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Return to Itharia: Kynstri's Mission

Summoner Wars Lore and new Second Summoners

 Eight new Second Summoner Faction Decks will be releasing this year at Origins Game Fair in Columbus. Are you ready to return to Itharia?
As Kynstri approached the cave, she tensed a bit as she did before any mission truly started. How many reconnaissance trips, infiltrations or assassinations she’d been on now she couldn’t keep track of anymore, but she thought it would all be done now that he and she were together. Now that she was his, he would send one of the other Cloaks out to do the dirty work, and keep her close. Safe with him, where she belonged. She’d waited for him for so long and, once she finally won him over… this.

He’d said this needed an experienced hand, and that she was the only person for the job. Kynstri couldn’t help but agree, even though it hurt her to leave him. She’d picked up very subtle hints on her last few tours spying on the various factions of Itharia. Troops whispering odd things to one another. Very subtle acts of deception against their factions that only a true spy, like her, would recognize. Mutterings of someone in the shadows with ideals that differed from all the warring factions. 

Kynstri found these things highly suspicious and unusual, and shared them immediately with her beloved – and only her beloved – the first chance she got, excited to provide him helpful information. And then he sent her away… to find this person in the shadows and learn all she could about them. He gave her some information that he’d collected – tell of a cave buried in Far Esta where members of all different races could be seen entering and leaving if one had a sharp eye. The last thing he said to her was “Fear not. We will be together sooner than you think, for you will discover the truth.”

And so here she was, just mere weeks after the death of Leonardo, the beginning of the offensive against the Benders, and finally achieving her dreams of uniting with the man she’d longed for.... outside of this cave, planning her next move. As she did so (her eyes were sharp indeed), she noticed two figures coming to the cave from the west. They looked vastly different from one another, and Kynstri thought she could make out the pointy ears (and the smell…) of a Sand Goblin. What Jexik saw in those disgusting creatures, she’d never know. She crept in behind them.

What she saw inside took even her aback. Not only were these two there (who, now that she was closer, she recognized for certain as a Sand Goblin and a Vargath), but there seemed to be representatives in the cave of nearly every race and faction in Itharia. Standing and talking, quite tensely, but in peace. While taking this all in, she heard a shrill sound from above and immediately looked up. A huge bird – no, an Ornitharian… it was much too big to be a normal bird – was circling overhead poking at a huddled mass in its claws with its beak. Then, she heard a voice boom from the corner and realized it came from a Dugalla sitting on some sort of makeshift throne, surrounded by meat and cheese.

“You – goblin! Come here and report to the mistress! And goat, you’re up next!” And he laughed for apparently no reason and went back to gnawing on his cheese while the Vargath bubbled with rage at being called “goat”.

The Sand Goblin walked forward and stopped short. He seemed to address a shadow directly – Kynstri couldn’t see who was hiding in the dark.

“Hi, boss – er, mistress.” He squeaked out.

“Report” – a strong female voice said from the shadows.

“OK bo – mistress. Sand Goblin new leader has shiny stone, too. Much Goblins like him – come to him first when he calls. Maybe ‘cause he's strong, but prob’ly ‘cause he has a giant.”

“A giant?” the woman asked.

“Yeah mistress – giant. Huge goblin. More poop than I ever seen. Doesn’t like little goblins around though… doesn’t know who to step on.”

“Go back to Tralia and learn more about this… thing.” she replied. The Goblin left, and the Vargath strode proudly forward.

“My mistress, I bring much news of the Vargath as well. The new general has coordinated their hearty forces more than I could have possibly imagined. They move together like a horned wave of destruction, seamless in their formation and more disciplined than any force in Itharia.”

“You sound as though you want to join them” the mistress said softly.

“On the contrary, while their force is formidable, their purpose is folly. I serve only my mistress – the one that will end the Summoner Wars and rule! I have learned that they employ guards within the midst of their ranks that shield the others. They are imbued with magic to protect their comrades. If we can get to them swiftly, the force will crumble.”

“Thank you. Return to him and learn more of their battle strategy. We will cripple them from the inside. But for now, I must tend to our guest of honor.” She got up and strode out from the shadows so that Kynstri could finally see her. She was clad in what looked like old Vanguard armor – battle-hardened, but sly. She radiated power, but also cunning. The more Kynstri took her in, the more she felt something familiar about her. Perhaps this distracted her, because Kynstri hadn’t noticed the woman was looking directly at where she was hiding.

“You, Cloak, come out from there. I’ve been expecting you.”

Kynstri was shocked – she was an expert at avoiding detection. There was no way this woman could’ve spotted her…. was there? Nevertheless, she strode out confidently, and made the decision to play along. Obviously she had spies in the other factions, so she would pose as one as well.

“It must be true then – what I’ve heard. Someone with great power bringing others together to end the war.” Kynstri hoped she’d guessed this woman’s motives correctly, but she was always good at guessing.

“Indeed… is that what you think I’m doing here?” she replied quietly. “And if it is, how can you be of service to me?”

Kynstri straightened herself. “I do, and I want to be a part of it. I’ve been deep in the Cloaks organization for as long as I can remember. I know everything about how they operate. I’ve spied and collected information on nearly every faction in this war-ridden world. I’m sick of doing the bidding of an aged fool who has lost his edge. And from what I’ve heard in your hall here, it sounds like you’re looking for someone just like me.”

“Lost his edge?” There was a hint of malice in the woman’s tone. “I daresay he’s lost more than that. Dead now, isn’t he? For about two weeks?”

Kynstri faltered – how could she possibly know that Leonardo was dead? The Cloaks had kept that a secret from everyone, and no one was better at keeping secrets than the Cloaks. Perhaps she was a Bender psychomancer, and this was some kind of trap?

“You must be wondering how I could possibly know that – know the secrets of the Cloaks. No – I’m no Bender mind-reader. I know because it is my business to know. What sets me apart from every other leader in this world is my ability to gain knowledge and trust. I suppose that neither your beloved Vlox, nor the old man himself ever told you about Leonardo’s other apprentice, did they, Kynstri?”

If Kynstri was shocked before, now she was mortified. This woman not only knew Leonardo was dead, but knew her name and of her new relationship…. this was not possible. And there was that nagging feeling of familiarity – of compassion even that Kynstri felt for this woman. However, years of training helped her keep her composure.

“The leaders of the Cloaks have many secrets – that’s how the Cloaks came to be. I suspected that Vlox sent me here to learn more of them. It appears I was right. I’ve never been told of another apprentice.”

“Well, allow me to enlighten you.” she said callously. “Years ago , Leonardo knew that one day, the Vanguards would select their new Grandmaster. In order to push back the forces of the dead and keep the other factions in line, this person needed to be strong, and guided in the right direction. This would be the person that, in the end, the sides of good rallied toward. And if the Vanguards had their way, they would leave this up to their ridiculous religion and traditions. So Leonardo sent his apprentice there to ensure that this did not come to pass. The one he said he trusted most of all. He sent her to infiltrate the Vanguard ranks as one of their own, gain the trust of the council, the general and the Lord Marshall, prove herself worthy to lead, and ensure that the person chosen was right to unite Itharia. 

He sent me.”
“I did my job well, as always. I fought and counseled beside Lightbringer and Farthen, gained their trust and proved my worth. I defended the Citadel from the dead, and led their troops to victory. I served on their great Council and they heeded my advice, all the while passing information back to my mentor. We manipulated them from within and, when the time finally came for them to choose their leader, there was only one logical choice. I would take the stone, and through me the greatest minds in Itharia would work to keep the peace.”

Kynstri just stared and listened intently. The woman’s mind seemed far from here.

“But when push came to shove, the Council crumbled under their foolish beliefs. They said they listened to those old hags they call the Sisters of Justice. The monks and priests that sit in their temples all day, away from battles. The crone who could barely walk or remember her own name. They looked not to those who had defended their walls, but to those constrained within them, and they chose that… that girl. That prisoner with no experience, no training. And it was then I knew… I had been betrayed. Leonardo had always known the outcome. He used me by promising me rule, justice and unity, and put me in place to pass him along information of the Council’s agenda, so that when the time came, he could join with them instead of ruling them from the background.” The malice in her voice was clear now.

“I could not stand for this. Righteous as she may be, I would not stand by and watch Itharia rally to this prison rat. I abandoned the Vanguards and their silly oath, and sought out my mentor. Sought him out to ask why – after years of planning and work, why now join with them, when we know they don’t possess the wit and cunning to triumph over the dead, or to keep the other factions from tearing each other apart? And what he said to me was “I’m sorry, Farrah. Sera Eldwyn is the only way, and we must follow her. She was chosen by the stone itself, as I always knew she would be. After living as one of them for so long, I’d hoped you would come to believe.” As Vlox smirked at me, the two of them left. It was clear that Leonardo had finally chosen his true successor - chosen one unworthy to lead. Just as the Vanguards had.”

Kynstri thought she knew what was going on, now. Her beloved loved to play these games, to test loyalty of those around him. She continued to listen as the woman didn’t seem to be done with her story.

“But I wasn’t finished with them, and I would not allow Vlox to win this way. I started a new life that day... this life. If I would not unite Itharia by standing in the light, I would do it from the shadows. I infiltrated the factions and found those who were being looked over, or who wanted the war to end, or who didn't believe in their Summoner's ideals. I showed them how by standing together as people of Itharia rather than divided by faction and race, we can end the wars. And once I was strong enough, I vowed to take revenge on my mentor and his unworthy "son".

And I did just that. I learned where Leonardo and Vlox were hiding and we ambushed them. It was too easy. They never dared to believe that someone could find the hiding place of the greatest mind in Itharia. Vlox was so easily taken - pathetic really. And my faithful Bender agent (she gestured towards the corner of the cave where a Bender sat, deep in thought) cornered Leonardo and took hold of his mind."

At this, Kynstri relaxed. She couldn’t help letting out a bit of a laugh and called out to the crowd “Ah, but you see, he sent me here himself just this morning, and I watched him emerge from Leonardo's tent with the stone. You can come out now, my love! I’m onto your game. I’ve been able to feel your presence ever since I walked into this cave. That stone of yours emits quite the aura. Have I passed your test?”

The woman that called herself Farrah smiled. “Alas, you’re right, girl. Your darling Vlox is here.” And she looked up to the ceiling. “Lukestor!”

The great Ornitharian immediately dropped what he had been carrying and poking at. The bundle landed between Farrah and Kynstri with a loud thud. As Farrah pulled off the hood, Kynstri looked into the eyes of her love; bound, gagged and unconscious as he was. As she looked down, waiting for Vlox to wake up and end the ruse, Farrah produced a swirling stone from behind her. Kynstri recognized it instantly – that was the stone that belonged to Vlox, passed to him by Leonardo upon his death. But he would never let it out of his hands. Her eyes widened.

“I had this procured for me from the frail hands of my mentor, after he fought against the mind control. That old fool indeed. He underestimated my ability to lead, and also my ability to take what I want. And for that, Leonardo met his end at my instruction. Now, see why I have no need for a spy within the Cloaks.” 

At that instant, Kynstri felt a hand on her shoulder from behind. A touch she knew very well. She turned around, and saw Vlox standing there, very much awake and looking at her as he always did. Her heart leapt.

“Fear not. We will be together sooner than you think, for you will discover the truth.” he said, exactly the same way he’d said it when she left. But as he finished, his face began melting away. His soft, white skin turned to hard, dark scales. His fingers grew into claws. A tail sprouted out from behind him. Where had just stood the man she loved now stood a Vekkid, ugly and harsh. Kynstri’s eyes and heart filled with horrifying realization. The shape-shifter’s fanged mouth broke into a smile as it raised a knife and said in a raspy voice:

“And for that, now you die.”
Summoner Wars lore written by Frank Balog - Lead Playtester of Summoner Wars

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