As our intrepid heroes gain their bearings in the city, they decide to at least spend some time gathering information for Needle and his band of resistance fighters. Their last solid lead suggesting that the old kingdom having information on the elder queen Glasya and her intentions, they head to the library.
To find it stripped bare.
On questioning the librarians, or warehousemen as they’re technically without books, it seems Prince Xanthor has hoarded the books in the palace. They then head off to the keep, and are pointed in the direction of the prince’s quarters by a suitably placed gaggle of urchins. They then enter the castle and are confronted by a large portrait of a dragon facing down the castle stairs, which seems to give a small nod at them. There is generally a lot of artwork, all apparently animated in some way, and apparently the work of the same hand.
The party is then challenged by Princess Aliah, daughter of the king and queen, and insufferable paladin in training who demands to know what they want and where they came from. They retort that they are here to see her brother and she eventually indicates which direction they need to go. Mistakenly, or perhaps deliberately given the outcome, the party allow Chris to do the talking, which results in her storming off.
After much mirth and many hi-jinks they find the domain of Prince Xandor, and enter his chambers. He is, as expected, surrounded by books. He gives the party some grounding about the family, and generally responds to questions in verse, and deliberately confusing riddles. It eventually becomes clear that the youngest sister might have the most information to be had, and so they begin to trek out, where they are met by Aliah again.
Aliah is somewhat more forthcoming this time, telling the group of recent and unproved defectors who are definitely not assassins that she and her siblings are fated to kill the false queen, and that she would lead the assault on the enemy now but she has been forbidden by her father. She says that her sister is responsible for the paintings, which all tell of the prophesy as well, and she can tell them more. So they continue on to Princess Pepper’s quarters.
The trek to her quarters is not without its perils, some of the paintings are actively dangerous, one of a volcano explodes near the party, deafening them in the process.
The portraits include:
Pepper holding a small golden dragon
Three heroes holding swords, fighting evil. They look like the three siblings.
Bloated monstrosities, one black and red dragon, monstrously sized man atop a dragon with a big sword and a dark red beard. Jarros, from the stories. A woman who surely cannot be GranGran is in the same picture, riding another dragon.
The group discuss whether they’re a prophesy of the future or a retelling of the past.
Finally they see a painting of what seems to be a queen surrounded by men with strange faces, painted on mirrored surfaces. She’s pointed out to be a small part of the prophesy.
After a meeting with Princess Pepper (who offers to paint for them), they head to see the King himself. He is in his throne room speaking with his sister on the matter of surrender. She’s adamant that they should give up, their allies have all fallen or capitulated and it’s only a matter of time. Eventually she leaves and the party enter.
King Richard III recognises Serra as the daughter of his father’s would-be assassin. Her mother was convinced to spare him. Serra, suspecting he or his father was the one to break her mother’s hands, is enraged to the point of attacking him, but relents. He points out that her mother’s mercy earned her people’s deaths at the hands of the Queen’s army.
Once heads have cooled, the King tells the group the history of the war.
Once, there were five kingdoms in the lands, but this was before the volcano erupted and the world changed. Red beasts spewed out of the Abyss and waged war for the lands. The five kings fought back but were overwhelmed one by one. The rulers of the beasts vie for control of the lands, with one taking the form of a queen, a form most pleasing to her, and is served by a clergy who are granted powers by her. It is said that the one which emerges triumphant will rule over the Abyss.
The populace have all but forgotten, the king has tried to hold onto the old ways but like the war it is difficult.
He asks the party for their help…