Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tales of a Failing Empire- Part 3 (Interlude)

The temple to Aeremas (although any worshipper of The Wanderer will tell you, they're called Foot Stools in their vernacular or Travel Lodge to the unbelievers) was a modest building made of white oak, with rock elm logs for joists. This was one of two places of worship built within Tamith. Many of the religiously inclined farmers and shepherds surrounding Tamith built their own small altars to Shaanavishea in their fields and pastures, but there was yet to be any organized effort to build a temple proper to the Goddess of the Wood and Herdsmen.

The current priest (again, to those who serve Aeremas, he/she is called Footman or Traveller, depending on rank) of The Wanderer was an elderly man named Aled Tew. Aled was part of the village council, but more importantly, a sympathetic ear to Nefydd and Grijolhd. Neither of them could guess Aled's age, and both felt it inappropriate to ask.

Aled sat in a chair in the main hall, a board atop his knees, earnestly at work carving a figurine out of a branch of black walnut. A small pile of wood chips coated his breeches and was starting to pile on the oak flooring. He didn't even glance upwards as the doors opened, his special carving knives delicately scraping and etching the wood, forearms never touching the board.

The main hall of the temple was only 20 paces long and ten wide. Near the entrance were 6 benches, each set aside to form a narrow aisle up to the podium, where Aled currently sat, carving in earnest. Behind him was a large, colorful curtain that spanned the entire eastern edge of the hall depicting Aeremas arguing with the archaic sphinx Atalzyx to gain entry into the plane of Fovikklen.

Nefydd and Grijolhd approached the closet bench to Aled on the left side of the aisle and quietly sat down, maintaining a respectful silence. Time passed, Aled carved. Nefydd cleared his throat. “Greetings Traveller, peace be on your path, and fleetness to your feet.”

Aled looked up. “Nefydd, let's dispense with the sanctimonious crap for once shall we? What trouble have you two gotten yourselves into?”

“Traveller, um sir. First, I'm deeply hurt that you think we have ambitions towards mischief... And well, second, there's a bulette hunting around the western pasture lands.”

“A what?” Aled got up, placing the board on the podium.

“A bulette.”

Aled grabbed a rag from his vest, wiping his hands. “Shitballs.”

“Well sir, actually, when the bulette defecates, it's feces-”

“I don't need a lesson on the critter's excretory system Nefydd. Both of you follow me. I think we all need a drink.”

Aled drew the curtain back to the right, revealing oak panneling and a door. This led to his living quarters. The room contained a bed to the north with a desk and a bookshelf parallel to the bed along the wall. The fireplace dominated the wall to the east along with various kettles, cauldrons and a metal tripod. To the south was a wooden tub, a cabinet, a table and 3 chairs. Just beyond the tub was a secret door, which Aled graciously allowed Nefydd and Grijolhd access to during times where their presence was to be discreet (which was almost all the time). Aled opened the cabinet, took out a jug and three mugs and began pouring.

“Hard cider my marshals. Good for the soul in oh so many ways. Seat yourselves.”

Nefydd and Grijhold sat down. Aled slid them each a mug.

“All right gentlemen.” Aled raised his mug. “My Our Restless Father bless your endeavors in this village at the ass end of nowhere. But as we all know, even nowhere leads somewhere. Although, somewhere can take us nowhere, in essence, a vicious bloody circle. May our paths always be straight and may our paces always move us forward.”

“Here here,” Nefydd and Grijolhd chimed in. All three companions took a large swig of the cider.

Aled looked at both of them, placing his mug on the table. “Did you tell the Sheriff?”

Both man and dwarf gave the elder priest a grimace, rolling their eyes.

“Well, I'm certainly overjoyed that you two do not hold me with such contempt. So, who knows then?”

Grijhold took another swallow of his cider. “As of right now sir, you, me and Nef here.”

“There's more sir,” Nefydd added, “ We think something is actually, well, scaring the bulette.”

Grijhold took a deep breath. “Some ground near the Oded's pasture lands collapsed. Eight paces by four paces. It descended forty. Nef noticed the claw marks near the side of the northeastern edge along the bottom. We found a lamb down there, completely untouched, and very dead.”

“And,” Nefydd added again, “ There's a tomb or ruins of some kind on the eastern edge at the bottom. We encouraged elder Obed and his son to stay as far from the hole as possible.”

Aled pushed his mug away and ran his hands through his greying hairs. “You need to get back there as soon as you can and make sure nobody goes near that hole. The shepherds are sensible folk, but it's their children I'm worried about.”

Nefydd nodded in agreement. “Traveller Tew, if I may, I'd like to borrow one of your pigeons, send a message to the Ranger House at Anthin.”

“Nefydd, I'm not a helpless old fart, I can do that myself. I need to ask, are you sure you don't want to involve the Sheriff?”

“Well,” Grijolhd let out a deep belch, sighing, “Nobody's died yet.”

Aled gave the dwarf a deadpan look. “I thank you both for trusting me and bringing this matter to my attention. You two need to go back to that hole, and be careful. I need to do a little reading and I'll have to come up with some excuse to join you without attracting undue attention. May your wits be as fleet as your feet.”

Nefydd and Grijolhd gave curt bows to Aled. The old man gave a dismissive wave, “You know how to show yourselves out. Gather your gear and be off.”

The two marshals quietly slipped out the secret door behind the temple. They looked around. The temple was situated on the very eastern edge of the village proper. It was dusk. Nefydd pulled out a sunrod from his shoulder sack. He nodded to the west, whispering, “We need to move quietly until we get past the mill and the Vuoti's house, then I can use this.”

“Aye lad, let's hope the Sheriff and his boys are still drinking at the inn.”

Walking quietly, maintaining a nonchalant pace, the two slowly made to the western edge of the village, staying off the main road. There were only two more houses before the two story home of Vuoti's and the mill came into view.

“Good thing we stashed our gear out of town,” Grijhold whispered, “ Though inconvenient, I'd rather not have to deal with those slackers at the inn.”

“Let's hope nobody found the stash,” Nefydd replied. “Our luck has been a bit lopsided lately.”

“Well, I thought Sheriff Dudok made it abundantly clear that you two were to remain on extended patrol in the pasture lands,” said a voice from their left.

Suddenly everything turned bright. Coming from between the houses, staff alight with magical brilliance, walked a man, his head shaved except for a ring of black hair just above the ears. His goatee was waxed. He was garbed in the priestly robes; white and gold, with sunbursts throughout. Cornelius Aggett, priest of Polaris, a man both Nefydd and Grijolhd despised almost as much as the Sheriff (with the mayor coming in a close third). Behind Cornelius was a woman neither had seen before, dressed in fighting leathers and knee high boots of chocolate brown, her black hair tied in a ponytail. With the magefire from the staff, the woman's eyes shined like golden monarchs.

Grijolhd almost spat, but restrained himself. “You were saying something about luck Nef.”


Fovikklen- one of the planes of existence outside of the Prime Material Plane; some call it The Hidden Plane, legends have it that the only way to access the plane itself is to defeat an Archaic sphinx in a game of mental challenges followed by a duel with magics (most times of the nonlethal sort).

Monarch- one of the currencies of Anfekor, a gold coin

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