Originally published at: https://gemsofwar.com/lorekeeper-1-the-three-dragons-ch-1/
A Fortune-Teller spins a tale of what you want to happen. A Prophet tells you what will happen whether you like it or not. It’s no surprise which one ends up burning on a stake more often.
Medea regarded the tiny Daemon trapped in the summoning circle before her.
The Daemon squinted back with something that may have been suspicion, curiosity, or even constipation; it was difficult to tell with a creature that had 4 eyes, skin creased like a crusty old bed sheet, and a head shaped like a smashed turnip.
Medea sighed. “Alright, Cyril, are you going to tell me or not?”
The Daemon tentatively reached out a long moist finger towards the invisible force field holding it in place. There was a spark. The creature let out a tiny yelp and pulled its hand back.
Medea paced around the circle, peering closely at the Daemon. “Cyril? Do we have a problem here?”
“No problem! No, no, no,” it finally spoke, shifting nervously from side to side.
“No?” Medea asked.
“Well… Maybe…” the Daemon offered. “And you really should call me by my proper name, you know, Medea.”
Medea sighed again. “I thought we had a deal here,” she paused for effect, “Cyrrithraxila.”
The little Daemon looked pleased at this concession, the recognition of its true name. “I’m a lot more important than I used to be, Medea. I spoke with the Mother before you summoned me.”
Medea raised an eyebrow. Daemons were very neurotic about their self-image sometimes.
“Nevertheless, Cyrrithraxila, we had a deal, you and I. You tell me the weather for the next 7 days, and I provide you with 7 pieces of silver. We still have this deal, yes?“
“Oh, yes, but I have a lot more you might be interested in than weather, Medea, “ the little Daemon rubbed his hands together greedily. “The Mother… She tells me things.”
“What kind of things?” Medea tried to sound casual, keeping any curiosity from her voice. Judging by the creature’s demented lopsided grin, it hadn’t worked.
“It’ll cost you, Medea.”
“My weight in Silver.” It licked its lips in anticipation.
Medea couldn’t help but suppress a laugh. “That’s 100 times what I normally pay you. How do I know this information is worth it?”
“Oh it’s worth it,” the Daemon leaned forward, grinning. “In fact it’s worth a lot more. It’s a warning… A prophecy. You know that your summoning circle compels the truth from me. I can’t lie.”
Medea regarded the creature for a few moments. Divination and Prophecy fascinated her. She couldn’t pass up this opportunity, but nor could she stop wondering how or why some minor Weather Daemon had come into possession of something so important. Daemons weren’t beyond elaborate trickery, and to get caught up in their games was like walking into a maze with a bucket over your head; it was a tangle she had no intention of falling into. If the Mother had told it something, then the Mother had wanted her, Medea, to know.
Which also meant she could probably bargain it down quite a bit. Medea considered that for a moment, but happy employees were good employees. It probably served her better in the long term if Cyrrithraxila kept thinking he was important. Besides, if his prices got too high, there were plenty more willing Weather Daemons out there.
“Very well,” she said, taking a small silver statue of a cat from a nearby shelf and pushing it carefully into the circle. “Here is your payment, Cyrrithraxila. Tell me what you know, please.”
The Daemon practically danced with glee, and let out a delighted little shriek.
“The Mother says that another Blight is coming, and only the three Dragons may stop it. The Dragon that was, the Dragon that is, and the Dragon that yet will be.”
“And?” Medea asked, scowling.
“Humid all week, rain on Moonday afternoon, and a bit blowy on Firsday morning.”
And with that, Cyrrithraxila vanished.
Medea gazed out the window of her tower at the shattered land of Karakoth, thinking on this “prophecy” she’d received. If it came from the Mother, it was likely true, as much as any prophecy was “true”. But what did it mean? And what could she do about it?
That was the trouble with prophecies - if they were too literal, their outcomes were easy to change, so they were wrapped in riddles, distractions, and half truths - they were the perfect puzzle. And Medea loved a good puzzle.
Off in the distance she could make out two more towers. One belonged to Mad Thorius, a heretic from Whitehelm who’d killed the tower’s previous owner, Prospero. She’d liked Prospero - he was relatively kind for a Warlock. He once gave her candy when she was younger, and had only tried to kill her twice.
The other tower belonged to Draxxius, a grumpy old Khetari Liche whom nobody had seen in 10 years. He;d been in that tower for as long as anyone could remember. He never needed to eat, so he would often go decades without being seen. Nobody was crazy enough to try and kill Draxxius though - the last Warlock who came within 100 paces of his tower had been turned inside out… twice… which leaves you looking vaguely normal, but with everything jumbled up on the inside. Still quite dead though.
Medea was briefly envious; life was much easier for warlocks like Draxxius and Thorius; it was all about the raw pursuit of power. Karakoth was home to between twenty and thirty such towers - and the villages that supported them. The number varied from time to time as they were destroyed and raised anew. Each tower was home to many secrets, and with the exception of two, their owners had claimed them in a murderously violent fashion, usually by causing the previous owner to explode into gooey body-colored confetti as part of a magical duel.
The first exception was Vair’s Tower. Medea hadn’t really known Vair, but she’d heard tell that he was two glyphs short of a scroll. Rumor said that one day he’d gone wandering off claiming he could smell colors. Dealing with Elder Daemons could do that to a person. A Dark Elf had since moved in, and had spruced up the place, in an end-of-the-world kind of way.
The second exception was Medea’s Tower. She’d inherited it from her father, the Warlock Alatar. Like most mages in Karakoth, Alatar had spent his life searching for secrets and power - this land was ancient after all, and many secrets were buried beneath its broken layers of rock. But Alatar had lived to a ripe old age, bequeathing the tower to his daughter. Medea’s mother had died in childbirth, so now, with her father gone, it was just her. Medea’s father had trained her well though, she was the better of most any Warlock in Karakoth. Far from an obsession with power though, Medea had other interests; she was more intrigued by the spaghettified tangle of Prophecy and Divination.
Hence her current dilemma… What to do about this prophecy?
A new Blight? The last blight had been centuries ago, when the Infernal King had broken through far to the southeast. Fortunately the Orcs had stopped him, though their cities had been shattered in the process. Could she provide a warning?
No, it was useless to know that there would be a Blight if she didn’t know where. The world was a big place.
Medea toyed with the idea of summoning another Daemon to ask some more questions, but if the Mother had wished more known, she would have passed it on through that little miscreant Weather Daemon. That avenue would be closed to her.
Perhaps the Three Dragons were the key. One that was, one that is, and one that yet will be. There were probably a few thousand Dragons scattered over Krystara, but she doubted the prophecy was literally talking about three dragons. Perhaps she could weave a spell to find them.
She set off downstairs, an idea taking shape.
Medea reached the dark basement of her Tower and softly called, “Bubbles?”
It was silent for a moment, then there was a gurgling, slurping noise, like two adolescent Sea Trolls enthusiastically making out, but about twenty times louder.
Medea gently opened her hand and a small purple flame flickered to life. There, not 12 inches from her face, was a wall of viscous jelly-like ooze. The flame lit up things suspended inside the wall: bones, coins, a fork, a particularly fine amethyst, half a cat and, a Goblin’s left foot were all visible. More shapes could be seen, but perhaps fortunately, the light did not penetrate far enough to make them recognizable.
“Good girl, Bubbles,” Medea cooed, reaching out a hand to gently touch the jelly-like surface.
It quivered in response, and a tiny tremor of pleasure rippled up its surface.
Karakoth could be a strange place. In most civilized lands, children kept dogs, cats, and birds as pets. Alatar the Warlock, however, had given his daughter a Gelatinous Cube when she was seven years old - a creature made of a clear jelly-like substance that dissolved anything it came in contact with She had promptly named it Bubbles, and watched as it grew from the size of a small bucket to something that filled the entire tower basement. Sages believe that the jellies and oozes in Karakoth have no real sentience, no brains, no feelings, only hunger, but there was an undeniable bond between Medea and her strange pet.
From a practical point of view, it made remarkable sense. Not only was Bubbles the ideal location to store things safely (until it digested anything organic), but it got to snack on any intruders stupid enough to enter through the basement.
“I need to find the Dragonet bones, girl,” Medea purred softly. “Do you know where they are?”
The Gelatinous Cube rippled again and slurped in a pleasant fashion as Medea slowly pushed her arm inside. Almost miraculously, she came out holding some bones - the exact ones she’d been seeking.
“Good girl, Bubbles”, she cooed once more, and her pet happily slid back into the darkness with a satisfying squelch.
By the time the sun came up over the broken mountains, Medea had finished her spell.
The Dragonet bones had been ground to a fine paste, and added to some ink. Three letters had been written with that ink, one to each of the “Dragons”. Three quasits had been summoned, bribed with a piece of silver each to find a letter’s owner and deliver it.
Medea watched the Quasits leave. Two headed west, the other turned east.
Now all she had to do was wait.