Monday, October 31, 2016

Episode 1--Delilah's Diary

I'm starting this journal to keep a record of my experiences as I travel Aventuria. After my most recent rejection by a publisher I decided it was time to glean new life experiences and--more importantly--find new material to draw from. Whether I have been successful, well--we shall see when this account is completed. I will only say that at the rate I'm going, it may be that I should switch from romances to biography--truth really is stranger and more entertaining than fiction. Ah, but that would not sell so well. At least the marketplace is predictable. 

I entered into Thieves city yesterday afternoon. After spending some time scouting out locations for a good performance area (I found two excellent spots--one of which overlooks the great square. I think with my training and that location I will never go hungry in this city. A performance or two a day would be quite enough--and provide a good deal of time for other pursuits) I found Merabel's shop. Not only is she a patron of the arts, but she owns a print shop (!!!!!!) and often sponsors up and coming artists. I had intended to inquire about novels and writing, but before I had a chance to speak to her a tall handsome stranger in white robes and a staff entered. He looked about my age and carried himself proudly. He was, of course, a mage. What caught my attention, though, was when he addressed the distressed girl who had been speaking to Mirabel (I forgot to mention her. We are friends now. Her name is Vixen, and she is adorable. Blond hair curling around her animated face--you can read every thought in her eyes, and she has SO MANY adventures. Quite a bit more about her later). When he spoke to her he bowed with a flourish that sent his spotless robes rustling and kissed her hand. He heard her story of a forbidden love--Vixen is in love with a half-orc named Anmar who had recently disappeared under mysterious circumstances--and immediately offered his help. I'm sure Merabel's offer of payment had nothing to do with the offered assistance.

At that moment I was noticed for the first time by Merabel, and I immediately volunteered my help--as did an elf, Illcorn, whom I had only just noticed. He was tall, and quite a bit older than anyone else present other than Merabel herself. I don't know exactly how old he is, but as he is an elf I am assuming at least 100. I will be somewhat disappointed if I ever find out otherwise, so I have resolved to never inquire. He is a Firnelf, dresses all in skins, and  seems as cold as the land he hales from. For someone so long lived, he seems to think rather a lot about death. I suppose it is one way to pass the time.

We went to a dusty back room where Vixen told us a little more about the disappearance--they are both part of the Fox guild of thieves, but recent recruits. Vixen's wrist tattoo she got as part of initiation was still red. She is deeply in love with this half orc--her face shines when she talks about him--and when things settle down a bit I mean to ask her how the two of them met. It would seem Anvar had his suspicions about a plot the Daggers (another one of the guilds, the ones who act as the city guard) had to steal the Head of many Hands, and had found a vantage point somewhere around an inn where he could spy on them to see what they were up to. Vixen is not sure whether his disappearance has something to do with the plot, or if perhaps it is due to being a half-orc (prejudice is a problem here as in most places). 

At that point we were all ready to get on the move. We went first to the inn Vixen had told us about--it was quite easy to find. Just across the street I noticed a dilapidated old building that seemed to have been abandoned long ago. There was a light inside, however, and an orc hammering away at some stone. I was quite curious about the unusual sight, and certain he would be a good character to meet. I rapped on the door and entered. He was huge and spoke slowly, and I could see he was quite the craftsman based on the beautiful decorations on the door he was carving. He was quite friendly, though reluctant at first to talk about our missing friend Anvar--I could tell he knew something about the matter. Purchasing a rather large sculpture seemed to loosen his tongue, however, and I learned that not only had Anvar been kidnapped by the Daggers--specifically a man named Rikle, but that the orc had created an identical false head for the statue which had been filled with he didn't know what! I patted his arm in thanks and waved farewell before taking my 12 lb statue to give the news to my companions. 

While I had been gone they had found more clues to the disappearance--a scuffle, some apple cores, and a set of tracks that indicated a limp body being drug away. Tristan seemed certain I hadn't accomplished anything but a bit of shopping, and was quite eager to tell me all about their discoveries. I must admit this was mildly vexing, and resolved to tell him nothing--well, other than the false head bit, which was rather important. Instead I pretended to examine the scuffle and drag marks closely (I know nothing about such things), and announced that based on my observations the kidnapper was named Rikle. The look of consternation on Tristan's face was very rewarding. 

We followed along--Ilcorn lead the way now, for he actually does know how to follow tracks, which is not surprising considering he dresses in sealskin. I would expect someone dressed in skins to be reasonably good at finding them while they are still attached to a creature. The drag marks disappeared around the back of a rickety old house and into a basement. I decided to sneak ahead to investigate. What I found was exactly what we expected. Anvar the half orc, badly bruised and beaten, tied to a giant wooden chair. On either side of him were dark priests--Daggers--and standing with his back toward me the man I took to be Rikle. I could not hear well, but decided to get what information I could by reading Anvar's lips. I intended to take the information back to the others--but it didn't quite work out like I planned.

Suddenly from behind me a bolt of blue fire struck Rikle in the back. I turned--and there was Tristan. He hadn't waited for my news, and was now in all his battle mage glory with white robes flying and staff extended and eyes ablaze. It was quite a sight to behold, even if I had no idea why he had suddenly decided to go all flaming death on the kidnappers. I learned later that Tristan had overheard they were servants of the Nameless One, who, of course, is the sworn enemy of the 12 gods. Tristan could not have done otherwise than he did--as a mage. The battle raged quick and furious. In the excitement I snuck across the room and released Anvar from his bonds--despite his wounds, the half-orc was surprisingly nimble and managed to knife one of the kidnappers on the way out. Ilcorn was badly wounded in the fight, but did manage to get a blow or two in. Tristan used his staff to good effect as well--that whole flaming death thing is pretty handy. Tristan said he only had a little wound, but I did see how the priest had beaned his head against the stone wall and I imagine it hurt somewhat more than he let on.

When all was done we had three dead Daggers and one well--if somewhat bruised and broken--half orc to show for our troubles. Anvar told us that whatever they had hidden in the fake head was part of the plan of the Nameless One's servants, and must sit in the temple for 13 hours. Tristan suspects the 13 is significant, because the Nameless One was the 13th god before everything went south and he was cast out and blotted from history. I think he had a name back then. At any rate, we needed to get back to the inn and let Vixen know Anvar was safe, and then regroup to decide our next plan. So we left the bodies there to deal with later, and headed back as quickly as the various wounds would allow.

Addendum: I spent the time getting back to town with Anvar meditating on my silent brooding companion Ilcorn. I feel there is a mystery here to unravel, and mean to have at it. When we were speaking to Vixen about payment earlier this evening, Ilcorn insisted on the details of our payment if we were to find Anvar dead--he pressed the point despite Vixen being very obviously in love with the half-orc and drove the poor girl to tears with his seeming cold-heartedness! Based on this and other clues, I have come to suspect something of his history. I believe Ilcorn has come from great tragedy long ago. He must have loved a she-elf very deeply, and one day was off on a hunting trip (he is presumably a great hunter in his land). He received word that his lady love was in great peril and rushed to her aid, but arrived moments too late to save her. I'm not sure who the villains were who murdered her--but I believe that will be easy enough to ascertain as time goes on. Since that day he has lived in solitude, cursed with long, lonely life (this also explains his fascination with death). I am curious as to her name, but even after so many years--I'm sure it has been at least 50 years since he was young and in love--it would not be tactful to ask. Instead, I will pay close attention and glean what I may from his words and actions. I mean to pass this new information on to Vixen (in utter secrecy, of course) as I believe she will be sympathetic. Perhaps he is not as cold-hearted as I first thought.

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