“Approach, young Netherese,” said Escanor. “My brothers and I have been discussing you.”
Ezmereth walked deeper into the chamber and bowed slightly towards Escanor Tanthul, one of the Princes of Shade. With him were his brothers Aglarel and Lamorak. All were shades, humans who had merged with the essence of the Shadowfell, making them very powerful in areas of darkness or shadow.
“I come with grave news for the empire,” Ezmereth said, swallowing the sadness he felt for his master.
“We already know of Ylormik’s death,” said Lamorak, with a dark grin on his face.
“We were scrying your training,” the prince continued. “We find it important that we keep a close eye on Umbriris in training, especially in these times when we are on the brink of war with the Thayans, not to mention the ever-present threat of the Harpers.”
Ezmereth, gritting his teeth, quietly said, “Then you know I have failed him, as well as all of you.”
“Yes,” Aglarel chimed in, “you have failed us immensely. Ylormik was a skilled nethermancer, and an excellent teacher of the arcane arts. His death will affect many in Shade enclave.”
The chamber remained silent for a moment, as though the Princes wished to emphasize their displeasure.
“Worry not, young Swordmage,” Escanor finally said, his voice cutting into the silence. “We have already discussed at length what best to do of this.”
“Am I to become Shade, like all of you, my lieges?” Ezmereth had hope in his eyes.
“Nay,” Aglarel replied dryly.
“But, to wield such power is the only way I can fully serve Netheril and become a true Umbriri. It would be a great honor.”
“You shall not have that honor!” Aglarel stared at the young man. “In fact, that blade of yours, Umbra, shall be placed into our care until we deem you worthy of wielding it again.”
Guards appeared from the side of the room. They walked up to Ezmereth and opened their hands. Hesitantly, the young Swordmage unsheathed Umbra and placed it into the guards’ hands. The guards then quickly turned and walked away.
“All is not lost, Ezmereth Nemrin,” Escanor said. “You will be tasked with a mission of great importance. It is our hope that you will accept this mission so that you may redeem yourself in the eyes of Shar.”
Ezmereth, looking up with a glimmer of hope in his eyes, asked, “What is your bidding my princes?”
“You shall head west,” began Escanor, “to the fabled library of Candlekeep. There you will join a group that is planning an expedition to the southern island of Chult.
“Once you get to Chult, explore the land with the expedition. Learn its geography, the ways of its people, and assist in all that you can. Your task will be to form a Netherese Embassy there so we can make trade relations with the natives. Once this is complete, then, and maybe then, will we give you the honor of turning you into a Shade. And perhaps we shall even give you back your blade of darkness. At the very least, you will have the gratitude of Netheril itself.”
“Very well, my lieges,” Ezmereth bowed.
“Here is a Tome bound with coils of darkness,” Escanor said, walking up to the dishonored Swordmage and handing him a large book with pitch black binding made of shadow. “It contains history about our enclave as it stood in the Shadowfell for millennia. Its worth is unmatched, and with it, you will gain access to the library.”
“Leave now,” Aglarel said as his brother walked back to his side, “and do not fail us again.”
Ezmereth bowed once again, and walked out. He grabbed a steel blade in the armory before leaving the enclave. Nothing enchanted like the blade he was used to, but it would have to suffice. His kingdom needed him to build trade relations and expand their territory to the south. Not quite what he was expecting, but potentially exciting nonetheless.
The jungles of Chult awaited him, a place where he would hone his skill with blade and magic, and hopefully redeem himself for his past mistakes.