You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: ~ Falskverden ~  (Read 3213 times)

Iconoclast

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~ Falskverden ~
« on: July 09, 2015, 01:35:30 PM »


A Letter Home




Dear Father, Mother,

   I can only pray that this message reaches you, so that your worries and fears may be abated by the knowledge that Thola and I are alive and well. We were a day away from reaching Ramulai, escorting Thola safely to the Red Academy, when a mist enveloped us upon the road.  We wandered through the thick of it trying to extricate ourselves, but it was not until the mist dissipated that we came to notice a severe drop in temperature and snowfall.  We soon came upon a camp of Vistani, who informed us that we were no longer home, in Hazlan, but in Barovia, near the Grey City of Vallaki.

   My eyes have been opened to new depths of depravity that I had never fathomed, in my naivety.   As we approached the outskirts of Vallaki, where the Cult of the so-called “Morninglord” resides in a temple far too old to have been built by their own hands, and elves, dwarves, halfings, gnomes, caliban, run wild and amuck, for a moment I feared we had entered the Hell of Slaves. Mytteri yet shrouds these over-reachers and sinners from the truth of their origins and great sin. It is hard to believe that once we had all been brothers and sisters, in Torvender. They are blind to the cause of their own suffering and misery, and with such blindness, these cursed creatures, run wild and dangerous, inflicting pain and suffering upon law abiding citizens of Barovia.

   It is a wonder how the villagers have managed to maintain some resemblance of law and order, as the ever ubiquitous and pervasive chaos and corruption of Mytteri crashes against the cobble walls of Vallaki like an angry ocean. You can see the anxiousness upon the garda’s faces as they bravely patrol the outskirts of Vallaki, which is a bastion of chaos. They courageously, tirelessly, strive to impose order upon the mayhem, but the impending doom feels inevitable. After all, they have not yet given their obedience, neither heart nor mind, to the divine authority of the Supreme Emperor. Yet, many of the Barovians demonstrate a natural aptitude and inclination towards law and order, a faint shadow of who they had once been before the First Judgment and our loss of paradise.

   I do dare to hope, as idealistic and naive as it may seem to some, that the Barovians will convert to the one true faith, the Iron Faith. To this end, there is a Kontor representing the Western Mission of the Church of the Lawgiver here in Vallaki: Kontor Koltur. He is a wise man, courageous, as he is devout. He cannot do it alone, and for this just cause, I freely give my obedience to the Kontor towards this most noble and right purpose. As for Thola, she believes she will discover and unearth many valuable arcane artifacts, and only intends upon returning to her studies at the Red Academy once she has something to show for her adventure here, unplanned as it was.

Your dutiful son,
Ossur



« Last Edit: February 20, 2023, 12:57:27 PM by Iconoclast »

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2015, 12:04:02 PM »


July 11, 770
Entry #1


   I have written a letter home, but there is much I chose to omit. The work I have found myself engrossed with since my unexpected arrival in Barovia is beneath me; at least, that is how my father would see it. I remember observing as a young boy our house smithy at work; I was in awe of the slave’s craftsmanship. I pleaded with my father to have the dwarf teach me the art and craft of forging steel, but was immediately struck across the cheek and reprimanded. I imagined the splendor of the First Men, our ancestors, who had been whole and complete, and I desired to forge armor and weapons befitting their perfection and grandeur. That this slave, this dwarf, cursed as he was, could be capable of such marvelous works of steel, taught me that even our inferiors yet retain some of their former aptitude and greatness, a faint whisper of the First People from which they descended from.  While the dwarven slave was a master of the forge and anvil, he and his corruptible kinsmen are incapable of mastering themselves. It is only natural and just that we, the Mulani of the Iron Faith, accept this grave responsibility of governing over those who lack the ability to self-govern. If they had been capable of self-restraint, they never would have over-reached in the first place, and we’d not all be forced to endure and suffer in this Faldverden.

Finding ourselves here, so far from home, it felt as if Thola and I had been dropped into the Sea of Sorrows, without a ship for sanctuary, surrounded by vicious, hungry sharks. Upon my third night in the western outskirts of Vallaki, in the presence of the Kontor, we were made victim to the barbarity and depravity of those who lack the ability to self-govern; we experienced, first hand, the result of when they are permitted to run wild and amuck, as Myterri encourages. Near a dozen outlanders, many Halflings and elves among them, stood shoulder to shoulder with cruel, taunting laughter as one of them summoned a gigantic monster composed of the graveyard’s earth. I could feel the ground under my feet tremble as the monster’s legs of rock and dirt approached us. The monster seemed to speak, claiming to be an instrument of our Iron Lord’s, but the Kontor, in his wisdom, saw through Myterri’s deception. The monster charged, and though I was afraid, I put myself and my shield between the Kontor and this most unholy adversary. As the mighty bouldering fists crashed into the steel, oak shield that doamna Zariska had just crafted for me, it felt as if all the teeth in my mouth had fallen out. I knew I could not withstand much more, but that was when the Kontor called out to the Iron Lord to protect us, and the Kontor became a most powerful vessel of iron and virtue, slaying the monstrosity.

   Many of the outlanders who stood and cheered at our attempted murder grew quiet in surprise at our triumph, but then became enraged with foul language bubbling with hatred.  Their jeering faces and filthy tongues were as hideous as their bodies are twisted and deformed, as some of them called out encouragements to their peers to murder us where we stood. Even in the face of such depravity and lawlessness, the Kontor approached the large group, undaunted. I have never seen such righteous indignation and courage.

   It was after this incident, that I knew that I had to give my obedience to the Kontor and remain in Barovia. I can only pray that my service will be of value to this most righteous and holy mission. May the Iron Lord protect the obedient and righteous.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2015, 12:07:19 PM by Iconoclast »

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 11:42:19 AM »




July 14, 770

Entry #2



I am in awe of the lush, thriving landscape of Barovia. Resources are overabundant, and so long as the local laws are obeyed, there are a multitude of natural resources to be exploited: beach, yew, oak, copper, iron, coal, silver, dear, bear, medicinal herbs, plants, and fungai, and so much more. Where my father adamantly disapproved of his son “lowering” himself to any real labor, Kontor Koltor not only accepts my industry, but encourages it. Myterri finds easy prey among those with idle hands and dullard minds, he is apt to say.

Much of my time is dedicated to travel between Vallaki and Krofburg. Krofburg, I was happy to discover, respectfully acknowledges upon a memorial in the center of the village the Church of the Lawgiver, for assistance in the rebuilding of Krofburg. It was there, as I stood before the memorial, that a vision came to me.

I saw myself with Mulani and Barovian laborers and craftsman, building a Fane into the mountain side near Krofburg, a place of true worship, an austere and beautiful beacon of hope for all people. I shared my vision with the Kontor, and expressed to him how I’d like to take a pilgrimage in order to pray and study other Fanes, so that I may attain the know-how and skills to one day construct a Fane here, in Barovia.

In the meantime, I set myself each day to task: carpentry, leather work, mining, smelting, and crafting weapons and armor, and the more esoteric practice of alchemy. It is from honing these skills, and studying architecture, that I pray and hope to one day build a Fane for our Iron Lord, so that His Will may be done here in Barovia, as it is in Hazlan, Nova Vaasa, and Blaustein.

While the malign forces of Myterri run rampant in this land, there is hope for mankind in the one true faith, the Iron Faith.

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2015, 10:38:56 AM »


July 15, 770
Entry #3



Barovian law is an imperfect law, grounded as it is in the secular. Yet, in the Supreme Emperor’s wisdom, the faithful are mandated to adhere to the secular laws when on mission in pagan lands. Upon our first day in Vallaki, our first order of business was acquainting ourselves with the secular laws of the land.

It was but a few days after that, that we came across a curious outlander man. I hesitate to call him a “man,” because he has yet to triumph over the trauma of his former enslavement to a group of elves that he calls Drow. He does not yet know the iron truth.

When we met the man his wrists had been shackled, his body improperly tattooed, defiled by elfish hand, and in heinous effort to prevent him from ever giving praise to the one true god, they cut out his tongue. Oh, the depths of depravity of Myterri’s minions, these foul drow!  That these drow have enslaved humanity!  They would turn the proper order upside down, making the vilest of sinners rulers over us all!  

He is a mute now, save for the words he writes, and he averts his eyes to the ground when spoken to. While I am accustomed to such deference in Hazlan from those destined by the most heinous sins of their forefathers to serve out their penitence through toil and servitude, what I cannot tolerate was when I saw a little, elfin man, which I now know to be one of these drow, approach Dina’Er and begin to inspect him as a farmer would his cow.

I could not believe my eyes when I witnessed the elf, first, squeeze Dina’Er’s bicep, testing his brawn, and then open his mouth and insert his thumb, examining the man’s health through his teeth. The elfin man then grabbed the mute by the head, turning it one way, then the other.  And the mute subjected himself to the wicked whims of this elfin drow.

I could not sit idly by as the mute was subjected to such evil. He has suffered far too much already at the hands of elves!  I intervened, in my righteousness, speaking loud for all to hear, should they have the heart to listen. I proclaimed that slavery was prohibited under Barovian law. The drow kept his features hidden, but there was nothing but impudence in his tone and body language towards even me, a Mulani, a nobleman of the Iron Faith. He was clearly uncomfortable with my drawing attention to him, but yet he refused to back down, turning his attention back to the mute, speaking in a sinister elfish tongue, and I could tell from the Mute’s expression, that he knew the language of this would-be elfin slaver.

The mute, Dina’Er, my compassion for his plight can only do so much for him. He will have to find the iron in his spine if he is to ever learn how to stand tall and be a man.  It disgusts me to see him cower before this elfin drow.

I must make report of this evil threat to law and order. The Kontor, in his wisdom, will know how to best proceed against this monstrosity of Myterri.  While Barovian law is an imperfect law, it is the law of this land, and it will be obeyed.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 10:41:59 AM by Iconoclast »

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2015, 10:54:19 AM »

July 22, 770
Entry #4


With a Burgomaster who worships one of the Iron Lord’s concubines, Ezra, my heart goes out to the men and women of Vallaki who serve as the only line of defense against the lawlessness and chaos of Myterri. If the man who governs this village has been deluded by the false teachings of “Our Concubine in the Mists,” the future of Vallaki is indeed in jeopardy.

For three days the western gates of Vallaki had been shut, orders of the Burgomaster, on account of an unruly mob of peasants that he could not for the life of him control. Though I sympathize with the peasantry, simple hard working men and women as they be, that they were permitted to disrupt the day to day affairs of travel and trade through the western gate of Vallaki was but evidence to the Burgomaster’s inaptitude.

They were right to be outraged and their demands for justice, valid, nonetheless. The elfin thief, as they are prone to all matters of depravity when allowed to run amuck as they do here, is yet another undeniable proof that they are incapable of self-restraint and self-governance. The burden to set things right in the world is heavy as can be, but our Iron faith is resolute and our efforts to bring the men and women of Barovia into the Iron Fold will be unrelenting, no matter how arduous the challenge.
The elfin thief was at last apprehended, and yesterday I gave witness to my first example of Vallaki justice. It took place at the Market Square for public spectacle, which was appropriate. After the elfin’ creature was flogged, the Burgomaster thought it would then be wise to allow a mere farmer to then decide the final punishment of the thief. A dangerous thing to place such power in the hands of a mere peasant, but it was undoubtedly his desperate attempt to appease the mob that he has failed to keep under control. He likely fails to realize that he has only rewarded the mob for their unruly behavior. If you reward an unruly child with what they want, you only encourage the undesirable behavior to not only continue in frequency, but in magnitude, exponentially.

Whether or not it is too late for the Burgomaster remains to be seen. Myterri is a Great Deceiver, but perhaps Kontor Koltur will in time be able to save the Burgomaster from the false teachings which in turn result in an unruly peasantry. But I suspect that it is among the men and women who serve in the garda, who give battle each and every day against the lawless, chaotic forces of Myterri, which threaten us all in a myriad of countless malevolent forms, that the truth of the Iron Lord may come to be accepted into both heart and mind. Only in devout and dutiful obedience to our Iron Lord, can we ever be free from the internal torments of Myterri.  

« Last Edit: July 23, 2015, 11:00:38 AM by Iconoclast »

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2015, 11:16:53 AM »



July 25, 770
Entry # 5
Gudkaedes Meskhenet's arrival



Three days past, I had arrived to a welcomed surprise at the western outskirts of Vallaki. The Kontor and my sister were in the company of a Rashemi man, a Gudkaedes Doukan Meskhenet. He and his sister, who has not yet joined us, are both devotees and have come to give their obedience to the Iron Lord’s Mission here in Western Barovia.

As night fell upon us as we were becoming more acquainted with Gudkaedes Meskhenet, the Kontor informed us that we were to remain outside this night, that we would stand our ground against the forces of Myterri.

As the moon began to shine in the Barovian night sky, a wild chorus of howling discord pierced our ears, giving rise to fear, I confess. Kontor Koltor’s commanding voice quelled our nerves, however. “Gudkaedes, link up!” he commanded, and that is what we did.  Gudkaedes Meskhenet and I formed a line facing west, from which the monstrous cries came, and with the divine blessings of our Iron Lord, the Kontor prepared us to give battle to the malevolent beasts of Myterri.

In a furious flurry, the Neuri were upon us. So unnaturally quick and strong, with vicious claws and chomping jaws.  So much blood erupted into the night air, but I had no time to consider whether the blood was the monsters or are own. And then it was over. We had prevailed, though the foes were strong. 

But not a heart beat later, did another screeching madness of discord announce the coming of another pack, and judging by the awful sound of it, I knew that it would be prudent to take shelter within the inn. Just as I looked to the inn’s door, prepared to retreat before the impending doom, the Kontor’s commanding voice squelched any notion of fleeing the oncoming charge.

Gudkaedes Meskhenet and I obediently linked up again, just before the ravenous pack came into sight. By the time the Kontor yelled, “Inside!” it was too late.
Thola’s magic had concealed her from the wretched beasts of Myterri, and it was her resourcefulness and cunning that we have to thank for somehow reviving us and getting us all inside the inn once the monstrous pack moved on.

But the Beasts of Myterri did not leave us on an empty belly.  Gudkaedes Meskhenet lost much of his left arm to the jaws of the beast, and we are fortunate that that was all that the beast had taken, before being drawn away to some other nearby hunt.

While Gudkaedes Meskhenet has lost an arm, he has gained our utmost respect. His obedience to the Iron Lord’s Mission is beyond reproach, and it is my honor to serve alongside the Rashemi. His story will reach the ears of Mulani and Rashemi back home in Hazlan. His heroic courage will inspire young Rashemi children to aspire to a life of service and obedience to the Iron Lord.

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2015, 02:46:20 PM »



July 30, 770
Entry #6



Missionary life is a day to day struggle here in Barovia. Each new day is laid upon the altar of our Iron Lord, as we devout ourselves to various industries. Thola is often hunched over a cauldron, or in search of scrolls that will enable her with study to master new magic. I spend much of my time mining ore, hammering copper into shape, curing hides and leatherwork, and I am learning how to read wood, which though dead, continues to breathe and move. A carpenter must learn how to read wood, understand how wood moves, as well as the moisture and dryness of the material. Water in the wood travels up and down the fibers, through the ends. While alive, these fibers, these tubes, transfer nutrients from soil to leaves and fruit. When a piece of wood has the grain structure running vertically, the wood will expand with moisture. If one makes the mistake of using wood that is too moist, the structure constructed will be unsound. It may look sturdy and sound for a short time, but as the wood continues to move, it will splinter or become uneven. Therefore, the wood must be dried, not outside, but indoors. Patience is required, to properly prepare the wood for carpentry, just as patience is required in order to accomplish our Mission’s ambitions here in Barovia.

Gudkaedes Meskhenet has recovered his health, and we have dedicated some of our time to martial training. As he learns to adapt to fighting without a shield arm, I have devoted myself to the mastery of the spear. It was in a dream that I beheld a mighty spear coated in flame, upon my first night in this pagan land, and the Kontor says the dream is a sign from our Iron Lord. After many failed attempts, at I last created a perfectly proportioned, balanced spear with a copper head. Though copper is a poor weapon against most foes, copper is useful against shadow fey which haunt the Sullen Woods.

I am not a true master of the spear, not yet. I have approached the Red Vardo offering them a finder’s fee should they find a true weapon master from whom I may receive final instruction. It is my hope that in the coming week I may at last find a weapon master who has the teaching I require towards complete mastery of the spear. 

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2015, 12:54:46 PM »



[Between the last entry and the most recent, the pages are filled with sketches of several Fanes, corresponding to Fanes constructed throughout Hazlan and elsewhere, including long lists of materials, tools, measurements, and diagrams of architectural equipment used by master builders.]


September 5, 770
Entry #7


I returned from my month long pilgrimage just in time to accompany Kontor Nathrack as he was granted audience with the Burgomaster, Svari Ionleus, and his Court. With the Burgomaster being an Ezrite, being granted an audience alone was some small victory. As to our request, we were certain to receive an adamant “No.” However, the outcome was surprisingly favorable, relatively speaking. The Burgomaster replied that his steward was responsible for handling such transactions regarding land purchase or leasing, which now offers us further opportunity to enter negotiations. We must now learn more of this steward, so we may know how to proceed forward with negotiations. Since the Burgomaster’s judgment is impaired by his misplaced faith in our Black Lord’s concubine, cunning woman, as she is, our negotiations may need to appeal more to the secular. After all, the building of a Fane would require many skilled hands, raw material, and would strengthen the local economy.

The Burgomaster, I have no doubt, just as it was written upon the alarmed face of Sentire Murgur when the Kontor was granted audience, would rather not have the Black Lord’s faithful present at all in Barovia, let alone Vallaki. It is out of fear of persecution from the Ezrites, that some of our Barovian faithful keep their faith hidden from their Ezrite Burgomaster. The Burgomaster and his Ezrites will be looking for any opportunity to lawfully remove us from the Vallaki municipality, no doubt. But we are not only a law abiding people, we are a highly disciplined people, and we will not falter upon our most righteous path here in the Grey City.

My vision is as clear to me today as it was on the day I first received it. I envision the building of a Fane here, in Barovia. If not in Vallaki, then elsewhere. On my pilgrimage I travelled from Fane to Fane, studying every aspect of each Fane’s construction. It is my dream to build a Fane here in Barovia, so that the people of Barovia may come to behold the supreme grandeur and might of the One True God.  No longer then, would our faithful be forced to pray daily without a proper place of worship. No longer would our injured and sick be forced to make the long arduous journey outside of Barovia in order to find a true priest. When my dear sister Thola was mortally wounded, I had no choice but to travel the treacherous road all the way back to Hazlan to receive help.

If the Burgomaster and his Court fail to recognize the legitimacy of our request, others must. In the meantime, I recommit myself to the duties of a Gudkaedes in service to our Western Mission.  There is much work to be done, work to be done in the name of the One True God, our Iron Lord.

Gudkaedes Fezim


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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2015, 03:23:55 PM »



October 3, 770

Entry # 8




My mind is troubled. There is still no sign or word of Thola. Nor of Gudkaedes Meskhenet or his sister who was expected to arrive. When exploring this wild, heathen land, every day I come upon corpses, old and new. I now find myself having to approach each corpse with the dread that it might be my sister’s or another of our congregation. I am alone here in Barovia. A Gudkaedes in service to a mission that I fear is failing.

While I see the Kontor on occassion, it is a rarity. When I do see him, he preaches loud and clear, but to many a deaf ear out front of the Lady’s Rest in the western outskirts of Vallaki. Then, when his sermon is done, the Kontor retreats to his quiet room, and weeks may pass again before I see him again.

It is not proper for a Gudkaedes to question the Kontor’s resolve and devotion to our most difficult mission, but such worry-laden thoughts arise only in his absence from my day to day life and work.  

Despite my solitude or the mission’s lack of progress, I have not been idle with my time. I have become a true master of the spear, having at last discovered through trial and error the crucial knowledge required for true mastery. I agreed to teach this knowledge to a Dementileus woman, who seeks mastery of the rapier. While Cossette's devotion to this path is unquestionable, it is questionable as to whether or not she will come to accept the Iron Truth. It is only through obedience and self-less duty to our Creator and Lord, the Giver of Law, that we can ever come to experience true freedom from the temptations and vices of Mytteri. So long as my pupil remains respectful to at least the laws of the land, and does not use what I teach her for unlawful pursuits, she will be safe from my reprisal.  But it is not this world she ought to fear, but the Hell of Slaves which is to come should she fail to bend the knee to the Iron Lord and His Church.

I do not possess the Kontor’s wisdom. No matter how many of the heathens I try to reach, my tongue is too unwieldy, my words a weapon too dull to cleave through the deceptive shroud that blinds the multitudes in this pagan land.

I also confess to moments of profound confusion and moments of angst, for I never dreamed of meeting outlanders as strange as these. They come from lands with night skies filled with strange constellations of gods and cities and histories that exceed the wildest of imaginations. I, a Mulani, a noblemen of Hazlan, a faithful, dutiful Gudkaedes of the Church of the Lawgiver, am but a peculiar and exotic foreigner in their eyes, just as so many of them are foreign to me.

It does seem to me that preaching may not be the means to reaching them, for these outlanders have been born into the deceptive web of Myterri from their first breath, each carrying with them a false history and view of the world that they presume to be true. While my spirit is elevated and moved by the preaching of the Kontor, it is because I already know the true history of this world, having had received such wisdom and truth from the start of my humble beginning in this Faldverden.  I already know that redemption and salvation can only be achieved through unfaltering obedience to the Lawgiver’s Church.

Mytteri holds this land and its people in its wicked grasp, and confounds the mind at every turn deceiving the multitudes in countless tongues. The Church of Ezra and the Cult of the Morninglord continue to baptize and gain new converts all to the wicked delight of Mytteri, which is the primeval evil behind every false god's face and teachings.

Though I fear our holy mission here is failing, I am resolute. I will press on, just as Gudkaedes Meskhenet pressed on in the face of the great Neuri who had taken his arm.

I have yet to sail to the island of Blaustein. There, I am told, is a Fane to behold with a Kontor who is wise and present in the lives of the faithful. Winter has come to Barovia, and as the cold deepens to the bone, it may be a fine time to journey by ship across the Sea of Sorrows.  I look forward to exploring the island and coming to know its people, and should the Kontor upon Blaustein require the service of a Gudkaedes, he shall have it.

Gudkaedes Fezim

« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 03:25:58 PM by Iconoclast »

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Re: ~ Faldverden ~
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2016, 05:32:36 PM »




May 9, 771
Entry #9


I have returned to my former post in Vallaki of Barovia to discover that our Western Mission of the Church of the Lawgiver has made no progress. Not only has it made no progress, but as far as I am able to assess, aside from myself, the mission is in essence, abandoned. I could not bring myself to admit as much, when an Ezrite asked me as to the status of the mission. No doubt, the Ezrite was being smug, knowing full well that the Church of the Lawgiver has made no progress here in Barovia.

The Church of Ezra, however, has continued its “progress” unabated, no doubt helped by the fact that the Burgomaster is an anchorite himself. From what I have been able to gather in just a few days since my return is that the Kontor Koltur Nathraakt has disappeared without a trace. Even during my first stay in Barovia, the Kontor had been rarely seen, and Thola and I had been forced to explore the dangerous land of Barovia on our own. His absence is of no surprise. There has also been no sign of Gudkaedes Meskenent, his sister, nor of my own long lost sister, Thola.

The Western Mission is without leadership, and unless if the Church assigns a new Kontor to take the reins here in Barovia, there is very little for me to do. I am a mere Gudkaedes, a soldier of the Church. I possess neither the wisdom nor aptitude to lead a mission here, and I am afraid of what may become of me, should I linger too long, alone in this heathen land, without the wisdom and guidance of a Kontor. The guile and malevolence of Mytteri pervades every aspect and corner of life here in Barovia. Already, my mind is under siege.

Just yesterday, I was shocked to encounter what at first glance appeared to be a young Mulani man. For the briefest of moments, I thought I had discovered evidence of an active mission after all, that is until the man spoke in a foreign tongue, as he bowed in deference to me. Upon closer inspection of his tattoos, though similar to the Mulani of Hazlan, the tattoos suggest that this man’s origins are from far beyond. After some questions, I confirmed that he was not from the known world, but is an outlander from a land he calls Thay.

Just as bewildering, was that he claims to hail from House Fezim, just as I do, and that his assignment was to serve as a soldier to the Red Academy.  This man was on his way to serve his assignment at the Red Academy when the mist came for him, just as I had been escorting Thola to the Red Academy in Hazlan, when the mist came for us. I cannot make sense of it all, and as the night wore on, my confusion only grew worse as yet another man from Thay appeared within the inn. In a most bewildering conservation, this man from Thay even suggested that he knew of Hazlik, the Red Wizard.

The only power that could be responsible for so much confusion is Mytteri.  In my return to Barovia, instead of finding a Mission of Bane, the Lawgiver, I find these two men instead. For the time being, I am decided to remain here to observe and see what else I can learn. Though admittedly naïve, I still hope that in exploring the wilds of Barovia, that some clue as to my sister’s fate will be discovered. As to these men of Thay? I cannot say, but that everything about them is most uncanny and strange.

--Ossur Fezim, Master of the Spear, Gudkaedes to the Western Mission of the Church of the Bane, the Lawgiver


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Re: ~ Falskverden ~
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2023, 01:51:32 PM »


The Manticore's Renewal



The Rashemi woman removed the hot, wet towel from the head and face of the Mulan man, as he laid back in the barber’s chair at Fortryllendeblaek og Kurbad.  After a few days among the heathen abroad, it was relaxing to be off his guard, a rare respite for the Gudkaede. After, she gently applied a lavender scented lather, before expertly placing the razor’s edge at the base of his neck, her steady hand shaving the blond hairs from his white, pale throat and the image of a Manticore, tattooed upon his scalp.

Eyes closed, his mind drifted to recent events.  For years, he had been carrying the weight of failure. He had failed to protect his sister Thola when in Barovia, disappointing his father, but worst of all, he was disappointed in himself. The Western Mission of the Church, so it seemed, had failed to establish a Fane in Barovia. So too, he believed, had he failed to protect the wise and venerable Kontor Naatharak when in service to the Western Mission.  When Vraylok Kyrillian’s servants had gathered last week, it did not register instantly that the man standing next to him, a whip at his hip, was Kontor Naatharak in the flesh.  It had been the Kontor who had inspired him to devote himself to the Order of Gudkaede, the god-links of the Church of the Lawgiver. He felt he could have fainted, the earth beneath his feet moving, at the realization that Kontor Naatharak was alive.

“Perhaps I am not doomed to failure, afterall,” Ossur Fezim thought to himself, as the razor’s edge slowly made its way over the smooth scalp, “and if the Kontor is alive and accounted for, perhaps Thola yet lives, as well.” 

The Rashemi poured warm water upon his shaved head, the scorpion’s tale of the Manticore swirling at the crown. She gently toweled him dry, then stood back, bowing. A fair man, and one who believed that obedience must be rewarded, both in the Iron Paradise as it is in Nordenval Village, Ossur placed a generous tip in her open palm, then placed a bundle of fresh food upon her table. “For your children.”  The weapon master grabbed his spear, then made his way up the path to the Fane. Noon service would soon begin. He would bend the knee, for there was much to be thankful for.

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Re: ~ Falskverden ~
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2024, 08:31:18 AM »


The Unprepared


        “Truly, Gudkaede, I pray that your father will make a perfect match for you.” She hesitated, then added, “You deserve it.”
He offered his arm to her in reply, at the foot of the Kryllian platform. Seriyah Khorzavi accepted the escort, and laid her small hand gently upon him. His eyes lingered briefly, on her smooth skin, her lips, the flowering tattoos on her perfectly shaved, shaped head. All of it only accentuated her beauty.

        He escorted her under the October night sky to the Fortryllendeblaek og Kurbad, her simple touch upon the skin of his arm, heightening his senses. “Chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, I recommend, after you sit in the sauna to sweat it out,” he said.  She unlocked arms with him, turning to face him, looking up at him.  “Thank you, Gudkaede. Once I am feeling better, perhaps we can finally visit the Relique together?”
   “It would be my honor and privilege, Seriyah.” 
   At that, she entered the spa in Nordenvall Village, closing the door behind her at the midnight hour. He looked up to the clear night sky, a half moon above, for a long while, and he wondered how few opportunities might remain to have her on his arm, at his side.  Within three weeks, his father, Satrap Cinar Fezim, would announce his decision as to whom his son would marry. Everything would then change. Everything.
   A heavy, heartfelt sigh escaped him, as the stars overhead reflected off his clear blue eyes. He made his way up the cobble, winding road, entered the oaken doors of Nordenvall Fane, and mounted the stairs, climbing upward and upward, until at last arriving.
   Removing his armor, stripping down to the bare skin and barefeet, tattoos that told a story, from his rite of passage into manhood, to his mastery of the spear, he walked to the middle of a wide open circle that stood under the heavens upon the roof of Nordenvall Fane.  Nobody but himself ever trained here.  For nine years, he would wake before the break of day, and spear in hand, he would ground himself and begin flowing rhythmically through the forms, as taught to him long ago by a foreign teacher.  His eye lids relaxed, his breath filled his diaphragm, and then, like a coiled serpent of spiritual electricity, it began to awaken and rise, stretching upward, as his breath expanded into his rib cage, and then rising even higher, up into what his teacher had called the ‘third eye’ of the weapon master. He felt the connection deepen, as if an invisible tether stretched through him, along his spine, through the soles of his bare feet, from the crown of his head, where the manticore’s tail spiraled up to the Iron Paradise in the sky.
   In perfect balance, in harmony with the spirit of the Divine Emperor, from which all true power flowed, the weapon master’s spear sang clear in the midnight air, Myterri’s Bane, the spear now bound to him in spirit, a whirlwind.
   And for at least a brief moment, suspended in time, he escaped the anxieties and troubles of the mind, flowing from one form into the other, as waters of the Saniset River.
   But then it was over, like a sudden thunderclap, his mighty spear slipped from his grasp, coming to a loud clamor upon the stone.  He walked to it, picked it up, and sat, crossed legged, the spear across his lap. For all his training, despite the countless dangers he had faced head on in service to the Lawgiver and Hazlan, he felt completely unprepared for this. 
   Love.


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Re: ~ Falskverden ~
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2024, 09:01:07 AM »
Sleep As Elusive As Jei Aryubaani



Sleep had become as elusive as Jei Aryubaani and the days were so, so long and the nights even longer. Parchment in hand, he crouched down to slide it under Seriyah’s bedroom door at the Dancing Crane. She had been in her room, recovering for days, and he had walked up to her door more than once, but found himself seized by indecision, chiding himself for being such a fool. “Let her rest, you imbecile.”

He felt time slipping away. Even without being married just yet, he felt everything changing. He had written to his father asking, requesting, that before he finalized his negotiations that Ossur at least be conferred with, before deciding his son’s fate: his future wife. And while there was no correspondence, no reply as of yet, he’d catch looks and hear whispers around Nordenvall Village, suggesting in his sleepless state that his father was indeed at work, corresponding with potential wives-to-be or their respective rishads.

He had known this day would come, as it does for most Mulan of any status.  But he had not anticipated this matter of the heart. He had never felt anything such as this before nor had he imagined that such feelings as powerful as this were even possible. “Beauty is the beginning of terror,” a poet once wrote.  The line made sense to him, only now, years after he had read it. 

He stood up, the poem still in hand, leaving the Dancing Crane and a slumbering Seriyah behind. He walked to the fireplace, determined to feed the poem to its flames.  “What are you even doing, Ossur?” he chided himself. He knew he should close the door on the heart. To keep it all in.  Keep to himself. And so he threw himself into duties and his work at the artisan hall, his tasks abroad and at home in Hazlan.

And at the end of another long day, travelworn from his journey to Vallaki of Barovia and back, he found his feet taking him back to the artisan hall, where he had started the day. And there she was, laughing and hugging her sister, Azadeh. 

Seriyah.

His tongue grew heavy.  Ordinary speech failed him. He was grateful when Azadeh chirped, “Gudkaede!  Do you think you might be able to smelt some gold ore soon?  I have a project.”  He looked to the loom and could see she was happy at work.  Happy to have her sister recovered and well enough to be at her side.

He opened his leather satchel, shuffling through his papers. While most of his material had been transferred to the bank in Port-a-Lucine in preparation of a gilding project, he had left some supplies at home. HIs heart skipped a beat as he saw the poem mixed into his claims.  Seriyah standing just a few feet away, though the distance between them felt insurmountable. He handed Azadeh a piece of paper. “This is stored at the Iron Bank.” 

She bounced on her heels with excitement, plucked the claim from his hand, and was out the door, leaving Ossur alone with Seriyah.  Without thinking, without giving himself an opportunity to be sensible, he removed the poem from his satchel and handed it to her.

“Please, Seriyah.  Not now, but…when you are alone later.”

Seriyah immediately clutched the poem to her heart, just as her sister returned through the door. He felt a fool, a tired fool.



Quote
A moment’s touch,
A moment’s truth
You and I walking in Nordenvall Village,
Apparently two, but one flame, you and I.
Your beauty in the candles’ light of Blessed Fezima
We feel the flow of the Saniset here,
In Nordenvall
you and I, with the Black Lord’s sky
and the eagles hunting.
If your eyes are the arrow,
Let my heart be its mark
And I rendered your fool.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2024, 12:10:30 AM by Iconoclast »