Atop the forward bow of the Death’s Wish, two Drow and a Knight of the Undead Lords stood looking out over a planet consumed in a titanic dust storm. They had watched for the last few days as the horizon had been darkened in all directions by it, as if it was feeding on the entirety of the planet. It seemed as if the storm’s destination was where the three of them stood. They weren’t that far off from the truth.
The plan had begun on time, the three dracoliches each taking their respective strike force of Knights out to hit the lairs of the three brass dragons simultaneously. The timing wasn’t the key problem, but rather what lay ahead for the groups heading out. An adult dragon each would alone be capable of overwhelming the Knights; but the dracoliches that had come with them would surely tip the favor back. Why else would Myrkul have sent them with?
The dust storm had been blowing for nearly 3 days straight when the sounds of battle emerged over the chaos of the howling wind and the biting sand. At first, it seemed like thunder; a blast to the north, then another to the west. Before long, the howls of magic, dragons and battle travelled dozens of miles to the docks where Lord Scree sat and waited.
Lord Scree had been hidden by the crew on direct orders from the Deathbringer himself. In front of Scree, held in his outstretched hand was a globe of impressive magic given to him by the Deathbringer. The two Drow captains watched on eagerly at his orb. On its surface, Scree had directed the sandstorm that now covered this world. Only two people knew truly what this Orbs purpose was, but Scree had been told by powers far more important than he that these two Drow’s loyalties to Myrkul were ironclad. They had been entrusted with the Death’s Wish artifact ship after all.
Scree looked to the two Drow, drawing their eyes to three points on the globe. At first, they couldn’t tell what they were looking at, and then they began to see it. Patterns. Lines. Scree gestured with his other hand and the globe grew to twice its normal size and levitated in place. At this size, the Drow began to see what it was that Scree had been brought here for. He was guiding this magic, channeling it, targeting it.
With the globe’s size increased, it was easier to notice the terrain and that this was a recreation of the world they were currently on. Above three points, distinct draconic shapes emerged. At first, they only noticed what they thought were the dracoliches; they had been outlined in a faint black aura. Then three more shapes emerged, outlined in a golden hue. Almost immediately upon emerging and becoming visible on the globe, Scree began a low chant. His targets had revealed themselves.
As he chanted, he began to make gestures towards the globe. The dust clouds began to solidify and form tendrils. With those tendrils formed, Scree’s hands guided them towards the golden aura’d dragons.
“Myrkul decided to take no chances with this mission. I am here to ensure our dracolich allies succeed.”
Having discussed with the Drow his purpose here, to the only extent that he was willing to, his outstretched hands clenched suddenly, forming powerful fists. The force of his actions and the magic he commanded made all three of their ears pop from the sudden increase in pressure. The tendrils on the orb reacted violently; grasping and surrounding the three brass dragons.
The tendrils contracted, freezing the brass dragons in mid-air; the Dracoliches pounced at the opening, scoring vicious heavy blows on each of their respective targets. The magic released almost immediately, clearly spent holding back three beasts of incredible power. Scree slumped forward, having channeled every bit of his divine power into the sphere. The Drow sensed the show was over, and before they could move to help the exhausted Scree, the globe had blinked out of existence.
The dust storm faded somewhat, but despite the magic fueling it being consumed, it was still a storm. The three resumed their watch of the horizons, waiting, hoping, incapable of helping. The sounds of thunder, battle and the storm soon returned anew.
Day’s past, and the triumphant parties of Myrkul began to arrive back at the dock. All three of the groups had been successful in retrieving their piece; having communicated with the ship via their Rings of Bones. All had fought hard battles and carried wounds still from the encounters. All told tales of Dracolich fighting Dragon. No one had seen who had won. No one particularly cared. The three groups all looked on to the prizes they’d seized today. Their excitement uncontainable.
Sitting atop an overturned barrel was a basket someone had placed an intricately runed cloth, and upon that cloth rested three jagged pieces of immense power. All of those assembled around the pieces felt the shards pulling at them. The shards tried desperately to coax one of them to touch them. To be consumed by them.
They all knew better.
This prize belonged to one being, and to one being only. The Crown of Horns belonged to Myrkul alone. Each of the shattered pieces of the Crown carried within them a lost spark of Myrkul’s divinity. Within the three shards rested the power to make Myrkul whole again.
Unbeknownst to the returned Knights, their Squires, and the crew manning the Death’s Wish, another item was making the return trip back with them that day. Had they not had their full attention drawn to the Crown of Horns shards, they might have noticed Lord Panzer’s backpack and the item within it conversing with their sentient ship…