Storms over Kelerak, Part I - Page 2 - Myth-Weavers


Storms over Kelerak, Part I

   
Easy enough to do, methinks. I'll let you know when I hit 70 pages and how much more needs to be done. Whilst I think of it, if there is any additional data on Aldran giants that you've thought of, and either never got around to incorporating into the site or just weren't happy enough with it to do so, please pass it on. Because Eruna is Africa, they qualify as the last of the "Big Five" of that continent (the others being Cloud Giants, Minotaurs, Nemedenes {nee Goliaths; sing. Nemedene} and Risarvinnae) and as a WoF original, including more information on them would be great.

I love that idea, but I have no other info on them than what's in the monster entry.

Then I'll improvise a couple of bits for those long-lost cousins of the Farlandish (Belendalish?) Aldrans then and run them by you for confirmation.

That sounds awesome.

The morning could not come soon enough, least of all for Aidan. He had spent most of the night trying to improvise either a splint or a half-crutch, or both, from part of the cart, so he would not have to put all his weight on his bad leg. In the process, he suspected he had received enough wooden splinters to make a whole new cart just for him. Perhaps a curse was in effect, he had no way to tell.

His mood did not improve much when they resumed their journey. Over Aidan's polite objections, the oracle had chosen to walk with them, negotiating the confines of the cave and the rough path outside both with a surety that belied his blindness. For a while, he spent time in esoteric conversation with a weary-but-interested Brokk, apparently on the subject of divination, then he drifted back over to the paladin as they passed through a thick copse of young birches.

"Oh come now, don`t look so glum!" he chastised, the intended severity of his tone ruined by the underlying, ever-present laughter. "You aren`t cursed to death. Just pain and misery. Heshtail will see you through that. You reaffirmed yourself to His Mercy, did you not?"

Aidan's suspicions deepened further, to match the gloom about them. "And how do you know about that?"

"I told you, I see everything. Even if I didn`t, you woke up half of Arden doing that. Even sleepy Daven will perk up to the story of a mad elf shouting to the gods watch your step now in the middle of the night."

"Half-elf and wait what, watch my-?" Aidan started to interrupt, only to stumble over a sudden dip in the ground. "I suppose you saw that too?"

"Hmm? Oh nonsense, tripped over that bit myself many a time! This road has a habit of catching you unawares. Even me, and I`ve been walking it for...oooh. I`m sure Hoth Tarran was still alive when I first came this way. Sixty years? Wait. Might have been just after Tarran was replaced by Zelliros. Or was it Ashraw who killed him?"

As the oracle muttered over his distant history, Aidan groaned and, not wanting to be caught out by the road again, turned his attention to it fully. Too late, as it happened, as an overhanging branch that Embla had pushed aside chose that moment to whip back into its usual place. The unfortunate half-elf let out a muffled cry as it caught him full in the face.

"What was-oh that!" the oracle's head moved to follow the offending branch. "Aidan, you`re taller than I thought. Don`t worry, I`ll look out for you. Come on now."

Rubbing his forehead, spitting out a leaf, and quietly pondering the merits of burning the entire copse down, Aidan obediently stepped behind the blind man and followed carefully.

Great little interlude. Hey, think we can shorten the parts we release and have one ready for June 15?

Yup. I can do that. Initial reason I went for Parts I-III on 'Mists of Daven' was for a three-part release anyway.

Realised that Aidan's worry earlier on about infection in his leg was slightly incorrect, as he has previously been stated to have a paladin's immunity to disease. Changed that to indicate that he is worried about sepsis (blood poisoning) which is not covered by that immunity. Also made a longer entry here as I'd missed a couple of days thus far. Still working on getting my new routine off the ground.

>>>>>>>>>>

The party reached Fisherman's Solace in the early afternoon of the second day after the storm. In that time, numerous minor accidents had continued to befall them, though far less dangerous than had been experienced during the downpour itself. With his wounded leg threatening to seize up after the first few hours on the road, Aidan reluctantly began to ride in the cart with Brokk and Isolde more and more, listening to the halfling entertain herself in various games of chance to learn the name of their new oracular companion.

When Aidan had tried to argue that this was a pointless exercise against someone who could see the future, she had told a long and convoluted tale from hositan scripture detailing a competition between the three great trickster gods to be the first to learn the name of the new goddess of fate in the pantheon. By the time she had finished, smugly noting that it was the hositan deity Bunga who had triumphed where the gods of the other races had failed, Aidan was even more confused as to why she thought she could outwit a seer, and gave up on logic.

Instead, he turned his attention to Embla and her savaged arm. To his relief, whenever he checked, the wounds proved to be clean and responding well to his treatment, and there seemed to be no sign of rabies taking hold in his friend. This was a pronouncement he made just loudly enough to be reassuring, for he knew full well there would be no visible symptoms of the terrible disease for close to a month. By the faint look of amusement she had given him after the first time he had 'confirmed' the absence of rabies, Aidan also knew that she shared his knowledge of this fact.

Aidan reflected on the sad truth that, barring magical intervention, there was nothing either of them could do if the dire wolf had indeed infected her. A layman might have asked why Brokk, even if the effort exhausted him further, did not use his own magic to preempt the symptoms entirely - but despite his expertise, stretching beyond the usual limits of wizards, he was still an arcanist and thus unable to cast the curative spells required.

Not for the first time, Aidan found himself questioning that oddity, which was but one of the age-old divisions between the various recognized forms of spellcaster. Arcanists such as wizards and sorcerers could perform grand manipulations of the elements and of the mind that were beyond the ability of the most devout priests; yet even the newest initiate of a church knew of thaumaturgy and basic healing spells.

"I have got to ask Brokk about this one day," he promised himself, a little glumly. "If anyone can explain it to me in a way I`ll understand...well, it probably won`t be him, but I owe him the chance to try. And maybe one of his associates can succeed where he fails."

He considered this for a moment, then added: "Always provided we can find one in this wretched country."

*****

As with its neighbors of Kale and Daven, Kelerak was one of the younger nations, its history several centuries shorter than any of the lands to the east, and also theoretically free of the oppressive forces of the Wintervale. The legacy of those times, however, when the land was ruled by the demonic Lord of Lust was still keenly felt from border to border.

Aidan and his friends had experienced first-hand the aftermath of the Dark Occupation in Daven, a plague of undeath that had been initiated by the insatiable vampiric hunger of its overlord, the Lord of Gluttony, and exacerbated by necromancers and warlocks seeking their own immortality and eternal servants. In Kelerak, the lingering evil was more subtle, though no less obscene, and well known throughout the civilized world.

If you wanted a pleasure slave, of whichever race you fancied, you went to Kelerak. If you wanted to visit a new brothel each night for a year, you went to Kelerak. If you wanted the mystical aphrodisiac pollen of a snow rose, you went to...Anaria, actually, but the safest routes were through Kelerak.

It was a common knowledge that had spread like a miasma, and decent folk did their best to keep it from their thoughts, knowing they could do nothing to change matters. It was all too ingrained, so it was believed, and so long as it remained out of sight, it could be kept out of mind. Little of this was spoken aloud, or admitted in writing, and scarcely even alluded to save among the lowest dregs of society - with two notable exceptions.

The first of these were the secret temples of the prohibited faiths in the Occupied Realms, who taught their clerics and paladins of this insidious influence, so that they might better combat it if their travels ever took them there. As part of his training, Aidan himself had endured several trials of faith to withstand the devious seductions of succubi summoned solely to tempt him into sin. Even counting some of his experiences since, that time had been one of the most difficult and unpleasant of his life.

The second came from within Kelerak itself, from the impassioned oratory of its newest and most popular nobleman, the Baron Russel Starsul of the Greensreach. His fiery sermons, delivered with equal fervor from pulpits and street corners alike, were regularly carried through the land by his followers, and even across the borders by merchants and tinkers. If any one thing could be deemed responsible for Kelerak's unsavory reputation, it was this.

Love it. I like how you manage to deftly work on the lore of the world and the rules of the game.

"Rhythm, or possibly cadence, Embla Aslaug. That is the word you will want to use very soon."

Unlike her friends, Embla did not attempt to think about what the oracle was saying, or why, and merely stored the information away. Aidan, and Brokk in particular, would have wanted to dissect the sentence, to try to determine any hidden reason for speaking it at that moment, or to work out why they might need to use that particular word. Isolde would have tried to outsmart the prophesy by immediately speaking that word, and pat herself on the back for being so witty. But for Embla, who had never seen any value in such mental acrobatics, there was no reason to give the matter a first thought, never mind a second.

Instead, she chose to respond with a wholly different observation: "Almost I could mistake your speech for a heavy accent. It is not just that, or even the strange words I do not know, yet my friends understand. How you speak is different, the dance of your language is new. It has a word-music - ah, a rhythm! - to it. I hear similar in these fishing villagers. You all speak Davenian very strangely."

A slightly embarrassed cough told her that Brokk wanted to join the conversation, and she fell back a few steps so he would not need to raise his voice.

"It is the reverse, Embla," the wizened dwarf explained, only looking her half in the eyes. "It is we who speak Kelevan strangely. The Davenians are a proud people and prefer to think they invented the language they speak, not their northern neighbors. At the time we met, it was easier just to let you believe what they did. So when in Daven, we speak Davenian, not Kelevan. The language is the same, but you get more out a Davenian by disagreeing with that, and a Kelerite does not care, so many learn the Davenian accent. Do you see? Embla? You seem...upset."

Truth be told, Embla looked more than upset. Had it been anyone other than Brokk who had told her of this nationalistic idiocy, she would not have believed them. It was one thing to be proud of one's heritage - ample experience with the tribal languages of the Sutherland and the Kunese peoples had taught her that - but this was the first time she had encountered something she truly considered stupid, not merely a cultural curiosity.

The notion was offensive to her. It was a pure refusal of truth to bolster a fragile ego, and her opinion of the Davenians, which as a whole had not been particularly high, found itself dropping to a new low. Briefly, Embla's lips were pulled back, and her tongue could be heard scraping against gritted teeth in animalistic disgust - she looked remarkably like a dog or a cat that had just sniffed poisoned meat - and shudders of anger ran down her shoulders to her hands. Brokk recoiled from the hideous expression, which bore a terrible similarity to the rictus grin of her battle-rage, but it was gone almost as soon as it came.

"I hope your people disappoint less than others I have met so far," Embla said at last, a cold tension lingering in her voice.







 

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