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Source: (consider it) Thread: Circus: The Story of the Kavetseki Incident (RPG)
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Hearing Clawdine's cries her companions rush to help, her efforts to break free having been in vain Clawdine falls against the riverbank unconcious - her outflung hand a foot away from the loop of rope Mary threw to her.

Daniel dives forward, stabbing through the skeletal hand with a silver arrow, it disintegrates, and Dorianen & John Goode succeed in pulling Clawdine fully out of the river.

Meanwhile, Guriana carves a rune, and the river surges, washing away the rest of the skeleton as it emerges from the riverbank.

Jeste, Foret and Hewer are charging forward as a second skeleton starts to claw its way out of the bank ...

Daniel shouts to the running fighters, "go for the back of the knees, the back of knees !"


***

Frithwynne tried to pull Clawdine out, or at least keep her from being pulled further in, but a sudden spasm in her back causes her to lose her grip on Clawdine's wrists and fall backwards. A second pain in her back reminds her that she forgot to transfer her chalice to her new knapsack.

She sees Jetse running to the rescue, but her relief is short-lived as a skeleton emerges from right next to Clawdine. Frithwynne scrambles backwards but the skeleton keeps advancing. Frithwynne's right hand strikes a fallen branch. Desperate, she grabs it and swings it in an awkward one-handed blow at the skeleton. The blow hits the skeleton no higher than its knees, but Daniel was right that the knees were the weak point. The skeleton implodes as it falls straight down, first the thighs, then the pelvis, then the rib cage, and finally the skull which teeters on top of the pile of bones and then rolls into the river.

***

Gunriana edges away from the emerging skeleton as Jetse moves in to engage it. The dead thing's movements are clumsy in comparison to the practised steps of the warrior, and, provided ordinary weapons can harm the thing, she is in iittle doubt as to the fight's outcome. But, in case the skeleton requires more than cold steel, she stands by ready to add her rune-lore to aid Jetse's blows.

A sudden feeling of dread fillsher and she spins on her heel - another skeleton has already pulled itself up through the bank, and has Gunriana fumbles with her blade it's hooked fingers lash out, bruising her arms, trying to catch her in its bony grasp. She stumbles, dropping the weapon as she tries to get away.

Fortunately, the skeleton's pursuit is hindered as it drags it's feet clear of the last few inches of clammy earth, but as Gunriana tries to flee, something catches her ankle. Another skeletal hand, slender, and missing two fingers, is poking through the ground, and as she pulls away, it's grip tightens and she falls heavily on the bank. The first skeleton advances, and Gunriana looks up helplessly into its hollow eyes.


"Faith, Gunri..." she recalls her great-aunt's words "...what is written is written, but we are daughters of the fates, and we do not fear."

Hastily, she scratches Fe, the wealth-bringer, on the bank, to bring her lost possession to her. The skeleton's foot brushes against against the scramasax, which slides down the bank towards the witch's hand. As the monster stoops reaching for her neck, gripping her flesh and preparing to strangle the hated life out of her, she lifts her arm, and, remembering Daniel's words, slams the heavy blade into the back of the skeleton's knee. The shock of the blow causes its leg to buckle, and the untidy tumble of bones collapses, falling into the river.

Gunriana tries to stand, but the hand at her ankle holds firm, and she falls heavily, losing her grip on the blade once more. Twisting back to fact it, she rolls over the skull at her belt.


"Help me, sister" she whispers, lifting the skull and driving it down at the hand. The finger bones prove the more brittle, snapping sharply on the first blow, and the maimed hand sinks back into the dirt. Gunriana scrambles to her feet and snatching up her weapon, flees from the cursed bank, and turns to take her stand on firmer ground.

***
Meanwhile ...


"Come. Let me see your arm."

Jetse looked over the burn on Foret's skin. The skin was charred and blistered, but the burn was not deep; Trepik hadn't let the coal set long enough for that.

"Keep it clean. You'll heal soon. You are strong. Brave. Do not fear pain. Use it."

"Now, be my Hand. Come with me."

The boy followed after Jetse as he walked to one of the guard wagons. The old soldier was impressed with his fortitude; to take blows and burns like that without flinching, without crying out, was no small feat. Perhaps his strength could be used…

"Take this." Jetse handed Foret the axe. "It set you free. It will keep you free. Swing it hard. With conviction. Keep it sharp. The rest can be taught later."

The Guardian nodded at the dwarf guarding the wagon, and climbed into it. After his little feat of dramatics, the dwarves seemed to respect him—or, at the very least, to have lost respect for Trepik. The trader had been bested by a one-armed old man, his cowardice proven to all. If Jetse or his companions wanted something, the dwarves weren't going to stop them.

Looking through the wagon, Jetse found a stout dwarven recurve longbow, much like the one he used to carry. He turned it over in his hand, watching the light play on its polished surface, before taking the quiver next to it. Even if he had only a vague hope of being able to figure out how to use a bow one-handed, somehow holding the weapon in his hand felt right, as if it was meant for him—and if he could hold an axe without noticing it, perhaps an arrow could work just as well. Further in was a tall wooden shield; Hand Foret could use that, protecting the both of them. It was how Jetse had first learned the ways of war, after all…

What else? A set of clothes for the boy—he was about the same size as a thin dwarf, after all—and some new ones for himself. Oh, and that hat in the corner—why something that striking was going unworn was beyond Jetse. Must belong to Trepik, who wouldn't appreciate it anyway. Jetse stepped out of the wagon, gave Foret his shield, thew on his cloak (finally, that breastplate emblem covered…surprised nobody mentioned it), and had just time enough to put on his hat when he heard screams from the riverbank.

Oh no. Dolgarkin. Not here too.

"Foret! Come. Be ready."

Jetse ran to the riverbank with Foret, as Clawdine was pulled free. Suddenly, the river rose—the sea-witch seemed to have control of the waters.

"Stay back from the flood. Hit them hard. Break them."

"Go for the back of the knees!" yelled Daniel.

"Fool. No weak parts. Hit anywhere. Watch me, Hand. Destroy it if it moves."

Jetse drew his black blade as he and Foret charged at the nearest creature. He dodged the creature's attempt to grab him, then swung hard with the blade, snapping the ribs and spine of the skeleton. The creature stumbled; Foret swung his axe at the creature's head with a spray of bone fragments.

"Use your shield too. Hit it," yelled Jetse to his apprentice as he took another slash at the snapping skeleton.

It didn't take them long. Soon, the creature was dismembered, unable to move.

Jetse found Dorainen. "The crone will recover? Good. We should burn the bones. Release the enchantment. Do it before we move out for the night."

[ 21. June 2014, 23:06: Message edited by: Doublethink ]

--------------------
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

Posts: 19219 | From: Erehwon | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Hewer swings around wildly looking for the enemy, but sees only shattered bones. She looks at the survivors, awe-struck, "What happened ?"

Dr Goode is bending over Clawdine, trying to revive her, with some success - she comes to groggy and a bit disorientated.


--------------------
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

Posts: 19219 | From: Erehwon | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Net Spinster
Shipmate
# 16058

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Mary left Clawdine under Dorainen's care and went to the cook fire to get some wood, kindling, and a burning brand so as to start a new fire by the river bank. She warily started collecting and feeding the bones into the fire which burnt purple and green in strange patterns; some of the others helped. The dwarves and humans of the train seemed very cautious of them and most were hurriedly eating as the party would soon move out with dusk falling. Master Trepik had gone into the fortified wagon.

"What were those, warrior Jetse" she asked.

--------------------
spinner of webs

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Banner Lady
Ship's Ensign
# 10505

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The pounding in Clawdine's ears got louder and louder. Her old heart had been shocked by the fright and she could hear King's hoofbeats drumming closer and closer. She knew he was coming to rescue her and looked up expectantly, only to find the concerned faces of Dr.Goode, Frithwynne, Dorainen and Mother Aethelreda looking down at her instead.

'Bloody 'eck,' muttered Clawdine at them. 'Wot 'appened then?'

--------------------
Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

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Autenrieth Road

Shipmate
# 10509

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Frithwynne's hip hurt where she had fallen from the shadow horse, and her back hurt where she'd fallen on her chalice. She slowly found her feet. Dr. Goode, Dorainen, and Mother Aethelreda were standing around Clawdine. Frithwynne put on a simulation of a concerned look and joined them. When she saw that Clawdine was conscious and talking, Frithwynne turned away. Let other people look after Clawdine.

She broke the tree branch into four pieces and fed them into the fire Mary had built. Then she climbed the bank to where Gunriana stood.

"Lady Gunriana, what do you think we should do? I had thought we would travel with the caravan to Cimester, and see where the prophecy leads us. But now... that is still what I would like to do. But I don't know if these -- these --"... Frithwynne breaks off, she has no words for what they have just fought. "... these things are set against us and the prophecy, or if this is just a cursed riverbank that we've stumbled on, and would have attacked anyone."

Waiting for Gunriana's reply, Frithwynne draws the chalice from her belt to look at it. The cup is bent over almost to meet the stem, just as she had seen it in her dream.

"And look here, Lady, I dreamed my chalice was bent, and here it is, just as I dreamed."

--------------------
Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ariston
Insane Unicorn
# 10894

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quote:
Originally posted by Mary:
"What were those, warrior Jetse?"

"Dolgarkin. Nasty pests, see lots in the Palatinate. Undead, or constructs. Not much of a difference. Bones absorb wild magic. Something sets them off, the power awakens, the bodies forget they're dead. Run around, try to grab and kill anything they find. Not evil. Just what they do. I'm guessing our skinchanging troll was the spark they needed. Could just as well have been Gunriana. Or some magic item. Burning the bones releases the magic. Keeps them dead."

--------------------
“Therefore, let it be explained that nowhere are the proprieties quite so strictly enforced as in men’s colleges that invite young women guests, especially over-night visitors in the fraternity houses.” Emily Post, 1937.

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Net Spinster
Shipmate
# 16058

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"Jetse, could it have been the magic we were entangled in? Surely if Clawdine triggered this she would have triggered it elsewhere in her travels. Or Gunriana? Or are these dolgarkin extremely uncommon outside the Palatinate?" Mary paused, "I know the rivers that flow out into the sea and this may be the Ousel or flows into it though I think we are still fairly close to the sea so probably the Ousel. It has an ill-name, once a great city lay at its mouth many, many years ago, Nimrais, or so the stories say, before a great wave swept in seven times and left not a soul alive or even any sign a city had been there, or here, not even a usable harbor. What gods they angered no one knows. Those who survived moved to or built Cimenster on its five hills. Perhaps it is there bodies buried here, the unquiet dead never properly laid to rest since none remained alive who knew their names and could do the proper rites."

Mary looked over at the wagons where the wagoneers were now collecting the oxen and yoking them up.

--------------------
spinner of webs

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Eliab
Shipmate
# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariston:
"...Not evil. Just what they do. I'm guessing our skinchanging troll was the spark they needed. Could just as well have been Gunriana. Or some magic item. Burning the bones releases the magic. Keeps them dead."

"There are many foul things like these in the world. All of them are the creation of necromancy, either directly, or through the after-effects of past malice.

Though to call it 'necromancy' is misleading. It is not the magic of death at all. To call back the spirits of the dead to their bodies or bones shows as much contempt for death as it does for life. It is a wickedness beyond all other evil. There is nothing beneath the moon that so calls for fire and sword.

Be assured, my friends, that if the day of your death is written for a day that we journey together, and I have the chance to lay out your corpse, the last service I can give you is to guard it against such desecration. Would that some daughter of the fates had done that for these unfortunates.

Jetse is right. Let us burn their bones, remembering that like us, those bones once wore flesh and dreamed dreams, and then leave this accursed place behind us."

Gunriana begins gathering up those pieces of bone that the river has not already carried away.

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Autenrieth Road

Shipmate
# 10509

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Frithwynne, her heart pounding at being so forward, tried again.

"Lady Gunriana, what do you plan to do when we get to Cimenster? Could I be of service in some way?"

--------------------
Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Antisocial Alto
Shipmate
# 13810

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Aethelreda gingerly smoothes Clawdine's tumbled hair out of her face. "We thought you were having a nightmare, my dear, but then these disgusting skeletons started bursting out of the creek bank. Do you not remember? Jetse and his young friend knocked them to pieces and Mary is burning the bits. Don't worry, love, we're safe now." ("I hope," she adds to herself.)

Aethelreda finds both Clawdine and Gunriana a bit spooky, if she's honest, and doesn't really have the stomach for investigating the time-curse or the skeletons further at the moment. She decides to leave the magic to them that enjoy it.

Continuing to stroke Clawdine's hair, hoping she's soothing rather than enraging her, Aethelreda turns to Gunriana and Frithwynne and interjects "Let's just get on with the caravan as quick as we can. I think, Gunriana, if you're able to look into the matter of the curse while we're traveling, you had better do that. When we reach Cimester, perhaps we can work with Mary and Dorainen to learn more of what happened to the ship and whether any of us can recoup any of our lost years and loved ones. That must be our priority, now."

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Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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Er, along with many of the dwarves, had been trying to see what was going on within a confused huddle, then a fire, but had not been able to see much as he was mostly engaged in re-hitching the oxen to the wagons. When Trepik shouted for Hewer he volunteered to go over the river to find her. The dwarves were more dubious about walking into what did not look a safe situation.

As he got closer to the river he looked around. The disturbed ground, smell of burning bone and weariness of his fellow travellers told the story of their struggle and the danger they had been in. He called over to his companion, "Hewer, Trepik is getting impatient to leave. He needs you to drive the wagon. The caravan is about to depart."

He glanced around the group, "if anyone else is coming, Trepik is leaving as soon as he can and is not waiting for stragglers. This is not a good place to stay the night, and we're all signed to work on the caravan. It seems to me that we should get back to our assigned tasks."

With that, Er turned back towards the caravan, wondering how he could engage with any of the others from the beach. He hoped that he was being followed and tried to fall into step with anyone who was prepared to walk alongside him.

--------------------
Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Antisocial Alto
Shipmate
# 13810

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Aethelreda says to Daniel and Clawdine "He's right. Can you walk?"

[ 23. June 2014, 20:23: Message edited by: Antisocial Alto ]

Posts: 601 | From: United States | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
Eliab
Shipmate
# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
"Lady Gunriana, what do you plan to do when we get to Cimenster? Could I be of service in some way?"

"What do we know of our enemy, sister? Twenty years ago he used us to recover some hidden thing that was guarded by magic of incredible power. Something that someone had gone to much trouble to keep from mortal hands. It would have taken much care, and much risk for our enemy to obtain it.

So it seems likely to me that the thing was itself a source of power, and worth taking risks for, and that this will have left its mark. When we get to Cimenster, and hear tell of a new warlord, or dark wizard, or a merchant house that has utterly dominated trade, or all-knowing sage, or vastly expanding cult, whose story started a little under twenty years ago, then we will have found our enemy, and can shape our plans. It seems unlikely to me that they did what they did without intending to leave some mark on the world.

As to what you can do, sister, believe me that is written already. My mothers could have struck your sails twenty years ago, but did not. Whether they have written your story with great deeds or as a grim joke is yet to be seen. Live as if it might be either. In the end, sister, we are only bones, then ash."

Gunriana lifts the skull from her belt.

"Can you tell is our sister here was desired for her beauty, admired for her wit, loved for her kindness or mocked for her folly? All she was is lost in the dust, and as she is, you shall be. But the sun is no less warm on your skin for knowing that. Let's see how the sun shines in Cimenster. I have no more plan than that."

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4619 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Eliab
Shipmate
# 9153

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The fight with the skeletons means one thing, at least. The dwarves and humans with the caravan know that there are vile things in the dark, and powers that might protect them.

As the caravan prepares to leave (and as the journey proceeds), Gunriana openly practises her ***Rune Magic***,
Fe for prosperity, Ur for endurance, As for protection from evil, bestowing protections on any of the wagons and their travellers as desire it.

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4619 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
Shipmate
# 5549

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Ah yes, says Daniel, dolgarkin, coming over after checking that Clawdine is as ok physically and spiritually as Daniel is able to discern. Fascinating creatures - their knees bend both ways at will, so chopping them in the back of their knees won't help. Everyone, disregard what I said about chopping at the back of their knees.

He straightens up with an effort, rubs his back, and looks around the camp. I think I should acquire a weapon. Daniel returns to the caravan and picks up a spear, and a mallet. He'll have to replenish his supply of stakes later.
'Hello, fool,' somebody mutters under his breath by Daniel's ear. Daniel turns round to see Trepik. 'You use that end to stick the enemy,' says Trepik, pointing at the blunt end, 'and hold it by that end,' he says, pointing at the shaft.
'Thank you,' says Daniel. He knows this man is utterly selfish. He looks him over. Probably a salt smuggler. He should ask Mary Drake. In the mean time, his own expertise is further intrigued. That's an interesting amulet you have on. May I see? How many snakes are there?'

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10567 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Banner Lady
Ship's Ensign
# 10505

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Clawdine felt rather queasy. What on earth had been in that tankard? Or was it the green smoke? All she knew was that she needed to lie down for a very long time.

She was grateful for the kind hands that helped her get to the wagons, and even more grateful that the one she had paid the dwarf for had a child step at the back to aid entry.

She lay among the sacks and drifted off to sleep as the wagons got on to the road to follow the row of blackberry bushes to Cimenster.

--------------------
Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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John Goode, has been looking uneasy since the attack on Clawdine, he goes to speak to Jetse.

"I am going to strike out alone I think, magic is an uncomfortable thing to be around, I do not think the bones would have risen to a plain man such as myself. I am going to make for Sattith in the west, it is far enough in time and place that a new name and a new sign will have me a new practice in a few weeks.

So, if would you choose me out a weapon, I'll give you these cantrips for Er and we'd call that a parting ?"

Jetse nods, and they go off to the supply wagon together. Once he has a short sword in his belt, John Goode slips quietly away - he has always hated goodbyes.


--------------------
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

Posts: 19219 | From: Erehwon | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Net Spinster
Shipmate
# 16058

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Mary finished burning the bones that could be found then raked out and doused the fire when Er announced the caravan's departure. Much to think on. She decided to walk for at least the first part of tonight's journey perhaps with Er or Daniel as most of the train not of the party are wary of them. She goes looking for one or both of the two after grabbing some journey bread to gnaw on as the party for the most part had missed the hot stew; the Docker father pointedly ignored her.

--------------------
spinner of webs

Posts: 1093 | From: San Francisco Bay area | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged
Ariston
Insane Unicorn
# 10894

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Jetse watched Dr. Goode disappear into the forest. The Unconquered be with him. Foret could have learned from him. Always good to know healing. Jetse had needed it enough. The cantrips left behind would be better with others. The light? Maybe keep it. Let others play tricks.

"Foret. Be ready. Keep watch with me."

The boy nodded and followed meekly. Strength, obedience, that he had. Spirit he'd have to learn. Might be hard.

It was going to be a long watch for the boy. Keep his mind active. Teach him to use his weapons. Best if he could practice. Teach today, show tomorrow.

They had been riding on the back of one of the last wagons for a few hours when one of the dwarves walked up. Jetse instinctively reached to his sword, then let it go. Just a dwarf.

Hej Jetse. Går et eller andet sted?

Surprising. A Palatinate dwarf? Here? Quartzbearer didn't even know the Jarl. But this. News. At last.

Ja, samme sted, du er, lige her.

Jetse patted the wagon bed, and the dwarf got up and sat on it.

"Dvalinn."

Du er fra Mørkbørg? Fra Pfalz?

"No. Just cousins there. Distant ones. Worked in convoys with the Jarl's folk. Learned their language then."

"Yet your name's Pfalz?"

"Ah. 'Sleeper.' That was their name for me. It stuck."

"Names do that sometimes."

"Indeed."

The caravan moved on for some time.

"It's a rare man who would wear those arms around dwarves these days. One rarer still who would openly use a Temple-forged sword."

Jetse started.

"Why? What happened? It's been years."

"Of course it has been. You had nothing to do with the Purge. Or were doing what you were told. Or would rather not talk about it."

"Purge?"

The dwarf laughed bitterly.

"Oh. You act like it never happened. Or you weren't there. How convenient. No doubt, you were miles away. With the king in Meije, with his retinue."

"I was Jetse Zwarthoedster when I last left Iljerhaven. The Black Guardian. Jet-haired Jetse. No doubt I've lost that name."

"Pah. Twenty years or more must have passed. You still wear that armor. The Duchy's own always return."

"Twenty, yes, and four more. And I'm of Iljerhaven. Never Joux."

"How old-fashioned. Iljerhaven is the Duchy. Even before the Purge."

"Dwarves had long memories. Things have changed. You have forgotten."

"Us forget? Who founded Jernbjerg? And who came later, along with the gnomes and the new name, seeking to tame the wild magics of the mountain and the caverns?"

"We stood with the dwarves when the illithids attacked. We worked with them to secure the mines, drive the flayers beyond the darkness. Many died. Dwarf, gnome, and man. I fought with them all. Lucky. Lost only an arm. Flayer poison rotted the other. Now the one's replaced, other one gone."

"So say many. Where were you during the Purge, friend? Why did you not order your men to stop it?"

"Told you. Wasn't there."

"The Purge took months. The siege of Mørkbørg alone lasted almost a year. You could have returned."

"No. Not unless the city is restored. The Canton of Iljerhaven, not a duke's thrall"

"Oh? You can only save dwarves when the right flag flies? How convenient."

Jetse pulled out his sword. Dvalinn reached for his axe, as did Foret.

"Hold, Foret. Dvalinn, you know what this is. You know that it can never leave Iljerhaven or the Palatinate. The arms made in the Temple stay with their soldiers. This blade is mine. Bring it back, they will know it was mine. Bring back even a piece of it, they will know it was mine. No weapon leaves the Temple without being recorded. No soldier, except of Iljerhaven or Mørkbørg, carries these."

"That I know. What is it to me?"

"When I last left the Canton, it was with a cargo of weapons from the Temple. Off the books. Strengthen the city, weaken the duke, protect the Palatinate. Overthrowing a trade post. Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers, ruling guild of the Canton, verses some local trading families. Train local rebels, arm them well. The ports change hands."

"And?"

"We were found out. Someone didn't like our arms trafficking. Rival guild, maybe. Or an informant for the Citadel. The duke benefited. Seized control of the city. Had the Fellowship liquidated as traitors. If you weren't there, you're exiled. I can't return. Can only carry it with me. Sword, armor, and this."

Jetse pulled out the sun symbol he had tucked into his armor.

"The Unyielding Light. Invictus. The Precinct of the Sun, the lowest part of the City. First thing a soldier sees coming through the Palatinate gates. Safety. Healing. Home."

Jetse looked to his side. "Foret. Keep sharp. Your first watch will soon be over."

--------------------
“Therefore, let it be explained that nowhere are the proprieties quite so strictly enforced as in men’s colleges that invite young women guests, especially over-night visitors in the fraternity houses.” Emily Post, 1937.

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Curiosity killed ...

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Er was walking with Hewer alongside the bonded wagon when Mary joined them. Hewer was confused and distressed after the events at the river and as Er had not been there, Mary's arrival was a relief. Maybe she could tell her story and help Hewer understand what had happened. He was aware that there would be several listening ears among the dwarves also trying to make sense of the experience and if Mary was canny in her retelling she might be able to reassure those in the caravan.

How to explain Clawdine and her experiences? How much had she drunk of that brew? And what were the expected results? How friendly had those dwarves been towards her? And how to convey these difficulties to Mary?

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Net Spinster
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Mary nodded to Hewer and Er and walked beside the wagon. She caught that both were distressed though for different reasons. Er at least might expect the uncanny given what they had been through though whether this uncanny was related she had no idea; treat this as an attack on the train and not on the shipwrecked. "Er, I had no idea that the land route was so dangerous; it is fortunate that Jetse was here or some of this train may have been injured or worse. Clawdine is shaken but not seriously injured, poor simple soul. Good Hewer are there other dangers we should be aware of?"

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spinner of webs

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Dafyd
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Daniel sees that Trepik's amulet marks him out as a poison-master trained by goblins. Hmm... maybe we should be careful only to eat food we've cooked ourselves until we leave the caravan.
He heads off to find Mary.
To your knowledge is there much of a business in salt smuggling? Certainly it appears he has been trading near the salt mines; I think that may be where the young lad comes from. Also, he's a poison master. Don't eat his food. Tell Clawdine and anybody else you talk to.
Daniel goes in search of Jetse and Frithwynne and tells them the same things.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10567 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

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Er was in the middle of carefully framing a reply to Mary: "I suspect that Mistress Clawdine conjured those bones with her reaction to that brew from the dwarves. Mayhap we should persuade her and the brewers that her partaking of such liquor is dangerous ..." but was interrupted as Daniel came by to talk to Mary.

Er shook his head - such rush and hurry. It made the party look suspicious as he was trying to convince the dwarves and others that the danger came from allowing Clawdine to drink, not from their party. Under the cover of reaching to adjust the traces on an ox, he muttered:
"Mary if you walk with me some more, we can appear calm and relaxed, and hopefully the caravan will see there is nothing to fear from us."

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Antisocial Alto
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Aethelreda follows along with Daniel since she's pretending to be his keeper. She's alarmed to hear his revelations about Trepik.
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Autenrieth Road

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Frithwynne is walking somewhat behind the wagon that carries Jetse and Foret and Pfalz. With her new acute hearing she can hear their conversation, but none of it makes any sense to her. War and exile, is the most she can figure, and that doesn't seem so very different from the news from far places that used to filter into the village of Cragfall.

She's trying to sense if there's anyone in the caravan she could approach to maybe find out some information. Maybe some news about someone risen to riches or power in Cimenster, information she could offer to the Lady Gunriana. But no one seems approachable.

She is puzzled by the Lady Gunriana's statement that all is already written. Why bother trying to do anything, then? It makes no sense to her.

She's turning this over in her mind when Daniel comes with the warning about Trepik. She wonders how they can manage to retrieve their food and eat apart without rousing the suspicions of the caravan. It seems hopeless.

She plods on, listlessly.

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Truth

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Net Spinster
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Mary was a bit shaken by Daniel's revelation but tried to hide it. "Apologies Hewer, I think Daniel still hasn't recovered from the trauma. I hope we can find someone in Cimenster to cure him. Perhaps someone to help Clawdine also."

She pondered what Daniel said. Salt smuggler was possible though the coastal cities had little need to import salt and Barvik was the bigger exporter than Cimenster, more places for salt ponds. Though poisoner? Was it poisonous salts that Daniel meant from the Apar desert. Apar mines also supplied good salt but only for trade further inland such as to the cities of Denbel and Sallakcit.

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spinner of webs

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Eliab
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As the caravan moves away from the last resting place of the skeletons, the mood of the wagoneers seems to brighten. The road is firm, the oxen seem remarkably patient and untiring, and the sun which shines down through the faintest haze of rain is comforting without being oppressive.

Gunriana moves from wagon to wagon, pausing occasionally to carve a rune on a yokepole or frame, and to exchange a word or two with the dwarves and humans. The pace of the caravan gradually increases. Cimenster is drawing closer.

Sensing a deepening of trust between the travellers, Gunriana tries to steer the conversation towards local news, hoping that she has sufficient ***Elan*** that, without raising suspicion, she might be able to find out if any new military or political powers have arisen in the lost decades since Kavetseki sunk.


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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Autenrieth Road

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Frithwynne watches curiously as Gunriana comes down the caravan, carving runes. She decides to try to shake off the sadness that has descended on her by some brisk walking. It feels good to be wearing boots again instead of walking barefoot. She drifts up the line of wagons (strange, it feels like she's having to walk much more quickly than she did the night before, yet it feels effortless), listening to the talk of the guards and drivers as she goes. She spends some extra time walking near the large wooden wagon.

When she reaches the head of the caravan, she slows and starts drifting back again. She wonders if her ***intuition*** can make any sense of the bits and pieces she has heard.

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Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Adam.

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Dorainen had had a pleasant nap after the nasty business with the skeletons, but had awoken in plenty of time to join the departing caravan and fall in step. He knew he'd find a wagon sooner or later, but he was happy walking for a while. His legs felt stiff and missed water. Fresh from his nap, he was able to make his way up and down the caravan and catch up on everyone's news. Eventually, he found Er, they found a wagon to sit in, and he got out the map of Cimenster to look over with him. While Er was certainly the expert, Dorainen enjoyed running his fingers over the waterways. It felt soothing.

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

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Banner Lady
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Clawdine drifted in and out of sleep as the sun began to sink in the west. She was hungry and the sacks were rather lumpy and uncomfortable.

'Ere,' she said to the dwarf holding the reigns of the oxcart. 'Wotcha got in theze zacks? Theyz not much of a feather bed.'

The dwarf chuckled. 'Wondrous treasure, there, old woman. Take a look at our precious cargo. Jewels from deep within the earth, they are!'

Clawdine sat up and opened the sacks next to her. 'Taters! Well, thatz all right, 'cept they needz cookin'. And parznips and onions and turnips. Anythin' else? I could chew yer leg orf I'm that 'ungry.'

The dwarf reached down and tossed her a calico bag. 'Only what's in there, if you like a bit o' sausage.' He gave her a grin. 'And whatever's left in the bottom of my pocket.' He nodded at an empty looking pouch hanging from a nail in one of the wagon hoops.

Clawdine took her knife and carved a few slices of cured sausage meat. Then she investigated the leather pouch. At the bottom were a couple of dates, a nutmeg, some dried mushrooms, a shrivelled orange and an old brown apple core.

'It'll do.' Clawdine sucked the dried flesh off the dates and carefully put the pits back into the pocket. Then she turned her attention to the orange, rolling it around in her hands and whispering to it before spitting on it and clasping it to her heart. She tapped it gently against the divining rod nestled in her cleavage and watched with pleasure as it doubled, then trebled in size until the skin split.

'Want some?' she tore off a section and offered it to the dwarf, who shook his head in alarm.

"You a witch?' he demanded.

Clawdine laughed. 'Nope. I just got a way with food. I like it and it likes me.' She winked. 'Stick with me and yer'll eat like a rich man!'

Then she settled back among the sacks, sucking the seeds out of the orange and putting each one back in the pouch as gently as if they were rubies.

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Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

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Er and Dorainen pored over the map, Er using his ***well travelled*** skills to spot the changes over the intervening 20 years in the countryside around Cimenster and the town itself.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Curiosity killed ...

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Er found the hairs on the back of his neck rising. The changes on the map were huge. Some he would have expected, successful towns grow, small villages disappear and expanding towns need materials and sites. Cimenster had obviously thrived and the Commoner's Forest must have been used to resource that growth, in fact, the town had doubled in size and the forest entirely disappeared. But what had caused the fortification of the town? And why is there
a place of execution marked just about half a mile before you reach the gates of Cimenster? These are both new and worrying developments, as were the number of small villages that have disappeared off the map.

Er turned to Dorainen and Mary, "Cimenster has grown and is now fortified. How safe will we be arriving in a fortified town?"

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Adam.

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"I think that depends entirely on what the caravan is carrying," replied Dorainen.

"The boy Foret must know something that might help us figure out what kind of reception we should be expecting in Cimenster. I'll go ask him."

Dorainen went to look for Foret. He knew that Foret and Trepik were the only two with a tan. Foret seemed to have genuinely tried to be forthcoming with him last time they spoke, but maybe was too afraid of the man who at that point (he shuddered) owned him to tell the whole truth, or maybe he simply couldn't fathom quite how full of an answer Dorainen would have wanted. His question had, perhaps, been overly narrow.

As soon as he found him, he knew what to ask. "Foret," he'd say, "it's very important to us to figure out quite what this caravan is transporting. What can you tell us of your travels with Trepik before the caravan formed?"

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
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Net Spinster
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Mary listened in dismay to Er's details as she walked beside him and Dorainen. "Hmm, new fortification means a threat either real or imagined from outside, whether far off or local and the many guards on this train also show that. Something has changed and does it have to do with us? It could be simply increased sea raiding requiring people to live behind strong walls." She dropped her voice, "As the Vanes clan was known to do a few generations ago. I would like to consult with any ship captains in Cimenster or with any merchants I know there but who knows how fortune has treated them in the last 20 years."

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spinner of webs

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Curiosity killed ...

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Er replied, "Yes, I think the contents of this caravan and Trepik's plans for us will ensure our safety or endanger us further. I was still pondering the import, but there's a place of execution marked on Dorainen's map. This road will lead us past the site. What has happened to this peaceful place that the town of Cimenster now requires a site for executions?

I wonder how my fellow tinkers fared and how safe my trade will be in these changed times?"

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Banner Lady
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Clawdine, sufficiently revictualled, went to sit at the front of the cart with the dwarf. She realized he was a little intimidated by both her size and what she did with the orange. Now, she thought, was a good time to get a better idea of where they were going and why.

'Tell yer wot,' she chuckled. 'Let's play a guessin' game. We getz ter ax each other one thing at a time, but we can only answer yez or no to it. Wotcha reckon?'

Clawdine knew she had a couple of things in her favour here. First, dwarves liked a gaming challenge and it would relieve the boredom. Second she was usually pretty canny at ***spotting deception***. She knew how to pick out a lie.

The dwarf looking at her interestedly.

'Me first, then,' said Clawdine. 'Is all yer cargo food?'
'No,' said the dwarf. 'My turn. Are you from round these parts?'
'No,' said Clawdine truthfully. 'Are yer from Cimenster?'
'No', said the dwarf. Then he asked 'Are you planning to kill us all?'
'No,' said Clawdine. 'Are YOU planning to kill us all?'
'No. Are you going to the ceremony?'
'Yes,' said Clawdine. 'Are yer going to the ceremony?'
'Yes,' came the answer, then; 'Are you part of the ceremony?'
'No,' said Clawdine. 'Is anyone on thiz wagon train goin' to be part of the ceremony?'
'Yes.' said the dwarf. 'Are you afraid?'
'No. Should I be?'
'Yes.' said the dwarf, as the wagonmaster called a halt at what looked like a tollgate.

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Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Autenrieth Road

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Frithwynne reflects...


Scraps of overheard conversations:

"Barvik to Cimenster, it's a good run, hope I can pick up a caravan to work the return."

"Us drivers will have an easier time than the dwarves. Never seen a caravan with so many guards; there's going to be a guard-glut in Cimenster in a few days."

"Preferably one where we travel in the day."

"And no use asking Master Trepik why; it's just 'be ready to start at sunset' and a glare if you so much as look a question."

"Lot of bother for a load of gold" (this from the guards).

"Lot of bother for a load of salt" (this from the drivers).

"Strange way to start a caravan. Master Trepik had the wagon already, looking like it had already been a long journey, and just him and Foret to guard it while he rounded up a crew and contracted the rest of the cargo."

"And now he's given away Foret, without so much as a snarl or a beating."

"Never seen him look so happy to be intimidated and surrounded by magic-wielders, what do you think he has up his sleeve?"

"Dunno, but best stay away from it."



The scraps revolve in Frithwynne's mind, and slowly settle into a new configuration:

  • The caravan is due to disperse at Cimenster
  • It is unusual to have so many guards
  • No-one knows what is in the chests, the dwarves tend to think it is gold, the wagoneers tend to think it is salt - both groups were hired at Barvik, so they don't know where this bit of the cargo originally came from (Foret was alteady travelling with Trepik at this point)
  • Neither the wagoneers nor the dwarves mention anything about Trepik being a Scalemaster, they probably don't recognise the significance of the amulet
  • No-one knows why they are having to travel at night - except that Trepik insisted.
  • Trepik seems surprisingly unbothered by the encounter with Jetse - or the evidence of powerful magic use shown by us - he must see some profit in our continued association (despite the public loss of face)


Frithwynne drifts up and down the caravan, quietly sharing her thoughts with the other members of the party, with the exception of Jetse and Clawdine, who are occupied talking to dwarves.

She also shares her concern that they try to find out more about Trepik, including about the unknown cargo in the wooden wagon (for what it might tell them about Trepik). Who knows what trick he is trying to play or what profit he is trying to gain, but best not to be caught as unprepared pawns in his schemes.

She reminds herself to try to find a time to talk to Jetse and Clawdine when they're away from the dwarves.

[ 26. June 2014, 17:51: Message edited by: Autenrieth Road ]

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Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Banner Lady
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The dwarf hopped down to speak to the wagonmaster up ahead as Frithwynne drifted back from the front. Clawdine beckoned her up on to the wagon.

'Yer looks tired; come rest a spell up 'ere,' offered Clawdine.

Frithwynne hoisted herself up and they waited together for the carts to start again.

'I wonder what Cimenster will be like?' murmured Frithwynne.
'Dunno,' said Clawdine. 'But we're being taken to some kind of ceremony, and I don't think we're goin' ter like it much. Best tell Jetse, if yer see 'im. Or yer can ax the dwarf about it yerself.'

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Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Autenrieth Road

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Frithwynne delivered her report to Clawdine that she'd delivered to the others.

"Best tell Jetse yourself about this ceremony," she said, and jumped down from the wagon.

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Truth

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Banner Lady
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Clawdine shrugged, and settled back for a doze. If Frithwynne wasn't interested in this information, then maybe it wasn't of the least importance anyway. They would all see soon enough.

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Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Eliab
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Gunriana finds the others and shares what she has learned.

"One of the drivers was telling me what we can expect to find in Cimenster - he has family there and makes the journey often.

They say there have been raids, one in most months, by the forces of the Shark Lord. That's more than I would have expected. Twenty years ago, you might have heard that said a couple times a year, and mostly had reason to doubt the report. No captain in these waters has ever doubted that the waves cover many dangers, but the Shark Lord never went out of his way to war on humans. Something has provoked his emnity. That, or someone has brought something into Cimenster that he wants.

The mercers Guild Council has risen in power as a result, enforcing its will by land and sea in the name of better security. The nobility are backing them - as well they might, if, as in our day, most of the nobles are deeply in debt to the trading houses. Duke Poratis is one of the most vocal of the leaders of that party, but the man I spoke too seemed less than impressed by his parading of liveried mercenaries through the docks as if they were his household retainers, and his keeping a great galleon as the flagship of the coastal defences, while achieving nothing. It's rumoured that he might even be in the pay of the enemy. For what it's worth, the Duke has made a marriage alliance with my family, which may be where his money for thugs and banners has come from.

The real power on the Council is a woman named Wherist Yaris. I haven't heard of her. The man I spoke to thought her the most powerful person in Cimenster, and if he's right, and she's got the trading Houses to unite behind her, she's not someone to be underestimated.

One of the dwarves told me that there's a group of his people in the city, refugees from Mørkbork in the Palatinate. Jetse will know more about that than I, but I'm told that the Cimenster natives are suspicious of them.

My best guess is that our enemy provoked the Shark Lord by taking something from his domain, something that he either valued or feared or was bound to keep safe. That thing was in the chest Dorainen took from the deep, and we were trapped by the magic that defended it. If it's not in Cimenster, the Shark Lord thinks it is, or at least, thinks he can find its trail by starting there. Portatis and Yaris would seem to be worth looking at, when we get there."

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4619 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Autenrieth Road

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Frithwynne speaks up.

"And what of Trepik? I don't trust him, and I'm concerned what profit he may be plotting to make off us. He gave in to Jetse so easily, and gave us all money and clothes. But he reminds me of the tricksters who would sometimes come through Cragfall gambling with a little set of nutshells, like the one Seigneur Swallow had."

Frithwynne feels her eyes watering as she remembers that charming handsome young man as he was when he first came on board ship. Rogue he may have been, but to take one's own life is too sad a fate for anyone.

She blinks back the treacherous tears and continues, "They'd let the young men win for a bit, but then they'd win everything back, and then some. And anyone who chose to step away while still a winner more often than not fell on ill-luck and would find themselves before morning in a ditch, beaten and robbed.

"I think we would do well to find out what Trepik's business is that takes him to Cimenster, and take care to not fall his victims."

She pauses, and then thinks of more: "And Clawdine says a dwarf told her we're bound for a ceremony in Cimenster, and Clawdine thinks it's not something we'll like."

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Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Net Spinster
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"The shark lord?" Mary grimaced, "Ill news indeed if true since he is rumored to be immortal though some might take that title who are not the true shark lord but merely follow him as priests. Not the 'merely' is the right word since many of those priests whether man or other race are terrifying in their own right. His followers tithe treasure to him, one-tenth of each type including captives into the depths of the ocean." She paused, "Perhaps what we recovered was once part of the tithe."

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spinner of webs

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Curiosity killed ...

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# 11770

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Er looked up on hearing Mary speak, "Did any of us keep any of what was recovered? Did it not get passed on to others? So why are they not punished? Or is that the reason for the fortification, keeping punishment at bay? But what fortifications can hold against spells?"

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
Shipmate
# 5549

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Daniel comes up to Er. Do you think you could get me a look inside that wagon please?

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10567 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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Er looks at Daniel and how many people are listening, says out loud, "Get you into a locked and guarded wagon? If I could, it would be more than my life's worth, in fact, it would probably mean I forfeit my life." He tries to signal to Daniel that he will talk to him without an audience and without making it obvious that they are having this conversation, but isn't sure he succeeds.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Autenrieth Road

Shipmate
# 10509

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Firthwynne observes Er's discomfort, and to cover, continues with the earlier topic.

"Perhaps whatever had the chest, couldn't track it so well once it left the water. We were the ones who took it up, we were the ones who would face the storm. And once the power found we didn't have the chest, it might have kept us on that beach, whether for vengeance, or for punishment, or perhaps even for its own protection. For all it knew, we were powerful enough to sail right to its seat of power, dive and steal its chest, and pass the chest on right under its nose. What else might it fear from us?"

Frithwynne grins wryly at the thought of the power behind the storm thinking that this odd-assorted bunch is a danger to it. Then she remembers the way Jetse and Gunriana dismantled the bone-things, and shivers, realizing that there is indeed power in this group.

"I wonder if it picked up the scent though, and found the new possessor of the chest. Or perhaps not, but the possessor is in fear of being discovered."

Frithwynne hadn't previously given thought to what had caused the wreck, accepting it as an impersonal force no more to be challenged than the winter storms that locked in the sheep farm, cutting off all contact with even nearby Cragfall for weeks at a time. But now that she has started thinking about it, it seems easy to come up with ideas, like playing Adventure as a child in the caves above the sheep meadows, conjuring all sorts of fantasies.

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Truth

Posts: 9559 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Net Spinster
Shipmate
# 16058

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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Er looked up on hearing Mary speak, "Did any of us keep any of what was recovered? Did it not get passed on to others? So why are they not punished? Or is that the reason for the fortification, keeping punishment at bay? But what fortifications can hold against spells?"

Mary replied, "I don't know. Cimenster is on land not sea and on a high bit of land not easily assailed by the sea. Or the person who took the chest might have turned and gone south to Barvik or even further to the Palatinate or, if trying to evade the shark lord, taken it well into the Apar desert beyond his reach. Or the shark lord doesn't know where it is; he is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful."

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spinner of webs

Posts: 1093 | From: San Francisco Bay area | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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Er winced at the mention of chests from Frithwynne, "who knows of the powers of the sea and how they cause shipwrecks. " He looks around hopefully for the Good Mother, who was with Daniel earlier.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Banner Lady
Ship's Ensign
# 10505

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Clawdine was roused from her dozing by the dwarf elbowing her in the hip.

They were moving again, and the night was far gone. Clawdine looked at him with a frown. ‘What did yer wake me fer?’

The dwarf grinned. ‘You were snoring so loud it was scaring the oxen. Guess your throat’s dry. Need a drink?’ He passed her a waterskin.

Clawdine took the waterskin and sniffed it suspiciously.

‘It’s just water,’ assured the dwarf. ‘No tricks. I promise on my name.’

‘Wot is yer name?’ Clawdine asked.
‘Morbring,’ came the reply.
Clawdine drank gratefully. The water was good. ‘I’m Clawdine.’

‘That thing you do with food...’ Morbring paused… ‘might be useful if you had the right partners.’

‘Might be,’ agreed Clawdine. She could see he had been thinking about it for a while. ‘What’s in it fer me?’

‘Your life,’ said the dwarf quietly, ‘and mine. Things are not easy for dwarves in Cimenster these days. Our people suffer much, and food is expensive.’

Clawdine put down the waterskin and said, ‘Keep talkin’, Morbring. I’m listenin’.’

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Women in the church are not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.

Posts: 7080 | From: Canberra Australia | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged



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