The Realms: A World Apart

More About Last Night

Chapter Eight, Part Five

Loud horns are blown throughout the city, announcing the end of the work day for many shops. Throughout ASU, the busy trading slows as people head inside for dinner. The party follows suit. After preparing for dinner, they start filing into the dining hall. Red and Percy are first, followed by Arturus, Rastorn, and SeLiem. Melias and Orjulun come in shortly after that. While they wait for Lil to show, Red starts telling how her day went. 

“Praise Corma, mae arse will be covered now! It took most of mae coin, mae shield, and mae old armor, but Dwarven plate armor will soon adorn this shapely body.”

Percy tells the group about trading for a new long sword. “It took half mae, er, my treasure and my Ion Stone, but now I have a sword every bit as good as my last one . . . and this one has a name.” He unsheathes the sword as he speaks and holds it out for everyone to see. In the Common tongue, the words “Hrilgrath the Protector” are etched along the length of the blade. “It’s magical,” he adds, looking at Arturus, who he knows shares his love of weaponry almost as much as Red.

“Well, I was able to pull off some pretty good trades, myself,” Rastorn brags. “Now I have a new shoulder pack, a new robe, and I was able to trade in some shoddy jewelry for these two fine rings,” he announces, holding his hands out to show off the nice, if not overly ornate, rings he now wears.

Over half an hour of waiting has passed when the server tells the party they will have to be served, or lose their table. They agree and after she serves the food and prayers of thanks to many different gods are spoken by those at the table, everyone eats. Conversation continues as they eat, but everyone keeps glancing toward the door, expecting Lil to join them.

“That’s awfully inconsiderate of her,” Rastorn finally says.

“Perhaps her business took longer than expected,” Percy offers, with a sideways glance at Rastorn.

“Well, Druids ain’t . . . well, they don’t pay attention to time like we do,” Red comments. “I really wanted to tell her about mee date tomorrow. Aye met a Dwarf armorer named Gruff.“ She looks to the door again and her smile turns to a frown as she asks, “Do ye think she’s alright, Percy?”

Rastorn interrupts, “She’s probably busy fornicating with another Bard in the forest somewhere.”

Percy stands halfway up and points at Rastorn shouting, “You shut your mouth!” then instantly regrets such in improper action. “I apologize, Rastorn, sir. That was uncalled for. Please excuse me,” he says sheepishly as he quickly leaves the table.

Once he is out of the room, Red looks at Rastorn and says, “Ye don’t need to be so crude, mae friend. Lil is . . . Lil . . . just as ye are who ye are.” She looks around the table at the other men. It appears to her that most of them are also ready to verbally assault the Necromancer, so she changes the subject. “No more talk of that, what sort of trouble did ye get into today, Orjulun? Melias? Mae ears would appreciate a good tale right now, just as ye all would.”

Melias had wanted to get his dagger identified, but wasn’t happy with the prospect of leaving it with a stranger for a day, so it’s magical properties remain a mystery. Perhaps the next time he sees Fino, he can ask him. Bards are supposed to have a keen eye for items with stories behind them. He was happy to be done with what he came for, but disappointed at what they found out. After letting everyone know they will need to remain in ASU for a day or two longer if they hope to get any answers about the group from the wanted poster, he tells them about his other conversation. “We talked to Nofi. No joy there. He doesn’t know where the wanted bunch headed off to, but he certainly did have a lot of other information he was most pleased to share.” Melias goes on detailing a lot of what was discussed, though not using nearly as many words as the Sage had. “The strangest thing about the man,” he concludes, “was how he just sort of lost it at the end there. Something about the Undead Wars, and a dream Orjulun had told him about. One thing’s clear, we can expect some unwanted company in our future.” 

As Melias finishes, Red says, “Oh, spent the morning with a Sage, did ye . . . interesting . . . ” then rolls her eyes.

“Another Undead War? Is that not why The Cube of Power was hidden in the first place – to avoid a repeat? I can certainly understand why this Nofi person was upset. It is unnerving to imagine another battle the scope of that one. The gods themselves seemed helpless against the onslaught of Terrorek and his minions,” Rastorn remarks. He knows saying the Daemon’s name out loud is said to risk his return, but considers this a foolish belief spread by fear filled commoners.

Arturus remains somewhat quiet throughout dinner. He hasn’t got much to say. Instead, he listens to the other’s tales and wonders if they have stage shows in ASU. He might like to see one and maybe find the girl from the prior night and take her with him.

“It’s looking like Lil ain’t going to show. Bath-time then bedtime for Red, then. Wake me if ye will be doing anything interesting in the morning, lads,” Red announces, before standing to leave. Before walking away, she adds, “Like not visiting with a Sage.”

“I’ll be spending the day studying our new spell book, Orjulun. Would you like to join me in my room in the morning?” Rastorn asks, once everyone has said their ‘good-nights’ to Red.

“Sylvia,” Arturus says, suddenly remembering his recent lover’s name.

Orjulun shakes his head. “I have some other business to which I must attend.”

Rastorn nods, forces a smile, and excuses himself from the table.

SeLiem and Arturus leave soon after, to go on their own night-time adventures.

Percy returns to the dining hall, once he sees Rastorn return to his room. He discovers Orjulun and Melias are the only ones remaining. Orjulun waves Percy and Melias over to a semi-secluded table in a corner and whispers, “I have some things to tell you both, although you, Melias, already know some of my tale. As you both know, I fled Dumas quickly, hoping to escape my life of torment there. My mentor in magic, Lickmer, was an evil man, as was his patron, King Ian Zane. Now, apparently, and for some reason unknown to me, they are sending out someone or something, probably Lickmer himself, with others, to bring me back. I am sure of this, as my visions were very clear. It seems I am more valuable to them than I thought, or was led to believe. Believe me, Lickmer is quite powerful in magic and has several resources at his fingers through the King. If they mean to find us and bring me back, it will be difficult to stop them. I know this is not the battle you both agreed to in joining the party, but I would ask your help in this. I know I can trust both of you, and probably Arturus and Red as well, but of you two, I am sure.”

The young Mage watches each of their faces, to gauge their reactions thus far. “At any rate, in addition to this information, I have been given ‘the sight’ on other matters,” he continues. “I believe we must try and recover the Cube of Power, or at least help see it does not reach evil hands. I have had several visions about The Cube, and each time, when a hand of darkness reaches towards it, the feeling of doom and despair is overwhelming. I have seen other visions, as well. One showed a group of adventurers, probably those from the posters, getting blasted by some sort of magical ray, as they went to enter a mansion of some sort. The Elf could be heard saying, “No, we are so close!” Then they shrank down and disappeared.” Orjulun turns to face Melias. “Another showed a thin, pale Sage reading a large metal-bound book. The book was entitled “The History of the Sentient Relics.” The Sage’s ring was emblazoned with the letters ‘ASUSG’. He set down that book and picked up another with the title ‘The Undead Wars’.  A number two suddenly appeared at the end of the title. The ‘2’ was white and glowed, as if light was shining from within. This is what I spoke to the Sage about, but he didn’t seem to understand what it meant, as if it was something in the future.”

“I also saw the scene of an epic battle between us and the whole of Metava! The party was doing well, until four dark Mages appeared in the corners of the field and blasted the party to pieces with a barrage of spells. I saw each of you die in gory detail. Finally,” Orjulun says, with a sigh of relief, “I saw what could only be a birds-eye view of the great swamps, south-west of ASU.  A blackness appeared in the swamps and began spreading in a straight line toward ASU. The darkness then spread out from ASU in all directions and blackened the entire continent. While this was all happening I could hear the words being spoken, ‘ . . . and as your elected Guildmaster and leader of this great union, I promise to improve upon the work of my predecessor by eliminating any of the multitudes of threats to free and profitable trade! Firstly, we will end the corrupting influence of the Thieves Guild, by disbanding it! I will bring back the honor and dignity of this office!’ Then the whole of the map went black and two evil-looking eyes blinked open in the center of the map.” Orjulun slumps forward onto the table, visibly tired from recounting his visions.

“Now you know as much as me, which isn’t much,” he says, his voice still soft. “There are still so many unanswered questions, and I don’t really know where to turn next. Have you any ideas?”

Melias had listened carefully as Orjulun told his concerns and visions and nodded on occasion, looking concerned as well. When Orjulun finishes, he says “Seems to me, your vision implies that if this person is elected, that may speed up the evil overtaking the land. Too bad you didn’t know who it was. Maybe you’d recognize the voice, though? It could be that Rube G. Howges Nofi was talking about. It probably isn’t the one in office right now, who was that – Lincont? He obviously doesn’t intend on putting an end to the Thieves Guild or else it’d been done already.”

Melias picks up his glass and spins the wine about, looking into it as he says, “Far as our untimely demise in Metava, I guess that means we shouldn’t return there. I tell you, after our last time, I didn’t intend on heading back any time soon anyway. Never is good for me.

Setting his glass down, Melias rubs his chin and then reflects on recent events. “Nofi said the Cube of Power was lost from the ‘special ones’ to someone named Advisor Stetic. So if we want to know where the Cube of Power is, we’ll have to start there.”

“Adviser Stetic . . . that’s Lord Darkoth’s second in command, right? She’s been with him for years. I believe she is an Arch-Mage of Alteration magics. Unless they are talking about The Wizard Copa Stetic The Master of Teleportation . . . but I think he died about twenty years ago. Both are very famous,” Percy says.

He places his fingers to his temples and closes his eyes. Pursing his lips, he whispers (as low as he can, considering his booming, baritone voice), “Of course we will all help shield you from this Lickmer fellow, just as we will all keep Melias’ evil sister from him. The sooner we leave here, the better, but we can’t just keep running. Sooner or later you will both have to face these people.” He pauses for a second, then says, “There are good deeds that need to be completed first, so . . . it will have to be ‘later’.”

Squinting, Percy looks at Orjulun. “I don’t suppose Lickmer could be talked out of . . . never mind, I’m sure I know the answer.” Feeling like he is on a roll, he continues analyzing the situation. “Maybe I’m stating the obvious – I do that sometimes – but isn’t The Cube already in the hands of dangerous people? I mean,” he lowers his voice a bit more, “Lord Darkoth has it, right? He’s about as wicked as they come. I’m sure he doesn’t want another Undead War, but . . . hmmmm, maybe it isn’t so bad if he has it. Who in the world is powerful enough to challenge him? He’s probably the most powerful . . . ‘man’ in all The Realms. Shouldn’t we just leave things be? Even The Queen Mother seemed fine knowing that he had it.”

While they ponder his last point, Percy continues, “I would like nothing more than to one day clean up that horrible city by the volcano, but it would take more than us to do it. I’m brave, but I’m not stupid.” He cocks his head to one side, “Perhaps this proves they were just dreams? And about that dream with the swamp . . . Paradise is the only village there and most people know not to go there. The word has gotten out that it is not a paradise, right? I just don’t understand what that dream could represent. But, you know, the eyes in the darkness – that sounds like the flag of Darkuth.” He pauses, “That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Oh, um, would it help if I spoke with High Priest Ifon? I saw him at church today. I’m from Homeland, so – unlike most people – I could probably get a private audience with him. By the way, Orjulun, did you see your temple? It may not be as large, but it certainly rivals my church in Homeland for its beauty. So, do you want me to seek council with High Priest Ifon?”

“Yes, please,” Melias says. “And if it’s at all possible, I’d like to be a part of the conversation. I have a lot of information that I’m trying to put together. If I could hear what he has to say, it may help. But, if he’s not accepting outsiders into private audience, that’s just as well. Take good notes.”

“I really doubt he will accept anyone else . . . no offense, Melias. Perhaps you could gather some questions for me to ask him, eh? Just have them ready tomorrow morning. By the way, what exactly can we do to prepare for your sister’s impending treachery?”

Melias mulls over the last question, then responds, “Change our names, our appearances, our locations, our backgrounds . . . and maybe make some sort of sacrifice to some dark god somewhere to strike her down.” He looks up at Percy and smirks, “Sorry, a little morbid humor there. I don’t know. She’s quite capable, but perhaps I can ask some local people to mislead her – maybe Lickmer, too.”

He instructs Percy to ask about the election, particularly about the man opposing Lincont, and any ties to Lord Darkuth he might have. He tell him he should try to persuade High Priest Ifon to back Lincont in efforts to avoid another Undead War.

“I agree with Melias’ assessment,” Orjulun says, “and if you have a moment, I’d love to know the location of the temple of Scorses, Percy.”

“You won’t really need directions, Orjulun. It is the tallest spire in the city, maybe in the world.  Just look to the west, it glows in the morning light like a beacon,” Percy answers, then asks, “Are we done for now?”

Melias nods. “Walk the good walk, Percy, Orjulun. I’ll speak with you both later.”

The story continues next week in Chapter Nine with solo stories of each of the group’s main characters while they are in the big city!

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