Shattered World (New Londinium)
Meet the new Boss!
Lifted almost verbatim from “DragonStar” “Starfarerer’s Handbook”.
It was almost three days before I got my first glimpse of the invaders: great monstrous, manlike machines that strolled through the city like they owned it. Later, I’d learn that these so-called golems were in fact solders equipped in high-tech armor that put our finest suits of plate to shame. It was a week before we saw any of the invaders in person, if you want to call it that.
The invaders mounted a huge, black sheet—It was several stories high and dark as night—atop the front gates if the Imperial Palace and set up a stage below it. Framed by two sets of large boxes, one to each side.
Word went out that a speech was to be given by the invaders at noon on tenday. Just about everyone that wasn’t laid up gathered in the great square in front of the palace to listen and learn. People started showing up at daybreak, and by noon a throng had filled the square.
A hush fell across the crowd as now – Queen Isobel stepped onto the stage. Amazingly her massive image towered above us on the screen behind her, standing several times her height. At the time we all thought this was magic most powerful. That seems laughable now, but no one found it funny then.
The Queen stepped up to the edge of the stage and cleared her throat. Amplified by some unknown trickery, her simple cough was as loud as a Dragons roar, yet packed with fear. The crowed pulled back, and for a moment it looked like the battered survivors of New Londinium would flee, trampling over each other to leave the city behind.
But a look at the Queen’s face, at the tears welling in her eyes, told us all one thing. While this magic might be unfamiliar to us, the humanity in the Queen’s eyes, the pain we could see there, was as real as anything we’d ever seen. That quelled our own fears and put an end to any thought of a stampede.
“My people,” the young Queen began. I remember every one of her words as if it were carved into my brain. “I come to you with grave tidings. I am afraid that the King—My Husband—Is dead, and our Empire is no more.”
The crowed gasped as one. Our worst fears had been realized—or so we thought.
“I have long been in council with our visitors from beyond. They have brought with them death, that is true, but also hope.
“While our Empire is gone, we have become a part of a new and more powerful Empire. One that brings us hope from the pillages and and attacks from the rifts. One that may be able to control the surrounding expanses. Giving us a true measure of peace. It is time for our people to play our part on this grander stage.”
With her words cracking, Isobel stepped back and took a moment to wipe the tears that were streaming down her face. When she returned, her voice was stronger than it had been before.
“This is no time to let fear overcome us. This is no time to listen to the demons of distrust. Instead, I ask you to join me in welcoming our new friends.”
The crowed stood there in stunned silence as the Queen and the stage faded into the background. A huge figure unfurled its wings from the battlements atop the palace. Its shadow covered the square.
Children screamed. Women fainted. Men shook with horror.
Already at that point in my life, I’d seen a lot of strange things. The dead erupting from there graves. Misshapen hordes pouring across the rift barriers. And things so monstrous they almost defied description. But I was not prepared for this.
Dragon, right there above us. Why does a chicken run when a shadow passes overhead. Because it knows that danger is on the wing. We fool ourselves every day saying that we are better and smarter than that chicken. Until that shadow crosses over you.
The figure fell at us, shrinking as it fell, contracting in upon itself. The stage cracked as it landed in a squat. A cloud of silver hair obscured the figure. Until it rose. The Skin darker than dark seemed to drink the light. Monochromatic the features were indistinct. But the silver eyes burned at us. They told us who’s we were, we were hers if she so willed it. A woman stood before us. Elfin but not Elf. Dragon.
Two other humanoid figures mounted the stage. Also with jet black skin, but nothing like hers. Short cropped white hair that revealed there tapered ears. One went and helped Queen Isobel up from where unnoticed she had fallen. The other Captain Malizrek stood there in his black uniform, the sunlight glittering on the silver buttons and insignia on his dress coat, a barely caged sneer on his lips. There was no thought in my head as I stared at the image before us.
Malizrek opened his speech with one phrase that has stuck with me to this day. The rest of what he said I don’t remember a bit. I was still in shock, my mind swimming. But these words—spoken in the Common tongue, no less—will never leave me:
“Welcome to the Dragon Morgantha’s Empire.”