taken the bait. Last fall, a pair of permanent teleport arches provided by the Earl of Greycliffe were erected. One deep in the defensive works of Vinya and the other in Fennas Ear, in the heart of our main garrison. With the dawn, the Larooshan commanders will find not a scant eight score green defenders manning the walls. Instead they shall discover eighteen hundred seasoned troops, rangers and battle mages waiting to bid them to break their fast! In addition, two hundred archers and five score heavy Keloanian cavalry are in position along the border of the Wyrmwood to the south of their army. Vinya Avignon’s defense lies in the capable hands of the Defenders of the Seldarine.”

Telandir Ellantra bows his head to his Prince and Warlord. “We shall not fail you, my Lord.”

“Do not fail the quessir, Telandir.” Replies the Warlord solemnly. Looking at the map of the coast, Celethor makes a deft gesture and a slim dagger rises to hover above the colorful spread of parchment.

“The time has come to strike at the source of this pestilence.” Closing his fist, the blade suddenly plummets, embedding itself deep in the table beneath the map.

“Port Dawn!”

For several minutes nothing can be heard in the chamber over the cheers.



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