As the Maddiston crew lost themselves in plan and preparation, and contemplated their encounter with Shel and Rhaanos, a simple note was delivered to them from the hands of Loremaster Callimusk. This note had inscribed upon it the gate coordinates to Rande, a black feather that marked it as a message from the Pact, and a multicolored sigil not dissimilar to the umbrella covering the water below the dragonborn settlement of Sysgrum. Callimusk was discernibly shaken as he handed the note to Boaz, who then delivered the seeming gibberish to Sol’cas to decipher.
The party decided to go through the gate that night having input those coordinates. What they experienced on the other side was beyond their imagination in scope and grandeur. Callimusk writes this of what he saw the day before, and the experience was much the same for the party.
Rande lies at the center or Randewarn and its name is an old elven word for home. While the surrounding wildernesses can seem vast and lifeless, Rande itself is a garden oasis. I came to learn that It is supplied nourishment by the bottomless well that is the parallel. Great whitestone pillars and other architectural styles present are the envisioned perfection of the ancient imperial style. Vines, ferns, hedges, and flowers accent these structures, cut by stone paths and great stone steps that climb the peaks and valleys of the city. Marvelous great black, green, gold, white, copper, et al marbled gargoyles in the image of dragons break the skyline and walkways. But, most marvelous of all, dragons of all sizes and colors soar across the skies. I am truly humbled.
At what might be the center of the city atop what might be the highest peak of the city rests what might be the most majestic of these buildings. A great stone stairway leads to its entrance an opening large enough to receive five carts abreast. Within, fine imperial tapestry lines the walls. On the floor of this receiving hall, a massive, unnaturally clean black rug with a shimmering decagon of overlapping scale segments to represent each of the draconic families. Past this receiving hall pathways to a maze of chambers can be seen. When passed, one can even find dragons at rest.
The most marvelous chamber in my mind has a centerpiece some 50 feet tall made of a shimmering clear marble, as if ice. Within, a skeleton of parallis glows a vibrant blue. The pillar base below shows the name ‘Rsothsar the Giving’. The structure is attended, presumably in perpetuity by ten kobolds. Each of these wearing a different colored cloak as the standing silent below the statue.”
Sol’cas, Guthug, and Boaz, with their trusted bodyguard Glot’num and spy Sage were greeted by a green dragon with a missing left claw and cheek scale who, after taking a form similar to that of a dragonborn, introduced himself as Tayoth. He wore his missing hand, seemingly mummified, on his hip in both forms. This must be the very same Tayoth that led the dragonborn from Sysgrum not long ago. But Tayoth was not who summoned them. He proceeded to guide them through Rande, ever nearing the center palace, as they experienced much of what was reported by Callimusk, but with the warm glow of a living night.
Tassalth, the empress of scale received her visitors in an open wall chamber with a balcony overseeing Rande’s giant hatcheries. Each is a different biome with nearly invisible glasslike bubbles enclosing them. Within, the shapes of eggs and attendants could be seen. Apart from some standard mostly elven adornments, the chamber is plain.
In natural form, the empress has faded copper scales. She wore a cape made of a collage of dragon scales, each, they later learn from Callimusk, given freely by the dragons and dragonborn under her protection. Her face was akin to what you might find on a dragonborn, but she stands upright and postured like an elf. From beneath her cape, wings that rise twice as high as her over again.
But that’s not how she appeared to the party at first. She looked over her domain in her classic disguise as the party approached. A disguise that identified her as the royal elven empress Glatnia. In that shorter form the cape drug some distance behind her. Her armor had distinct copper shoulder pads that extend nearly a foot in each direction. Her pale stomach was bare apart from loose chain adornments and her presumably flat chest covered by copper plate. She had long flowing copper hair and eyes shone like glowing emeralds. It wasn’t until she revealed her true form that the proportions of her adornments made sense.
They stood before the half-dragon daughter of Glat’nos. They stood before the last sovereign of the ancient elven empire.
Tessalth looked over the party, as peculiar a sight as it was. With a pleasant smile and cordial tones, she introduced herself and commented on their relationship thus far. She had been the mysterious benefactor pulling the strings of the Pact. Further, she claimed to be the progenitor of the Pact.
“You’ve become an interesting peculiarity. You have taken what has been put before you and made amazing gains. Some have served as a thorn in my side, others quite beneficial. Well, here I stand. Your benefactor. I’m sure you have questions.”
The three of them asked many questions, and in quick succession, reading her otherworldly expressions as she spoke her replies. Some questions she answered bluntly, others she bemoaned would be best kept for another time.
Verily, Tessalth was quick to discuss action. She gave them the choice to remain in her employ with none working between them. She expressed satisfaction and bemusement toward the impressive accomplishments of the heroes of Maddiston. She revealed her designs compatible with their own. She spoke then of her own. A sovereign nation for dragonkin. Dragonborn, Dragons, Kobolds, and Drakes alike will have place and purpose by her design. The dragonborn have joined her, as could be seen in the living city below them. Dragons of all size and scale roam freely here.
Her efforts have not been without resistance. She informs her audience that she is aware of their interactions with Shel in Haileer, who she marks a restorationist (Those who would see the elven empire restored). These are two worldviews that cannot coincide.
“You’ve united many under you with the offer of a new world. I do the same. I want a place for my kind and kin. The genocide inflicted upon us by the elf has been lost to history. In my time it was spoken of as if the victims were the villains. Now it is not spoken of at all. Well, the true villains received their justice. They are now humbled. I’ll not have them reclaim this graveyard they filled. Not again.”
She asks only now for loyalty. In return she assures Maddiston is theirs to do with what the wish. And, when the time comes, impress upon the folk of Maddiston and beyond her vision.
“Those with shorter, more ferocious lives, respect like leaders. They fear the long lived as out of touch, scheming outsiders.” She cocks a wry grin. ”Perhaps we are.”
This brings her to the concerns of the day. The growing hobgoblin threat has bent her plans, but they have not broken them. While she admits she had designs in mind for the orc warhorde, Guthug’s plans for them aligns with her plans. Retake the City of Glass from the hobgoblin incursion. To that end, she will give Tayoth to the cause. He will lead the Bloodied Scales under Guthug’s direction. Together they will take the city. Rulership should return to its original form; A council of Magistrates under a doje. The doje is the magistrate of war, in charge of the armed forces and defense of the city. While many magistrates from afar will sit nicely into their desired roles within the city, some seats will need filled. The liberators of the city have the privilege of choice, or leave that to Tayoth’s discretion.
The conversation ended with many questions left in the heroes’ minds. What happened at the fall? What did she mean by ‘poisoned by our enemies’ when asked of her father’s fate? What powers and knowledge does she hold? She is perhaps the oldest living creature. Many would give all they had for a conversation with such an ancient entity. It appears as though our heroes will have many such audiences to come.