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    Chapter IV: Gathering Anew, Part I: Finding Aredika

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    Chris
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    Join date : 2009-11-20
    Posts : 290

    The Waste Character
    Name: Rūk
    Race: Minotaur
    Class: Warden

    Chapter IV: Gathering Anew, Part I: Finding Aredika

    Post by Chris on 2010-01-22, 06:02

    Returning to his shop after an evening entertaining at a Senator’s gala, Kariasi is alarmed to find a light burning. Inside, a white-haired man of impressive stature stands with his back to the door, holding a dulcimer like someone who’s never even thought of learning to play.
    “This is fine work,” he says before turning. Kariasi’s recognition is not immediately followed by comprehension, but after a heartbeat or two, he realizes that his visitor is Ser Valdr, Knight of the Spire, the man who gathered the small band for the raid that ended the war.

    After pleasantries are exchanged, Valdr takes Kariasi to a local, high-priced inn, for a drink.
    The innkeeper throws them out as the horizon begins to lighten. Kariasi stumbles out after Valdr, finding him staring up at the moon. Without looking at Kariasi, Valdr says, “There’s someone I need you to meet.”

    They walk back toward the villa district. Climbing Kunieri Hill, Valdr leads Kariasi to the home of a wealthy family, probably a merchant. The servants at the door admit them both without a word. They walk through the dark house to the courtyard, telling Kariasi to wait at the threshold, Valdr enters the courtyard and bends over next to a slight form sitting in a wicker chair. He whispers something before motioning for you to come forward. As Kariasi steps forward, a lamp lights between in the room. His eyes adjust and Kariasi gasps, his fists clenching. Sitting in the chair is an apparition from his nightmares: the Angel in Green.

    Valdr tells Kariasi to sit. His questions are ignored. The Angel recites the Prophecy of Anthelios. As she speaks, Kariasi sees how frail she’s become in the past five years. Her face is pale and drawn, with many small cracks around her eyes and mouth. Her body is skeletal under her loose green gown. Her blond hair is thin and brittle. Her hands are shaking slightly and she doesn’t look so much old, as ancient. The features of a beautiful young woman, dusty with time.

    She whispers to Valdr and he helps her to her feet. Despite her infirmity, she glides across the floor to the rear of the villa. Valdr returns to the room and set Kariasi to his task: find the others from the raid on the Spire and bring them to Caryth.


    Kariasi vaguely remembers seeing Edgar Tirol locked in a pillory earlier in the week. Speaking with the Magistrate, he learns that Tirol has been turned over to the Men of the Watch, just that morning, to walk the Wall.

    Kariasi rides out with all the urgency that he can muster for a vague task that will turn his life on its ear and which he now concept of how to accomplish. The newly-recruited Men of the Watch, Tirol included, are walking north on the South Road. The grizzled old one-eyed recruiter rides ahead of them on a tired old gelding. The recruits are all dressed in uniform already, shirts, tunics, breeches, and cloak of black wool. They are not bound, as any common folk, seeing this uniform, would immediately report their position or attempt to capture, or even kill them, as having fled justice on the Wall.

    Kariasi attempts negotiation, but the recruiter is a loyal Man of the Watch, and does not budge. During the exchange, however, Tirol knocks the old man from his horse and rides away as fast as he can. Kariasi, so shocked by the turn of events, barely manages to get away before the recruiter pulls him down from his mount.

    They ride a short distance before reaching a crossroads inn where Tirol steals some roughspun travelling clothes, and they make camp in the forest just after dusk. Kariasi tells Tirol of his visit from Ser Valdr and his charge. Tirol (now facing a death sentence if captured) knows of no better way to avoid the authorities than to travel. He tells Kariasi that he saw Deimos in Karthas, in the court of the Dragon Queen, Bithshara.


    They cross the Iron Sands Desert by buying passage with a merchant caravan. In the relative safety, if not comfort, of the caravan, the two make their way to the iron-walled city Karthas.

    Presenting themselves to Bithshara as ‘Heroes of the Spire,’ they are taken in and shown the Dragon-Queen’s insistent and disturbing hospitality. Finding Deimos, they discuss their task and plan their next moves. Deimos has just been made First Consort to Bithshara, following the death of her last champion. At the previous First Consort’s funeral rites, Aredika presided. Deimos recalls that he planned to head north, to the Duchess River valley, before heading east toward Caryth.

    Like Tirol’s escape from the recruiter, their escape from Karthas is sudden and rash. Tirol becomes separated during the escape and Deimos and Kariasi steal a dozen camels, break free of the city. Bithshara’s cataphracts pursue the pair for nearly a week before giving up.

    For twelve days they survive the desert, until all their camels are dead. Just as it seems that they won’t survive another day, they crawl off of the sand onto hardscrabble weeds and then into merciful shade. The collapse in a copse of yucca trees.

    Deimos awakens to a death rattle. Seeing Kariasi run through and bleeding from the mouth, he plays possum until he can size up the brigands surrounding him. Using the advantage of surprise, he dispatches all six of the bandits and assembles a piecemeal suit of armor.

    Deimos finds his way to a trading town called Jefferton. There, in a hospital at the temple of Pia, he finds a disheveled man muttering to himself in the corner of the common ward. Runihura Ur Tumaini looks as though he’s aged terribly, but Deimos is relieved, and disconcerted to see him.

    Deimos explains Kariasi’s tale of Ser Valdr and the Green Witch, and Tumaini immediately agrees to return to Carythor to meet with the Knight.

    Deimos and Tumaini equip for the journey and set out after Aredika, having gotten insight on his plans from a local priest of Nardis named Rayan.

    Just outside of town, the pair is harassed by a band of thugs, recognizing Deimos’ armor and seeking revenge for their fallen comrades, the band is swiftly slain, and their leader reveals that they are in the employ of the Good Queen’s Men, an elite mercenary company with a unit for hire in Jefferton. The return the man to Rayan, for swift and final justice.

    Unbeknownst to the pair, Tirol makes his way from the desert in style and luxury, arriving in Jefferton several hours later with a caravan bringing spices and silk from the Iron Sands City-States. In Jefferton, he sees Aredika from a distance, but when he approaches, he realizes that the man before him is nearly a decade younger than Aredika when he last saw him. The man, an itinerant priest named Kithka, is Aredika’s estranged brother, seeking reunion with his lost blood.

    Deimos and Tumaini make their way to the town of Bridgeport, where they sell the equipment recovered from the bandit camp, and take in a performance by a legendary elven singer named Allora. The temple of Nardis tells them that Aredika headed east three days earlier and they gave the pair a package to deliver when they catch up with him.

    Heading east, Deimos and Tumaini are delayed by a company of Madrigals outside of a small hamlet called Baerlon. The slow pace and wide train of the Madrigals allows Tirol and Kithka to catch up, and the four spend the night in Baerlon together.

    In Baerlon, Tirol has a strange encounter with the gibbering Madrigal elder in which she gives him small papers showing hand-drawn, and remarkably-accurate, portraits of all of the Heroes of the Spire. The sheets promise a reward for information about the heroes and direct informants to the Tipsy Gelding Inn right here in Baerlon.

    Meanwhile, Kithka has been told that Aredika never made it to Baerlon, though the last town on the road said that he had passed through the day before.

    The others have retired for the evening in comfortable rooms at the Tipsy Gelding, but all is not well. En masse, as if compelled, the townspeople awaken and swarm the four, forcing them to fight their way out of town. They head back west to retrace their steps and regain Aredika’s trail.

    Camping on the road, they are shocked in the night by a tremor. The trees shake and bristle and the road rolls beneath them. Birds take flight and the night is blasted by a tremendous thud that feels as if the very earth is breaking.

    The next morning, Kithka notices a footpath leading into the woods on the north side of the road. A short ways into the brush, they find a scythe blade lying bent in the ivy. They follow the path to the ruins of an ancient temple ringed by statues of the gods of Perryn. Their faces are scraped away and their fingers are missing, but they recognizable nonetheless. At the center of the stone-paved ring lay Aredika. He breathes shallowly and is surrounded by a pool of dark sticky blood. His scythe shaft lay beside him and he is badly cut and bruised. His left hand is wrapped in a blood-soaked rag, his right hand grips a dead grey fox by the neck.

    A bit of gravel grinds under Deimos’ foot and Aredika stirs. He looks around blindly. “Is that you lads?” he says, “she said you’d come.”

    Aredika feebly tells them about treachery in Baerlon. He tells of a warm reception that turned cold with the arrival of a sharp-featured Elohar woman. He tells of his nightmare, the same every night spent in a town, but this time it was ended early by a blow to the head. He tells of awakening in a cellar under the woodcutter’s shack at the edge of town. He was bound and gagged in an iron hood and yoke, and couldn’t invoke Nardis’ name to aide his escape. Over the next day, the beat him regularly until the Elohar woman visited and after consideration said, “sacrifice by predation.” That afternoon, he was dragged to this spot and stabbed in the back. Just after dark two nights before, he says, the fox came. He could kill the fox easily enough, but the rats that took his fingers were harder to grab.

    The Heroes jump when Aredika coughs violently. “She said that you’d come though. That’s the only thing that kept me alive, knowing that you’d come.” He refuses healing and water and says, “just let me finish, Nardis will have me soon enough.”

    “You must go back to Baerlon. I felt the taint in every corner and in every man, woman, and child in that town. They must be purged in Nardis’ name.” He closes his dead eyes for an agonizingly long moment, before saying, “they had another, one of us, from the Spire. The held him in that cellar with me, an elf named Azrael. If he lives, take him with you.”

    With those final words, Aredika’s pain ends.


    ______________________________________________
    -Chris

    This is who we are.

      Current date/time is 2017-06-26, 08:15