The Hateful Wars: Prelude
Something wicked flickered into view. It flashed and pulsed in bursts of flame, smoke, and light that leapt up from the burning coals in the scryer’s pot. Gretyll, the eldest of the three sisters and most powerful of the three, cast another handful of smoke-raising herb onto the hot coals as Hedvyg, the youngest of the three sisters, completed the recitation of the incantation. Gunhyld, the middling sister and ever the excitable of the three, cackled and keaked, “I can see her! It’s working! I see the face of a human woman!”
“Fonkin! Be silent!” Gretyll scolded. She tossed on a third handful of smoke-raising herb and the figure formed more fully in the haze—a woman beautiful by any standard, even in the eyes of the dwarf sisters. The lovely form seemed to be made of smoke and flame, yet somehow, almost solid and corporeal. Flowing dark hair undulated and writhed as if alive in motion with the rising heat from the burning coals, and imperious lips hardened into a sneer. Those lips moved in concert with a voice that came as if from beyond Oerth, “Kneel before me.”
The three sisters knelt.
“Why have you called me again?”
Speaking on behalf of her siblings, Gretyll plucked up courage and replied, “Majesty, we desire to know. Which one of us three shall reign for thee, and what shall become of our people, the steadfast dwur?”
“Our kingdoms will be one,” the visage replied in a honeyed tone both sweet and fearsome, “We join hands across the gap between the peaks. The one which serves me best will reign over all the dwur-folk and teach them dignity.”
“What shall become of the other two?” Gunhyld asked excitedly, still on her knees before the scryer’s pot.
“Let them serve the one I love the most,” the beautiful flickering phantasm promised.
Each sister thought herself the one the summoner would love the most, but Gretyll pressed for some useful tool with which to prevail. “We seek a surety,” Gretyll said. “And a weapon to wield against the sons of Gruumsh,” she added.
“And against the buggering sons of Larethian,” Gunhyld blurted tactlessly.
“You promised us your devilshine for Lortmil stones, but until now, you have given us nothing,” said Hedvyg, the most practically minded of the three sisters.
The smoke began dissipating, and the vision of the beautiful woman diffused and faded along with it, distorting itself into a wispy image of an old woman, stooped with age, but the disembodied voice still spoke clearly enough, “So long as the gods of the goblinkind remain seated in their mountain temple, I am prevented! Behold. I am sending my daughter. She brings you a useful book.”