The party stayed in King’s Crest for the next week in preparation for Fafnir’s funeral. Kaladrax spent most of his time with his mother, helping her in their shared grief. Aleera had eventually come back to the guild hall but still wanted to be outside. She compromised and slept in their herb garden, under the stars. She spent her waking hours leading up to the funeral researching their next target. The others went their own way, opting to leave Kaladrax and his mother alone.
Aleera went to the guild library and spent some time reading about Drakenforge, the dwarven lands. She found out that it was a barren and desolate place due to all the strip mining. It was made even more dangerous by the wandering fire elementals that came down from the top of the volcano. The dwarves had to constantly fight the elementals that wandered too close to their walls. People hardly ever ventured to the dwarven lands, preferring to trade with them in the more civilized parts of the island. If they did go they knew that money spoke more than words in Drakenforge.
She also dove into her work of managing the tavern. They made some money this month but not much as the people were falling in number and many would rather feed themselves than drink. Once she went over the books she went to her bartender, also her spymaster. He gave her quite a bit of information.
First: he had heard many troubling reports of people being shoved into the lower district after being confirmed as infected with the curse. There was, at this point only about a third of the population left in the entire city. Second: The college had been quiet for the last few days. No one, not even Kaladrax, had been seen outside in a while. Having completed her work, Aleera spent some time communing with her soul weapon, the whip. She got a feeling, after a few minutes of focus, that she needed to win a battle of wits against someone who thought they were her equal.
Kaladrax spent most of his waking hours with his mother. He would take over the planning of the funeral they had coming up when she was too weak to take care of it herself. She tried to maintain the stoicism of the dragonborn but the grief would leak through at the most surprising times. He spent what little free time he had reading the primordial book. He tried to move past the information he had uncovered about Aero but could not. In frustration he threw the book into a dusty corner of his tower room and was about to leave.
He was about to exit the room in search of his mother when the primordial book opened itself back to the next page after Aero’s information. There, where the dust had settled, was new information about the Blessing of Earth. It told of Terra, the youngest of the siblings and the most stubborn. She was fond of the Broodmaw Caverns north of the city of King’s Crest. She was second in power only to Ignus, the eldest of the siblings. There was a small footnote that read, Terra’s only weakness is sweets… she can’t resist them.
Hepolita spent most of her time drunk. She kept having images of paper, money exchanging hands, bloody daggers and Milo cross her mind. Even the booze wasn’t dulling her guilt over the matter. Tired of being in the city she set off for the tranquility of the surrounding forests.
She made it there just as the sun went down and the moon started to rise. Under the light of the full moon she came across a clearing with a small pond in the center. There were small white flowers dotting the grass around the body of water. In its glassy reflection was the high moon. Hepolita, frustrated, marred the serene surface with a tossed pebble. As the last ripple died off she heard,
“Your time is coming.”
Kariss focused on curing people as much as she could. The first one she took care of was Kaladrax but after that she turned to the Druid and the lands he was working so hard to save. She took her healing water from the Oasis and watched as the curse receded from the druid’s skin. In an unprecedented experiment the druid went to keep pouring his earthly energy back into the blighter earth only to find out that the curse could be contracted again and it came back at the same level that it was when it was cured. Knowing this now, Kariss focussed on curing the lands first using the power of Aqua and the healing water. It worked to keep the blight manageable. She cured the druid again after that and he was able to recover properly.
The day before Fafnir’s funeral, Marx called Kaladrax into the main study. There he revealed the inheritance that his father had left him. There was a ring, made of black obsidian, in the shape of a dragon. Marx then told Kaladrax a story. The story was that Fafnir was not just a black dragonborn but a black shadow dragonborn. The ring was the Ring of the Umbral Ambassador, the ring of the traitor that betrayed Null. He carried the curse of the Shadowfell and now Kaladrax did too.
The next day was the day of the funeral. It was simple, not many people showed up due to the disease, but those that did spoke highly of Fafnir. Both Kaladrax and Glaurunda delivered their eulogies, speaking of the strength that Fafnir represented for their family and how he was gruff but kind in his own way. Those who knew him spoke of his character, Feng Clayville said,
“Fafnir never wanted you to know he was helping you. He would make it look like you were working for something so that we could feel useful and he could feel like he wasn’t just giving things away. He was a greedy dragonborn, but anyone he thought of as family was under his protection forever. May he rest in peace in a hoard that extends as far as the eye can see.”
Glaurunda spoke last,
“My husband was not easy to get along with. He was gruff and serious and had no time for nonsense, but he was loving too. There can never be anyone else my love. I know I will see you again one day, but until then my heart is only half of the whole.”
As the funeral rites came to a close the ceremonial pyre for Fafnir was lit. It burned as the sun set on the day and reflected on the tears that ran down Glaurunda’s face. A light snow began to fall as the fire danced.