Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Undignified but Unsullied

Karbäth mountains, somewhere north of Komiro, 12th Dyarr YT330.

Something was odd about the privy. Aside from the horrendous odour - something was odd about the privy. They hadn't noticed on their first visit to the village. Perhaps the vile stench had acted as an olfactory camouflage, preventing them from seeing clearly. Something was odd about the privy. Their captive had said that one of his friends had remarked that something was odd and he had died the same day. Others too had disappeared with foul play suspected.

Which was why Voltarr, Father Nicolai, Olorin, Gorran and the others were gathered around examining the outbuilding and holding their noses.

The rest of the bayar band had been gone more than an hour by the time they had reached the village. They had left behind some of the female servitors. None were alive. The bayars had clearly been in a hurry to go. Most of the buildings were ablaze but the stable, the apothecary, the small stone-built house and the two-story headman's house were standing.

The privy was too large. And the lower half was brick built. Clearly too much for a simple village privy in a very seedy looking village. But something else was odd about the Privy.

Which was why, his dignity in shreds, Father Nicolai ended up up-ended in the privy. His feet wedged in two small indentations in the wall and his buttocks on the smooth plank he was reaching backwards at full stretch when his hand found the lever. Eschewing all modesty and at risk of vomiting from the noxious vapour, Nicolai pulled the lever. Water poured into the pit below his head from pipes in the wall facing him and drained away through vents in the opposite wall.

Soon the pungent stink had abated and enough night-soil effused for a secret door to be just visible. Perhaps this was a back-door to the hidden Manor.

The contents were of the remaining buildings were disordered and looted. But by careful searching, Olorin uncovered two very interesting pieces of parchment upstairs in the headman's house. Voltarr collected some intact 'potions' and in doing so came upon the remains of the real physicker.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Travels with the World Wise

Törpek Ötödek like Tolarr are far-travellers and often have information about places and customs of men that others do not. Indeed their viewpoint on the lives and cities of men is often clearer than those of men.

Tolarr was greatly impressed by the physicians of Lazargorod and the feats of manna demonstrated in Vedetimova as he wandered through the world. These cities were founded as noochracies and still retained many laws and priviledges from the days of the founders not found elsewhere. Further from home he passed through the great city of Kirlyovsk with it's royal palaces and strange domed churches. Even a stone-dweller törpek could not fail to admire the great walls and gates and the fine art of Kirlyovsk.

Many years later he had a chance to compare the splendour of Kirlyovsk with industry and wealth of Heimbrechtstadt many leagues to the west and the dignity of Hrabenberg on the great river and was able to understand as few are the breadth of humankind's achievement.

Other places such as Kasmirova, Czernebogsk or Gogol Merski painted an altogether less favourable picture of the works of man: deceit, corruption and the exploitation of the weak and poor. Tolarr, though not given to introspection, observed all of this and learned from it. Above all other races, men and their deeds could face in two directions.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Trumpet and Drum

'Fass es Spitze' (tr. Drum and Horn, alt. Trumpet and Drum) is an old street in an old city. It's the place where those who espouse the second oldest profession meet. And also where they gain mastery of the skills they need to survive. Why did it get a name in the northern tongue which sounds like an inn?

Scholars say that the name became associated with Festök and Szinesze. Festök is the term for dyes and in this street it was principally indigo and purple. The making of dyes was the trade carried out in that area before the street became what it is now. Indeed, the dyestuff was mixed in a wooden vat or drum so the link is double. Szinesze is the term for a female player and in some circles specifically an Aeyep female player. Unlike dye-making this occupation still thrives in the vicinity, notably at the establishment of Madame Rygara. Why did these two trades share the same small part of Korzow? It is likely that wandering players were good customers for those selling dyed cloth, particularly cloth in unusual and dramatic colours. Acting was then regarded as for those of low birth, perhaps even outcasts. So a street with dye-works may have been the only place that would accept them. Now the entertainers share the street with armorers and mercenaries rather than fullers and such. Both players and soldiers are greatly in demand in Korzow. Merchants need security for goods shipped across the dangerous Karbath Mountains. They also have the money to hire entertainment. And the dramatic arts are seldom as well accomplished as in the house of she who in her youth belonged to one of the greatest traveling troupes in the land.