The Undiscovered Country

Comic Con Interview

Now that fantasy epic The Undiscovered Country has finally concluded, what new developments can eager fans look forward to? And what really went on behind the scenes? Sophie Esterhazy caught up with staff writer Iain Coleman at Comic Con London to find out…

SE: Hi Iain, thanks for taking the time to speak to me.

IC: No problem.

So, The Undiscovered Country has just concluded. Looking back on it, what was your favourite moment?

Oh God, there’s so many to choose from. But I think I’d have to say the scene between Brond and Tuakiin way back in Season 1, where they debate the morality of killing. [Staff writer] Matt [Brennan] and I really worked that scene hard, and I think as soon as it was done, well that was when I at least thought this show’s going to be something special.

It’s interesting that you say it was you and Matt Brennan. Did the writers’ room generally work like that, with different people taking charge of different parts of the story?

Well, of course everything you do is in service to [showrunner] Piers [Beckley]’s vision, and he had a clear idea of the overall story and where it was going to end up, but within that there was a lot of scope for staff writers to reshape things with their original contributions, provided they made the cut. I mean, just take Lubash.

He was a central character and a fan favourite. Are you saying he wasn’t in the original plan?

He absolutely was not. But then we were in the writers’ room one day and out of nowhere [staff writer] Amanda [Bone] came up with this line about the Ogres’ Union. Well, we all laughed, in a good way, but she went off and came up with this whole mythology around it and this kind of evangelical socialist ogre and it just took off.

So that was nothing to do with Piers Beckley.

Not at all, although you have to give him credit for encouraging and taking on board other writers’ ideas. Showrunners aren’t always so open.

What about the controversies? At the end of last season there was a lot of upset about what happened to Anarië…

Oh well, look, the job is the job, and when you’re in the writers’ room sometimes you’re having to come up with solutions to problems that have happened completely outside your control.

Like an actor suddenly leaving.

Exactly. I’m not going to talk about the circumstances of that, except to say that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on Popbitch, right, but we were thrown a curve ball there and we just had to deal with it. In fact it was me who pitched the character of Illyria to Piers as a replacement, and I think Anarië’s departure actually ended up shaking things up in a good way.

You say that, but there are a lot of Gwenarië fans who are still up in arms.

You can’t please everybody, and as I say the circumstances were out of our control. But we approached it with two principles firmly in mind. First, give a meaningful end to that story. Second, never look on Tumblr.

Now several of the staff writers from The Undiscovered Country have gone on to helm shows of their own. Are there any more due to break out?

It’s been great for all of us, I think. Obviously [staff writer] Chris [Bird]’s Rome show is just wrapping up, and I’m talking to him about something new that I’m afraid I can’t disclose at the moment -

Oh go on.

No, seriously, there are NDAs and everything. It was great to see [Dark Sun: Into The] Belly of the Beast renewed, that’s a fantastic show, and of course Matt’s done some really interesting experimental short projects with more to come I’m sure.

What about you? If you’re planning something new with Chris Bird, does that mean The Lords of the Ring is going to stop?

Oh it always was, that’s a finite story that was always intended to last two seasons and then come to a definite conclusion.

Any news on an airdate for season two?

That’s up to the network, I’ve heard they’re looking at late summer but who knows?

Finally, I have to touch on your controversial episode of The Miss Fisher Mysteries.

Oh yes [laughs].

It caused quite a stir.

Look, I pitched this thing to the producers, expecting them to tell me to get lost, and they only went and commissioned it. Don’t blame me! I’ll tell you one thing though, and you’re the first to hear this, I have been contacted about a possible spin-off series based on that episode.

When will that be happening?

Who knows, it’s just preliminary talks at the moment, it may come to nothing. But you know, it just goes to show you it’s good to be controversial.

Iain Coleman, thank you very much.

It was a pleasure.

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Season 7 Session 9
The End

Jack invites his friends to come with him through the golden doorway into his kingdom. There is a round table set up, with a chair for everyone. With varying degrees of reluctance, they enter and sit down. Jack explains further about his elevation to the Summer Kingship, and reassures everyone that they are all still his friends. Indeed, he has presents to give out, including magic weapons, magic armour, spell scrolls, potions and a portable hole, which he gives to Illyria for reasons that remain obscure. Jack also brings in Jonathan, newly restored to his original human form, of which No Name grudgingly approves. For most of the party, the connection between this human and the halfling who had been hanging around No Name remains obscure.

Occasionally Illyria asks a question to her left, where she sees Asmodeus ready to help. He answers any questions that Illyria has, but no-one else pays any attention to his presence.

The group decide that they must leave Jack to his new kingdom and return to Theria to see what is going on there. They elect to teleport into the owlcote, startling the giant owls and their keeper, before emerging onto the street to walk to the palace.

On their way they spread the word that the horde is dead and the city is safe, with Lubash Dragonslayer not at all shy about showing off his growing collection of dragon teeth. By the time they reach the palace there is a throng of joyous citizens lining their path. Before the palace gates, in front of the cheering crowd, Jonathan drops to one knee and asks No Name to marry him. After an awkward pause, she agrees, much to the masses’ delight.

The party are admitted to the main chamber, in the presence of the king and his advisers. All of his advisers. It seems none of them were traitors after all, and so none were affected by Mortimer’s wish. Despite a little clash of wizard egos between Mortimer and the Vizier, and some tension over Javier’s continued existence and Jack’s impersonation of him, all seems to be well. The party are welcomed to Theria, given rooms in the palace, and celebrated as heroes.

The next few days pass quite happily. Jonathan can now access his own wealth and property, affording him and No Name the prospect of a comfortable life together. Each of our heroes enjoys this time of peace in their own way. Tuakiin makes plans with the Vizier to finally murder Javier, and Illyria composes some new music and performs around the city. Indeed, she even writes a song especially for Mortimer, and insists that he listens to a private performance.

From time to time over the course of these few days, some of the more sensitive members of the party feel transient tremors in the earth. It’s probably nothing.

These days of peace and pleasure are interrupted by Jack, who opens a glowing door to his kingdom for each member of the party wherever they might be. This is particularly awkward for Illyria, who is in her room on top of a particularly appreciative and tightly-restrained fan at the time. Climbing off him, and ignoring his pleas to be unlocked, she enters the Feywild wearing only her boots.

Jack announces that there is a new threat to the city. A creature of immense proportions, burrowing its way up from the centre of the earth. Its name is Tarrasque, and with the death or absence of almost all of the Great Powers it has been freed from its captivity at the heart of the Earth. The party must destroy it, or it will destroy the world. It will arrive in a few hours’ time, giving the party time to prepare – and Illyria time to finish dealing with her fan – before reconvening in Jack’s kingdom to assemble for battle. Before everything kicks off, Mortimer presents Jack with a moss-covered box, which Jack places beside his pond for safe keeping.

Jack then opens a portal to Theria, in the main square, suspended above the ground. Below it, the ground erupts and an enormous, brutal-looking horror bursts out from the depths of the earth, its huge fanged mouth ready to devour all in its way.

Illyria jumps down onto the creature, deploying her portable hole directly onto its back. Lubash follows, jumping into the hole and down into the creature’s guts, ready to rip it apart from within. Sal, Tuakiin, No Name and Mortimer follow, and battle is joined.

Lubash finds that the interior of the Tarrasque is sloshing with highly corrosive acid, which causes him no little inconvenience until Illyria slides down off the creature’s back, dragging her portable hole with her such that the acid drains out onto the ground. (Some also hits Mortimer, to his annoyance.) Early attempts to strike the Tarrasque with spells only serve to demonstrate the efficacy of its reflective plates, bolts of fire bouncing harmlessly off the surface. Magical weapons prove more effective, and gradually the party wear the creature down before finally destroying it.

The heroes of Theria have saved the city. The Redbrands are long gone, the battlemages destroyed, the horde wiped out in a single moment, and the terror from the deeps cut to pieces in the centre of the city itself. Peace and happiness are restored once more.

Jack, the Summer King, offers the other thrones in the Feywild to his friends – for as long as there are Great Powers in the world, the Tarrasque cannot return.

Sal becomes the Spring Queen, and Mortimer becomes the Winter King, taking back his mysterious box from Jack. Illyria declines the offer to become the Autumn Queen, saying her place is by her Lord in Hell. A portal opens, and she enters her new realm.

EPILOGUE: IN WHICH EVERYONE DIES

Krom shakes the waking nightmare of old age and trade disputes from his mind. Behind him on the field, a full battalion of mounted Orcs awaited in the hills, ready to ambush the forces of Azarr Khull as they prepare to massacre the village of humans ahead of them. He called the charge, and led his forces forward to victory. Krom dies in glory.

Tuakiin knocks on a door and enters to reveal Javier Asturo, surrounded by armed guards. Each guard in turn nods at Tuakiin, and leaves the room.

Javier smiles an old smile and the two of them leap to battle.

Tuakiin loses.

Tuakiin is being prepared. His body will be used as the raw material for a new generation of Harrowblades.

But Javier Asturo does not see Tuakiin use their last reserves of a rage held tight within for twenty years, break free from their bonds, and grab their sword.

As Javier turns to look, Tuakiin says the words they’ve been waiting to say all these years: “You killed my mother. Prepare to die.”

Javier grabs his weapon as Tuakiin leaps towards him one last time.

Brond meets the kind of sordid and messy end you would expect.

Lobash’s last words are of the power of the Union: “Know your rights!”

The serried ranks of ogres and others before him respond in the time-honoured way: “Or smash their face!”

Battle is joined against those who don’t believe in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Some say that Lobash Dragonslayer died on the battlefield that day. Some that he never died and never will. But the battle was won, and the Ogres Union a force for good in the land thereafter, with tales and songs of its founder lasting for as long as tales are told and songs are sung.

No Name gets married, settles down and grows old. She has a wonderful life with Jonathan. The two of them grow old together, and while they have the disagreements that always occur in a relationship, they never sleep on an argument, and live to a ripe old age with children and grandchildren running around their happy home.

One winter Jonathan goes walking on the ice and falls. He breaks his hip, and doesn’t get up from bed again.

The light leaves her eyes after that, and she passes quietly in her sleep a few months later.

Jack’s long reign as the Summer King eventually comes to an end when he dies with his head on Sal’s shoulder, telling her she has made him very happy.

After Jack’s death Sal continues to reign as the Spring Queen, and never leaves the Feywild again.

Illyria reigns in her own domain as Queen of Hell, judging all the dead who appear before her, with the helpful advice of Asmodeus who seems always to be by her side.

One by one, everyone she wants to see judged appears before her. She sees Tuakiin come before her, and after Asmodeus, who she knows is always there with her, informs her that rules are rules she sends him, reluctantly, to hell.

Jonathan, in due course, appears in her sight. Again, rules are rules, and she sends him, reluctantly, to heaven. Finally, and to her delight, she sends Lobash to heaven to be reunited with The Bard.

Mortimer awakes in his moss-covered box, grows old, and dies. Then he awakes in his moss-covered box in a new, young body.

The days, months, years, centuries, and millennia pass, and Mortimer dies, then awakens in his moss-covered box.

Empires rise and fall, and every time Mortimer dies, he awakens once more, until one day there is nothing left of the world but sand.

Mortimer awakes in his moss-covered box. He leaves it for the last time and greets the Tarrasque once more.

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The Undiscovered Country

The Tarrasque crawled from the centre of the Earth, and everybody died.

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Last battle
The last days

(recommended listening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHlQ0ldixmw)

Slow-mo as a single ember floats on the breeze and from silence, the sound rises to the roar of battle as the camera focus on on blond hair blowing in the breeze, pull back to reveal Lobash wreathed in flames

Narriated by Christopher lee

Lobash dragon slayer, first of his name, destroyer of the the world eater, surveyed his troops. Hope was waning, this was the final push and there was little hope of victory. But he would fight to the bitter end, he would not see hope fade. The Bard had once said to ‘rage…rage against the dieing of the light’, he gathered all his rage against the oppression of his brothers and charged. He had not defeated three Dragons to come to this point and give up.
fate looked down on Lobash, If the Ogre had died fighting the world eater, his martyrdom would have brought thousands to this field for the final battle. Instead it was a running skirmish rather than a true battle with barely a hundred left.
The Last Ogre standing, Lobash took down down dozens of solders alone before the rain of arrows weighed to heavy upon him and he fell. Filling his lung for the last time and bellowed ‘Know your rights or smash their face’, it echoed of the hills as a terrified silence ran out over the battle field, and with his last breath took out five unsuspecting men in full armour.
There was no celebration, he had been a hero even among humans, he had been among those that defeated the world eater, this was not a good day.
Ogre battle horns ring out from hill top to hill top. Passing the message of his passing, a martyr at last. Sounding out across the ogre lands, till it reaches a valley, were an old Ogre hammering a piece of metal into a spike, for rebels in his village, wondering what ever happened to his son, that did not want to be a blacksmith.
Ogres ran back and forth behind him, Lobash Dragon slayer first of his name was dead, but the real battle had just began. Real change was in the air, maybe not today, in hundred years but Ogre would on day be equal.

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Last Orders

Brond the Barman chucked the last of the stragglers out and locked the pub door. The old muscles maybe weren’t what they’d been, but these days his voice was usually enough to get them out at closing time.

He did his final round of clearing up, grabbing stray tankards and greasy plates. The same old routine, but he wasn’t complaining. It was a peaceful life now, and all the better for it. Why bother about who’s on the throne or who’s at war with who? His regulars didn’t. Oh, they’d hold court with their views and opinions, but it was all just talk. None of them did anything but drink. And that suited Brond just fine.

His glance caught the twin rapiers, hanging over the bar. Looking a bit dull. He couldn’t remember when he had got out of the habit of polishing them every day. One evening he’d just been a bit too tired, the bar had been a bit too busy, and ever since then he’d found himself taking them down less and less often.

He opened the trap door behind the bar and went down the wooden steps, a lantern in his hand. A quick inspection of the barrels in the cellar confirmed his suspicion – it was time to get started on a new batch of Brond’s Best. It was getting more and more popular, attracting drinkers from villages as much as three miles away. There was even an ogre who made sure to buy a small kegfull every time he was in town. Mustn’t disappoint the ogre.

Climbing back up the stairs, his head was no sooner out of the trap door than it was yanked back from behind, and a sharp blade pressed to his throat. “This is for my sister,” hissed a voice in his ear.

Before he could ask his assailant to be more specific, the blade sliced sideways and blood sprayed across the floor behind the bar. He felt his legs give way beneath him, and he fell back into the cellar, his lamp blowing out as he fell into darkness.

Lying on the floor, he could feel nothing, see nothing. As the gushing blood slowed to a trickle, his mouth widened into a smile.

I’m going to meet Asmodeus, he thought.

And this time I’m going to give that fucker what for.

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Jasmine/Jack timeline part one: Jasmine

1: Party think Jasmine is super good archer! Woo – look at my arrows killing things – woosh.

2: Tuakiin burns down the pub while getting in a fight – Jasmine wonders if he is a follower of chaos. Tuakiin isn’t punished. This makes Jasmine more relaxed and trust the group more.

3: Drinking competition – with Brond and Kai – I win!

4: Tuakiin does an oath of vengeance – Jasmine interjects drunkenly and tries to join in. As he is clearly follows chaos. This is very interesting. I am not really sure how I can help his destiny. I am sure I can think of something.

Brond Stabby Stabby – Stella. – Brond agrees to protect Jasmine.

5: Tuakiin is super angry with Brond – Jasmine protects Brond by telling Tuakiin that the box broke and the green gas killed Stella. (Jasmine instructed Brond to open the box) – but he kicks it open to see what is inside. I wanted to see how far Tuakiin will go, when he is angry. He nearly kills Brond. Oops.

6: Tuakiin doesn’t kill Jasmine for trickery. Jasmine is relieved because this would be annoying. – I actually convinced Tuakiin not to kill Brond – Phew. Tuakiin does take all the shiny things away and gives them to a dragon. That’s pretty chaotic. Clearly he follows me.

7: Jasmine says a eulogy which expresses sorrow that Brond would do such a thing, and offering useful hairstyling advice should the gods see fit to give her an opportunity to take it (a plait would really suit her). I think it is fitting that I did the ceremony especially as I am a trainee God.

8: Jasmine and Rima glamourise their appearances using both mundane and magical means, and entice the two guards, luring one of them away onto the road to Fandolin where Rima overpowers him and ties him up “like he’s been on a stag do”. Rima is cool!

7: You are a what? – I am warlock – mind control baddies – that’s bad is it? Oh. Bugger. I had a deep and meaningful with Kai. Have to change my ways. Will do that then.

8: Spirit weed and buying a pub. After the spirit quest Jasmine and Krom share food and continue to smoke the spirit weed which causes intoxication. They awake some time later, both naked, surrounded by the bodies of many hobgoblins, that have been killed by arrows (so probably not by Krom or Jasmine). Cool, then we buy the pub. Better buy beer with the new girl Madeline.

9: Jasmine Dies (The First time) – Jasmine & Madeline are in the Grey Wastes. Madeline recalls advice from her tutor regarding Heaven & Hell, concluding that they’ll both be fine & soon be eating peaches & cream. Jasmine is not going to Heaven. They won’t let her eat peaches & cream she’ll make sure she’ll have her peaches & cream with her friends at the end.

10: Rima persuades Mortimer and the group to bring Jasmine back. – Yippee! I am back!

11: No body, oh my, I am not well. I persuade Mortimer I don’t need Jasmine’s mangled body. That cheeky handsome chap lying dead on the floor will do.

12: I have a male body. What do I do with this? Do I still drink cocktails? – yes. Excellent. What do I do with this then? Errrr. Okay I do that with it. This is brilliant.

13: Mortimer is my new best friend. He isn’t interested in the other thing so I don’t mention it.

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Lowest Gods Since Records Began

“Library’s closing young Master Greysproket… take any volumes you need to the librarian please.”

Mortimer pulled at the navy blue trousers that were a little too large for him (they had halfling size, it had to do for Gnomes), and tucked the grimoire that weighed more than he did under his arm, he had to lean his entire body to the right to move toward the desk with the book.

“I’m sorry young mister, but you can’t check out this book from the library, it’s only for journeyman magi and above. It’s from the top stacks.”

“Yeah, y’er not wrong, I hadda climb 3 shelves!”

“Well I’m afraid that was rather to discourage youngsters to seek out such material…”

“Miss, I could be 65 years old and I ain’t gettin’ up der… that’s just hightest!”

“Oh NO! I mean we would never, I mean, we have many Gnome…. What I mean to say is… I need to lock up.”

Master Greysprocket nodded and made his way out before the flustered librarian. She wished him well, and was so concerned she might have come across as insensitive, she missed any sense of deception on the young boys face.

2 hours after dark; Master Greysprocket’s silent gnomish feet padded down the corridor, he’s had a mage hand the lock behind him, and now the library was at peace.

He raised a hand to the door, magically warded, of course. He was just beginning his magical studies, and couldn’t have broken the spell in a month. Which of course was the point, no man could crack the lock, no magi could travel through the wards. Thankfully, he was no Man.

Taking the tiniest of Tinker’s Tools, given to him by his Grandfather (a Gnome said to have invented a machine that could receive the mind of a living creature), Mortimer set his adeptly dexterous 3 fingered hands to work on the lock. It clicked in under a minute.

He made his way over the top stacks, climbed 5 levels, and pulled down a book nearly as large as himself. Such dexterity and awareness should have been impossible for an interloper, but a City Gnome was more than adept enough… after all, that was why 90% of those that remained were pressed into military service as guerrilla warfare specialists – a fate he knew awaited him. All the more reason to amass this knowledge now.

He opened the Grimoire.

3 fingered hands flicked through the pages till they arrived at the first page he’d discreetly marked:

The two faiths that drive forward the war machines of our survival is the Citadel and Free States belief in the power of the Queen of the Shining Citadel vs the Cult of Acererak

both sides know these two faiths to be demonstrably true, as they are the powers that protect either side from the attacks of the other. In such a way our lives are given in the service of our protector Sorcerer Lords. Our worship is vital for the war effort, and treaties to the contrary should be considered to be detrimental to the survival of the Shining City

Mortimer threw the book aside, what use was information is if wasn’t truth, just manipulation?

And so he climbed.

Two hours later he had the oldest book he had been able to find in the whole citadel before him:

“The Magi that conceived the barrier made their choice under the prehistoric moral imposition imposed on them by the now dead monotheistic religion of the time. Of this, little is known. History books carried over from the past world, such as they are, speak of a single ‘god’, a being beyond this plane, standing in judgement over all mortals at their end. Unhappy to let them do whatever they need to survive, instead imposing strict moral values on the mortals.

It is telling that this/these gods (as some scripts deal with them as two) are clearly dead and gone by the Common Era of our history books record. There is no record from their practitioners, of any trace of their influence lending boons to their practitioners (indeed there are non). Nor of their indecipherable moral code being enforced on any of the contemporary peoples.

At this time of study the recorded religions are the Worship of the Goddess Queens of the Shining City. The Old Ways still regarded by some Elves and Gnomes. The Neon Gods, as worshiped by what remains of the Dwarves in the subways, and of course, the beliefs of the Battle Mages, who put magi and demi liches above all else.

That the Gods before the barrier are dead now show they were either fictitious, or wiped out by powerful magics….”

Mortimer collapsed back on his heels and fell to his back, giggling, a thousand years hence, he finally answered the question that had haunted him as a small boy: what had killed the Gods?

He had! He and his conspirators in the East,they had wished the Gods unto death, he was the answers to all he sought as a child. He and those he fought along side had killed the gods and defined the world he would grow up in, the world that would shape him.

Well except for this one… Jack-shaped… wrinkle

“Be careful what you wish for”…

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The Word of the King

Sal had stood before them many times, teaching them first of her race and then of the Fey. Today it was time to start consolidating it, giving them the links that would help them find the true path. This would be the legacy of her time here. This was her purpose.

She looked at the faces staring at her with such attentive reverence…and began her calm refrain.

“In the beginning there was the Fey and the Fey were all. All things came from the Fey, were nourished and given life by the Fey. Their light shone bright and pushed the darkness from creation. All they touched was beauty and light. From the wild forests to the creatures that roamed them, all were beautiful in the eyes of the Fey. They saw all they had created and it was good.

In their infinite wisdom they created the Court, to better protect their creation. Each monarch and their kin pledging to forever keep the harmony of life and the seasons safe. This they did, their beauty and grace reflected in all things.

Each Court had its own focus within the whole, their own refrain that fed the harmony of life.
The Spring Court ensuring new life and progeny.
The Summer Court ensuring prosperity, sustenance and growth.
The Autumn Court ensuring renewal and harvest.
The Winter Court ensuring survival and rebirth.

All things came from the Fey, are beloved of the Fey and are forever joined to the Fey. We are one with the Fey and the Fey are with us."

She stopped and let her eyes scan her pupils for their response. They were rapt once again. It wouldn’t be long before the questions began, but she knew what to say. A few more titbits, a few more clues that would have them joining dots. And it would not be long before the structure of the day had been re-purposed to suit her. Each quarter dedicated to one of the Courts. Their rituals replaced.

The second quarter of the day – that would be the one where they would make the most discoveries, where they would learn to feel the presence of the Fey, their link to creation. Where they would learn that of all the Fey, the Summer King was supreme.

She let her eyes close for a moment, feeling her connection to everything around her and to the only person who mattered. In her mind she sang out to him, “I am one with the Fey, the Fey are with me”.

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Season 7 Session 8

The next morning, Illyria awakes in her bed in the tower of Hommlet. Beside her, still asleep, is the prettiest and most innocent of the guards she ended up drinking with the night before. She wakes her gently, and the embarrassed guard picks up her clothing from the floor and quickly leaves, making her walk of shame back to the barracks.

The rest of the party wake in less questionable circumstances, and soon they are having a combined breakfast and planning meeting in the main room of the tower. Regular checking with truesight and detect magic reveals no attempts to scry on the meeting. There is a general desire to pick off more high-value targets in the enemy horde, like the dragon the party killed the previous day. The problem is, how to locate them? Mortimer sends a message (in phonetic Elvish, courtesy of Sal) to Seleria, queen of the owl-riding elves who are stationed in Theria, requesting some reconnaissance of the horde. Seleria is happy to oblige, but it will take time – she instructs Mortimer to contact her again the next morning for a report.

Unwilling to spend a day twiddling their thumbs while the horde advances, the party forms a new plan. They will again travel via the Grey Wastes to the edge of the horde, but this time will remain in the Grey Wastes and move into the midst of the enemy, only returning to the material plane once they have identified a suitably high-level target to attack. Then, once the target is defeated (or if the battle is proving too difficult) they will all teleport back to Hommlet once again. There they will rest, awaiting the elves’ reconnaissance report.

Breakfast over, the party prepares to depart. They transport themselves into the Grey Wastes, around where the horde ought to be by now if they have continued their march, and find – nothing. They should be able to see the entire horde as shadow figures before them, but instead all they can see are the ghostly impressions of the open countryside. Nothing is moving, except for two or three owlbears away in the distance, but even they seem to be keeping themselves to themselves.

Lacking much in the way of options, they decide to come out of the Grey Wastes into a copse of trees on a hillside. Illyria blasts a tree to splinters out of sheer frustration. The more mobile members of the party do some scouting – Sal on foot, and No Name in the form of a bird. Neither finds any sign of the horde. Both Mortimer and Illyria try scrying – he with a vessel of water, she with a bowl of blood – but neither has any success. Mortimer even tries sending a message to the Vizier asking for any available information, but all he gets back is a torrent of abuse, and the information that the person Tuakiin attacked was not Javier Asturro after all, but an impostor.

After making camp, the party debates at length where the horde could have got to. They might have turned right or left from their route, which would at least delay the attack on Theria. Or they may have gone en masse into another plane – presumably the Feywild – but that would require prodigiously powerful magic. One possibility would be to teleport to the vicinity of Theria and wait for the horde there, as that is still presumably their target. However, no one really wants to sit waiting for a week or more when they could be taking action.

Illyria decides she will try to contact her lord. She is reluctant to do so out here in the wilderness, given the dangers of the spell going wrong, but needs must. Mortimer, as a fellow devotee of Asmodeus (albeit in his own special way) agrees to look after her if she falls into delirious madness.

She falls into delirious madness. Sal has seen this before, of course, and No Name pays little heed, but Mortimer does his duty and ensures she comes to no harm as she writhes and babbles in Infernal gobbledegook.

Illyria has a series of nightmare visions. In the first, she walks through the door into Asmodeus’s study, only to fall into an endless pit of demonic monstrosities, tearing at her body as she plummets through the horror, one wrenching off her leg. She hears Jack’s voice, saying “I’m your friend. Please trust me.”

Sal, listening to Illyria’s babbling, makes out a word in Infernal: “Leg”.

Then she is on a vast, icy plain, crawling across the cracked and frozen ground. Jack’s voice says “I’m your friend, Here’s a blanket.”

Sal makes out the word “Frost”.

Now Illyria is in a wilderness of mirrors, stretching out to infinity on all directions. She looks into one of the mirrors. She sees Jack waving back at her. He says “I am your friend. Trust me. I want to give you presents. I want you to win.”

Sal hears her mutter “You”.

After some hours, Illyria comes round. She does not tell the rest of the group about her visions, but after they have all slept for the night she takes Mortimer aside, on the pretext of morning rituals, and confides in him about Jack’s presence in her dreams.

Also in the morning comes the report from the Elvish reconnaissance. They have found no trace of the horde. It seems all the party’s sources of information have come up empty.

In desperation, Illyria tries to contact her lord once again. This time should be less hazardous, however. Despite her apparent disdain for this business, No Name has prepared nature magic that can lift Illyria’s madness should it come upon her again.

It is not needed. Illyria finds herself in Asmodeus’s study, face to face with her lord once more. He tells her that the horde is no longer on the material plane, but this news seems almost irrelevant to her compared to the passionate intensity of the long, lingering kiss he places on her oh-so-willing lips. When they finally break their embrace, he tells her “Whatever you wish, will be done”.

Her audience with Asmodeus over, Illyria relays the information to the rest of the group. It seems that the way forward is for Mortimer to use the Wish spell which is in Clausis’s spellbook. At least, this is what Illyria advocates, and she can feel the hand of Asmodeus on her shoulder as she does so. Mortimer, however, is reluctant. There is so much that can go wrong, he doesn’t even know what plane the horde is on, he has so many objections. But Illyria keeps pressing. She can hear the voice of Asmodeus telling her that nothing can possibly go wrong, and she repeats to Mortimer “Nothing can possibly go wrong”. Mortimer still prevaricates, and now Illyria even sees a vision of Asmodeus, telling her it will not go wrong. Again she pushes Mortimer, telling him again and again that their lord has assured them that it will work.

Eventually, Mortimer acquiesces. He studies the spell in the spellbook, in all its inefficient and archaic layout, and meditates upon the precise wording of his wish. Meanwhile, Jack, Lubash and Sal are looking at the view, discussing what they want for the future. Lubash wants to help ogres who are downtrodden or repressed, and Jack assures him that he completely agrees with the principles of the Ogres’ Union and that he will be sure to always uphold them. Lubash isn’t quite sure what to make of this, but welcomes it in any case.

By now Mortimer has decided what he is going to do. He speaks aloud as he begins the spell:

“I wish that Azarr Khul, all who follow his word, and all those who count themselves a part of his horde, and the Feywild, and all those who hide themselves upon it be irrevocably destroyed.”

In the Feywild, the horde of Azarr Khul is on the march. A golden light suffuses them and each and every one of them, hobgoblins, manticores, ogres, giants, sphinxes and the great Azarr Khul himself, disintegrate into golden dust. The light rushes through the Feywild, annihilating all in its path.

Still encamped in the copse of trees, the party presume that the spell has succeeded and the horde is destroyed, but they are not immediately aware of any change. Apart from Jack, that is. He springs up, saying “Thank you, I knew you could do it. You’ve all helped me in so many ways.” A crown appears on his head. “Thank you all again. I am the Summer King. And I’m going to give you presents.” He walks through a golden door into his domain.

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Kata

A sound like a whipcrack as the air rushed out of the way of the reappearing dragonborn. His nostrils flared and ears twitched as the pressure equalised. Okay, hold your breath next time he thought as he drove the staff humming with radiant force into the sphinx’s side; and around into the other sphinx’s neck; and precisely six seconds after he materialised, he vanished just as abruptly.


The red dragon, ancient and majestic and glorious and powerful and it sees me as an enemy, as a snack, as a pest, this is not Escapar bore down on his friends. Tuakiin closed the distance as fast as possibly he could, the magical energy coursing through his veins hastening his stride, travelling the last thirty feet as mist.


Green and gold-scaled arms outstretched, Tuakiin focused all his attention on the tips of his clawed fingers, willing the lightning to form, needing the lightning to form, and it did.

The air tasted metallic as the electricity arced between his fingers and coursed the dozens of feet towards the dragon.

And Tuakiin realised.

This is not my power.

I didn’t call on my wrath to cause this.

This is not from my vengeance.

This is dragon magic.

This is a dragon duel.

The lightning flickered, faltered, renewed in strength and struck the dragon, brighter than ever.


I helped kill a dragon. I helped kill a dragon, and I feel no remorse.

Back at the Welcome Wench once again, he nursed a flagon of small beer. No ale for him, not any more, but you wouldn’t drink the water, now, would you?

My dragon blood has power. I have power, and it has nothing to do with my revenge on Javier. I can have a life that has nothing to do with Javier.

He poked at the suspicious-looking lumps of probably-mutton in his stew with his spoon, and decided he wasn’t hungry. Taking a quick moment to dispel the scrying sensor that had appeared in the corner of the room on schedule, he stepped out into the early winter twilight.


Atop the tower, Tuakiin paced, going through practice motions with his staff. He’d heard his friend Kai refer to kata before and thought the idea strange, but in the last few months the dragonborn had grown both more powerful and less sure of his power. Or, perhaps, less arrogant, since he knew now what a danger his magic and dragon blood could be.

And so he practiced. And paced. Alone with his thoughts and the dying light in the west.

A folaskiir might not have the intelligence or a fraction of the power of a dragon. But we are people. I think I’ve shown we can change the world. And if not, maybe there’s something I can do about that.

A step, a swing of the staff, a burst of magical energy from three sources at once: the staff itself, his own convictions, his dragon blood. The three… not quite aligning, not quite harmonising. Have to work on that coordination.

His rusty hand-me-down armour creaked under the strain of his muscles.

A step, a swing, a burst. Not quite there.

Another. And another. And another.

Maybe with dragon power I can make a difference. Maybe with the other folaskiir in Arnest we could find a home here. Make the western dragons see our worth.

Another repetition. The dragonborn smiled.

This time it was perfect.

And so he kept practicing.

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