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Thread: Intermission - Parable in Anthracite

  1. #11
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    "Of course! My pleasure. This path, nobody walks it anymore. That's why I chose it!" As he speaks, Diviak gathers up his belongings, even going so far as to put away the carcass and fruit pits in a bag he seals shut.

    "If the shrub I sought just grew by the side of every trail around here, I wouldn't be seeking it, would I? Oh no, I'd have someone package and deliver it. Expensive, but well worth the trouble. That is to say, it's better than having to search it out myself."

    Diviak leads the way down the mountain to the valley below. It's a steep, winding trail, and many times it simply seems to end, but each time, Diviak shows where it continues.

    "Trial and error," he explains, "lots of errors. I'm more for strolling than trailblazing, but in this sort of situation, I've found that patience and a reluctance to dive into the nearest thorn bush are twin advantages in my employ."

    In this manner, the trio slowly descends into the cloud layer, where the damp mist brings an unseasonable chill. The fog is not so thick as to risk losing the path, and after a few hours of careful travel, the path joins a proper trail, one filled with muddy ruts as well as the countless imprints of boots and horseshoes. The forest here is sparse, in contrast to most of the rest of the valley, it seems. The fields near the trail look like they're being used for common fodder, and the grasses are cut (more likely chewed) very short.

    "Magpie Street," says Diviak, and points to a tree a few yards' from the road where a dozen or more of the birds are perched. Noxias is almost shocked to discover that these "magpies" have strictly black and white feathers instead of the profusion of colors he is familiar with in the Feywild.

    "This is the main street of Byswell Town, too, and we're merely a league away. One more hour and we'll be there, with plenty of time before sunset!"

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    Quietly, Yrisz treads next to Noxias and Diviak, bending all her exhausted attentions to not running a fowl of the treacherous cloud obscured path that they are managing. After hours of such weary travel, she allows her head bow listlessly as they join the more civilized width of Magpies Street, content to rest her eyes a bit now that the road proves less hostile.

    “We are so very blessed to have bumped into one so familiar with the area so soon into this lands,” Yrisz says not bothering to open her eyes, though she does manage to touch her holy symbol to her lips in a sign of thanks.

    “I rather think I’ll be able to make the one hour trip to your current abode,” Yrisz says as if trying to convince herself of the fact, “and as long as things have not drifted into the outrageously expense, I think Naz and I could probably pay for your stay tonight considering how you had to curtail your Alpine Piper herb hunt on our account.”

    “Do you know that I was in Beilston during the flooding,” Yrisz says opening her eyes and quite obviously trying to be proper company to one assisting them so.

    “So many strange happenings their during their aqua alta, you would never believe it,” she says, with an awkward laugh.

    And then a thought comes her blond head with an almost audible ‘click’, and for a second Yrisz stops amidst highway, her mouth half open in revelation as she is regard Diviak as if for the first time.

    “Oh,” she says observing his subtly managed magician’s staff, marking his manner of movement and speech, “or maybe you would,” she says in a bit more subdued manner as she quickly walks to regaining her place between the man and the fey.

    “There was a lot more going on in Beilston then met the eye for sure,” she says trying to read how Diviak will manage her obvious revelation, “and your quite right about where I was born, I forget my accent to you must be so pronounced; and I don’t know our acquaintance would have a place for us to stay if we had to leave town or if she would even offer it if she had one, so other then meeting her at some time in the future, I don’t think we are actually employed in the near future if it proves we could help matters a bit in or around Byswell Town as our skills allow,” she clearly trying to quickly cover any subject anything might give offense to the decidedly formidable mage walking with them.
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 03-09-2016 at 05:53 AM.

  3. #13
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    "Ah," Diviak chuckles, "familiar only with a few of the trails. Much of this valley is the dark unknown to me. It is my good fortune that the herb I seek supposedly grows above the treeline, or I would never venture out without a sturdy guide.

    "So you were in Beilston then? Your news must be much more current than mine! I apologize for telling you tidings you are already familiar with; I hastily assumed your cause for concern. I certainly hope no trouble has beset Beilston since their flood. I, for one, have not heard of anything.

    "There are strange stirrings in Beilston, you say. I have not been there myself, but I thought I might head in that direction. Now I am uncertain. Perhaps you can advise me: what is going on in Beilston and should I stay clear of it?

    "Before that, of course, there is the problem of Byswell. I think it's a problem that lies in the hands of the Bone Lancers and the rebels to resolve. I must admit, I feel a little hard-pressed to solve even my own matters in relation to Byswell. If you two can turn the situation in Byswell around for the better, you must be formidable indeed." He steals a long glance at Noxias, as if seeking confirmation that Noxias agrees with his companion's desire.

    "If you are interested in taking the measure of the issue for yourself," he says slowly, "I would cautiously suggest taking a peek at the gates of the Imperial Temple. That is to say, I could show you what's going on over there--from a very safe distance, of course!"

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    Yrisz snorts a relieved laugh, “Oh no, I have mislead you good sir, I very much doubt my friend and I have the strength between us to bend either the Bone Lancers or the rebels to our will through any direct application of force. I rather doubt we could have even managed the likes of you if you had set your will against us. I thought perhaps some more tangential help like healing harmed citizenry, i am capable of a small bit of divine succor, or keep scavengers from praying on the helpless might be managed by us. I simply can’t imagine what help we could offer the central standoff, though if you have insights, or very long leavers that could be employed, I’m sure we would listen.” She too peers up at Noxias to make sure he concurs with her sentiments.

    “Like in Beilston we were able to save someone dear to Hieromonk Krshevx even if we were quite incapable of dealing with the core issue, which was probably one of the strings in the web of whoever set up this awful coup, although admittedly we were a larger group when me managed even that. There have been some, am, accidents sense,” she says with a sigh. “I especially miss Rogur, he was always nice to me.”

    “Sorry, that was a bit too much, though curiosity does dictate that I would love to see what is going on in this stand off, especially if it is from a mostly safe vantage point.”

    Yrisz pauses for a second, as if tasting her next question, though she comes to a quick decision saying, “um, also I did notice that you dress somewhat like an acquaintance we made name Cresta, you wouldn’t perhaps be an associate of her’s?”
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 03-09-2016 at 05:53 AM.

  5. #15
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    "The likes of me? Oh, no, no." he laughs and shakes his head, "What do you think I am? A dabbler, that's what." He pats the orange stone that caps his staff.

    "I do like to put on a bit of a show, in terms of my manner of dress. If stealth is not my ally, it is the only alternative to hiring a company of guards. You say I dress similarly to your acquaintance? Cresta is an eastern name; I know that, but I daresay I have never met anyone who goes by it. My, my, it would seem a small world if I did, now, wouldn't it?

    "For the record, I do like to dress in the fashion of a rebus. I find them quite stylish and recalling their presence can serve as a deterrent to random manhandling. Would it be too imposing to ask if Cresta herself is a rebus?"

    "Rogur, too, that's another eastern name, but a man's name, I think. Krushevx? Now that's one which doesn't easily roll off the tongue. A hieromonk with an orcish name, was he a follower of the Great Master, then? Dear me, I'm afraid every name you've mentioned, including your own, is entirely new to me.

    "So it seems that we are at least heading into town, after all. First, let us see if we can find you accommodations, and then if you are interested, I will take you to the current happenings." With that, Diviak takes a right-hand turn onto the main path.

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    Yrisz follows Diviak as he trundles onto the main path, regarding him thoughtfully as they proceed.

    “Oh, your color chooses does rather send my mind the direction you had wished, it did fool me properly into not wishing to mess with you, well played sir,” she honestly congratulates him.

    “Cresta was indeed attached as a rebus curate as you suggest, though our friend Konstansz was a rebus legothete and did not dress like either of you so I perhaps I thought…well never mind what I thought.”

    “I do rather wish I had your art at understanding about somebody from the phonetics used in their name and language, for you have been spot on so far Mr. Diviak,” she says trying to more subtly apprise him as they walk. “I used to drive Dame Bieiris into conniptions during her on-the-road lessons of the subject, and I’m afraid she had been forced to use corse language in describing my attempts in that direction. Anyway, Hieromonk Krushevx was the leader of the Temple of the Great Master who was having a bit of a tete-a-tete with a group of scoundrels from a roguish group called the Matchless Gang. We got tangled in when the Matchless Gang tried to bully the us and some of the underlings of the Church of the All Seeing Eye into submission as well. We were able to mostly save the underlings, set up an understanding between the two groups. As I alluded to earlier we were hired to save someone close to Krushevx and mostly succeeded, but the Hieromonk himself went missing after things came to a head with the Matchless Gang. I recall he was using the Woerd to attack the gang, so it would probably take good divination to figure out what really became of him in that dank labyrinth. And that wasn’t the worst of it, though some of our friends were able to keep things like the flooding from getting worse…but now it has,” Yrisz says almost sitting down in despair.

    “Not the flooding I mean, but Beilston itself is getting worse. It was rather a mess when we left it for all the cross faction fighting and flooding and I think things are only going to get worse for them,” Yrisz quietly wails.

    “I truly had not had the time to digest of what we experienced meant, but now that I have, am, is there a way to send a correspondence to my sisters there, for I fear the septs might prove the lesser of their coming worries very soon,” she prophesies sadly.
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 03-13-2016 at 06:42 AM.

  7. #17
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    Walking down the road, the three fall in between other groups of people traveling in the same direction. A few dozen yards in front, a group of four travelers in shapeless, brown rain cloaks trudge determinedly ahead, gradually gaining distance. Roughly twice that distance behind, the fog occasionally reveals a band of farmers escorting two bullock carts. They steadily fall behind and out of sight only to slowly move into view again during those times when the party stops for a few minutes. During this time, no travelers approach from the opposite direction.

    "Yrisz, my dear, isn't there something missing from what you are telling me?" counters Diviak with a question of his own, "That is to say, all this talk of scoundrels preying upon the Disciples of the Great Master is troubling, most troubling; but how is that in any way a greater danger than the thought of these--" Here Diviak looks around and almost theatrically lowers his voice, "these septs, coming down and pillaging the city? It's a greater danger than the thought of the Bone Lancers launching a bloody reprisal? Perhaps it is tied with where you just came from, and perhaps it is not something you are ready to discuss? I understand, if so.

    "Getting a message down there, how to do it? Paying one of the septsmen to act as a messenger, perhaps? Maybe better to pay them to look the other way and have a trusted courier of your own deliver it? That's all I can think of at the moment, but maybe something will occur to us later."

    Soon, there is the familiar sound of a river, the same Yu River that flows past Beilston, but it lies just on the other side of an opaquely gray wall of mist. However, the sides of large wooden structures can be seen, and from their look, they must be watermills. They follow the course of the river one after another, forming a solid line of half a dozen buildings.

    On the other side, to the right past a straggling row of trees, lie well-organized fields divided by hedgerows and lanes. The fog is less in this direction, but it eventually closes in to obscure further view. Every now and then, the sound of distant raised voices, singing, shouting, and occasionally cheering, can be heard thinly.

    The road bends away from the river for a while, and after a few minutes more, the outline of Byswell Town can be made out. The town is partly built on a hill, and slopes down away from it, forming a bulwark against the encroachment of river mist. Like Beilston, only the buildings at the top of the hill are surrounded by walls.

    Here, the road forks. The left-hand path leads to the hill, while the main branch continues straight, running parallel to the town from a distance of many yards. The cloaked travelers break off here, but Diviak ignores the side road and continues to walk straight.

    "It's called East Lane, but it runs north and south, and enters the town by its southwestern corner," he says. "Nobody has explained this to me, yet. I wish to enter by way of the southeast, so please bear with the road just a bit further."

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    As the three travel down the the ever widening path Yrisz clearly seems to be caught in internal debate and thus leaves Diviak to narrate there surroundings in her silence. She seems to come to her final conclusion just after Diviak’s quip regarding south bound East Lane, which she manages to laugh at somewhat distractedly.

    “You know, you are quite right Mr. Diviak, that is a strange naming convention, though I’m afraid hardly unique to Byswell, as my home town had some equally deceptively named avenues of travel,” Yrisz adds with a distant mirth. Then angling herself to close with Diviak as she puts words to her inner debate.

    “As you wisely guess I have not completely explain our concerns. You see our choose means of travel, which you happened to witnessed the end of, was by no means a casually chosen route. Our dear host at the ruined fortress of Izzmarg, who’s dreadful form I think you witnessed, had informed us that two days prior a seal placed to keep monsters from the Montane Valley, where ever that is, out of the Imperial Lands had been broken. Those monster where about the over run the Izzmarg and thus we choose a route that didn’t include becoming monster food directly. We somewhat honorably and perhaps foolishly decided to keep our promises to a friend and stay in the area, even knowing the sept were attacking the area, as one of our friends had earlier left us to run ahead of them to warn towns of their impending arrival. So there, now your mostly clear about what concerns me so, and I don’t really know what to do with such knowledge. Would sending such a message to Beilston simply doom the messenger? I’m to unfamiliar with the area to say how long it would take to get from here to there, and I do wonder if we safe from all that here,” she says cooly regarding the now visible Byswell.

    “In truth, this whole place seems to be coming apart at the seams, and all I want is a warm bath and the soft hay of a bed. Doesn’t that make me rather awful. Oh, and what was all that cheering back there about?”
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 03-17-2016 at 03:44 AM.

  9. #19
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    "Izzmarg, is it not that empty fortress in the middle of nowhere that nobody knows the purpose of? How horrible! It sounds complicated and dreadful," Diviak comes to a sudden halt in the road, causing Yrisz to nearly trip as she turns her head.

    "My understanding is that there is an armed expedition to Izzmarg. How do I know? It is being supplied through Byswell, that's why. Of course, with the roads closed, no supplies are going through. We, that is to say, us idle gossipers, assumed this to be more of an inconvenience to the expedition, but if they are being overrun by monsters down in the Beil Valley, they may be in trouble.

    "Being just from there, you must have crossed paths with the Izzmarg Expedition. How are they faring? Oh!" Diviak looks like he's struck by a revelation, "If they learned this, they would want to send a relief party as soon as possible. Don't you think that could solve the question of who would act as your messenger? After you are rested for the night, let us consider this!" He sets off with a renewed pace down the road and then belatedly remembers Yrisz's question about the cheering.

    "That ruckus?" he waves his free hand dismissively, "some big man among the septs, one of their chiefs. He just arrived yesterday and planted himself in the farmstead yonder. His followers have been like that ever since."

    Soon, a fork becomes visible, and this time Diviak turns left, approaching the town which, past the slope of the hill, closely follows the banks of the Yu. The road passes through a gatehouse, standing naked in front of a wide, cobblestone plaza. There is evidence in the form of disturbed earth that a wooden palisade recently enclosed this area. For that matter, the gatehouse's gate is also missing.

    A group of armed and armored folk are clustered around the gatehouse, where a number of a tables, benches, and barrels have been set up under the enclosure. A number of them look up at the party's approach. Diviak smiles and tips his hat politely.

    "Sister!" one of them calls out to Yrisz and leers, but gets punched in the shoulder, apparently a signal that he should be placing his bet on the round of dicing about to commence. Indeed, the group seems engrossed in the activities of drinking and gaming. It quickly draws their attention away from the party again.

    "No reason not to walk around, is there?" says Diviak and veers off the road. He enters Byswell Town a good few yards to the left of the gatehouse by hopping across the muddy ditch formed by the post-holes of the former wall. The space beyond is in a much nicer state. Here and there, tall trees provide shade to stone benches, and in the center of the square, there is even a fountain.

    To the right of the plaza, a large, stone-walled temple towers over the other buildings at a height of four stories. A motif of interconnecting yellow cogwheels painted along the walls near the single-planed, slanted roof positively identifies the building as belonging to the Imperial Cult. A similar pattern along the walls has been defaced in places with graffiti. For this building, the walls and gate are still intact, though.

    A crowd is gathered outside the main gate of the temple. It is comprised of warriors and townsfolk. Many of the warriors wear the black cape of the Raven Queen. At their head is a black-clothed, hooded, gloved figure who seems to be occupied by delivering some sort of speech to the brooding temple, whose windows are shuttered. Of the temple's occupants, there is no sign.

    "As you see, the siege plays out in front of our very eyes! The face of the rebellion itself, mere yards away from us. For the moment, let me direct your attention here," he gestures to another stone-walled compound. The gate is open and a lit lamp is hung on either side of the entrance, signifying vacancy and food. An illustration of three arrows buried in a pillow is painted on the lintel.

    "The Assassination Inn, where I am staying. It's the last inn with any vacancies. The owner is very particular, you see. An introduction is absolutely required to stay there. Fortunately, I can provide one for you."
    Last edited by Umiushi; 03-17-2016 at 08:23 AM.

  10. #20
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    Unaware of Noxias's reticence, Diviak leads the way to the gate. The compound within is fairly barren. There is a large central building and a few scattered outbuildings. The yard is well-trampled earth. A well-dressed maid and groom arrive.

    "Master Diviak, are these guests?" asks the maid, a fair-featured woman with a sing-song voice.

    "Yes, yes. My guests. That is to say, I would like to put them up here, if that is permissible," replies Diviak.

    "Then here are the rules," she curtsies in front of Noxias and Yrisz as she begins to recite, "One hundred and one staters per guest. One stater for your introductions and interview, the hundred is a deposit and surety for your stay. A room costs one stater a night. Dining is extra. Your deposit, minus the cost of your stay, will be returned when you depart, and must be renewed every new moon.

    "Storing your valuables in our vault is another stater a night. If you want to use it, Master Sepel decides what goes in.

    "No use of the rooms, private or common, is permitted before bathing after heading out. There are baths out in the back, for men and women, human and not. After you're done, you may see Master Sepel for your interviews. He will probably be in the dining room. Everything is at his discretion.

    "You may wear your arms, but there is no drawing or brandishing of them toward any who live, work, or stay here. There is no wearing of armor indoors. The inn is part of the town, and abides by the peace of the town.

    "There is to be no working of magic in any of the rooms. There is a building in the back set aside for rituals or other magical business you wish to conduct, and you can request the key to it.

    "There are to be no visitors who stay the night, save those willing to follow the same rules. The last rule is: we do not haggle. If you want to be taken on, please let's have the two hundred and two staters. Whether you you will or no, we'll take you to the baths and then to the dining room."

    "Two hundred two, yes, of course," says Diviak quickly and turns to look at Noxias and Yrisz.

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