Smoke choked the air as Heinrich carefully stepped around the heaps of corpses, the occasional sound of falling rubble and the crackle of fires that burned away at the shattered buildings and equipment piercing the air as he approached the giant, crumpled corpse of a dragon. Green-scaled and tinted with splotches of orange, it was a remarkable pattern for a species he knew to be native to the southern jungles.
However, it wasn't the dragon he was interested in, but rather the figure standing vigil atop it, a lance still stuck in its side as its owner gripped it tightly. Clad in beautiful, lithe silver armor with a purple cape draped across the knight's chest and back, the most striking aspect was the helmet, with two tall wing decorations holding tall over the landscape the knight surveyed.
"Ser knight! Might I have a word?" Heinrich called out, coughing from a curtain of smoke that came with the breeze.
The knight turned his head slightly, regarding Heinrich in silence for a few moments before pulling the lance from the dragon's body, blood dripping off its length, gracefully jumping off the corpse and to the ground to meet him.
"By the gods…that weapon is all manner of strange and unusual." His eyes bulged out as they landed on the lance, now able to study it at a close distance. Made of a silvery black metal, the lance was tipped with three spiral-curved points that twisted around a purple gem that seemed to swirl with unnatural energy, pulsing as the weapon itself practically vibrated with power, though the sight of it gave him a sense of unease.
The knight approached him closely, his expression inscrutable behind the helmet.
"You are…Ser Quinn Clarke?" Heinrich cleared his throat nervously. "My name is Captain Heinrich vel Chamberlain, I serve House Hyurin of the nation of Derza."
He received no response, the knight merely staring back at him in silence.
"…I-I, uh…I have been charged with the duty of requesting your presence at Katakan Bay. My patrons have taken note of your exceptional talents and martial feats, and would ask of you your service. Does this interest you at all, Ser Clarke?"
After a few moments of uncomfortable staring, the knight finally let out a muffled laugh, one that shocked him.
"If they would have me, Captain, I will gladly answer." Impaling his spear into the stone brick, the knight removed their helmet, silvery locks of hair appearing. Heinrich's face turned bright red as he laid eyes upon the feminine face meeting his gaze with a smirk, shimmering purple eyes staring right through him. "But please, call me Quinn. I don't believe the lord of Derza has acknowledged a woman as a knight before, and the title ill suits one such as I."
"I-I…my apologies, my lady. I must confess, I've never encountered—" He apologized, only to be silenced by a wave of her free hand.
"Think nothing of it, Heinrich. Pray tell, what do you know of this service your lords would ask of a traveler like myself?"
"O-Oh, of course! I must confess I do not know the specifics, but it would appear that there is unrest in the eastern borders of the nation. There are rumors of a foreign warlord with strange powers that defy imagination, and there's talk that he has his eyes on Derza."
"Ah. So they seek mercenaries for this upcoming war?"
"It would seem so. To be asking someone of your reputation, though…I imagine they must have a request of great significance for you." Heinrich nodded, rubbing his chin.
"Well, it would behoove me to at least see what they would ask. Beyond that, I make no promises." Quinn replaced her helmet, retrieving her lance as she turned to walk away from Heinrich, returning to the slain dragon. "Inform your masters that I will journey to Katakan Bay once my affairs here have been settled."
"Of course. Good day, Lady Quinn." Heinrich blinked, eventually saluting her and setting off in the direction he came from.
"…Ugh. Lady?" Quinn grumbled, jumping atop the dragon and returning her gaze to the land, shaking her head. "It suits me even less so. And yet…I cannot help but feel a pull to this place. What journey does Derza portend for the Dark Oracle, I wonder."