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Simar - Chapter One: Ühraid

(O - Waterday, Charrati 19th - Imperial Year 208 • Myth •
GM: Alrighty - It's a crisp day, several months after the climactic, and indecisive battle at Pawlosz. After nearly 2 months of travel, hopping caravans, and generally avoiding anyone who would know you, you finally settle in a sizable town called Ühraid, way up on the slopes of the Cauldron. You've kept a low profile, and this far up there's little trouble. You almost get comfortable in your new life - even thinking of maybe settling down, when the month of Charrati starts.
GM: Normally this is a good time, especially way up here, but there have been omens every week - shooting stars and showers, and Dragon Stars lighting the sky up red.
Simar: dragons aren't all that common right ?
GM: No. Since the Dragon Wars they're nearly unheard of. Of course most believe that it's only a matter of time before the next generation comes around.
GM: But the Dragon Star (basically a very bright red shooting star) is always an omen of Charatt.
Simar: OK
GM: And then, just when your nerves were as unsettled as they have ever been, another dark reminder of the past comes to haunt you. You hear news that Molo Naur is coming to Ühraid to find new disciples. You haven't seen him since Pawlosz, but have heard that he was severely affected by the events there.
Simar: oh great......I am not gonna let him see me but I do wanna here what is going on
GM: Nai Soredh, the Lord of this city, nearly goes mad with preparations. The temple is scrubbed clean and sanctified, then re-sanctified the next day. A feast is gathered (difficult to do in the winter), and red and gold ribbons are strewn everywhere.
GM: You shouldn't have trouble keeping out of his eyesight. Other than standing as honor guard at the temple for major ceremonies you can stick to the background. However, you do know he's a powerful priest and very keen.
Simar: .................heheee I could always get the mask now
GM: Absolutely. It would be a necessity for the honor guard. In fact, all the high guards will have their masks repainted and polished.
Simar: perfect
GM: Naur arrives early on the morning of the 19th. The sky is the clearest it's been in months, a deep indigo blue. The Cauldron is calm today. He isn't traveling with as large a guard as before - only 4 men armed with ceremonial pikes. You can see that his hair has gone snow white, though he has a dyed streak of dark green at his right temple. His right arm
seems to be twisted just slightly, and he favors his left side. Lord Soredh and his wife Vela aren't quite prepared for his arrival (a day early), and they rush to get you and the other men in formation at the temple.
Simar: any rumors before hand ?
GM: Naur is still a well respected priest, even considering the events at Pawlosz. Other than that, not much. Rumors don't tend to spread about the higher ups in the Cult.
Simar: .........k
GM: Naur steps ahead of his men when they reach the temple, and he limps by you, then up the stairs to the temple entrance. Lord and Lady Soredh bow to him, and he gives them the blessing before he is led inside. Then you and the others follow them in. There's very little ceremony, since it's merely Waterday; mainly formal greetings, blessings over the city, etc. Naur refuses the feast, preferring to hold it over for the Ball tomorrow.
GM: When he's right by you you can see that his right eye is a bit droopy, and the color has gone nearly black.
Simar: ....damn this dude is twisted up
GM: Well, you do remember how much he was channeling during the battle. It's rare for priests to work such miracles alone - they usually work in circles of 6 or more.
Simar: that could explain a lot. am I busy the rest of the day ?
GM: Not particularly. Naur does a bit of a tour, but he seems to get tired early. He spends the rest of the day looking over the apprentices and acolytes. By the time it starts to get dark the Cauldron starts to smoke some, and you can tell it will be snowing by the end of the week.
ØO - Sunday, Charrati 20th -:- The Black and Red Ball - Imperial Year 208 • Myth •
GM: The next morning there is a fierce wind coming up from the lower slopes, and it sweeps the greyish-white clouds into tall thunderheads. The ribbons are whipping wildly in the wind, and many are swept away.
GM: The Black and Red ball is one of the major holidays in the Cult. Originally it was a minor Tambran holiday about the first battle with the Great Dragon that Tambrect lost, resulting in his famous broken sword.
Simar: ......I see
GM: But since the rebellion it's become a major deal, with plays, dances, a feast - the works. It celebrates the first wounding, and a balance of aggression.
GM: All of the feast preparations are hastily moved indoors, and everyone seems pleased that Charatt would favor them with a storm on such a holiday. It could mean a battle with the oppressors soon.
Simar: am I on duty ?
GM: More or less. You're expected to celebrate of course, but as a guard it's improper for you to dance.
Simar: ......k
GM: Molo Naur seems especially pleased by the storm, and when the musicians start to play you hear him sing some, and occasionally shout out to the storm - goading it to increase.
GM: You probably wouldn't drink as much as the others, since that would only invite an accidental exposure. Once the dance is well underway you start to hear rumors. Apparently Naur is planning a return to Pawlosz.
GM: One of the lesser guards, a man named Harekk, says he wants to join the crew. He wants to show those haughty Elves the power of the Dragon.
Simar: I would like to see that guy with the elves....................those elves were killer
GM: The feast goes well, and by midnight the storm is in full effect. The windows in the hall rattle with near constant thunder, and you can see that Molo Naur is beaming with pride.
GM: Do you drink much?
Simar: just enough to keep the chill off. I think I want my senses about me
GM: Good idea. The man Harekk keeps cool most of the night, but by midnight you can tell he's had enough. At first his bragging of showing the Elves the power of Charatt was cute, but now it's getting annoying. You were there.
Simar: right
GM: However, the man's good cheer is infectious, and soon he has a half dozen of the other guards with him. Naur drinks some, but you can tell he's having difficulty with the wine. He is certainly changed since the battle, and it's barely been half a year since then.
Simar: does he seem to be losing it or just beat the hell up from the battle ?
GM: From what you remember he was barely touched in the battle. You have seen some priests take a beating from their magick, a force they call backlash, but if that's what this is it's the worst case you've ever seen. Or maybe he's just seen hard times since then, although if that were the case you doubt he'd still be in good standing with the priesthood.
Simar: there's no talk of it around here is there ?
GM: Actually there's some here and there almost all the time. The battle of Pawlosz is one of Naur's defining moments, even if it was an indecisive battle. His shattering the statue and subsequent thrashing of the temple complex was masterful, and very rare in one so young. Naur is barely older than you are.
GM: Lady Vela Soredh dotes on any small thing that Naur says. That's another odd thing for you - Naur was a very outspoken young man before, now he's much quieter and reserved.
GM: As the night gets late you can see that Lord Soredh is getting tired. He's not often known for late nights, even on festivals. Lady Soredh seems determined to see the night out with Molo Naur. Several of the guards end up dropping off as well, drunk mainly. Are you going to see the night out?
Simar: I will
GM: Naur stays as well, considering he's the high priest for the holiday. Even in his current state his stamina seems endless.
Simar: could he be drawing from the storm or visa versa ?
GM: possibly
Simar: k
GM: Late into the evening, perhaps only a few hours before sunrise, he decides to step out and see the storm for himself. Lady Soredh jumps up immediately to join him, and she selects you and a sour-faced man named Denna to escort. Denna is one of the few who seems to realize that antagonizing the Elves is a mistake. Perhaps he was there as well, though you don't quite remember.
GM: The wind is frigid and very harsh, with needles of ice thrown in intermittently. The sky is half covered in dark black-purple clouds, backlit by the two moons. They're racing rapidly out in all directions - it's going to be quite a storm. In the spaces between the shifting clouds you can see faint speckles of shooting stars.
GM: do you want to listen in on Naur and Lady Soredh's conversation? it's a bit difficult in the wind (unless you want to be obvious, in which case it shouldn't be too hard)
Simar: yes. but I want to keep an eye out too [3 successes - Alertness(7)]
GM: alright - you step just ahead of Denna, keeping downwind enough to hear their conversation w/o looking too obvious.
Simar: k
Naur: "It has been a hard time, Lady Soredh. The war may be valorous..."
* Lady Soredh interrupts him "But of course. And necessary to our cause."
Naur: "Yes, but war is hard on the spirit. We may become the dictators we so revile."
* Lady Soredh laughs once, then stops as if a bit shocked. "I doubt that."
* Naur nods. "Have you seen Pawlosz since it was liberated?"
* Lady Soredh shakes her head.
Naur: "I hear that it has not prospered since the war. And the ice wall remains - a dire omen."
Soredh: "Not so dire I think. I have done my own divinations, and I see no threat from the ice wall."
* Naur shakes his head "And the river it blocks, my Lady? Do you think those who need the river will just let it dwindle?"
Soredh: "So, a few Tambran's downstream have to move their little towns to other places." she shrugs "Why should we care?"
Naur: "Expect another battle there, one that may not go as well as the last..."
Soredh: "Isn't that why you wish to find men to go with you? When you return to Pawlosz you can remake it into a fine city for the Ibarites."
Simar: [2 successes - intuition(7)]
GM: Lady Soredh isn't quite so fawning now. In fact, she seems less than impressed. Also, you can tell that Molo Naur knows you're listening.
Simar: have I any real reason to fear Molo ?
GM: hard to say - if he was like before you would probably want to welcome him, since your father was so taken with him. but now, his motives seem uncertain.
Naur: "Yes, I do intend to make Pawlosz a fine city." he looks in your direction, but not right at you. "But to prepare for battle? No."
GM: The sky is just barely starting to lighten up, but you can tell it will be a dark day.
* Soredh stops just at the entrance to the city and kneels down, tracing a glyph in the wet snow.
Simar: I will do a quick scout of the perimeter and let him talk
Soredh: "But as you say, a battle is inevitable."
GM: The perimeter seems clear, and with the storm you doubt anyone would be foolish to go out without suitable protection.
GM: Naur waves for you and Denna to come forward and be blessed. Denna hesitates a second, then spits in the snow and steps up.
GM: You can feel a slight rumbling in the ground. The Cauldron is starting to gear up for more storm-making.
Simar: I'll step up to Naur
GM: Denna goes down on one knee and bows his head as Naur blesses him and marks his forehead with Dragon's Ink.
Simar: I guess I do the same
GM: When you step up, Naur nods to you knowingly, then indicates for you to kneel. He speaks the blessing over you, then marks you with the Ink.
Simar: [3 successes - Intuition(7)]
GM: When you kneel down you can see Denna's hands are clenching hard enough to make his knuckles even whiter, practically blue. You know he is very angry at Molo, and you can see he may do something foolish.
Simar: oh chit I am watching for anything from him now
GM: When you rise Lady Soredh takes her place. Because of her station she does not kneel, and since she's a woman he makes the mark on the backs of her hands. She bows to him, repeating the blessing's end.
GM: Naur then turns to the faint sun rays just peering through the clouds, and you see Soredh make just the slightest gesture. Now you see what you missed before - she is signaling Denna, but you can't read it.
ØO - Moonday, Charrati 21st - Imperial Year 208 • Myth •
GM: Naur raises his arms up, and you feel the ground rumble again. Man, this priest must be chosen or something.
Simar: I position my self between Naur and Denna if I can I wanna keep my eyes on Denna
GM: alright, not too difficult, since it closes ranks a bit.
Simar: k
GM: When Naur finishes the blessing he turns and smiles. "I think I will rest a bit, and then I would like to speak with some of your men."
Soredh: "I thought you were here looking for acolytes?"
Naur: "Yes, of course. But I will need a few guards as well. I hear that Ordo has been very active this winter."
GM: Now that you've caught it you can see the signals much better. This one you recognize, as Lady Soredh waves Denna to back off.
Simar: is Denna flexing as if ready to draw a weapon or something ?
GM: You can see that he's itching for some action, but he backs off at the signal.
Soredh: "I can have men chosen for you, so you can devote your attention to more important tasks."
Naur: "Aye, but I prefer to choose my own guardians."
GM: Naur then steps around you, working his way back to the hall.
Soredh: "How many men will you need?" she seems hurried.
* Denna holds back a moment.
Naur: "I will decide when I see the men."
Simar: something is up that's for sure that's what I'm thinking
GM: How close are you following? Denna seems to want to keep to the rear. Lady Soredh is following Naur by a few paces, unconcerned with the wild weather.
Simar: I'll stay right next to Denna, ready to act
GM: He'll give you a brief glare when you call his bluff, and he'll finally walk behind them, about a yard and a half behind.
Simar: I will be right next to him
GM: When you get back to the hall you can see the most of those who fell asleep have moved off. Harekk and a couple of his cronies are snoring lightly by the ale barrel.
Simar: I will stay by Naur keeping Denna at a distance if possible
GM: Denna goes to wake up the men. Naur gets himself a small bite to eat, then retires. Lady Soredh bids him good morn and retires herself.
Simar: can I catch up to Naur
GM: Yes - he doesn't walk very fast.
GM: When you get a few feet behind him he'll stop and wait for you
Simar: I will humbly ask to be one of the chosen
GM: He raises a crinkled eyebrow. "And you are prepared to give your life in battle with the oppressor?""
Simar: "yes Molo Naur"
Simar: can I get close enough to whisper ?
GM: Yes
Simar: then I will tell him to be wary of who he turns his back to around here "there seems to be something amiss" I shoot a glance at the goood lady
GM: He'll smile at that, then his face returns to its stony sternness.
Naur: "How thirsty are you for battle, young Guardian?"
Simar: I'll tell him "I was there at the battle" but not very loud
* Molo nods. "And do you have family there?"
Simar: "not any more"
Naur: "We shall see if you are worthy. I will see you with the others." he turns and takes a few steps, then stops. "Will you be resting or taking you watch this morning?"'
Simar: hell do I have watch still ?
GM: You're not a low guard, so you can choose to not do watch today - since you stood at the party and didn't get unseemly you'll be able to take two days off if you choose.
Simar: then I will inform him of that
GM: He just nods and goes to rest.
GM: okay, you'll sleep most of the day, and when you awaken you'll see that the sleet has increased tenfold, and most of
Ühraid is encased in ice
Simar: whoa nice storm I bet it cold as heck
GM: Molo Naur is interviewing the men in the barracks, which is not typical of most priests, but somehow seems appropriate for him.
GM: Ivan, one of the very young new guards, brings you a cup of ale and some bread.
Ivan: "The Priest has not yet chosen any men. Do you plan to go?"
Simar: munching......"yes I do "
Ivan: "I don't know if I will." He sits across from you, and you can tell he's very nervous. "Besides, I think I'm too green anyway."
GM: You can see that Harekk is next to be interviewed, and he's with two of his friends.
Simar: hmmm do I trust Ivan ?
GM: He's basically a kid, barely 15. He's the youngest of 2 sons, and his older brother has gone up the mountain for the priesthood.
Simar: I will tell him that he should try anyway prestige is a good thing at his age
* Ivan smiles. "Do you think there will be another battle in Pawlosz? I've never seen battle."
Simar: "never hope for war just be ready for it no matter what"
Simar: "c'mon let go see if we can get chosen"
GM: He'll help you up, then put his mask on. "Have you ever seen battle?"
Simar: I'll stuff my face with bread to avoid answering and put my mask on and shuffle him off towards the line of men
GM: Harekk steps up and goes to see Naur as the man before him comes out. He looks a bit disappointed. Since he's a lower ranking guard Ivan has to go to the end of the line, and you can cut almost to the front.
Simar: I will then
GM: One of Harekk's friends is a high guard named Garen, and you can cut right after him.
GM: Harekk comes out, and he looks disappointed too. Garen claps a hand on his shoulder as he goes in.
Harekk: <to one of his friends> "I don't think he liked me either."
GM: His friend laughs. "He's just a hardass. You're birthday is probably a day off."
Simar: heheee
Simar: I'll quietly wait my turn
Harekk: "The way he talks you'd think he wanted a nursemaid, not warriors."
GM: Garen is out in just a few minutes, and he has the same disappointed look. "I don't think he wants any of us."
Simar: have I heard anybody say they were picked ?
GM: So far no. It looks like he's refused the dozen or so men he's already spoken to.
GM: When you step into the room with Molo you see him with his back against the wall. He eyes you calmly and indicates for you to sit on a stool. There is a circle inscribed around it
Simar: the stool?
GM: yes. on the floor in dark green chalk. it's about 2 feet wide
Simar: I sit
GM: When you sit you see the circle shine just the slightest, and you feel the tingle of a magickal aura enveloping you. He'll push away from the wall and walk crookedly around you, his eyes on you the whole time.
Naur: "I won't insult you. I'm certain that I know you." He walks in front of you, pauses, then continues his pace. "It's the voice. I know that voice."
Simar: I'll tell him about the elf attack
GM: He waves that away impatiently. "No no, I know you were there." He stops, standing directly behind you. "Why do you want to go back to Pawlosz?"'
Simar: "to keep and eye on you"
GM: He chuckles.
Naur: "Am I a danger to you then?"
Simar: "I am doing it because my father believed in you completely and...two because there seems there are others who might think you are a danger to them"
* Naur thinks a moment, then walks back in front of you. He then snaps his fingers and points to you. "Your father! I knew I recognized that voice." he looks at you closely. "And those eyes. You have Anton's eyes."
Simar: "yes "
* Naur shakes his head sadly. "I don't know if I could truly trust you then. You may falter at an important moment."
Simar: "what? why do you say that?"
Naur: "I remember the battle well. Your father fought valiantly, but in the end he was killed by Tambran men." He returns to his place on the wall. "How do I know you won't pick a fight?"
Simar: "I thought a fight is what you were looking for" I'm getting a little miffed now
GM: He smiles. "We're finished. You may go." and he waves you off.
Simar: I look at him stunned "that's it ?"
* Molo nods. You feel the tingle subside and the gleam in the circle fades.
Simar: "listen.... lady Soredh do you trust her ?"
GM: He'll frown at you. "We're finished."
Simar: wtf  I'll get up and leave
GM: Harekk and his friends see your face when you step out, and they just shake their heads. "Nope."
Simar: I'm a little pissed now
* Ivan will step out of line and come up to you. "He said no?"
Simar: I'll shake my head and stomp off
GM: Yes, that was definitely a bit of a shock. And the strange thing is, everyone else seems disappointed, but it doesn't look like anyone else got the brush off like you did.
Simar: oh great  hell I thought I would be in no prob
GM: You can see a few of the mid-level acolytes out in the ice, doing some sort of endurance test for one of Naur's subordinates.
GM: Ivan will leave you alone and go back to his place.
GM: Got any plans?
Simar: I don't know
GM: Well, I mean for the rest of the day mainly. are you going to hang out and watch the rest of the interviews, go blow off steam, go on watch?
Simar: I'll watch the rest of the interviews...........and have a couple ales. I wanna see who he end up pickin
GM: It takes about 2 hours for the interviews to finish, and nobody comes out looking happy. Naur seems to be the hardass that Harekk's friend claims.
GM: When Naur leaves to deal with the acolytes there are groans all around. He goes out to those out in the snow and takes a few aside.
GM: Ivan looks totally morose, but also somehow relieved
Simar: he didn't make it either ?
GM: Doesn't look like anybody did
Simar: OK now I'm wondering what this guy has planned
GM: The day goes by fairly slow, and morale is horrible by the time night watches are assigned.
Simar: do I get night watch ?
GM: if you want to take one.
Simar: sure what the hell
GM: Naur and his people stay in for supper, and all night as well. You will hear some chanting in there when you go by on watch.
Simar: [2 successes - investigation(6)]
GM: Denna didn't take any watches tonight. Just when you leave the temple housing you see some footsteps in the ice near the side entrance - with the wide steps from Denna's bow legs.
Simar: I'll check it out
GM: They get indistinct a few yards away once they're away from the warm building that softens the ice enough to leave prints, but they come from the commons, seem to pause a bit by the side entrance, then go towards the furriers before you lose it.
Simar: I'll check the side entrance [2 successes - investigation(7)]
GM: You can see a faint circle impressed into the ice on the door, as if someone were using a listening glass. Although you're certain all that would have been heard was chanting and prayer.
Simar: well.......I'll see if I can find Denna around I'll follow the footsteps towards the furriers
GM: The furriers row is pretty cramped, and you can hear a couple hushed conversations in alleys.
Simar: I'll sneak as best as possible. I wanna listen too [1 success - stealth(7) / 1 success alertness(6)]
GM: The ice is treacherous, especially on these uneven streets. You manage to catch a snippet of conversation:
GM: "... don't know how many... d'ye think ye'll be chosen? ... too early ... shhh!"
GM: and then your foot slips and it gets quiet
Simar: was it Denna's voice ?
GM: didn't sound like it, but with the wind and the whisper's you can't be entirely sure
Simar: I'll walk by and try and double back again [ 1 success - Alertness(7)]
GM: You walk past, doing your usual night watch routine, then just as you turn to double back you see someone darting out of one of the deeper shadows. You catch a brief glint of eyes in moonlight, and they're gone. It definitely wasn't Denna.
Simar: can I follow at a distance ?
GM: It won't be easy, but you can give it a shot.
Simar: [2 successes Investigation(6) / Botch Athletics(8)]
Simar: chit
GM: You cut around the back of furrier's row and see he did leave a few tracks, but not much. You run after him, seeing him dart out behind the commons, but then you lose your footing and fall. By the time you right yourself he's long gone.
Simar: well I'll go about my rounds I guess
GM: Harekk's friend Garen will come around and see you picking yourself up. "You well this night?"
Simar: "oh I am wondrously well......... I live for a cold arse"
GM: He laughs and hands you a skin. "This should do you well."
Simar: heh what is it ?
GM: It's some very strong vodká
Simar: I'll swig it
GM: Very warming, almost worth the spill.
Garen: "Looks like that urchin got the better of you." He takes a swig, gasping a brief cloud of white. "But he'll have no better night than thee."
Simar: look at him "you saw that ?"
Garen: "No watchman runs in this weather unless he is chasing." he'll hand you the skin again. "I say let him go and freeze for the night."
Simar: refresh my memory Garen is who ?
GM: Garen is one of Harekk's friends, the only High Guardian of the bunch. He's been recently promoted.
GM: The rest of the night is uneventful, and you'll sleep into late morning.
ØO - Foolsday, Charrati 22nd - Imperial Year 208 • Myth •
GM: When you wake up you can see that more than the usual watch is out today. The sun is out, but it's still bitter cold out, and a few of the men are exercising and practicing in the yard. Ivan is taking a few rounds with the younger guards - he's fairly fast, but he needs a lot of practice with the heavier sword. Molo Naur will pass by the yard once you've finished your breakfast. He seems to be cataloguing the men again.
Simar: I'll do my morning routine too
GM: There are also a few small groups of acolytes out, enjoying the sun. Some seem fairly excited, and Naur must nearly be ready to go.
Simar: if I can I'll watch Molo
GM: The first couple men you draw to spar seem really angry, and by the time you stop to rest you're agitated. You know it's been an aggravating couple days, but taking it out on each other is no good.
Simar: well Molo has something going on
GM: Naur will leave just before you start some stretching before lunch, and when he returns he has 4 acolytes with him bearing food. He'll bless it, then as the men come up he'll mark them with the Ink. Most he marks in the dark green-black, and a few he marks in the green-brown Ink. When you step up he'll give you a knowing nod, bless you, then mark you in green-brown.
Simar: OK
GM: Lord Soredh comes up behind him when all of the men have been fed. "Have you made your decision." Naur just nods, not looking at him.
Simar: I'm gonna chow on the food
GM: All the men look around at each other. Most didn't even seem to notice the Ink difference, but now that they do, those with the green-black start to understand they've not been chosen.
GM: Ivan was not chosen, nor was Denna or Harekk. Garen was chosen, and two younger recruits as well. All told he's only chosen 6 of your men.
Naur: "We should be ready to leave by nightfall."
Lord Soredh: "So soon? I had hoped you could be here for the Great Storm."
Naur: "There is no time, my Lord." he gestures for the acolytes to go. "It is going to be hard travel."
GM: Most of the rest of the day is taken up with preparing for travel. Two of the guards that came with Molo Naur are staying here, but it's still a good sized group. Once it's gotten well and dark, and you can see the moonglow behind the Cauldron, you're off on your way. Fortunately the wind has died down, so the first night of travel is bearable, but as you get further down the mountain the wind starts to get fickle - changing direction and intensity almost daily. The trip to Pawlosz ends up taking almost twice as long as usual, and you feel a sense of deja-vu when you first see it, on the eve of the battle's anniversary.

[Simar - Prelude: Pawlosz] [Log Index] [Simar - Chapter One: Return to Pawlosz]

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