Journal Posts

Tag: mad_plans

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. - Saturday, Mar 02 2013 from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Epic!
Riders on the storm
Maeve nodded her thanks to the wench for filling her tankard, “Tellin’s dry work. I can sing for a fortnight with nae any worries but let me chat it up for half a turn of the glass and I’m as dry as a biscuit fart.”

Hokur snorted into his mug sending a fine spray of ale onto his hand, “Merc talk out of an angel’s mouth, damn it woman! Ye made me spill!” He shook his head, “If only t’keep ye from any further blasphemies I’ll spell ye fer a bit… where was ye?”

“Just t’the east of nowhere, like as not, that was the next place worth mentionin’,” Maeve prompted.

Hokur set his mug down so as not to spill as he spun his tale with hands and voice, “Oh aye! So, there we was, traipsin’ out of the highlands int’the boggy muck of the lowlands just t’the east of nowhere with Arcelli off doin’ his thing makin’ certain nae any dangers was lurkin’ ahead when out of a bulbous knob of clouds comes two dark blots what’s gettin’ bigger at a fair alarmin’ rate.” Maeve grinned, all mercs were misplaced minstrels in her opinion and Hokur was no exception. “With nae more warnin’ than havin’ just spied ‘em the pair lets off a volley of spikes from their tails what managed two things; one we knew they was manticores and two Maeve taught us all a few choice new words as one of the spikes lodged in her thigh and set her t’spittin’ like a wet cat.” He grinned at the bard and continued, “Now I see Arcelli ridin’ hell-bent for leather toward us over hillock and holler and hear Raylen sayin’ he can thwart the spikes but only for two of the three of us so’s I do the only natural thing and ride out front t’meet the critters on my terms rather than theirs. I figured what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as they says, and since they was lobbin’ projectiles I could return the favor. It’s a might harder t’hit a flyin’ target than a feller’d think after watchin’ Arcelli do it and as I’ve nae the mastery of the bow that he does, I’m man enough t’say, I missed.”

“He ought t’be good with it, he practically sleeps with the thing,” Maeve offered.

“True enough,” Raylen chimed in, “He practices tirelessly.” Arcelli covered his discomfiture at open praise by glowering into his tankard.

“Head up, man! Yer the best with a bow I’ve seen in a fair piece! Anyways, back t’the flappin’ death closin’ in on us… or me rather as I was closest t’their path. The one in the lead swoops down t’ward me and commences t’whollop me alongside the head what fair rang my bell but not enough t’unhorse me. Now I’ll admit t’havin’ a bit of a temper when it comes t’bein’ cuffed on the head so’s I figured that kind of insult could nae go unanswered for–”

“And blink, he was gone.” Maeve interjected. “And blink, he was back…”

“Right on the bitch’s back,” Hokur finished the troubadour’s interruption. “So, picture it, here’s this critter tryin’ t’gain altitude after havin’ gained nigh ont’ nineteen stone –”

“That’s Aral stone, not Imperial Salp stone mind ye,” Maeve explained quickly.

Hokur shot a look at the bard, “…Nigh Ont’ Nineteen ARAL Stone in the blink of an eye which seriously hindered her – did I mention it was a female? From the rows of teats I saw as she dived at me I knew it was a she critter, always the meanest regardless of species,” he smiled sweetly at Maeve as he continued, “Anyways, it, meanin’ me and my bulk and the fact I had the Dodger out and was pokin’ as many holes in her as I could muster, seriously hindered her ability t’gain any height so’s she decides that she’s gonna roll over and lighten her load by sendin’ me groundward. But I was havin’ none of that. I pins one of her wings with my right leg and grabs fer what purchase I can with my left hand whilst stabbin’ away with the Dodger in my right and evidentially I was nae payin’ attention t’what I was grabbin’ as I came up with a fistful of her armpit hair. This fair distracted her from rollin’ over for the time bein’ and near distracted me from stabbin’ as I briefly contemplated exactly how disgustin’ a handful of manticore pit hair is.”

Maeve nodded solemnly, “Oh aye, and if ye think havin’ yer pit-hairs yanked ain’t distractin’, try it sometime… guaranteed t’bring a tear t’yer eye.”

“I thought ye were too dry t’talk,” Hokur smirked.

The bard smiled behind her tankard, “I’m recoverin’ nicely, thanks, but pray dear sir, continue.”

“Right – so, there I was, ground comin’ up fast as the she-beastie tried t’fling me off her back, and failin’ that tryin’ t’roll over so’s I’d meet the ground afore she did. But I was havin’ none of that. Me and the Dodger continued makin’ with the perforatin’ of her hide and clampin’ with anythin’ that was nae stabbin’ t’keep me on the sunward side of the stone, as they says. In this I was a far sight more successful than the she-beastie was, and like any good rat I knew when it was time t’get off of the ship. Just in the heartbeat before her chin spikes piled int’ the dirt I leapt free and landed in front of her, ready fer whate’er may come next.”

“Fortunately he landed on his head so he was nae hurt overmuch,” Maeve offered as an aside to one of the several tavern patrons who had come close to hear the tale.

Hokur rapped his knuckles against his head, “Aye!” and grinned at his audience, “So, there I was, toe t’talon with a fair chaffed manticore wench–“

“Pardon the interruption Hokur, but wouldn’t that make her a womanticore?” Raylen queried so innocently that no one could discern if he was joking or not and everyone simply stared at him, silently.

Arcelli broke the momentary silence, “Dumbass.”

“Ye’ll have t’ask Neguma on that one, Raylen, I cannae say,” Hokur answered whilst Maeve rested her forehead on the heel of her palm and simply shrugged. The mercenary continued over the stifled snickers and groans of the assembled tavern-goers.

“What?” Raylen shrugged.

“So now we was on the ground, me and the Dodger verses the she-beastie,” he shot a look at the priest, “preparin’ for a proper dust-up. Whilst she’s shakin’ the dirt out of ear and eyeball I’m movin’ closer so’s the Dodger can give her a kiss and a cuddle, which he did t’good effect, but I’m here t’tell ye she landed a tooth-rattlin’ whollop on me that near knocked my nerts int’ my boots, if ye’ll pardon the phrase.” Hokur shook his head, “Well, I was havin’ none of that. I sluiced around t’the side and the Dodger give her a smile that nigh took her head clean off at which point I discovered I might should have zigged instead of zagged, as they says, as I got a full dose of blood and gore straight in the kisser.” The merc made a face and spat at the memory, “And as I’m wipin’ the mess out of my eyes and tryin’ not t’suck any more in with each breath I spy skyward and see the other one bearin’ down on me as if t’make me its cushion for the landin’.”

“Bein’ a mite staggery from the she-beastie’s whollopin’ on me I decided the better part of valor was gettin’ straight the hell out of the way so’s I high-tailed it toward Raylen and Maeve bellerin’ for all I was worth,” he pumped his arms in a pantomime of running.
“Bellerin’? Sounded like laughin’ from where I was sittin’,” Maeve grinned.

“Maybe,” Hokur grinned sheepishly. “Irregardless, I got my arse out of the way in quick enough order that the remainin’ beastie could nae maneuver t’follow me and throwin’ a glance over my shoulder I see that Arcelli has let loose with that devastatin’ volley of his and has feathered the beastie’s arse but good!” he pointed with his chin to the ranger who nodded his agreement. “Now as I’m standin’ there leanin’, on Clod t’catch my breath, Raylen favors me with the blessin’s of Neguma which went a fair ways t’ward refreshin’ me and Maeve favored me with her own little ditty which finished the trick and I was right as a new copper and ready t’manage a new round of bloody mayhem. Seein’s as Raylen was nae usin’ his shield for the moment I borrowed it with his blessin’ and sallied forth t’meet the he-beastie head t’head, as they says – and ye can fair well guess how I figured out it was a feller without me spellin’ it out fer ye!”

Hokur nodded firmly, shoulders set wide, “Right. So there it was, havin’ more or less landed under its own power, right where I could get at it with a good run-up-and-swing which I did t’right good effect as it fell right the fuck over as soon as I touched it with the Dodger. No lie. It was at this point that I see the bloody thing has over a half-dozen of Arcelli’s arrows stickin’ out of it and enough scorch marks t’qualify as burnt toast from Maeve flingin’ magic at it that I cannae claim it as a kill but rather as puttin’ the thing out of its misery.”

“And this little encounter is where I determined that it was a good thin’ we’d nae hired a feller with a lick of good sense; ‘cause good sense will stay a hand in battle and at that point, ye’ve already lost,” Maeve grinned.

“Aye,” Hokur nodded, “And yer right, tellin’ is thirsty work,” as he held up his empty mug.
Session: Sail away, sail away, sail away... - Saturday, Jan 19 2013 from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Tags: Battle , Mad Plans
Epic!
This little light of mine...
Here’s somethin’ ye may nae know about Aral – most everythin’ there, the population aside, is fair bent on killin’ ye. Critters, beasties, livin’, dead, undead, or otherwise, amongst monsters of all ilk make fer a fair murderous menagerie just waitin’ t’ taste blood and the unwarier the better. That may go a fair distance t’explainin’ why Arals are the way we be and why we seem half mad and full-on paranoid t’the average Salp. There’s also a sayin’ in Aral that runs somethin’ like ‘the Fates favor the bold’ which is a polite way of sayin’ “try whate’er mad damn thing ye will ‘cause it might just pay off” and we hear that sayin’ umpteen times a day from cradle t’grave and what that sayin’ fair does is have a way of seepin’ int’ the mind and giftin’ us with our general cussedness. ‘Now Maeve,’ ye may be sayin’ t’yerself, ‘what’s that got t’do with the price of manure in Malvorti?’ t’which I says ‘hold yer damnable horses, I’m gettin’ t’that’.

See, we was recent in Aral havin’ several and sundry reasons t’be there not the least of which was t’see my dear brother Millian make an honest woman outta one of them Guinne gals and start up a brood of his own so’s it’s fair harder t’make proper introductions t’the entire clan with nae takin’ a drink in the middle keepin’ in mind that Culloch and Kyle is already hitched and have squallin’ bairns of their own and that within a year or so Lymont and that busty Firth lass is gonna tread the same road t’bliss as is the habit of Arals in Aral. What with there bein’ a shortage of gingers in the vicinity of Rashie Yett, this is a meet thing. Our company bein’ a man down in all respects yet havin’ more fetch and carry t’accomplish made the fortune of my Uncle Haimish attendin’ the aforementioned nuptials a right boon. We was able t’hire on a new feller, Hokur McMerceson by name, t’fill the vacancy and a weddin’ feast is a fine way t’get t’know a bloke since libations and victuals is in ready supply. Hokur agreed, nae knowin’ what he was lettin’ himself in fer, and we was off again once the bridal sheets was dry, if ye take my meanin’, with the blessin’s of the Lachlans heaped on our hearts and tucked safe in our saddlebags. I’m of the hopes that the Lachlans, Guinnes, Firths, Todts, Brus’, and the whole lot of others helped give Raylen and Arcelli a better view of Aral and Arals than what they might’ve had beforetimes, but I digress.

Travel was fair uneventful t’Corkillbreen though time gets a bit wibbly-wobbly in the filtered green under those branches it would seem, as four days passed when I’d’ve sworn on my harp it was only two, regardless we was soon anglin’ north t’Struthancloch t’ see if we could manage a ship’s passage back t’Salpia in some manner or another. Cuttin’ across the east highlands, even on the road – which Arcelli and Raylen will doubtless tell ye is nae more than a drunken cattle’s path – can be dicey even under the best of circumstances. See, back in the old days before Arals was less prone t’killin’ anyone with a different opinion than their own, there was a great many massive battles fought over every hummock and hollow between Mullanmor and Lagbeag and what with the ground bein’ nae good for diggin’ graves they just piled stones over the tops of the bodies t’make great cairns and called it done.

Now Raylen’ll tell ye that cussed folk cut down afore they’re ready t’call it quits what are nae laid proper t’rest is like as nae t’continue in their contrariness regardless of their bein’ on the wrong side of the cairnstone, so’s t’speak, and surely as Kiara kisses green apples, one night whilst we was beddin’ down a mess of the cussed, stinkin’ things came t’swell their ranks and deplete ours. Evidentially dead Arals is nae any more able t’recognize a priest than live ones since the blighters chose the wrong side of Neguma t’sidle up to! Arcelli locked some down and feathered others and Hokur was dodgin’ fists and claws as one of the wights tried t’snuggle up but what with Raylen soon callin’ the grace of the gods down t’their very midst and makin’ ‘em run for the hills they was right hard t’lay steel on though he managed nicely. Soon as nae the only one within sight was the one waist-deep in grapplin’ grass and pissed off thistles so’s it made good target practice anyway. Raylen seemed t’think that they’d be back as soon as they’d the stones for it so’s there was little sleep t’be had for want of wakin’ up with some critter’s teeth in a body’s neck.

The problem in the main was that it was cussed hard t’see the things what with it bein’ dark as pitch so’s Hokur devised a way t’overcome that particular shortcomin’ that fair well made sense t’an Aral’s way of thinkin’ but made Raylen shake his head and Arcelli snicker like he’d seen Lady Lucrecia’s leather knickers. Y’see, gifted with the wanderlust of his god, Raylen can fly when-so-e’er he asks politely and what with us havin’ a bullseye lantern he’d make a proper spotter since he could detect the blighters at a distance then light ‘em up so’s the other fellers could feather ‘em from a safe distance. Seems lettin’ these particular reanimate lay hands on a body is an even worse idea than usual as they can drain the very life from yer bones and raise ye up as one of their ilk. Right. Aral, lovely place t’visit but I’d nae want t’live there. Anyway, it worked! The blighters came back but nae even got within arm’s reach of Canuto’s tail before they was well and truly dead again from Arcelli and Hokur featherin’ ‘em from collar t’crotch… only this time they was put down with rites t’keep ‘em that way.
Session: Sail away, sail away, sail away... - Saturday, Jan 19 2013 from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Tags: Mad Plans
Epic!
Maeve's Gambit
Maeve took a deep breath and let it out slowly before gripping the cool brass of the handles of the Council chamber doors, “Step smart, ye nae want ye t’get pinched t’ruin the effect,” she whispered to the empty air to her left, “an’ give ‘em a chance t’see ye plain, cousin,” she glanced over her shoulder and stifled a chuckle, “gods’ truth, Fearghus, y’nigh frighten me with that mug yer pullin’!” A quick glance to her right showed that the Council’s ‘guard’ was still held fast in the amber field of scintillating force released when he read the sigil on Namen’s note; at least they would not have the immediate possibility of armed interruption to distract her. She heard the muffled bang of the gavel through the heavy wooden valves and took that as her cue to push wide the carven doors and enter the room. She felt more than heard the growl from her cousin as he held the doors open for a few beats then firmly closed them behind her.

Every eye in the room followed her progress as she strode across the chamber to stand before Maestro Kesterben who was seated at the center of the u-shaped table and looked at her quizzically with the gavel in his hand poised and momentarily forgotten above the soundblock. “Contora Lachlan,” the gnome covered his surprise well but not well enough for escape Maeve’s notice, “I don’t remember seeing your name on the agenda for today’s meeting. Is there some matter we may lend you guidance on?”

Maeve smiled, that mildly admonishing tone had not frightened her as a student and it did not concern her now, not yet any way, “Mayhap ye can, Maestro Kesterben.” With a practiced flick of her thumb she flipped the broken bit of silver chain from the ruins at Covalis such that it landed with a tinkling thud on the embroidered table runner in front of the Dean of Special Interests, “I’ve come t’discuss missin’ links.” The bard half expected a reaction from the gnome but instead caught the barest twitch of an eyebrow from the elf next to him – from anyone else at the table that tiny change in composure would have been an audible gasp of shock.

The elf, Maestro Algarlegair, Dean of Faculty gave a slightly bored sigh, “Not lost your flair for the dramatic I see, Contora Lachlan. I do not believe this warrants the attention of the entire Council,” he waved one slim hand dismissively, “As we were just adjourning I trust that the rest of you have other matters to attend to; Maestro Kesterben and I will see to this.”

One of the other occupants of the table arched his brows as he sucked honey and pastry crumbs from his thumb. “I don’t have anything else going on,” he removed the digit from his mouth long enough to speak before servicing his index finger in the same manner, “I can stay.” Contore Majori Ostasio Vettori smiled politely as he brushed crumbs from his doublet. Contore Majori Vettori’s specialization was ‘response administration and audience guidance’ affectionately referred to by the student body as ‘domination and manipulation’ and elf’s reaction was not lost on him as it had been on the rest of the Council. Anything that got the Dean of Faculty ruffled had to be interesting.

“I am quite certain you have business that requires your attention, Contore Vettori, if you-”

The rotund instructor shook his head, “I thank you for your concern, Maestro, but I cleared the entire day for the Council meeting not knowing how long it would take. I so seldom attend in Maestro Benicci’s stead that chose to err on the side of caution; I’ve got all the time in the world, so to speak.” He settled back in his chair and sipped his tea, “Besides, Cantora Minori Lachlan has a bit of a history and I believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a third set of eyes and ears present, just to avoid any misunderstandings of course.” He smiled benignly and blinked over the top of his glasses at his superior. In truth he had a bit of a soft spot in his cynical old heart for Maeve; the girl, who had managed to bluff and cajole her way into two years of free education from one of the most prestigious institutions in Salpia, past an admissions board that thought it had seen every trick and heard every story, had given him hope that the next generation might not be a lost cause in the art of persuasion.

Maestro Algarlegair smiled and inclined his head, “How exceedingly fortunate. Very well,” He waited as the rest of the Council members filed out of the room.

Maeve did not look away from the elf as she spoke, “I think I’m in the clear, Namen. I thank ye fer yer protection but would be obliged if’n ye’d wait fer me in the hallway as we’ve t’discuss Academé concerns now and ‘twould nae be meet fer any other ears t’have the hearin’ of it.” She enjoyed the surprised reaction of all three Council members as her employer appeared from thin air beside her.

“Are you sure, Maeve? Morna will have my hide if anything happens to you,” Namen looked genuinely concerned, whether for Maeve’s well-being or his cook’s scorn was impossible to discern.

“Aye, sir, I’m certain,” she smiled, “But I’d nae wish ye t’be any further than the hallway if’n it’d nae trouble ye too much.”

“You have but to say the word,” he gave a meaningful glance to the three men seated at the table, “We’ll be outside if needed.”

“I appreciate yer understandin’ and trust on this sir, but from here on I needs must go it alone.” She curtsied to her employer and waited until the heavy doors closed behind him before returning her gaze to the Council members. “If’n ye gentlemen nae mind overmuch, I’ll get myself a chair as this is a tale likely t’be long in the tellin’.”

As she carried one of the heavy, wooden chairs to the middle of the floor Maestro Kesterben spoke bluntly, “That was Master Roodle of Sottovelo, your employer.”

“Aye, sir, that he is on all counts,” Maeve nodded as she centered the chair in front of the three remaining Council members.

“I’ve heard of him! A crafter of arcane items I believe.” Of a sudden, Contore Vettori remembered his manners, “Would you care for any tea, Miss Lachlan? Cream, no honey as I recall, no?”

The young woman smiled, “Aye, Sir that would be lovely. Thank ye.”

Maestro Algarlegair waited until Contore Majori Ostasio was once again seated before speaking, “Whenever you are ready, Contora Lachlan.”

Maeve bowed at the waist before taking her seat, “As may be known t’anyone who’s made a studied habit of loiterin’ about in the lesser-travelled corners of the Academé’s library, nigh on t’eight and ninety years ago a truly vile and murderous cult terrorizin’ the south of Salpia was put down by an impressive assemblage of paladins and priests… and by ‘put down’ I mean ‘slaughtered t’the last breathin’ soul,’” she arched a brow for emphasis. “The unfortunate bit about havin’ been so thorough in the cleansin’ of this scourge on the countryside is that there was nary a hint of where the dastardly fiends were laired up when they were nae out committin’ mischief, bloody mayhem, and murder.” She allowed herself a brief, knowing smile as she continued, “Now this event has all of the makin’s of an excellent saga; a real heart-tuggin’, mug-thumpin’, rafter-rattlin’ show stopper that’d put copious coin int’the hat of any bard who stuttered it past his teeth by virtue of the sheer inspiration mustered up by hearin’ how all that is Light and Holy persevered against chaos, depravity, darkness, and despair t’win the day and avenge the wronged!” The careful crescendo of her voice hung for a moment in the chamber as she paused.

The bard leaned back in her chair and sipped her tea as she crossed her legs, “But there are nae any such tales,” she shook her head sadly, “So’s over a decade of terror was forgot, heroic deeds went unsung, the deaths of thousands slipped from the memory of even those of their kin what came after ‘em… it’s rather sad, nae?” Maeve glanced to either side and lowered her voice conspiratorially, “Now, what may nae be known t’anyone outside of this room is that close ont’fifteen years before this cult drew the attention of every Light of Halcion south of the Serpent Sea there was a tragic accident here at the Academé… well, two actually.” She watched her audience closely and noted that Contore Majori Vettori leaned forward, eager to hear more, the gnome looked interested, curious almost, but Maestro Algarlegair had fixed her with a steely gaze that, had she not translated the journal by her own hand, would have shaken her confidence to the core. He was giving away volumes of information and did not care which made Maeve very glad Namen and Fearghus were within shouting distance and prepared for war.

She was too deep in her performance, however, to betray any of these thoughts on her countenance so she continued. “The first was a true accident, a moment of passion on a young Viscount’s part that simply went too far and tragically snuffed the light of a young and comely priestess whose insatiable appetite fer knowledge lead her down a one-way path she could nae return from, if ye take my meanin’, which may well be the reason that every last instructor from the temples I’ve ever seen darken the door of this Institution has a face what’d barely do a sack of hammers justice, but I digress… my apologies gentlemen, occupational hazard.” Maeve bowed her head slightly before going on, “Now I am fair certain that the current Viscount Totopa has nary a clue as t’why his shenanigans are not only tolerated but nigh on ignored, but when yer great-great grand sire meets an untimely end – well, we’ve all been instructed t’be vigilant down the dark ‘round the Academé’s mumbly little pet, have we nae – there’s bound t’be some sort of concessions made t’the survivin’ kin even if said kinfolk are unaware of it after a century or so.” She looked up at Maestro Algarlegair through her lashes, “Seems the nut nae falls very far from the trunk, if ye take my meanin’.”

The elf let out a breath he did not realize he had been holding as the young woman continued. “Now, what may not be known t’anyone inside this room is what happened t’ol’ Maestro Dindeva after the death of Frata Panitanzi of the Neguma Temple; seems he’d found somethin’ in the library that he thought’d be useful in spyin’ out who was responsible fer ‘crushin’ the fairest bloom in his heart’s garden’.” Maeve watched the elf’s face as she quoted the journal verbatim and read plainly that Algarlegair knew the phrase well. “And whate’er he read in the Scrolls, and whate’er they led him t’do drove him straight over the edge of madness in such a way that he believed that the mouther chained up down the dark was a god, nae, not just a god, but rather his god… and that his god would bring a righteous wrath down upon his enemy, which would be one way of lookin’ at bein’ fed t’a mouther I suppose. And Dindeva showed his gratitude fer the critter’s murderous vengeance by liberatin’ his god, as any good prophet would do, and spiritin’ it away – chain, net and all – down south where he could bring believers to the exaltation of his god’s embrace and purge unbelievers from the presence of one of the Elder Gods,” she paused a few beats to let her words sink in.

“Now there are several problems before us as I see it,” Maeve continued, “First, at some point in time definitely in the past and possibly in the present, I nae know fer a certainty, this noble Institution had access t’the Scrolls of Epyasti, or at least a fair credible copy thereof, which in and of itself could rain blue ruin down on us from every corner of the known world, second, the standin’ of every member of this Institution, past and present, would nae be worth a clipped copper if it became known that one of the greatest scourges Salpia has ever known was a lunatic Maestro of this Council, third, that this Institution which is responsible fer the unbiased keepin’ of lore and recordin’ of history actively and knowin’ly censored said history – specifically the cold-blooded murder of a nobleman and slaughter of thousands of innocents in the south – fer its own benefit, and fourth, that evidence definitively tying this Institution t’the horrors of the past has surfaced in the present.” She paused for a moment, “As Maestro Kesterben is certainly aware one of the other members of Master Roodle’s fetch and carry team is a priest of Neguma which poses an interestin’ but not insurmountable fifth problem, specifically in the form of someone with a voracious curiosity and a possibility that the priesthood has some sort of mention made of the late Amisina Panitanzi as a sort of cautionary tale. Fortunately he’s easy t’distract and I’m well-practiced at diversionary tactics so’s it’s nae been an issue t’date.”

“Gentlemen, I am a devoted alumna of the Academé and the continuation of this Institution and its ideals is foremost in my concern. The advancement of the influence of the Academé, both in Salpia and Aral, t’lead mankind t’greater heights is in jeopardy if the faith placed in this Institution is shaken by the thought that one of its leaders, however long ago, found within its walls a dark and evil path which he turned to because he was heartbroke over a woman who could nae keep her ankles crossed and that he was willin’ and able t’rape, pillage, sacrifice and out-right murder thousands of people, human, dwarf, elf, common and noble alike, fer over a decade before he was put down.” Maeve waited a heartbeat before continuing, “So that which is, in my opinion, best fer our Academé is completin’ the sanitation that was begun a century ago.”

Maestro Algarlegair’s countenance remained stony, “Continue.”

Maeve ticked off her suggestions as she listed them, “There are several ways t’obtain silence; there’s gold,” she wrinkled her nose and shook her head, “but the seriousness of this situation surpassed all the gold in a miser’s mattress long before my great-gran was a gleam in her da’s eye, then there’s blood – but the tricky thing about blood is a body ne’er knows how far it’ll splatter or how deep it’ll run and ye can nae be certain ye e’er got it all cleaned up or where a li’l speck’ll show it’s wee, ensanguined face at the worst possible moment,” she shook her head again, “Or there’s collaboration.” She favored the three men before her with the stunning smile that had won her entrance to the Academé, “Let’s look at that one.”

The Dean of Faculty leaned back in his chair and templed his fingers under his chin, “Let’s.”

Maeve leaned forward on her elbows and met the elf’s gaze unflinchingly, “This is my offer; I will give directly t’your hands, Maestro Algarlegair, the remainder of chain and attached ensorcelled net, which bears the Academé’s mark on every link, that I recovered in the ruins at Covalis where my companions and I slew the mouther spirited away by mad Maestro Giani Dindeva. This represents the only remaining, definitive physical link between the Academé and the Terror of the South. In return I ask only fer the rights and privileges due a devoted member of this noble Institution without the usual monetary outlay that symbolizes that devotion.”

“You want a Council seat,” the elf stated matter-of-factly.

“Aye. That’s it in plain words,” she nodded. I want to sit across from that lecherous Totopa bastard and make him squirm under the crushin’ weight of his own failin’ without ever lettin’ on that I know he’s diseased fruit from a poisoned and degenerate tree that’s nae learned its lesson in four generations and I will live only t’counter his self-servin’ misguidance of this Council with my own vote at every given opportunity such that those who truly have the best interests of our Institution may continue its good work unhindered.” Despite her calm demeanor the high color of her usually milky complexion betrayed the depth of her conviction.

“What of any other… materials you likely found? You’re a very bright girl, Contora Lachlan, but I know you didn’t dream those names and dates with that much accuracy,” Maestro Kesterben finally spoke.

Maeve frowned, “I been puzzlin’ on that. There’s a distinct possibility that I’ll need somethin’ t’put the priest off with if he eventually recalls that there was aught of interest in that sunken temple. Ye’ll just have t’trust that I can keep his two and two far enough apart that they nae become four,” she shrugged, “I’m fair certain that with proper handlin’ and the judicious application of an open shutter during the rainy season anythin’ incriminatin’ll be lost t’time and the elements.”

“At least you have considered the matter. What of your employer? And the other… fellow.” Kesterben nodded at the closed doors.

Maeve tilted her head, “Would I bother t’ask Master Roodle t’leave if I’d already told him what I was gonna talk about? Nae, he’s nary an idea of the particulars behind my visit. T’be honest, I’d nae put him in the thick of it as he’s got his own quagmire of politics betwixt the colleges t’navigate without bein’ privy t’ours. And the other fella is kin of mine – as has been said more than once, if’n ye put two Arals in a room they’re either sworn enemies, betrothed, kin, or some combination of the three.”

Kol arched a brow, “So they just came here, armed to the teeth I might add, because you asked them to?”

Maeve smiled, “Oh, I might’ve hinted that I was on some business that could see me dead or worse, which is truth, and ye’ve all met my Auntie Mo and been on the receivin’ end of her protectiveness; would ye cross her if ye had the opportunity not t’?”

Contore Majori Vettori snorted, “Gods no!” as Maestro Kesterben reluctantly shook his head.

Maestro Algarlegair allowed himself a smile, “I can see how one might rather face the possibility of taking on the entire Academé single-handedly rather than run afoul of your… colorful relative though his investment in your education may well have had more to do with his protection than a simple scolding.” His smile ended and he asked pointedly, “Where is the item in question?”

“Not here,” Maeve replied simply. “A girl cannae be too careless lest she end up regrettin’ somethin’, but it’s close enough by that you’ll have it t’day.”

“Of course,” the elf tilted his head and spun the broken link between nimble fingers, “What makes you think any agreement will be honored – not that there is any machination to the contrary, of course…”

“Y’mean aside from the fact that I’ll have somethin’ in writin’ over your signature, Maestro?” Maeve’s tone was somber, “Because although ye despise that randy bastard Totopa as much as I do, and I can tell by the way ye wrinkle yer nose like ye smelled somethin’ rotten every time he passes ye that ye do despise him, ye’ve abided by yer word fer four generations. I nae knew until I started talkin’ that it was you orchestrated this particular resolution, but it’s fair clear that it was.”

“Am I becoming that transparent in my dotage?” Maestro Algarlegair frowned.

She shook her head, “Maestro Lathon I spent over four years listenin’ t’ye describe what this Institution, our Institution, is and what it could be and I truly believe ye have the right of it. I also truly believe with every fiber of my soul that the Academé will never get where it needs t’be if the Council is bent by the wrong passions, if ye take my meanin’.”

“I do,” the elf smiled, “I must say at the very least I am pleased that you listened.”

“I did more than listen, I took it t’heart. All three of ye put forward the same theme if stated somewhat different, but the same idea ne’er-the-less,” she shrugged and leaned back in her chair. “I know what I’m willin’ t’do fer the Academé and Her interests and I’ve nary a doubt that any one of you, particularly you Maestro Lathon since you’re several lifetimes more invested in this Institution than any of the rest of us short-lived could ever be, I’ve nae the slightest doubt that any of you lot would go just as far as I will.”

“And how far is that?” Contore Majori Vettori peered at Maeve over the top of his spectacles.

“To the bitter end of whate’er long and windin’ road I may find myself on, Contore Ostasio,” she replied unflinchingly. The Salp nodded and silence settled thickly between the occupants of the room.

Maeve hoped that she was the only one who could hear the hammering of her heart in the huge Council chamber. An old memory floated to the surface of her mind in that deep quiet. She had gone with her father and older brothers to one of the summer faires on Lach Binkmull and had been fascinated with the divers leaping from the steel into the chilly waters between jagged spires of rock that jutted up from the lake. She’d asked her father if she could try diving and been answered with a light cuff to the back of her head. “There’s only two ways that foolishment ends” her father had groused, “grand champion or shite on a rock and yer nae old enough t’be either.” She’d watched the divers whenever she could see them and each time her heart pounded high in her chest wondering which way each dive would end. I wonder which I’m t’be?
Session: It's not delivery... it's Digiorno! - Saturday, Jul 21 2012 from 9:00 PM to 2:30 AM
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Epic × 2!
In a white room...
We’d eat a bit and got movin’ and gone a league or two when someone spied pidgy little tracks in the snow. Arcelli hops down and does a little dance when he’s sure it’s gobbo feet what made the marks. At least now we were wanderin’ with a purpose. The tracks scuttled over hill and dale and through bush and twig until they lead right into a hole. Well, it was a hole in a hill so I venture it might rightfully be called a cave, but to my way of thinkin’ a ‘cave’ is somethin’ a bloke can stand up in and this was certainly nae the case. Standin’ next to it put the top of the openin’ somewhere just above the knee and I can see fer a certainty that it’s to be a right squeeze to get in there fer me and likely a straight impossibility fer Fearghus. Arcelli wandered around a bit lookin’ fer another way in but luck decided otherwise. So as to see if it were even worth the trouble I hummed up a little light and pitched it into the openin’.

Roughly five paces back the tunnel made a sharp-like turn to the left and nothin’ more was to be seen. Arcelli, bein’ a little feller like most Salpians, wriggles himself into the hole and gets to the bend where he chucks the light down the tunnel again t’find that it stretched on another five or so paces before turnin’ sharp again to the right. On the off chance that it’s a critter cave or that there’s forty score gobbos waitin’ fer him further in we tied a rope around his middle so Fearghus could haul him out if needs be. After a while he comes back and says there’s somethin’ furry at the end of the next section of tunnel what was about seven paces from the turn.

Says I it could be a bear or another weasel and Fearghus snorts like a bull bein’ of the mind that no bear could fit in the openin’. Says I that an Aral bear couldn’t but everythin’s smaller in Salpia which was good fer a snigger but got us no closer to the solvin’ of the issue. Raylen pipes in that it could be a curtain or somesuch and it is general agreed to that Arcelli needs to go back and look closer. Still nae feelin’ all there after havin’ his most personal property (if y’take my meanin’) gnawed on by a big-arse weasel in the middle of the night he gets double assurance from Fearghus that in the case of somethin’ undesirable happenin’ that the Aral will haul him out double quick. Says Fearghus that he will so Arcelli wriggles in again and is gone a good while with nothin’ happenin’ on the rope to give us any indication if he’s whole or chewed.

Eventually he crawls out a bit sheepish like and says it was a curtain – a fur curtain mind you, but a curtain nonetheless – that had afeared him. More interestin’ly however, says he right quick before we can ride him too much on it, behind the curtain was a gobbo sleepin’. He’d knifed the gob to make sure no alarm was raised and peeked in as best he could without settin’ the dread curtain afire (the light had gone out so he’d took a torch the second time in) and saw at least a score of gobbies sleepin’ like the righteous in a bowl-shaped cave. What he dinnae spy was the total number, the full size of the cave or any other way in that might fit Fearghus.

I’m nae too proud t’say that we stood there a bit scratchin’ thin’s that dinnae really itch tryin’ to think of a way aroun’ the puzzle at hand. I was gettin’ fair aggravated at me fer nae seein’ what had to be right before my face – a way to take four into a score without endin’ up with zero particularly when we could only take three in. Thinks I to me self that what we were in need of was a army of midgets to hie it in before us to even thin’s up and flush out the li’l blighters so we could get a good swing at ‘em. And like a straight bolt of lightnin’ I gets an idea that begins me to gigglin’. Now Fearghus, Arcelli and Raylen kinda stares at me fer laughin’ at a time when it would nae seem t’be quite apropos so I tell ‘em what it is that has me a-titter.

Says I that turn about bein’ fair play, we should conscript the Regulars and march ‘em up here to do our job fer us since we done their job fer them by way of finishin’ off their hobs. Fearghus grinned and said he that conscriptin’ the conscripts sounded like high fun but wondered how we were t’find ‘em. Raylen pulled a face and pointed to Arcelli bringin’ up the point that it weren’t like we couldn’t track sixteen men on foot in the snow. It was general agreed to that we were indeed equipped better fer the proposed task than fer clearin’ out a gob cave. Someone brought up the fact that there was a bled-out gob in the doorway what might raise an alarm. This was the first time since I left the Academé that I was regretted of a choice I’d made fer whilst I could clean up the mess of it, I couldn’t fix the hole. Aral luck bein’ what it is though, Raylen could. It was settled that Neguma’s man and I would shinny in and make it look like the unfortunate gobbo soul that Arcelli had assisted to the afterlife had left of its own accord whilst Arcelli and Fearghus would see to coverin’ our tracks in case any adventuresome gobbo actually made it outside after which we four would hoof it back toward the hobs that we bled out and see if we could pick up the trail of the Regulars. That all bein’ accomplished, well, rather me and Raylen’s part bein’ accomplished as Arcelli sniffed snow on the wind what would do his and Fearghus’ part of the work admirably and lit a fire under our collective backside to get some distance before the storm hit, we mounted up and tried to remember just where it was we left those hobs.
Session: Game Two Bizatch! ...or Get in that Hole! - Friday, Jul 08 2011 from 6:30 PM to 12:30 AM
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Tags: Doh! , Mad Plans