The Start of Book 4! Historical commentary from Mithrabella.
Illustration by Mark Hansen
Book 4: Of Gods and Dragons
The previous part of the story:
In the immediate aftermath of the dragons’ attack on the city of Twynne Rivers, King Hastonne of House Twynnham and many of his courtiers are brought in chains before Kirraxal in Hastonne’s own burned and damaged throne room. Hastonne tries to be brave and defiant, but Kirraxal kills him with flame. The rest of the court is overwhelmed and slaughtered by screeching drakes.
Tonklyn meets the young page girl Mithrabella as he’s waiting to confront his old masters in the Royal Library. When they come, he is furious to discover that they don’t remember him working for them as a young boy, nor do they remember his attempts to join their scholarly conversations. He reveals that he is now the chancellor of the new Dragon King. He is furious with their forgetfulness and disrespect and orders them to be executed. He orders Mithrabella to be his assistant.
Later, in his chambers, he is visited by an apparition of a man who calls himself the Knight of Shadows. This man challenges Tonklyn to choose who he will follow. Tonklyn declares that he follows the winners.
Another day, Shylai’a, Korr, and the rest of the party venture out into the dangerous streets to try and find the Seekers of the Great Reality. They return to the bookseller’s where Parith had found them before. It has been ransacked, and books are scattered everywhere. While they search, a patrol of the Dragon’s Flame cultists and soldiers sweep through the streets, rousting people out of their homes and trying to capture them into servitude. Eddiwarth calls everyone into the fight to save the innocents. Even though they are in battle, Shylai’a finds herself less tense around Korr.
Eddiwarth jumps into a burning building to free some people there. He doesn’t realize it, but he pushes the flames aside to get to them. Illariel and Ari, the giant spider, get separated, and Illariel comes to help Eddidwarth. She is surprised by his ability to control the fire. The people escape, but Eddiwarth and Illariel are captured.
Eddiwarth awakens to find himself imprisoned with Illariel, who is sleeping. He contemplates his life, feeling like a failure, and prays to the Creator for guidance.
Back in the palace, Tonklyn watches Xintalan, Exakas, and Kirraxal argue over who gets to go and free the dragons that have been in captivity by the high elves, then lead them in the attack on Emberfire City. Kirraxal declares that Xintalan must stay with him and be his queen. She is not certain she wants that title but is too afraid to defy him.
Soon after, Kirraxal holds court as the new Dragon King. The various noble houses and trade guilds of Twynne Rivers appear to swear their loyalty to Kirraxal. The Church of Three Lights challenges him but is put down swiftly and violently.
A few nights later, Tonklyn sneaks into Kirraxal’s throne room and uses the Dragontooth Dagger to kill the three dragonbonded soldiers. He had believed that the dragon-slaying ability of the dagger would affect them, and it proves to be so. Kirraxal immediately knows that his soldiers, bonded to him, are dead and rushes down to the throne room to find out what happened. There, he and Tonklyn face each other, and Tonklyn kills Kirraxal with the dagger.
Meanwhile, in the Vast, Thissraelle decides to brave the entropy storm and tries to reach out to Eddiwarth. After a few difficult tries, she projects herself into Wynne and flies over the Emberfire Mountains. At first elated and invigorated, she panics when she sees her home city under attack by their own dragons, now freed. In her distraction, she loses control of the connection and is whipped through time and space. She sees herself as a child, then screams out to Heathrax to save her when she sees herself fighting the dragons in the mountain crevasse by the shrine. Finally, she sees Eddiwarth confronting three huge dragons in a throne room and calls out to him before they belch flames onto him. Afraid for his life and drifting in the Vast, St. Ivarr once again visits her, to lead her home.
At the start of Part 22, Ari finds the party in Eddiwarth’s courtyard. She has found where Illariel and Eddiwarth are being held. They are in the tower donjon of the palace in Centertown. Parith and Shylai’a argue over how to get to them until Korr notices that they’ve been discovered by patrolling dragons. They flee and the party holes up in an Inn, while Parith tracks down intel on the inside of the palace tower. A knight of House Northolt tells them how to get to the donjon, and to look for help from someone named Mithrabella.
That night, when Exakas returns from a defeat at Emberfire City with the freed dragons of the high elves, searching for Kirraxal. Xintalan tells him that the Dragon King is dead and Tonklyn convinces them not to kill him and that they still need him in power. He declares himself the High King and sets Exakas up as the King of the Land. Xintalan is to be Exakas’ queen, but they distrust each other.
Later, on the battlements of the tower, Xintalan confronts Tonklyn. She doesn’t kill him, because he has the dagger, but she fears what will happen under his rule. She is doubting the value of the Dragon Kingdom.
Trapped in the tower, Eddiwarth and Illariel talk. She helps him figure out that for him, control of the fire magic comes not through concentration and focus, but through needing to direct the will outside of himself, to help others like his friends. Eddiwarth draws on this to overcome his fear and the mage’s bane, and blasts the lock. He and Illariel go free.
In his chambers, Tonklyn wakes up. It is late at night. He had been dining with Mithrabella and had tried to drug her drink, but she had switched cups, and he had been the one knocked out. He notices that the Dragontooth Dagger is missing. He is furious and rushes out to find her and get the dagger.
The party sneaks into the palace grounds through the rain. They are hidden in shadow by Kiffra, the shadow wizard who helped Illariel heal Parith. Mithrabella finds them, tells them where to find Eddiwarth, and gives them the dagger. They creep through the palace, quietly arguing while looking for Eddiwarth and Illariel.
Meanwhile, Eddiwarth and Illariel stumble into the main throne room chamber to find themselves face-to-face with the dragons. Eddiwarth has to stop the fighting and, to Illariel’s horror, offers himself as a sacrifice.
Part 23 begins as Eddiwarth makes an impassioned plea to the dragons, asking them why they are destroying the city and what they hope to accomplish with their coup. Xintalan, troubled by Exakas’ ambitions and tyrannical threats, is conflicted by his thoughts. Parith and the rest of the party find Eddiwarth and Parith tosses the Dragontooth Dagger to him.
Tonklyn, meanwhile, has found the throne room and sees the dagger on the floor. As Eddiwarth leans to pick it up, Tonklyn rushes him, knocking him off his feet. Tonklyn threatens the dragons with the dagger. One of them attacks him, and the room descends into the chaos of battle.
While Shylai’a and Korr fight the dragons side by side, Korr is killed. A panicked and grieving Shylai’a grabs up the Dragontooth Dagger and goes on a rampage, killing several dragons before she, too, is knocked aside, unconscious.
Seeing all of his friends being killed and wounded, Eddiwarth tires of all the fighting and killing, and attempts to calm the room with a blast of mental magic. Though this succeeds for a moment and the battle pauses, the tension breaks and the dragons engulf him in flame. Just before they do, he looks up and sees Thissraelle calling out to him.
Xintalan realizes that the dominance of the dragons is wrong and attacks Exakas. They battle and Xintalan emerges victorious, but exhausted and confused. She sings the dragon song and leads all of the remaining dragons away from Wynne, back to the palace at Graemal.
While Eddiwarth is engulfed in flame, his insecurities and issues are burned away. He is purified, like the gem, and finally emerges in completed control of his powers and his destiny.
In the aftermath of the battle, the soldiers that had once tried to capture Eddiwarth and his friends are now leaderless and confused. Having seen Eddiwarth step out of the flames, they offer him the discarded crown. Eddiwarth, exhausted from the fight and the emotions of the loss of Korr and Shylai’a, declines the title of King.
Parith notices Illariel missing from the throne room and goes looking for her. He finds her crying in an empty hallway and helps Illariel process her trauma. They mourn Korr and both decide to return to Treehaven.
Later that evening, Eddiwarth looks out over the city from the palace parapets and ponders what has happened and what to do next. Thissraelle and Heathrax return to Twynne Rivers for a wonderful long-awaited reunion. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth declare their love.
Shylai’a is lost on the streets of Twynne rivers and feels the loneliness of Korr’s loss. Back in the mountains, Xintalan is conflicted and not sure she wants to take up the Dragon Crown. She accepts the role of the Queen of the Dragons, but reluctantly.
Tonklyn, however, still thinks he’s the High King of Wynne, and if he can just get the dagger back, he’ll be back in charge.
Story Arc 1
“Another Winter Older”
1 – “Historical Foreword” – Mithrabella Chronicler
I, Mithrabella, now named the Chronicler, was the royal court recorder during the two shortest dynasties of any King of Wynne in the millenia-long history of the land. The first of these was His Majesty Kirraxal the First, whose time wearing the crown was slightly less than two weeks; and the second was His Majesty King Tonklyn, now known as Tonklyn Rex Ipse, whose kingdom lasted mere days. Most of the ordinary citizens of Twynne Rivers know little, if anything at all, about these two kings, yet these two kings did more to change their lives than arguably any other monarchs in history. That’s not a good thing, either.
This is not a historical record written solely using the methods traditionally expected of a Chronicler (such as research, study, analysis, and interpretation). Rather, I was there. I saw what happened and I recorded the events as they occurred. I lived in the chaotic aftermath of the fall of King Twynnham and his house. I experienced the gloom of darkness and fear that settled over the land in the year that followed.
In the many years since then, I have seen the need for a comprehensive telling of the whole history. It is a long and deep tale, with many complex threads of events and even more complex characters. I have spent many years pouring through records and interviewing participants to arrive at this historical work you’re now holding.
I’ve tried to find out what happened before the fall. I’ve tried to sort out the layers of treachery among the various noble houses of the kingdom and the tangled alliances that King Twynnham held with the elves of Umbrawood and Emberfire. I’ve learned about the times of the great Dragon Kings and how that dynasty and its fall fueled the eventual rise of Kirraxal; and how Tonklyn, once a lowly page-turned-scholar, became the mastermind of the machine that brought Kirraxal to power, and quickly usurped him. I’ve learned of all the pits, cracks, bumps, and holes that lined the rough road to recovery for Twynne Rivers and the final achievement of peace and stability.
It’s easy to look at the characters involved in the events and look for heroes and villains, to call them holy and inspired, or selfish and evil. In my youth, as I interacted with them, I certainly judged them this way. Indeed, many of their actions were such, but a closer study finds them all to be complex and compelling, even confusing.
As a Chronicler, I feel that’s the kind of story that absolutely MUST be uncovered!
- Mithrabella Chronicler, In her foreword to “The Story of Wynne, The Fifth Era: The Rise, Fall, and Aftermath of House Twynnham”
Author’s Note: Mithrabella’s Historical Commentary!
As I’ve been plotting out the story lines of Book 4, I’ve had a lot of fun with Mithrabella. She first appeared at the tag end of Book 3, as Tonklyn’s recorder/assistant. She was in the library when he came in to rant at (and eventually execute) the master sages there. She served him diligently, showing her scholarly skill and her attention to historic detail. She did NOT, however, particularly like him as a person. Frankly, who does?
However, as I thought about her and her role in the story, I liked the idea of her becoming fascinated by the historical perspective of the events as they would unfold. I decided to play up an age-old trope by having in-world historical commentary made by an actual in-world historical scholar! Mithrabella!
These excerpts from her historical writings are from many years beyond the books. In the story, she’s a young woman of her late teens or early twenties. As she writes her historical perspectives, she’s probably in her fifties or so.
This also includes her historical writings about the dragon poetry and more historical records included in the Wynne Wikki!
But, I’ve had so much fun with these excerpts, that I’ve decided to add them into books 1-3! That will be fun, and I think it will tie the books together quite nicely!
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