May 11 2017

Odd Tidings 2 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the continuation of this wonderful story from Andartianna, entitled
Odd Tidings From The Bear Tavern: A Court House
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 4, “Office, Overhead, Otherwise.”
Dr. Zazeriz got up and left the office where the interviews had occurred and walked back downstairs. Clarke was waiting behind the desk. “Good day, Governor Zazeriz. I hope the interview process has been pleasant for you so far.” said Clarke.

“It was an interesting interview. I was told there are rooms where I can stay while waiting for the first round of interviews to complete.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

“Yes, Governor. There are rooms available in two row houses nearby the court. I will put them on your map so that you may find them more easily. As soon as I get any news, I will let you know immediately.” Clarke said.

“Thank you, Clarke. I will go and rest for now.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Dr. Zazeriz exited the courthouse at Beran’s Reach and headed to the row houses that Clarke had indicated. She entered the row house on the left and found the fires blazing hot inside of it. It was a simple enough place; sparsely decorated but appropriate for visiting dignitaries. Dr. Zazeriz climbed to the roof of the row house and found some outside seating. She sat down by a blazing fireplace, and Falkes flew in and landed from overhead.

“Hello, Falkes. I hope you are having a pleasant day.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes cooed affectionately.

“Nothing suspicious I hope.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes shook his head indicating that there were no issues, then looked over to the fireplace.

“Go ahead. You can sit in the fireplace.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes screeched approvingly and hopped into the fireplace and sat on the burning logs. Dr. Zazeriz watched as the snow fell late into the evening.

After two days of waiting, Clarke knocked on Dr. Zazeriz’ door and said, “Governor Zazeriz. I have a message for you from the magistrate reviewers.”

Dr. Zazeriz opened the door. “Thank you, Clarke. I will take that message from you.”

Clarke handed Dr. Zazeriz the message and then walked away after saying goodbye. Dr. Zazeriz unrolled the message and began reading it.

“Governor Andartianna Zazeriz,

We are honored to tell you that you have been selected to proceed with the second round of interviews. We have scheduled you to meet the reviewers at 3 p.m. today. If you are unable to attend at that time, please let us know. Otherwise, we will see you then.
Signed
Astor Cerberus, Clerk of the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach”

Chapter 5, “Wrong, Want, Where.”
The day, while waiting for the reviewers to come to a decision, went slowly. Dr. Zazeriz was beginning to think that it would take more than a few days to complete their work. A loud knock on the door got Dr. Zazeriz’ attention. She went to the door to see who was there. Dr. Zazeriz was expecting to see one of the clerks standing outside of the door, but when the door opened, Sara Dreygon was standing outside.

“Sara? Is something wrong?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“What? Do you think if I show up something has to be wrong?” Sara Dreygon asked.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s always wrong, but you certainly like to chase things that want to eat us.” Dr. Zazeriz replied laughing.

“I won’t argue that point with you. I do, however, need your help.” Sara Dreygon said.

“Alright. How can I assist you?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“You know that clockwork dragon that attacked our cities? I think I found where they are constructed. It’s a place in Blood Bay called K’rul.” Sara Dreygon said.

“Ah, yes. The ship to Blood Bay is nearby. Let me leave a note for Astor telling him I am leaving to assist you while waiting for the reviewers’ answers.” Dr. Zazeriz said. She quickly wrote a note for Astor, and then followed Sara out of Beran’s Reach.

“Do you know a quick route through Blood Bay to K’rul?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“Yes. We take the ship to Smuggler’s Hold. The landing point is close to the entrance of K’rul.” Sara said.

“Is this going to be a scouting mission or are you looking for something in particular.” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“It’s going to be more of a scouting mission. I hope to find out what the Kobolds are doing in K’rul and if they are constructing clockwork dragons there.” Sara said.

“Alright. I’ll throw on my heavy armor. I’m sure we are going to be taking a lot of hits.” Dr. Zazeriz said.
“The ship to Blood Bay is just to the east of Beran’s Reach. At the docks, you can instruct the ship captain to take you to Smuggler’s Hold.” Sara said
Once in Smuggler’s Hold, Sara and Dr. Zazeriz headed southwest into some sand hills. There are torches leading to the path to K’rul, which ends up being north along the ridgeline. There are many gases, quicksand, and volcanoes dumping lava that can impede a traveler’s walk to K’rul.
“You also have to be on the lookout for outlanders that want to attack you, Sara said. If you continue north by northwest, you will end up in a lava field. Carefully walk around it and you will see a giant mechanized building, which marks the entrance to the Kobold’s lair of K’rul.”

May 4 2017

Odd Tidings 1 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Andartianna, entitled
Odd Tidings From The Bear Tavern: A Court House
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 1, “Familiar, Fairly, Falkes.”

Beer and Banter. Bears they be.
A peaceful world for all to see.
A courthouse grand for laws to teach.
Erected now in Beran’s Reach.
They the Magisters of lawful sight
Call out the failures with voice of might.
Sentence villains for justice please
For law is fact based, not endless pleas.

A loud knock on the door to Dr. Zazeriz’ bed chambers shook her awake out of a deep sleep. Dr. Zazeriz yawned for a moment. Who could possibly be knocking at this hour of the day? The Pub of Extraordinary Thoughts was always open to allow scholars to read and drink, but Dr. Zazeriz’ private chambers were always off limits.

Dr. Zazeriz yawned once more and said, “Who is it?”

“Begging your pardon, governor, but a notice from the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach has arrived for you. I thought it might be important so I brought it right up.” Said Glenda the bar keep who kept the pub running while Dr. Zazeriz was away.

“Very good, Glenda. Please place it on my powder table. I will come and take a look.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

“Yes, Governor.” Said Glenda, who placed the notice on Dr. Zazeriz’ powder table then walked down to the bar.

Dr. Zazeriz slowly got up out of bed and walked out to her dressing room. The cold stone floor felt oddly refreshing on her feet as she walked. She enjoyed carpets on the floor as well, but there was something special about feeling the smooth natural stone on her feet. Dr. Zazeriz opened up her wardrobe and began pulling on her clothes. Depending on the message, she might have to change them again, but for now she put on her normal daily wear clothes.

Dr. Zazeriz walked over to her powder table and picked up the letter Glenda had left for her. It was addressed simply with Governor Andartianna Zazeriz on the cover. The paper was, however, very ornate with a golden bear paw seal on the back. Dr. Zazeriz had visited Beran’s Reach on many occasions while traveling, so she was familiar with the people of that city. She opened the letter and began to read it.

“Most Honorable Governor Andartianna Zazeriz,

You have been nominated by the votes of your peers to become a magistrate of the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach. If you accept this nomination, we invite you to visit Beran’s Reach to begin the confirmation hearings where a group of distinguished leaders from across Novia will evaluate the core of who you are and your abilities to judge fairly and impartially as a magistrate. Please address replies to the Clerk of the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach.
Signed
Astor Cerberus
Clerk of the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach”

Dr. Zazeriz rolled up the note after reading it once more through. It occurred to her that it was very peculiar that a courthouse had been constructed in Beran’s Reach. She had visited the courthouse on a few occasions while traveling the area. What was interesting was that the entire city of Beran’s Reach had been built around the comradery of the Bear Tavern, which is at the heart of the city. That the tavern had spawned a courthouse would take some research for historical context for Dr. Zazeriz to understand its creation.

Dr. Zazeriz wrote an acceptance letter, then waved her arm and summoned Falkes. The phoenix stared up at Dr. Zazeriz with reproachful eyes.

“Don’t look at me with complaining eyes. I sealed the letter in a fireproof container.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes squawked loudly and looked at the floor.

“Yes, I know it’s far and covered with snow. I’m sure you can fly over the mountains north and catch a down draft into Beran’s Reach. I will head out shortly thereafter and meet you in the city.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes bowed his head, and Dr. Zazeriz handed the fireproof letter container to his outstretched talon. Falkes then shuffled down the hall and flew out a door.

Chapter 2, “Courthouse, Chuckled, Clarke.”

A short while after Falkes had left, Dr. Zazeriz gathered the needed supplies for the short trek to the mountain fortress of Beran’s Reach. She was eager to receive more information about the process of selecting magistrates and the creation of a more unified law system across Novia. Dr. Zazeriz could have waited for a reply from the Court to be returned before leaving for Beran’s Reach, but since she preferred to be out traveling rather than ruminating within her city’s walls, she left Verat Chaos and headed north.

Beran’s Reach was not a long journey from Verat Chaos. A winding path north of Central Brittany led up to the mountain stronghold. Halfway to the city, Falkes flew down and landed next to Dr. Zazeriz. He held out a talon with a scroll held in it.

“Excellent work, Falkes. That was faster than even I thought you could make it. Would you like a Fire Field to relax in while I read the letter?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

Falkes cooed happily and flew over to a nearby rock. Dr. Zazeriz cast Fire Field, and the circle of fire surrounded Falkes, who then relaxed and nestled down to the rock for a nap. Dr. Zazeriz opened up the fire proof scroll case and read the enclosed letter.

“Most Honorable Governor Andartianna Zazeriz,

We are pleased that you have accepted the nomination to the courthouse at Beran’s Reach. At your earliest convenience you may travel to Beran’s Reach and we can begin the process.
Signed
Astor Cerberus, Clerk of the Courthouse of Beran’s Reach”

“Thank you, Falkes. It looks like I’ll be heading on my way. You may follow if inclined or return to Verat Chaos.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Falkes opened one eye, then closed it and went back to warming himself by the fire.

“Or you can just sit at the Fire Field until it goes out.” Dr. Zazeriz chuckled.

Dr. Zazeriz continued her trek north. After about ten minutes, Falkes came into view overhead circling in the distance. As Dr. Zazeriz climbed the hills outside of Beran’s Reach, she could see that Falkes was waiting on the walls of the city. Dr. Zazeriz finished climbing the hill and entered the gates of Beran’s Reach. White snow was falling around, which seemed to continuously blanket the city in frost. As she neared the Bear Tavern, Dr. Zazeriz saw Clarke waiting by the entrance.

“Greetings, Clarke. I don’t normally see you outside the courthouse. Are you still clerking for the court?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“Governor Zazeriz. You are exactly the person I was looking to see.” Clarke said.

“Oh? Do tell.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

“I was asked by Astor Cerberus to wait for your arrival and direct you to your interview.” Clarke said.

“Thank you, Clarke. I appreciate you waiting for me.” Dr. Zazeriz replied.

“Your meeting will be held in the courthouse on the second floor in meeting room A, which is on the left side. The people who will be reviewing you will be wearing masks to conceal their identities so that the judgment will be more impartial.” Clarke said.

“Thank you, Clarke. Is there any other information I need to know?” Dr. Zazeriz said.

“I do not believe so. I will walk you to the courthouse and then Astor Cerberus will take you into the room. He is not one of the people grading you. However, he is the clerk who is overseeing the proceedings.” Clarke said.

“Excellent. Lead the way, Clarke.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Clark led the way out of the central city off to the north to where the courthouse was located. He did not talk, but simply walked in silence. When they got to the front of the courthouse, Clarke directed Dr. Zazeriz to enter the building as he would be attending to other nominees who were travelling to the city as well. Dr. Zazeriz thanked Clarke and entered the courthouse.

Chapter 3, “Inviting, Immediately, Intimidating. “

Dr. Zazeriz entered the courthouse and, as always, found the entrance hall to be grand and inviting. Astor Cerberus was waiting at the front desk.

“Governor Zazeriz, welcome to the courthouse at Beran’s Reach. I am Astor Cerberus, and it is my pleasure to help with the nomination process. The counsel of nobility and leaders of Novia are waiting in the room upstairs. They will be asking you a series of questions. They will not reply directly to you, but will listen to your answers and then ask follow-up scenarios. Once this process is completed, the leaders selecting the magistrates of the courthouse of Beran’s Reach will grade you and other nominated applicants and decide who is worthy to become a magister of the courthouse of Beran’s Reach.” Astor Cerberus said.

“Thank you, Astor. Is this something we can start immediately, or do I need to wait for another applicant to complete?” Dr. Zazeriz asked.

“The reviewers are not currently with an application, so they may see you immediately if you are ready.” Astor Cerberus said.

“I am ready. Please lead the way.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Astor led Dr. Zazeriz up to the second floor. He then had her wait in the hall outside the meeting room while he went through the door into the room. Through the door Dr. Zazeriz could hear muffled voices talking to each other. She waited patiently, and in about five minutes, Astor returned to the hall.

“The reviewers are ready for you. There are several of them sitting around the room. As Clarke should have told you, their identities have been concealed so that they receive no pressure in the choice they are about to make. You’ll be asked a series of questions. There are no wrong answers, so answer as truthfully and thoughtfully as you can. When you are ready, simply walk through the door and take a seat.” Astor Cerberus said.

“Thank you, Astor.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

Dr. Zazeriz walked toward the meeting room door. She was not nervous at all. Having faced dragons and deamons, a room full of bureaucrats was not at all intimidating. The room was not particularly large. A round table was on the right side and the various leaders were in chairs around it. There was a blue chair by the fire. Dr. Zazeriz walked over to the chair and took a seat. The people around the table all turned towards her.

“Greetings, Governor Zazeriz. We have heard many wonderful things about you. We are so glad that you accepted the nomination to be considered for a position as a magistrate. We will begin this interview process by asking you some questions. If you are ready, you can begin,” one of the reviewers said.

“Thank you, and thank you to all the reviewers who are helping in this process. You may proceed with the questions.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

A woman’s voice chimed in from one of the reviewers. “We are going to begin by telling you a scenario and then asking you questions about it.

“This is the first scenario:

“It is your day to take the bench and a new case is to be heard this morning. As you are reading over the documents, you hear the door open as the claimants begin to enter the courtroom. First is the defendant, Dinsoo of the Moongate Travelers. You have heard of him as an upstanding citizen of New Britannia; always looking out for others and putting every effort in to help whenever and whomever they may, newcomer and old alike.

“Next to enter the courtroom is the plaintiff, Baron Drocis F. of Rats Nest. He is also known throughout the land, but you have heard of him in other circles for quite a different reason. He’s outspoken to the point that some see him as argumentative and taking pleasure in causing disruption.

“Reading over the case before you as you prepare to hear arguments, you have questions of legitimacy flooding your mind. The charge is as follows: Baron Drocis has charged Dinsoo with biting him in an attempt to eat him.

“As everyone rises to be sworn in you take your seat.”

One of the other reviewers then chimed in. “Now that you have heard the scenario, here are the questions we would like you to answer. How do you feel about seeing these two enter your courtroom and whom do you rule in favor of and why?”

Dr. Zazeriz thought for a moment, and then replied, “On the first question, I have no specific prejudices towards either party. Regardless of how good or bad a person seems to society as a whole, the facts of the case are the only things that matter. I would need to look for motive such as what caused the defendant to bite the plaintiff. Were there mitigating circumstances? What is the law regarding biting and eating a person? The only reason I would question legitimacy would be if an action is not against the law, does not have any evidence to support the charges, or does not have standing to sue as in a third party person who was not involved. In these cases, the defendant could move for a dismissal and I would agree. On the second question, with the limited information that has been provided, I could not rule for either party. I would need a lot more details. Being a magistrate, you can’t really assume anything. I can’t assume that biting is against the law in a specific area. It is entirely possible the parties were engaged in an open combat situation where biting would be acceptable. Likewise, the charge of cannibalism is also not illegal everywhere. There are cultures where eating dead relatives is considered an honor for both the dead and the living as they become part of each other.”

“Thank you, Governor Zazeriz, for answering our questions. We will review your answers over the next few days and, if you are selected to continue the interview process, we will summon you again. You may wait in rooms provided in Beran’s Reach.” One of the reviewers said.

“Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.” Dr. Zazeriz said.

April 20 2017

The Darkness in the Waste 2 – by Olthadir – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the conclusion to this great story from Olthadir, entitled
The Darkness in the Waste
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 2, “The Waste”
We arrived at the crater at midday – at my expressed intent. The sun was hot overhead, but it allowed us a good deal of time in the light.

The shards were scattered around a crater, floating. And there was a central cluster made up of large pieces that were much larger than myself. And they were black, very black, but still, thankfully, earthly black.

Maybe Savenroc was a dream.

Sonya got straight to work, measuring the shards, testing their density, collecting samples of the earth below. She wrote a good deal in her book. She spent the whole day and far into the night writing her observations.

The night was peaceful – thankfully. I watched the campfire light reflect dully off the floating shards. I remained a safe distance away from the crater. Far enough to see her while she worked, but far enough from the shards themselves. She worked through the night. I simply watched.

The stars wheeled overhead and nothing happened.

We didn’t talk the next day. She kept working and I grew anxious. Either something was going to come and devour us or I was truly mad. I began to wonder if I imagined the events of Savenroc forest. Did my friends even exist? Were my last few years of reclusion a lie? If nothing was happening here I began to question the validity of my memory.

I could hardly stand it. I went towards Sonya and began talking – asking questions to see if my recollection of events matched what I told her days before. She ignored me, raising a hand to hush me.

“Listen. That hum. The frequency… I’m trying to measure it.”

I spoke to her again, trying to get her to understand but she hushed me. The look in her eyes was terrible. A moment later she returned to scribbling in her book.

I grew even more anxious, feeling the low humming in my chest now as I walked around her and looked over her shoulder at what she was writing.

Lines. Waves. Scribbles.

She turned the page and scribbled on. It was nonsense. I looked for her first volume and flipped through it. She started coherently, speaking about physical measurements, harmonics, apparent weight of the shards versus how high they levitate. Then halfway through the book, scribbles.

On the fourth last page stood a testament to her madness. It was a page so full of ink it bled through to the back cover. She drew a circle hundreds if not thousands of times, creating a frightening representation of the void I saw years ago.

“You didn’t want me to come here originally,” Sonya said, standing a safe distance before me, dagger in hand. “It’s because you wanted this all for yourself. You couldn’t finish your own research, you were too afraid. So you want mine.”

I started walking backwards. She matched me, step for step.

“There is no research,” I said, turning the book towards her. “It’s only scribbles.”

“Of course it is!” She screamed, her shrill voice echoing off the shards. “I don’t want you or anyone stealing it. I have learned so much. The void is endless, unfathomable. If I can use it…” she trailed off, her eyes wild and wide, furious at my perceived betrayal. She stopped in mid step and the sun set.

Above her I saw purple lightning arc between shards. I smelled ozone and felt the cold chill wind of emptiness. It was here, I recognized it. I wasn’t mad, it was all real and unimagined. Before I could search the darkness for a sign of the void Sonya lunged at me.

I don’t carry weapons. I stopped after Savenroc. I saw no point. If I was killed by a weapon, I would find peace. Anything would be better than existing in the void. All I had was her journal to defend myself with. I moved to block her stab as I turned, giving her less of my body to hit. The sudden force of her attack propelled by the strength in her entire body overwhelmed me. I fell on my back, my head hitting the dry ground. I moved as best I could to avoid the descending blade. My eyes had sparks in them. I tasted blood in my mouth from the fall, I must have bitten my tongue. Sonya struggled on top of me attempting to wrench her dagger from her journal. I kept twisting it trying to keep the blade trapped somehow. It was the only way I could defend myself.

I am ashamed to record what happened next. I assure you, dear reader, that I was defending myself. I had no choice. As you see, I was near death, being attacked by someone gone mad.

I timed a counter push as she tried to draw the dagger from the journal, slamming the dagger’s pommel into Sonya’s face. It hit her in the mouth, cracking teeth. I pushed again, hitting bone. I pushed again and again. I pushed countless times, feeling bone, flesh and blood rain down on my hands, the journal and my face…

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I am writing this in Ardoris, safe as I ever was. I am alive, writing this months after the events I just wrote down. I killed Sonya. I crushed her skull with the blunt side of her dagger and her scribbled nonsensical journal. I still feel the blood on my hands.

You may not believe me. It was the shards. It was the void they were a part of. They turned Sonya against me, it turned her suspicious. It turned me into a murderer. Yet, as much as I know this is the truth, I am wracked with guilt. It is the only reason why I am writing this. I have killed because of the shards, because of the Obsidians and their desire to explore beyond Novia. Sonya could have lived a full beautiful life if she didn’t become curious and find me.

But what of me? I have survived two encounters with the void. I have changed because of them. What does that make me?

April 13 2017

The Darkness in the Waste 1 – by Olthadir – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Olthadir, entitled
The Darkness in the Waste
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 1, “The Visitor”
When you see and experience what I have experienced I would wager you would not have done what I am about to tell you. I should have known not to have dabbled in the Darkness again, but as you will see, its pull was stronger than I fathomed.

Years after the events of Savenroc Timberland I again encountered the dark mysterious magic of the Obsidians. Even after being the sole survivor of my first encounter, I was still drawn to learning all I could about it. Perhaps I will never be rid of it.

It did take time. It may not seem that way to you, dear reader, poring over my records decades, maybe centuries later – if someone hasn’t already destroyed these volumes.

I returned to Ardoris after the terrifying events of the Savenroc Timberland. I busied myself with menial tasks of everyday people: cooking, sewing, shopping at the market, all the trappings of a regular life.

When I gathered a small amount of courage I went to the local library or bookshop and read some stories – simple pleasant stories. I cared not for the dark mystery of the Obsidians that engulfed my time months before. That is what I told myself.

I met a young, excited traveller there. She was a fiery woman determined to explore and learn. She reminded me of myself years before but she held much more confidence.

Her name was Sonya, and she told me of the Shard Falls. She told me of stories she had heard and books she had read. She was planning on going to one of these craters: Grundvald Shardfall in the barrens to the north.

I politely listened but my palms sweated at my side in clenched fists as she spoke. She was a young excited explorer fully engaged in her curiosity. She did not begin to understand the dangers she may unlock and unleash on herself.

I could not hold it in any more when she showed me an illustration of a Shard Fall in a book she carried. It was done in black ink. I looked at the crystalline chunks of floating obsidian and was taken back to Savenroc, the gaping void that drew in kobold and friend alike. I grabbed the book from her hands, slapped it shut and threw it down. I looked at the woman and pleaded with her to stay away. Whatever she read and learnt about was nothing compared to what she would learn if she went there. She had no idea of the danger she was getting herself into.

I was about to relate my tale to her. She shook her head and reached for the book. I told her there was a darkness beyond black that the Obsidians awoke and there would be nothing for her, a fate worse than death, something she could never come back from. She picked up her book and walked quickly away, muttering that I was crazy.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Time passed. Years. Colour returned to the world. I felt the echoes of happiness, I remembered warmth. The darkness returned to being a fact after the sun set, something that would always fade with the rising of the sun. My dreams became mundane and pedestrian.

Then she came back. Sonya. She looked for me, searched me out. She was clearly older, more than the years would have aged her. She had bags under her brown eyes. Her hair, once neatly tied, hung around her ears out of a messy bun, broken and dry. Her clothes were torn and dirty from long, long travel. She recognized me by sight, grabbed my arm and said: “You were right.”

Then it all came back.

The void, the emptiness and the nothingness beyond death. The screams of human and kobold as they were torn from reality. The scent of the forest air tinged with ozone and an odd unearthly scent of space and stardust.

She was helping me up then. I must have fallen – fainted. She propped my head up with a pillow from a nearby chair.

“Everything you said was right. And more. There is more magic the Obsidians used, it doesn’t just tap into the void, it does something else,” she said. She was excited.

I kept shaking my head and told her everything. I told her of the kobolds, the forest, the amorphous void summoned in the dark. She went pale, gasped, but her curiosity remained. Even after what I told her and what she already saw, she remained curious.

I told her then of her folly, of the very high chance that if she continued on this path she would perish. She risked the fate of my friends and the kobolds of being swallowed by the void. But she maintained that she wanted to learn more.

“No great discovery was without risk,” she said.

I’m trying to recall how I was convinced to accompany her. I don’t remember. Maybe the void was calling me somehow. Maybe I was connected or a part of it. Maybe it was the time since I last encountered the void. Maybe time healed all wounds and I wasn’t as afraid of it as I was then, or now. I remember thinking that all I would be is an observer, a guide. Someone who could warn of telltales and triggers to protect her and myself from the Obsidian’s magic. She was the adventurous one, I would be safe.

She took care of everything. Travel arrangements, food, lodging, all of it. She bought books and ink for me to use. I recorded our journey as we went through Soltown, across the peaceful village of Solace Bridge and through Eastreach Gap. We stayed in Desolis. Two more days and we would be at the Grundvald Shard Fall.

There were regrets I felt about being here following Sonya to meet what has become my biggest fear. Her confidence helped me. She was not afraid – not truly – no matter how much I told her. She wanted to see the void. She wanted to learn how these portals were made and what their true purpose was.

There was no purpose I knew. I doubt the Obsidians knew what they were doing or what they created, summoned or tapped into.

She believed she could find out.

March 5 2017

Shadows of Paxlair – by the NBTT

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR (ominous tone)
You pass by them every day as you go about your business, never giving a thought to what they do and say when you’re not around. Time for us to take a look at the other side of PaxLair…

The New Britannia Theater Troupe
Presents
Shadows of PaxLair

Directed and Produced by Asclepius

Writer: Gabriel Nightshadow
Based on characters created by Womby

Music Supervisor and Director of Public Relations:
Amber Raine

Technical Consultant:
Sir Stile Teckel

Voice Cast
Lord Baldrith as Fred and Guard Edward Peterson (Obsidian Soldier)
Doctor Shroud as Harry and Town Crier Ray Menderson (aka Oracle Agent Harkness)
Margaritte as Sarah (Oracle Agent)
Sophi as Alisha Zorell (Obsidian Assassin)
Lady Adnor as Guard Captain Robin Jenson (aka Oracle Agent Walker)
and Cooking Merchant Stephanie Thorenson (Obsidian Agent)
Cordelayne Valkaris as Pet Merchant John Robertson (aka Obsidian mage Camulus Dar) and Guard # 2
Majoria as Crafting Merchant Linda Leeson (Defense Attorney)
Celith as Guard Nathan Jenson (aka Oracle Agent McQuade) and Guard Harry Darkwolf
Stryker Sparhawk as Nash, assistant bartender at Wody’s, and Dagnar
Amber Raine as Marissa (Dagnar’s wife), and Guard Sergeant
Static Grazer as Han Becker (Cargo ship captain)
with
Jynx as the Oracle and Banker Marcia Woodson (Prosecutor)
Apollox Evenheart as the Magistrate Ian McMaster (aka Oracle Senior Agent, John Smith)
and
Asclepius as the Obsidian Mage, D’Var, and the Narrator
Special cameo appearance by Amber Raine as Herself and Young Chariya

(Insert music track.)

Scene I

NARRATOR
The following day after the events of A Conversation in PaxLair proves to be a hot one, and Fred, Harry, and Sarah have been busy hawking their wares…

FRED
Harry, what do you say we close up for an hour and head over to Wody’s to grab a bite for lunch?

HARRY
Sounds like an excellent idea, Fred!

SARAH (seductively)
Um…Harry, you were simply amazing last night! Care to have another go at it tonight after work?

HARRY (flustered)
Yes, Sarah, last night was fantastic, but tonight I am playing cards with the boys. Um…perhaps Thursday night?

NARRATOR
Sarah walks over and whispers in Harry’s ear. His face immediately turns bright red.

SARAH (purring seductively)
I am SO looking forward to it, lover…

FRED (excited)
Harry, you old dog! Talk about living dangerously! If Gertrude finds out what you have been up to, she is going to make sure you regret it. Come, let us discuss this over a few ales at Wody’s!

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR
Magistrate Ian McMaster enters the marketplace and walks over to Sarah’s stall.

SARAH
Your honor, it is good to see you this fine summer day! Would you be interested in purchasing some of my sweet cinnamon buns?

NARRATOR
The magistrate examines Sarah’s buns with great interest.

MAGISTRATE (whispering)
What do you have to report, Agent Sarah?

SARAH (whispering)
Senior Agent Smith, as instructed I ran into the subject, Harry, at Wody’s last night, seduced him, and brought him to my place for questioning after lovemaking.

MAGISTRATE
What were you able to learn?

SARAH (whispering)
Harry and Fred appear to use their gift for gab to con others into giving them money, but I think they are more than simple con men. Harry seemed to know a lot more about the Obsidians than an average person would and even mentioned that one of his ancestors was a mid-level official in the Obsidian hierarchy…

MAGISTRATE (whispering)
That is very interesting news, agent Sarah. Continue to ply the subject for information.

NARRATOR
Sarah nods.

MAGISTRATE (normal volume)
Sarah, I love your soft, luscious buns! I think I will take these two.

NARRATOR
The Magistrate hands over twelve gold coins to Sarah, which is far more than the cost of the cinnamon buns.

SARAH
Thank you, Magistrate! Have a good day!

MAGISTRATE
A good day to you as well, Sarah!

NARRATOR
The Magistrate heads towards the courthouse.

SARAH (yelling)
Sweet cinnamon buns! Come and get them before they run out! Only one gold a piece!

END OF SCENE I

NARRATOR

SCENE II

Meanwhile, two strangers have arrived in PaxLair …

TOWN CRIER (cheerful)
Travelers, welcome to the metropolis of PaxLair, which is under the leadership of the honorable Governor Winfield. I am Raymond Menderson, the Town Crier, but everyone just calls me Ray. How can I be of assistance to you today?

ALISHA
Hello, Ray. My name is Salia Eramar and this is my elderly father, Boral. We are here in PaxLair to visit my cousin, Fred. I believe he operates a produce stand in the Market Square. I wonder if you could direct us there…

TOWN CRIER
Certainly! Walk straight ahead, then make a right turn at that water fountain. That is the Market Square.

NARRATOR
The travelers are intercepted by Guard Captain Robyn Jenson and Guard Nathan jenson.

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON (serious tone)
I don’t recognize you two. State the nature of your business here!

ALISHA
Yes, as I was explaining to Ray, my father and I are here in PaxLair to visit my cousin, Fred, who operates a produce stand in the Market Square.

GUARD NATHAN JENSON
Sis, I don’t remember Fred ever mention having a cousin or uncle before…

D’VAR
I am not surprised that he failed to mention us. The fact is, we have not seen Fred since he moved away from Greystone fifteen years ago after his parents died in that tragic barn fire…

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
I see…Very well then, you may proceed. Enjoy your stay here in PaxLair!

ALISHA
Thank you! Have a nice day!

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
So, Agent Harkness, do you think those two were telling the truth?

TOWN CRIER
They were lying through their teeth, Agent Walker! I know for a fact that Fred was raised in an orphanage in Kingsport after being abandoned on their doorstep thirty years ago. And those two travelers seemed strangely familiar. I think they may be Obsidian agents…

GUARD ROBIN JENSON
Hmm…why would two Obsidians be here to see Fred? Perhaps he and his friend Harry are indeed Obsidian spies sent here to PaxLair to stir up trouble! You never know who you can trust these days… Agent McQuade will continue to tail them while I confer with Senior Agent Smith. Good work, Agent Harkness!

TOWN CRIER (cheerful)
Thank you, Agent Walker!

NARRATOR
END OF SCENE II

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR
SCENE III

A few moments later, just outside the barn located near the Town Crier…

ALISHA
Look father, over there in that barn…it’s a purple llama!

PET MERCHANT
Hello, my name is John Robertson, pet merchant for PaxLair. How can I be of assistance to you today, miss?

ALISHA
That purple llama looks so sad. I must have him! How much do you want for him?

PET MERCHANT
Well, as you know, a purple llama is a rare find indeed. I could not part with him for less than 50,000 gold!

ALISHA (pleading)
Please father…

D’VAR
Very well, my child. I will purchase the purple llama for you. Unfortunately, we can not take possession of the llama until we are ready to leave PaxLair in a couple of days. Is it possible to keep him boarded here until then?

PET MERCHANT
That can be arranged for an additional fee. Please come inside the barn and I will draw up the proper ownership papers.

NARRATOR
The PET MERCHANT, ALISHA, and D’VAR walk over to the barn and engage in conversation. GUARD NATHAN JENSON moves a bit closer in an attempt to eavesdrop on them. He does not notice GUARD EDWARD PETERSON sneak up behind him.

GUARD NATHAN JENSON
Hmm…this seems rather suspicious. I can’t imagine anyone spending that much money on a llama, even if it is a purple one. Perhaps the pet merchant is another Obsidian spy…

GUARD EDWARD PETERSON
Hey Nathan!

NARRATOR
GUARD NATHAN JENSON turns around.

GUARD NATHAN JENSON
What?

(Insert “Strong Punch” sound effect, followed by “Fall” sound effect).

PET MERCHANT
Good work, Brother Edward! That Oracle agent was getting a bit too nosy…

GUARD EDWARD PETERSON
Should I dispose of him?

NARRATOR

COOKING MERCHANT STEPHANIE THORENSEN walks over and stands next to PET MERCHANT JOHN ROBERTSON.

COOKING MERCHANT
No. Use the secret underground tunnel here in the barn and take him to the holding area underneath my store. He is unsuitable as a sacrifice for the ritual, but I can use him to make more shepherd’s pies for farmer Vincent to sell to Wody. Apparently, my special blend of herbs and spices have made them the most popular item on the menu. Even Lord British himself remarked how tasty they are on his last visit here! The assistant bartender, Nash, told me that they have had trouble keeping it in stock mainly because both the lich lord, Ravicus Domdred, and the High Priestess of Chaos, Amber Raine, eagerly consume several of the pies every day!

GUARD EDWARD PETERSON
Yes, Sister Stephanie! Uh…he’s kind of heavy…

NARRATOR
GUARD EDWARD PETERSON slings the unconscious GUARD NATHAN JENSON over his right shoulder and enters the barn.

PET MERCHANT
Now that we have some privacy, it is good to see you again, Master D’Var!

D’VAR
As it is good to see you, Camulus Dar, my former apprentice! How go the preparations for the ritual?

PET MERCHANT (apologetic)
All is ready, Master D’Var ! I regret that the animal sacrifices and my meager mystical skills have proven insufficient to cast the spell…

COOKING MERCHANT
Aye, Governor Winfield has grown suspicious of the number of animal carcasses that have been turning up in the river. A short while ago, I heard Sean Silverfoot ask Themo Lock and Gaelis Trajan to organize a search of the sewer system to try and determine who is responsible for the illegal dumping. Themo Lock said that the search will take place tomorrow morning.

PET MERCHANT
Sister Stephanie and Brother Edward have proven quite successful in disguising themselves and then seducing and drugging a dozen unsuspecting male and female travelers at both Wody’s Tavern and The Bear Tavern. They have been bringing them to the underground holding area where they have been kept alive until you are able to use them as sacrifices in the ritual.

D’VAR
You have done well, Camulus! According to my calculations, we should conduct the ritual this evening when the shattered fragments of Daedalus and the planets are aligned. Will that be a problem?

PET MERCHANT
No, Master D’Var. According to Sister Wind Silvermoon, Governor Winfield and his friends will be fishing at the waterfall at that hour. As I informed you, by casting suspicion on those two merchants, Fred and Harry, through the planting of evidence and that cover story regarding your visit, the agents of the Oracle have focused their efforts on them and are oblivious to our endeavor.

ALISHA
Hmm…will the dwarf, Lord Blake Blackstone, and the lich lord, Ravicus Domdred, be among those fishing with Winfield?

PET MERCHANT
Why yes, they most certainly will. Why do you ask, Alisha?

ALISHA (angry)
I seek to avenge my fallen sisters! When their forces attacked our secret base in Celestis, at least the dwarf fought with honor! Although gravely wounded, from my hiding place, I saw the lich lord eagerly consume the flesh of my dead sisters, leaving nothing for me to bury but gnawed bones…

D’VAR
Patience, my dear Alisha! Once the ritual is over, there will be an opportunity for you to get revenge against the dwarf and the lich lord for destroying the Dakari Sisterhood of Assassins…

ALISHA
Yes, Master…

D’VAR
The agents of the Oracle will not realize what we are up to until it is too late, and PaxLair will be ours!

NARRATOR
END OF SCENE III

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR

SCENE IV

Meanwhile, in the secret Oracle confirmatory located beneath the recently constructed PaxLair Courthouse, Magistrate Ian McMaster is kneeling before an altar…
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON enters from the left and approaches him.

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Sorry to disturb your meditation, Senior Agent Smith, but I have urgent news to report…

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE gets up and turns to face GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON. The two embrace and exchange a passionate kiss.

MAGISTRATE
No need to be so formal when we’re alone, my darling Robin…

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Ok, Ian. Two suspected Obsidian operatives have entered the city and are attempting to make contact with Fred and Harry…

NARRATOR
The wall behind the altar begins to shimmer and the image of the Oracle suddenly appears!
Both the MAGISTRATE and GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON immediately kneel before the altar.

MAGISTRATE and GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSEN
Mighty Oracle!

ORACLE (heard, but not seen)
This is most disturbing news. I know of the two of whom you speak. The elderly man is the mage D’Var, a high ranking member of the banned Obsidian group known as the Order of the Ebon Dawn. It is said he was an apprentice to the powerful mage Lorin Dar. The young female is his personal bodyguard, Alisha Zorrell, the last surviving member of the Dakari Sisterhood of Assassins…
Senior Agent John Smith, see to it that all four Obsidians are apprehended and brought in for interrogation. We must learn about the extent of their operations here on the mainland of Novia. The Obsidians must not be allowed to rise again and disrupt the order I have brought to the people…

MAGISTRATE and GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
We will do as you ask, mighty Oracle! We exist to serve!

NARRATOR
The image of the Oracle vanishes from the wall.
Both the MAGISTRATE and GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON rise and turn to face each other.

MAGISTRATE
Assemble two teams and apprehend the four Obsidian operatives. Use discretion, as we don’t want Governor Winfield or his friends to become aware of our activities…

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Understood, sir.

NARRATOR
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON nods and then turns to leave.

END OF SCENE IV

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR

SCENE V

A short time later, at Wody’s Bar…

NASH, the assistant bartender at Wody’s is standing behind the tavern counter. The CRAFTING MERCHANT and BANKER are seated at one of the tables. FRED and HARRY are seated at another.

CRAFTING MERCHANT (whispering)
Umm… that produce vendor Fred is really good looking…Is he single?

BANKER (whispering)
Linda, you don’t want to get involved with him! He’s got a real reputation as a womanizer…

CRAFTING MERCHANT (whispering, disappointed)
Oh, what a pity…I was hoping to put my riding crop to good use tonight…

NARRATOR
The crafting merchant suddenly has a devilish smile on her face. The banker nods in agreement.

BANKER
Well, if it’s excitement you crave, I guess we could pay a midnight visit to the exclusive SHADOWFIRE CLUB in the basement of Gabriel’s home this evening. I hear that he has made some noticeable improvements to the décor in the Dungeon Room on the fifth level…

CRAFTING MERCHANT
That sounds like an excellent idea! So Marcia, what do you think of the new magistrate?

BANKER
Well, Linda, even I have to admit that he does seem pretty harsh. As you are well aware, he’s sent many of your clients to the guillotine…

CRAFTING MERCHANT
Yes, I’ve heard that the mysterious executioner has to sharpen the guillotine blade on a daily basis. I am beginning to regret accepting Governor Winfield’s request to fill the position of Defense Attorney.

BANKER
Well, Linda, the truth is, no one else was willing to accept the position, especially once they heard that “The Decapiter” was going to be the new presiding judge…

CRAFTING MERCHANT
Do they really call him that, Marcia? What is his background anyway?

BANKER
I am not sure, Linda. All I know is that he came highly recommended to Governor Winfield. I will be so glad when our permanent replacements arrive from Brittany next week. Even doing this part-time has really made it difficult to run my business.

CRAFTING MERCHANT
I know what you mean, Marcia. I’ve had to hire two assistants to cover for me at the shop when I am facing off against you in court. It’s costing me a fortune…

BANKER
Well, if we are lucky, there won’t be any major trials for the rest of the week!

CRAFTING MERCHANT
I will most definitely drink to that!

NARRATOR
As the CRAFTING MERCHANT and BANKER have a drink, NASH steps out from behind the counter and walks over to FRED and HARRY’s table.

NASH (apologetic)
Fred, Harry, sorry it took me so long to get to you. As you know, Wody is still away on vacation, and Chun Li is tending to her and Ryu’s sick son. It’s just me covering the floor until Cammy comes in to start her shift in four hours…
So what can I get for you two today?

FRED
I think I will have the fish and chips and a mug of Fire Mountain ale.

HARRY
I will have the shepherd’s pie and a mug of Fire Mountain ale.

NASH
Harry, you don’t realize how lucky you are! I have one shepherd’s pie left. My supplier promises to have more for me tomorrow morning…
I’ll have Ryu start on those right away!

NARRATOR
NASH walks back behind the counter and turns his head toward the kitchen.

NASH (yelling)
One WINFIELD SPECIAL and one shepherd pie, Ryu!

NARRATOR
NASH turns back to the patrons sitting at the counter.

NASH
So, any of you guys need another drink?

FRED
So tell me, HARRY. How did an average looking, middle-aged guy like you get someone as young and beautiful like Sarah interested in you? Geez, she’s like half of your age!

HARRY
What can I say, Fred? Some women prefer someone with experience and stamina!

FRED
Yeah, right Harry! You know it is only a matter of time before the old ball and chain finds out…

HARRY
I only have to wait a couple more days. On Thursday, Gertrude is travelling to Braemar in the Hidden Vale to visit her ill cousin, Morgana. She will be gone at least three weeks…

FRED
You’re playing with fire, my old friend! Gertrude is not a fool like Dagnar is. She is probably already suspicious about all of these late nights you and I have been having with our old friend, Han, the cargo ship captain, and that fellow, Lando, these past few weeks…You know, for an Outlander, Lando seems like a pretty cool guy. I am really enjoying this Earth card game he introduced us to. What is it called again?

HARRY
I believe he called it “No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker”. Hmm…of course, you like it Fred, you been winning quite a bit in these semiweekly poker tournaments. I haven’t been so lucky…

FRED
Cheer up, buddy! I’m sure that you will have much better luck tonight.

NARRATOR
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON and GUARDS HARRY DARKWOLF and # 2 enter the tavern and walk up to Fred and Harry’s table and surround it.

FRED
Is there something we can help you with, Guard Captain Jenson?

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Both of you will accompany us to the courthouse immediately for questioning with regard to a highly delicate matter. Come along quietly or there will be trouble…

FRED
May I ask what this in regard to?

NARRATOR
Shouting is heard from outside as the guards spot ALISHA and DVAR and begin pursuing them.

(Insert “Flashbang” sound effect)

NARRATOR
The guards are temporarily stunned by a flashbang grenade thrown by ALISHA. A GUARD SERGEANT enters the tavern. GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON turns to face her.

GUARD SERGEANT (apologetic)
Guard Captain Jenson, the other two Obsidians have managed to elude us! We think they may have escaped into the sewer system! Also, your brother seems to have disappeared…

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON (angry)
What?! This is totally unacceptable! Sergeant, take guards McDonnell, Simpson, Watkins, Reed, Fowler, Gunderson, and Coltrane and begin a search of the sewer system. Have guards Hill, Koch, Fury, Ross, Johnson, Caffrey, Scott, and Hays begin a discreet aboveground search. I will deal with these two suspected Obsidian agents personally…

GUARD SERGEANT
Yes, Guard Captain!

NARRATOR
The GUARD SERGEANT salutes CAPTAIN JENSON, then turns and exits the tavern.
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON turns back towards FRED and HARRY and glares at them. Both FRED and HARRY exchange quick glances with each other as they realize the seriousness of the situation.

HARRY
Um…I’m sure we can discuss all of this at the courthouse, Guard Captain Jenson. Of course, neither one of us wants any trouble.

NARRATOR
Both FRED and HARRY get up and accompany the guards as they exit the tavern. The BANKER and CRAFTING MERCHANT get up from their table.

CRAFTING MERCHANT (sighing)
Oh well, so much for that…

BANKER
See you at the courthouse!

NARRATOR
END OF SCENE V

(Insert music track.)

SCENE VI
NARRATOR
After being separately questioned by Guard Captain Robin Jenson and her second in command, Guard Lieutenant Malcolm Daniels, for several hours, Fred and Harry continue to deny that they are Obsidian agents plotting against the Oracle. As night falls and Governor Winfield and his friends go fishing at the waterfall, Magistrate Ian McMaster calls for a bench trial (i.e., one in which no jury is involved) and closes it to the public. Both the prosecutor and defense attorney find this highly suspicious, but know better than to object.

Let us peek in on the trial…

PROSECUTOR
So, Captain Becker, how do you know the two defendants? I remind you that you are under oath. Failure to tell the truth will render your plea agreement null and void.

HAN BECKER
Well, I’ve been helping Fred and Harry smuggle Shamizar to the mainland from the Hidden Vale for the past five years….

PROSECUTOR
Shamizar? I have never heard of that substance. Could you please explain to the court what that is?

HAN BECKER
Certainly. It is a fine pink powder made up of a few substances, but primarily sheep intestines. When mixed with an alcoholic beverage, it causes a chemical reaction which transforms the beverage into a powerful aphrodisiac. Since it can be used for illicit purposes, plus the fact that it requires five sheep intestines to produce one ounce of Shamizar, it is a banned substance. The guards in Owls Head have been cracking down lately on those who slaughter their precious sheep for this purpose. The drug is manufactured in a secret underground laboratory located in Owls Head and then transported by land to Kingsport. I ferry the goods from there to PaxLair once a month. My partners Fred and Harry unload it late at night and then transport it through the underground sewer system to their secret storage room in order to avoid detection by the city guards.

PROSECUTOR
I see. Is there a great demand for this drug?

HAN BECKER
Oh yes! The drug is highly sought after by the rich and powerful here in PaxLair and goes for about 5,000 gold per ounce these days.

PROSECUTOR
So I imagine that you, Fred, and Harry have gotten quite wealthy from the sales of this banned substance?

HAN BECKER
Well, I have. Fred and Harry seem to blow most of their gold on wine, women, and gambling.

PROSECUTOR
I see. I guess this gives us some insight into their moral character, doesn’t it, Captain Becker?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
I object! This calls for speculation on the part of the witness!

MAGISTRATE
Objection sustained. Do you have any further questions from this witness?

PROSECUTOR
No, your Honor!

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
I have no questions for this witness.

MAGISTRATE
Witness is dismissed!

MAGISTRATE
Bring in the next witness!

NARRATOR

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF escorts DAGNAR to the witness stand.

PROSECUTOR
Please state your name for the record.

DAGNAR
My name is Dagnar Vykris.

PROSECUTOR
How do you know the two defendants?
DAGNAR
I’m an importer of fine clothing, art, and jewelry for the wealthy here in PaxLair.

PROSECUTOR
Hmm…and how would you be acquainted with two lowly Market Square vendors?

DAGNAR
Please…Fred and Harry are two of my best customers!

PROSECUTOR
Oh really? The guards did not find any such items in a search of either of their premises.

DAGNAR
That’s because they keep it all stashed away in their secret love nests where they entertain their “lady friends”.

PROSECUTOR
So didn’t you find it odd that the two defendants could afford to spend so lavishly?

DAGNAR
At first I did, but Fred explained to me that he and his friend Harry are both well-paid covert Oracle operatives. Recently, they had been directed to observe the activities of my neighbor, Robert Sebastian, the new night shift bartender at the Bear Tavern. Mr. Sebastian is suspected of being a member of a banned Obsidian group trying to gather support for an insurrection against the Oracle.

PROSECUTOR
I see. That is why he had to enter your apartment on a daily basis?

DAGNAR
Oh yes! Fred has been observing Mr. Sebastian’s activities at home though a small hole drilled in my bedroom wall, while his fellow operative Harry has been observing his activities when is out and about PaxLair. Fred has giving me frequent updates on the evil Obsidian plot.

PROSECUTOR
How interesting…Did Fred provide you with any official credentials to prove he was an Oracle operative?

DAGNAR
Well, no he didn’t, but I’ve known both Fred and Harry for years. They wouldn’t lie to me about something this serious!

PROSECUTOR
So you took Fred at his word. The truth is you don’t know for sure if Fred was making up the whole story and is, in fact, a clever liar!

DAGNAR
Uh…no, I can’t say that with 100% certainty…

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
I object! The prosecutor is besmirching the defendant’s reputation without any proof…

PROSECUTOR
I will be providing that proof very shortly with my next witness…

MAGISTRATE
Very well then. Objection is overruled! Please continue, prosecutor…

PROSECUTOR
Thank you, your Honor. I have no further questions for this witness.

MAGISTRATE
The witness is dismissed.

MAGISTRATE
Bring in the next witness.

NARRATOR
GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF escorts MARISSA to the witness stand.

PROSECUTOR
Please state your name for the record.

MARISSA
My name is Marissa Vykris, wife of Dagnar Vykris.

PROSECUTOR
Can you collaborate the testimony provided by your husband?

MARISSA
Yes, indeed! I would like to add that Fred did show me a golden medallion which indicated his authority as an agent of the Oracle.

NARRATOR
The PROSECUTOR pulls out a large golden coin out of his pocket and shows it to MARISSA.

PROSECUTOR
Is this the medallion which he showed you?

MARISSA
Why, yes it is…

PROSECUTOR
Well, I have been in contact with the Oracle’s new ambassador, who has provided me with a signed affidavit which states that this is not a badge of authority, but rather a commemorative golden Oracle coin which has been minted by Sir Frank for the upcoming Reaffirmation Celebration. I am not sure how Fred managed to obtain one of these ahead of time, but he clearly lied about being an agent of the Oracle…

MARISSA (in shock)
Oh my…

PROSECUTOR
How much time has Fred been spending observing your neighbor’s activities?

MARISSA
Fred stops by every morning and spends about three hours peering through the hole in our bedroom wall and recording my neighbor’s activities in his journal.

NARRATOR
The PROSECUTOR steps back a few steps and then points his finger at MARISSA.

PROSECUTOR (loud voice)
That is a lie! Isn’t it true that you and Fred are carrying on an illicit affair behind your husband’s back?

MARISSA (pleading)
No…that’s not true!

NARRATOR
The PROSECUTOR pulls out a piece of parchment and waves it in front of MARISSA’s face.

PROSECUTOR
I have a sworn statement here from night shift dockworker Richard Long, who lives in the row house directly across the street from yours. Using his spyglass, he has observed you and Fred having sex every day soon after your husband leaves for work in the morning. What do you have to say for yourself?

(MARISSA starts CRYING)

MARISSA
Yes, I admit I have been sleeping with Fred, but I had no choice! The first day after my husband left for work, Fred said that he had lusted after me for quite some time and then threatened to implicate Dagnar in the Obsidian plot if I didn’t start sleeping with him! I love my husband and would do anything to protect him! If Fred lied about being an agent of the Oracle, then it was all for nothing…I am so ashamed of myself…

(MARISSA starts CRYING again)

NARRATOR
FRED suddenly stands up and points at MARISSA.

FRED (yelling)
That’s a lie! She was the one who tried to seduce me!

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Sit down, Fred!

NARRATOR
DAGNAR rises from his seat in the audience.

DAGNAR (angry yelling)
You bastard! I treated you like a brother! How dare you blackmail my wife into having sex with you! Die!

NARRATOR
DAGNAR pulls out a dagger and charges toward the stage!

MAGISTRATE
Guards, stop him!

NARRATOR
GUARDS HARRY DARKWOLF and # 2 enter the gallery and block DAGNAR’s path.

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF (growling)
Drop the dagger, Dagnar!

NARRATOR
Dagnar is the only one to notice that the guard’s eyes turn crimson red for an instant and he seems to have unusually sharp canine teeth. This triggers a memory from his youth in Ardoris…

(Note to Narrator: This flashback scene is pulled directly from The Avatar Chronicles I: Return of the Avatar, so you can reuse most of the audio. Slight changes in dialogue which need to be recorded are in italics.)

(Insert “Innocence” by Eliot Corley)

“Please give me back my ball!”, asked the young girl.

“I don’t think so!”, said one of the boys, passing it to one of his friends. The second boy taunted the girl by holding the ball in front of him. As the girl reached for the ball, he suddenly pulled it back beyond her reach and then tossed the ball to a third friend.
Young Dagnar held the ball out, just above the girl’s head. The little girl jumped up to get it, but the boy suddenly held it high above his head, beyond her reach! The little girl jumped up again, but to no avail. Dagnar and his two friends started laughing.

The little girl looked like she was about to cry, when the young High Priestess of Chaos, Amber Raine, and her pet wolf, Mori Tura, walked up.

Amber glared at the boys and said, “Give the little girl her ball back!”

Mori Tura started growling.

The three boys suddenly looked very nervous. Dagnar handed the ball back to the little girl.

“Now leave! And if I ever catch you bothering this little girl again, you will surely regret it!”, said Amber, as Mori Tura eyes suddenly turned bright red and he bared all of his sharp, pearly white teeth.

Dagnar cried out, “Ah, it’s some sort of …

(End of flashback sequence.)

DAGNAR (whispering)
…demon wolf!

NARRATOR
Guard Harry Darkwolf smiles upon hearing this. A very nervous Dagnar slowly begins to wet his pants.

GUARD # 2
We realize that you’re upset, Dagnar, but this is not the way to handle it. We don’t want to hurt you, but we will if necessary…

DAGNAR (whimpering, as he looks at Guard Harry Darkwolf)
Uh…OK…I don’t want any trouble…

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF (low growling)
A wide decision on your part, Dagnar…

NARRATOR
GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF turns to face Guard # 2.

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF
I can handle this.

NARRATOR
Guard # 2 nods and returns to his post. GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF escorts the frightened DAGNAR in between the bleachers while FRED sits back down.

DAGNAR (frightened)
Please don’t hurt me…

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF (threatening)
I won’t…as long as you keep my little secret. I must remain close to my beloved Amber so I can protect her from her many enemies…Her fiance, that wimpy playwright Gabriel Nightshadow, is useless in a fight!

(GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF snorts in disgust.)

DAGNAR (frightened)
I promise to keep quiet…

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF (threatening)
Good. Remember, I know where you live, Dagnar…

NARRATOR
A frightened DAGNAR quickly turns and leaves the area while GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF returns to his post.

HARRY (whispering to FRED)
This is not going well for us. The testimony provided by our friend, Han, proves that we are drug smugglers. Furthermore, the testimony which Sarah and the guards who searched my row house provided earlier was even more damning. The journals left to me by my late grandfather make it look like I carrying on his work as an Obsidian agent…and being painted as an adulterer doesn’t help either…

FRED (whispering to HARRY)
No kidding! I look even worse. Hey, lady, you’re supposed to be our defense attorney. Do something!

DEFENSE ATTORNEY (whispering)
Badgering a crying woman isn’t going to help your case, Fred. It’s her word against yours, and her credibility is a lot higher…

FRED (moaning)
This can’t get any worse…

PROSECUTOR
I have no further questions from this witness, your Honor…

MAGISTRATE
Does the defense attorney have any questions for the witness?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
No, your Honor…

MAGISTRATE
Very well then. The witness is dismissed.

MAGISTRATE
Bring in the next witness.

NARRATOR
GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF escorts the TOWN CRIER to the witness stand and then returns to his post.

PROSECUTOR
Please state your name for the record.

TOWN CRIER
My name is Ray Menderson. I’m the town crier.

PROSECUTOR
Are you acquainted with the two defendants?

TOWN CRIER
I sure do! I have known both Fred and Harry for over fifteen years. They’re really great guys!

PROSECUTOR
I see… Is it not true that two strangers arrived in PaxLair earlier today looking for Fred?

TOWN CRIER
Yes, a very attractive young woman and an elderly fellow claiming to be Fred’s cousin and uncle, respectively. I found that to be rather suspicious because when I first met Fred, he told me that he was an orphan and had no living relatives…

NARRATOR
The PROSECUTOR pulls out two wanted posters and shows them to the TOWN CRIER.

PROSECUTOR
Were these the two people in question?

TOWN CRIER
Yes, I believe so. The resemblance is uncanny…

PROSECUTOR
The TOWN CRIER has just identified two wanted criminals – D’Var, a powerful mage and high ranking member of the banned Obsidian group known as the Order of the Ebon Dawn, and Alisha Zorell, his personal bodyguard and assassin. Now why would a high ranking Obsidian official be here in PaxLair to visit Fred, a lowly produce vendor? There can be only one possible explanation…

NARRATOR
The PROSECUTOR turns towards FRED and points at him.

Fred is the leader of a covert Obsidian cell operating here in PaxLair! He and his second in command, Harry, are trying to recruit people to their cause by spreading lies and rumors about the Oracle!

NARRATOR
Both FRED and HARRY stand up immediately.

FRED (protesting)
No, that is not true!

HARRY
I don’t know why those two travelers lied about us, but I swear that FRED and I are just two loyal, hard working citizens!

PROSECUTOR
I think not! I urge the court to find these two guilty of treason and sentence them to death by beheading!

NARRATOR

HARRY turns toward the DEFENSE ATTORNEY.

HARRY
Damn it, you’re our defense attorney! Say something! Our lives are on the line…

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Sit down, you two! This is not helping your case…

NARRATOR
Both FRED and HARRY reluctantly sit down as the DEFENSE ATTORNEY stands up.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
While I admit that the prosecutor has presented a very compelling case, the fact is that all of the evidence is circumstantial. None of the evidence directly links my two clients to the two Obsidian agents in question. While it is true that my clients may not be of the highest moral character, there is nothing in their past actions which suggests that they are guilty of treason. I urge the court to find them not guilty and let them return to being productive members of the PaxLair community…

MAGISTRATE
I will consider all of the evidence which has been presented and return shortly with my decision…

NARRATOR

Guard Captain Robin Jenson suddenly enters the courtroom and approaches the Magistrate. He turns to face her.

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Sorry to interrupt, your Honor, but I just wanted to update you on the search for the other two Obsidian agents. It seems that my men have been unable to locate them in the underground sewer system, although we have confirmed that they did indeed enter it after they escaped from the Market Square and have not resurfaced since then.

MAGISTRATE
Hmm…They must have some sort of hidden base down there, but we don’t have sufficient manpower to mount a more thorough search…

FRED
Perhaps Harry and I could be of assistance in this matter?

MAGISTRATE
How so? Do you know the precise location of the secret Obsidian base?

FRED
No, but Harry and I know the underground sewer system better than anybody else in PaxLair and could help narrow your search to a handful of probable locations…in exchange for having the charges against us dismissed.

MAGISTRATE (angry)
You are in position to bargain!

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Your Honor, we have nothing to lose…and time is of the essence.

MAGISTRATE
Very well then. I will suspend the proceedings pending the outcome of the search. Guards, you will accompany the two prisoners during the search. Is that clear?

GUARDS HARRY DARKWOLF & # 2
Yes, your Honor!

MAGISTRATE
Proceed!

NARRATOR
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON bows, then turns around and exits the courtroom. GUARDS HARRY DARKWOLF & # 2 leave their posts and walk over to the defendants’ table.

GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF (growling)
Come with us! Don’t try to escape or you’ll end up dead! Understand?

NARRATOR
Both FRED and HARRY get up and nod. They exit the courtroom in single file, with GUARD HARRY DARKWOLF in the lead, followed by FRED, then HARRY, and finally GUARD # 2.

NARRATOR
No one notices the DEFENSE ATTORNEY briefly smile as her two clients are led away. I can’t believe I was actually paid to throw this case, she thinks to herself. Easiest 5,000 gold I ever made…

END OF SCENE VI

(Insert music track.)

NARRATOR
SCENE VII

Sometime later, at the secret underground base of the Order of the Ebon Dawn in the PaxLair sewer system, Alisha and D’Var plot their next move…

ALISHA
The rest of our members should be here in about half an hour, master.

D’VAR
Good. Have you checked on the human sacrifices?

ALISHA
Yes. They are still groggy from the drugs but appear to be in good health.
Camulus should be returning shortly with the twelve Naguri Blood Daggers needed for the ritual.

D’VAR
Excellent! Nothing can stop us now!

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE suddenly appears at the right doorway with spell components in hand, while GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON appears at the left doorway with her two handed flaming sword drawn.

MAGISTRATE
I wouldn’t count on that, D’VAR!

NARRATOR
D’VAR turns to face the MAGISTRATE while ALISHA turns to face GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON.

D’VAR (taunting)
Well, if it isn’t Oracle Senior Agent John Smith! So it seems that you’ve finally found me. Are you going to arrest me for what I did to your little brother?

MAGISTRATE (angry)
You bastard! Killing him wasn’t enough, was it? You had to turn him into a freaking zombie! I still remember that day I came home five years ago to find him munching on my wife’s brains. I had to choke back the tears as I decapitated poor Robert…

D’VAR (sneering)
I’m not going to apologize for my actions! Your brother deserved to be punished for leading that attack on my main base in Solania! I lost nearly half of my followers in that attack, including my only son, Kordesh. Afterwards, I was forced to set up several smaller bases, including the one here in PaxLair…

MAGISTRATE (angry)
No, I’m NOT going to arrest you, D’VAR! GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON and I are going to make sure that you and ALISHA pay for your crimes …with your lives!

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE casts Flame Arrow at D’VAR!

(Insert “Flame Arrow” sound effect.)

D’VAR
Argh!

NARRATOR
D’VAR casts DEATH RAY at the MAGISTRATE.

(Insert “Ghost Breath” sound effect.)

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON (bellowing)
Time to eliminate the Dakari Sisterhood of Assassins once and for all!

NARRATOR
CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON charges towards ALISHA!

(Insert “Rage of Blades” sound effect.)

ALISHA manages to dodge and deflect CAPTAIN JENSON’S attacks and manages to stab her in the stomach with one of her twin short swords!

(Insert “Stab” sound effect.)

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Uh…

ALISHA (taunting)
Ha! You’re going to have to do far better than that if expect to defeat me!

D’VAR (yelling)
Feel my power!

NARRATOR
D’VAR casts several LIGHTNING bolts at the MAGISTRATE!

(Insert “Thunder Sound FX” sound effect)

MAGISTRATE
Argh…

NARRATOR
ALISHA uses an OFFHAND ATTACK on GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON, who counters with a REND attack!

ALISHA
Uh….

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE runs up to D’VAR and hits him in the jaw with FLAME FIST!
(Insert “Torch” sound effect)

D’VAR
Ur..!

NARRATOR
D’VAR casts GUST!

(Insert first ten seconds of “Wind” Sound Effect.)

The MAGISTRATE is forced back!

Meanwhile, ALISHA unleashes a WHIRLING BLADES attack, but GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON counters with a COUP de GRACE attack!

The MAGISTRATE casts a large fireball at D’VAR!

(Insert “Large Fireball” sound effect)

D’VAR casts DOUSE, then runs up to MAGISTRATE and hits him with DEATH TOUCH!

(Insert “Ghost Breath” sound effect.)

D’VAR (surprised)
Prepare to die! What my SUMMON LICH spell fizzled?!

MAGISTRATE
Too bad for you! Burn foul sorcerer!

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE casts IMMOLATE on D’VAR!

(Insert “Fire Burning” sound effect.)

D’VAR
Argh…!

NARRATOR
D’VAR falls to the ground!

(Insert “Fall” sound effect.)

NARRATOR
MAGISTRATE approaches and examines the body. D’VAR suddenly springs to his feet and casts DEATH FIELD!
(Insert “Ghost 1” sound effect.)

D’VAR (snarling)
I’m taking you with me to the Underworld! My followers will carry on my work. The Obsidians will rise again!

MAGISTRATE
Uh…

NARRATOR
The MAGISTRATE fall to the ground – dead!

(Insert “Fall” sound effect.)

D’VAR
Oh damn…

NARRATOR
D’VAR dies too!

(Insert “Fall” sound effect.)

NARRATOR
Guard Captain Robin Jenson does not notice Alisha press a button on her sword hilts, which cause a thin green liquid to coat her blades.
ALISHA uses a REND attack on GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON. GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON staggers back and falls to her knees!

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON (gasping)
Poison? You fight without honor!

ALISHA (mocking)
Of course not! I am an assassin. I do whatever it takes to win!

ALISHA (gloating)
I am going to mount your head on my wall!

NARRATOR
ALISHA does not notice SARAH materialize behind with her dagger drawn after using Silent Movement.

SARAH (yelling)
I think not! Die, Obsidian witch!

NARRATOR
SARAH slashes ALISHA in the back. ALISHA falls to the ground dead.

(Insert “Fall” sound effect.)

SARAH approaches GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON and casts PURIFY and then HEALING RAY on her.

(Insert ‘Purify” and “Healing Ray” sound effects.)

NARRATOR
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON breathes a sigh of relief as she stands up.

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
I feel much better now. Thank you for saving me, Sarah!

SARAH
You’re welcome…big sister!

NARRATOR
GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON walks over to the MAGISTRATE’s body.

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
My poor Ian…

SARAH
Ian died a hero, taking down a mighty foe of the Oracle. It is vital that we carry on his work, so his sacrifice will not have been in vain…

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON (angry)
Yes. I will make sure that all of the Obsidians operating here in PaxLair are rounded up tonight and sent to the guillotine tomorrow! It’s a good thing that our town crier and executioner Ray already has several spare guillotine blades sharpened and ready for use…

SARAH
I managed to free the drugged prisoners, including our dear brother. They are being escorted back to the surface by the Guard Sergeant and a couple of his men. The rest of the guards will remain in position and apprehend any Ebon Dawn cult members who approach the sacrificial chamber. Now, why don’t you say we get out of here, big sister?

GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON
Sounds good to me…

NARRATOR
Both SARAH and GUARD CAPTAIN ROBIN JENSON exit the chamber.

END OF SCENE VII

(Insert music track.)

SCENE VIII

NARRATOR
Sunset, the next day…

FRED
So, Harry, did you hear what happened to poor Nash?

HARRY
Yeah. I heard he was incinerated by a fireball cast by the cook, Ryu, right in front of the lunch time crowd! I’m not sure what drove him to do it though. Apparently, Ryu died in the ensuing melee with the city guards.

FRED
The word is that Ryu found out this morning that his son wasn’t really his! It seems that Nash and Chun-Li have been having an affair behind his back for the past 1 ½ years…

HARRY
Wow, I had no idea…

FRED
It was rather nice of Guard Captain Jenson to drop all charges and release us from custody…

HARRY
Yes, but the damage is done. That stupid guard from the courthouse, Harry Darkwolf, got drunk at Wody’s last night and blabbed about the trial to all those assembled there. One of the bar patrons told Gertrude about my affair with Sarah and she threw me out of the house…

FRED
Yeah, and now no one in town seems to want do business with us. It seems that even being named as a suspected Obsidian spy is enough to destroy one’s reputation…

HARRY
I think that we’ve outstayed our welcome in PaxLair. Time for us to move on. Any suggestions?

FRED
Well, I hear that the metropolis of Vengeance is looking for vendors…

HARRY
Isn’t that located at the northern end of the Grunvald desert? You know I can’t stand extreme heat! Besides, I’ve heard that Vengeance is a very dangerous place to live…

FRED
Look on the bright side, old friend! An isolated place like that presents plenty of opportunities for two clever guys like us…

HARRY
I guess so…

NARRATOR
Both FRED and HARRY walk off into the sunset…

SOUND EFFECT CREDITS

All sound effects used in this production are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

The following sound effects can be found at:
http://soundbible.com

“Strong Punch” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Flashbang” – Recorded by Kibblesbob
“Flame Arrow” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Stab” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Thunder Sound FX” – Recorded by Grant Evans
“Torch” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Wind” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Large Fireball” – Recorded by Mike Koenig
“Fire Burning” – Recorded by JaBa

The following sound effects can be found at:
http://opengameart.org

“Fall” – Recorded by remaxim
“Ghost Breath” – Recorded by qubodup
“Ghost 1” – Recorded by qubodup

MUSIC CREDITS

Topher Mohr and Alex Elena – Stalling
Bensound – Sexy http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music
Topher Mohr and Alex Elena – Golden Days
Orbital Music – https://goo.gl/NhQplR
Danny Olson – If I lose Myself tonight – https://soundcloud.com/dannyolsonmusic
Tobu – Dreams – http://7obu.com
DasDeer – Dysfunctional, Flawed, and Free – https://soundcloud.com/simon_hjort/dysfunctional-flawed-and-free
The Rite of Ashi – https://goo.gl/KOvxKj
Peter Grundy – The One Who Dwells Within – https://www.facebook.com/PeterGundryOfficial
Peter Grundy – When Darkness Shines Brightest – www.facebook.com/PeterGundryOfficial
Michael Ghelfi – Of Fire and Steam – https://soundcloud.com/michael-ghelfi

The following tracks can be found at machinima sound – https://machinimasound.com
Land of the Wizard
Escape from The Temple
Incursion
Rallying The Defense
Setting Sail
End Game
Resurrection
Damnation
Exigence
Battle of Kings
Digital Fortress
Hyperborean Menace
Olympos

THE END

March 5 2017

Conversations in Paxlair – by the NBTT

The New Britannia Theater Troupe Presents

Conversations in Paxlair

Written by Womby

Produced and directed by Asclepius

Music supervisor and director of Public Relations Amber Raine

Stage Manager and Technical Director Sir Stile Teckel

Voice Cast

Doctor Shroud as Harry
Lord Baldrith as Fred
Lady Adnor as Citizen 1
Asclepius as Citizen 2
Cordelayne Valkaris as Guard
Sophi as Christine
Jynx as Oracle Agent
Amber Raine as Sarah

And Asclepius as the narrator

Narrator
Every day, the market square in Paxlair is a bustling center of activity. Stallholders stand ready to sell their wares, trying to catch the attention of passersby. However, what seems to be a typical day at the market, with innocent and hard-working merchants, can be something quite different beneath the surface. Let us listen in for a moment to the adventures of three such merchants. Fred and Harry are at their stalls, chatting to each other in between selling priceless treasures to customers. Sarah, at an adjoining stall, is quietly going about her business.

Harry
Fresh fish, get yer fresh fish here. Caught this morning in Spindrift Bay. Look into their eyes and see how fresh they are!

Narrator
A well-dressed lady approaches Harry’s stall and catches his eye.

Harry
You Madam, one glance at your impressive attire tells me that you have exquisite taste. It is so refreshing to encounter a person of such refinement. Only one such as yourself could possibly have a palate sufficiently refined to appreciate the delicate flavours of my exclusive produce. Take these extremely rare Wobbegong fillets, for example. Caught fresh this morning.

Citizen 1
I’m not familiar with the Wobbegong. What breed of fish is that?

Harry
I’m not surprised that you have not heard of it madam, for it is an extremely rare delicacy, and dangerous to capture. This very catch took the lives of two fishermen. Naturally when I heard of this I immediately bought the catch and notified a certain gentleman who lives on a hill not far from here. Professional discretion of course prevents me from revealing his name, but he has a standing order for any items of exceptional rarity and taste that I secure. He will be serving Wobbegong as the main course at his banquet this evening. Fortunately for you I kept four fillets with the intention of surprising my wife. Sadly she was unexpectedly called away to tend to her sick mother. I am therefore prepared to part with them for a mere 500 gold apiece. That is considerably less than I received from a certain gentleman whose name I cannot mention, but you impress me, and I am prepared to let them go at cost.

Citizen 1
Well, I do feel like I deserve something a little special. All right, I’ll take your remaining fillets.

Narrator
As his customer departs, Harry turns to Fred

Fred
Where was I? Oh yes. So anyhow, there I was hiding in the wardrobe hurriedly putting on my pants when Dagnar comes racing up the stairs and bursts into the room, accusing his wife of infidelity. I can hear him noisily searching everywhere while he berates his wife, so I open the wardrobe door and wave to him. While he’s standing there looking half-furious, half-confused, I say, “Ah, thank goodness you’ve arrived. The Oracle has an important job for you.”.

Harry
You certainly like to live dangerously Fred. What happened next?

Fred
Well, fortunately Dagnar’s curiosity overcame his anger, and rather than attacking me he paused, saying “What is the meaning of this? You have five seconds to explain yourself before I turn you into sausage meat.”

Narrator
A man wanders through the market place and pauses in front of Fred’s stall.

Fred
Good morning sir, can I interest you in the freshest produce in the entire vale? Just this morning we received a rare, limited shipment of these incredible new dorick seeds, which are selling fast. I suggest you act quickly if you don’t want to miss out.

Citizen 2
What’s a dorick?

Fred
You haven’t heard? The plant they grow into produces incredible fruit. They are unlike anything you’ve ever tried before, and they keep for ages. An ideal snack at more refined parties, or they can be used as a nutritious lightweight provision on long journeys.

Citizen 2
Can you show me their fruit?

Fred
If only I could! Sadly the fruit are always sold out within minutes of obtaining a new supply. If someone were to plant and harvest these I would pay good money for a steady supply. I would do it myself, but sadly I do not own land.

Citizen 2
Hmm. How much for your entire collection of seeds?

Fred
The entire collection? Well, I guess I could let them go for 1000 gold, but I would be very reluctant to do so. I would need a guarantee that I would get first refusal on the purchase of any fruit that they produce.

Citizen 2
That seems fair. Agreed. Here you go.

Narrator
As the customer departs. Fred turns back to Harry

Harry
So what happened next?

Fred
Well, as you know, Dagnar is not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I turned to him and said, “What I am about to tell you is top secret information, and I can only reveal it if you agree to assist the Oracle in an operation of the utmost secrecy and importance.”

Naturally he wasn’t about to turn down what he thought was a direct request from the Oracle, so he nodded in acquiescence. I then asked if he agreed to serve the Oracle faithfully and without question, and never to reveal anything that he learned in her service.

Dagnar replied “I do,” at which point I told him that the occupant of the row house next door was a member of a banned Obsidian group, and was no doubt plotting an insurrection. I told him that I was one of two operatives that the Oracle intended to place in row houses on either side of the subject’s home, and that Dagnar’s wardrobe was ideally placed to enable me to observe him. Naturally I would need access to the wardrobe during the day so that I could observe the subject using a small hole drilled through the wall. I added that the Oracle would look favourably on him for providing assistance in this matter.

Harry
He bought it?

Fred
Hook, line and sinker. To this day I regularly visit his wife while he is away at work, and provide him with frequent updates on the progress of the evil Obsidian plot. Speaking of evil plots Harry, did you ever discover why the house next to yours is haunted?

Harry
Indeed, and a rather odd tale it is. As you know, the sounds from that house have been keeping me up for weeks. Since it is at the end of the street, and thus has no other neighbours, I have been the only one to suffer. Getting the local guard to take an interest proved fruitless, so I decided to investigate on my own.

Fred
And to think only a few minutes ago you accused me of living dangerously. Go on…

Harry
Well, since the house has been unoccupied for years, I figured the chances of the owner turning up were minimal, and forced a window to gain entry. The front room was pitch dark, and I dared not use a light spell for fear of attracting a passing guard. Fortunately, all these row houses share an identical layout, so I began to slowly feel my way up the stairs. It was at that moment that I heard the eerie sound that had woken me every night for weeks, coming from the top floor.

Narrator
At this point a guard enters walking purposefully to Harry’s stall. He is accompanied by a mature woman, who is dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.

Harry
Greetings citizens, how may I help you this fine day? I have only the freshest fish for sale, caught this morning in Spindrift Bay. Look into their eyes and see how fresh they are!

Guard
Is this the one?

Christine
Yes, that’s him. He used to have a stall in Owl’s Head, until he was chased out of town. This is the evil snake who promised to marry my daughter, and then skipped town with the dowry.

Guard
What do you have to say for yourself, citizen?

Harry
Ah, Roland. Roland, Roland Roland. I love my identical twin brother dearly, but he leads a troubled life. I have tried many times to place him on the right path, but I fear that we are destined to be complete opposites. Why only last week, as I was donating food to the poor, I thought of him. I wondered if there was not some way that I had overlooked, whereby I could have steered him towards a path of virtue.

Christine
Ha! What a preposterous tale! Only an idiot would believe you have an identical twin brother. There is no doubting that you are the despicably cad who broke the heart of my poor, weeping daughter. It is a tragedy that in this so-called enlightened metropolis, being the rear end of a Kobold is not a capital offence.

Guard
I have an identical twin brother. He is a great disappointment to the family.

Harry
Please believe me lady when I tell you how mortified I am that your poor daughter has been yet another victim of my despicable brother. Much as it pains me to say this, I really hope that he can be caught and punished before he brings more misery to the world.

Guard
Aye. I know how you feel. My brother Reginald has done untold damage to our family name. Please let me know if you hear of Roland’s whereabouts.

Narrator
The guard nods curtly at Harry and starts to walk away.

Christine
What? You believed that drivel? Come back and arrest the lying scoundrel!

Narrator
Christine wrings her hands in frustration and hurries off after the guard.

Fred
I believe you were ascending the stairs. Please continue…

Harry
Indeed. After cautiously inching my way up the stairs I eventually reached the top floor. With each step the sound had been growing louder, but as I reached the top of the stairs it suddenly stopped. The door to the front room was open, and a thin shaft of moonlight forced its way through a dirty, broken window, allowing me to barely discern some vague shapes. I tiptoed towards the room from whence I was certain the sound had come. Reaching the door I peered inside. In the far corner of the room I could see a dark, huddled shape with a single glowing eye. Gathering my courage I forced myself to approach the strange beast, and it was then that I discovered the true nature of my nightly tormentor.

Fred
Go on…

Harry
It was an aether vibration amplifier, sitting on a bedside table. A small rodent had taken up residence inside, and its nocturnal ventures occasionally switched the device on or off. Since it was not tuned to a station, the result was the strange hissing sound that had been waking me up at night.

Fred
[SARCASTIC] Great story Harry. Terrific climax. Now I know how your wife feels. Anyhow, there goes the sun. Shall we pack up and adjourn to Wody’s?

Harry
Of course. Why should today be any different from every other day?

Narrator
Harry and Fred pack up their wares and head off toward Wody’s Tavern, chuckling as they go.
Meanwhile, a mysterious person approaches Sarah’s stall.

Oracle Agent
The Oracle needs your report, agent Sarah.

Sarah
As directed, I have observed the behaviour of Fred and Harry. It appears that Fred has been spreading misinformation about the Oracle, and I overheard him mention an Obsidian plot. Harry has been breaking and entering houses in PaxLair.

Oracle Agent
Excellent work, agent Sarah. I think they both warrant closer scrutiny. They may very well be instigators of a serious plot against the Oracle. Commencing tomorrow, agents McQuade and Walker will begin around the clock surveillance. Rest assured that if these two turn out to be Obsidian agents, they will both be taken care of…

February 23 2017

Harvest of the Shattered Moon 4 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the final instalment of this wonderful story from Andartianna. It is entitled
Harvest of the Shattered Moon
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 9, “Promise, Prison, and Pennyvise”
Iron Marshall and Blight Mister finished off the rest of the skeletons and the party cleared the way to the top floor of the tower. The top floor was filled with all sorts of torture devices, chains, and other horrors. Zazeriz saw Boniface slumped over, hung from chains, in one of the corners. Zazeriz raced over to Boniface and was struck with a Death Ray. She quickly repaired the damage with Healing Touch, but stopped where she stood. A deep booming voice rang throughout the hall. “Servant, have you brought the bonesteel dagger you promised me?”

“Demonic spirit of Saul the Damned, I will do nothing for you. I have burned your mark and extinguished your fell blue flames. You will free Boniface and leave me and my companions in peace or step forward and be destroyed by our hands.” Zazeriz said.

“Small words from an insignificant being. I, however, sense that you have brought the bonesteel dagger with you. I will relieve you of the dagger and your bodies of their flesh and put your skeletons into a prison for all eternity as my slaves.” Saul the Damned said.

The blue light near Boniface began to intensify and an undead mage appeared. He immediately began resurrecting the skeletons that lay around him; each of their creaking brittle bones reforming into hideous abominations. Saul the Damned’s army of skeletons began attacking Zazeriz and her companions. As Zazeriz cast healing spells over her companions, she noticed that each of the skeletons that fell were quickly revived by Saul the Damned.

Zazeriz began searching for a way to prevent the skeletons from reviving. When a close one fell next to her, she quickly dug through its bones searching for whatever items kept it under the control of Saul the Damned. After Zazeriz removed all the items from the skeleton, the bones no longer revived. Zazeriz called out to her companions, “Quickly! Loot every corpse that falls. Take all their items. This prevents them from resurrecting.”

Iron Maiden dashed forward as another skeleton fell and grabbed all the items on its body. The rest of Zazeriz’ party quickly followed suit and within a short time Saul the Damned was all alone. Now the entire party focused all their attacks onto Saul the Damned, which quickly crushed his health. Pennyvise surged forward to crush Saul the Damned’s last health point, but the skeleton mage exploded into blue flames before Pennyvise could hit him. Saul the Damned’s ominous voice rang throughout the hall. “You have defeated me this time, but I will have my revenge should you ever be foolish enough to enter the Artifice.”

Chapter 10, “Saul, Scroll, and Surprise. “
Saul the Damned’s fire vanished from the room and Zazeriz rushed over to Boniface. She reached into her pouch and took out a health potion then slowly dropped it into Boniface’s mouth. Boniface shook with terror for a moment then opened her eyes and saw Zazeriz standing in front of her.

“Ugg those health potions are so sweet. I don’t know how people can drink them.” Boniface said with a half smile.

Zazeriz stifled a laugh then quickly broke the chains that held Boniface to the wall and carefully helped Boniface cross the room. Iron Marshall stepped forward and lifted Boniface into his arms and helped carry her out of the Shuttered Eye Tower.

After about a week of recovering in Ardoris, Boniface was ready to travel back to Ecteter. She was able to stand long enough to use a recall scroll to teleport back to Ecteter. Zazeriz stayed in with Boniface for a few days making sure that she was cared for. Snip-snip visited frequently, and after a short while, Boniface seemed to be almost back to normal. She sat at the long table in the main floor of the Bilge and Barnacle Tavern and stared at Zazeriz. “What is going to happen now?”

“I believe that Organized Chaos, myself included, have decided to enter the Artifice and track down the person responsible for the Blood River Massacre. It seems that their breach has now interfered with both of our lives. I also want to know what the Bonesteel dagger has to do with the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, and the only way I’m going to get answers is to enter the Artifice. I have a surprise for you if you will allow me to give it to you.” Zazeriz said.

“Oh? What sort of surprise?” Boniface asked.

“Follow me and I will show you.” Zazeriz said.

“All right. Lead on.” Boniface said.

Zazeriz led Boniface out into the outskirts of the city of Ecteter where they had been celebrating the harvest festival before Boniface was captured. Waiting on the hillside above the city beside a giant burning bonfire were all the members of Organized Chaos. They all cheered as Boniface walked next to the bonfire.

“Boniface, we know that you were a little occupied with recovering after your ordeal, so we took the liberty of entering your beer into this year’s best in Novia competition of beers.” Blight Mister said, lifting a giant golden stein trophy. “We are happy to say that you won the competition for all of Novia, and here is your trophy.”

Boniface gave an exasperated cry of joy and took the giant golden stein trophy into her arms, hugging it closely to her chest. All of Organized Chaos cheered her on and enjoyed many barrels of beer. As the moon crossed overhead, Zazeriz pondered the future, wondering where hellish fury would find her next and how she would defeat it.

The End for now……

February 17 2017

Harvest of the Shattered Moon 3 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next instalment of this wonderful story from Andartianna. It is entitled
Harvest of the Shattered Moon
Background music by Smartsound

 

Chapter 6, “Books, Braziers, and Blight”
Zazeriz headed past the bank and waved at Blackmoor as she passed by the guild register building. Up in the top floor of the combat training building, Parker was usually standing over a book. Today his book was Library Fragments XI. Parker was always dressed in refined armor with gold medallions across his chest. He was a good half a head taller than Zazeriz is. Zazeriz sat on a bench nearby him, and as he finished talking to another person, he turned to Zazeriz, who was sitting patiently waiting for him.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Zazeriz. It has been quite some time since you have last visited with me. I hope all is well with you.” Parker said.

“I am personally doing well, however one of my close friends has been taken to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. I was hoping that you might have some insights into the undead entities that lurk there.” Zazeriz said.

“That is indeed a foul place. Many an adventurer has gone and not returned. From what I have heard, the spirit that lurks there is called Saul the Damned. I believe he is what is left of a failed necromantic experiment. If you are planning on invading the inner sanctum of this demon, I would suggest you bring several companions with you. I have heard rumor that you can weaken Saul the Damned by using either Douse or Soothing Rain on the various braziers of fire that are linked to his power.” Parker said.

“That is a very good insight. I will certainly attempt to Douse the braziers within the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. Are there any other spells you would recommend using while facing the fell beings within the tower?” Zazeriz asked.

“Banish Undead is always an excellent spell to use. Fire will also burn the bones of the undead. I have something else that may assist you in your goal.” Parker reached into his pocket and pulled out a large diamond. “Diamonds can be used to augment your gear and enhance your life attunement. You may take this one. Perhaps your guild has a way to add others.” Parker said.

“I thank you for your help. You have always been a good friend and a gifted master trainer of life. I hope to speak with you again soon. Take care.” Zazeriz said.

Parker nodded and Zazeriz headed back down into the city of Ardoris. Zazeriz moved to the center of the city where a giant statue of a woman had been erected. Gathered nearby were many members of Organized Chaos. Blight Mister stepped forward and said, “We have all gathered and are ready to assist you. Shall we head out of Ardoris immediately?”

“Yes. I have completed talking with Parker. He gave me some insights into the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. We must target the fire braziers throughout the tower to weaken the malevolent spirit who dwells there.” Zazeriz said.

“Alright. Everyone form up and let’s head out.” Blight Master said.

Chapter 7, “Path, Party, and Pointed.”
The path from Ardoris to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye was not very far. You could follow the shore line due east and end up at the gates to the tower within a few short hours. Swampland covers most of the terrain, so you have to carefully make your way around it to reach the tower. The Tower of the Shuttered Eye sticks out as a violent mass of stone on the very corner of the continent Novia. It has three distinct tiers or levels and slightly leans toward the left as if sinking into the swamps that surround it.

Zazeriz’ companions gathered around her as they neared the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. Swamps filled the area to the left, but an old beaten path wound directly to the right toward the entrance of the tower. Almost immediately, fell skeletons began attacking the party. Zazeriz waved her hands, calling for Soothing Rain to gather around her. The rain fell on her companions healing them as they jumped forward to meet the enemy. Blight Mister’s arrows soared across the sky shattering the bones of the first skeleton. Iron Marshal ran and Shield Bashed and a second archer fell into dust. As a third archer began hacking away at her companions, Zazeriz entered a Spellbinder Stance to quickly call for the healing powers of life to maintain her companion’s health. As the fight continued, Zazeriz raised her arms into the air to cast Banish Undead, slamming the skeletons with white light. They shuddered with the energy of the spell and collapsed into dust. Zazeriz and her companions quickly moved toward the entrance of the tower. Zombies began slinking toward them slowly. One by one they cleared the grounds of any evil undead. Finally the tower stood before them. Its massive banner of three snakes twirling in a circle. The serpentine figure colored green towered over a massive glyph like eye that rose above the door. The party pulled the door open walking within the first hall. The entrance hall to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye was like a crypt with spiderwebs covering the ceilings and the walls.

As the party opened the second door entering into the next chamber of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, the room seemed mysteriously quiet for such an evil place. On the floor just inside the entrance was a dead body with a note. The note said,

“Must get out. Must get out. Horrible. Horrible.”

The poor man must have been tortured by the demons within the tower. Blue braziers flittervesd all around the first floor. On first inspection, Zazeriz could not imagine dousing all these flames, but she attempted to do so, slowly making her way around what appeared to be a giant long forgotten library. Various statues hung in the corners, one being of Anapa Lord of Death. The blue flames began to fade under Zazeris’ spell and the room dimmed, becoming darker. Zazeriz pointed to the rooms along the sides of the walls to have her companions begin searching for Boniface in the tower. While finding Boniface on the first floor was unlikely, they may encounter other prisoners of the tower. They would attempt to free as many as possible.

While her companions were searching the first floor, Zazeriz took the time to look through some of the books on the various shelf. One entitled “The Sorcerer’s Daughter” caught her eye. The author talked about bad dreams, faceless attackers, and dreams that seemed similar to the nightmares Zazeriz was experiencing. As Zazeriz neared one of the five-sided spike braziers, her left pouch began getting extremely hot. She took the pouch at her side and opened it up and found the piece of skin she had cut off glowing bright blue, almost burning her hand through her gloves. Before Zazeriz doused the flame in the brazier, she felt compelled to destroy the piece of skin so she threw it into the brazier. A flash of light lit up the entire room and all the braziers went out. Now in extreme darkness, Zazeriz cast Light on all of her companions. The side chambers were all empty except for some sleeping skeletons which jumped up to attack her companions. They easily dispatched the skeletons. Zazeriz walked across the main hall and felt the urge to sit in the gothic chair near the stairwell. She had the feeling that one could wait at the evil entity’s pleasure to enter the tower, but Zazeriz would wait no longer.

Chapter 8, “Iron Marshall, Illumination, and Iron Maiden”
Iron Marshall moved toward the stairwell and Zazeriz followed closely behind him and cast the spells Enlightenment, Strength of Earth, and Air’s Embrace, to enhance his attributes. Iron Marshall surged forward in a defensive stance as a slime began sliding down the stairs toward the party. The rest of the party attacked with their full strength to kill the slime before it could overpower Iron Marshall’s strength. Within moments, bubbles appeared on the slime and it stopped moving.

The rest of Zazeriz’s party grouped around her and they all walked slowly up the stairwell to the next landing. As they walked through the room, skeleton bodies littered the floor. Within moments of the party crossing the scattered skeletons, the necromantic energies surged around them and the party was attacked on both sides. Zazeriz cast Elysian Illumination, which healed the party around her and damaged the skeletons. Blight Mister launched Multi-shot into the nearest skeleton, shattering the bones into dust. A second skeleton lunged at Iron Maiden, who was standing behind Zazeriz. She turned quickly and cast the Spell of Gust, which knocked the skeleton away. This gave Iron Marshall enough time to Shield Bash the skeleton into a nearby wall.

Once the landing was clear, Zazeriz looked over her companions to make sure no one was badly hurt. She then reapplied her spell enhancements to all party members, and they moved forward up the next flight of stairs. Now that they knew the skeletons on the floor would rise, the party was more wary at each pile of bones. The strength and courage of Zazeriz’ companions was unmatched and soon they cleared floor after floor and made their way higher into the tower. Each landing where they were rooms they check them carefully for any living souls trapped within the towers, but none had survived so far. Finally, as they reached the top of the tower, the amount of fell creatures increased exponentially, and soon waves of skeletons were slamming into Zazeriz’ party’s defenses.

Blight Mister let out a battle cry, and began shooting everything around him. Iron Maiden began reinforcing the party with extra heals and slamming Searing Rays of sun onto the enemies around her. Pennyvise went into a dive next to Iron Maiden, catching a sword about to hit her. He then surged forward parrying the skeleton’s attacks. Another skeleton went after Iron Maiden and she blasted it with a gust of wind, stunning it until Pennyvise Taunted the skeleton to attack him. As the skeleton’s back was turned, Zazeriz cast Banish Undead and the skeleton fell into Pennyvise’s Shield Bash and the rays of light struck it from behind shattering it into dust.

February 9 2017

Harvest of the Shattered Moon 2 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next instalment of this wonderful story from Andartianna. It is entitled
Harvest of the Shattered Moon
Background music by Smartsound

 

Chapter 3, “Parting, Path, and Pass.”
Zazeriz said farewell to Snip-snip and headed east past the Sawtooth Thicket and the South Quell woods. After two day’s travel, Zazeriz stopped for a night in Honor Hold. The hold was pleasant enough, but regardless of how good or bad the location was, Zazeriz had violent dreams. An evil undead something or other terrorized Zazeriz in her sleep.

Zazeriz had many bad dreams over the millennia, but lately they had been the same thing. Years ago she had been drawn into the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. Whatever evil force condemned all the souls that entered there was wrathful at Zazeriz for managing to escape. The talisman could not be a coincidence. The dark forces of the tower were trying to get Zazeriz to return; but before she jumped back into the tower, she wanted to make sure that Boniface had indeed been kidnapped to draw her there. Perhaps this was not a sinister plan, but a conflict between merchants which could be solved with money.

Zazeriz was not invincible. She often seemed that way because her life attunement was very high and her skill at healing unmatched. She had no great love of the art of damaging things, having patched up so many sick and injured patients over the years. She did, however, enjoy travelling and exploring. Being immortal had the benefit of allowing voyages endlessly. Zazeriz also had no lack of gold, which made her travels more enjoyable.

Zazeriz dashed across Brightbone Pass, bypassing the annoying skeletal mages and archers that lurked the passes. She had spent many hours healing in Brightbone Pass. Many of her companions over the years sought the rich yields of metals and herbs in the pass. They had all survived, thanks to Zazeriz’ healing abilities. With Brightbone Pass behind her, Zazeriz quickly made her way through the West Perennial Trail. There were many little towns on the road to Ardoris, but none that Zazeriz had time to stop in.

Chapter 4, “Ask, Answer, and Advice.”
Within a half day, Zazeriz made the outskirts of Ardoris. As she entered the city, lines of wagons waited to carry people out to the various towns nearby. She quickly crossed the large bridge that marked the entrance to Ardoris. She glanced at the various fishermen below the bridge. Zazeriz went to the town cryer, checking in when she entered the city. She asked him where Ardoris Imports was located, and he indicated that it was along the docks. Zazeriz asked the town cryer if he happened to know the owner’s name. He said she was called Simone Von Eglinger.

Zazeriz went to the docks nearby and staked out a place to watch Ardoris Imports for a while. The guard barracks being close by made it harder to endlessly watch the shop. Zazeriz kept switching her location and then finally decided to go to the Tavern of the South Wind. Zazeriz paid Draulius, the tavernkeep, to rent out his rooms upstairs. What Zazeriz actually wanted was access to the balcony above the Ardoris Imports. From this vantage point, Zazeriz could keep watch on all the comings and goings into the shop.

After six hours of watching Ardoris Imports, Zazeriz came to the conclusion that Simone Von Eglinger did not run a very good business. No customers came anywhere near her store throughout the entire day. She was sure it was time to confront Simone Von Eglinger and ask her about her involvement in the disappearance of Boniface. Zazeriz walked into the back door and found no one present in the main shop. However, upon entering, Zazeriz could hear someone crying upstairs. Zazeriz followed the sound of the cries and found the second floor empty except for supplies for the shop. On the third floor, Zazeriz found a large desk with books scattered across it and piles of books lying disheveled around the room. There was still no sign of Simone until Zazeriz opened a small closet in the back. There she found Simone Von Eglinger sobbing in a corner.

Upon opening the closet door, Simone Von Eglinger looked up from her tear soaked hands and said, “I’m sorry, but my shop is closed today. Whatever you are here for, I can’t help you with.”

“I’m afraid this cannot wait. I found this talisman of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye left where my friend Boniface was last seen. I have been told that you were the last person to have quarreled with her.” Zazeriz said.

At this question, Simone Von Eglinger burst out crying. Streams of tears poured down her face. “I am so sorry. I had no choice. The spirits from the Tower of the Shuttered Eye told me they would kill me if I did not give the talisman to Boniface.” Simone Von Eglinger said.

“However did you get mixed up with the necromancers of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye?” Zazeriz asked.

“I went the region to get better maps of what is there. You see, I am a cartographer and new and exotic locations sell really well as maps. My store has not been doing well, so I thought I could make a quick profit by drawing the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. I was captured by skeletons upon entering the area. They took me inside where a malevolent voice told me that if I wanted to live, I would have to take the talisman to Boniface in Etceter. During the harvest season, I was to make sure that a healer named Zazeriz was in the locale. After I verified that you were the person mentioned, I made a fabricated story about wanting to buy beer from Boniface. I paid for the beer with gold in a pouch. I hid the talisman in the pouch so that Boniface would receive it. She must not have seen it until later the next morning as I still had the painful tattoo of three headed snake in a circle on my shoulder.” Simone Von Eglinger said through continued sobs.

“A tattoo you say? Was the tattoo something like this?” Zazeriz said, pulling a square piece of dried skin from a pouch on her side.

“Did you kill someone to get that? I could find no way to rub it off.” Simone Von Eglinger said in a horified gasp as she looked at the dried skin.

“This is a piece of my skin. I cut the tattoo off my shoulder and ended the Tower of the Shuttered Eye’s hold over me. I assume your tattoo vanished after you complete the task of delivering the talisman to Boniface.” Zazeriz said.

“Yes. The tattoo and the pain associated with it left me in the morning. I have been scared to death that it would return and kill me.” Simone Von Eglinger said.

“I would advise you never to venture close to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye again, as next time you may not be so lucky. I have received the information I needed and advise you to live a better life. Be happy with the small joys and do not seek wealth for the sake of wealth.” Zazeriz said.

Chapter 5, “Undead, Unknown, and Unprepared.”
Zazeriz left Ardoris Imports and headed back to the center of town. As soon as she got to the town bank, Zazeriz began checking what supplies she had available in Ardoris. Zazeriz had enough reagents and supplies needed to heal an army; and an army she would need. Zazeriz walked outside the bank and peered up into the star studded night sky. She began to concentrate very hard. Zazeriz sent out her call to all the members of Organized Chaos, the guild of which Zazeriz was member of. Immediately, responses came back to Zazeriz. The members of Organized Chaos would come to Zazeriz’ defense. A defense Zazeriz was sure to need as she attempted to rescued Boniface from the Tower of the Shuttered Eye.

Once several members of Organized Chaos had teleported into Ardoris, Zazeriz began relaying the details of the past few days in person. She knew that the Tower of the Shuttered Eye was overrun with undead, having seen it in person some years ago. While Zazeriz could blast through many of the undead with Banish Undead, She would find Boniface much easier and faster with friends helping her to search through the many side chambers of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. After a considerable amount of minutes explaining to her present companions the details of her latest travels, Zazeriz’ Guild Master Blight Mister teleported to Ardoris to assist.

“Who did you upset this time.” Blight Mister said walking up after appearing silently behind Zazeriz.
“I’ll have you know the fighting in Jacob’s bar in Resolute was not my fault. I simply told Jacob he should not talk to a woman in such a rude manner.” Zazeriz replied after rolling her eyes at Blight Mister.

“If by told you mean punched him in the face then yes you simply told him.” Blight Mister said

“I’m sure if Iron Marshall had heard the way Jacob propositioned Iron Maiden he would have also punched him. I do not take kindly to such public obscenity. However to answer your original question I have upset the restless spirits that dwell in the corrupted bones within the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. If you remember I showed you the tattoo I cut off my shoulder. The spirits of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye thought to make me do their bidding through the magic imbued into the tattoo. I did not regard this as something I would do so I lied to them by telling them I would bring them a bonesteel dagger. I then escaped their possessed tower, cut the tattoo off, and have not gone back since. It seems they did not accept my refusal of service so they sent the hapless Simone Von Eglinger who stumbled on their tower to give a recall imbued talisman to my friend Boniface which would force me to return to their tower with the bonesteel dagger.” Zazeriz said finishing her last sentence slightly winded.

“Wait you found the bonesteel dagger they were looking for?” Blight Mister asked looking puzzled.

“Yes I came across it when I was healing people at the Blood River Massacre.” Zazeriz replied nonchalantly.

“Did you happen to find out why the spirits within the Tower of the Shuttered Eye might want it?” Mister Blight asked.

“The bonesteel dagger was sold to the attackers at the Blood River Massacre by the Satyr in Etceter. I followed the clues to figure out where is was made and who might have purchased it. The bonesteel was forged by a man called Boreas who is said to dwell in a place called the Artifice. We have not traveled there yet but as you may recall I have requested we investigate the place.” Zazeriz replied.

“Alright so we know where the bonesteel dagger comes from but not it’s details. Do you think there might be a connection to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye?” Mister Blight asked.

“Dark forces are working behind the scenes everywhere. It is entirely possible the malevolent spirits in the Tower of the Shuttered Eye want to hide or control the bonesteel dagger for some reason.” Zazeriz said.

“Well that certainly settles it.” Blight Mister said in a voice that attempted to convey authority. “We will Head toward the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, rescue Boniface, and put an end to any spirits that might try to stop use. We will likely need a short amount of time to prepare. I am out of arrows again.”

“ I have six thousand arrows in my inventory for you already. I will give you half of them now and carry the rest for when you need them. This will also allow you to pick up gold and items which I have little use for. I do however need a bit of time. I want to check in with Parker the master Life skill trainer in Ardoris and see if he has any new insights on healing.” Zazeriz said.

“Alright I will wait here in the square for the rest of our guildmates to arrive after I sell all this junk. I’m carrying so much weight with the arrows you gave me I can hardly walk.” Mister Blight said.

“I’m sure someone will be along who can carry you to the vendor if needed.” Zazeriz said in jest then turned around and headed to visit Parker.

January 25 2017

Harvest of the Shattered Moon 1 – by Andartianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the first instalment of a wonderful story from Andartianna. It is entitled
Harvest of the Shattered Moon
Background music by Smartsound

Chapter 1, “Beer, Banter, and, Bonfires”
Here upon this hellish fury, death and darkness, hatreds worry. He the demon of the night, evil desires, wicked frights. Tearing apart a human chest devouring its tasteful flesh. Rejoicing in its wicked deed and loving what it is like to feed.

Zazeriz thumped her head hard on the bed’s headboard waking herself up from a nightmare. So hard in fact she could hear the footsteps of Boniface coming to her room. A delicate knock rapped on the door to the room and a beautiful alto voice came through the wall.

“Is everything alright in there?” Boniface asked.

“I am alright my friend. I see that it is almost 5 am and time to start working on the current batch of beer. I will dress and meet you downstairs in a moment.” Zazeriz said through a slight yawn.

“Are you still having the nightmares about that place far away?” Boniface asked.

“I am indeed as always. It is no matter. The dreams will likely haunt me for eternity in one lifetime or another. Do not worry. I will come out shortly and you can help me forget in the work.” Zazeriz replied.

Boniface trilled and Zazeriz could hear her footsteps walking down the stairs. Zazeriz began changing into a pair of her traveling clothes. Today she would wear a dark blue clothing set. It was one of her favorites when working with Boniface. Zazeriz had managed to imbue it with a Shield of Air, which was very helpful in repelling the water and other materials used to make beer. There were no mirrors in Boniface’s rooms above the Bilge and Barnacle Tavern, so Zazeriz reached into her pouch and took out a travel mirror she had with her. She looked at her reflection. The mirror showed the same face that had always looked back at her: dark hair, skin, and bright green eyes. Zazeriz never aged, which was a gift from her home planet.

Zazeriz put the small mirror back into her pouch and headed down into the tavern where Boniface was waiting. The tavern was usually a very lively place at night, but at just before 5am it was empty save for Boniface who was seated at the long table in the center of the tavern. Zazeriz moved to take a seat across from Boniface. The table was filled with various herbs and supplies needed to make beer as well as some food Boniface had placed before them to eat for breakfast. Hot steam was rising from the porridge set out in front of Zazeriz.

Zazeriz began to eat the porridge. She found that, while it was warm, it was rather tasteless for her liking so she reached into her pouch for a health potion and poured its contents into the bowl.

“You always like your porridge so sweet. I don’t know how you can eat it that way.” Boniface said.

“Well it’s not as if my teeth will rot out, so I can have it as sweet as I desire.” Zazeriz said.

“Indeed you are blessed with an incredible rate of rejuvenation. Speaking of which, have you saved your focus to cast Soothing Rain all day?” Boniface asked.

“Saving? You jest Boniface. You know I can cast the spell all day when I am not defending.” Zazeriz said.

“Very good. If you are done eating we can go around the back and start working.” Boniface said.

“Yes, I think I have had my fill. Let us get to work.” Zazeriz said.

Zazeriz followed Boniface around the back of the tavern. In the early sunlight, the visibility was still low so Boniface had set up her brewing vat near the lamp post behind the tavern. Boniface’s beer was renowned across the world. She had spent many years perfecting her beer’s quality and taste. The secret ingredient that made her beer better than anyone else’s was the reason Zazeriz traveled to Etceter each year. Boniface used the water from Zazeriz casting Soothing Rain to mix the beer. The water from the Soothing Rain helped make Boniface’s beer taste better, refresh the drinkers, and allow them to drink more, which made for great sales.

Zazeriz began whirling her hands casting up large puffy white clouds above the brewing vats Boniface had set out. Spells after spells after spells for hours on end, Zazeriz filled one vat after another and Boniface mixed the herbs and boiled the hops. Soon the aroma of beer wafted all around Etceter. The first batches of this year’s beer had cooled by the time the sun was setting.

Boniface had hired Felicia, the local beggar, to help cart loads of beer up to a giant bonfire on a hill overlooking the wharf. Here at the bonfire, the entire town gathered to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Even the sometimes grim Ezb Krohon, the village blacksmith, was drinking and smiling. The night quickly passed with singing and dancing and plenty of beer. Zazeriz lay down on the edge of the encampment and gazed up at the moon in all its’ fractured glory. She could hear the singing in the background, which ever so slowly lulled her into sleep.

Chapter 2, “Morning, Mourning, and Master?”
In the morning when the solar energy starting beating down on Zazeriz face, she slowly opened her eyes and stretched out her arms to wake herself up. She sat up and looked around the now extinguished bonfire. Some of the villagers were still curled up next to their flasks of beer. Zazeriz scanned the area to see where Boniface had ended up. After a moment of not finding her, she stood up and headed back to the Bilge and Barnacle Tavern. Surely Boniface had returned home and she could wish her a good year.

As Zazeriz climbed down the steep hillside towards the tavern, she marvelled how lucky she was that the beer had no negative effects on her body. The rest of the townsfolk would likely have a fairly strong hangover from the liquor. As she neared the tavern, she noticed the front door was partially open. It was very early in the morning, which made it fairly unlikely that Boniface had left the door open for customers. Perhaps she had been so drunk she forgot to close it properly when she had entered.

Zazeriz entered the Bilge and Barnacle and a very frightened faun came running to her. Streams of tears were coming down her face. “Snip-snip, whatever is the matter? Where is Boniface?” Zazeriz asked.

“Mistress Zazeriz, I found the tavern unlocked and no trace of Master Boniface within. I know that the bonfire was a good time, but Master Boniface had promised to meet me here early to help with a problem. I did not see her when I woke up on the hill, so I walked throughout the town looking for where she had gone. That is when I found this fractured moon talisman left in the tavern and no other trace of Master Boniface.” Snip-snip said.

Zazeriz took the talisman from Snip-snip and looked it over for a minute. A novice understanding of the world would make people think that the talisman was a picture of the fractured moon. Zazeriz, however, knew differently. It was a fractured talisman of the Shuttered Eye. A cult of necromancers had inhabited a tower in the far southwest corner of the continent. Upon Zazeriz’ many years of travelling, she had stumbled across the Tower of the Shuttered Eye while trudging through swamplands of the West Veiled swamp.

“Snip-snip, has Boniface had any new customers from Ardoris or Soltown recently entering the shop?” Zazeriz asked.

“Yes, Mistress. Master Boniface sold some of her last barrels of last year’s beer to a merchant from Ardoris. The woman said she had an import business in Ardoris and would like to have regular shipments sent to her. Master Boniface sold her a few barrels, but refused to sign any contracts for a larger supply. I asked Master Boniface why she had not sold the woman more goods and she told me that not knowing the person she could not designate future shipments for her.” Snip-snip said.

“Do you happen to know the woman’s name?” Zazeriz asked.

“I did not hear her say her name to Master Boniface, but I did overhear that she owned Ardoris Imports.” Snip-snip said.

“Thank you for the information, Snip-snip. You will need to take care of the tavern while Master Boniface is away. I will send word to you if I find her. I’m going to look in Ardoris for clues about her disappearance.” Zazeriz said.

“Thank you Mistress Zazeriz, I will take care of the Bilge and Barnacle as if it were my own. Please hurry and find Master Boniface. She is a good person and I would hate anything bad to happen to her.” Snip-snip said.