Kingdom Atreides: The World's Youngest Kingdom in its Coming of Age
After centuries of war, the realm has finally reached a relative time of peace. The Vampire King, Fenris, has finally been defeated by young Lucas Atreides and his companions, and the curse of the undead that has plagued the realm has been lifted. Even, The Lich-King seems to have died out with its last human-receptacle. The rulers of the three human kingdoms, Alexandria, Faerun (Helm’s Deep), and the new Kingdom Atreides have all reached a paradigm of mutual beneficence, and even the Elven king of Corelland has reached a treatise with humans unparralled in history. All is well, and the people of the realm are more content than ever; yet, young King Lucas Atreides sits with chin in hand, dreaming of the days of glory that have preceeded this peace, and wondering if there is any more evil to come, or anything that can be done beyond the stone, cold walls of his castle… he thinks and he wonders, he agonizes and he prays… “Is this the end? Are all our struggles over?”
The following week, Castle Atreides plays host to a traveling circus, a most common form of living in the new era of peace, and as with all of the visiting troupes, a gift is given to the king…
A strange device that is said to tell time to the minute, and whose every movement ticks and whirs of each passing second… a “grandfather clock” they called it… and what a strange tune it plays, once per hour on the hour… but it never quite finishes the tune upon noon or midnight… one measure left undone… and so, King Atreides sends out the word to all who wish to come hear the song: Bards, Wise Men, whoever may know… The invitation is met with little response, only a handful of bards arrive… and none of the wise men… and no one can quite remember what the traveling troupe looked like or where the troupe went off to after…
At midnight, after hours or revelry and feasting, including performances by Gnomilish Burnstein, Traverous Kititrite,and Rebecca McKinley,who, with an accompaniment of dancing by Clandestine the Shadowdancer, whom no one ever sees, closes out the festivities… the crowd listens anxiously to the song from the “grandfather clock”... though it stops right before the end… and so does everything else!!!
Except for Searo, the Halfling Sorcerer (and long-time companion of King Atreides in the war against the undead), and Clandestine, the Shadowdancer, and personal bodyguard to the king, both who find themselves looking worriedly toward one another as they realize thay are the only ones still moving!
Just at that same moment, several large clockwork golems appear! With faces like vultures! and fists that pulsate with the powers of thunder and lightning! “You have cheated death! You are in the wrong place and time!”
Searo protests, “What is our right place and time?”
“You have cheated death! Your time is… non-existant!” reply the Maruts, as they march forward to deliver their Inevitable Justice from the plane of Mechanus…
Searo quickly dismisses a couple with his magic, sending them back to their original plane of existence, and out of his flow of time!
As Clandestine draws her swords and makes short work of another couple, shearing their metal bodies into pieces until they are merely more than dust.
The song finishes! Playing what had never been heard! But only Searo and Clandestine are there to hear it, and they are not bards of any kind that could repeat what they had heard. Time resumes its previous course, and all awaken into a perplexed state. The King asks Searo what just occurred, and Searo explains emphatically…
...and then the fog begins to creep… under the doors… quickly filling into the throne room!