June 27 - July 28, 2015
Draven Preaches From On High
Soladian 17th of Yarthmont
Moments of Quiet Meditation
As his friends depart for more secular concerns, Draven allows himself to take a deep breath and relax for the first time in a while. Watching the portly fellow waddle off to his no doubt richly appointed chambers, he had to upbraid himself for thinking ill of his nominal superior. “Not everyone is cut out to be a justicar, and Koryis and Patura deserved the same sort of respect.”
Turning to the temple aspirants, he allowed some of the tone of command to enter his voice. “I know that I am of slight build, but surely there are garments here that I can change into while I am closeted with the Bishop, and you find a local washerwoman to take care of cleaning these up for me?” He waits just a moment to be led to a room where he can freshen up before joining in on the rewarding work of writing a timely and relevant sermon for later.
A momentary flash of common sense crosses his mind. “I shall have to be circumspect after all, rather than attempting to leave a lasting impression on my impromptu and temporary flock. It would not do to have my comrades exercising caution not to leave any trace, only to be responsible for a hundred-days of chatter over the one-handed priest of the lady of justice!”
The two boys, Mikel and Alban, hurry off to take care of the things Draven has requested of them. Before leaving, they show him to a washing room where he can clean up and even draw a bath if he so chooses. The small stone room is beneath the church and has a large hearth, a copper tub and a water pump in the wall for filling the tub. Zeno builds a fire and explains that there is a small cistern behind the hearth that allows the water to be heated. Phillip brings some food, cheeses, bread and fruit, with a flagon of wine and a glass. Draven is given a soft woolen robe while his clothes are being washed.
The Church of Karameikos and Lord's Manor hose - Verge
Draven does some quiet meditation while waiting for the fire to warm the water and after a few minutes, he gathers some soaps and oils that are on a nearby shelf. He fills the copper tub with warm water and enters the tub. The water is warm and refreshing. Draven soaks for a few minutes then takes his time and cleans himself like he has not been cleaned in some time. When he is done, he allows himself to lean back and fall asleep in the warm water. The proximity of the fire in the hearth keeps the water nice and warm.
Some time later, Draven slowly begins to wake. He can hear voices talking nearby. Young voices, probably Mikel and Alban. He hears them discussing something in hushed whispers, something that both of them seem worried about. He hears the words “evil” and “sacrifice” and “stone circle” then one of them suggests asking Draven about it while the other one loudly protests, exclaiming “The Bishop has forbidden us from speaking of this!”
This last statement is enough to fully wake Draven. He sits up, still in the tub, shaking his head. The temple boys look startled and quickly begin apologizing for waking him. They have some vestments for him laid out and a thick woolen towel.
“Anything else we can do for you, Brother Draven?” Alban asks while both boys wait impatiently to be dismissed.
Getting to Know the Altar Boys
Given how little time he has spent with the boys, Draven tries to ascertain which of them was keen to talk to him, and which the more loyal to the bishop, though he makes no move to speak to them of what he overheard. Instead he keeps his tone jovial and tries to keep the concern from his face. “I must be as shriveled as a dried apricot after all the time I’ve dawdled here in the bath. Come, help me dry off and vest myself. I should not keep the Bishop waiting any longer.”
As he prepares himself, he ponders his predicament. Apparently something is amiss in this small town, or in the vicinity thereof, or at least something of an unorthodox nature - it didn’t do well to jump to conclusions. No, he would do a little looking, and a little evaluating, and perhaps get some time alone, one on one, with the lads, if the situation allowed for it.
Dressed and prepared, he chooses Mikel to take him to the Bishop, thinking that he, being a good Thyatian boy, might be the more likely to be orthodox in his faith.
“Tell me, Mikel,” he asks as they walk, keeping the pace slow and easy, “as you surely get out into the town far more frequently than your master, of the nature of things here in Verge. How fare the faithful, and the faith? Are the people of good character as well as true to our teachings, or do they dig in their heels against the inevitability of the coming of the true Church?” As he listens, he attempts to ascertain Mikel’s true nature, and seeks for any reluctance or deception in the boy.
"Oh, yes, Verge is good place, good folk. Most attend service at least once a week. Either here or at the Traladaran Temple. The Bishop encourages everyone to attend both churches. He says as long as the people are praying and devout, it does not matter which service they attend. He even holds ceremony at some town festivals with Father Dimitri. We have many Traladaran members in our congregation, and even some of the Thyatians are regulars over at the other Temple."
Mikel grimaces a bit as he says this last part and Draven uses this as an opening to press on with further questions. "Do you disagree with the Bishop's open and unorthodox approach to his congregation?"
Mikel goes wide-eyed and tries to look away. He stammers, "Um, well, no, but, um it's just, ahh, well my father says, well, um..." Draven puts his hand up to silence the boy, realizing that the disdain he had detected was not the boy's, but his father's.
Draven convinces the boy to continue and Mikel goes on to describe what sounds to be a fairly happy and healthy community. The people sound like they work hard and help each other out as needed. A true community. Mikel gives much credit to Bishop Andropolos and the Lord of the village, Sir Retameron Antonic. The only issues Draven can see comes either from unsavory travelers or from the feud between the two Halfling clans that inhabit the town.
Thanking the boy, Draven enters into the chambers of the bishop. “Your holiness, I’m sorry I’ve tarried so long. My time on the road left me wearier than I expected and I might have drowned in that tub had the boys not been there to watch over me!”
“I must prevail upon your kindness once more, before I dive in, however. I’m not sure I know what sort of homily or message might be best suited to your flock…” He lets the thought trail off, hoping to draw the bishop out.
A Fiery Sermon
The Bishop talks with Draven and goes over the main points of his service, some standard prayers and hymns and a few bits of local business the congregation needs to take care of. He tells Draven that he would like him to speak of his experiences in other parts of the land. He encourages him to tell of his time in Kelvin and on the road as well as his experiences with the Elves of Rifllian and other travelers he has met. “It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, I’m not expecting a full house this evening, but I think they would like to hear something new from a fresh face, not the same old things I spout off week after week to them.” He smiles and carries on.
Given a free hand, Draven feels more comfortable. It would be easy enough to talk about the good people he’d met and befriended, and without too much detail the sort of things they’d encountered, and defeated, in the wilds in their earliest forays.
Tomorrow would be soon enough to talk with the others about stone circles and evil sacrifices.
The service was sparsely attended, as Andropolos had said it was likely to be, but Draven didn’t let that put him out. Planting the seeds of future growth was never wasted, and so he dove into the talk he’d prepared, about the breadth of lawlessness and chaos he had encountered, from the organized gangs of goblins to the scourge of werewolves, and even the presence - seemingly tolerated - of a dragon loose in the countryside. But he tempered this with stories of Susikyn and the survivors of the goblin raids, and their perseverance in the face of all the dangers and setbacks. The law, he asserted, will always win out.
During the sermon, he kept his eyes open, wondering if there weren’t recruits to be had when next he came through here, to rout out the demon or other bane that was summoning hell hounds in the wilds to the southwest, and to return to the profane temple of Orcus that still needed cleansing.
After the service is concluded, Draven stands in the vestibule with the Bishop and the two boys greeting and talking with some of the attendants of the service. Draven is happy to see that at least a quarter of the attendants appeared to be of some level of Traladaran heritage.
Halia Antonic, the Lady of Verge
|Lady Halia Antonic of Verge|
A regal looking Traladaran woman approaches wearing a rich dress of green velvet with silver designs. Draven would guess she is in her early 30s. She smiles at the Bishop, Alban and Mikel. The two boys blush and bow. “Ahh, Lady Antonic, how nice to see you. Thank you for coming to the service tonight. I hope you fare well. How is Lord Retameron? I did not see him during the service. Is he well?”
“Why of course he is well, Calvin. He is merely off galavanting around the country side. Chasing Orcs, or Kobolds, or something like that, I can’t remember. He should be back within the week. Who is this? A new priest for us here in Verge? I am Halia Antonic, Lady of Verge. Pleased to meet you Brother Draven. What brings you to Verge?” She extends her hand to Draven. Several interesting rings on her long, white fingers catch his eye.
Flustered as always in the presence of a beautiful woman, Draven starts to reach for her hand with his own missing right hand. Catching himself before he makes too big a fool of himself, he takes her own in his left and bows over it, kissing it briefly in Thyatian style. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, my Lady,” he says, recalling the times he had interacted, however briefly, with the ruling classes in Kelvin. “It would suit me, I think, to settle down here in Verge one day, but I fear I am not meant for any rest any time soon. The life of an itinerant priest and justiciar of the Lady of Justice does leave little time for comfort or finery. I hope you enjoyed my meager offering this evening?”
Lady Antoinc bows slightly and smiles at Draven. “Why yes, I did. It was interesting and a pleasant change of pace to what we’re normally accustomed to,” she clears her throat and chuckles in the Bishop’s direction. “And by all means, call me Halia, the formalities of court still stifle me. I am glad you agree with Verge, it is a wonderful little town my dear husband and I watch over. I would invite you to sup with us on the morrow but with my husband gone, I cannot. If you are still in town when he returns, would you grace our presence and join us for dinner? I would love to hear more of your travels and tales.”
“Without question, my… Halia… er...yes.” He quickly tries to rally and recover. “As you can surmise from my sermon, I didn’t travel here alone, and our journey will almost certainly bring us back through Verge once more. Hopefully your husband will be returned and we can speak further and at greater length.” Beet red, he pauses, hoping he’s unentangled himself from his misstep.
She bows again to Draven, clasping his one hand in both of hers. She smiles at him then turns and says her farewells to the Bishop and kisses him on the cheek. Two armored men step from the shadows of a nearby archway and escort Lady Halia Antonic from the church.
Spending the evening at the temple, Draven does his best to listen more than he speaks. He prods conversations in the directions of the mountains and prospectors and the like, as well as listening for any sort of indications of unearthly activity that might have brought the hellhounds around.
“Oh, yes, these hills are dangerous and full of unholy places. I have heard rumors of the Hellhounds, though never from good sources. Lord Reteramon has seeked them out before, but to no avail. Most of what I hear, though, is purely superstitious rumors from uneducated herdsmen, miners and hunters, no more.” Bishop Andropolos confides. “But don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of dangers out there. Evil tribes of Goblins, Orcs, Kobolds, Gnolls and worse. Monsters of many types, both inhuman and Human! The most recent story I have heard is one of a witch in the nearby woods. She hunts Elves and the tales say that she must bathe in their blood. But again, most of this is nothing more than rumors passed back and forth at the tap.” The Bishop laughs and refills his wine glass to the brim. “Tell me more about your adventures. Tell me of the things you did not share in your sermon. I am sure there is more, I can see it in your eyes! Have you battled true Evil? Slain the heretics? Sent demons back into the fires of the Abyss?”
Destroying the Amulet
“My good Bishop, the sights I have seen in these few short weeks out here in the untamed lands. You want to hear of my exploits? Well, let me start with one that may wish you’d asked not.” Returning to his room, he rummages through his pack for the profane amulet.
Returning to the room, he gingerly presents the amulet to the Bishop, relating to him the details by which he came to possess it. “I have also a foul idol - in storage, in the wilds, for I didn’t know that I would be passing so close to a safe place such as this - that I must destroy, but it possesses rather more power than I felt compelled to tackle on my own, out in the wilds.”
The Bishop looks at the amulet with disgust. “Yes, this is a thing of Evil, I can feel it in the air, taste it in my mouth. Come, you shall help me. I know of rites that will first strip away its evil, then we will destroy the object. If you come back with this idol you speak of, we can do the same.” He busies himself gathering holy vestments, items, books and other accoutrements then calls Draven to the altar. Following the Bishop’s lead, Draven assists him in purifying the unholy symbol. Smoke and foul wails fill the room for a time, but then, as if they had never occurred, it stops. The amulet is nothing more than a spot of melted metal. The Bishop wipes some sweat from his chubby brow, “And we are done. That took some out of me, I need to retire to my chambers. We will speak more of this tomorrow, Brother Draven.”
Making a night of it, he avails himself of a rude bed in the guest chambers, which after so many nights on the road, feels like sleeping in a cloud.
Lunadain 18th of Yarthmont
The Bishop Gives Draven a Hand
Draven rises the next morning to a truly glorious day. The sun is shining, the sky is clear and blue, birds can be heard chirping in nearby trees and the bubbling sound of the flowing water of the Foamfire can be heard.
Giving in to luxury, he has a large breakfast and continues any threads of conversation from the night before.
Taking the Bishop aside he does ask, contritely, whether the Bishop has any of the healing gifts of so many of his order back in Kelvin, sufficient gifts to perhaps set his maimed hand on the path to restoration.
“Ahh, yes, your hand. I was wondering about that. I do possess the knowledge to do this, but it does take some time to complete the process. One moon must pass before the hand will fully regrow. If you would like me to do this, I will have the boys make preparations on the altar,” the Bishop replies. “Our Church here has been struggling a bit, a generous and pious act on your part would no doubt turn the favor of Chardestes toward you. Your tithe would help sustain us for some time and relieve you of the burden of hauling it around with you,” he smiles at Draven slyly. “It really would help, you know. It helps sustain us, especially when visitors come through, like yourself.”
|Bishop Calvin Andropolos of Verge|
“Thank you, father, I think I would like for you to try. I have invested much of the wealth I have in equipment to help me through these wild places, and sadly the tax man made my acquaintance before I could make yours. Well you know, they ask with teeth rather than warm smiles for their due. But,” he says, reaching into his belt pouch, “the church here needs my fealty as well as my home in Kelvin.” He places 30 Nobles on the table between them. “Will this suffice as a down payment for your good keeping of me, in earnest of more to come when next we arrive in Verge? If it will, I hope you will entreat Chardastes to look kindly upon me, and my holy mission. It will be better served by a servant made whole, even if that takes time,” Draven intones.
Bishop Andropolos places the tithe in a gilded lock box and then leads Draven once again to the altar of the Church. He prepares the area and anoints Draven’s severed arm with holy water and other ointments as he begins his prayer. He chants and prays for what seems like forever, Mikel and Alban lighting candles and fetching holy objects at his bidding. Finally, he stops. “Your fate is in the hands of Chardestes,” he blushes and puts his hand to his mouth. “Forgive me, Brother, I did not mean to make light of your situation.” He bows his head and says one more last prayer. This time, Draven joins him.
Later that afternoon, Draven makes his way back to the Grey Company’s camp just outside of Verge to reconnect with his companions and find out what the others learned. Remar announces that he had purchased a horse and some more food stores off a passing farmer earlier that day to replace one of the missing mounts. Griffin and Ree return to camp later that evening with the news that they have found a guide to lead them into the Black Peaks. When Remar tells Griffin how much he spent on the horse and food, he is upset to find out that the Company treasury is not able to cover it and says he should be the first one paid back whenever new funds are gained.
NotesThis week's continuing story is actually three separate stories, one told from each of the PC's points of view. Upon arriving in Verge, the three characters went their separate ways and each had a bit of an adventure of their own. Normally in the continuing story, I direct a lot of the action and look for reactions from the players. This time I did a little different and asked for the players to lead the action, with input from me as the story unfolded. It was interesting and I still had quite a bit of say in the direction, but it was fun to see where the players took their characters!
This is the second of 3 posts, the last will follow tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
Marcel Maas, a homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer
and +Jason Woollard as The DM