Sonsday the 7th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 4:22pm, The Island of Oakenglen, 12 miles South East of Isles Wood
Grand Druid Caius Degryll stepped through the rocky terrain and approached the loam heavy cave at the edge of a small pool. He took in the methane and rotting scents in the air and shuddered, this was not his terrain of choice, nor would he elect to spend more time here then need be.
ARRRRRRRP, an ancient willow near the cave mouth groaned and twisted as a tree-stride spell completed. Out came a balding man with grey whiskers and a heavy brow
“Arch Druid Fraxious, it is about time you arrived” the Grand Druid began being sure that his displeasure at being kept waiting was known.
“My apologies Grand Druid” the lesser druid said, bringing two fingers to his lips, then his forehead then offering them out in the traditional druid greeting. “My tardiness could not be helped” the Grand Druid took a long appraising look at Fraxious and gritted his teeth as her quickly returned the gesture.
“Come along then, let us get this over with” he said as he expressly strode toward the cave. The cavern was damp and filled with the heavy aroma of bog gas, fresh fungus and rotting meat, making an altogether unpleased bouquet that stuck to ones tongue. They turned a few times through the cave system, noting scratch marks and burns on the cavern walls and floor and finally turned into the main chamber. It was large, some three hundred feet around with a tall ceiling reaching near fifty feet. The roof was pock marked with small holes that moss had grown over filling the room with eerie streams of green light. The back end of the room had a large putrid pool that no doubt led outside through the murky russet water of the swamps, not far from it, half submerged lay three dead bronze dragons. Youth or adult age if Caius’s guess was right. Towards the back a small Green Dragon, maybe the size of a large dog feasted upon one of the fallen bronze. Tiny blade marks around the neck of the nearest gave clues as to how the creatures had died. Sprinkled around the room mounded towards the left hand wall were piles of treasure, mostly tarnished silver or moss incrusted gilded goblets and swords. In the centre of the room perched atop a half rotted gold inlaid podium sat Lord Shepard. The Waylen did not look up, as he appeared to concentrating and lost in mediations. On the ground in a small pool of unknown liquid lay six of the nine sigils. Minding the small tarns of acid marked into the floor Caius made his way towards Lord Shepard, Fraxious a few feet behind him.
“Lord Shepard” Caius opened, but the small creature held up a single finger to stop him
“You have come to report failure Caius” the impossibly deep voice of the small Waylen pronounced, still his gaze never leaving the sigils.
“That would be Grand Druid Caius, Lord Shepard, and no, at long last the false druid Emerys is dead!”
“and you feel this deserves praise Caius?” the Waylen enquired, his voice steady, it was impossible to predict where he was going with his line of questioning or if he was angry or perhaps accepting. Annoyance bubbled over in Caius
“As stated Lord Shepard, I am Grand Druid Caius Degryll, Master of the Suzuki Grove, Bearer of the Holly Crown and Master of the Scimitar of the Lasting Dawn. You will address me as Grand Druid, or Your Honour, failing that, you will hold your tongue!” he felt it was important to re-establish their relationship as formal and not of subordinance. The Waylen at long last removed his gaze from the sigils and turned standing up on the lectern. He stood at near chest height of the two men. His helm obscured his face and his breathing was even. Caius sensed that perhaps he should move on and change the subject. “Now… Lord Shepard, Arch Druid Fraxious has been…” that was as far as he got as the Waylen reached out both his hands, from the left gauntleted hand shot forth a current of purple and blue lightening sizzling and frying the Grand Druid. Unlike a spell where the lighting would hit you and end, this one was maintained and worked around his magical defenses. The Waylen held his right hand slowly closing it to make a fist in a crushing motion. Fraxious found himself lifted from the ground and choking as he watched the elder druid be continually stuck by lightening. The power was awesome to behold and terrifying when one considered who wielded it.
“I will call you whatever I damn well choose! You would be wise to humbly accept whatever name that is…. WONT YOU!” his voice boomed with the last two words sending an increased jolt of lightening and applying further pressure on Fraxious neck, the arch druids vision was beginning to blur.
“Yes… Yes…” The Grand Druid groveled falling to his knees
“Yes, what?” Shepard asked anger now apparent in his voice
“Yes… My Lord…” Caius gasped… and with that the lightening stopped and Fraxious dropped to the ground gasping for breath.
“The form you wear now appears to be too pretentious Caius, you have clearly forgotten your place… perhaps something that will remind you of where you stand.” The helmeted head turned its gaze towards Fraxious “You, you are an omnivore, correct?” the Arch Druid was disoriented but nodded his head “What is that meat that your races pines for, the one they insist on putting on everything?” both Caius and Fraxious looked confused but not wanting to anger the Waylen further Fraxious offered and answer
“Bacon? My Lord” he gasped, his voice hoarse from his windpipe nearly being crushed
“Yes… Bacon… Caius, from now on we will conduct our meetings with you in the form of a LITTLE…” with each final word he let a little bolt of lightning out “… PINK… PIG!” wincing in pain the Grand Druid tried to muster what minute dignity he had left
“Lord Shepard… if we could please AHHHHH!” Lightening zapped into him and continued to fry him until at last the Grand Druid relented and shape shifted into the form of a small pink pig. Once he had taken the form only then did Shepard stay his attack. The Waylen inhaled deeply his helmeted gaze locked on the little pig.
“You are right Fraxious, he does smell good enough to eat” at this the Green Dragon looked up from its meal half interested, but after a few heartbeats in continued to tear the bronze dragon carcase to pieces.
“Lord Shepard… Please…” Caius said, being a druid of his power he could still speak in animal form
“Behave Caius, at this juncture you are more useful to me alive then dead…. Barely” Shepard responded looking down from his podium at the small pig, and the man on his knees a little way past him. He studied the two but now seeing no further challenges he commenced the meeting proper “Emery’s is dead, of course he is… I know this because I sent Teriovus to see that it was done!” the helmed Waylen took a step forward on the lectern. “Where are my Sigils, where are the final three? Why must I spoon feed these to you?”
Caius couldn’t help a small piggly snuffle before he spoke “We proceed my Lord, the Strix lose ground nearly every day… our druids rip their ancient trees to the ground to search for the sigils, it is only a matter of time before we have won and the remaining sigils are ours”
“And what will you do if the Bellator Libra comes to stop you?” Shepard intoned in a deep voice
“Bellator Libra… he is dead sir, Emerys is dead, I confirmed this myself”
“The Clava have an ancient belief that one known as the Bellator Libra will save their people from doom, it is they who believed that Emerys was their precious saviour… what have I told you about the Clava?”
“You… you don’t think Emrys is this person?” Fraxious asked, a tinge of electricity danced on Shepard’s finger tips in a not to subtle reminder not to interrupt, but the Waylen chose to answer the question
“The Clava are idiots, a foolish barbarous mistake that evolution has yet to correct, there is no Bellator Libra, or what they call Warrior of Balance. There is however “a courageous one who will balance the scales, a warrior who balances between life and death, and one who returns the weave to balance” Shepard paused for a moment “Whether this is one man or three, Waylen or druid, or even something else… I have yet to know, but I don’t believe if coincidence, the weave reveals much to me, and I am no so foolish to let down my guard when I am so close to achieving all my dreams… I take these matter seriously” he began to pace on his podium “My mount requires much of my attention…” he gestured towards the green dragon “I have done much for you Caius… Was it not I who fixed the chair so you could sit on it? Was it not I who hunted down those who opposed you and had them silenced? Was it not I who secured the power of the druids by sending you the wealth of the Littles? And all too often I have asked for you to merely stay out of my affairs.” He paced more quickly as his gaze roamed the room before settling once more on the pig “I find it hard to believe that such stupidity runs so rampant in your order Caius… these near barbarous creatures are on the verge of being classified as ‘dull’ and yet you fool around with ridiculous notions like boarders and laws. Things created by weak men designed to protect and empower weak men.”
“My Lord…” Caius said in an appeasing tone, he did not get further as lightening flung down singeing the piggy and eliciting an involuntary squeal of pain
“I WANT MY SIGILS! I WANT THE GUARD MICE TRULY DEAD! PUSHED BEYOND THE VEIL AND SEALED, NEVER TO AGAIN RETURN! I WANT THE STRIX GENOCIDE COMPLETE BY THE FALL EQUINOX! Not a single one left on Argyle… gone, forever forgotten” his gaze shifted between the two druids as his voice dropped to a menacing whisper
“If a single moment of the 18th of Harvester passes without this being done, you will become the meal of my newly hatched mount” a long silence stretched on before Shepard spoke again “Caius… this form suits you… never appear before me again outside of that form, should I see you in any other…” he let the threat hang there. Finally he turned back towards the sigils, sitting at the edge of the podium once more, his mind reached out with the weave to the sigils… for what cause one could only guess at. His hand reached out and made a shoeing gesture dismissing the druids. Who quickly fled the cave and left the Waylen to his dark deeds