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Thread: Intermission - Parable in Anthracite

  1. #1
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    Default Intermission - Parable in Anthracite

    Standing about a yard beyond the radius of greasy, blue stains, the man stands up straight and returns his hat to its proper place on his head. He is sporting a plain smile above a strong chin on his large, vigorous face, but a slight sag to his cheeks and the white hair around his temples showcase his middle years.

    Without the distortion of the portal, it can be seen that his robes are thin and white, like Cresta's, but take the shape of a cassock and are decorated around his chest and shoulders with a number of large trapezoids in bright, primary colors, like oddly-shaped panels of stained glass. Over this he wears a crisp, white, close-fitting mantelot that hangs open at the front. His pipe is made of almond brown wood that is polished smooth. The staff next to him is made of knobby wood with an iron base and ringed cap, atop which is set a large, sparkling, orange gem. Also resting on a nearby rock are a drinking skin, an open pouch, the picked-over cooked carcass of a small foul, and a half-dozen pits of stone fruit.

    He turns his hands up and spreads them out, showing his empty palms.

  2. #2
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    After a moment of mutual silence, the man lowers his hands to his side and assumes a more casual posture.

    "Pardon my hesitation, but it is the custom of these parts for the newcomers to first identify themselves. However, I am well aware that your customs may differ, oh travelers from afar. We should be flexible in our dealings? Quite so. My name is Diviak Uhor and I, too, am a traveler. That is to say, I am not a local," he says. To Noxias, he speaks the Common Tongue with the same Aucothian drawl as most of the people in Beilston, but definitely not like Yrisz's accent. Yrisz places his speech as the well-schooled standard Aucothian of the sort she does not use, but with some rustic traces of the central villages around the edges.

    "I came here to seek the alpine pipe incense that is said to grow wild in these parts. Would you know of it? I daresay probably not. It eludes me still, but there are many days left in the season for it to be found. That is to say, I have some time to spare, this afternoon.

    "If your business is your own, pay me no heed. I shall pack up my crumbs and continue my solitary quest. Would you wish instead for me to accompany you as a guide? No, I should not be speculating, but I am willing out of simple courtesy to try my hand at it. That is to say, I could join you for a few hours if only you would cleave to the known paths.

    "'I am not a local,' I said, but I have been here for the past half-month, so I know my way around in the public sense. I am also not a guide. That is to say, it is not my profession. Would I be so vulgar as to charge you any fee for my brief company? No, of course not.

    "Really, I would not be so assuming to offer it, that is to say, my company, under the usual circumstances," he goes on, "but in case you have not been to Byswell Town in the past few days, I fear the chaos of the time has suddenly set in. Is Byswell indeed your destination? It may not be as you expect it to be. Now, shall I be packing up and on my way; or would you care to tell me of yourselves, what names you should be called, and share the trail with me for a spell?"

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    Nox shoulders slump forward. The ordeal of losing a companion, no; two companions weigh heavy on his shoulders. "Well Diviak, apologies for both of us, you may have seen us appear recently from an unknown portal. But let it be known to you that we are all thankful it is a one way portal. After abruptly returning to the peace of this trail, I wouldn't mind a brief respite." Nox steps toward the rock

    "I am Noxias of the Fey, and this is Yrisz. We are seeking to rendezvous with an acquaintance, but we could use a bit of company which is less prone to violence, if you'll be so kind."

    Nox unslings his pack and rummages around for a bit of his rations.
    Ariellana, Noxias, and everybody in July.

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    "Yes, I saw . . . something in the distance behind you, something best not to dwell on," he shakes his head briefly and then resumes, "So you are Noxias of the Fey? And Yrisz? Delighted! How magnificent: I have never been graced by one of the fey, before. Good fortune shines on me today, I am certain. Violence? No, no, no violence from this quarter, I assure you!"

    Seeing Noxias unwrap his provisions, Diviak settles back down on his rock. He empties his pipe beside him and commences to refill it with dried, ground herbs from a small pouch.

    "I have already finished my food," he says, "but please: rest, eat, drink! There is plenty of time to reach town before sunset. An hour, two, even three hours, before heading back into the valley; that is to say, there is no rush!"

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    "Diviak, is it? You have seen what lurks behind us, it has been... difficult for news about the region to reach us. Perhaps you are willing to recount your knowledge of the chaos with which you speak; what news of this trail and towns have you heard?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and everybody in July.

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    Diviak retrieves an ornate tinderbox from a second, larger pouch and sets to work on his pipe, which is cradled on his lap.

    "There was a fire a few days before I arrived, quite a bad one: it burnt down half the buildings in town, most of the wooden ones. You could still smell the smoke. The worst was the lower town, closest to the river. What people said, what people said, mind you, was that the water was ferried up to the high quarters. There were also rumors that the fire itself originated in the high quarters, an alchemical accident at the Imperial Temple. Some people said that, but others said it was an oil fire down by the docks.

    "Well, a special corvee was levied. Even me, a visitor, for a while it looked like I was going to be hauling lumber for the rest of summer. What can you do? Laying siege to the Imperial Temple was not the first thing on my mind, let me tell you, but that's what happened.

    "A mob of the first conscripts marched up to the Temple, which is built like a fortress, I should add, and surrounded the gates. There's a garrison of Bone Lancers in town, and they came riding up to disperse the mob. It had all the makings of a massacre.

    "There's also a chapterhouse of Raven Brothers in town. Master Noxias, maybe the Raven Brothers are not known in the Fey lands. They are a religious fraternity of mercenaries, dedicated to that Great Psychopomp, the Raven Queen of Death. What I say is scarcely worth believing, but this is what happened: the Raven Brothers fell on the Bone Lancers, and the Bone Lancers were forced to hole up in the Temple.

    "Now I don't really know all the ins and outs of this. That is to say, I'm a loyal subject of the Empire, so rebel tidings don't easily reach my ears, but what I have heard since then is that the Raven Brothers, at least, this particular chapter of Raven Brothers, were conspiring with the mountain septs to stage an uprising, and were waiting for an excuse to catch the Bone Lancers off their guard. Astounding, is it not?

    "Right after the Raven Brothers got involved, warriors from the septs moved in. The news is that they've captured all the major fortifications in the valley. All that's left is the Imperial Temple.

    "Two days ago, a group of about a dozen Bone Lancers broke through the cordon and rode away down the eastern road. Once they get word to Beilston or the Citadel of the Yu, they will certainly return in force. That is to say, it would not do to stay in Byswell Town more than absolutely necessary.

    "What about me? I myself am puttering about, looking for this incense, but once my colleague finishes making his arrangements, we plan to hastily remove ourselves to a much more secluded location in the valley. I would prefer to leave the valley altogether, but I confess to being uncertain as to whether we should do so immediately, seeing that the septs hold all the outbound roads for the moment.

    "Quite a turn of events, no? I would like to hope this would not impinge upon your own business, Master Noxias, but I fear that unless your acquaintance is not a resident of Byswell Town itself, their circumstances are probably much altered."

    By now, Diviak has lit his pipe and is puffing away at it as he speaks. Yrisz recognizes the smoky odor of the "black herb," popular in the west. To Noxias, familiar with the sweet tobacco of Faerie, it is quite an unpleasant, almost stinging mundungus that he is exposed to.

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    Noxias coughs, overdramatically, while waiving his hand in front of his face. He attempts another breath and finds a reasonable amount of clean air, "I don't see the wisdom in heading straight to Byswell town at the moment. If you of the mind to skirt the town whilst searching for your beastly plant, perhaps you would recount with us more details of this fire and the clashes between the Raven Brothers and Bone Lancers?"

    "We need to find an easy way into town with a minimal of fuss. We are lacking a few important things and need to be rid of some other items. If we can find a simple route without meeting with the lovely Raven Brothers or Bone Lancers then I would call that a win. Yrisz, you have anything to add?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and everybody in July.

  8. #8

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    “Oh, and don’t forget the men of the mountain sept,” Yrisz added thoughtfully to Noxia, “they don’t seem the type I would like to meet with all either.”

    “Mr. Uhor, you have said these allied groups have taken the fortifications in the area, correct. Have either of them announced their intentions or the reason for this uprising? To me this all seem rather like some type of intricately planned coup d'etat of some sort that was triggered or at least catalyzed by the Edict of Evocation. Hopefully it was sprung a bit before all the pieces were truly ready to act, though with that said I simply may be looking at a string of alarming events and trying to find a pattern in them that simply doesn’t exist,” Yrisz says while removing her knit chain gloves so as to better handled her meal of hard trail biscuit.

    “How are common in Byswell people fairing through all the turmoil,” Yrisz asks between bites. “I’m sorry, I was rather in shock from surviving the afternoon’s earlier events and I’m still rather humbled about your current tidings, I really had not meant to be quite so anti-social. I’m represent Vulysen Sisterhood from the Vodlaian Archipelago,” she says pointing to her tattered blue tabard, “assuming my accent had not already revealed all that to you. Also, did you hear much of the happenings in Beilston. My sisterhood has a mission at that location that I’m somewhat personally connected to it and thus a bit concerned.”

    “My first thought is that indeed we should help you with your quest to find your alpine pipe incense, as I think no man, woman, or elf should travel alone under the circumstances that you described Mr. Uhor. Second, after our previous ordeal, such a mondane quest would prove quite a welcome diversion while we digest your tidings and plot our next move, and someone with a passing understanding of the terrain makes you a wonderful person to ground our ideas in the reality of the situation.

    Yrisz eyes the ground in despair, “Oh, I how I had so wished for a nice hot bath and warm bed in Byswell. Between the fire and rebellion I’m quite sure such luxuries no longer exist. My last reason for helping you would be purely a selfish reason, for I would simply like to feel content with helping somebody, for after the shortcoming inherent to the trials of my last week and those inherent of this next weeks, if things have deteriorated as far as you have graciously illustrated to us, then giving some simple charity would be really quite heart thawing at the moment,” she says giving Diviak her lopsided smile.
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 02-28-2016 at 09:36 AM.

  9. #9
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    "Oh dear, don't care for the odor? I suppose it's true that the pipe incense of the Fey must be a world's worth of difference from the meager stuff mortals can obtain," after one last large puff, Diviak sets down the pipe to let it burn itself out, "Unfortunately, what I seek is up here, in the high slopes. There are many nice gardens around Byswell and clean, flowing water, but nothing grows there that can serve to grace the bowl of a pipe, I fear.

    "If your business is not in Byswell Town itself, I can lead you up to its perimeter. Much as I would prefer otherwise, my current accommodations are within the town. Now I trust you are not up to anything nefarious, and if you are, I would prefer not to hear about such matters. As I said, I'm a loyal subject of the Empire.

    "What I am getting at, though, is that the guards have been disbanded. While many factions are keeping an eye on who comes and goes, I doubt anyone will be challenging you outright. That is to say, you do not look like you belong to any of the more contentious groups.

    "Avoiding the Bone Lancers is a simple matter: they're in the Imperial Temple. Avoiding the Raven Brothers? A Raven Brother minus his cloak and feathered cap looks like many another brave. They'll learn of you as a certainty, but unless something about you is relevant to them, I doubt they will cause you trouble. The same can be said of the mountain septs, though many of them do not practice the courtesies of the Empire. I try to avoid crossing paths with them, myself, when possible.

    "Now your acquaintance, does this person live outside of Byswell Town? As I mentioned earlier, my friend and I are looking for some place to stay outside of town, something that would be better than camping in the middle of the wilderness. That is to say, do you think there is any possibility of your acquaintance putting us up? Never mind if they are from a sept or not; in this case I do not choose to be particular."

    Diviak folds his hands in his sleeves as he listens to Yrisz. He glances longingly at his pipe only once.

    "The Edict of Evocation was specific to the Church of Avandra. In Byswell Town, Saint Avandra is worshiped, with many other holies, in the Temple of the Great Master. Her Church didn't have a presence here; the nearest branch was further down the Yu, in Beilston. It's not to say the Edict didn't stir up the ambient unrest.

    "Now if you ask me, that coup, yes, coup sounds like a proper term, it was intricately planned. Yes, probably for some months. Why, I wouldn't be surprised if they set the fire themselves, but oh no, it wouldn't do at all to say that in town right now.

    "The townsfolk, their primary concern is the fire. The corvee would have been hard, yes, but now it's gone undone. That is to say, people now have to look after their own property in turn. If it was burnt, those folk suffer; if it was not, those folk are fortunate. I understand that there was some talk of the septs helping rebuild, but it's not going well at all. Of course the farmers, they are quite happy not to have to answer to any corvee.

    "Right after the fire, many people left for Beilston, and many more escaped to avoid the corvee. Of tidings from Beilston, there were some horrid storms before Midsummer. I was caught in it myself. Wretched, fearful weather! Beilston is built too low to the Yu, and it was flooded. My understanding is that this happens every now and then; an event they refer to with a phrase from the sept dialect which means 'high water.' I've heard they have to rebuild most of the city when that happens, but I suppose they're used to it. Ah, I would pay a lot to be happily in Beilston right now!

    "Now, you can't be from Vodlai yourself, can you, my child? Your accent is fully from the Metropole, with all that ornamentation only someone who lived there could acquire. Many of the masters of my guild are also from the Metropole, so I've been exposed to it a lot. Many of your teachers might be from Vodlai, though; I could believe that.

    "I'm sure your mission is fine. Though it seemed dire news at first, I've been assured again and again that this 'acqua alta' does not endanger anyone in Beilston. Your sisters will be happily awaiting your return, no doubt.

    "And do not despair, oh no! From what you are saying, it does sound like my earlier hopes for finding some alternate lodging were misplaced, but for bed and bath, while it has become expensive, it is still obtainable. I will be happy to speak for the two of you with my own host, though I confess, if you are impoverished, I might be a little strapped for funds, myself. I'm sure something can be worked out if you are willing to enter town, but mind you, we should not tarry there!

    "Your offer to help me with my own search, it is quite kind, quite generous, I say! Let us not worry about it this afternoon, though. It has become obvious you need to be situated; to find your bed and bread. Let us worry about that, first. And then let us worry about where we all should go. After that, if time and circumstances, and oh yes, the weather! If time, circumstances, and the weather all permit, I will be delighted to enlist your aid in my search! My companion, you see, he is very reliable, but he will have nothing to do with my own particulars. My business, not his, of course.

    "If you have revitalized yourselves, perhaps it is time to start heading down to the valley. What say you?"

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    "I think you have indeed arrived at the kernel of it. It is difficult for me to describe how nice it is to speak and think about such frivolity as spending an afternoon searching for a plant, after what we have endured. For the moment I am satisfied, and if Yrisz is as well perhaps you will show us the way?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and everybody in July.

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