Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bad News for One, Astounding News for Another

23rd Vog, YT330 Fyhar Gora, Khorzow
The reception room of the Fyhar Gora was imposing but not commodious. The building itself was an ancient tower, less lofty than the wizards tower at Szutsavanica but considerably more massive. The mighty walls of pale grey granite continued in all of the chambers and passages inside and the few apertures admitted only narrow beams of light which seemed only to highlight the gloom. There were tapestries and furnishings in the reception chamber and the wine was served in handsome silver chalices with the Loyal Order's insignia wrought into the design. But none of this made anyone feel welcome. Everything about the place and the people who inhabited it seemed to speak of order and the might of the Realm. The companions had requested audience with the lady Fobra but affairs of state precluded this and it was Magister Vukùr who met them.
Gorran, Nicolai and Tolarr who had been in this place before were at pains to report all that had occurred since their last visit to Khorzow. The mage was studying them intently as they spoke. He was also doing something else. Although only Kale was aware of it he was also examining their aura to see if any taint of evil had attached itself to them in their struggles against the servants of darkness. But he did not seem to use other powers which her companions had told her to expect but seemed content to examine auras rather than their memories. Kale did not resist his powers when Vukùr examined her. He was after all only asking questions about her arrival in Tjlaria and her time in the company of Borsonin Thàthoür's retinue but not delving any further into her past. He recognised her powers at once but did not mention them until the companions got round to asking about the consequences of their battle with Croderg Dunofya.
Since Olorin, Tolarr and Nicolai had all been injured they were keen to find out if they had been smitten with the dreadful blight of lycanthropy before the next full moon would take hold of them. Vukùr pointed out that their new companion Kale might have tried to determine this at any time in the last couple of days but she remarked that her powers were best suited to open skies and starlit nights. Nonetheless, when he has having difficulty discerning Olorin's aura the magister privately asked Kale to attempt the task too. He had detected no signs of diseased aura on Tolarr or Nicolai but Kale pronounced that Olorin had some sort of blight on his aura. While clearly Kale had no experience of the vile sickness that claimed so many of Tjlaria's sons and daughters, Vukùr announced that Olorin would remain with the Loyal Order for treatment until at least the next moon had passed. Olorin, who had been out of countenance since his supper with Borsonin Thàthoür three days earlier, looked even more troubled. Whether this was due to the possibility of infection or the prolonged stay with the Loyal Order was not clear.
Kale mentioned her desire to meet with the Lady Amatherial. The mage pointed out that since the companions had met with the lady twice in the last year in spite of her peripatetic sojourning, Kale might be best going with the companions for a while in case the saying 'Thrice is the charm' proved to be true.
At length, Vukùr rose and stated that he must conclude their meeting due to another appointment. He mentioned to Kale that it was with a venerable mage of the Celestial College called Ingusz Varbath-Matha and that he was not anticipating the prospect with much relish. Kale asked if she could meet the old man and waited around in an anti-chamber until a servant rushed past looking for Vukùr . When Vukùr stepped through the door he was accompanied by a wizened old mage in deep blue robes who looked both animated and ascetic. Vukùr effected the introductions. He did remind Kale of Basil a little, but unlike Basil this mage clearly did not value the comforts of age nor pay any courtesy to her. He launched into an impassioned discourse on the importance of the heavens in general and his works of prognostication in particular. When Kale spoke in Ionic, the old man switched to that language but it did slow his discourse slightly and eventually Kale was able to talk a little about Basil's work and what he had entrusted to Kale to bring North. When she showed him the parchment, Ingusz grew even more animated and Kale feared he might have a stroke. Indeed he did stop talking altogether, going completely ashen and falling to the floor in a dead faint.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Outsider's Viewpoint

21st Vog, Kocsfalu, Crown Lands

Kale watched as Borsonin Thàthoür concentrated on the testimony. He clearly took this duty very seriously. All of the villagers were questioned again. So was the local nobleman, who looked ill at ease being questioned by one of the great lords of the realm. Kale inferred that since this settlement was not in Thàthoür's territory he must be here to ensure that no local influence could detract from the investigation. When a priest was murdered a day's ride from the capital, the Tjlar Mother Church needed to be sure that what was revealed was the unexpurgated truth. Kale was not so sure that the Orthodox Church of Byzantion would be quite so zealous. Her new travelling companion, Father Nicolai had preached at her on the road from Nemetsz and convinced her that the Tjlars took their religion very seriously.

They had left Nemetsz with the haunt of the Moroi still not located but Thàthoür had sent south to Racivow for scouts to search the area. If the local Borszàg had not located the Moroi by then the Borsonin's rangers would assist in a week or so.

Thàthoür also questioned each of the new people she had met in Nemetsz with the exception of Hector. Hector (or Àctor as the Tjlars insisted on calling him) was Rhodian. She could clearly make out the accent. It was pleasant to chat to someone in the civilized Ionic tongue - once she had established that Hector had left the Empire when Kale was still an infant.Whatever his story was it was unlikely that he was looking for her.

Nicolai, Gorran, Vojeslav and the others had arrived in Nemetsz directly from Kocsfalu village and had been close by when the Priest was slain and when the great beast had slain the latest in a series of merchants. So Thàthoür had questioned them closely about the carefully planned assassination of the cleric in the waggoner’s encampment and also the hideous frenzied slaughter of the merchant in the local inn on the following night. Even Vojeslav who was still weak after the loss of his leg was not spared some very lengthy questioning.

Poor Vojeslav had been very weak when Kale had met him just yesterday. She had used her healing powers on him with quite satisfying results. Now the Artificer seemed quite smitten with her. Not that it was the first time a patient had reacted this way. She didn't object when he paid handsomely for the healing and he seemed quite happy to lose a similar amount to her at Yacta.

 The testimony about Damieni Hnufa seemed to interest the Borsonin a great deal. He seemed to quickly connect this with an incident which occurred in Nagyolaszi a few days earlier as recounted by Nicolai and the others. It seemed to revolve around some boots, but Kale had been thinking about Basil and Byzantion at the time and didn’t quite catch the significance. She did see the moment when the truth dawned on Thàthoür. His demeanour changed almost at once. He asked some more questions and then left with his amanuensis to prepare his report for the Tzar.

Local Drinking Song (translated from Tjlar)

Gépész Csizma 
:The Mechanician's Boot (or Mechanical Leg)

The tavern's marvel
All to view
Began as simply
One of two

But now it hangs
Above the hearth
A sign to all
Of it's true worth

The dwarf laid low
Of noble kin
And sullied like
Old Adam's sin

Supplied the axe
That heretofore
Made legless the first
Of many more

Old Tolarr he
His sorrow drowns
With dwarven ale
In many towns

But in this village
Here we keep
The boot that made
Poor Tolarr weep

And Vojeslav he
Hops a-twenty
Like hops we use
In brews aplenty

And quaffs a few
To lubricate
The working of
His new-made gait