September 10 2015

A Not so Random Encounter, Chapter 2 – by Lord Blake Blackstone – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next chapter in the wonderful story by Lord Blake Blackstone, entitled

A Not so Random Encounter

Background music by Smartsound.

Chapter 2

Quickly the kabut table was cleared of anything that was valuable and the two made for the back door before any more bandits could stumble in looking for a game. Thoren made it onto his horse with a push from Sugesh and a muffled groan. Sugesh leisurely mounted his steed and they were off, weaving their way through the worn streets of Corosen. The toll bridge was not a problem this time as Sugesh’s arrows caught the “attendants” off guard while they puffed on a bowl of freshly ground mandrake root. In pain, Thoren muttered out “Aren’t we gonna get the tolls?”.

Sugesh didn’t find the humor in this either and slapped Thoren’s horse into high gear over the bridge. Dawn would soon be upon them and both knew they needed to get as far away from Corosen as possible before the sun peeked over the mountains. Shock waves jolted Thoren’s core, seemingly taking two of his ribs and popping them out of, and then back in, place with each gallop. Most of the time Sugesh enjoyed a little bit of the pain that Thoren would get himself into with his ill-designed plans. But this time seemed a bit more serious.

After pushing the horses until they could go no further, a stroke of luck presented a creek in front of them. The morning sunlight beamed down upon them. Into the water and downstream they went, trying to throw off any tracking dogs that may have caught their scent. Sugesh was a woodsman from birth and judged the distance they needed to cover the sounds of the panting of the horses. For the first time he got a glimpse of the new blood, streaming from his partner’s mouth, over the already dried blood. The front of Thoren’s tunic seemed to have been dyed from bright green to an odd deep blue.

Before the elf could help his friend, Thoren pushed his way off of the horse and fell to the ground. Staring up at the sky, and with shallow breath, unconsciousness overtook him. He slipped into a deep, translucent dream.

~~The wind blew through his long beard as he levitated high above the Plains of Righ Inis. He watched as the lumberjacks did their work, chopping both trees and the skeletons that made the maple gathered so precious within the walls of the cities. A foggy figure of a boy followed behind picking up the leftover pieces of bark and twigs. Thoren knew who the boy was. He knew that boy would take those scraps back to town and trade them for a loaf of bread, and if the cooks felt sorry enough for him, a cup of soup. The haunting memories of his childhood flooded over him, knotting his gut and forcing him to look away from the scene below.

As he turned away, he found himself in a tavern seated next to Sugesh. Beautiful barmaids and wenches served the bustling and over joyous crowd. One in particular caught his eye and he instantly recognized his object of affection from a time far past. She didn’t seem to notice him or even know who he was, which punished him like the million times he had been punished by her before.

Sugesh sat quietly beside him like he normally did. Sugesh did not take drink or anything that altered his reality for that matter, so naturally he abhorred these types of establishments. On rare occasion, for some reason or another, Thoren was able to talk Sugesh into joining him. This particular night he dragged him here with the promise of drunken women who would straggle in from the Celestial Festival to continue their drinking. Sugesh only had one true mortal weakness and it came by the way of the fairer sex. As Thoren’s vision blurred from too much mead, he tilted his head back to finish the last swig before calling for another.

Staring into the bottom of an empty mug, he could feel the sensation of falling backwards. The wooden floor of the tavern didn’t catch his fall, but rather it seemed as though he had jumped from the tallest mountain peak in Novia. Instead of onto wooden planks, he crashed down atop a funeral pyre. This scene was all too familiar. He recognized the people gathered around mourning a terrible loss. Thoren’s mother was there and standing beside her was a strapping warrior trying to appear strong whilst a tear slipped down his cheek . The smell of burning incenses, ceremonial reagents, and wood filled Thoren’s nostrils~~

Groggy and in pain, Thoren slowly rolled his eyes out of the back of his head and saw Sugesh and a tall wizard standing over him. The wizard was slowly swinging a censer filled and burning an unknown concoction over Thoren, chanting spells in a foreign tongue.

“Where are we?”, Thoren asked.

“You have found your way to Wizards Rest, my friend.” The old, towering mage answered with a smirk. “Make yourself comfortable, it doesn’t appear you will be leaving anytime soon.”

Album with EQ - B&A - Stile T as SM

September 10 2015

Zoe’s Travels – Soltown – by enderandrew – narrated by Lady Adnor

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius. Once again I’m delighted to welcome Lady Adnor to the microphone – she is bringing us a wonderful story by Enderandrew, entitled

Zoe’s Travels – Soltown
Background music is “Lover’s touch” by Smartsound

Zoe’s Travels: Soltown
By Zoe Marie the Bard

Shortly after leaving Ardoris I met with a courier on the road looking for me. My presence was requested in Soltown to perform at Soltown Inn. This was the first time my services had been commissioned ahead of time for another town. I had already planned on exploring more of the Perennial Coast, so a trip to Soltown made sense.

I am always excited to visit new places, but I’ve never had an eager audience waiting for me. I traveled with haste. That excitement abated and quickly melted into a somber tone when I reached the village.

There was a weary guard named Stanley on the road coming in. I could see immediately in his eyes that he had witnessed things that cannot be unseen. He told me of a recent battle at Solace Bridge. The fort and surrounding homes were burned. Many lives were claimed both by the fire and the undead.

I found refugees up the road in makeshift tents. They still seemed to be in shock. A few looked up desperately at the sound of my footsteps only to look down with heartache and desperation. They seemed to wait for loved ones that may never be coming back.

I made my way to Soltown Inn to talk with Richard, the proprietor. He explained that he sent the courier before the attack. While Soltown is a small village that largely keeps to itself, its residents have a healthy love for music. He makes it a point to bring in as many different bards as he can to entertain his guests. Initially he wasn’t so sure a performance was still appropriate.

I suggested my usual fare might not, but perhaps there was something I could do. His tavern could fit most of the village if people packed in tight, but it wasn’t just the villagers I wanted to perform for. Richard helped round up his guests and anyone he could find, and together we all walked down to where the refugees were camped.

For a night we all sat together under the stars around a fire. I sang soothing songs of hope and healing, but interspersed my performances with moments of reflection. I invited the displaced residents of Solace Bridge to share their favorite memories of home.

One of those residents was a kind woman named Linda, surrounded by her beloved cats. She had just lost everything, but was passing out bark bread to everyone gathered. Richard ran up to his Inn and returned with mead to share with the crowd.

That night I learned that Soltown tries to live quietly on their own, not unlike Braemar and the villages of the Hidden Vale. But Sequanna’s influence of love stretched beyond Ardoris into the rest of the Perennial Coast. Here this private village had welcomed in others with open arms and open hearts. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Album with EQ - B&A - Stile T as SM