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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Atonement
~ fourth-day, 24th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, moondark
Silverymoon


Leokas leading the way, the two hiked over well-packed snow along the western bank of the river, on what appeared to be a road used by farmers from the countryside. After an hour of walking, they came to the southern gates of the city. Between two towers in the stone wall, two guards stood before the doors, bearing lanterns. Their armor glistened in the moonlight.

   "Ho, what do we have here, Laethil?"

   "Travelers in the midst of night's heart?"

   "Must be adventurers! No one else walks about at this hour."

   "The one walks like an elf."

   "The other... does not."

   "Too short for an elf."

   "...Unless he is a drow. His skin color is darker."

   "Probably another one of those 'reformed' drow."

   "It seems to be the fad these days."

   "Are you going to mock us or ask us our business in the city?" Leokas asked, approaching the two guards. Hakam came up behind.

   "We meant no offense, brother elf," said the one in crisp Elven, and only then did Leokas notice that both of the men were elves. The guard continued, in Common. "It is near the end of our watch, and we would both much rather be at the Dancing Goat, quite honestly."

   "Unless you be orcs or goblinkin," said the other, "you are welcome in our city."

   (Leokas took more comfort in the fact that they opposed goblinkin than in their welcome.)

   "We are here on an urgent matter related to the Church of Anachtyr, whom I serve," said Hakam.

   "Mean you Tyr?" said the first guard. "This city is not known for its worship of the Triad."

   A look of frustration welled up on Hakam's face.

   "No, there is a temple to the Triad here," corrected the second guard. "Jornan worships there. It is between the House Invincible and Rhyester's Matins."

   "I am afraid that we do not know either of those places," said Leokas.

   "You stand at the Mulgate," said the guard, "one of the two gates to the southern bank. A wide road leads straight from here to the Moonbridge."

   "You cannot miss it," said the other guard.

   "It literally glows silver in the moonlight," said the second.

   "Yes, I know of it," said Leokas. "I hail from High Forest."

   "High Forest? Yet you have never visited the Gem of the North?"

   "I am not one for cities," said Leokas.

   "You may feel differently about Silverymoon," said the first guard.

   "In any case," continued the other, "cross the bridge. It will look insubstantial, because it is, but the magic will not fail you. I cross it multiple times per day. Once in Northbank, continue to follow the Moonway road. You will be in the older part of the city, so the roads are narrower, but do not veer from it. You will pass Brightbuckler Street, which has many shops, and then the road will intersect another one of about the same size after about 100 yards. This is the Ghostwalk. Take a right. In about 100 feet, you will reach a four-way intersection. One of the roads here is especially wide, because it used to be the site of the old wall of the city, follow it east to the large open space of the Market. Across the Market, you will see a massive fortress-looking building. That is the House Invincible, the temple to Helm. There should be an alley to the right of the temple. Three or four buildings down that alley, you should find the temples to the Triad. There are three separate buildings. They are not small; they simply lack the fame that some of the other temples in the city hold."

   "Most of us elves worship at Everdusk Hall," added the other guard.

   "I thank you for your assistance, sirs," said Hakam.

   "If you get lost, just make your way to any intersection. All the cistern covers in the city have a green arrow painted on them denoting north."

   "I am certain that we will manage," said Leokas.

   One of the guards turned to open the door. Then each guard took a bow and motioned for them to pass through. "Enjoy your visit, and may you find whatever it is you seek for or from your deity."

   Once they had passed through the doors, Hakam and Leokas felt more like they were taking a walk through a fancy garden than through a city. Some magic seemed to have kept the winter chill outside the gates, and the smell of flowers was in the air.

   "These are shadowtops," said Leokas, pointing at some tall trees, "and oaks, and duskwoods."

   "Shadowtops are those trees that grow in the Golden Grove in my city of Memnon, are they not?" asked Hakam.

   "Yes," said Leokas. His voice drifted off. He had bittersweet memories of that grove with the golden-leafed tree....

   They walked on leaf-shaped flagstone sidewalks along a cobblestone street. The way was lit by countless tiny lanterns, magically glowing with a color reminiscent of the Feywild. Leokas, with his elven eyes, was able to appreciate the beauty of the city more than Hakam, who could not make out as many details in the dim light, but Leokas took note of the many balconies and curving staircases. Every work of construction here seemed to have elegant curves to it, as if the buildings had grown, rather than were built, much like an elven settlement. Even though Silverymoon was primarily a human city, they clearly were trying to imitate elven art, and Leokas had to admit that they did so well.

   After about a tenth of a mile, they had passed through the entire width of the southern bank of the city and reached the famous Moonbridge. They could see its silver glow from beyond the buildings and trees before they could see the bridge itself. They first crossed between the two circular guard towers, where another pair of Knights in Silver nodded at them in greeting. Then the bridge was there before them, steeply ascending in a high arc over the dark river below. It sparkled like silver moonlight and was transparent. Ripples of energy visibly traversed its surface. It seemed to be about fifteen feet wide and a couple feet thick.

   "It is a magical drawbridge," Leokas explained.

   "Let us hope it does not recede while we are on it," said Hakam.

   There were no railings, so Hakam stuck to the center, as they walked on what felt to their steps like glass. Leokas walked near the edge, so that he could gaze down into the cold waters, which reflected the starlight, some 60 feet below at the highest point of the arc.

   They safely reached the other side and continued. As the gate guards had said, this northern bank was the older part of the city, and this was immediately obvious, yet it was equally as beautiful.

   After 50 feet, they began to hear a loud ruckus. It soon became apparent that the noise was coming from a tavern ahead. A sign swinging gently in the breeze portrayed a goat on his hind legs, dancing with a maiden.

   "This must be the Dancing Goat that the guard mentioned," noted Hakam, as they passed by.

   They saw a sign for Brightbuckler Street, which joined the street on which they were walking. Here was a strange stone building with a perfectly round door.

   "'The Shining Scroll,'" read Leokas. "Szordrin and Solisar might like to know about this place if ever we return here."

   Just beyond Brightbuckler, as the guards had said, they came to a street named the Ghostwalk and followed it east. This took them to a much larger road that ran east-to-west. The street sign read, "Old Wall." They followed it east. After a short walk, they came to a great open space, so long across that not even Leokas could see the end of it as he looked south. It was filled with empty stalls and tables for market shops and wares.

   "That must be the temple of Helm there," said Hakam. "We are close."

   As instructed, they walked into a side alley on the right of this stone temple. This must have been a religious district, for they passed shrines to the Red Knight, Tempus, and Valkur on way before reaching the three-temple cluster of buildings dedicated to the Triad. "Anachtyr heads the Triad," said Hakam. "His temple will be the largest of these three."

   Hakam had assumed correctly. While not as impressive to eyes as the House of Justice in Memnon, this temple to Tyr was as elegantly constructed as the other buildings in the city but — Hakam observed — was far more balanced and symmetrical.

   "I shall wait there in that little garden park," said Leokas, pointing to the north.

   So Hakam boldly entered the great doors to the temple. Heavily armored guards at first held their swords out to stop him, but then pulled back to let him pass.

   "Pardon us, sir," said one of them. "We did not recognize you for one of our southern priests at first. It is not often that we are visited by members of the sect of Anachtyr."

   Hakam asked them if any of the head clerics were available.

   "Only the acolytes are about at this late hour," said one of the temple guards.

   "If the matter is urgent," said the other, "we can wake the High Lord Abbot."

   "It is urgent," said Hakam. "Please wake him."

   "Follow me, sir; I will lead you to a waiting room until he comes."

   After thirty minutes or so, a human man entered the room, clad richly in blue and violet robes, with a silver Tyrran holy symbol about his neck and a white sash as a belt. His left hand was covered in a white glove; his right in a black one.

   Hakam bowed. "Rafayam, sir, forgive me for waking you at this late hour."

   "Fret not," said the high priest. "I was already up, preparing for the dawn prayers. You are one of our southern brothers, I presume. Truly, you would not have come so far and at such an hour were the matter not urgent. I am High Lord Abbot Hornraven."

   "Hakam yn Hamdulah el Anachtyr. Indeed, the Just God had chosen me for a task, but his enemies have continually assailed us to set us back from completing our holy quest. My companions and I have been exiled by powerful magics far to the north, though our goal lies far to the south, greatly setting us back in this time-sensitive matter. In my zeal to return to the task assigned me by my god and yours, I sinned greatly, and Anachtyr has disciplined me by removing his blessing from me. This has caused harm to both myself and my companions, and yesterday, one of them was slain, because I did not have the power to prevent what I easily could have, had I not sinned.

   "In this tragedy, there was hope given us. The Even-Handed permitted that we should find suddenly a means of quick transportation. Thus, I have come here posthaste, to seek atonement for my deeds, that I may restore my companion to life, that we may at last complete the mission given us from Anachtyr. May his laws forever stand."

   "In your zeal, how exactly have you sinned?" asked the High Lord Abbot.

   "When fighting in self-defense against monsters of chaos and evil, I slew one who had not yet reached the age of accountability. It was wrong of me to judge such a being, when even in Anachtyr's eyes, she was innocent and not yet irredeemable."

   "Indeed, one must not forget that the Just God is a god of both justice and mercy. What did you do to reverse your error? Was the girl raised?"

   "Her body was burned with her family, for such is how her people see to the bodies of the dead."

   "That is unfortunate. What sort of 'monsters' were her people?"

   "She was born of a family of werewolves, who betrayed and ambushed us, after we had escorted them in safety."

   "Werewolves? In such a case, her death may ultimately have been a mercy, though such was not for you to have decided."

   "Yes, Lord Abbot. It is true."

   "Permit me time to seek guidance from our god. Spend this time in meditation and prayer yourself; then, join me in the sanctuary in half an hour. If Tyr permit it, I shall offer atonement for your sins there."

~~~~

Thirty minutes later, Hakam reverently entered the main sanctuary of the temple. The large chamber was lit with purple, blue, and white candles. At one end of the room was a judge's podium, which many pews faced. Behind the podium, against the back wall, was a massive statue of the Maimed God Tyr, with eyes gouged out and no right hand. His left hand rested on a longsword. In the front of the podium was a massive balance scale. Abbot Hornraven was standing by the balance. No one else was yet in the room, as morning prayers did not begin for another few hours still, for dawn came later in the winter in the North.

   "Come forward, you who bear the burden of guilt for your misdeeds and kneel before the Great Judge." The High Lord Abbot was now quoting from a liturgy. Hakam obeyed, coming forward and kneeling before the balance. The abbot was carrying a large vase. He approached the scale and filled each pan of it with an aromatic oil, taking care to add exactly the same amount to each pan. Then he prayed, "God of Justice, accept this offering as a fragrant smell. May it symbolize our prayers. May my prayers join those of this repentant follower in seeking thy forgiveness."

   In answer to this prayer, the pans supernaturally ignited into flame, and burned with a blue-violet glow upon the surface of the oil for the remainder of the ceremony.

   Then the abbot stepped up behind the podium and opened a large book of laws. "God of Justice, remind us of the justice that you have passed down to us, encoded in these laws that we strive always to follow."

   Hakam knew that every temple to Tyr maintained a massive book of laws. No two temples had the same law book, since the laws of every land and even town differed. What was important is that a law was established, not what those exact laws were.

   So it was that, when Abbot Hornraven spent the next hour methodically reading through laws of Silverymoon, Hakam was not as bored as the average soul might be. He had an opportunity to learn of the laws of this region of the north, finding then rather lax for his own tastes. He also noticed, however, that a focus of the abbot's readings regarded laws of parents and their children, inheritance, age of responsibility, and other such matters of age, as well as sections regarding sentences for crimes and what options a judge would have for administering justice and mercy.

   "Now, Hakam Anachtyr," said the abbot, when he had closed the book of laws, "confess your sin, how you have violated the spirit of these laws if not these laws themselves."

   "I confess to you, High Lord Abbot, and to Anachtyr, the Even-Handed, that I have sinned by passing judgment and sentence on one not culpable for her crimes. I have failed as the example and representative of justice that Anachtyr has called me to be."

   Hornraven stepped down from the podium and approached Hakam. "Do you repent of your misdeed? Do you solemnly vow to right your actions in whichever way that Tyr demands?"

   "I do."

   "Blind Overlord, be blind to the sins that this servant of thine has committed, for thou hast heard his words of repentance." The abbot then placed a hand upon Hakam's shoulder as he continued kneeling and bowing his head. Immediately, Hakam felt a surge of power return to him.

   "By the power granted me by Tyr, I atone you of your sin. You are restored into the service of the Maimed God. Rise again as a cleric of justice."

   Hakam stood, looking somewhat confused. "Is there no task to be given me?"

   "Tyr has revealed to me that the task that you have already been given is so great that no further act of propitiation is needed. I must say that I do not envy the quest that he has given you, as I feel that the matter has the attention of many gods both light and dark."

~~~~

Hakam stepped out into the dawn light with joy. He had just shared in the morning prayers with the other worshipers of Tyr, and now he knew that his prayers for powers were heard and answered. He walked down the alley in Silverymoon with a new sense of purpose, as acolytes of various faiths were coming and going from their various temples or shrines.

   "What penance were you given?" Leokas asked when Hakam met him in the nearby park.

   "Nothing, save to follow Anachtyr's righteous path."

   "To stop Samber?"

   "Yes, to stop Samber."
Session: 91st Game Session - Wednesday, May 31 2017 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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