The Dragon Queen's Rage
When Telphanus was only 8, he had big dreams. He had always wanted to be a Warlord, or as his kind called it, a Dragonlord. Belonging to a poor family though made these dreams little more than fantasy; nevertheless, Telphanus wouldn’t be stopped by mere social status. After some pleading with his family, he enrolled in the Martial Academy, where they quickly discovered that he was a natural. Within weeks, Telphanus was at the top of his class. His teachers were stunned at how quickly he learned, how fast he adapted new strategies and techniques into sparring sessions with the other students. Every master at the school had heard of him by the end of his first year, when the King came to select a student to become his personal protégé.
As the students assembled in the courtyard, the first-years were all muttering amongst themselves about which third-years might get picked. Some of them had clear favorites based on skill, while others had their hopes on certain students for political reasons. Many just didn’t care much and wanted it to be over with so they could return to their lessons, finding the fanfare to be a waste of time. Telphanus, however, wasn’t listening to any of them; while it was customary for the king to pick a third-year, he secretly hoped that he would be picked. As the horns sounded, Telphanus’ heart skipped a beat; the King was here! He could scarcely contain himself, he was so nervous. Telphanus didn’t hear a word of the King’s speech as his head was filled with his own excited chanting, “Pick me! Pick me!”
After an hour, the King finally moved down among the students, examining them, asking a few questions about their studies, or giving them a quick test of form. Then, the King’s looked out over the first-years in the back, where he saw Telphanus, a head and shoulders taller than most of his classmates. He called over the headmaster of the school and spoke to him privately for a moment, then strode over to Telphanus. The King eyed Telphanus up and down, occasionally turning to exchange looks with the headmaster. Telphanus caught the King’s gaze for a moment, and felt the King’s eyes searching deep within him. The King then strode away without speaking a word. Telphanus’ heart sank; he wasn’t good enough! The King was going to pick someone else and he would lose his dream.
His despair was interrupted, however, by a roaring cheer from his classmates: Telphanus was named as the King’s protégé, the next Dragonlord! Telphanus was speechless. He stumbled to the front of the crowd and bowed to the King, thanking him for his faith in the young Dragonborn, and swore fealty to the kingdom. He returned home to tell his family the good news, and was met first with shock but then with absolute pride. A banquet feast was had (complete with a surprise visit from the King!) in celebration, and the next morning sad goodbyes were exchanged as Telphanus set off for the royal palace, a day’s journey away. As he rode in the carriage, Telphanus couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable in his new surroundings. The feeling quickly passed however as they rode into town and Telphanus was assaulted by a thousand new sights, sounds, and smells he had never experienced before.
Upon arrival at the palace, the crown prince Darnett came out to welcome his father back home. Telphanus was shocked to find that the prince was about his age! He quickly remembered his manners and bowed to the prince, after which the king introduced him properly as his new Dragonlord. Darnett was delighted at this news and immediately took to Telphanus, offering to show him all the fascinating things in the palace and introducing him to all of the teachers they would receive training from going forward. Telphanus adjusted quickly to his new life, though still taking a moment at times to think fondly of his family. He made a request of the king to ensure they were cared for, and he was assured that it was already done.
Finally, after another year of hard training with the king’s masters and sparring with Darnett, he was ready. The king needed someone to lead a squad into a nearby town where there were reports of undead growing rapidly in number. Taking a squad of just six men, he marched on the ruined town, armed only with his mace and tower shield, a throwing hammer at his side. His skill in combat and his courage in the face of the danger inspired the squad to overcome what would have surely been insurmountable odds for anyone else. But alas, three of the less skilled members of the squad fell to the assault before it was vanquished completely.
Telphanus returned two days later and three men short. He reported his losses first to the king, then to the families of those who died. He told the stories of their deaths with bravado, making sure to convey the courage they displayed despite their fears. They were grateful for his company, and he felt better knowing they could have a little peace with the knowledge that their loved ones died valiantly. But it was not the time for them to rest on their laurels; the king’s spies had discovered that the incursion was a distraction from the army amassing at a keep not far outside Winterhaven. The king sent his forces to Winterhaven, with Darnett and Telphanus to lead the attack. When they arrived in Winterhaven, they ran across another small group of adventurers who they recruited to join their cause. The morning after their arrival, the army and the heroes set off to strike at the keep.
The keep was guarded by a vast number of undead and werecreatures alike. Telphanus and Darnett were able to devise tactics to breach the forward defenses and strike at the keep’s heart; they met surprisingly little resistance on the way, eventually felling their supposed leader. They returned to Winterhaven, leaving a small contingent of guards to catch any returning scouting parties or messengers. Their rest was cut short however by the explanation for the low resistance earlier in the day: the undead army had already mobilized and was waiting until night to ambush the king’s forces. Winterhaven was under siege!
The heroes quickly mobilized and assessed the situation. More than two hundred undead forces were assaulting the walls of Winterhaven, and if something was not done quickly, the town would fall. Wasting no time, Telphanus and some of the other heroes mustered their troops; archers were positioned and provided artillery support, while Telphanus and the infantry cut off their retreat. The battle was bloody, but Winterhaven held her ground! Telphanus was hailed as a hero, and he and his companions agreed to venture forth together to take on whatever challenges might lay ahead…