Lizardmen Prelude Part I
First it was the days spent at sea, now days trekking through the jungles of Lustria. Belashar Cordalis, Dragon Prince of Caledor, was not thrilled with his assignment but duty and loyalty bound him. The Phoenix King had personally asked Belashar to take on this task and did not fail to mention several times that the fate of Ulthuan rested on Belashar’s shoulders.
Belashar was called from his war-torn home of Caledor by the Phoenix King himself to travel as ambassador to Lustria. Although the High Elves were making Malekith pay dearly for every step of soil in Ulthuan, the hosts of the Druchii were vast and Malekith only need send word for more troops from Naggaroth – the High Elves had no reinforcements to call in on. That is why the Dragon Prince must sail to Lustria and try to convince the lizardmen of the necessity of war. No easy task to convince the neutral lizardmen that war beyond Lustria was necessary…Belashar was already uneasy with the sea voyage, he was a Dragon Prince and sea-legs were certainly not in his list of qualifications. To add to his unease, upon sailing from Lothern a dark shadow already followed the expedition. The expedition of two High Elf vessels was being pursued by half a dozen Druchii corsair ships – no doubt the dark kin caught wind of his mission and were given the task of preventing him from achieving it. Fortunately for Belashar ‘sacrifice’ and ‘valor’ were two words the Sea Guard was well acquainted with. Realizing the urgency of the mission and the need for Belashar to reach Lustria, the captain of the other vessel took matters into his own hands on the eve of the sixth night at sea and turned his ship east. In the fog of the night Belashar and the crew of the Silver Dragon, his vessel (re-christened in his Honor), heard a brutal clash behind them. Knowing the sacrifice their comrades made, the crew of the Silver Dragon turned their back on valor and pushed on to deliver Belashar. The following morn, dark smoke filled the horizon where their sister ship was last seen, but alas now only two sets of dark sails pursued them and at a much greater distance.
Within a few days the Silver Dragon made land at the Scorpion Coast and began their trek to Tlaxtlan. The Sea Guard and Belashar expected a cold welcome, fortunately to their surprise they were received with no welcome. They thought their presence was unnoticed, but the Slann Mage-Priests knew very well of their approach, and of their mission. The Mage-Priests of Lustria had already seen the High Elf ambassadorial mission approaching before they even left the Straits of Lothern. Yes, the had seen this all already and had plenty of days to discuss their response to the High Elf mission.
On the third day trekking through the jungles of Lustria the crew of the Silver Dragon heard rustling in the trees and on impluse put their hands to their swords and bows.
“Stay your swords men, we do not want to appear hostile on our ambassadorial mission do we…? Only engage if engaged,” Belashar advised his men. Wise words indeed for the expedition was being shadowed by a party of skinks on personal assignment from the Mage-Priest of Tlaxtlan. Realizing their non-hostile response the skinks emerged from the dense jungle in front of the expedition and made signs of peace. No common tongue linked the creatures, hand gestures were the best communication they had. It was soon established that the skinks were to be the High Elves escort through the jungle and through the city of Tlaxtlan. The groups pace picked up significantly as the skinks drove them towards Tlaxtlan casting worried glances behind them periodically.
By the next morn they were in Tlaxtlan and Belashar was escorted to the Mage-Priest’s chambers at the top of the tallest pyramid in the center of the city. The Sea Guard were given food and drink and signaled that Belashar would continue alone. Upon reaching the Mage-Priest’s chamber Belashar was met with the sight of a dozen Saurus guards eying him coldly, yet he was given access to the inner room. A dozen skinks milled around the room coming too and fro from ante-chambers with scrolls. Belashar’s eyes fell upon the Mage-Priest and he bowed lowly, unsure of what to say. Belashar’s thoughts were immediately interrupted and filled with a harsh foreign voice,
“Do not be alarmed warmblood, it is by my will and my will alone that you hear me in your tongue.” Despite the warning Belashar was startled and his eyes circled the room seeking the voice, but only the skinks whispered in their low voices. The Slann Mage-Priest gave out a strange chuckle which made Balashar’s blood run cold. “I said do not be alarmed yet you do not listen. I am in your thoughts warmblood, do not seek for a mouth projecting a voice.” Belashar’s eyes fell upon the mage-priest. “Yes, it is I. I can see your naivety warmblood thus I shall introduce myself and allow you to think again so that we me begin to ‘converse’. I am Adohi-Tehga, Lord of Tlaxtlan.”
Belashar still unsure of what to say stated, “A great honor to be in your presence Lord Adohi-Tehga. At your service is Belashar Cordalis, Dragon Prince of Caledor, son of Ulthuan, ambassador of the Phoenix King Finubar the Seafarer.”
The slann gave another strange chuckle. “Quite the mouthful, yet you forget that though I pay no heed to your words, I read your thoughts. You need not voice your thoughts with me warmblood. The Slann have seen your arrive for many days now. We saw your brethren’s noble sacrifice against your dark corrupted kin in the Great Pond. We have seen this conversation. State your cause warmblood, and know that the ears of Lustria hear all you say.”
Given the last statement, Belashar was at a greater unease than ever. He was not an diplomat, yet the Phoenix King personally asked him to go on this mission. “My lord, I am no statesmen, I am a warrior. Yet the Phoenix King saw me fit for this mission so you will have to forgive me for my lack of diplomatic terms. I speak simply because the situation is indeed simple. Ulthuan and the world of the Asur is in grave danger. The world of Men and Dwarves is in grave danger. Our alliance with Men pulled us into a war on the Old World and left Ulthuan weakly defended. Malekith saw his opportunity to strike, and strike he did. Asur blood has been split on the soil, our homes burn, our children are massacred, our land is tainted and being torn apart. The druchii lay waste to the land and seek to unleash the dark energies bound by the Vortex. We are too few to stop them. The Shining Guard continues its struggle across Ulthuan, but you have seen all this. You know the outcome. You know the outcome if we fight alone.” Belashar paused his thoughts. His thoughts were filled with anger yet he knew it was wrong to direct it at the Slann. He wearily continued, “The Phoenix King has sent me, a warrior, a Dragon Prince without a dragon, a man who has watched his people fall to the dark sword. I come on behalf of the Asur to beseech the Lizardmen of Lustria to aid us in our struggle. We cannot continue to fight the war against Chaos alone.” Exhausted by his thoughts he ended, waiting for the mage-priest to reply.
“Yes, warmblood, we have seen this conversation. You have seen it to. You thought it over every night on your vessel and saw the many outcomes, yet one kept going through your mind. The Phoenix King chose wisely to send you. Though you speak with your thoughts, your heart shows too, a gift the Old Ones gave the warmbloods. Yet the Slann were charged with keeping the order of the world; you know not how our tasks wears us down. We have seen your struggle on Ulthuan and we know the course it will take. We have seen the struggle in the lands of men and dwarves and know the course they will take. Though you think us neutral in this struggle, the Slann have held the hordes of Chaos behind the poles for millennia. Though you feel alone you are not. Trust me when I say that if the Slann were to vanish your struggle would become more apparent. Nevertheless I can see what you long for, you long for bodies to fight by your side, not for magics you cannot see to hold back the hordes of Chaos. And your struggle is about to become greater than you’ve ever imagined. Your kin have known for ages of our presence and we have coexisted peacefully for some time, though your kind too did once plunder our cities. The Lizardmen have never left Lustria, we keep our quarrels to our lands and do not fight others’ wars. Go and rest, warmblood. I shall converse with the other mage-priests and give you our reply. Do not fill your heart with hope. You ask for much, warmblood.”
Adohi-Tehga left the thoughts of Belashar and uttered something in his tongue to the skinks who instantly signaled for Belashar to leave and escorted him away. He did not like that the fate of Ulthuan was put in the hands of these neutral beings, but what more could the Asur do against the Druchii…?