Three Queens of Ashtan

EVENTS NEWS #372
Date: 04/10/2012 at 10:57
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Three Queens of Ashtan

For months, the beleaguered Bastion of the North smouldered under the
occupation of Sarranda's army. The all-too-brief periods of daylight
were simply not long enough for the city guard to repair the death and
devastation brought each night, and morale was suffering. Citizens
barricaded themselves behind stout doors; during the day, an eerie
silence reigned over the normally bustling streets; at night, the city
was filled with screams of pain and horror.

One morning, the unnerving silence was broken by a mournful wail which
rode upon the winds, echoing from the Radiant Path where it approached
the ruined palace. Ashtani approached with caution; rather than another
raiding party of Sarranda's goblins, they encountered a ghostly form
dressed in the antique armour of Ashtan's royal guard.

Acute questioning from Archon Isis Ryuu-Sar'vet and Amunet Viatrix
determined the man's identity: Commander Graven of the Royal Guard, the
guardian of Ashtan's last queen. His death, and that of his queen, came
long ago during the Anarchy Rebellions, a turbulent time that brought
about the end of the city's monarchy centuries ago, in the years
following the fall of the Seleucarian Empire. He told of secret
passageways into the royal palace, rambled about his failure to protect
the queen, and the indignity of being cast from a six hundred year-long
vigil.

Prodding the knight for further knowledge of secret passages, the
Ashtani were soon led to the barracks in the slums of the northern city,
where indeed an unknown tunnel now lay open. The Ashtani mustered a
force of warriors, battlemages, and dragons, larger than any the city
had seen in years, and ventured into the darkness, finding themselves
within the dungeons of the royal palace. Meeting staunch opposition from
the goblin warriors of the self-proclaimed queen, the citizens of Ashtan
took heavy casualties, but pressed on through darkened, ruined halls
unseen by mortal eyes for nearly six hundred years. Finally, they broke
open the great doors of the throne room and charged in, finding Sarranda
all alone, seated upon the throne and wearing the long-lost crown of
Ashtan.

Smiling warmly in greeting, unfazed by the bloody horde of warriors
before her, the pretender queen attempted to use her powers of
persuasion to convince the citizens to bend the knee and accept her
rule. They would have none of it, and baited Sarranda until she grew
angry enough to cease the high-pitched, droning song that protected her
from harm, and in that instant the mob struck. Savagely they tore the
queen from her throne, dragging her to the ground, where Andraste
Montenegro, battlemage and dragon, dealt a killing blow upon her. The
rule of Queen Sarrandra was over.

Grimly the ghost of Commander Graven called for the broken crown and
placed it upon the throne, watching as a shimmering light enveloped the
ancient seat with a vision of its former glory. Flickering into view, a
second figure appeared: Queen Pellucaria, the last ruler of Ashtan. One
by one, more began to appear, and the ghosts took their place in a
spectral drama, insensible to the presence of the mob, depicting the
final moments of the monarchy of Ashtan. When the visions ceased, the
Ashtani stood stunned, their preconceptions and legends about the
Anarchy Rebellions utterly overturned.

All was not finished for the weary citizens of Ashtan. Now storming into
the throne room was the regal Dowager Montagenet, oldest and most
powerful of Ashtan's necromantic nobility, who demanded the broken crown
be surrendered to her to cleanse a lingering taint. Her old rival,
Amunet Viatrix, barred the way, accusing the aristocrat with what all
had just witnessed: the truth of the Montagenets' secret involvement in
the downfall of Queen Pellucaria, and the dowager's subsequent rule as a
shadow queen over Ashtan in the centuries since.

A hush fell over the crowd, and Amunet glanced across to meet the gaze
of the archon Isis, for both knew what must be done. Though others cried
out against the decision, justice was swift: the executioner of Ashtan,
who had himself beheaded many scions of the old monarchy following the
rebellions, raised his axe above the neck of the madly smirking dowager.
At Isis's word, he swung, and the people of Ashtan witnessed the death
of a third queen that fateful day.

As the dowager died, a maelstrom of necromantic energy carried away her
body and all of the many magical workings throughout the city which she
had created, leaving it uncertain whether such a powerful necromancer
could be killed so simply, but the deed was done. Shocked and tired, the
citizens dispersed, left to contemplate the shattering of their own
legends, a liberated but devastated city, and the tale of the three
queens of Ashtan.

Penned by My hand on the 24th of Phaestian, in the year 593 AF.