My time with the Wyldguard has proven interesting to say the least, it is a wonder to have proper parchment to write on again. While I was imprisoned by them for justifiable reasons, I took to composing and chronicling even though I had no ink or paper.My initial time among them was short, as an anti-magic field soon revealed what I tried desparately to hide. I tried to plead my case but they would not hear me, calling me scum and a deceiver. I was on the cusp of getting a thrashing when suddenly a suit of forest green armor wielding a greatsword appeared over my prone frame in a silvery mist. I thought I was surely about to be smote by this seemingly animated creature when I noticed it had taken a protective stance over me and it was snarling visciously.Then, in a low, calm growl, it said, “Stay your blades pups or come see how I deal with scavs. I saw this one aiding the wounded from OUR clan and I will NOT see another healer dead this day. She will continue to aid the wounded in the medical chambers. Any who cause her harm will answer to me. Remember that looks are deceiving.”
It was then that he removed his vine-laced helm and I gasped and so did others who were seeing him for the first time and did not know him. I knew him though, I had heard the stories.Standing tall at around 8 ft, his frame was massive but he held himself like a tightly wound serpent ready to strike at any moment. Jet black fur covered him head to toe and with a short crest of hair atop his head that was a brilliant silver. His face was dignified, wise, and stern. His right eye was the color of steel with a gaze just as sharp. His left eye seemed like it had been slashed out in battle and bore three scars the covered the left side of his face. They glowed against the sleek fur with a faint orange light. It was when I saw that wound I knew.
The Ravenous Traitor, who rose up against the great Gnoll warlord Yeeongzhu. The Gentle Alpha, who was raised by the Archdruid Melora and rode into battle as her Furyvine. The Ensaring Fang, who stole away gnolls to his own clan. The only gnoll in existence who had ever risen against The Clan and lived. His true name lost after being exiled, he was only known as Slag the Kinslayer. In my shock at seeing Slag, I failed to notice myself being gently lifted up by a pair of strong hands and found myself looking up into the huge grin of the kobold punter, Pelor.
“Come on then, Bahamut’s sent for you, all hands, scales or not on deck she says,” he said before leading me through a series of vine covered hallways to a large room with many tables occupied by wounded. Pelor brought me towards the back where we found Bahamut finishing up with a patient. She motioned for me to sit, her eyes clear and surprisingly warm.
“You know healing magic?” she asked in Draconic.
“Y-yes,” I stammered in kind, “I am trained.”
“Mm, no doubt,” she said, her eyes appraising me. “What was someone like you doing at that port?”
“Fleeing. I…I am not welcome among my kind. I was left to die,” I answered, pulling down my tunic a bit to show her the top of the scar on my chest where I had been stabbed. Her eyes narrowed a bit at that.
“I see. One more question. Can you read this?” She held up a scrap of parchment written with the word “key” in the language of my people. It wasn’t an odd question, most of my people were illiterate, too busy fighting for the glory of the empire and all that. I was one of the odd ones in the clutch.
“Yes,” I answered simply. She broke out into a warm smile at that.
Pelor broke in, “Come on now Bahamut, you know I can’t speak your language well yet. What’s the story?” he asked a bit peeved.
“Our new friend here is a trained healer it seems. She will be put to work tending to the wounded. Assign her a guard, one Dragonborn and one of Grummush’s men if you please. We don’t want a scene like earlier, I remember what it was like when the Metal Clans and Slag’s kin came to join the Horde.” She stood up and gestured me to follow. “What’s your name yuan-ti? Can’t have people just call you scaleback, we’ll have another brawl on our hands.”
“S-Saldana…Saldana Brokenscale,” I answered.
Bahamut’s eyes and mouth widened the slightest bit, “……I see. Welcome Saldana.” Then she hugged me.
I could still feel the tension in the air when I entered the medical hall. People stared at me but said nothing. I assumed it’s because of my guards that escort me everywhere. Rushak, a mountain of an Unok, Kalesh, a bronze Dragonborn of the Metal Clans, and her diminuitive kobold companion who only went by “Drek”. I understood Bahamut’s reasoning for these specific guards. The Dragonborn Metal Clans and the Unoks had faced significant resistance when they first entered the alliance of The Wildguard due to their nations’ proximity to the Empire. It was only after a strikeforce of Unoks, Dragonborn, and Kobolds came to the rescue of a besieged fort on the Golden Sea that The Wildguard fully accepted them into their ranks at the command of Melora. My guess is that my escorts and their peoples had faced their share of discrimnation and suspicion.
My skills as a healer kept me relevant, or so I thought. When I wasn’t in the medical hall, I was confined to a small, spartan room and allowed access to my journal. Kalesh, Rushak, and Drek rotated guarding me while I was in my room. Rushak was a quiet and reserved person, always courteous to me but very duty-oriented I think. Kalesh was an amicable Dragonborn who seemed to take his job very seriously, as if he had something to prove. He was the most harsh to anyone who gave me trouble while I worked. The Kobold, Drek, was an amusing little fellow. He usually stayed silent and helped me with my work, surprising me with his extensive knowledge of healing and anatomy. He was also the one who would put my patients at ease if they were wary or harsh with me. I can safely say I began to feel comfortable around these three.
The days had become routine during my…isolation, though Bahamut would frequently visit me and speak with me about healing or some such minor thing, until one night she asked me to accompany her above ground outside. I followed, not really having a choice. As we walked out into the night, I happily took in the sight of the clear sky framing the Three Sisters, then noticed that there was a group gathered nearby in the clearing that served as a courtyard or training ground depending on the day. As we moved closer, I realized I was in the presence of the entire Wyldguard. All of them were there, Kord the halfling, Silvanus the elf, Pelor the goliath, Moradin the dwarf, Grummush the Unok, Dacia the human, Slag the Furyvine and the head of the Wyldguard herself, Melora.
I immediately froze in shock. This group had started as a mercenary group that favored helping the commonfolk in the Freelands, only to rise to lead the resistance against the Empire. Though the rest of the group was fairly well known, all that was known about Melora was that she was the most powerful Archdruid in the known history of Tarkan. Her gaze locked with mine as Bahamut and I approached and I could feel myself wilting under that steely gaze. This woman was fierce and wild, yet held herself with an almost….animal-like grace. All of us stood in silence until Melora said something that surprised everyone present.
“Saldana Brokenscale, Tarkan has need of you. Will you join our ranks to save it?”All members of the Wildguard present went stockstill with perplexed looks on their faces, save Bahamut, Pelor and Slag.
“Now hold on a fucking second Mel, why should we agree to this?” growled Moradin the dwarf, cracking his knuckles.
“Easy there Mory, she has been doing good work and her guards seem to like her,” said Silvanus.
“She has skills we need you runt, you know that. She is skilled in healing and can read the tongue of the snakes,” Kord answered curtly.
“Who are you calling runt you midget?” snapped Moradin.
“Both of you knock it the fuck off. Your height fight is tiresome. Lady Melora, how do you know we can trust her?” asked Dacia, who seemed like he was battle ready in the dead of this night.
“Saldana, please show them your mark,” Bahamut suggested softly.
I looked around at those gathered, noticing there was no malice in their eyes to my extreme surprise. Instead, they were looking at me with curiosity. It was then I realized that I was probably the first yuan-ti they captured alive, as the warriors of my people would rather take their own lives than be captured by the “lesser” races. I hesistated for a second, then pulled my tunic down to show them my mark, the mark of a race traitor. It is a jagged scar right above my heart, with a brand around it that read “traitor” in my language.
“I am….different from my people. I only wish to learn and chronicle what I see. This was deemed unacceptable by my clan as I sought to learn about the free peoples and their cultures. At first they sought to turn me into a spy.”
Some of the members present bristled at that, only to be quieted by Melora in an instant.
“I resisted, I never wanted to conquer, I only seek the true history of Tarkan. I was betrayed by my clan when they learned I had refused to enter the Shadowskins. My refusal was….petulant, I made a scene and was branded a traitor to the Empire and given the name Brokenscale. I was then branded and run through and thrown from the top of the Black Walls. I managed to survive and immediately fled here to the freelands. I mistakenly thought I could hide here, but the Empire’s reach is farther than I realized,” I said breathlessly, relieved to finally tell my story.
The Wyldguard murmured among themselves for a few minutes until Melora stood and walked up to me. I forced myself to meet her intense gaze and saw she looked at me with a pure kindness and understanding in her eyes. I immediately felt at ease, feeling a warmth to her presence.
“Saldana Brokenscale, you have been through much. You have stood against what you believe to be wrong. Tarkan has need of people such as you. The Wildguard needs an asset like you. Will you join our ranks and fight to free this land and it’s peoples?” As she finished, she pulled out a lute, my lute, taken when I was captured, and held it out to me.
“Yes. Yes, I will help you,” I said, accepting the lute. “I will aid you in any way that I can.”
“Excellent,” said the archdruid, breaking into a beautiful smile. The other members rumbled their approval and began moving away, leaving me with Melora and Bahamut. After the others had left, Melora spoke to me again, sounding tired yet determined, “Now tell me Saldana, have you heard of structures called Oathgates?”