Calidar -- "Queen's Fury"
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    Calidar -- "Queen's Fury"

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    I now have the pleasure of announcing the official LAUNCH DATE for the Kickstarter campaign. Click here for details. The big day will be this Wednesday December 11th at 10:00am central time.



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    Amid the evernight’s dimness, Azar steered his white drake toward Yashrem’s city center and began his final descent. At the heart of the Order’s heavily fortified capital, within the confines of its imposing citadel, stood Skybound Tower. The immense midnight-blue structure rose more than a thousand feet. Veins of gleaming dragon magic flowed between its stone blocks like sap in a giant tree. Mooring booms jutting from its sides enabled scores of dragonships to dock. Lowly merelings, pallid, malevolent slaves not more than two feet tall, red eyes bulging from their misshapen skulls, pot-bellied, toothy, and devoid of hair, scurried about as they handled freight and repaired vessels. Azar urged his mount toward the Queen’s Fury, a fast and powerful warship docked halfway up the tower.

    She was a thing of beauty in the eyes of Draconic Knights. Glistening-black and covered in scaly armor, she bore three sets of quad-masts in a star-shaped pattern, and a fearsome dragon head at her prow. Azar aimed for the aft platform. The crew, watching him arrive, stepped out of the way of the drake’s wings and wicked talons. The mount landed gracefully, folded her wings, and lowered her body for the Grand Master to dismount.

    The captain awaited nearby. She wore the customary studded leather jerkin in use in the Order’s Skyfleet, an effective yet unencumbering garment that allowed work throughout the complicated vessel’s structure. In such a ship, space and personal comfort came at a premium. Her uniform’s silver markings reflected the pale blue glow from the tower’s energy lines as she brought her right fist to her chest and bowed.

    “Welcome aboard, My Lord. Captain Nehet, at your service. I was forewarned of your coming.”

    “Peace upon thee, Sibling of the Faith. There is little time to waste. Let’s speak in your quarters at once.”

    A sub-commander nodded at the Grand Master and his captain, and motioned the crew to usher the drake to the ship’s stable beneath the stern castle where perhaps another one or two others were kept. Hissing and screeching fiercely, his mount disappeared down a ramp while Azar followed the captain to the main deck and below, to the wardroom. Bathed in the golden halos of lanterns, reptilian coil engravings drew elegant loops and braids on the bulkheads and joists. The tattooed head of a Zarnese vultron hung as a trophy by the entrance, a token of victory from the Airwar at Tarnhûss.

    The Grand Master sat on one of the leather-padded benches that served as lids for stowage bins along the aft windows. Behind him, well below the ship’s mooring level, the sprawling city’s lights twinkled like so many stars. The captain fetched a decanter from the table and poured two measures dark red Ikhör into two crystal goblets. She handed one to Azar, and lifted the other.

    “Hail the Order!”

    “Hail,” responded the Grand Master.

    The liquid was known for its bewildering effect on muscles and the heart. Flesh became as wood for an instant as cardiac rhythm increased suddenly, provoking a dreamy dizziness. Certain priests relied on this elixir to reach loftier levels of faith, but Azar always thought them to be elderly frauds more interested in its aphrodisiac properties. After the burning, throbbing sensation faded, Azar ignored the rest of his drink.

    “How soon can we cast off, Captain Nehet?”

    She sat on a leather chair and quaffed her goblet. “The last of our war booty was dispatched to the Royal Temple shortly before you landed. In view of your arrival, I’d issued an immediate requisition for an unexpected resupply of the ship’s Nérghiar complement. To make up for the untimely request, all twelve measures of our treasure will be disintegrated, yielding ten measures of power. They should be delivered within the hour. It is a significant loss, but I anticipated the need to cast off at once. Will it be enough, My Lord?”

    Azar nodded. “It shall have to be. Are the Brother and Sister Knights in good standing and ready to do battle?”

    “Aye, My Lord, and ready to fight before their Grand Master, for whatever quest and on whatever shores. Honor and Duty!"

    “Honor and Duty,” responded Azar. “I want to inspect them at once.”

    Nehet grinned. “They await you on deck. But if I may ask, what other ships will join our fleet, My Lord?”

    “Our battle is a symbolic one, Captain Nehet. We fight alone.”

    After a moment of puzzlement, Nehet nodded. “A special mission for the Order and Our Queen? Aye, all the better! The glory will be ours entirely.”

    “So mote it be!” The Grand Master deposited his goblet on the table and headed from the chamber, the captain in his wake. He knew his way around a dragonship. During his years following those of a Banneret Commander, he’d had ample opportunity to serve in the Draconic Skyfleet and direct ships in battle. Such things no longer held secrets for him. He reached the aft companionway and climbed on deck.

    The knights had lined up along with their standard bearer and their commander. They stood to attention in a crash of steel armor, shields, and weapons after their leader barked the order. Behind them, the ship’s sailors did the same, from bosun to ship’s boy. The remainder of the officers and priests stood at right angle to the knight’s line, on the deck’s opposite end.

    “Grand Master on deck! Hail the Order!” bellowed the first mate.

    “Hail! Hail! Hail!” The knights accompanied their three cheers rapping against the deck with the shafts of their pikes.

    Once the customary salute completed, Azar walked down the line of oath-bound warriors. These were for the most part grizzled, battle-hardened veterans. A few young ones had earned the honor to fight at their sides, the next generation just as proud and fierce as their forbears. There wasn’t a piece of armor or a thread of tabard out of place.

    While the inspection reached its conclusion, a group of chattering and groaning merelings appeared at the boarding plank, carrying a bronze vessel. With a frown of displeasure, Nehet motioned a sub-commander to manage them. Following their assigned officer, the party quickly disappeared below deck.

    “Our complement of Nérghiar, My Lord. It will be installed straight away in the navigator’s chapel,” the captain commented.

    “Very well. Dismiss the crew and prepare to cast off. The navigator’s ritual shall begin as soon as we are clear of the city.”

    “Aye, My Lord.” The captain conveyed her instructions to the first mate.

    Orders followed at once, the bosun adding to the chorus of calls and footfalls on the deck. Knights and priests marched to their quarters, while the remainder of the officers attended their stations. A moment later, the mereling slaves scurried across the deck, headed back for the tower.

    The levitating enchantment enabled the helmsman to maneuver, the dragonship gently pushing back from her mooring boom and veering from the monumental structure. In a well-rehearsed ballet, the crew handled the ropes and manned the yardarms. The quad-sails, filled with the breath of Inner Draconia, veiled much of the view from the deck, save for the helmsman’s and the first officer’s near the prow. Soon, as the Queen’s Fury plied the cool evernight’s darkness, the only light aboard radiated from the aft lanterns and blue veins running within the deck’s planking. It was ample enough for natives of Draconia, well accustomed to its ambient dimness. Beyond the confines of the dragons’ hollow world, they would have to wear eye protection for a time.

    Azar paced the deck and, between the sails extending downward from the hull’s sides, he peered at the city receding beneath the ship. The breeze strengthened and became colder. With enough altitude, one would reach the concave world’s mid-point and descend toward its opposite hemisphere. The only way out required the use of Nérghiar, the power dragons generated to travel among the stars.

    Departing Draconia always left the Grand Master with a strange feeling. He couldn’t explain it. The thought of leaving home to travel to a faraway place and navigating beneath the stars brought upon him a nostalgia growing from that void in his mind which he could not explore. Frustrated, Azar quashed the nagging impression and went below deck.

    The navigator’s chapel lay at the prow, beneath the helmsman’s chamber. Observation bays offered a good view ahead, with the dragon figurehead jutting out horizontally just above. Its carved open mouth was ready to breathe. Azar knew all too well what it could do. Many a foe experienced its frightening power in battle. The Shipmaster, in charge of the ship’s maps and the supply of navigating power, stood by the bronze vessel the merelings had installed before departure, awaiting orders.

    “Begin the ritual,” Azar commanded.

    The Shipmaster, a withered and near-skeletal fellow, bowed and lay his bony hands on the container, muttering the words of his incantation. The throbbing blue aura, Holy All-Power of the Queen and lifeblood of her Skyfleet, radiated through the metal. It crept along the officer’s hands and arms.

    He turned and gazed at the Grand Master. “Whither away, My Lord?”

    Azar approached and touched the vessel. He quietly recalled the last moment with his beloved. An image formed in his mind of where she wanted him to sail. The aura vanished in a flash. An instant of lightheadedness followed when the Queen’s Fury surged forward, defeating the bounds of physical space and the formidable barrier of Draconia’s crust. It wouldn’t be long now before they’d emerge at their destination.

    “Onward, my Brothers.”

    To be continued. . .

    This short story was written in connection with the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the new World of Calidar, which will launch in the next few days. Others stories will follow on different forums and blogs during the following weeks. Click here for previous episodes, and unveil one layer at a time different aspects of the new setting.

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    Last edited by Bruce Heard; Monday, 9th December, 2013 at 02:54 PM. Reason: Added link

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    Kickstarter Launch

    Don't miss it!

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    Kickstarter Project is now Live!

    The Calidar Project has gone live on Kickstarter -- right here:

    http://kck.st/1bxqSgl

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    DAY ONE

    I'm happy to announce that the project has reached 86% of his basic funding during its first 24 hours. We're now getting closer to addressing stretch goals. Many thanks to all at ENWorld, since many of my backers actually came from here!

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    I love all the little descriptive parts about Inner Draconia. Someday, I hope to have a lot of fun working out how on earth to map it.

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    Sorry, that last post was about the story, of course.

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    Stretch Goals

    The first stretch goal has been reached, which unlocks more internal illustrations from artist Jon Dollar. Some are likely to become color pieces as well.

    John's background goes back to TSR’s golden age and product lines like Dark Sun, Birthright, and Ravenloft. He also illustrated Earthdawn, Star Wars, and recently “Tales of the Emerald Serpent.” John has worked with many publishers since 1994, including White Wolf, West End, and Larry Elmore's Sovereign Stone to name a few more.

    The next stretch goal is coming along, which will unlock a second poster map. This one will be a hex map, similar to the ones that used to be included with the D&D Gazetteers published in the 80s and 90s. That's definitely a must!

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    Eternal Glory

    An new episode has been posted. Click here.

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    Kickstarter Christmas Bonus




    Greetings to all!




    Holidays are fast approaching, and the Calidar Team is offering a special Christmas bonus to present Kickstarter backers and new ones.

    Until December 25th at midnight, all backers may purchase an extra add-on poster map for $5.00 instead of the listed value of $8.50. This offer is valid for one such poster map, and all other conditions still apply (initial pledges of First Mate and above, plus any shipping outside the US).

    The Calidar Team thanks everyone for their support and for forwarding this message to friends you know may be interested.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Flight!



    Last edited by Bruce Heard; Thursday, 19th December, 2013 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Layout

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    Fire and Steel

    This new episode features a neat battle between elven and dwarven skyships in The World of Calidar Great Vault.

    http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/2013/12/ISS11.html

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