The Shaman strode forth onto the balcony, feeling the icy winds whip past his muzzle and through fur. The cold didn’t bite , for he was a Frosmery, a towering race of bear-like beings. They lived in the frozen north of Elsinqart, cutting into the mountains to form their citadels. The Shaman looked out onto the region controlled and protected by Ginta Citadel, built within the tallest mountain range among the Frosmery territories, second to Kiracus Citadel on the Laughing Isle far to the east. The Frosmery named the land, and recorded its history. Despite efforts by an impish species to the far south, known as Ceratok, the Frosmery had lived in peace for Centuries, growing docile and plump.
To the furthest point on the southern horizon, his gaze was transfixed on the blackened soot spoiled sky above what was called The Dragons' Cradle. It was a foul omen, one predicted would be a heralding of great upheaval in the world. His musings of ancient fables were interrupted by the shuffle of robes, and paw pads on cold stone.
“Master Canoros?” A young Frosmery in messenger attire stood in an archway. “The Council is waiting for you.” The messenger fidgeted where he stood, his youthful fur not as thick as Canoros’ own, which was poor luck for the they would stay close by to this open plan waiting area that lead to the council chamber. It was largely unused, as most believed a council of war was unnecessary, and the Frosmery were intelligent enough to sort out their own disputes before pestering their elders. Canoros turned to the messenger.
"Does Gibaloi still have that gormless expression smothered on his face?" Canorus grumbled to the messenger, who stammered and fussed wishing he was not on duty for this moment. “In your own words, how willing to listen do you think they are?” Canoros meant the whole Council, for the ranks and titles had fallen into formality for many of the citadels, and so most of the current Councils were inexperienced.
“It is not my place sir” The messenger responded averting his eyes from the gaze of the aged shaman. It did not help him, as it felt as if Canoros’ eyes were burning the messenger’s skin. “Grumbles of a missed meal, and a complaint that in a time of peace they're not needed beyond formality or if Councillor Omenorus is needed.” Canoros thumped his stave into the carved stone floor, and an array of archaic runes blossomed from its top.
“They would do well not to forget the position they hold, ceremoniously or otherwise.” Canoros grumbled as he began to walk towards the audience chamber, the blossom of arcane magic transfixed the messenger’s gaze so that he stood there in awe. The great door opened from the inside where ceremonial guards stood in vigil, and Canoros met the eye of each council member in turn who he’d be speaking to and their station.
Fenuro, Councilor of the Army. Peace had dulled his senses, and his will, sluggishness showing on his sunken, sagging features. An ornamental and finely crafted helmet sat on the desk before him. An heirloom passed down through the generations. On a battlefield it would have been no better than a leather cap, but in the Citadels it was a badge of office to be carried, or worn, and admired with honour.
Next was Gibaloi, Councilor of Trade. While Fenuro had lost his spirit and body to peace, Gibaloi was large from an overabundance of food. His face brimmed with almost absentminded glee, making Canoros wonder if the Councilor even knew why he was here, let alone on the Council. Around Gibaloi’s neck with his badge of office, a Gold and Leather pendant styled in the shape of a merchant's trade ledger, held by a chain bound again in leather and gold. The weight cut the chain into the fat that rolled down his neck.
In the middle was Omenor, Councilor of Law and Order. He could be described as unhealthily thin for a Frosmery, emphasised further by wirey and sparce fur, as his face showed the lines of his skull, most prominently around his eyes, which seemed to have fallen into their sockets. Yet despite this he also carried a strange air of vitality, as if he was fuelled by some other worldly force. Many would say that his hunger for the enforcement of Frosmery Law was what kept him going, as all severe transgressions went through his office. Omenor’s badge of office rested across and beyond his shoulders, a leather mental with large forward facing pauldrons, one showing an image of a soul being punished, while the other a effigy of three beings working together. For many the scenes shown always reflected something of the observer, but such magical technique was lost to time by this point.
Fourth was Aermiu, Councilor of Health & Herblore. The official title was “Compassion” though many felt Health & Herblore worked better, for Aermiu was in charge of keeping the Herbariums stocked, and all ailments researched and treated. Her features were softer, and better kept than her male counterparts. Her fur was brushed, and her robes clean. Aermiu was renowned for her kindness within the Citadel, and her understanding was what many sought out for aide in the worst of conflicts, less they become violent and Councilor Omenor brought into the mess. Aermiu’ badge of office was a necklace, in the shape of an Elsinqart flower. Each petal was a different colour and made of a unique mineral rock.
The fifth seat lay empty, for this was where Canoros would sit. As the Councilor of Shamans, it was his duty to foresee the trails of his Citadel, to walk into the realms beyond and either return those on the edge of death back to the living world, or give them their last blessing for the next life. His Stave was his symbol of office, and through it his most potent spells could be channeled. As he had entered the room, the four councilors fell silent, coming to realize this was not the summons of a fever dreaming unskilled shaman, but a potential call to action by the Master Shaman himself. Canoros let the moment sink in before he spoke.
“Councilors.” He began, eyeing Gibaloi who had returned to a face of oblivious delight. “I hope you are willing to listen to what must said. For I do not call a council without proper reason.” Gibaloi fidgeted in his seat, knowing that he was the one that complained about the meeting. “Many of my Apprentices have been plagued by a shared recurring dream. As Aermiu will tell you, we have been treating it as some sort of infection, or disease. But last night I was visited by the dream, and not only did it carry a real message, but one of dire repercussions.”
Canoros’ words echoed slightly around the chamber. Fenuro seemed unmoved, but his eyes moved with life. Gibaloi continued to feel uneasy, while Omenor had leaned forward and steeple his clawed hands, and Aermiu who had known all Canoros had to stayed silent to listen.
“Elsinqart is on the brink of change on an epic scale. The land itself is preparing for it, as you have likely noticed the increase of twins and triples among pregnancies in the Citadels. Even our livestock seem to have been affected by this, and our sources of other foods are increasing in their yields. And I fear the Dragons Cradle itself is awakening with the world.” This last statement sent a shiver down the spine of all present. Dragons Cradle, though nearing an old story to keep children in line, was still a present concern for the elders of the Frosmery. Fenuro Straightened himself slightly.
“And what does this mean for our army” Fenuro asked, in almost a whisper. “We have not needed to mobilize in decades, not since the last time the Ceratok encroached on our lands. Our soldiers are inexperienced.” The Ceratok had been corralled by a large specimen of their race, one never seen before, with a drive seemingly to claim the entire Elsinqart continent as their own, forcing them to travel far north of their desert homelands. The land to the south of the Frosmery regions still bared the scars of this incursion. As the great swathes of forest had been cut down and taken in huge volumes back to the south when the Ceratok were pushed back. Few of the remaining Watch Captains had been a part of the defences during this time, and so their soldiers only knew of it through lectures about formations and tactics.
"I don't mean this flippantly, but if my visions come to pass, they will either become experienced, or perish..." Canoros' words hung in the air, all present understanding the graveness the future was preparing for them. Gibaloi raised a paw, and coughed abruptly for the attention of the council.
"I'll have the Traders begin to prioritize stockpiling over freely trading..." Fenuro' jaw almost hit the floor in surprise at Gibaloi's change of character. Most new him as a large and stupid trader who barely got his work finished, but here he was proactively suggesting the correct response to the situation. Canoros turned to Omenor, meeting his gaze. After a brief moment of eye contact, the Councilor nodded his head in agreement.
"Then we shall prepare for the worst." and with that, the meeting was adjourned. Each Councilor raising from their seat, and meeting at the door which opened before them. A somber silence punctuated only by Canoros' staff hitting the stone floor, surrounded the council as they began mental preparations for their respective feilds. A quiet that was abruptly cased with a thunderous boom, multicoloured lightning and a distinct shifting of the ground beneath their feet. Each member of the council turned in unison to the south-west, where the strange storm seemed to be focused from.
"I'll get a party ready to venture out to investigate that immediately." Piped up Fenuro. "I admit I was expecting more time Canoros." Canoros stood unblinking, not sure if this was truly the beginning of what he had seen....