Haven's new capital
Events in Dovir
The summer sun remained high overhead but would soon begin its descent toward the horizon. The wizards' carpet descended to the gate of the large town. Teldon had only to draw forth the sealed letters which Lord Arythlyndar had bestowed upon him and the guards waved the trio through. The search for an inn began. Businesses had closed for the day however the streets remained busy. Several establishments were passed where throngs of people were pouring out through the doors and onto the streets. The first inn found was full, just as the second proved to be. So too was the third. Arriving at a fourth, Teldon's attention was caught by a 'No Foreigners' sign. The fifth inn found was also full but at least the landlord was more apologetic than the owners of previous establishments had been.
The trio's wanderings had led them into the docks area. The inns in this area were rowdier than elsewhere causing Teldon to comment that he wouldn't wish to stay here even if rooms could be found (which appeared increasingly unlikely). Taking the widest and best lit road away from the port, the wizards returned to the town centre. Their path led past a grove of trees surrounded by an ornately wrought metal barrier, where a lone guard stood propped on his spear and looking exceedingly bored. On the other side of the road was a man in ragged robes with long unkempt hair and beard. He seemed to be staring at the grove and the expression on his face was unmistakeably one of sorrow. Other passers-by gave the man a wide berth however Lana could not help but catch his eye. The man held her gaze for a brief moment before looking away.
Lana called out to the man in Elvish (unable to address him in Alphatian, and not wishing to cause offence by openly speaking Thyatian). The man appeared perplexed, evidently unable to understand, therefore Teldon stepped in to translate. The man seemed glad to be speaking with somebody, even foreigners. Upon closer inspection the man appeared to be quite young - in his late twenties perhaps.
Teldon pointed at the grove and explained that the site within the railings had housed a temple to Asterius, until its destruction two years ago. The bedraggled individual had introduced himself as Udrothyn, formerly a cleric within the shrine. Hearing this, Karnus and Lana recalled the reports that Temples of Asterius across mainland Alphatia were reputed to have been burned by Glantrian elves, members of the Erewan clan. Teldon put several questions to Udrothyn and reported that the priest considered the Glantrians to be innocent of the crimes they were accused of, for his Patron had assured him of that much in visions. The grove of trees was an illusion maintained to improve the aesthetic quality of the burned ruins, which the local council considered an eyesore. The grove had been in place for some time as no funds were available to rebuilt the temple, nor was public opinion deemed to be in favour of that happening.
Hearing that the grove was illusory, Karnus was curious and approached the barrier, causing the guard to hold up a hand, shake his head and motion for the blue-robed wizard to step back lest the enchantment be disrupted.
Upon further questioning, Udrothyn revealed that many clerics of Alphatia believed the fire-loving Immortal Rathanos to be behind Aasla's destruction. He personally was not convinced; assuming that if a higher power had sought to cause Aasla's destruction it would most likely have been Alphaks. He freely admitted however that he didn't know a great deal about Rathanos and his teachings.
After Lana had obtained directions to the studios of two high-end kihara-artists whom Mylertendal had suggested she seek, the party took their leave of the cleric. Lana spent a moment committing the directions to memory, using a nearby construction site as a point of reference. The site housed an enormous building which despite being only half-built already towered over all nearby structures and utterly dominated its surroundings. The party would later find out that this was to be a Temple to Kagyar.
The Temple of Kagyar ... a sudden disturbance
Despite the lateness of the hour many workers could be seen clambering around on scaffolding and the steeply sloping roof over a hundred feet above the ground. At ground level a group of dwarves were studying a large plan and arguing amongst themselves. Looking around, other dwarves could be seen carving stonework at the base of one of two towers which fronted the building. Sounds of hammer hitting stone filled the air. Meanwhile, exhausted and half-asleep humans dressed in little more than rags and rope sweated and strained to move blocks of stone into place under the dwarves' exacting guidance.
Suddenly there came a cry as a man plummeted from the roof. The cry did not last long. A sickening crunch was heard as the man hit the ground hard, then came silence. One of the dwarves studying the plan cursed and went over to the body. After a brief examination he shook his head. Only a minority of other passers-by seemed concerned.
In the midst of this another commotion occurred. About fifty yards from the Karameikan wizards a group of men and women dressed in plain tunics appeared, stumbling in a drunken manner through the crowd. One of the men shoved his way past a young woman in an elegant kihara. When she shouted at him he punched her with such force that her head spun around in a disturbing fashion and she collapsed to the ground. This elicited screams from the crowd. Most scattered but a few robed individuals cast spells, however those aimed at the group appeared to have no effect.
Lana strode forward, wand in hand, toward where the woman who had been assaulted lay in a crumpled heap. A few bystanders cast more spells but again these had no visible effect. As Lana drew close, the man who had punched the woman made a clumsy lunge for Lana but she proved quicker and released a charge from her Wand of Fear, catching the man and most of the others in its cone-shaped area of effect. To Lana's dismay, none of them so much as flinched. However, a large fellow who was trying to restrain one of the troublemakers released his grip and ran off down the road.
Lana cast a questioning look at Karnus as she evaded another clumsy swing by the man in front of her. How could these people be impervious to magic? As she allowed herself to be distracted, the muscular man grabbed her arm and his fingers dug painfully into her flesh. Lana pulled herself free though her arm twisted badly in the process. The man's expression didn't change. His companions lurched and stumbled toward Karnus and Teldon.
Seeing the horde advance Karnus stepped forward, realising the group was compact enough to be caught within a single casting of the spell he had called to mind. Spreading his hands wide he invoked a dispellation effect. Immediately, every one of the shuffling forms turned stiff before collapsing to the ground to lie motionless.
Karnus expression was one of triumph as he returned Lana's look and mouthed a single word in her direction. "Zombies."
Wasting no time, Lana swept her Wand of Enemy Detection in an arc but it revealed nothing. Whoever had animated the zombies had left the vicinity or was well concealed. Returning her attention to the fallen woman, she realised her healing talents would achieve nothing - the victim's neck had been broken.
Karnus too looked around but was unable to locate anyone looking obviously put out. Those onlookers who had not already removed themselves from the scene appeared relieved or were already applauding his quick thinking. He allowed himself a moment of indulgence and acknowledged the onlookers' appreciation with a nod, before moving to join Lana in inspecting the body of the 'man' who had attacked her. He was quite dead - Lana was unable to find any trace of a heartbeat - however the body was still warm and bore no signs of obvious injury.
Belatedly, guards and soldiers arrived to take charge of the situation. Conversing with Teldon they informed him that similar incidents had taken place locally and were thought to be connected to a Glantrian agent known to be at large in the area. On asking for more information about the rogue individual, the lead guard pulled a small scroll from his belt, unfurled it, and read aloud a name very slowly: "Ko..moo..garn...krin...ahh...gar". A substantial reward was on offer for his capture or for information leading to capture. Further information was, apparently, obtainable from the government offices.
Exhausted after the evening's events, Teldon in particular had decided enough was enough - it was time to secure accommodation for the night. Entering the nearest large inn, the old wizard lost no time singling out the inn's owner, withdrawing into a shadowy corner and re-emerging moments later whereupon the innkeeper welcomed Teldon as an old friend. The two men spoke then the innkeep bid the three wizards follow him behind the bar to a private stairway. Leading them to the uppermost floor of the establishment, the man indicated that the wizards would be permitted to occupy his own family's quarters - conveniently for the Karameikans, it so happened that his wife was spending the night at her sister's in a nearby village, and their two sons were away serving with the Haven Army.
The next day Lana and Teldon rose early to seek out the shop of Alasylvel - a renowned kihara-artist. The previous night's crowds had been nothing compared to the streets during the day. The town was positively teeming with people. There was barely enough space to move and in every direction the pair found themselves blocked by somebody attempting to go the other way. Frustrated magic-users were seen casting Fly spells to rise above the crowds, or creating Dimension Doors to reach their destinations.
The decision was taken to fetch the flying carpet, though Teldon expressed his dismay - he had been looking forward to stretching his legs for a change. Flying across the rooftops the going proved sensible and much easier. Viewed from above, it was readily apparent that Dovir was not built to house the many people now crowded within its walls. Clearly, many were evacuees from Aasla. Soldiers could be seen everywhere, maintaining order lest the overcrowding coupled with the summer heat should cause fighting to break out. Lana commented on the many different colours and types of attire the townsfolk wore however those not clad in kiharas wore military dress or a plain, unadorned tunic. There was no other diversity to be seen and the only language heard spoken was of course Alphatian.
After not long the carpet reached its destination. Alasylvel turned out to be a small woman whose precise age was difficult to determine. Her narrow eyes were a brilliant hue of green, while her long hair was brown with a hint of red. The silk kihara she wore was embroidered with an elaborate woodland scene depicting sprites, unicorns and various forest animals.
Refusing to converse in any language other than Alphatian, she made little attempt to hide her disdain at Lana's current attire. When Lana revealed that she sought a garment to wear at the Imperial Court she merited Alasylvel's full attention. She shut up shop and began making notes as Teldon relayed Lana's ideas and requirements. She also voiced her appreciation that Mylertendal had recommended her and she expressed hope that the old wizardess was faring well.
Alasylvel began taking Lana's measurements, indicating that although "ready to wear" robes were not something she had a great number of, she did have a "shop" kihara that should fit with some minor adjustments. For the specially commissioned piece, she explained, every measurement would need to be precise. "It will fit you as if it was a part of you."
Lana then mentioned Mylertendal having named another noted designer - Galatia Allatrian. Upon hearing that name, Alasylvel flew into a theatrical tantrum and hurled a roll of silk across her shop. Teldon translated: "That Thyatian upstart! What anyone sees in her work is impossible to fathom. Were it not for her position at court she never would have sold anything. It is an outrage that tastes in Sundsvall are so obviously slipping. Once again it shall fall to the artists of Haven to set the Empire back on the right track."
Unnerved, Lana was nevertheless curious to find out more however Teldon was reluctant to push the issue. All he could yield was that Galatia was friendly with "that Thyatian princess, whatever her name is."
Prices were discussed, and Lana handed over several gems as upfront payment for the work. Details were provided of Alasylvel's agent in Sundsvall, to whom the bespoke garment would be teleported for collection once it was ready. In the meantime, Lana would be able to collect a finished gown in the morning - primarily a warm golden yellow embroidered with abstract patterns, occasional subtle flowers and birds. The petal effects in particular looked so delicate and real that they could almost have been plucked from the robe.
Taking their leave of Alasylvel, Lana had entertained the hope of calling with Belrydek (a master dyer whose gowns were sought after for their vivid hues) though judging by Teldon's demeanour he seemed utterly bored of clothes and shopping. Lana did not wish to take advantage of his willingness to come along and translate for her. Therefore the pair decided to attend to proper business and stop by the government offices, arriving by carpet just a few minutes later.
The council building was of moderate size with a domed roof, its entrance flanked by two tall statues of wizards - a man and a woman - each holding an unfurled scroll. There were many guards at the entrance but they waved the pair through upon seeing Arythlyndar's seal upon the letters he had provided. Inside, the place was in chaos. Crowds of people shouted at each other and waved scrolls aloft. Teldon presented himself to a harassed looking official at a desk who pointed to a waiting area. After a while the pair were led to an office where another official sat behind a desk, seemingly drowning in piles of parchment. Upon being presented with the official papers, he scrambled around for a quill, knocked over his ink pot, cursed, attempted to blot the ink with a bit of parchment, realised the parchment was important, cursed again and began scanning the letter. He composed himself, asked Teldon some questions (all in Alphatian), noted the answers, asked something about 'Karnuz Perdeezi...erm' and nodded to convey his satisfaction with the response, whereupon the wizards were dismissed.
Heading back through the main concourse the pair passed a large central pillar where public notices were on display. Something caught Teldon's eye and he pointed it out to Lana. Among a selection of 'Wanted' notices for known criminals was illustrated the picture of cruel-looking man with yellowish skin, narrow, slanted eyes, long dark hair and a beard and moustache. The man's name was legible beneath - Komughan Krinagar. Teldon translated the remainder of the script - "Wanted for the murder of General Torenal, fleeing Imperial custody and the burning of Aasla. Known to be at large in the Dovir area. Reward 25,000 Crowns Alive, 10,000 Crowns Dead and up to 5,000 Crowns for information leading to his capture. Spells he is known to use include Sleep, Invisibility, Dispel Magic, Fireball, Ice Storm, Anti-Magic Shell and Teleport."
The mysterious stranger
Turning to leave, the pair collided with a stooped old man. His robes were faded, crumpled and worn through in various places. He had strands of white hair and age spots on his head, while tufts of white hair stood out on his cheeks and chin. His nose appeared large and swollen. He regarded Lana and Teldon through rheumy eyes. "Help!" he cried. "I'm being attacked by Thyatians." It took a couple of seconds for the Karameikans to realise he had shouted this in open Thyatian.
Lana glanced around, asking the man where his assailants were to be found.
The old man looked confused. "Why you're attacking me of course. Aren't you? No? Well it seemed like an attack. Are you sure you aren't attacking me? Oh, how disappointing. Probably just as well for you. I'm a very powerful wizard. I could turn you inside out just by scratching my left buttock. Would you like to see?"
Lana mulled over this proposal before declining. The old man introduced himself as Razalys, and offered to come along with the wizards to lend assistance.
Something about the man's name stuck in Lana's mind and her brow furrowed as she wondered what it might be. In the midst of conversation it became clear to her, and she turned to look at Teldon with wide, alarmed eyes. The older mage looked back at her in puzzlement.
With her nerves buzzing, Lana invited Razalys to return to the inn where he might meet their companion Karnus. The old man was all too happy to accept, and seated himself beside Teldon while rambling about werebadgers and pink and purple pixies. As the carpet rose above the rooftops, it did not take long to get back to the inn. As the three individuals entered the common room Teldon caught Lana's eye as he withdrew a yellowish vial from a pocket of his robes. Lana recognised the potion of ESP which Teldon had taken from the beholder's lair. "Why don't you run and fetch Karnus. I'm sure he would like to meet Razalys. I will buy our new friend a drink. Don't be too long."
Lana hastily made her way upstairs and burst into her companion's room. Karnus was in the midst of transcribing a new incantation from a scroll to his spellbook and was loathe to be disturbed but acceded to Lana's request that he should descend to the bar-room. On asking why the matter was so urgent, Lana responded, "his name, Karnus. Doesn't it seem familiar? What if you were to re-arrange the letters?"
The pair made their way downstairs to where Teldon sat listening to the much older wizard's ramblings, evidently bored. Razalys looked up through his rheumy eyes as Karnus and Lana approached.
"So this is your friend is it? Good. So we're all here. Now you wanted my help and took me captive to get it but I'm forgiving and you don't seem that bad for Heldannic Knights so I'm going to do what I can but first you must tell me everything you know about Werebadgers."
With Lana and Karnus now present, Teldon folded his arms and sat back in his chair, saying very little and seemingly focused on his drink.
In his inimitable fashion, Karnus seated himself opposite Razalys and began speaking at length in the soft, relaxing manner which Lana had by now come to recognise. To her astonishment, Razalys did not appear to succumb and remained entirely lucid.
Realising this, Karnus locked gazes with the stranger and asked whether he had ever visited the Merchants' Guildhall in Helskir. For it was there that he had made the acquaintance of a man named Sylazar...
Razalys straightened at once and rose from his chair. "Is the game up so soon?" Passing a hand over his face it transformed into that of the merchant Teldon and Karnus had met in the Helskir Guildhall. No doubt this same individual had masqueraded as the adept Sarazyl in Goltar, or so Lana suspected.
The man smiled. "Razalys was rather over the top wasn't he? I will have to be more subtle in future."
Karnus attemped to speak further with the man, inviting him to stay and share dinner, while Lana's mouth opened to rebuke the man for having pursued their party across the Sea of Dawn - however both were left addressing thin air as the man brought his hands together, uttered words of magic and disappeared.
"Well," said Teldon, breaking his concentration and setting down the empty vial he had been clasping in one hand, "he didn't seem to have any thoughts of harming us. He was more interested in finding out why it had taken us so long to get to Dovir. He is both fascinated by and mistrustful of Karnus."
Read the next instalment - HERE
Or, return to the Main Page or the Site Overview