Posts Tagged ‘King of Crows’

The Great Seer

August 27, 2018

“That is the gnome delegation from Mt. Eagle,” Aara said. “They are here for the yearly trade negotiations.” She was pointing across the market at a couple handfuls of tiny but well-dressed creatures. It was kind of hard to see them as they were flanked by city guards who were humans and half-elves and were taller by nature. The presence of the guards ensured that the crowd parted around the delegation.

“The gnome diplomats?” Calend asked. “Is Onica with them? I don’t know what she looks like.”

“The seer? I think that’s her in blue and purple with the silver wound in her braids,” Aara said. “What is your deal with fortune tellers?”

Calend was too distracted catching glimpses of the young blonde gnome walking across the market. “Huh?” He asked.

“Fortune tellers,” Aara said. “you keep spending money on them. Everytime you find a new one, you keep dumping your cut on them.”

“First, a seer is different from a fortune teller,” Calend said. “A seer is like at least another level above a fortune teller. They are very legitimate.”

“Alright, whatever,” Aara said. “Why do you keep spending money on divination?”

“I was getting to that,” Calend said. “Second, I am looking for the Vault of Crows.”

“Oh that again,” Aara said. “I thought you had given that up.”

“My mother died looking for it,” Calend said. “In one form or another, I will never give that up. I have just hit a long dry spell when it comes to information.”

“I’m pretty sure that zero information ever is a pretty long dry spell,” Aara said.

Calend rolled his eyes. “That is less than helpful,” Calend said. “Where do you think they are staying?”

“I think I heard they were staying at the Golden Hawk,” Aara said with a shrug. “It makes sense. It’s one of the fanciest places outside of the palace.”

“So they’re not in the palace for sure?” Calend asked.

“I don’t think gnomes like being confined like that when it’s not on their own terms,” Aara said. “Besides, they have both city security and their own security. If you’re thinking of trying to meet her, you might want to think again.”

“Oh come on, Aara,” Calend said. “You know I have skills. I’ll see you later, all right?”

“What? It’s market day! You promised you would help me sell today,” Aara said.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Calend said, starting to step away.

“I doubt you will,” Aara said but she looked up and he had already disappeared into the crowd.

Calend asked a few of his other contacts and he found out that the gnomes were definitely staying at the Golden Hawk. He also found out that security was pretty tight. This was confirmed when he went to the lobby and asked if he could speak to Onica. He was told that was not possible. When he insisted, he was pushed back out into the street. It always seemed to come down to the hard way but Calend had been prepared for that.

When Calend’s mother had died, his father was at a loss and Calend was constantly looking for answers. He had met one of his mother’s associates who talked things out with him. His mother had met a lot of interesting people as a searcher of history, what some people called a ‘treasure hunter’. Caron had helped teach Calend’s mother how to infiltrate tombs and dungeons and, possibly out of pity, Caron had taught Calend the same skills.  Calend had practiced and had expanded on those skills. He had never used to them to actually steal anything, but they were definitely the same skillset as a thief. He would need those skills if he was going to meet Onica.

He waited until dark and then he snuck across the rooftops as light as he could step. He made his way toward the Golden Hawk and climbed the tower. There were small balconies that far up that he could grab onto and he took it slowly. He crept up the building, peeking in windows one by one. He eventually saw her. He suddenly found himself wondering if this was a good idea but he was desperate. If he could do this without getting caught, he would be able to solve not only one of the greatest mysteries of Alscines but also he would resolve a lot of personal issues.

He slid open the window slowly and as quietly as possible. He crept into the room and then put his hand over Onica’s mouth. She instantly woke up and after some surprise, she seemed to calm down quickly.

“Please do not scream,” Calend said.

She nodded in response and Calend let her go. “You will not hurt me,” she said.

“You saw the future?” Calend asked.

“No,” she said. “But I can see it in your eyes. Also, if you wished to kill me then you would have done so while I slept. Doing it after purposefully waking me would be foolish.”

Calend felt a little foolish now that she laid it all out. “I need your sight and wisdom, Onica,” he said. “I have a great mystery to solve.”

She sighed. “There is only one problem. I am not Onica, she could not make this journey,” the now mysterious gnome said.

“What?” Calend said. “This has been a pointless risk then.”

“I am her daughter,” she said. “My name is Lewin.” There was a short pause and then. “I also inherited her gift of sight beyond sight.”

Calend’s face brightened. “Can you help me then?”

“If I help you, will you promise to leave me and my mother alone?” Lewin asked. “In my experience, desperate people make things too complicated.”

“I promise,” Calend said. “I don’t want to complicate your life.”

“Ask your question then,” Lewin said and sat up in bed.

“Where is the Vault of Crows?” Calend asked.

Lewin’s eyes went a little wide and she looked worried. “You don’t want to go there,” she said.

“I must,” Calend said. “I must finish what my mother started.”

“Very well,” Lewin said. “If I cannot dissuade you, I will attempt to find the answers you seek.” She had a pitying look on her face that made Calend look uneasy. She closed her eyes and a point of light formed over her forehead and then that light sort of opened into the image of an eye. She remained in place so long that Calend worried that she had fallen back asleep. Finally, she opened her eyes and the third eye disappeared.

“I cannot find the vault itself,” Lewin said. “Some dark art still shields it from my sight. However, I have seen the first step in your path and it will definitely give you what you need and it will help a great many people besides. It is a blessing that we found each other.”

“Wow,” Calend said. He was not sure he believed her but at this point, he was ready to take what he could get.

“Go to the settlement of Bari in Kofrain,” Lewin said. “In the Inn of the Desert Tiger, you will find an expedition into Khull. Make sure you join it.”

“Khull?” Calend asked with apprehension. That was a lawless land dominated by orcs, evil men, goblins, and all sorts of other terrible things. It was the wasteland. “Alright. And then?”

“If you follow that path then I am confident you will make the decisions that lead to what you seek,” Lewin said. “But go now, there is a trade caravan leaving in a few hours that will get you to Bari on time.”

“Thank you,” Calend said. “If this works, I will remember you fondly forever.” Lewin just smiled and nodded and rubbed her eyes and Calend got the message and slipped back out of the window.

The Faith of the Raven Pt. 5

June 16, 2018

As they reached the woods, Carania climbed down from Rhiannon’s back. She tied the horse’s reins to a nearby sturdy tree branch. It would discourage her from wandering off when she got bored but it would surely break if real danger appeared. The other two followed suit, tying their horse and pony up to different trees. Arne leaned in and pressed his forehead to his horse’s forehead and spoke quietly for a moment. Galath started to rummage through the pack on the back of the pony and pulled out a small, two-handed hammer which he slung across his back. Arne turned toward Carania instead of going into his pack immediately. Carania smiled to herself and prepared for sarcasm.

“So,” he said. “I assume we are continuing on foot?”

Galath laughed at that. “You’re the smart one, huh?”

“I am,” Arne said sweetly. “So nice of you to notice. I’m stating the obvious because I wanted an explanation, not confirmation.”

Carania laughed. “No need to fight, boys. I don’t want to endanger the horses or have them slow us down with all of the brush and roots.”

“Fair enough,” Arne said and shrugged. Carania had expected a little more pushback from the opinionated wizard who definitely had a high opinion of himself and a chip on his shoulder. Arne pulled a pouch out of his pack and tied it to his belt. Carania could only assume it was full of components for spells as she had observed as much from her former charge. He then pulled a parasol out of a side pocket, sliding it slowly out of what must have been a magic pocket on the horse’s saddle.

“That’s a curious tool,” Carania said. “I’ve rarely seen one of those outside of cities and even rarer out of the hands of nobility.”

“You like that, eh?” Arne asked with a smile. “Sadly I won’t be taking the bait and using that opening to pour my heart out about my past. My past is my own and I prefer it to remain mysterious.”

“Very mysterious,” Carania agreed. “I was only complimenting your parasol. I had never heard of one being brought into battle before. That is the only reason I commented.”

Arne relaxed, his shoulders visibly releasing tension. “I made it and enchanted it myself for a woman who never claimed it. So I did not want it to go to waste.”

“It’s very pretty,” Galath said in an obvious attempt to tease Arne and maybe further diffuse the tension of the situation.

“Thank you,” Arne said. “I do excellent work.” He leaned the parasol against his shoulder and Graymalkin flapped down from a branch and perched on the gem at the top of the parasol. He started off into the woods whistling.

Carania and Galath followed and then Carania got ahead of the two of them as they headed into those woods. Carania pulled her sword out and held it out at her side. While training at Battle Arts she had heard many stories about patrols that had tripped and fallen on their swords by holding them in front. Galath had his hammer out in one hand but he was clutching his holy symbol. He did not look scared, he looked intense. Carania had no idea how many they would be facing but she felt the Raven Queen like a wind at her back, pushing her onward. It made her feel powerful and that feeling made her feel braver but she was no fool. She would not rush into danger blindly.

After a long walk, the forest started to feel darker. It was clearly actually getting darker as the branches grew closer together in the unforested parts. However, it was also feeling dark and, for lack of a better word, spooky. It felt like it was harder to breathe and each step was more difficult than the last. Carania looked over at Galath and knew that he could feel something like what she felt. She could sense the undead in the woods and she started to lead them in that direction. She gripped her sword tighter and they moved confidently toward their targets. They pushed through a copse of trees and there were a group of men with black feathers attached to their leather armor. Their eyes widened when they saw the three adventurers appear.

“But we killed you!” one of them shouted out.

“It didn’t take,” Carania said. “The Raven Queen sends her regards.” Something in her voice must have scared the men.

“Release the cages!” Another man shouted. The men rushed to two big cages and threw open the doors and out poured a crowd of zombies. The men pointed toward the adventurers and the small zombie horde started toward them.

“I guess talking is out of the question,” Arne said and pointed the parasol at the oncoming menace.

Galath stepped forward and gripped his holy symbol and called out in his dwarvish language and the symbol glowed. The zombies hesitated and then some of them exploded where they stood and then the rest started to flee from that holy light. Carania took the cue to leap forward into the fray. Her swordplay was a fearsome sight as she slashed away at the fleeing horde and the bewildered human men. She was a primal force, revenge and righteous fury flowing through her. True Purpose is one of the most powerful forces in all of the universes and it was fully on display here. She was slowly covered in blood and rotting viscera as she carved a path through their enemies. Meanwhile, magic missiles streaked from the end of Arne’s parasol as he managed to hit those that Carania had not yet reached.

As the last thug fell to the ground in a heap, the two men looked over at Carania as she stood in the middle of what could only be described as a circle of death. The first thing the two of them noticed was that her eyes were obsidian black and she had a big smile on her face. It should have felt creepy, but for some reason, the image just felt right. These men and woman who had been raised from death without their consent had been laid to rest again. The men who had shepherded those zombies had obviously tried to kill their new leader, Carania and she had gotten her justified revenge. As Carania walked toward them, flicking the blood from her sword, both of them would swear later that they saw a pair of black wings spread out from her shoulders and then fade away like mist.

“Come on, men,” Carania said. “We have more work to do.”


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