September 29 2016

And Then there was Nick – Part 2 – by Cianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next exciting chapter in this fascinating saga from Cianna. It is entitled

And Then There was Nick, Part 2

Background music by Smartsound


“All right, spill the beans.”

Cianna had kept quiet as long as she could. When she and Nick left the Soltown tavern after their near run-in with the men from Rats Nest, they turned left, past a small scattering of houses and shops, and towards the woods where they would find privacy. Cianna waited for Nick to speak, but he seemed lost in thought, his gaze slowly surveying the woods before them.


“Hmmm? Oh, sorry. Was just wondering what those men were up to.”

“Why should you care?”

“No reason, really. I just wouldn’t want to see anyone get hurt.” Cianna stopped walking and stared at him.

“What?” he said, noting the exasperation on her face.

“You are a walking mass of contradictions, do you know that?” she said. “First, you want to be part of whatever those men have going on, now you’re worried about people getting hurt. Which is it: are you a good guy or a bad guy, a gentleman or a cad?”

Nick chuckled. “I think you will find, milady, that all men are a bit of both.”

They walked a few more paces in silence.

“Cianna, there are reasons you need to be careful about who you make friends with in these parts, especially when you travel as a woman alone.”

“I told you….”

“Yes, yes, I know. You can take care of yourself. And I don’t doubt that for a minute. I saw you in action the day we met, remember?”

Cianna smiled at the memory. Returning to Aelasar’s Forest after one of her reconnaissance missions, she made a quick stopover in Brittany to stock up on supplies. There, on the waterfront, she found a rather inebriated Nick lying on the ground with a grizzled old man holding a knife to his throat while another went through his pockets. She dispatched the pickpockets with ease, took Nick to a nearby inn, and sobered him up.

“I should have left you there,” she said, laughing. “Would have served you right. But that was nothing, Nick. I really am quite capable of taking care of myself. I’ve trained long and hard to get where I am, and I carry the title of Lady Marshal to prove it.”

Nick whistled. “Lady Marshal is it? I’m in even grander company than I thought.”

Cianna bristled, then relaxed with a laugh. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to sound so grandiose. But I am extremely well trained, and I am experienced in actual fighting, too. More than you’ll ever know.” The last part was said as a whisper.

She averted her eyes so Nick wouldn’t see the sudden pain there, but it had seeped into her voice, as well. Nick opened his mouth to speak, but Cianna cut him off.

“Tell me about those men,” Cianna said. “The ones you said belonged to the Baron.”

“No, they don’t belong to the Baron. Baron Drocis Fondorlatos has only one interest and passion in life and that is the pursuit of magic: black, white, good, bad, ancient, modern. He doesn’t care, as long as it brings knowledge and power with it. He does, however, own the town of Rats Nest, where he lives. It’s a pretty lawless place, since the Baron turns a blind eye to whatever goes on there. There are only two rules in Rats Nest: don’t mess with the Baron, and pay your taxes on time. After that….” Nick shrugged.

“He sounds a bit intimidating. Is he a powerful wizard then?”

“No one really knows, Cianna. He keeps to himself. Rarely ventures out. It makes one wonder what he wants all of that knowledge for, though.”

Nick plucked an apple from a roadside tree and offered it to Cianna. She shook her head.

“So, what interest did you have in those men in the tavern?” she asked as Nick bit into the apple.

“I was hired to trail them. My, uh, ’employer’ has had several supply caravans robbed in the last few months and whenever it happens, these two men seem to be around. They’re also suspected of strong-arming a number of merchants in the land, extorting coin and supplies from them in exchange for not burning down their businesses.”

“That’s awful!” Cianna cried. “Why are they allowed to get away with that?”

“People are afraid, Cianna, so they won’t bear witness against the men who are robbing them. They don’t know who’s behind all of this. It could be the Baron. It could be the Novian Elves. It could be anybody at this point. And without proof, well, I may not like them, but I’m generally against hanging innocent men.”

“So, you’re trailing them in order to…?”

“To find out who’s employ they’re in. If we can take care of it from the top, it cleans out all the layers underneath. There’s no point in killing just two men when there are 30 more who can take their place.”

Cianna was lost in thought for a moment. She kicked a rock with her boot and watched as it skipped down the dirt road. A gentle breeze blew across the road bringing the smell of flowers and food from the tavern behind them.

“So why the pretend drunkenness all the time, Nick? Are you trying to throw them off guard?”

“Who says it’s pretend?” Nick laughed. “But yeah, people tend not to take much notice of drunks. They blend in to the background more or less, which is a perfect place to eavesdrop on conversations.”

“You weren’t really drunk that day at the waterfront, though, were you,” she demanded.

He grinned, and for a moment he looked like a young boy engaged in a game of Dueling Knights. He didn’t answer, and Cianna smiled back at him.

“What will you do now? You’ve let them get away. You’ll lose the trail.”

“Oh, I didn’t let them get away, Cianna. They haven’t left yet. In fact, they’re in these woods watching us right now.”

As he finished speaking, a pair of rugged men emerged from behind a small grove of trees about twenty yards ahead of them. Cianna instinctively reached for the the hilt of her sword.

“Easy, girl,” Nick whispered beside her. “Wait till they’re closer.”

They watched as the two men sauntered toward them, their drawn daggers glinting in the sunlight. Beyond them, Cianna could see a town guard sprawled on the ground. Unconscious? Dead? She couldn’t tell.

“Well now, boys, we meet again. Have you decided to take me with you after all?” Nick called out cheerfully. “Just let me get rid of the little lady here and I’ll be ready to go.”

“She’s going nowhere,” the taller man answered, exposing a missing tooth as he grinned at Cianna. “The two of you are coming with us.”

“And what if we don’t want to?” Cianna said, her hand still on her sword.

“Well,” said the man, “I guess we’ll just have to persuade you then.”

He swung his dagger in a wide arc towards Cianna’s face, just missing her cheek.

“Be a shame to mess with such a pretty face,” he said, leering at her. “You sure you don’t want to come with us willingly?”

In a flash, Cianna had her sword in hand and was bearing down on him. She could hear Nick behind her in a scuffle with the other one.

“You okay?” she called out to him.

“Yeah, I just threw some dirt in the poor sod’s eyes.”

“Nick, didn’t anyone ever teach you to fight fair?”

“Nope,” she heard him reply, laughing. “What’s the point in that?”

She grinned and turned her attention back to her attacker. “Now, let me show you what this ‘pretty face’ can do.”

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

September 23 2016

Echoes From the Caverns 09-23-16

Hello everyone! Welcome back Asclepius! Here is the news of the week!

  • The Passing of Lacey
  • More Estgard Polish
  • Community Spotlight: Relaxing in Bastion’s Point – Player Owned Town
  • Hometown
  • Fireplaces & Chimneys Update: Ornate Iron Fireplaces
  • Community Resources – Players Helping Players
  • Job Openings (3)
  • Recommended Projects to Back

News Team logo with moon

September 16 2016

Echoes From the Caverns 09-16-16

Hello everyone! Lord Baldrith here flying solo again. Please bear with me as I try to make it as interesting as possible! Asclepius will back next week! Here is the news of the week!

  • Estgard Polish
  • Lord British and Darkstarr Attending SotA Con
  • Shroud in the News
  • R33 Postmortem Recap
  • Shroud at the Austin Games Conference
  • Halloween Content
  • Elven 2-Story Row Tax Free Bundle
  • Upcoming Events
  • Community Resources – Players Helping Players
  • Job Openings (3)
  • Recommended Projects to Back

News Team logo with moon

September 10 2016

Echoes From the Caverns 09-09-16

Hello everyone! Here is the news of the week!

  • Tropical Island POT Polish
  • Upcoming Economic Balance Changes
  • Richard Garriott Hi-jinks: AMA! Dragon Con Wedding! Storytelling!
  • Testing Incentives Program
  • Sales of Virtual Items for Real Currency Policy
  • Elven Bundle Store and Add-On Goodies
  • Elven 2-Story Row Tax Free Bundle
  • Upcoming Events
  • Community Resources – Players Helping Players
  • Job Openings (3)
  • Recommended Projects to Back

News Team logo with moon

September 8 2016

And Then There Was Nick – Part 1 – by Cianna – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Cianna Danaan. It is entitled
And Then There Was Nick, Part I

Background music by Smartsound



Cianna jumped as the door to the Soltown tavern burst open with a clatter and a rush of cold air. The soft, plaintive melody she’d been absentmindedly playing on the piano died away. A youngish man, clearly the worse for drink, stumbled through the door. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, pushed his cloth hood off, and glanced around the room.

“Barkeep! Barkeep! Another round, if you please.”

“Ya haven’t had your first yet, mate.” The grizzled old man behind the bar said, laughing. “At least not here. But you’ve definitely had a few rounds somewhere else, by the looks — and smell — of ya.”

The scattered patrons in the tavern laughed, the young man joining in with them.

“But, isn’t this the Fire Lotus Tavern, good man? It’s not? Hmmm, I could have sworn I was in Owl’s Head.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “I seem to have lost a continent. Well, no matter, let’s remedy this problem on the spot. Barkeep, my usual, if you please.”

The barkeep beckoned with his finger. “Come here, my boy,” he said, a look of bemusement on his face.

The young man swayed as he ambled up to the bar, leaning across the counter so he could hear the barkeep. “Yes, my good man?”

The barkeep whispered, loudly, so the room could hear, “Seeing as you’ve never been here before,” he said, “I don’t know what your ‘usual’ is. Do you see my problem, mate?”

As the crowd laughed again, Cianna rose from her seat.

“He’ll have a whiskey,” she said. “You can bring it to my table.”

Everyone turned to look at her as she spoke, the young man turning a bit slower than the rest, trying to maintain his balance as he went. He looked at her in confusion for a moment. Cianna thought she saw concern pass over his face, but if it was there, it quickly vanished.

“Milady? Is that you? By all the Watchers in Adoris, it is! It’s you!” He turned to a hefty man sitting on a stool near him. “It’s her!” he said to the man. “The love of my life, the apple of my eye, the….”

Cianna strode forward and gripped the young man by the elbow. “Quiet, please, Nick. I don’t care for too much scrutiny in public.”

“Shhh, shhh, yes, milady. I understand, I do. I’ll be quiet. Quiet as a….as a….”

“Foghorn?” said the barkeep, stepping past them to place a whiskey on Cianna’s table. “Anything more for you, miss?” he asked.

“No, I’m good, thank you.” She handed him coin for the whiskey.

Cianna steered Nick to her table, helping him to maintain an upright demeanor. She pulled out the nearest chair and guided him into it. She looked him over with a smile lurking at her lips as she sat down again.

“So, we meet again. How are you, Nick?”

“Ahh, but it’s good to see you again, milady.”

“Stop with the milady business, will you? Cianna’s good enough for me.”

He raised his eyebrows, then took a sip of whisky. “Cianna it is, then. Only trying to be respectful to my lady love.” He winked at her.

“I’m not your lady love, Nick. We barely know each other.” She laughed at his pouting face. “It is good to see you, though.”

“And it’s grand to see you,” he said. “Your beauty brightens up the day. Puts the very sun to shame, and makes the moon cry in his cups.”

Cianna laughed again.

“Your laughter is cruel, madam. You break my heart.”

“Nick, I’m quite sure that you flatter all the young women this way, and perhaps even the older ones, too. The girl who takes you seriously will get her heart broken, I fear.”

“But, I do not mean to flatter you, milady, I mean to woo you — with love . . . and perhaps a little whiskey?” He held his glass out to her with a smile.

Cianna shook her head, still laughing. A movement at the bar caught her attention. Two men had entered the tavern and were ordering drinks. They looked rough, as though they had ridden for days without stopping. The conversations in the tavern had gone quiet. Even Nick seemed more subdued.

“Who are they? Do you know?” she asked. He held a cautionary finger to his lips.

“Well, look who it is,” he bellowed, turning suddenly in his chair and sending it crashing beneath him. He grinned up at the men from the floor. They scowled before turning their backs on him.

“Barkeep! Another round!” Nick called out, struggling to his feet. He rose and clasped both men by the shoulder, not seeming to notice their obvious annoyance.

“What brings you here, gentlemen? You’re a long, long way from Rats Nest. Is there something good in the works? Anything I can help with?”

“Shut up, you idiot,” said the tallest of the two. “Barkeep,” he yelled toward a back room, “make it quick with that order!”

“Stocking up, are you?” Nick asked in an exaggerated whisper, moving in close as if to hear a secret. “What’s in the barrels they’re packing up, boys? Come on, you can tell ol’ Nicky.”

The second man pushed Nick away roughly. The barkeep returned and took their money. “Is it all there?” the tall one asked.

“It is, damn you,” said the barkeep. “Now get out of my establishment. You’re bothering my customers. And tell the Baron not to send anymore of his…residents…to me. I don’t like doing business with the likes of you.”

“Boys, boys,” Nick called out as the two men headed for the Tavern door. “Cut me in on the deal, won’t you? I could use a job. And the Baron speaks very highly of me!”

The door closed loudly behind them. Nick stood still for a long moment, then returned to sit beside Cianna.

“What was that all about?” she asked. “Who are those men?”

Nick’s thoughts seemed far away. “They’re from Rats Nest. An island town off the Northwest Coast. Not a particularly nice part of the world, I’m afraid.”

“You mean they’re outlaws?” Cianna asked.

Nick grinned. “Well, I wouldn’t put it quite that genteelly, but yes, they’re outlaws.”

Cianna stood quickly.

“Hey, what…? Where are you going?”

“I have to catch up to them. I need to talk to those men.”

“Whoa, girl, hold on a minute.” He grabbed her arm. “You can’t go running after men like those. You’ll get yourself killed, or worse. Those are tough men, and they wouldn’t waste time being polite with you, if you catch my meaning.”

Cianna’s eyes blazed. “I can take care of myself, thank you very much. And you don’t understand. I must talk to them.”

“Okay, okay, sit down and explain it to me.”

“But they’ll get away! Let me go, Nick!”

He held firm. “Not until you tell me what’s so damn important that you have to chase after men like that. Besides, I can tell you where they’re going. You can follow them — if you still want to — when we’re done.”

Cianna struggled for a moment more, then sighed and sat down.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” she asked, as she glared at him.

“Am I?” Nick furrowed his brow.

“You seem to have sobered up rather quickly.”

“Ah, yes, that.” He glanced around the room. “Listen, let’s get out of here. We need to talk.”

Without another word, Nick lurched to his feet. “Come, milady, let’s take a stroll around this fair town. I’m in need of fresh air and your charming company.”

“I’ll give you charming company,” Cianna muttered to herself. She rose and took the arm that was offered to her. Nick leaned heavily on her for support.

“If you fall flat on your face out there, I’m leaving you where you drop,” Cianna warned in a whisper.

“Ah, my angel, I do so love when you say sweet things to me.” Nick waggled his brows at her. In spite of herself, Cianna laughed.

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

September 2 2016

Echoes From the Caverns 09-02-16

Hello everyone! Here is the news of the week!

  • Free Lot Deed Raffle Tickets in R34
  • Release 33 Postmortem
  • Estgard Polish
  • Fireplaces and Chimneys
  • Swamp Island POT Templates Update
  • Elven Bundle Store and Add-On Goodies
  • Star Citizen Cross Promotion Update
  • Upcoming Events
  • Richard Garriott at Dragon Con
  • Community Resources – Players Helping Players
  • Recommended Projects to Back

News Team logo with moon