It’s been seven months since the last time King Jerrod called upon you, and much has happened since. This time the invitation was gilded in gold, brought by royal couriers of a higher status than before. Lettered in flowing script that languidly drew the eye were the following words: “The need for your services is dire and your renown has grown; I shall pay you thrice the last reward should you come to my aid.”
The couriers brought horses and wine aplenty for the journey to King Jerrod’s court, but remained tight-lipped on what ailed the monarch so. Their solemn mood seems to be a contagion of sorts, as everyone in the great hall was equally grave upon your arrival, a thing normally accompanied by some fanfare.
Silence dominated the court instead, until after shooing away his advisers, the king finally spoke. “The time is nigh for you and yours, to seek the Shroudstone’s dirty shores. An ailment forces me to speak this way, and should you cure it for you I’ve a king’s pay!”
The last words rapidly escape his lips in a fitful gasp as he searches for air, as if they had a force of their own. A brief murmur explodes around the chamber as King Jerrod coughs and hoots, slapping away an attendant and righting his posture.
Looking into his sallow face, you see distress behind the ruler’s normally calm gaze. His eyes flit to and fro, searching the room for things that, as far as you can tell, simply are not there. Prince Kurrin casts a stern gaze toward you, beckoning toward one of the doorways leading out of the great hall before disappearing into the hallway.
King Jerrod is being led away toward his bedchambers, and furtive glances between the nobles are all the response they seem to have for you, but the young prince gestures for you to join him in a drawing room nearby. The plush cushions and old tomes that line the shelves are both coated in dust, but Kurrin takes a seat anyway, running his hands through his lanky brown hair with a long, drawn out sigh.
“He’s been that way for weeks. The herbalists are at their wit’s end, as are all the healer’s we’ve called to his aid—some of them from as far away as Mohkba. None of their efforts have proven fruitful. Not a fortnight ago, he awoke screaming rhymes about the Shroudstone before the court alchemist drugged him back to rest. Since then my father’s hand has become too agitated to write, and every utterance is a painfully given rhyme. None can see his madness, but surely, the Shroudstone must be its cause! Search it out for whatever may lead to healing my father’s sickness, and I promise you a reward fit for a king!”