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D&D [5E] The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter One

97mg

Villager


The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter One


Game information: dawnindustry.com/TKP

“Remote,” would be an understatement when describing the township of Kalair.

Nestled atop the plummeting cliffs of Marix Isle, those who reside here hail from generations of isolated freedom. Abundant in natural beauty, clear waters froth and fight against raw basalt shores, if you are brave enough to peer down upon them. The lands at their summit are fueled by the greenery of life, a place that through the eons has evolved its own, truly unique, variety of animals and plants. To the north horizon lies The Equath Four, a rolling expanse of peaks whose moisture laden air not only supports life, but also cycles the very seasons that turn through the years. Beyond this veritable wilderness lies Alath in all its stark glory, an extinct volanco whose tip thrusts high above the endlessly rolling clouds. Do not ask what lies behind Alath, as rumors tell of a sand-swept land. A sea of white, stretching out like a great bone finger, devoid of life and cursed to touch.

The Kalairians are as varied as the land itself. Theories abound as to the great spectrum of races who walk this earth, but one thing is certain, somewhere in the deepest passages of time Marix was an epicenter. Perhaps the Isle was once connected to some far distant mainland? Did the ancestors arrive here by other means as yet unknown? Or did Marix itself, in all her beauty evolve such a broad range of creatures to wander her lands?

Marix the provider. Fertile fields drive advanced agriculture, outcrops rich in iron are quarried for ripe malleable ore, whilst great boulders supply the foundations for architecture. Everything mankind has needed has been here for as long as history has been scribed. Strange then that it is things nonessential which have diverted these people’s path.

Gemstones and precious metals. Pockets of blazing purples and reds, caught within slopes that claim brave lives for their prize. Shafts of the clearest quartz, point to the skies within forests once unpassed. Riverbeds tumble with balls of blue and the glint of yellow.

Beautiful.

But the earth’s most aged of treasures came at a cost.

As life bloomed and civilization expanded, Marix’s bounty began to change culture and the means of trade. Simple bartering and the exchange of services for little more than goodwill, shifted to an age where gems and precious metals became a means to an end. Currency, and with currency’s hand came greed, poverty, inequality, and the first taint to mankind’s purity.

Simple lives were faced with dark challenges. The land was no longer shared, and those nestled near the sites of glittering resource were evicted from their homes by those corrupt and violent, those who saw an opportunity pivoting on power and control. The era of exploitation had begun. But the earth fought back.

With each treasure uncovered, something grew to lurk among the citizens of Marix. Strange happenings and supernatural gifts arose almost at random. A child might be born and cast a ray of light from a pointed fingertip. A healer might find a simple touch could cure a victim’s most horrid and open wounds.

It led to revolution, violent and bloody.

Soaked in magic, those once weak and victimized found courage and strength in nature’s new tools. Years of rebellion followed and the boundaries of cemeteries expanded to accommodate loss. Rich, poor, man, woman, child, Elf, Dwarf… The soils of Marix wept with life’s blood. It had to end, and it took just one soul to commence a new dawn.

It is written that Frinak Dolstice was born a farmer, but his true potential surely lay elsewhere. The theories as to how he rose to power are as varied the very waves upon Marix’s shores, but one thing is certain. This charismatic soul found a way to make his people look upon each other with kindness and compassion. Beginning as a small guild he assembled intellectuals, historians and citizens to represent all walks of life, with one aim, the return of peace.

It was in his dying days that what is now known as the Dolstian Sacrifice came to pass. A united people, under the leadership of his civilian council, banned not only the use of currency but also the very extraction of gems and wealth from this magical earth. Piles of gold, silver, rubies, sapphires and zircons were carted to the isle’s clifftops, and on the first day of the year of Dolst, tossed like rockfall into the jaws of the sea.

Mining was outlawed. Land and ownership was divided equally. Theft, extortion, manipulation and the use of magic were to be met with trial and one simple punishment. Death.

For many generations to follow, peace returned. Life became simple again under the Dolstian vision of equality.

It would take a new threat to undo such sacrifice. A slow unraveling of man’s fear of magic and the empowering intoxication of prospector’s ancient finds. It began with rumors. The mountain dwarves of The Equath Four reported sightings of unfamiliar beasts. Packs of horned serpents slithering through nearby forest groves. Fleshless hyenas of firey eye attacking travelers upon the mountain’s pass. “From the sands,” the dwarven hillspeople said. But nobody knew for sure.

The council showed little interest for many a week. “Just the stories of short folk,” they said, or “the overactive imaginations of our fringe dwellers”.

They were wrong.

It wasn’t long before word had spread of farmers mauled by unimaginable wild beasts, stone silos being battered to rubble, and packs of creatures making their way to the south. The council had few answers. A score of war parties were sent out, never to return.

Soon, society became fractured. There were those who believed they must once again unearth the magic of gems once more. Reignite the powers of the past and rebirth the work of arcane and divine. These few souls worked in secrecy, fearing their lives in neglect of Dolstian law. Through efforts to uncover power and find a way to end the scavengers from beyond Alath, so too did they kindle new greed, from those who for power we’re ready to clutch.

The others, the overwhelming majority, went on in complacency. “Such animals will never travel this far,” or “let us move southward. No wild pack would be so bold as to breach the boundaries of Kalair.”

An auspicious day. An unnamed day to wave in a new cycle of seasons. A new year. And as is tradition, the council will address their peoples from atop an isolated tower. A single shaft of light above the dark stone of treacherous crags, where they will wait for a symbol and mark this year by its name.

One thing is certain. This is not to be the year of peace.
 
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97mg

Villager
Rikst: A Wounded Dark

CLANG!

Brow loaded with cold sweat, once again the moisture was rubbed against the cloth of his pre-soaked forearm. A lantern flickered in the corner, it's wick dancing with each stab of the distant sea’s breeze. The erie yellow glow was a sacrilege, an affront to the surrounding dark. Black basalt listened, his witness from all sides save for a small hole in the ceiling of the cavern.

Many hours before dawn Rikst had left his hut on the outskirts of Kalair. Here though, within the southern cliffs was his real home. Something of an outcast, there was reassurance in being alone, working diligently, accepting both the risk of treachery and treasures.

Generations ago Rikst’s ancestors had cut these walls...

CLANG!

It was an addiction dictated by blood. Not that there weren’t other motives for blatant disregard of the law. It had been a year ago that Cil, his beloved daughter had taken ill. Priestly folk and surgeons alike had turned her away. “Untreatable,” they’d said, but the undertone was that this was a risk they’d not welcome behind their doors. The poor thing suffered from a most terrible and degenerative of afflictions. Fillock disease they called it, a stiffness of the limbs, lingering bouts of deafness and blindness, they had been hard times.

Until one day a stranger came knocking at his door. Over numerous days they met and spoke, the visitor a robed human who refused to reveal his face. Probably for the best. What they’d agreed could see both of them strung up and hung from Kalair’s great tower. The only punishment for those disobedient to Dolstian Law.

CLANG!

They’d taken her, a secret society of magic-wielding folk named the clan of Dorox. Some months later she’d returned home smiling, skipping upon the cobblestone streets, and greeted Rikst with an unsurpassed embrace of gratitude.

Rikst was truly in debt to them, and thankful. As agreed the services would be paid for. Paid in gems.

A short man with great musculature in his upper body and a mind just as firm, he was surely cut out for this work. The clan has provided directions, instructions, tools and everything a solitary prospector might require.

It took one final blow of the hammer against a short spike, positioned above a nodule on the wall to break it loose. Chunks of black rock fell and tumbled off into the shadows.

“Hell.”

He smiled.

There was a new source of light in this private stoney world. Within an air-pocket now exposed, some four fist-sized pieces of precious stone leaked beaming white rays. It almost blinded him for a moment, but shielding his eyes he moved closer and reached out to touch...

Who cared how the council named this year. Surely a great mass of folk would be seating themselves at the base of the great tower by now, waiting, waiting for a great booming voice to lay witness and say the word. Rikst needed none of that. Let them flock like sheep to a shepherd's call. It was them, not him, who lived in the dark.
 

97mg

Villager
Annit: Idle Fingers

The sun would soon rise.

Best make the most of the pre-dawn shade.

The congregation had been growing in size steadily during the course of the night. From Viro, Cillat, the swamplands, plains, forests and mountains they came, a people united.

Upon green fields and gardens beneath the great tower’s looming black form, a stew was brewing. A cultural melting pot. All walks of Kalarian life were represented, from the grubby-kneed offspring of farmers and tradespeople, through to short and stout packs of hillstribe warriors. Nobody would be turned away, this was their right, to lay witness to a year’s most important ritual. Naming.

Now some may have thought this tradition nothing other than mere superstition. Others considered it entertainment, or a rare chance to mingle with friends from distant places on this wild Marix isle. Whatever your view, wherever your home or allegiance, this was the day never to miss.

Picnic blankets and food were shared with strangers. Children would frolic and make new friends. A young man might blush as a beauty walked past his way. A couple might whisper, discussing the aroma of their neighbor's breakfast. They were half-orcs on their left, right?

On the surface this was a peaceful land. An exemplary example of forgiveness, equal opportunity, harmony and respect. But the skin was aging and turning frail. Something dark was moving through society’s veins.

The wise understood. Dolstian Law had been a means to an end. A way of halting bloody rebellion and a magic-armed citizenship bent on overthrowing the powerful, greedy and cunning. Those treacherous few, the exploiters, had seen their end. Many years had passed since then.

The wiser still, or those who simply opened their eyes with acceptance of the truth, knew something else. Pretenders walked the lands. The gifted hid their arts both divine and arcane. There was an undercurrent of magic, secrecy and oppression. The laws which served to create equality had disempowered the strong and weak alike. People couldn’t be comfortable showing who they truly were. It had worked at first, but now things seemed mostly pretend. “It will only be a matter of time,” a soothsayer once said, in private of course. Getting hung wasn’t a particularly pleasurable way to go.

A young woman barely past her teens, Annit, knew there was something more. Wealth and magic were perpetual in her dreams… and nightmares. Lets just say her childhood hadn’t exactly been scrupulous or well planned. With every sentence came an aftereffect, and she was one of the ones left behind.

What better then, than to use this township’s customs to her own advantage. The irony was beautiful in her mind. Half-dark. People everywhere. A host of distractions in the form of dancing, puppeteers, traders peddling wares, or simply the appearance of some of these folk. Damn, gnomes too. They usually got a good eyeballing.

As she brushed past a family of fellow humans, sat there chatting and laughing, she tripped on the corner of their cloth. A simple man, woman and little boy stared at her as she tumbled, her skirt collecting a fair grass-stain in the process.

“Are you alright dear?” There was something in the mother’s eyes that reflected knowing. Damn, she was suspicious. That fall seemed just a touch too dramatic, orchestrated even.

It didn’t deter Annit though, as she rose and steadied herself, she brushed a hand against this kind woman’s side, subtle fingers quickly dipping into a blouse-pocket.

Oh!

Hard. Cold. Sharp edged. She knew this touch well. How sweet the fruits of the earth!

“Hey! Filthy thief, get your grubby mit outta me top!”

Annit’s hand quickly snapped back away from the treasure. She leaned forward and whispered to her ear, “be quiet, I know what that is, imagine what would become of your sweet family were I to call out what you have right there. Let’s deal. Give it to me.”

<Annit deception check = 8, sleight of hand check = 8, both witnessed by the woman’s passive perception. Opps.>

To be continued...
 
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Carthum One-Tusk: Suru's Light

Kalair was alive.

He felt the breath of old men as they roused for the day, and the sigh of young men who had stayed up far too late. The warm scent of bread was already drifting from some of the stone and wood shops that lined his path on wards, and the smell of meat darkening on coals was even more alluring. Against this familiar backdrop, the happy chaos of the naming ceremony felt like the bustle of a big family home for dinner.

Carthum walked down the streets alone, a massive ax resting over one shoulder, a large, head-shaped sack at his waist. His shirt was draped over the notched old blade, and the cool air of pre-dawn did much to relax his tired muscles. Folks gave the large ax- and the larger half-orc carrying it- a wide berth on the street, but Carthum did not much notice. He practically had a skip in his step, a whistle on his lips, as he headed back to the monastery barracks.

He had been up all night, chopping and hauling wood for those in the city that could not chop it themselves. For his labors, he had gotten a ball of bee's wax and some wick- the contents of the bundle at his side. After the naming ceremony today, he would spend an amazing day making candles for the church. Praise Suru's light! Of course- the first candle of the batch, he always reserved for his sister.

As Carthum neared the church, the motley collection of shops and houses showed the pedigree of age. Mossy stones and rambunctious ivy grew where they would. The edges of the streets had a furrow in them that, nowadays at least, mostly just served to whisk away rain water. The road up to Suru's church, well- it was always uphill. It had been built generations ago, on the tallest hill in the area- though not taller than the Tower, of course. And, from a distance, it was a sight to see indeed.

The great glass window at the peak of the chapel was aglow, brilliantly burning like the sun itself. A lighthouse to those on land.

Every time he saw it, he knew he was home.

Carthum dropped off the ax to the shed around back, and crossed the grounds, wove between the tomato plants, to his room. As a child, he had lived in the Longhouse- really, just a large, communal sleeping area. As a newly ordained cleric, he had been offered his own room- a place to sleep, a place to pray, and a single window, high above him. But Carthum was not complaining! The window gave him a view of the chapel's peak, and the bed was comfortable.

He'd carefully set the wax on the small table by his bed, take a moment to kneel and silently say a prayer to the light rising on the horizon.

Dawn.

He had best get to the fields about the tower! He and his sister had found the perfect spot to watch the ceremony when they had been younger- and they had tried to grab that spot ever since. He might as well claim it for them before the crowds grew too out of hand.

Once more Carthum was off, his prayers for the day leaving him as invigorated as if he had slept the night away.
 

Metea

Villager
Metea: By Rote

The west side of the chapel saw little light. The sun saw it last, and the great beacon in the chapel never turned its gaze there. And that suited Metea just fine.

She sat alone at a table. Before her, propped up on a wooden easel perfectly made for it, was one of Suru's Tomes. A great masterpiece, written by one of his priests centuries ago. The text wove both mundane and fantastical. Stories of the church's God, in all his shining glory.

Metea was not reading it. Not really. She was copying it.

Her quill flicked over the pages- careful, precise strokes. Not a drop, or an inch of canvas, could be wasted.

This was Metea's days and nights, for the most part; a paltry job, to allow her to stay within the church- a trade for a room and some bread and meat at night. It was acceptable, really. But she did wish for so much more.

You deserve so much more.

A candle sat on the desk alongside her, long since burned down until it was nearly spluttering in its own wax. One of her brothers'. He seemed so happy to give them to her; didn't he know she could see in the dark?

Metea tapped her quill on the edge of the ink well.

Perhaps it was not so terrible. The candlelight gave the ink's color meaning. The illuminations she drew in the corners of the pages, when her mind had wandered too far from the task, took on life in the candle light.

Outside, the sounds of the city were growing larger. The tower had attracted its crowd of gawkers, as always. She carefully rested a white linen over the page she had been working on, was about to snuff out the candle, when a strange shadow was cast over the table. A moment's pause, and its source was identified- a spider, dangling from its thread, was slowly dropping down towards the table. Metea raised a hand, about to crush it, but paused.

Instead, she'd reach forward, catching the spider's thread on the edge of one clawed finger. The spider continued drifting downwards, unaware its thread had been cut. Metea contemplated it for a moment- then moved her hand, so that the spider was immersed in the flames of the candle.

Legs twitched, briefly and brightly, and the little creature popped.

Metea blew out the candle, and grabbing her staff, headed out. She'd have to meet up with Carthum, at their old spot. He had probably already beaten her there.
 

97mg

Villager
Lady Irienys: Sandy Residue

Kalair - Church of Suru

She clawed the surrounds of her eyes a little, aged fingers attempting to massage away fatigue-born age. It wouldn’t help much, but it might keep her awake just a little longer. A yawn and some self-temple rubbing followed to finish things off.

That was better. The secret healing work of the priesthood could extend life, but eventually you reached a point where the inevitable would make its charge. Lady Irienys was a frail old thing, but that didn’t mean she lacked fire in her belly.

Her life had been spent in service to Suru from day one. Suru, God of justice and light. Irienys was one of quite an extensive bloodline, her mother, grandmother and beyond, all sharing the same ingrained fate. There had been moments of angst, disobedience and open rebellion in her younger years of course. Why wouldn’t a young lady seek to venture out and explore the world? Was it true that the plains beneath the hills were a bed for sun-drenched bones, of species unknown? Did Xol cave really open and close of its own accord? Were the Tiran falls truly bluer than the sky?

She smiled.

Little had she known that Suru would bring her to witness more of life’s mystery than any outdoor jaunt. And the work had mattered, especially for her generation and most likely the next.

A vast majority of the council considered this church their ally, an essential friend. Now, Dolstian Law might have sought to evaporate the boiling magics which plagued this land, but what of gods, goddesses and deities? There was no denying the influence and power of some of them, and others were well… nothing but outright imagination. What was really important was public perception, and how such divine folk might serve the council’s needs.

Suru was respected by many. Justice could mean many things. Justice was desirable. Justice was what the council needed too, to ensure the see-saw of equality was kept trim and neat, flat and level.

The church had become a refuge of sorts. A place where believers could find kindness, understanding and an open ear. A safe place for those at risk especially, the downtrodden, the feared, those flowing with magic who needed help to contain themselves. In a nutshell, Suru’s church helped the council look good and the council was appreciative. They were funded well. They were allowed a great deal of autonomy. Unlike many churches, they weren’t subject to random searches or audit either.

What the council didn’t know, or at least appeared not to know, was that the reality was quite something different.

Suru’s servants didn’t seek to trim anyone’s wings. If members swore to Suru’s ideals and acted appropriately, it would have been unjust for them to suffer. Justice to Suru’s flock had a different meaning compared to the eyes of society at large. Take young Metea for instance, now that was a breed destined to be outcast, shunned and mistreated. A Tiefling on the path of light? Surely that was better than a dangerous and inexperienced protagonist wandering the earth, connecting to her magic wildly devoid of anything other than instinct! It didn’t matter who you were, if you were open to the light you were welcome here. Just look at... well what the one-tusked half orc had done, for example. Carthum was a cleric now! It hadn’t been easy for the boy by any means, but his heart was warm and his words spoke true. All were welcome, as long as you kept a few things to yourself.

Those who had been here long enough, the trustworthy, witnessed a whole other level to Suru’s fine work. The general, yet unspoken consensus? Dolstian Law was unjust. Simple as that. Penalties were far too… permanent. The council had prescribed themselves power unfit for their role, let alone their experience. The will of the earth was being smothered by a pack of argumentative brats.

So Suru’s followers waited. In secrecy they trained and shared knowledge. They were encouraged to keep an open mind. Because one day, the only justice on this earth would be Suru’s and Suru alone’s…

Irienys’ eyes snapped open. She’d nodded off. Across the old desk she regarded the hourglass with a tisk from her lips. Almost dawn. Time for a prayer. Old fingers inverted the glass-imprisoned sand, and she closed her eyes once more.

“Blessed Suru, may the year be kind to those just.
May darkness and treachery surely be crushed.
A new year of a new name,
but only one name I need, blessed Suru.
Let the great tower the other ones climb,
for Suru it is you,
who gift with a sign.”

Crack! Then a tinkling sound.

She opened her eyes and covered her mouth in shock.

The hourglass base had split, its sandy contents slowly spilling free...
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The Brightest Fires

Ah, the naming ceremony.

An attempt to assign the future, by a group of superstitious fools too myopic to see the end of their own noses!

Otiroth wandered the great plains around the tower, taking in the crowds. Despite his own disdain for the council, and their practices, the excitement in the air was nearly tangible, and he had to admit, it was catching. Folks were happy about the ceremony, excited to be in the city, mystified by seeing new people and new customs. It was impossible not to feel the wide-eyed joy of children listening to gnomish lute for the first time, or the pleasant tension of watching a half-orc perform a heart-stopping sword-juggling routine.

Of course, the excitement wasn't why the young sorcerer wandered the crowd. Or the naming ceremony. He'd been invited along by an acquaintance, and they'd be meeting up at the edge of the festival just before the naming ceremony was to start. And it was never polite, was it, to turn down such an invitation? The alternative was a gilded room soaked in incense, the showroom, studying between awaiting confused men and addled housewives to come in and peruse the 'perfumes' on sale, and then arranging for them to meet with the owner to discuss a trade of goods.

It was down below the shop, meticulously hidden in what had probably actually been a sorcerous dungeon centuries ago, where the true studying and practicing took place. But everyone had to pay their dues.

Today, their doors were closed- at least until after the naming ceremony. He had some time. And even if he didn't, his compatriots wouldn't have come to something like this even if invited by a curious devilkin. So, he had coverage at least all morning.

Until then, he'd continue his walk, take advantage of the crowd to see if there was anything else curious happening, out beyond the walls of Kalair.


<Could Otiroth roll to see if he can catch any rumors about magic or monsters?>
 
The woman seemed to emerge from the gloomy mere as if the water receded from her, exposing at first a tangle of thick black hair that framed a face of pale skin, like polished ivory. A pair of eyes, deep and smoldering, opened to consume him. Lips, full but colorless, parted slightly and made his heart explode in his chest. The smell of damp earth, of rich and luscious vegetation, and of woman, washed over him. It was Essithea, the One Who Knew Him. Before the rest of her body could be revealed, she whispered to him, in a voice that opened his soul without permission and invaded his very being. “Will you bleed for me?”

Dain awoke with a vicious start, his fingers clutching bits of earth and twigs. He gasped once, then again, as the memory of the vision faded enough for him to regain his sense of awareness. It was cold, and his heavy blanket lay discarded beside him. A small ring of stones surrounded a fire long gone out. The sun was just rising over the jagged peaks as he pulled his blanket around his shoulders and over his head and stood up to get his limbs moving. His breath came out it bright clouds of mist as he walked over to a nearby ledge to watch the sunrise illuminate the mountains around him.

Thinking back to the words of Essithea, he pulled his sword free of its scabbard, holding it up so that the fresh sun reflected from its black blade. He took a breath, studying the weapon again for any sign of recognition, for a spark of a memory. But there was nothing. He put it away, and then returned to his camp. He gathered up his pack, laden as it was with herbs and plants that the Apothecary would be pleased with, and started on the trip back to Kalair. It was the day of the naming of the year. It was to be a special year, of that he was certain. Something was going to happen.

As he scrambled across broken paths, leaped over roaring streams, and slid down stone embankments, he pondered Essithea’s question. The more he thought about it, the less of a question it became.

He would not be late for the ceremony!
 

97mg

Villager
Pesserl: Black Stick

Kalair - The Great Tower

Kalair’s great tower was a feat in itself. A black hook-shaped mass formed from the very basalt of Marix’s southern shores, reaching out of the ground to tickle low-lying clouds. No mere mortal had built this. Somewhere back in time one could only imagine the violent geological forces that had shaped such birth. It had taken generations of masons, smiths and engineers to bring about the transformation. An entranceway had been chiseled out, then stairs, windows and rooms…

It was exactly one year ago that Richhild had stood upon the tower’s dizzying summit and placed his lips against an enormous device, the horn of an ancient sea-beast. The spiraling mass featured in many an old text, but even Kalair’s best historians still argued about the origins, especially how such an archeological find came to arrive on land, let alone how it might have been transported up the tower.

Richhild wouldn’t be kissing the end of a sea god’s protrusion today, and this pleased him. It had been nerve wracking in truth, naming the year that was soon to be concluded, The Year of Fruit. Hardly memorable or wrapped with mystery was it. Still, they’d had bumper crops and it had kept pastry-makers happy, and little folk healthy. The naming had occurred as always at the upper balcony, the first thing catching the sunlight had been an apricot tree…

“Black,” said Richhild.

It was tradition for last year’s spokesperson to select the next, at random, a wooden cup filled with painted sticks.

“Haha, you’re up, Pesserl,” a hairy dwarf proclaimed, offering the fellow councilor a firm slap on the back.

Poor old Pess was quite a sight to behold, he had only one arm for starters. The aged man was one of the council’s less pedestrian members. He was short and bald with deep set green eyes, a slow mover these days, and rather stinky given his choice to live as a recluse. But this was the council. All races and classes were to be represented, and of the latter he was certainly near the barrel’s lower scraping area. At least they didn’t know that the man’s thoughts were as dirty as his manner and garb. With any luck the year wouldn’t be named via an expletive. The dwarf might be though.

So well before dawn, up Pess went, alone, one doddery step after another, up and up the spiraling basalt steps lit with neatly spaced sconces along the way. He prepared himself for the work.

A short speech, close me eyes, stand, look out across the lands, and name the first thing that me thinks of, other than a man’s crotch or a woman’s teat.

He sniggered to himself.

Safely yet painfully the old bones carried him to the summit. Chest heaving, he coughed and spluttered in those final steps. A little rest, and then he put his mouth to the horn’s smaller orifice. Better get onto it then.

“Ahem.”

A pause.

“Kalair united. Me friends... I, Pesserl Furheim have been marked by ballot…”

He coughed again.

A few moments later he composed himself and resumed, “a servant of me people, and our council of peace, to name for you this day the year to come.”

The gruff tone of Pesserl’s voice boomed across the land. It is said the horn can be heard as far away as the southern hills! This was not the time to make oneself a fool.

He closed a pair of tired eyes, fighting an old man's desire to sleep. There was no hurry. He’d do this in his own time. The year would not begin until Pess said so, and thus empowered for the first time in his life, he'd let these moments linger.

To be continued.

<Otiroth if you'd like to actively listen out and eavesdrop for interesting gossip and info, feel free to make a Perception check #d20+3 . Based on the roll I'll see what we can muster up :) >
 
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97mg

Villager
Otiroth

Otiroth: With natural cunning and ears purposely peeled, you aren't surprised that much of the morning’s drifting conversations seem to be about today's annual celebration. There is a great deal of pride in many voices, and a sense of excitement too. A small band of young halflings jog past you, obviously conducting some kind of private race. A dark elf clothed in velvet scowls as they push past. An old dwarf, clearly still drunk from the night before staggers along, singing a ghastly tune in a guttural language you can't comprehend.

Then a human voice, sweet of tone and young in years catches your ear. A little girl just ahead of you is holding hands with a very solid framed man. Both wear the homespun yarn of farming folk and their boots look well traveled to say the least.

“Father, it was horrible, and Gingy picked it up with a stick. He laughed at me when I screamed, so I gave his shin a fair kicking.”

At this, the man stops in his stride and turns to the girl. You clearly see his long waxy locks of hair twist onto a shoulder, and the profile of a wide-jawed and fleshy nosed parent as he stoops down low to speak with her eye to eye. You can almost see the pride mixed with shock in his features.

“Dira, you must promise me never to go near such things again. And stay away from that lout, you hear?”

His daughter looks down at the roadside, as if surveying the site of a bubble’s burst, before she looks back to him.

“What are they? Patrick said Emera said Patty's mother lost three horses to one. Three!”

“I don't know Dira...” he replies, before turning his head in your direction.
 
Carthum One-Tusk: The Grove

The crowds seemed smaller this year than last. Or larger? Carthum wandered through the crowd, but with a purpose; he couldn't be distracted by childish things like minstrels and food stands now. He was a cleric of Suru! And he had a mission at the moment, albeit a very simple and private one. Still, clerics of Suru never wavered from their mission!

There were quite a few orcs and half-orcs, though, their scattering numbers quite rowdy even among the noise of the crowds.

Carthum moved quickly on. He had made a bee-line through the edges of the festival, and now was coming upon his and his sister's 'secret place.' Of course, calling it as such was just a hold-over from when they had watched the festival growing up, and very few people would come out this far. It was hardly a good spot to watch! But you could still hear! The crowds had crept closer to their small grove, but this year, it still remained untouched.

Three old darkwood trees, knotted and gnarled, hung over the remains of an old stump. The trees could barely be said to have a canopy- they had few leaves, despite the bark looking quite healthy. The stump was big enough that even now, Carthum and Metea could sit comfortably on it.

There were a lot of old rumors about their favorite spot, some involving lightning strikes and a storm sent by sister spring, and others about a dryad, but when Carthum had asked an elder member of the church, she had said that the tree had just died and fallen over from old age. Even trees aged.

Carthum stayed standing for now, one hand to his brow as he scanned the crowd for Metea. She tended to stick out, but in this huge crowd, even a tiefling could go unnoticed!

She had better hurry, though. The council was already starting to address the crowd!
 

Metea

Villager
Metea: The Grove (or, nearly so!)

Now this- this kind of crowd, Metea liked. She moved through the bustle and the excitement- aloof and proud, feathery tail swishing behind her like a cat that had spotted interesting prey. Perhaps there were some eyes on her, but those eyes were of lust and envy, were they not? Indeed, despite a late night, she still looked sleeker than the farmers in the mud.

Look at them... so jealous of you. None of them have secrets worth knowing.

Metea's mood had improved drastically the further she had gotten from the church. Moreso than usual, even. The whispers in her ear were even sounding quite happy. She must've managed, today, to please it.

Already, the sun was rising, and the latest creaky old Councillor had begun his drone into the field. To say that people stopped their gallivanting would be a stretch, at least around her, but a few people did seem to pay attention. Metea looked over their heads, traced the crowd, until she spotted a familiar flash of bright red hair.

Ah, what was he doing out here- chatting up the locals? Metea strutted up to him- if anything, she was strutting more than even before, were that possible. She seemed to be interrupting something- but with who? Some farmers? Please. She'd brush him with her tail. Get lost, did he?

Good. He knows many secrets.

She was sure Carthum wouldn't mind if she was a bit late...
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: Exotic wares

Otiroth was not trying particularly hard to pretend he wasn't listening. He'd pause when the farmer and his daughter did, knocking some mud off of his boots against a rock.

The sorcerer heard rumors, here or there, of pretty strange and amazing things, but here was someone who it seemed may have seen something first hand. As the farmer turned his gaze back towards Otiroth, perhaps noticing that he was indeed now beginning to clearly eavesdrop, Otiroth fixed him with a winning smile. "Sorry sir, I was just passing by, and couldn't help overhearing. You wouldn't happen to be having some trouble with farm brownies, are you? My shop trades in some oils that will drive those critters right out."

Of course, most farmers could handle brownies. No, this was most certainly something else.

At that moment, Metea chose to appear, sauntering through the crowd like a cat on the prowl. And, much like a cat, she only chose to jump on someone's lap when they already had something else they were working on up there. "We also have some more... exotic ingredients," he offered the farmer. Her tail tickled Otiroth's back.

Otiroth was just a salesman, trying to sell his wares and help out, right?
 
Dain: The Grove

Dain made his way slowly but purposely through the crowds, his laden pack still on his back. No sense going by the Apothecary’s shop since no doubt the old crone was out and about with the rest of the villagers. Voices carrying conversations he had no care for came and went as he pushed and coerced his way closer to the massive stone edifice. He chewed on some dry meat as he walked, ignoring any looks he may have received. His eyes were on the tower, and he listened to the voice that came from it. Despite having been in the village for several months, he was still an outsider and he was well aware of the fact. It didn’t help his reputation that he often disappeared into the mountains for days on end. Still, there were a few people who had been healed of an ailment by the Apothecary, and she had given him praise for finding rare medicinals. In this way, at least he assumed, he was not outright hated.

The closer he got, the denser the crowds became. He didn’t like being pressed in on all sides by people. They smelled. He was used to mountain air, after all. Hefting his pack up closer, wary of groping hands, he spied a spot that looked relatively open. An old stump by some trees. A half-orc was occupying some of the space, but surely there was room for him? He recognized the spot’s guardian as some sort of religious acolyte of Suru, and recalled having bumped into him on several occasions.

At any rate, it was a place clear of the more frenzied villagers, and that was very appealing. With a flicker of a grin, completely for himself, he headed over to the stump. Taking another piece of dried goat meat from a worn leather pouch at his side, he tore it in half as he approached the acolyte. Walking up, he made eye contact with the half-orc and nodded in greeting. Taking a seat on the stump, he offered up a half of jerky. “Mountain goat. Seasoned with herbs.” Despite the offer, Dain’s eyes and ears were clearly on the tower, and the pending issuance from it. It wasn’t that he was ignoring the half-orc, it was just that he seemed very focused on what was forthcoming.
 

97mg

Villager
Otiroth & Metea

Otiroth & Metea: The farmer crinkles his brow for a moment, before relaxing and offering a simple smile in return. It is not unnatural for strangers to introduce themselves on this auspicious day, indeed many trades are done and friendships are made in this very way.

“You are kind young man, if only it was just brownies that my girl gossips of.” His tone is polite enough, as he speaks through a tangley short beard. The deep tan of his skin, those lively eyes, a neck like a tree-stump, all round out a fellow who has labored hard and lived a good portion of his life under Marix’s sun. The accent in his words though, is unfamiliar to you.

Something else caught the farmer’s eye then, and the girl’s too, as she sucks in a breath inhaling an “oooh.”

The grip on his daughter’s hand tightens.

“Is that a… is that a… Tie-thing, father?”

There is an uncomfortable pause then, as he eyes the unusual lass who has arrived soaked in confidence.

Realizing that his wide eyes and silence might be construed as being a little rude, he summons a nervous smile and answers, “I believe so, Dira, but it isn’t polite to speak so.”

You get the impression his girl isn’t paying much attention to the lesson in manners. Her bright little eyes are wide and a small grin comes to her lips.

“I want to be like her. She’s beautiful! Can they come to the ceremony with us?”

<Post for Carthum & Dain imminent :) >
 

97mg

Villager
Carthum & Dain

Carthum & Dain: Sat on the semi-secret stump, you have a good view of the gathering’s fringes, soaking up the first words of this year’s spokesperson, who is clearly still warming up or suffering from nerves. Not surprising really.

Unlike the early birds and overly enthusiastic folk who arrived in the true darkness of night, those at the crowd’s outer edge are a little different. These plots are reserved for the late arrivals, the disorganized, weary travelers, and perhaps some wiser individuals who appreciate personal space, and know how to plot a swift exit...

It's a strange fusion of the distracted with minds upon other tasks, and some who may carry a sense of disappointment. It’s the rougher end of town, at least for a few hours. After that it's the Kalair taverns that bare the brunt.

Following the booming introduction from the tower, an eerie silence falls over the crowd. The next declarations from the ancient horn are going to be life-changing for many. A self fulfilling prophecy? Mind over matter? Superstition? One thing many will agree on is that year’s names DO make a difference, though they may not understand how… or why.

Among the throng you catch sight of something unexpected, a small feminine form weaving between those assembled with an action almost unprecedented. They are trying to get further away from the tower! It seems likely she will pop out of the fringe in a minute or two.

<Feel free to make perception checks, Dain d20+5 (yikes!), Carthum d20+2. The amount you glean from this situation will be proportional to the result. Do not fear, we will take your passive perception scores into account by default.>
 
Carthum One-Tusk- The Grove

A friendly smile at the new arrival, and a nod of greeting. "Thank you, friend," he'd accept the jerky, pleased with a little bit of something to get the morning going. He'd rushed out the door without much thought to a morning meal, and a bit of meat hit the spot.

Carthum didn't mind the company- quite the opposite. Dain was someone he knew 'of' more than knew, as they had passed here or there. Human, but a bit of an outsider as well. Carthum had felt hints of the same, outside the church. Dain was fine by him. And he did not particularly mind the silence, either, because among this crowd, someone who was not chatting away or shouting at minstrels was so rare as to be Suru's miracle.

"It will be an auspicious year," he predicted, "but perhaps not a good one." Suru had a plan, he knew, and hardship gave people opportunity to rise up and face it.

The half-orc had his eyes on the tower, occasionally scanning the crowd for Metea.

<Perception check- 4. What are be things? :confused: >
 

Metea

Villager
Metea: Exotic Wares

"Did I interrupt a sales pitch?" Metea giggled a bit at Otiroth, realizing she was probably digging him in deeper, but not really caring at the moment. Look at this place- it was brimming with things to do aside from work! She didn't bring her books to the festival and try to get people to read them!

Actually, no, that was probably Carthum doing that at the moment; spreading the good word to dwarves and elves with scales!

Or perhaps there was something else going on? Metea had caught only the tail-end of it, what with being more concerned with what end her tail could swat at.

The farmer's reaction was not unexpected- Metea hated the fake civility, though she was admittedly too sheltered to realize what the alternative actually was. For the little girl, though, she had a big, honest smile. "Why, aren't you sweet!"
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: Exotic Wares

Otiroth's smile hadn't wavered- he was doing a pretty decent job pretending this was all perfectly normal. Though, on the second pass of Metea's tail, he'd manage to catch it with one hand just below the floof of feathers on the end. He did not need dusting!

All perfectly normal.

"Not a sales pitch," he countered, though he smiled at her. Well, maybe kind of a sales pitch.

"We wouldn't want to impose," he'd add quickly to the farmer. And he definitely didn't want to create a giant scene either, "though if you wouldn't mind some company, if only for a bit? It's the festival, after all. New company is good company." Maybe he could learn some more about the creatures bothering the farmer in the meantime, too. Otiroth was pretty sure he could talk his master into giving out some oils if it actually was just some mundane problem- or the sorcerer could work overtime for a few days- but if it was something much more exotic, he just had to know!

Besides, he had come to the festival to meet up with the tiefling- mission accomplished.
 
Dain - The Grove

Dain chewed thoughtfully on a bit of meat, eyes slightly squinted in concentration as he listened to the proclamation that seemed to be coming at the rate of honey from a jar on a cold morning. “You are welcome.” He answered while still enthralled with the tower, his voice somewhat distant. Then a very small smile crept over his face. “That goat was well endowed, friend. Chew slowly, and some of his power could become yours.” Dain was certainly chewing slowly. His eyes flicked over to Carthum and he sized him up for a second. “Then again…”

He’s half-orc. Probably doesn’t need it. Oh well, it’s his lucky day.

Dain shrugged. “Well whether for boon or for ill-fortune, we shall all be in our graves before we find out if this old man can’t get the cursed words out.” Dain finished his bite and swallowed it in mild frustration. “I just need to know…” He trailed off, thinking again of the words of Essithea. Was it to be a year of blood? Would some small bit of his memory come to light? Was he doomed forever to be a man with no past?

A feminine form weaving through the fringe of the crowd caught his eye for some reason. Something about the way she was moving…

<Perception check = 20>
 

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