|Sir Browyrd, Sheriff Of Dranning...|
"Send a runner immediately," the Sheriff said to his assistant. "To Count Canigli. Tell him this just won't do, he must keep his kin in check as per the ordinances of the peace treaty signed at the end of The Thousand Year War. Tell him, I'm very disappointed." He shook his head, then gestured for Kirchin to continue.
However, instead, with a quiet subtlety the other members of the party did not normally associate with their dwarven tank, Davian Battlebeard stepped forward and whispered something into Sir Browyrd's ear.
[He's playing his 'flashback card' gained from the memory mist in back in Chapter Eight]
For a moment, the Sheriff looked slightly flustered, then addressed the assembled group - Kirchin, Davian, Imogen and Harry had been joined by Marigold, who looked as though she had been crying and was still carrying her backpack, despite popping home first. The pack actually looked fuller, Harry observed.
When Harry turned his focus back to the Sheriff, he realised the young noble was rattling on about Lady Zadell. Turns out she's the matriarch of the neighbouring duchy, Kel, which is a fundamental theocracy.
Kel and Dranning were allies in a conflict several hundred years ago against an evil death cult, The Duvan'Ku, who had spread terror throughout southern Elyntia from their secluded base somewhere in the Gargoyle Mountains.
Eventually, the cult is believed to have committed the ultimate apostasy by summoning its god, Ballor Mnoren, and then sacrificing him! Whatever the truth of the matter, the cult disappeared almost overnight and the mountain where they are believed to have hidden, Frost Mountain, remains shunned by all right thinking people.
This conflict had forged Dranning into a major martial power, but the people of Kel turned to their religion, the worship of the Mnoren Pantheon, for their strength.
The duchy became a theocracy and since then the Duke - or Duchess - has also been head of the region's church.
|Lady Zadell, Duchess of Kel|
But for reasons unknown, she suddenly changed her policy almost two decades ago, stopped her personal evangelising and began to rule the duchy with an iron first and words of 'fire and brimstone' from the security of Cathedral-Fortress Kel (the enormous, sprawling fortified complex that serves as the capitol city of the duchy).
Sir Browyrd tells his audience the last he heard, The Duchess - now in her 80s - was on her death bed, and various relatives were jockeying for the right to succeed her.
Kirchin, Davian, Harry and Imogen all turned to look at Marigold.
The Sheriff, enjoying the sound of his own voice, failed to notice he no longer held the group's attention, but realising he'd gone off on a slight tangent, coughed and gestured to Kirchin to resume the account of our heroes' latest exploits.