Journal Posts

← Previous 1 3 4 5
Prophecy I
Unless darkness ride to the ocean tide
The serpent’s teeth to blunt.
From the setting sun return one by one
Lost riders to the hunt

Gutteral calls through the seven halls
Awaken the Weeping Mound
Though reclaimed faith come soon or late
Font's Daughter again be found
Session: Broken Seal - Saturday, Jul 18 2015 from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: history , Prophecy
The Beginning: Retribution
“Aye, we’re ‘ome safe ‘n sure now. You go ‘ave a sit, I’ll be ‘avin’ a chat with Master Roodle so’s this nae be ‘appenin’ again.” Hokur had shoved Sottovelo’s kitchen entrance door open with his foot as he had one arm around Ismay’s shoulders and her basket of market purchases under the other. The maid was shaking now, her face pale under her freckles, as the shock of what she had just escaped set in. Hokur slid the basket onto the counter with his hip and sat the girl down on a stool before turning to Maeve where she was seated at the table. “I’d be supposin’ that since yer down ‘ere, the master is up and about?”

“In the office with Dido,” Maeve stated simply around a nibble of scone. She recognized the ill-omened look clouding the mercenary’s face and thought it best not to get in his way. Yet.

“What’s happened then?” Morna demanded, turning from the stove with the ever-present spoon still in her hand even as she placed both fists on her hips to glare at the man.

“Some foolishment that’d best nae be trouble again.” Hokur said as he left to find the master of the house.


Hokur knocked once on the office door, waiting for a reply before entering. It was never a good idea to barge in on a wizard, particularly one who could vaporize demonic glass beasts. He found Namen sitting across from Dido over the central desk she used for most of the business of Sottovello. “You’re up early, Hokur. I thought you were heading to the Street of Doves after last night? Didn’t expect to see you until mid-day at the earliest.”

“Aye, been there most of the night. I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I came across some mischief ye best be knowin’ ‘bout. You be needin’ a proper footman about th’ place.” Hokur moved to the sideboard and poured a cup of tea, taking an experimental sip, “Och, this is that Rider Red?” he made a face indicating he was not at all impressed with the brew, regardless of its exclusivity.

“There’s a bottle of Flumenti uncorked if you prefer, or the dwarven brandy.” Namen gestured with a negligent wave of his hand before settling back to regard his Captain. “Why do I need a footman?”

Hokur poured a finger of brandy into a glass and shot it back before continuing. “Ah, this’s something right fine ‘ere!” the Aral said as he raised the empty glass. “As I was sayin’, I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I ‘appens to come through the farmer’s market. So’s I was standin’ there, figurin’ out if I wanted t’ try some o’ th’ apple fritters or just grab a biscuit from th’ kitchen at Libromazzarco, whens I sees a red’ead goin’ about ‘er business what looked familiar. Right enough, it was our Ismay. I also sees a bunch o’ jack-napes sniffin’ ‘round ‘er skirts. O’ course, she was ‘avin’ none o’ that, shooin’ ‘em away and such.”

The big Aral whipped a chair around one-handed and sat astraddle to face Namen and Dido before continuing his tale. “Ah’n that’s when th’ mischief begin. Seems right apparent-like they were nae takin’ th’ ‘int that she was nae interested, an’ th’ lot of ‘em were set t’ force th’ issue. Now as I’m standin’ there – havin’ decidin’ on th’ fritter – those young pups set t’ ‘arryin’ yer maid there until she got maneuvered out of th’ ‘erd, so’s t’ say. Well, I was ‘avin’ none o’ that, not fer one o’ our own. Just as I’s startin’ t’ cross the square, they pounced an’ got her tucked in t’ an alley.”

The big Aral scratched his chin, “Now I’m nae sorry t’ say I mighta knocked a few people t’ground gettin’ there, so’s ye may be havin’ to make nice wit’ ‘em but I had t’ get a double move-on,” he explained. “An’ quick as I can, I’m ducking in t’ th’ alley, fritter in one hand an’ th’ other restin’ on th’ Dodger t’ see these five cocksures have lil’ Ismay pinned up aginn’ th’ wall a ways down th’ alley. Silent as th’ grave she was... but screamin’ won’t help when there’s five sets o’ hands t’ quiet yer mouth.”

Namen’s lips had tightened into a grim line and his brows drew down as Hokur related the tale. “And?” he said stiffly.

Hokur shrugged, “Och, th’ lass is fine now, down in th’ kitchen wit’ ‘er ma an’ Maeve. Alls I ‘ad t’ do was step up an’ inform th’ scuttleworms that their … assistance… was nae required. Theys took that hint fair quick once a few elbows got me sidled up next t’ Ismay. But I did ‘ear something about one red’eaded Aral bein’ as good as another as I was comin’ up on ‘em.” He pulled down is long moustaches. “Come t’ think on’t, there were a few red-dyed whores down yonder as well. So’s as I see it, you need a proper footman t’ make sure some such mischief nae be ‘appenin’ again.”

“I see.” Namen rose and moved to pour himself a glass of the Flumenti. “Ismay is unhurt and …intact, you said?”

“Aye. Mebbe a wee shook up but th’ jack-a-napes had lil’ chance t’ do ‘er any ‘arm afore I stepped in.”

“Good. And you could pick these fellows out if you saw them again?” Namen asked before raising the glass to his lips.

“Aye, I suppose I could at that.” Hokur raised one bushy eyebrow at the wizard. “Yer plannin’ on somethin’ I can tell. Ya got th’ same look Arcelli gets when ‘e comes ‘cross ‘ob tracks.” Hokur tilted his head, “Come on now, it were mischief, right ‘n true, but th–”

Namen cut him off before he could finish, “I’m planning a lesson, an abject lesson, in manners.” The shorthairs on the mercenary’s neck stirred as his employer spoke. “One should always teach the ill-mannered the error of their actions, and the sooner the better or it won’t stick, just like beating a dog the day after it pisses on the floor doesn’t work. They’ve forgotten that this wizard is to be feared,” he glowered. Namen paused and drew a long, calming breath. “But you are correct, Sottovelo does need a footman. I’ve been meaning to add one to the household but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. This just illustrates the need to make it more of a priority. Besides,” he glanced at Dido, “if Maeve is to be a proper Salpian wife, she’ll need to be escorted by a footman now.”

“Oh, getting that girl… young woman, to have some man trailing along with her whenever she goes out, that will be a fruitful conversation.” Dido murmured.

“Ha! Yes, but she’ll see the reason for it I’m sure.” Namen cocked his head to one side. “Perhaps if we got one of her brothers… Regardless, that conversation will happen soon enough.” He turned to the still-seated Aral. “My thanks to you for saving Ismay from those fools. Now, off to Libromazzarco with you, get some rest, and I’ll see you tonight. We’ll go hunting,” he finished with a predatory gleam in his eye.

Hokur nodded, “Aye then.” He stood and put the chair back in its rightful place. “The Dodger likes the dark.”
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Dark , fools , Plans , The Dodger
Captain (Part I)
The hobgoblin’s captain surveyed the scene before him.

Two lines of spike filled pits had been carefully excavated in a V-formation. The lines stretched over fifty feet long and were ten feet across, the pits divided by narrow walkways of reinforced earth every 10 feet or so, with small stakes above ground marking the passageways. The pit sections were lined with sharpened wooden stakes that rose to just the lip of the pits. Woven reed mats lay across the top, blending into the surrounding ground and concealing them from sight. Part of the top sod that had been stacked aside during the digging had been placed carefully on top to further create the illusion of solid ground.

The removed earth had been raised into a central mound several yards back from the center of the formation. Canvas dyed to match grasses covered the mound, staked down securely to deny the ever fickle wind an opportunity to betray the deception. The remaining top sod was being placed over the canvas-shrouded mound, intact grasses waving in the breeze. Outside the formation of pits, shallow bunkers had been excavated as well, and the mounded banks of soil were draped in more grass-stained canvas and sod, creating low turf-walled tents.
“This had better work, Captain. An awful lot of labor being done by warriors,” one of his sergeants growled from beside him.

The Captain looked down at him, one eyebrow raising. “Your lack of understanding is noted, Kregnik. It will work as planned. And when it does, you will carry my share. Perhaps someday you will learn strategy.” He turned back to the nearly completed ambush. “For now, fetch me Jongar and Gierka.”

“Sir.” Kregnik straightened, thumped his chest in salute and ran to find the lieutenants.


“You understand the plan, Jongar?” the Captain asked as the false dawn began to light up the eastern sky.

“Yes sir. I will take the reserves and wait in the hills.” The young hobgoblin paused and looked eastward. “I should leave now if we are to be off the plain by full light.”


“Honor to you, Captain” Jongar said as he saluted and turned to leave to gather his troops.

The Captain watched the activity for a moment before addressing his remaining officer. “Gierka, get your troops in the tents and the scouts deployed. We leave at dark. A full night’s hard march lay ahead of us if we’re to strike the target as planned.“

Gierka thumped his chest solidly in salute and spun sharply to stomp off into the dim light of pre-dawn. The Captain’s ears barely picked up the muttered ‘Finally’ that Gierka uttered on his exit. That explains Kregnik, he thought, Pity. Gierka’s been loyal but he’s never understood tactical advantage. He will have to fall in the skirmish, now or soon. I will not have my command questioned. Fortunately, he won’t question leading a suicide charge. He crossed his arms and contemplated his subordinate’s future fall.


The Captain slid on his belly next to the scout at the edge of the copse of trees the hobgoblins had stopped in. It sat on a small hill overlooking the small farming complex several hundred yards away that was the target of their raid. They had been on a dead run for most of the previous night, going past the outlying farms and getting behind the outpost of the Masili horsemen. It had taken all of the dark to reach this position, and his troops had collapsed after setting the camouflaged tent in place. Tonight would be an even harder run after the raid, carrying spoils and slaves, and with the horsemen in hard pursuit most likely. That was all part of the plan, and the twenty hobgoblin warriors under the tent knew their parts, if not the details. The Captain had specifics in mind to maximize his window of opportunity.

The complex had three buildings, two habitations and a storage barn, along with the typical small outbuildings. The three dogs had not found the hobgoblins yet. A few horses, chickens and a cow were next to the barn structure. From his view, the Captain could see figures walking about in the fading light.

“Any sign they are aware of us?” he asked the scout. The hobgoblin had tufts of grass woven into his cloak, and the cloak was weighted to not move in the breeze.

“None, Captain.”

“Good. Same recon information?” the Captain began reaching into his belt pouch.

“Same as when we surveyed it. Three adult males, four adult females, four young of indeterminate gender. One adult male and one adult female are white-haired but move well enough. Three dogs are fat and lazy and stay near house unless one of the humans is about.” He paused briefly before adding, “No horsemen have come through this day.”

The Captain paused a moment in pulling out the spyglass. It was a relic, scavenged by his forbearers long ago, and part of his symbols of rank. He quirked an eye at the scout’s form. Another one questions this mission. Perhaps Gierka will need to die sooner than expected. Pushing aside thoughts of attrition he raised the glass to his eye, shielding the lens from the light by habit even with the setting sun behind him. The figures jumped into view and he was able to make out details he had not been able to with the naked eye. The white haired human male was walking between the buildings. Although old for a human, he was definitely still a threat. He scanned the rest of the complex, noting details and refining the plan for this evening’s raid.

The attack had gone smoothly. Moving in after dark, the hobgoblins had dispatched the dogs quickly with only a few barks and a yelping whine. Waiting for the inquisitive Masili to open the door to investigate, he held his troops back until both doors had been opened. Arrows from the dark took the two younger adult males out immediately and the hobgoblins swarmed inside. The dropped lanterns were extinguished before the flames could catch. One of the females had to be killed in the struggle as she fought the raiders. The old humans were killed as well – the old never make good slaves – and the old man had fought well, cutting down Koret before being overwhelmed. That was his only casualty, although several sported minor cuts or scrapes from the assault.

The remaining humans were trussed and bound, gagged to prevent noise and blindfolded as well. The hobgoblins went to work gathering food stuffs and other spoils. The Captain checked the night sky. Time was still on his side, but they would have to move soon. He went to inspect the captives as the troop bundled the spoils and began to gear up for the march out. The two adult females would be satisfactory, young enough to have several seasons of use. The four young humans though…the smallest one would barely stand as tall as his waist. He considered briefly, then slipped his dagger out from its sheath, pulled the human upright and slit its throat. “Too small for slave,” He grunted as blood sprayed outward. He let the body go slack before flinging it away from him.

He turned to find Gierka waiting, a bundle over his shoulder. The hobgoblin eyed the corpse, “Wondered about that one.” He brought his eyes back to the Captain’s face. “Bundles are fixed, troops are loaded. Scouts have brought in the tent, we’re ready to move. On your order?”

The Captain stood a moment, until he saw Gierka’s eyes flick almost imperceptibly to the dripping dagger still in his hand. Slowly he wiped it clean on his wrist before sheathing it again. “Form up for march, four abreast. Leave a trail. We want to make sure they follow us. I’ll set the final piece.” Gierka nodded and turned to bark orders at the rest of the hobgoblins.

The Captain looked once more at the sky and went inside one of the houses. Finding a sheet, he slit a hole in it. He pulled a cloth wrapped bundle from his pouch. Unwrapping it revealed a candle, marked in increments. He trimmed off some and fixed it in a holder, pushing the candle through the slit he had made. He set the candle and sheet on the table. The candle would burn at a specific rate, so he knew when it would reach the cloth. He soaked the sheet with oil from the extinguished lantern before lighting the candle. Making sure it caught well and there were no errant breezes, he left the structure, closing the door behind him. One of his troopers, a young soldier called Grutichik, was waiting at the door.

Nodding with a grin, he chuckled, “Neat that, Captain. Delayed burn. Give us some running time before getting their attention.” He shifted his pack and saluted.

“Good that you understand. This is all a draw tactic. The real operation is back at the pits. Now move, soldier, unless you want to face the horsemen in the open.” Stepping out, he saw the troops standing with packs and slaves on their backs. The horse was loaded as well, chickens tied by their feet around bulging panniers of grain sacks. “Move out” he barked as he broke into a mile eating trot.
Viewable by: Public
Tags: ambush , hobs , Masili
Epic × 2!
Says me
Now, ye may ‘ave noticed a right hint o’ similarities ‘twixt th’ Stunties’ accent an’ me own Aral flavored tongue wanderin’s. Which, iffen a feller were t’ think twice ‘bout they’d come t’ realize tha’ Aral an’ th’ Mountain nae be close an’ neighborly inna geographical way. ‘Cor, th’ don’ mean nuthin’ ‘tall. S’more important is wot lies in th’ twain – Salpia. Sees, it’s th’ Salp way o’ speakin’s an’ word wranglin’ tha’ lends is’elf t’ how th’ dwarf an’ Aral mangle it bu’ good.

‘Ere nows, shuts yer pie-trap fer a moment afore ye go all indignant-like. Hows many Salps yew know tha’ speak th’ Araldite language? Eh? Och, nae near as many as th’ Aral’s tha’ go an’ butcher th’ Salpian, I tells ya truth. An’ those Salps tha’ do, well none o’ ‘em speak like a native son or daughter. Ye’ve got jus’ as much ‘n accent in me ears as I do in yers. Now shuts it an’ lemme finish.

So’s th’ sameness o’ mangles is due t’ lack o’ proper poetics in th’ translated tongue. I nae be sayin’ ye cannae be poetic, or don’ wax on an’ on ‘bout flowers inna field, or th’ way th’ moon shines inna window. Nae, I be meaning tha’ Salps don’ sing their words. They put words t’ song, sure right ‘nough. But ‘is all stumbles an’ bolly-cocks, where th’ meanin’s th’ thing, so’s it be nae a wonder tha’ those o’ us wit’ a more naturally lyrical essence o’ tonal qualities in our speech do be a mite bit hard t’ un’erstand ‘round those tha’ don’.
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Aral , Dwarves , words
In my blue world...
It should be obvious plain that we nae ended up like the aforementioned hobs as we’re sittin’ here partakin’ of this fine mead an’ meal an’ nae festerin’ in a pile of gargoyle dung… unless they shite pebbles or rocks or somesuch… ye’d have t’ask Arcelli as he’s the undisputed regional expert on the scatological habits of the fauna of both sides of the Rhenia Majors. Tablein’ that discussion t’a time when we’re nae eatin’, however, I’ll continue.

So given that we was forewarned by Raylen’s somewhat vague though still helpful words of warnin’ from Neguma we was vigilant for signs of ambush an’ fair confident that, as workin’ fer a wizard has its perks in the magical armaments department, we should be on a might better footin’ than the ill-fated hobs of the mighty Gashronk tribe. Spring weather in Salpia bein’ what it is, we was enjoyin’ a second day of cold rain as we entered the western pass – Salp luck bein’ what it is there was fog hangin’ less than a stone’s throw over our heads as the pass narrowed down makin’ keepin’ an eye skyward more than a bit of a pain in the arse.

Funny thing ‘bout the inevitable, even if a body is prepared fer it, it can still surprise ye. So ‘twas when a hunk of stone the size of a ox cart come barrelin’ out of the fog above ‘tis safe t’say that one or more of us might have let out a coarse word or three.

So providin’ ye can imagine a oxcart with a wingspan every bit of seven paces across an’ what stands twice the height of Hokur here ye’d have a fair guess as t’what landed right spank in front of Arcelli – which is t’say betwixt Signore Caccitore an’ the rest of us – an’ took a swipe with them great talons what glimmered an’ shone like glass in a temple window.

Now Hokur is havin’ none o’ that so’s he barges right up an’ commences t’tradin’ blows with the beastie allowin’ Arcelli t’get back a bit so’s he can feather it proper without havin’ his head swiped clean off. Raylen’s castin’ as fast as he can pray an’ I’m doin’ likewise, only without the prayin’ part an’ with a fair deal more noise as bards is wont t’do. The beastie, fer its part, was clawin’, an’ bitin’, an’ tossin’ its head an’ dealin’ a powerful drubbin’ t’our doughty McMercson but our openin’ salvo must have hit it fair hard as it was nae able t’take t’wing which would have been worse than it standin’ there tradin’ blows in a tactical sense so’s there was that, but unless one of us other three did somethin’ drastic an’ quick we was gonna be deprived a swordsman in short order and permanent.

So it was that Raylen, havin’ throwed as much of Neguma’s enlightenment the critter’s way as he could t’good use – I swear it looked like the beastie was a lode stone and Arcelli’s arrows were iron filin’s the way they snapped to its hide – sees that Hokur is comin’ up in a bad way so the daft bastard gallops Clod, sorry – gallops Niko right up t’the beastie an’ executes the most amazin’ display of horsemanship I’d seen from him t’date – mind ye, this is the self-same feller what crowned himself king of the door lintels nae more than a fortnight prior. But truth be told, our dear priest managed somehow t’dismount, draw his weapon, an’ whack the beastie in one fell swoop that right rang the critter’s bell but good, an’ more important, took its immediate attention off of Hokur.

Recognizin’ a boon when he seen one, Hokur jumps back t’where I can smack him with a curative chorale that went at least some way t’ward gettin’ him back in the fight afore Raylen got himself squashed. O’course, the beastie was havin’ less luck than a bum in a bordello tryin’ t’hit Raylen so’s Hokur was able t’take the time t’angle in where there was the greatest tactical advantage.

Regardless of bein’ made of stone come t’life an’ big as the aforementioned oxcart, the beastie stood no chance with the three fellers’ concentrated cussedness assisted by what little I could toss in on the side. I nae know who got in the last blow but when the critter passed from this mortal coil it did so in a shower of rubble the likes of which you’ll nae witness unless yer there when lightnin’ hits yer auntie’s out house!
Session: Happy Anniversary, Bizachez! - Saturday, Jun 22 2013 from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: ambush , Battle
Epic × 2!
Have a drink on me...
Hokur, if ye would be so kind, please put me down,” Maeve’s voice dripped with velvety sweetness.

“Nae. I cannae do that darlin’,” the big mercenary shook his head and tried to keep the riot of the bard’s hair out of his mouth as he spoke. He had one arm wrapped around her waist tightly, pinning her right arm to her side below the elbow as he held her left wrist in his other hand.

Hokur, I realize just because that feller deserves t’eat a bag of dicks beginnin’ with his own nae means I’m the one t’feed it to him. Set me down.” The sweetness was draining from her tone.

The Aral shook his head again, “Nae gonna do that dove, an’ ye knows why. Put it back.” Under nearly any other circumstances having his arms full of Maeve would have been a downright enjoyable experience, but as the situation stood at the moment it was deadly.

“Whate’er d’ye mean? Put what back?” blinking innocence and butterflies replaced the mock sweetness in her tone and were exponentially more menacing.

“Th’ Dodger. Drop it. Just ‘cause I’ve an armful of spittin’ mad wildcat nae means I di’nae notice ye pinched th’ Dodger. Drop it or hand it t’Raylen, them’s yer choices an’ one or th’ other needs t’happen before I’ll leave loose o’ ye.” Hokur felt her tense all the way through her frame and steeled himself for another barrage of kicks against his shins. Spellcaster she may be, but she was stronger than she looked and had enough alcohol in her system to stagger a good-sized city. Raylen had tried to warn him that she was a mean drunk as the fighter stepped into the altercation between her and some jack-a-nape that would likely be dead if he had not. He agreed that the bloke needed a lesson, but somehow he thought his new employer might not appreciate the Captain of his retrieval team being held by some northern clan chief for murder.

Hokur, ye overgrow’d armor rack, Set, Me, Down! Last warnin’,” Maeve gritted through her teeth as the fighter flexed his grip and forced the air out of her lungs.

“Nae lass, I cannae do th-” the bard lashed back with her head in an attempt to smash his nose but he felt it coming and turned his head so he caught blow on his brow and left eye which was enough to make his vision swim for a few heartbeats but he held her fast. A quick shift of his hips kept him from being gelded with his own blade as Maeve reversed her grip on the Dodger. “Settle down lass! We’ll be havin’ none o’ that foolishment now!” he growled through clenched teeth. He hissed at the other two of his new comrades-in-arms, “Bit o’ help here if’n ye nae mind!”

Arcelli shook his head and took a leisurely drink of his ale as Raylen blinked, momentarily unsure of how to assist. Inspiration struck so he muttered a quick prayer and darted a hand in, touching Maeve’s pinioned arm. The wild light of ale-fueled rage cleared from the troubadour’s eyes instantly and she ceased her struggles to hang tense and panting in the fighter’s grip. “That should at least sober her up.”

Hokur put his mouth close to the bard’s ear and whispered so only she could hear, “Aye darlin’, that jake’s earned anythin’ ye cared t’dish him and more, I’ll nae dispute it. But look ‘round ye; ye’re nae in Salpia now – we’re deep in Turnbull lands and this is nae a blood feud ye want t’be startin’, ye’re a Lachlan, an allied clan, so’s it’d go twice-hard fer yer folk. We just come from yer brother’s handfastin’, d’ye really want t’cost him everythin’ he’s nae even had time t’enjoy yet?” Hokur felt some of the tension in the contora’s limbs relax; at least she was listening.

“Now, I’ve nae any love of these ignor’nt, braggart Turnbull bastards me own self but shankin’ one o’ their men at arms in one o’ their own taverns is suicide fer ye, and us, and a parcel o’ headache ye’d ne’er wish t’saddle yer clan with,” he could feel the muscle in her jaw jump against his moustache as she clenched and unclenched her teeth. “Bloody mayhem is th’ onliest thin’ a Turnbull’s any good fer since th’ gods only gifted ‘em with size and nae brains; I’ve served with enough of ‘em t’know. And I’ve broke bread with yer clan so’s I’m nae gonna let ye do somethin’ they’ll regret just because ye got too deep in yer cups.”

Maeve took as deep a breath as Hokur's grip would allow and nodded, “Aye, I did and it was stupid. My ire’s still fresh on one Turnbull in particular but since I cannae take it out on him I was goin’ for next best. Lemme down and we’ll make sure I nae sliced either of us.”
Session: Sail away, sail away, sail away... - Saturday, Jan 19 2013 from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Booze , Brawl , Doh!
Epic × 2!
The big man put down his tankard to use his hands while he spoke. “Fetchin’ th’strange an’ peculiar is wot we’re paid t’ do, so’s no surprise we be findin’ ourselves ridin’ on untrod paths through th’backside o’civilization high up in those mountains. Aspen bark two hands square was jus’ wot we was lookin’ t’acquire, an’ ye nae be findin’ that in some lowland merchants stall. Them trees jus’ nae be right, bein’ all white instea’ o’ a proper brown bark, so’s goes to reason a wizard a have a use fer ‘em. Nae that we cared, the gold is good an’ it keeps fer interesting tales aside from a fair amount of uninterstin’ travel across th’land.”

“Cor’ iffen I were left t’me own t’find most o’ wot we been sent t’gather, we’d nae be half as successful, bein’ that fightin’ an’ fuckin’s me studies, but that’s wot ye ‘ave a Bard an’ Ranger fer. That, an’ a Priest o’ Knowledge. So’s ‘tween thems that do th’ thinkins an’ me’s that does th’ killins – nae that Arcelli nae brings death a-rainin’ down when he so chooses – we’s been right good at our aforementioned task o’ acquirin’ th’odd an’ peculiars of th’ List.”

“So’s as I were sayins, we be pickin’ our way through some mighty unknown high country t’gather some bark o’ those white trees. Bein’ that th’ pale woods only grow near th’peaks, we had t’go fair far up. An’ anything tha’ goes up must come down, an’ so did we, which wa’ much more likeable a journey.”

Hokur paused while he took a pull of his ale. “Now, Arcelli here is out an’ about, doin’ ‘is lookin’ arounds t’make sure none o’ the local beasties decide we’d make a lovely addition t’their bellies, when wot does he come upon bu’ a trio o’ brutes plottin’ our demise. They was perched above th’trail th’rest o’ us were meanderin’ along, us wit’ nary a care in th’world an’ enjoying th’ lovely countryside.” He grinned broadly. “Aye, we was bored silly an’ nae payin’ any attention t’wot were about t’come at us.”

“Well ole Arcelli decides to ambush th’ambushers, makin’ thems th’ ambushees instead o’ us an’ him now th’ ambusher of th’brutes tha’ were formerly th’ambushers. So he sets up an’ soon as we ride, all niggly-a-do and bolly-cocked unawares inta view, he starts wit’ tha’ bow of his t’give those ogres a few new fashion accessories. Aye, I said ogres. I said they was brutes, wot’d think I meant, some biggish Salp bandit wit’ a bad hairlip? O’cor’ it were a threesome of ogres, wot else would be up int’ hinterlands like that? Ev’n a Salp’ll take t’easier lowlands.”

“Now, ye’d think tha’ once they’d started wit’ sproutin’ feathers, they’da break and things’d get real interestin’ but they was so intent on their plan o’ mayhem, they’d nae gotten t’ message they was now th’ambushee instead o’ ambusher. Th’ one bint whispers t’ th’ other jake what had hopped up an’ hollered when Arcelli feathered his arse t’stay quiet – I’m ‘ere t’ tell ye, an ogre’s whisper is like that o’ a bellerin’ pig caught under a fence rail, and by whisper I mean leanin’ out from behind a tree wit’ her shushin’ and sprayin’ spittle a good ten feet. So’s th’ one ducks back down behind th’rock he were hidin’ behind, which o’cor now his arse is stuck out th’other side an’ wavin’ like a peacock’s tail was Arcelli’s arrows. Now, we’d all seen her shush ‘em, so’s we’ve stopped on th’trail and start addin’ feathers o’our own t’those that Arcelli sendin’ in.”

“Ogres is nae renowned fer intellectual prowess, an’ it appeared we’d stumbled on a right brilliant example o’ tha’, as they nae came a chargin’ out but tried to sneak inta a better position to get th’ drop on us, nae a realizin’ our flingin’ arrows and bolts themways meant their ambush was now busted. Th’ third one, he grabs th’bush he was hidin’ mostly behind and hoists it up, roots an’ all, and makes wit’ th’ eeky-sneaky. Fer truth, seein’ a wobblin’ Ogre try t’ tip-toe holdin’ nothin’ but a buckbrush in front fer cover’s enough t’make any man miss ‘is shot by laughin’, regardless o’ th’fact a good backhand from one o’ them’d send ye flyin’ minus a few teeth at least, or yer head at worst. Th’fella ‘hind th’ rock got enough of Arcelli’s pokin’s an’ decided t’ take a dirt nap. And th’She-ogre … would that be Ogress, Raylen? Or does She-Ogre suffice fer it?” Hokur asked the priest with a quirked brow, as he paused for a drink.

“Ogress would be the proper form, although She-ogre does carry …” Raylen began.

“Ogress it is then! The ogress, she’s all ‘Shhhhh! and spittle spray ev’n as Dirt-boy lets loose a resounding fart as he settles inta dead. Well, that musta settled it fer ‘em, an’ th’ two left decided t’spring th’ambush that were already sprung. Unfortunately fer th’Ogre-inna -bush, leaves nae stop arrows an’ bolts so he be th’next to go deaded.”

“Now as I said afore, fightin’s my area of expertise as such, so’s when the Ogress comes boundin’ down t’ lay inta us, I naturally move t’ th’ fore. And Raylen here reminds me, I’m not at all up to snuff, what with havin’ some lingerin’ effects o’er dealin’ wit’ somethin’ best left untold.” Hokur took another draught before continuing. “Tha’s one o’ th’ problems wit’ traipsin’ ‘round in gods-only-know-wheres, is sometimes ye run inta things that ne’er should see th’ light o’day, ev’n in tale. An’ that’s all I’ve got t’ say on that.”

“So’s the priest here unlimbers that stick o’ his and shakes out a few while Her Ogressship is come boundin’ down th’ slope, wavin’ a small tree o’er ‘er head an’ lookin’ t’ make ‘im a permanent part o’ ‘is saddle. Just as th’ beastie swings, Raylen scoots Clod there t’ th’ side an’ th’ breeze from tha’ blow would’ve been right nice on a warmer day, ‘cept fer th’ dust she raised in findin’ not a crunchy priest’s skull but th’ ground instead. Well Raylen was havin’ none o’ that now, so afore she’d recovered he whirled tha’ mace o’ his around an’ sent a blow straight up inta ‘er nethers that’d make any man flinch an’ lifted ‘er straight up on ’er toes. She musta stood like that a good three heartbeats afore her eyes rolled back in ‘er ‘ead an’ she toppled o’er dead as dead.”

“Aye, with that kind of crunch, it were nae any wonder.” Maeve said with a shudder.
Session: Candygram for Mongo! - Saturday, Feb 16 2013 from 11:15 PM to 8:15 AM
Viewable by: Public
Epic × 2!
Another round
Hokur dropped his empty flagon back on the table in front of him and motioned for another.

“Now iffen ye recall” the big man began, “afore I were fightin’ lizards in nothin’ but me boots while bollocks deep in one o’ them soiled elfish doves, we’d done a bit o’ travelin’ in the yonders o’ home sweet Aral.” He gave a nod and continued. “Oh aye, Aral – an’ that’s a fair stretch o’ land from south o’ Struthencloch t’ the silky pillows o’ Lala Falucie or whatever th’ balls th’ Elves named it.”

"Leulëleocë." Maeve corrected his butchering with a raised eyebrow and quirk of her mouth.

“Aye, s’wot I said weren’t it.“ He grinned at the bard. “So’s there we were, bookin’ passage on the Guldflamme of Enar Ulafson out o’ Struthencloch bound fer Ulante. That’s abit o’ sea travel! …but when th’ wizard what pays yer way says “Get waters from the Serpent Sea not seen by land nor sky”, that’s where ye end up at. Now, ‘bout time th’ boat … “

“Ship.” Maeve interjected.

Hokur paused and shot her a look while Raylen grinned. “…th’ ship is ready t’ sail, I’d done had enough o’ wharf doxies. Ev’n th’ higher quality was leather-skinned, stringy, an’ bit too predatory fer me personal tastes.” He leaned back and stroked down his long moustaches. “I surppose that’s part o’ why I nae ‘ave anythin’ good t’ say regardin’ Turnbulls – ev’n their harlots can ruin a good fuck. Mebbe nae as bad as Salps, but Salps’ll least fake it fer more coin better’n those port whores. Ha, reckon I’ve had a samplin’ of professional gals jus’bout all across th’ land now, but that’s really a different story or three.”

“More like three score, ye lecherous cad,” Maeve quipped over her glass.

“Ever been to Sperso?” Arcelli asked. “Those gods-forsaken rot cunts… rather fuck a rabid owlbear covered in stirges. Or maybe that’s what they were, just in clothes. Fucking gash hags.” The ranger shuddered at the memory.

“Nae, ne’er had one of yer famed feral hookers of Sperso, Arcelli, an’ nae likely t’ either. No sir thank you very much no!” Hokur finished with a violent shake of his head.

He took a pull on his refilled mug. “Ah, now sailin’ on th’ mighty blue… nae that I know all shite from shinola ‘bout a boat, ship, aye lass, I know.” He shot the bard a glance which was met with that raised brow again. “Of cour’, Maeve is up on deck most days gobblin’ up songs ‘n stories as fast as them Nord sailor boys’ll teach her. Girl can speak almost any tongue out there, made ‘erself right at home with th’ mate Ivark. Meanwhiles, Arcelli ‘n meself stays out o’ th’ way. Best way t’ piss a man right off is gettin’ in ‘is way when he’s workin’. So’s I went about losing a few coins on dice when them big blokes was nae busy hauling rope or scrubbing wood. An’ Raylen, well…” the merc made an expansive gesture and brought his hands together at his chest. “Our poor priest must nae ‘ave known ‘bout sea sickness, as Neguma blessed ‘im wit’ a dousing o’ th’ green oyster growls fer the first few days. Kept ‘im downwind ‘n leeward right enough, ‘n damn near had t’ haul him out o’ th’ swells a few times. Nae that I be any old hat a’ it, but I was hav’n none o’ that, bein’ th’ years in th’ saddle must o’ given me a right appreciation fer walkin wit’ a rollin deck under me legs. An’ just ‘bout the time Raylen’s nae looking green about the gills, t’were time t’ go in the salty brine.”

“Now, fer this venture, Raylen was front an’ center, being th’ only one t’be able t’ use his spells t’ go deep enough t’ get out o’ the sight o’ sky ‘cause we were already beyond sight o’ land fer days. That’s a brave one,” he said as he raised his drink in salute to the slight priest. “Droppin’ down inta th’ cold deep enough t’ have all th’ light fade out t’ blackness, down inta th’ serpent’s hold as th’ Nord say. So’s e’s layerin the blessings o’ Neguma on his priestly self fer this venture t’fetch water from under the water – wizards, man, wizards,” Hokur gave a slight shake of his head and grinned before continuing. “We’d looped a bit o’ rope around him, so’s we can haul ‘em back up once he’s done his task an’ Arcelli asks him if he’s ready. I sees it comin’ as I was holdin’ th’ rope but afore I can say anything th’ fool nods an’ Arcelli shoves him o’er th’ rail an’ there I was, fishing wit’ a priest as bait in the Serpent Sea.”
Session: Sail away, sail away, sail away... - Saturday, Jan 19 2013 from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Epic × 2!
Rooftop Chat - Magic Theory
Maeve propped her feet on the rail that surrounded the rooftop terrace and let the cool breeze from the river flutter her shift to the tops of her thighs. The unseasonably oppressive heat of early spring made her room so stifling that she could not sleep so she had ventured to the terrace to cool down and brought the third volume of Boriccaci's Walking Tour of the Planes to bore herself sufficiently to be able to finally fall asleep. The concept of the planes and their juxtaposition relating to the prime material interested her significantly, but the Boriccaci's writing style was better than anything short of a sleep spell to induce slumber. She had decided early in the first volume of his work that he would have made a terrible bard.

She laid the candle she had brought with her on the planter of herbs next to her bench since there was ample light spilling from Namen's lab onto the terrace for her to read by if she slouched down in her seat so she did not block the illumination. At least she would not have to fight bugs for now and she could hum up some illumination should Namen douse the lights before she was ready to return downstairs. Maeve took a sip of the tea she had spell-chilled before padding up the spiral staircase to the terrace and found her place in Boriccaci's tome.
Namen blinked several times and leaned back from his work. His head swam a bit and he had to rest his hand on the table to keep from falling from the tall stool on which he perched. He did not know if it was the fumes from his work, the late hour, or the heat that had made him light headed but he thought it best if he went outside for some fresh air. As an afterthought he turned the iron crank fastened to one of the columns that supported the glass-paneled roof of the lab to open the ornate, leaded panes and release some of the putrescent smoke that lingered in the rafters.

He wondered idly how a flower so fair when in bloom could be so noxious when dried and burned - but the component was unrivaled in the potency it lent to arcane works so he would endure the stench with a certain smug satisfaction that his elfish counterparts, who knew of the benefits of Gerro's Lament blooms as an incense but did not have the constitutional fortitude to utilize it in their own endeavors, were masters only in their own minds. And joy of joys he would deal with them again on the morrow when he took Maeve back to Leulëleocë. He hooked his index finger through the handle of his stein and wandered into the dark of the terrace to relax before retiring.
Maeve frowned. Boriccaci was making leaps of logic that were not supported in any other source she had read. As she continued her reading she became more convinced that the author had never set foot off of the prime material though how she was certain she could not put her finger on. Now it would bother her and make it even less likely that she would slip into the soft folds of sleep any time in the near hours. She flipped the weight of her hair over the back of her bench to let the air get to her skin and shuddered a little chill that raised slight gooseflesh on her arms which vanished as quickly as it appeared. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back allowing her mind to wander the library of her memory for the source of her dissatisfaction with Boriccaci's conclusions.

The 'library' was a mnemonic exercise that Maestro Algarlegair taught to those students he thought might actually be able to remember more than their own names for better than a fortnight, which, Maeve mused, were decidedly few given his un-admitted racial bias against anyone not an elf. A slight smile pricked at the corner of her mouth as she passed the memory gallery of her mentor's various eye rolls, eyebrow quirks, and nostril flares, each neatly labeled with the subtle difference in sentiment it represented, that had been the first of her many mental catalogues. She had threatened to add ear twitches when she discussed the exercise with him, to which the Maestro had coolly replied that he was not a cat. But he had smiled which was rare currency at the Academé so she took it as a victory. No, what she was looking for was in the deep stacks, the cool and dusty corners of memory constructed out of curled vellum, cracked parchment, and wan candlelight. Odd how she still felt the thrill of sneaking into those restricted areas of the Academé library even when she was simply searching out the fruit of her youthful forays within the confines of her own mind. It made her smile.
Namen stopped short just outside of the doorway and tilted his head to the side. He first thought that Camilla must have moved past him onto the terrace while he worked but that thought was soon dismissed as he realized that his maid's legs were not as long, shapely, or porcelain white as those that stretched from bench to railing in that golden smile of light shining into the night. The cascade of auburn curls, stirred by errant breezes coming from the river, identified the legs' owner as Maeve, obviously, but Namen could not reconcile the memory of knobby knees and stick-thin calves he remembered with the delightfully curvaceous vision he now enjoyed. He stepped quietly to the side to get a better view of the girl ('ahem, woman,' some part of his mind corrected primly) lounging on his terrace.

She had a book lying in her lap, closed over one finger, which was the only thing that kept him from verifying she was a true redhead as the angle of her legs and breeze from the river had lifted the thin chemise she wore to the very tops of her very lovely thighs. Even clad in a chemise without the benefit of corsetry, boning, and laces, her bust was something to be frankly appreciated. The golden light of the lab and the silver of moonlight were at war over that mountainous terrain with the chemise acting as the fog of war. He very much appreciated the skill of the craftsman that had fashioned the garment; it was a gauzy silk that clung very nicely so as to suggest but not brazenly display the treasures it concealed. Namen breathed an appreciative whistle into his wine and watched the captain of his retrieval team smile in her sleep realizing Auntie Mo would beat him senseless with her heaviest spoon if she knew what he was thinking.
"Y'know," Maeve said softly without opening her eyes, "Last time anyone stared at me that long they had a sketchbook and I got paid a silver fer the privilege." She was accustomed to being ogled though this was the first time she had ever noticed Namen making eyes at her. She found herself oddly flattered instead of typically annoyed.

Namen blinked, startled, "What's the rate to do more than stare?" he blurted before thinking. Alarms sounded in his head as his better sense reminded him that there were two Arals downstairs that would feed him his liver if he laid a single finger on the girl, 'correction, woman', before him. But it was too late; he'd said it out loud. Being distracted had left him with his guard lowered and his natural predilection for flirting had taken over.

The bard cracked one eye open and squinted up at him as she chuckled, "I'd like have t'give refund fer ignorance and practicin' without a license."

"Ignorance can be remedied," Namen decided to test the proverbial waters - what the hell, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Maeve arched a brow, "Aye, I suppose ye have the right of it; but not in this heat," she shrugged and patted the bench with her free hand. "The breeze is free though, have a sit."

She didn't say "no", Namen thought to himself as he sat down. "So, what are you reading?" he asked, because I have to get on safer conversational ground, he added to himself.

"Boriccaci's fabricated guesswork," she held the book up so the gold-leafed title caught the light spilling out of the lab, "He's full of shite."

Genuine redhead, he thought as he 'examined' the book. "What makes you say that?" She was right, of course, but he hadn't realized that the Academé taught extensive planar theory and he knew that her coursework at the College would not have covered this advanced topic. He was somewhat surprised that what he really wanted was for her to put the book down again because he was becoming very distracted, and he did not like being distracted.

"Well, that's what I was thinkin' on when you came out and started oglin' me," she flashed a smile, "And so far, I've come t'the conclusion that he's never read anythin' ever written by the priests of Neguma or Manib - y'know, the blokes what've actually travelled t'other planes. His notion that the positive and negative are perpendicular is laughable t'say the least,” she pointed with the corner of the book to illustrate her point as she spoke, "and I'll nae even start t'describe how separatin' the Nine Hells from the Abyss, Gehenna, and Hades makes as much sense as wearin' yer hat on yer arse."

Put the book down. Please. "I'm impressed. I didn't think the Acadamé delved so deeply into planar juxtapositioning," Namen smiled.

"It nae does." She laid the book back in her lap and reached for her drink.

"Then where did you learn about the planes? Certainly not in your whirlwind tour of the College's offerings," Namen breathed a silent sigh of relief that the book was again safely nestled.

"Readin' fer ammunition," she smiled over the top of her goblet, "arguin' with a seven-hundred-and-eleven year-old elf tends t'make one study up on a host of subjects nae in the standard curriculum."

"Ah, the good Maestro Algarlegair," Namen nodded, "I don't know the fellow well enough to speak on the matter without my general prejudice against the elfish temperament influencing my opinion more than truth, but that being said, he strikes me as typically fae-centric in his opinions of others." He shrugged half-apologetically and frowned slightly as he realized his stein was empty.

Maeve chuckled, "True enough." She tilted her head in thought, "Come t'think on't,' she moved the book to the planter's lip then stood up and took his stein and her own goblet before padding toward the lab, "I've always started with books before practice."

He turned and watched her go, appreciating the silhouette. If I find out who that tailor was I'm going to tip him a year's wages. "Well, books are a fine start, but to really appreciate and become an expert on any given subject practice is required."
Maeve took a deep breath as soon as she was inside the lab, "What in the name of Sorcha's glowin' bloomers are ye doin'? He's nae some tavern sot t'be flirtin' with!" she muttered to herself as she scanned the lab for something suitable to drink. "Cliff-divin' again, looks like," she answered herself and grabbed a bottle of wine from the rack next to Namen's work table after checking her reflection in the scrying mirror to make certain she was not showing more than she intended, "and it's becomin' a habit."
The bard paused in the doorway on her return, wine bottle resting on one canted hip, "Oh aye, I'm nae disputin' that assertion." Namen could not see the expression on her face with the light behind her but her voice held a certain subtle tone that set the alarms in his head ringing again, "Though I'm certain I've nae any less desire t'enter an endeavor uneducated than you do; 'tis the curse of the cultured." She shrugged and returned to the bench, "but if I was t'engage in serious intercourse on any subject, real, theoretical, or metaphorical, I'd be damnable certain t'have studied more than one author's opinions on the matter."

Namen took pleasure in the fact that she had not bothered to tie the laces of her chemise, "certainly a fair view." She caught him looking though made no comment. Crafty girl, she knows what she's doing. He reached for his stein but she shooed his hand away and began humming. He watched her weave the simple pattern of her chilling cantrip on the wine bottle and enjoyed the subtle difference in her casting as compared to his. "It's all about subtlety, isn't it?"

Maeve's left eyebrow twisted into a brief question mark as she concentrated on pouring the wine, "Generally, aye, the dirt's in the details as the sayin' goes."

Namen nodded his thanks as she handed him his drink, "And we all take our pleasure in dirty details, don't we?"

"Those that's smart enough t'notice do," she poured the remainder of the wine into her own glass and raised it, "Life's a jest and all things show it, I thought so once and now I know it!"

Namen chuckled, "...'a jest'... like convincing a College full of mages that you've figured out evocation."

The young woman blinked over the rim of her glass, "Whate'er do ye mean, Master Roodle?"

"Your spell. It's transmutation. Oh granted, it runs right up to the line of evocation and threatens to jump over, but it's still transmutation," he shook his head, "It's a brilliant forgery, and I am impressed, but it isn't evocation."

"The College seems convinced it is, even still," Maeve tucked one leg under her and smoothed her shift over her knee in one deft motion. "Not that I'm disagreein' with ye. I might even go so far as t'agree though I cannae say why." She tapped her index finger against the side of her glass as she continued her thought, "Ye've got t'admit that even the College's own instruction is contradictory t'say the very least. I spent better than a week researchin' said material and even designed my 'forgery' based on that information," the stone seat of the bench was already digging into her ankle so she shifted and stretched her legs to the rail again angled so she was mostly facing her companion, "coupled with my own intimate knowledge of exactly what bards are capable of naturally; yet I cannae oppose ye with any honest conviction. So's here's an invitation ye'll likely ne'er get again," she smiled knowingly, "explain it t'yer satisfaction and I'll nae argue." She tilted her head to one side and rested it against the back of the bench, giving Namen ample opportunity to speak.

Namen was surprised that his heart began racing at the thought of what 'invitation' Maeve may be proposing, disappointed that it was not a solicitation to less cerebral activity, and disconcerted at his disappointment that it was an innocent request; he was not typically one to allow his immediate physical interests to addle him - in fact he took great pains to avoid such distractions by employing a ready partner. Now is not the time to think about this - I will examine this later when I am less distracted, he admonished himself.

He paused for a few breaths to organize his thoughts before he began, "Well, transmutation, traditionally, is the manipulation of the properties of some person, object, or 'thing'. True evocation is the creation of an effect or something where none existed previously - say a very large ball of flame or a lightning bolt." Namen subdued the urge to stand up and pace as was his habit when he lectured, "Part of the very tricky nature of understanding the line between transmutation and evocation is that energy, that effect most readily thought of when evocation is considered, can be a thing." Maeve nodded her understanding so Namen continued, "Take for example fireball versus light; bat guano is not fire though it has some elements that certainly enhance fire, therefore it is the focus component of the spell - the true evocation spell. Light, conversely, though long classified as an evocation spell requires phosphorous moss or a lightning bug which themselves emit light. Thus light is properly categorized as a transmutation spell because the inherent light in the components, however dim, is amplified by the spell's energy."

Maeve chuckled, "I'm with ye so far, but what about those of us who've nae any need t'carry bat shite and bug butts in our pockets?"

"That, my dear Maeve, is where you are truly exceptional; your ability to hold a rigid enough matrix in your mind to bend the power of magic to your will is... well it is a knack, a 'talent' that few possess." Namen smiled, "By eschewing the material components others require you move outside of the rules and operate in the more instinctual, primal state of magic from whence evocation comes. Simply put, nearly every spell you cast looks like evocation to the under-educated or untrained eye because you just do it - without daily memorization, without components, seemingly without effort. You are very much like a natural caster in that the bulk of your casting is so much more primal."

"A 'natural caster'," Maeve laughed and wiggled her fingers, "Och! Lookit me, I'm a warlock!"

Namen covered his face with his hand and shook his head, "I said 'primal' not 'eldritch' you ninny." Another tidbit she certainly didn't get from one of Durben's lectures, he thought. He was impressed that her knowledge of magic included the casters of myth and history though he said nothing. If the College knew the depth of her knowledge before they agreed to train her, we'd both be dead.

"'Twas a joke, professor, pray continue with your explanation," she smiled. "I believe you were about t'expound on the subject of 'natural casters'."

"Interesting word choice; 'pray'; in the two major classifications of magic, divine and arcane, divine casters gain spells through an agency whereas arcane casters manipulate magic inherent in the world. Natural casters, rangers and druids specifically, pull their power from a primal force with which they are aligned therefore they are classified as 'divine' due to agency." Namen thought for a moment, "The various schools of arcane magic arc across both classifications as an attempt to categorize types of casting though spells from each have similar fundamentals in the incantations, gestures, and components but the categorization allows for more directed instruction and understanding."

Maeve narrowed her eyes, "So the vast majority of arcanists proper nae know shite from shinola and are just blindly following 'tradition'? That strains credibility even for someone trained in the stretchin' of truth."

Namen smiled, "Let's examine that assertion." He could resist pacing no longer and stood, "Why is the school of evocation so muddied in its definition? To appreciate the current tradition surrounding evocation one must understand that evocation at its very core is extremely powerful, tapping into raw, almost primal, magical energy. It has minimal mental matrix structure required; in essence it is just blasting away with raw magic."

"Which is what sorcerers purportedly do," Maeve picked up the thread of Namen's explanation quickly.

"Exactly what sorcerers are alleged to do - or the warlocks of legend," he smiled at the expression of shrewd understanding on the bard's face, "Scary stuff for the uninitiated because it all looks the same. So the obfuscation is a matter of politics."

“And by muddyin' the waters the arcanists are confoundin' the crown so as t'cover our collective arses… it's the bogeyman hidin' in plain sight," Maeve grinned.

"Precisely. It would be easy for the crown to outlaw a school of magic if it were narrowly defined. By 'muddying the waters' where evocation is concerned it prevents the uninitiated from prohibiting the fundamental school required for magical theory and instruction and instead vilify a subset of casters," Namen concluded.

Maeve chuckled, "So what yer sayin' is that I should nae take the Inquisition as the best and brightest of the arcanist community?"

Namen looked aghast, "Gods no! Never! They can't be too smart, we let them talk to the Crown."

"And if they nae know the difference they cannae give it away," she smiled appreciatively, "Ostasio would love it!"

It was Namen's turn to smile slyly, "Well, any institution that's been around for any length of time is bound to have a few deep, dark secrets that could ruin it if the truth were generally known, wouldn't you say?"

The bard tilted her head back and laughed, "Oh aye, any Institution worth its salt that is. But gods forbid ye tell them that! A joke's never as funny if ye have t'explain it!"
Session: You aren't from around here... - Saturday, Jul 06 2013 from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Coitus Interuptus
Let’s start with me sayin’ that elfish whores is not quite like yer regular Salpian whores. Oh, they’ll take yer coin ready enough, donnae get me wrong, but whereas a Salpian cunt will just lie there and have you pound away until ya bust yer nut once you’ve paid up, the elves have a little different take on the operation. Fer them, it’s more about the experience than the transaction, if you will. Maybe it’s their longer-lived outlook or some such. In any case, it’s rather more enjoyable than yer standard Salp fuck-hole, but not nearly as much fun as tickling a good and willin’ Aral lass into a frolic behind the barn.

And elven brothel is more like a relaxin’ interlude than merely a place to spend some pent up frustrations, and I’m man enough t’say that travelin with the likes of Maeve will give any healthy male gods aplenty of frustration. If the sway of hip and bounce of breast donnae do it fer ya, or the wild mass of curls beggin’ fer yer hands t’tangle in, orthe turn of her lips, let alone the spark in her eyes when she’s up t’mischief, then once she commences singing … aye, I’m nigh certain half her tips come from the whores on the uptake on custom. The fact that she did be our captain at the time, well, bangin’ the boss is a bad idea if’n yer wishin’ t’stay employed, and anyways, she was none for havin’ any of that kind of fun.

Anyways, I was talking about elfish whores. See, the elves make a spectacle of getting yer rocks off. Oh, not a flashy show, but serious like nonetheless – a production. Once you make the deal, and that’s a weirdness in itself, all contracted agreement and such, once you broker that deal, then it’s like being treated like a king or some such. No slam-bam-thank-ya-ma’am with the elves. Fer example, on me first trip, there was quite a bit of massage going on, this little elf woman worked the knots out of me shoulders and arms something amazing, then worked on me feet, up me legs, and ,’bout the time I was wonderin’ iffen I’d missed something on the contract, finally worked me cock with hands, mouth and cunny... And all the while this music is playing from somewhere downstairs and scented candles is providin’ the only light and wine in yer glass so’s ye never see the bottom… you laugh, but och! If ye never had it, ye cannae understand. And once that first round was up they just keep going. Fer as small as they are, they must be part hollow as they can accommodate a feller right fine. And they enjoy it too. The wild gleam in their eyes… almost Aral in that… once they start ye just have to hold on and ride that mount until it’s done. Again and again. See, elves don’t deal with just ye spurtin out yer load once or twice, they’re havin’ none o’ that, it’s all night with the unsleeping little minxes! Drain a man right into sleepin’ half a day away by way of recoverin’ they will.

So, Raylen and meself, having decided that playing with elf lasses in the brothels was more rewardin’ – and less frustratin’ – than listening to Maeve’s performances – as a bloke can only stand so much of that before he has to have a release of some sort – hied us on down t’the establishment where we was becomin’ fair regular fixtures. We’d gotten the deal brokered and were settled in fer a night of amorous congress, as they says. Raylen’s across the hall, pleasuring and being pleasured by three of the lassies – “a priest of Neguma goes for the full experience” he says – whilst I’m doing a fine job of leaving Miss Sparkle-eyes breathless and fulfilled and she me. Of a sudden there’s a crash next to me head and some scaly arm and snout busts through the window next to the bed.

Well, what’s a feller gonna do when he’s balls deep in a doxy, with nae a stitch on, and some scaled monster interrupts the mood? Grab the Bleary-Eyed Dodger and stab the fucker is what! I wrapped one arm around the whore, leaned back to grab the Dodger, and sliced the beastie across the throat but good. Blood spray tells me it’s as good as dead, as there’s a thick red heat showerin’across naked bodies already slick with sweat, so I heave the trollop in close to get some maneuverin’ room.

Now, although elves is notorious fer takin’ anything in stride, apparently getting drenched with gore whilst being impaled on me Aral staff was more than the dear little slip of a thing could handle, as she starts up a wail in me ears louder than four cats with their tails tied together. An it’s nae like I could take the time to console her, ‘cause fuck me if there were nae another lizard tryin’ to claw its way inside! This one decided to maybe clear the way first, havin’ seen what happened t’it’s mate, so it heaves a stick in first, which missed me by a mile even inside and nekkid. Poking its muzzle in to see what its stick had done, me and the Dodger let it know ye never interrupt a McMerceson while he’s fuckin’.

With two down and more likely, I decides its maybe time to unsheathe meself from Miss Screams-a-lot and get serious about endin’ this foolishment. So I slides her off gentle-like and sets her down away from the busted window, and stomps int’ me boots. What more’s an Aral need, aye? And, bam, out the window I go, Dodger and me manhood a wavin’ in the night, lookin’ fer trouble and sure t’find it.

Apparently these lizardmen did nae be expectin an Aral clad in naught but their comrade’s blood to come play with ‘em. The one was still a staggerin’ about, so’s a quick slash with the Dodger and its down fer good t’join the other one what was poolin’ out its life blood. Now hearin’ more ruckus coming from around the way, I steps out in the street and spies Arcelli at the corner of the brothel, most likely come from playin’ in the woods with his elven brothers after this bit of nuisance, and gives him a nod. Maybe I spooked him as well, but he gives me the sign there’s more down that away, pointin’ t’me left, so’s off I bop, all a wavin’ free as ye please. Sure’s enough, another lizard had gone and gotten into the locals next door, and the wee elf trying desperately to hold off the lizard that was slaverin’ fer his throat. Well, I was havin’ none of that. I slipped right in and gave the critter what for, the Dodger making thrusts in that hide and endin’ whatever lizardy dreams it started the night with.

As it goes, I was nae the only one that had his bit of fun interrupted. Apparently Raylen, hearin’ me little bit o’ fluff screamin’ and wailin’, had disentangled hisself from his joy toys and come investigatin’. Only in the Salp’s need for propriety he spent the time to slip into his trousers and boots afore coming out of his side of the hall, right into seein’ one of the beasties coming through a window. Well, apparently not havin’ a weapon in hand is no deterrent fer the man as he brings down the wrath of Neguma on the critter, seared it crisp in one stroke. I suppose Neguma don’t take lightly to havin’ his priest’s quest fer knowledge interrupted, about the same as an Aral does, if ye take my meaning.

So Raylen comes out the front door of the brothel about the time I’m steppin back out from dealing with the beastie in the neighborin’ elf house. Arcelli is spittin’ mad as both meself and Raylen had seen him in the shadows where he thought he was hid. Man must know nothing heightens the senses like fuckin’ or fightin’, and when both are involved, well, perception is apt to be a wee bit different. Arcelli, he says there’s another one down yonder, and we all take after it. What a sight that must’ve been… Arcelli swathed from head t’foot in his darkest cloak, followed by Raylen with his pasty white chest glimmering like his holy symbol, and finally me in naught but what Fate and Nature handed me. Heh! The last nasty was just about to finish off the elf inside when we arrived, and whether it was Arcelli’s arrow, Raylen’s holy bolt, or the Dodger what did it in, only the gods know, but needless to say, the elf was mighty thankful we did. Even more so once I put on me pants.

Session: You aren't from around here... - Saturday, Jul 06 2013 from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Epic × 2!
I'm a man of means by no means...
Ah, spring in Salpia - that magical time of year where yer either freezin' yer arse off, drenched to the skin, or clingin' t'whate'er is nailed down tightest so's the wind nae carries ye off - in other words, perfect travellin' weather! And travel we did, up the King's Road t'the western turning and from thence straight toward the Varco Pass and into the Laerwellan Wood as was the plan. We was nearly t'the pass when Arcelli points at the ground and grunts in that charmin' way of his, "Fuckin' hobs." Now, t'those nae conversant in Cacciatore this might seem rather terse, but t'those of us who have traveled with our dear ranger for over a year t'was an obvious invitation t'go huntin' fer gods and country and cleanse the land of somethin' what obvious nae belongs there.

As Arcelli holds a special disdain for gobbos in general and has made an extensive study of their habits and abilities, such as they are, he was more than able t'track the blighters from horseback as we rode along. 'Twas rather nostalgic, really, as one of the first outin's we had was in the pursuit of gobbo earwax and I was in a bit of a reverie and nae payin' much attention but the next thing I realize was that slight below us in a depression b'twixt three hills was a hob band of nae more than a dozen already well and truly tied up by the spring grasses which showed that Arcelli'd seen them before they seen him so's t'was rather like spearin' fish in a barrel - right stupid fish at that though one of 'em was fair bigger than the rest and managed t'tear hisself free of the entanglin' vines and bust out arsehole and elbow over the far rise. As things appeared t'be well in hand with Raylen, Arcelli, and I pokin' various shapes o'holes in the hobs at our leisure, Hokur, bein' the strongest rider of us four, pounds off after said escaped bluenose at a hard run.

In fair short order the only thin' holdin' the hobs up is the grass so's Raylen just blinks out of existence, Clod and all, t'reappear at the crest of the ridge that Hokur had just disappeared over. Arcelli dropped his spell and rode off t'join the fun. I picked my way through the corpses makin' sure they was corpses and nae playin' opossum and assistin' those what needed it t'Sirkti's side or where e'er it is that hobs go when they're nae more breathin' and whilst doin' so I note that there's a damn sight more armor and weapons than is warranted by their current number - nigh ont' double as much which is passin' odd. There was one what had some life left in him so's I tied him up proper and commenced asked him 'bout it as Arcelli'd said they was comin' from where we were goin' and bein' forewarned is forearmed.

I'm fair certain I understand why our strider hates these cussed things; they're right contrary but fortunately they've an over-abundance of ignorance and superstition where the use of the arcane arts is concerned so's it was nae any stretch of my imagination t'get it t'talkin' in short order. It bragged 'bout eludin' the Regulars for the better part of three years and raidin' travelers and caravans headin' int' the Elven lands t'which I says they'd appeared t've met their match and it was 'bout t'say what had laid the Gashronk tribe low... at least until Arcelli showed up and scared the piss out of it which fair ended the interview and the beastie's usefulness and therefore days on the bright side of the veil.

The fellers got t'lookin' at the armor and noted that much of it was right ragged torn in more places than nae. Raylen made with some ambulatin' and cogitatin' and comes back with the wise words of Neguma, "Magic stings petrified wings." 'Twould seem Neguma's fond of riddles - or at least circumlocution. We packed up and headed on whilst mullin' over Raylen's riddle and between the all of us came up with the likelihood that there was gargoyles or a golem in the pass so's we'd have t'be on our guard or end up like Ginkgob and his mates.
Session: Once again into the breach... - Saturday, Jun 08 2013 from 11:00 PM to 9:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Dust Up , travel
WIHLSF(Journey to the elves)
It has been some time since I wrote of my travels. You will have to remind me sometime to tell you of the river and my time in the mountains.

We have been resting at home reflecting on our recent travels and waiting for the officials to complete their questioning of Maeve(again). As we are all reunited each of us has acquired new equipment, talents, and knowledge with which to help keep all of us alive(I think each of us now owes the other the bulk of whatever gold we find from now till the end of our lives). Maeve now has a little monkey friend(Dubh). We have decided to retrieve another item on Namen's list, Bane Moss. With Maeve's unpleasant experience in Sperso we had decided to go through the mountain pass to where the elves live and approach the cliff face from that direction.

On the road headed to a small villa the clouds start to darken considerably and the look on Arcelli's face means that we are in for some real trouble. We ride into town hard and fast(and by 'we' I mean everone but me(must learn to ride a horse more effectively)) with a local man urging us into an open barn door and out of danger. Nico rides me head long into a low barn door(or I need to watch where I am going). We get in the barn just in time to hear the rest of the village get torn apart by a cyclone. I prayed to keep everyone calm and Arcelli kept the horses calm. Frightened people and frightened horses all in the same enclosure could easily have done enough damage to each other that a cyclone wasn't necessary.

Just as soon at it had hit, it was gone again and the calm the it left behind was bordering on unnatual. The barn door had to be opened with the help of all the strongest in the room and once outside we could see the terrible damage that had been wrought. Together we picked our way through each destroyed building to help find and heal everyone we could. Timing is everything and without Maeve's new companion we would not have found several of the people trapped under the rubble, including the Mayor's wife. I always feel as if we should stay and help rebuild after an event such as this but I remind myself that once we have helped in ways that only we can, then we should move on and stay out of the way of the people who need to rebuild their own town without outside influence.

As we are approaching the pass, we come across a band of hobgoblins heading out of the mountains and of course Arcelli would like to have a word with them 'die'. So by now we have come into our own standard set of procedures when it comes to encounters such as these. Arcelli asks the grasses and weeds to hold on to our new found friends so that he can have that word we were talking about. Seeing as they were just a group of hobgoblins, Maeve decides to rest her vocal cords and I don't really blame her, after all; they are just hobs. With some well placed arrows, most of the group is taken care of except for the big one that just strode out of the entangling grasses and headed over the hill. Hokur went after him and I didn't really think twice about backing him up because, after all; they are just hobs. Once all of the others had been taken care of and it looked as though Maeve and Arcelli were in no danger, I used this moment to pray a new prayer that transported me(while riding Nico) to the top of the hill that Hokur had just crested. Two more hobs had been on the other side of the hill and now Hokur was engaged with all three of them. I thought it better to add another body to the fray instead of aiding Hukor with prayer in the hope of drawing some attention away from him. Maybe I startled him when I rode up because he dropped the bastard sword he was wielding and had to draw a dagger(an Aral dagger mind you) to continue fighting. The larger, more decorated hob was landing some hard blows on Hokur and I was starting to het a little worried. I distracted the one in front of me as Hokur took care of the boss and the other one. Once it was over, we both gave each other looks as if to say 'what the hell just happened'.

I flew up to search out Maeve and Arcelli before we headed in their direction. Meave had kept one of the hobs alive so that Arcelli could have that word that he wanted with it. Come to find out, it had actually stopped talking about the time Arcelli came around so I asked Neguma to let me have a look into its mind. It seems that the mind of a hobgoblin is a steel trap because I could not discern anything from it.

Arcelli assessed the situation and told us that these hobs belonged to the elite Ghashronk tribe and that several of their members had recently been killed. It looked as if they had just come out of the mountain pass that we were about to enter. I wondered what sort of creature we might be facing when we entered the pass when a still, small voice in the back of my head said "I don't know, priest of knowledge. I wonder what kind of creature it could be." Obviously my connection to the everknowing Neguma was getting stronger with time and so I took a little walk and asked Neguma for any insight into what we might face in the mountain pass. "Magic stings petrified wings" was the reply I got and between Maeve's knowledge of the arcane and Arcelli's knowledge of the natural world they concluded that the hobgoblins had probably come across gargoyles, which can be very nasty if you don't have the right tools and you are not on the look out for them. Thank you Neguma.

As we enter the pass we are all on the look out for a great ambush from a great number of gargoyles which will be practically invisible while hiding in these rocks. Suddenly a very large gargoyle swoops donw and tries to take Arcelli off of his horse, unsuccessfully. Arcelli's return fire misses so I ask Neguma to give the gargoyle the knowledge of what it feels like to be riddled with arrows. Maeve definitely thinks we need a morale boost for this fight and sings her heart out. I pray that her musical based magic does as much harm to the monsterous creature as possible. Hokur has put his faith in his dagger and uses it instead of the bastard sword. It takes me a while to ask for all of Neguma's blessing that we may need in this fight, meanwhile Hokur has been engaged with the giant brute and taking a lot of punishment. Knowing that I could wait no longer to help Hokur in mortal kombat, I ride up hard and fast jumping out of the saddle whilst asking Neguma to grant me godly powers in the strike of my hand. None of that should have worked but it did! Now if only I would have been able to connect with my strike we could have ended this battle here and now but it was not to be. Hokur however did use the opportunity to flank the great beast and with its attention divided he finished him!
Viewable by: Public
Epic × 2!
Nature's revenge of our strange behaviors...
A body'd think that after three straight months or better of sittin' on those hard, arse-bustin' College benches that a few days in the saddle would nae be any great difficulty but a body'd be thinkin' entirely wrong. Off we'd tropped northward on the King's Road and were nae much more than a day or two out when Arcelli sniffs the air and says we'd best be finding secure shelter as the likelihood of havin' our heads caved in with hail was near a certainty. We put spurs to flank, not that the horses need much urgin' except for Clod, and rode hell-bent fer leather int' the burgeonin' village of Riparo. Arcelli kept an eye skyward and smacked Clod on the rump as a reminder to keep runnin' since the critter is nae smart enough t'get out of the rain evidently.

We saw that all of Riparo was hammerin' and shutterin' as fast and as furious as they could, watchin' the rain line get closer and us just before it. Aral luck bein' what it is the innkeep seen us haulin' hard and hollered us t'the stable he was fixin' t'shutter tight. Time bein' of the essence we rode in - rather, Hokur pounded in top speed and somehow managed a full-circle turn and dismount whilst Neguma took the opportunity to remind Raylen that he's taller on horseback than the average stable door lintel. There were a few hail stones as big as hedge apples what bounced in as Hokur helped the innkeep swing the door to but fortunate enough, everyone who was within runnin' distance was already inside.

Now, imagine if ye will what it would sound like if dwarves in hobnail'd boots danced the jig on your roof. Now imagine it noisier and add in a few hundred hyper halflings with hammers and you'll be almost of a mind as t'what it sounded like in that stable. And somehow over that din Arcelli picks out another sound so's he has Hokur help him hold open the walk-out door so's he can take a peek. Of a certainty there was somethin' worse on the way - 'twas a cyclone headed for town though, by the gods' good graces, nae t'ward our buildin' - though Arcelli and Hokur said naught except t'herd man and beastie alike under the stiffest supports of the loft. Betwixt Raylen's timely prayin', Arcelli calmin' spooked critters, and Hokur whistlin' like nothin' was amiss, man and beast was kept calm enough t'nae be a danger t'themselves or others.

Near as soon as 'twas started 'twas done though it seemed a might longer, and in fair short order the rain dwindled t'a patter so's we could look out and see what damage had been done provided Hokur could shove the door open, which he did despite the half of a roof leaned ‘gainst it. As we was none the worse of it and extra hands besides the fellers bolted off t'ward the closest rubble t'see if there was anyone t'be spared whilst me and Dubh headed t'the river side of the road t'find whosoever might be in charge. Long story short, we found the mayor but he was in a panic, as his house was collapsed atop his wife, and nae of overmuch assistance understandably - and before ye say I'm bein' a might flip where the gent's lady is concerned I'll have ye know she's fine - betwixt Dubh findin' her and the fellers here gettin' her out in one piece she's none the worse for it.

Orginizin' chaos not bein' the strong suit of anyone aside from me and the fellers we had our hands full calmin' and countin' which is a sight larger task when ye nae know who's who or supposed t'be where. But, as every Aral knows, when ye need t'get a handle on a crowd ye give 'em a task then reward 'em with feedin' so's they sit the hells down and a body can get a count. Three was missin' of which Arcelli found two and the other was little missed as he was the town drunk so he was deemed t'be passed out in a culvert somewheres and if he nae showed in a day or so they'd commence lookin'. There bein' nae any more good deeds needin' done short of rebuildin' the south quarter of town we hied on out the next mornin' as Arcelli was certain we'd nae any more foul weather on the immediate horizon.
Session: Once again into the breach... - Saturday, Jun 08 2013 from 11:00 PM to 9:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Heroism
Letter home
Dearest Family and Friends,

I can honestly say that I never expected to be corresponding from another institution of higher learning again in my lifetime, let alone so recently after having escaped the stony embrace of one such edifice but, here I am, there you are, and so I write to assure you that I've nae been locked away or conveniently done away with regardless of the remarkable lack of proper appreciation of humor to be found amongst the faculty of said institution. I believe factors working in my favor include the fact that I am, quite literally, the only Aral in Ulante, one of only a handful of contori, and have had dinner with the Chancellor twice. By the by, Namen, thank you for the tip that he's a cognac man - right useful piece of information that! To the rest of you lot, whatever stories our illustrious employer has regaled you with regarding the sheer arse-headedness of the College were, in point of fact, greatly understated.

So, courses - ha! There's the first headache the poor bastards got courtesy of me having already passed the competence exam - but regardless of said fact they were still going to make me sit through the basic 'how to read arcane scribble' course... until I pointed out that if any poor sod tried to cast what was written on the board they'd more likely conjure a lovely mince pie rather than a light spell; correcting the instructor is a fast ship to the next level it would seem. Matrixes of Magic went much the same way - suggesting to the class that one needn't sully one's pockets with bat shite and bug guts is another fast ship forward. It took about two weeks of helpful suggestions to get my point across so now I'm taking all four levels of History of the Arcane, Basics of Transmutation (I give that another week until I'm shipped out), Responsibility for the Future, and some fantastic bit of tripe called Appeasement which is nae more than an advanced course of 'How to Kiss Crowned Arse' - Ostasio would have a spitting fit if he sat in for even half a turn of the glass! Once I get a pass on Transmutation I'll audit the Familiars course - at least that one sounds interesting.

In addition to course work there are, of course, the wonderfully menial tasks that in any other situation would amount to slave labor by which I mean wandering around in the tit-numbing cold and looking for black mold to set on fire... really, Namen, you could make a mint selling effluvia filters to the College and save future generations from frostbite in the process! By the by, I can set things on fire now, however suggesting to impressionable young arcanists that it would look funny if they cast burning hands bent over so it looked like it was coming from their respective arses is a good way to finish an entire section of campus by one's self, not that I'd know from personal experience or anything like that, mind you.

The food is bad, the weather horrible, and the social grace of the majority of students is worse. I've taken to providing impromptu culture lessons at dinner for any who are interested so at least a few of these poor blokes might not embarrass themselves if they ever meet anyone of higher station than a swineherd - which practice has inadvertently put me in the good graces of Lector Dur.

Time is running short if I want to get this posted today so I'll bid you all good health for now – should Namen be heading this way I'd nae object to left-overs if he could fit them in his pack.

All my love and the better portion of my sanity,
Session: ...and miles to go before I sleep. - Sunday, Mar 03 2013 from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Downtime , Level Up
Epic × 2!
The motive true and earnest side...
Maeve tossed herself carelessly into one of the wing-backed chairs and slouched until her elbows rested comfortably on the arms of the chair then stretched her legs toward the fireplace. She was weary; not simply the fatigue caused by too many days on the road but exhausted to the very depths of her being. She could not put her finger on any one incident or issue that vexed her and she thought that might be part of the problem; she had made one too many dives and she was becoming afraid of the rocks below. She sighed heavily and laced her fingers across her stomach staring at the flames dancing on the hearth as she assembled her thoughts.

“Would you care for some wine?” her host queried politely.

“If it pleases you,” she replied without looking away from the fire.

Maestro Algarlegair inclined his head slightly and poured two glasses – an elven vintage seldom appreciated in Salpia which must be served just above room temperature to be properly appreciated – from a crystal decanter on the mantle. He regarded his former student with the concern one might show for a favored pet which has inexplicably developed a cough. He had never known the girl to be as completely still as she was now; there was always some movement about her, a sort of restless vitality that was simultaneously aggravating and... endearing. She had also spoken to no one but him and in no language other than Laerwelin since arriving at the Academé earlier in the afternoon which was exceedingly out of character for her.

He placed one of the glasses on the table beside his guest then sat in the chair facing hers. He watched the flames through his wine and waited for Maeve to speak. In the few instances during her career as a student when the girl had sought his counsel she had always come directly, if not bluntly, to the point in an immediate rush of words that crashed on him like a wave. When she remained silent for more than half a turn of the glass his concern urged him to break the silence.

“Contora Lachlan,” he began, “As much as I enjoy your company, and you mine no doubt, I am certain that you did not visit me this evening to stare at my fireplace and ignore my wine.”

The woman blinked and glanced at the glass beside her before looking her mentor directly in the eye, “My sincerest apologies, Maestro Algarlegair.” She pushed herself to a more upright position in her chair and continued, “I was endeavoring to assemble my thoughts into something approaching coherence but it would seem that to adequately explain my presence in front of your lovely fire I needs must request your patience in enduring some few details of my travels since last we met.”

The Maestro quirked a brow, “I must admit that I am intrigued despite my nature. Please, continue.”

Maeve bowed her head slightly in thanks, “Your indulgence is much appreciated.” She thought for a moment, “When last we spoke I had just quitted the College and the scrutiny of the Inquisition brought about by my involvement in the execution of a sorcerer, if I correctly remember.”

The Maestro nodded, “Such is my recollection as well.”

“Then we are in agreement,” she took a sip of her wine and frowned, “I have let it cool, my apologies.”She placed her glass on the hearth so it might warm before continuing, “My companions and I resumed our contracted task of gathering components for Master Roodle by travelling toward Aral and, more specifically, the Ageless Wood.”

The hint of an amused smile floated across the elf’s visage like the ripple of a leaf on still water, “An ambitious undertaking.”

Maeve nodded, “That is a truth. As an aside I might humbly suggest that the bestiary curriculum as regards green dragons should be adjusted as the current offering does not, given my recent experience, adequately convey precisely how vindictive the aforementioned creatures are.” She was silent for a moment before continuing, “I mention this only because the collateral damage a green dragon is willing to inflict to vanquish a foe was woefully understated when I completed the coursework given that to exact the ultimate revenge upon my cousin a young green drake caused twenty-five other souls to be released from the mortal coil.”

“My condolences for your loss,”the Maestro felt a glimmer of understanding kindle as to the woman’s current demeanor.

“I thank you for your kindness though I fear you may give your condolences too lightly.” She picked up her glass and took an experimental sip, “Much better.” She leaned back in her chair and continued, “We hired another Aral, a tactician this time, and made our way to the Ageless Wood where we were met by one of the Ancients.”

Maeve carefully placed her glass on the table next to her and retrieved something from her pack. “I was tasked with delivering this to you ‘a gift from the Ancients of the Ageless Wood’ I was instructed to say, and convey her pleasure at your ability as an instructor and guardian.”She explained further as her mentor carefully unwrapped the bundle, “You will have to sing to it every day until you plant it or it will wither and die, though it should do well with your orchids.” Algarlegair stared at the plant and Maeve spoke further to cover his shocked silence, “It is a Neregos Nuissil seedling and it is one of three I was charged with delivering. My apologies that yours is the last delivered – though I have played and sung to it every day since we left the Ageless Wood so it is in fine health and should take root quickly.”

“Yes, it should.” Algarlegair’s brows knitted as he stared at his pupil.

She leaned back, picking her glass up before resuming her tale, “The rest of our trek through Aral and across the harbor was essentially uneventful and as such we landed at Ulante in time to meet Master Roodle who was in need of our immediate assistance.”She sighed, “That assistance is directly responsible for my presence here, now.”She paused for a moment, “How many of the details of the Rayn Rebellion do you recall?”

Algarlegair smiled wryly, “Quite a few. Why?”

The young woman nodded and dropped her voice to a bare whisper, “We found the crypt of Scuttio Giavendzi. Well, we did not so much find it as did we neutralize the immediate threat therein and, with any luck, thwart the designs that would have seen Giavendzi return to the Prime Material in this time.” Maeve watched the smile melt from her mentor’s face.

“Giavendzi, are you absolutely certain?” His voice was cold. He remembered quite a bit more about the ‘rebellion’ than he had ever imparted to any student as he had been one of the Laerwen envoys to the crown at the time of the ‘rebellion’. Rayn’s lieutenant was the worst kind of racial purist and if he managed a return no elf of noble lineage would be safe.

She nodded, “Yes, absolutely certain. I am also certain that unless he had a contingency plan for ending his stasis he will remain wherever he is indefinitely; that is not my conundrum.” Maeve took a deep breath, “All of the glyphs and wards that were not scripted in magical text were written in ElderTongue... and to pass through the wards I had to read and speak said language in front of Namen.”

“Which should have posed no problem; your Elder was better than your Laerwelin at one point,” he found himself wishing she would get to her point.

She smiled ruefully, “The fact that I can read Elder without the aid of a spell is part of the problem, as well as the fact that I helped Namen move Giavendzi’s entire library to an undisclosed location. I have read, or rather skimmed if I am to be completely honest, some of those books and it is an amazing trove of knowledge on several levels – which no living mage can read because the journals are written in ElderTongue.”

Maeve became very still as she came to the crux of the matter, “Unfortunately, if the Inquisition discovers that the crypt or the books exist or should they ascertain that I have been there and can read said tomes without magical agency... it would not bode well for me or the AcademÉ. Our Institution houses histories that have been completely expunged in the totality of Salpia and even the slightest hint of their existence and continued teaching could bring the wrath of the Inquisition inside the very walls of our Academé. I will not let that happen.”

Algarlegair nodded, “We need to eliminate Roodle and bring the books here and put them in the deepest stacks then.”

Maeve shook her head, “I considered that; unfortunately I cannot access the books on my own. Namen is neither stupid nor careless, he has the books sequestered in a repository which can only be accessed by teleportation and for which only he knows the exact location.”She did not mention that the continued well-being of Namen and her kin was at the top of her list of concerns because she was certain the elf would not understand her sentimentality. She explained, “Namen has also spoken to the Chancellor of the College, no great fan of the Inquisition himself I can assure you, so it is not a matter of eliminating a single, relatively obscure conspirator unfortunately. What Master Roodle’s conversation with the Chancellor accomplished was to lay the ground work for what I am about to ask.”

The Maestro templed his fingers and leaned back in his chair, “I am listening.” Seeking permission was not one of the young woman’s greater attributes as she favored asking forgiveness after the deed was done as the means to remain unthwarted in her desires. That, more than her revelation, put him solidly en garde.

“I need to infiltrate the College, to become ‘one of them’ so their own traditions and codes protect me and by extension protect the Academé. If I complete the mandatory coursework they will per force have to recognize me as an arcanist proper at which point the Inquisition can do no more than inconvenience me. I have already passed their competence exam and the Chancellor is prepared to put his seal on even the thinnest suggestion that I become an official alumna.” Maeve rested her elbows on her knees and met her mentor’s hard gaze, “I have spent in excess of a month agonizing over this. I do not want to endure the mindless indoctrination that the Crown’s lap dogs disgorge at every opportunity but given the circumstances it is the only way I, or Namen – who knows their structure and traditions better than an outsider ever could – can think of to protect the Academé.”

Algarlegair nodded, thinking.

She leaned back in her chair again, “If you withhold your permission or if there is a reason of which I am not aware that would prohibit me from following this course of action... I will find another way to protect our Institution,”and lapsed back into silence.

After more than an hour had passed he asked, “What did you think of Giavendzi’s work?”

Maeve answered in a tone of genuine disgust, “It was an abomination, he was an abomination... anyone who willingly traffics with demons and is bent on genocide is better trapped between worlds until the sky falls,”she shook her head. “It was repulsive and part of me recoils at the prospect of reading his thoughts.”

The Maestro nodded, “Only part of you?”

Maeve sighed, brows drawing together, “My curiosity knows neither shame, nor propriety, nor bounds it would seem,”she did not look pleased with her admission.

Algarlegair smiled, “And that, Contora Minori Lachlan, is what makes you so dreadfully effective in your calling – you want to know everything and are not afraid to search for knowledge or commit yourself to the work that education requires, and though it often seems you charge forward regardless of consequence you seem to be willing to pay the price for your erudition. It is a rare quality.”He narrowed his eyes, “When you were here last you mentioned that there was no liaison between the College and the Academé; perhaps it is time that vacancy was filled.”

Maeve arched a brow, “Please continue.”

“If the Inquisition is going to make a habit of minutely examining bards in good standing with the Academé they will be wasting valuable time and resources that could be better directed elsewhere. Certainly consulting a liaison would be preferable to convening an Inquisitorial council needlessly... and as atonement for bringing all of this absurdity about who better to act as that liaison than you, Contora Lachlan,”the elf smiled matter-of-factly.

Maeve blinked as she followed the unspoken thread of her mentor’s logic, “It would certainly appear to be punishment from both sides.”

Maestro Algarlegair nodded, “Precisely.” He mused for a moment, “I believe that Ostasio will be able to make this Inquisitor fellow you mentioned in our last visit believe it was his idea to have you complete the coursework for accreditation as a ‘proper’ arcanist so you would not be as likely to burden any proceedings with ignorant questions that any ‘proper’ arcanist should know as a matter of course.”

“Contore Vettori? Are you certain?” her concern at the growing number of conspirators showed plainly on her visage.

The elf held up one slim-fingered hand, “He will have only the details I give him; enough to be convincing but not enough to be dangerous. When he succeeds the College will contact the Council, you will be summoned and commanded to comply with the Council and College’s decision which should strengthen the ruse.”

Maeve smiled appreciatively, “How much should I protest?”

“Enough to appear genuine but not so much as to arouse suspicion – remember, there will be professional critics in the room, and several members of the Council do not trust you any further than they can stretch their arms so do try to avoid overacting,” he admonished. “Go home, act surprised when summoned, acquiesce sullenly, and do not make your tutelage too easy on the College’s faculty – gods know you were enough of an aggravation as a student here I almost feel guilty at turning you loose on them,”the Maestro flashed a wicked smile, “almost.”
Session: ...and miles to go before I sleep. - Sunday, Mar 03 2013 from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
← Previous 1 3 4 5