Part I: Imegesis
Preface: The Dark Empress
7th Month, 21st Night, 4,632nd Year
Copyright © 1999 C.E. by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: 2003-ish]
The sky was blackened with smoke, and the landscape was lit with a red glow by seemingly endless ranges of magma-filled craters. The mountains were charred and black, with lava boiling over the sides. Between the mountains were vast rivers of bubbling liquid rock, and the air was hot, and reeked of sulfur. Red drakes circled the skies above, as strange orbs of light danced upon the magma within the craters.
The largest crater could not have been less than two and a half miles in diameter, and its lava level was noticeably lower than the other volcanoes. More than two-thirds of the volcano was covered in what looked to be a great mesh or webbing of cables, ropes, and chains. Upon this mesh sat a great temple,
The High Empress of the Unseelie Court and Queen of the Drow, Lilithena Dalael, stood at the edge of the crater, peering down the long rope bridge leading to the palace. She was dressed in an aventail made from platinum ringmail which fastened snugly around her neck, just under her jaw, and draped loosely over her shoulders, back, and bust; it provided just scarcely enough coverage of her bountiful chest to conceal her nipples. Hanging from her hips was an exceedingly short skirt made from the same platinum ringmail as the aventail she wore as a top; it came up only slightly more than far enough to cover her loins, thereby exposing much of her muscular hips and hindquarters, and descended scarcely an inch down her long, slender legs, with a slit on either side ascending to a single ring connecting the front and back pieces of the skirt itself. Platinum bracers covered her forearms, and her feet were clad in heavy bearskin boots. She wore a large, jeweled, platinum ring on each of her ten fingers, each __ with a different type of gem. She also wore a platinum circlet with a spider ornament on her brow.
Beside Lilithena stood her most trusted blackguard, the Ogre, Mortis Necron. At ten and a quarter feet in height, he towered over the five-foot Drow empress. His burly, muscular physique was clad only in a bearskin boots, and a bearskin loincloth. The colossal Ogre carried a cudgel at his side, in case of trouble.
Lilithena cocked her hip to the side, upon which she rested one hand, wiping the sweat from her pallid brow with the other. She bit her lower lip impatiently, then blew a few limp strands of flaxen hair away from her face.
“There he is…” Mortis grumbled, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
Lilithena turned her head to the side and stared up at Mortis’s apelike face with her exquisitely large, ruby eyes. Mortis nodded in the direction of the rope bridge.
The empress’s sparkling red eyes lit up as she looked down the long rope bridge to see a figure walking toward them. As the figure drew closer, they could see that he was about six feet in height with a stooped posture, had squat legs, with broad, digitigrade feet, and long, nimble arms. His skin appeared dry and leathery, with a row of spikes descending from his brow to the tip of his long, crocodile-like tail. His skin color was mottled green, brown, and gray with reddish stripes, and his underside -- from his projecting maw all the way to the end of his tail -- was a golden yellow. His clothing was scant, made of tattered animal skins, his face made-up in war paint, and three bloodstained human skulls hung from his neck like trophies.
After several moments, the Eremyte finally reached the end of the bridge, and extended his hand to Lilithena. His hand was quite large and appeared worn, with exceptionally long, bony fingers covered in tough, wrinkled, leathery skin. Each finger was tipped with a long, slightly curved claw, not unlike that of a chicken, only charcoal in color.
Lilithena courteously placed her own hand into the Eremyte’s, who not only received the gesture, but proceeded to grace her hand with a soft kiss.
“How do you do, Empress?” asked the Eremyte, releasing the empress’s hand.
“Very well, thank you,“ said the empress, “And you, Ul’Ssavk?”
“As well as ever,” replied the Eremyte, “but I’ve asked you repeatedly to call me Kourem.”
“And I’ve asked you repeatedly to call me Lilithena,” the empress smiled.
Kourem smiled back at Lilithena, “Of course,” he said, gesturing toward the rope bridge with an outstretched right hand.
Kourem placed his large, reptilian left hand gently on the small of Lilithena’s back as the two walked side by side. Mortis trailed behind, avoiding Kourem’s thick, crocodile-like tail as it whipped back and forth along the ground, not unlike the tail of a cat.
“Now remember,” said Kourem, “do not under any circumstances address the Salamander directly. Salamanders do not believe in lowering themselves to speaking the languages uttered from the mouths of milk-suckers. Generally, they find it offensive to so much as listen to the mannish tongues. But since communication is necessary under these circumstances, an exception is being made. I will be acting as your interpreter.”
[INSERT MISSING STUFF]
“Ssurovar, vash ny ssauth voru bahlau a ssurovar thyl a Unseelie Court, Lilithena Dalael, ssa vala’ysh lyssurem grovurem, Mortis Necron.”
“Vhil lys vauthash vysh naussk?”
“Why have you come here?”
“I’m here because I have an urgent request.”
“Vala ny naussk vem vala lys ul vortauth vhilyth.”
“Vyth ny vala vhilyth?”
“What is your request?”
“I need troops to overtake the kingdom of Béowyn.”
“Vala lyssu uremash voru nauvor a ssuryda thyl Béowyn.”
“Vhil aular vashash lyssauth a manash voru vortyth vauthash’ysh?”
“Why should we help the man-races destroy themselves?”
“Because the people of Béowyn plan to resurrect Mortifer.”
“Vem a manash larth voru ssytaul ra Mortifer.”
“Vyth myraussu arvul vala lys thyl eyss?”
“What evidence do you have of this?”
“They’ve gathered three of the four elemental rods, including the one that was stolen from you. It’s only a matter of time until they have all four, and use them to gather the four keys and unlock the gate of Purgatory.”
“Vauthash lys nylyss tha thyl a sha kauvash thyl a vulorash, naushuldar a ul ny vortalyss bleshau vashash. Eyss ny uldar gau ta vauthash lys a sha, ssa vi eyssash voru nylyss a sha iss ssa issem a fau thyl Purgatory.”
“Haush arvul vashash ssahn ssah ssym baulyss? Ssah dar ny ohr’baulyss’tem.”
“How do we know you tell the truth? You could be lying.”
“Do you want to risk it?”
“Arvul ssahsh larth voru bautor eyss?”
The Salamander thought for several moments. “Vashash arvul ssylyss vauthash ul uremash thyl da’ohr’ohr’ohr Drakuremash, sha’ohr’ohr’ohr Nidaugash, tha’vah’ohr’ohr Wyrdash, ul’ohr’ohr’ohr Rahvash, vaht’ohr’ohr’ Ssebekash, vaht’ohr’ohr Haunurash, vah’ohr’ohr Varkhash, tha’ohr’ohr Troadash, vah’ohr Nagash, ssa tha’ohr Turonash. Vashash arvoraum nauvor eyss vorta va uldar gau.”
“We’ll give you an army of two thousand Troglodytes, four thousand Nidhoggs, thirty-five hundred Wyrds, one thousand Rahvs, nine hundred Sebek, seven hundred Hadrotaurs, five hundred Eremytes, three hundred Troads, fifty Nagas, and thirty Pteranyds. We must attack this evil in little time.”
“Ul’Ssavk Kourem,” the Salamander interrupted, “myrau vauthash nylyss vathaush’ysh uremash ta vauthash thauv’ohr a ssuryda.”
“He told me to make sure you gather your troops before you leave Sauria.”