The Kael and the Silver Flame - Part 2

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The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 1

Wir, Aryth 11th 998 YK
Wednesday, November 11th 998 YK

The House Orien coach speeds on through the night, allowing the you a cramped but surprising fitful rest. By dawn, Hegzel calls out, “The coach is approaching Lessyk!”

As the coach arrives, the burning stench of smoke hangs in the air around the coach tavern. A sign read’s The Pilgrim’s Rest. They hear quarrelsome shouts coming from a lot that House Orien uses as storage. There is a commotion just beyond some crates ready for pick up by the slower moving caravan passed in the night.

Hegzel, the coach driver swears, making an off-color remark on the ignorance of some of Thrane’s people.

“They’ve probably cornered a “heretic.” Either that or they’ve found the tavern keeper to be in league with Khyber-spawned fiend. Listen, I am authorized by House Orien to pay a generous fee to ensure no House Orien property, house client, or client property is damaged. I’d be obliged if you could investigate and at least make sure our property isn’t a casualty of the squabble.”

“Of course Hegzel. Of course, my cousin and I would have to take Oggrim’s lead on this matter.”
Kohl surveys the situation at hand and observes closely.

A mob has gathered in the lot next to the Pilgrims’ Rest. The throng has cornered a stylishly dressed woman; a silk scarf conceals her face, in fact there is not a part of her body uncovered by clothing. Climbing up some crates, she’s using them as cover against the occasional rock of clump of rotted fruit lobed by yelling villagers.

Some members of the mob brandish hammers, makeshift clubs, and even pitchforks, while another group feeds a rapidly growing fire, scant yards away to where the woman holes up. Many in the mob are only watch, yelling occasional words of encouragement to more threatening members.

“Oggrim, tread carefully.” Kohl warns. “Angry mobs can be dangerous, even for those siding on the cause of justice.”

Taveah watches in curiosity, scratching the space between Skarn’s ears. Her sharp eyes scan through the crowd, looking for a ringleader. She readies her great bow.

One man, wearing the vestments of a Silver Flame cleric steps up on a House Orien crate and addresses the crowd.

“Even after purge and mercy, Lord ir’Lumm flaunts his heretical ways within our community.”

The cleric violently pulls forth a portfolio from beneath the folds of his vestments. Charcoal illustrations and let loose and drift to the ground as the priest presents his evidence.

“In here are works similar to those confiscated during the ir’Lumm heresy two years ago. Here is proof that our ‘sophisticated’ lord has not yet learned his lesson. But it is more dire than this good people. Lord ir’Lumm now hires the service of fiends to draw and paint his blasphemies!”

The cleric then approaches the cornered woman, and rips off her scarf. The woman is revealed… she is a Medusa!

Oggrim shields his eyes and staggers back. “It is a medusa! A creature of Khyber! Do not look into its gaze!”

Kohl looks at the creature in bewilderment, her eyes shut tightly. “Her eyes remain clasped shut! She is fearful and tired, I sense no malice from her! She is in the employ of the Lord we are to visit, there must be a reason for this! What is this heresy the priest speaks of!?”

With the mention of Lord ir’Lumm, Taveah takes up her great bow and raises her voice, “Whatever your quarrel with the Lord, this woman doesn’t deserve your rancor. Leave her be.”

Kohl joins her “Good people! What has this woman, under the employ of your Lord, done? Does her race automatically give you cause to hate? Has she committed an evil act? Does your lord condone this treatment within his lands?! If not, it is unlawful!”

Taveah nods at Kohl and — with Skarn growling as he walks ahead of her — makes her way toward the woman. Her hand on the hilt of her long sword, eyeing the crowd.

The crowd roars in fear and hatred at the sight of the medusa. Children are crying as their mother’s scream.

Men yell in anger, “Burn her!”

“Cast the demon out!”

“Ir’Lumm should be hanged!”

The cleric continues to fuel the crowd, “You see, even now this vile blasphemous creature brings these devilish creatures to her aid!” He then turns and yells towards Kohl, “What do you know of the law of the Flame, heathen! Begone, before I arrest you for your treason against the Voice of the Flame!”

Oggrim steps forward, careful not to look upon the medusa.

“Prelate, I urge you to stay your hand. What crime has this… woman, committed? What crime can be found in scrawlings of mere charcoal?”

As Taveah moves towards the crowd, Skarn growls menacingly. The crowd reacts in a panic.

“Demon spawn!”

“What creature is this!.”

“The devil comes to the fiends aid.”

“No! The Prelate! Do not harm the Prelate!”

Taveah sees the cleric attempting to bind the medusa with rope, but before she can react a bold crowd member armed with a pitchfork comes between her and the cleric.

“You will not harm our pious Danbren, you are your Khyber spawn stand down!” He jabs the pitchfork threateningly at Taveah and Skarn. “Stay back, trespasser! Stay back I say!”

Taveah waits for an opportune moment, then as the peasant jabs the pitchfork she snatches it when his grip is loosest and tries to rip it from his grip.

“I will not touch your Prelate, now stand down or you will be put down.” she growls.

Taveah snatches the pitchfork from the villager. He yelps in terror and flees back into the crowd.

Prelate Danbren now clearly alone with the medusa, Taveah and a snarling Skarn, stays his hand. He makes one last ditch effort though to keep control of the situation.

“You, supposed Templar of the Flame.” he says pointing at Oggrim. “What business of yours is this, and why do you consort with these… creatures?”

Oggrim responds with renewed confidence and vigor, “These companions are not creatures! They are true friends and share similar beliefs of the Church. If this woman was a guest of Ir’Lumm’s she is a friend to me as well. The woman should be treated by the accords of the Treaty of Thronehold, unless you can prove she has no citizenry within the five kingdoms.”

The crowd gasps at Oggrim’s words. Shocked that a Templar would defend such a vile creature. Prelate Danbren demands the traveling papers from the woman. He glares at them with disgust and turns back to Oggrim.

“Be warned Templar, the current Lord ir’Lumm is a peddler of indecency, and brings shame on that great family. Thinking that drawings of filthy farmers could epitomize the purity of the Flame, why the very notion is offensive. The fields and the streets are breeding grounds for lewd thoughts. The Church may say he has paid for his sins but I’ve known many penitents who return to old habits—and those sketches prove that Lord ir’Lumm is a member of those sorry ranks. I recommend you absolve yourselves of ir’Lumm’s hallucinations. It’d be a pity if your traveling papers were revoked for his sins.”

“If he has sinned, it shall be the Bishop who decides his punishment and mine. You have no authority over a Templar of the Flame.” Oggrim returns.

The prelate releases the woman with disgust. “Very well then Templar, she is yours. But be warned, if any of the people of Lessyk come to harm by her, you will very much be to blame and will answer to the Bishop!” The prelate then storms off.

Kohl, unable to contain himself, calls out to the prelate, _"Good prelate, it was you who put the very people you protect in harms way by ‘unmasking’ this woman. This Templar has done the right and just thing….oommph."

Oggrim sharply elbows Kohl in the ribs. “Shh… Let the prelate go. You have no voice here.”

The prelate stops for a moment, looks back then continues to storm off. The crowd quickly disperses.

While Kohl speaks, Taveah offers her hand to to the Medusa and assist her from getting down from wherever she was standing.

“Hello,” she would offer.

The medusa continues to keep her eyes close. She kneels and attempts to recollect her belongings.

Taveah hands her the coverings. “You would find them better if you opened your eyes. No? The danger is over, you no longer need to be afraid.”

She chuckles. “My lady you truly are not from this realm. Either that or you have no reason to fear the petrifying gaze of a medusa. I shall keep them close nevertheless. I would not want to harm others who may not be as protected as you.” she smiles. “Thank you for your assistance.”

“I am happy to have helped. I am Taveah, this is Skarn, and that is my cousin, Kohl. The Orc beside him is Oggrim, a Templar of the Sacred Flame. If he were not here I fear this would have turned violent for certain.” She nods at Oggrim.

Her snakes coil around her eyeing Taveah carefully. Oggrim is visibly unnerved. “My name is Anthroparaio. I am an artist from Sharn, though originally of Cazhaak Draal in Droaam.”

Anthroparaio stands and dusts herself off and frowns at the mess. Many of her pieces are ruined from the snow. “Alas, these were but sketches. Hopefully I can rework them on my way back to Sharn.”

“Hello Anthroparaio,” Kohl says stepping in to help. “It is a pleasure. What is it you were sketching for Lord ir’Lumm? We travel to visit him and view some of his pieces this night.”

Anthroparaio turns to Kohl. “Here see for yourself. Many are damaged as you can see. My art consists of what I believe is the heart and soul of the Silver Flame. The good people that till the earth and work the soil and farm.”

The sketches are very well done. Depicting natural scenes of Thranish countrysides, farms and simple people.

Taveah peers over Kohl’s shoulder and admires the sketchings. “This is fine work.”

“Thank you.” she says. “I believe my coach is waiting for me. Is there anything else I can give you other than my thanks?”

“Be safe on your journeys home to Sharn.”

“If we come to Sharn, mayhaps you would sketch us. There are none like us on this world!” Taveah chuckles. “Have a safe journey.”

Oggrim raises his hand, “My lady… before you leave. Can you tell me of Ir’Lumm’s troubles in the Harrowcrowns? We have been dispatched to assist him and any information you have may be of use.”

She replies, “I know little except what Lenorf has told me. They are supernatural creatures that are said to rise every so often and threaten this area. Lenorf slew a pair of them in his youth, but now he worries there is no local champion to stop their hunt. Bishop ir’Rox will do nothing, so Lenorf has hired you. I have not seen the hound, but I have heard its fearsome howl in the night. It seems to be moving closer to civilized land with each moon.”

Oggrim looks distressed and whispers, “Lycanthropes? Impossible.” He then waves her on, “Thank you then for your words. Good luck and be safe. My the Flame guide you.”

With that Anthroporaio heads off to the Orien coach. “Farewell. Many thanks. Please look for me when in Sharn!” She leaves.

“We will!” Kohl says as she walks away. He then turns to Oggrim, “How could pictures of common folk, working their land, be lude scenes? Religion is about the people who follow it. These are pictures of Thranish farmers, working their land.”

Oggrim shrugs. “Perhaps it is not the art, but the artist.”

Kohl nods, “Sir Oggrim, you may feel what has transpired is wrong and endangered your standing, but I know what you did was right. I have been witness to witch hunts before. Most are performed by local zealots out for blood and an audience, to better their standing with a church. I pray Taveah and I did not harm your standing in the church. I would gladly submit to your peers to stand witness. You did the right thing. This woman was guilty of only being that of a race different than the prelate.”_

“Perhaps that is so.” Oggrim sighs, “Come we have several miles to walk before we reach ir’Lumm’s estate. Let us continue onward and leave this town and these lost followers.”

“Sir Oggrim, we follow your lead. Although I fear in our recent travels, Taveah and I have grown accustom to being attacked first and learning the nature of the attack second…after the fact. We are still in that mode of thought, to allow or instincts lead us, they are usually spot on, but can get us in trouble.”

“Speak for yourself,” Taveah smiles. “My instincts never lead me astray.”

Kohl chuckles, “I’ll remember that next time you draw your bow against dragonne guardians.”

Taveah pouts.

The three leave Lessyk and into the countryside towards ir’Lumm’s manor.

While Lessyk was a place burning with ire, the chill countryside around it is quiet and soothing. Sheep herds dot the northern moors of the Harrowcrowns, placidly grazing on the icy grass and heather of the low hills.

Several miles in, to the road’s south, Taveah and Kohl spot the dark Harrowcrowns stretch south and west.

As they pass the dark forboding wood, Oggrim speaks. “That forest has served as a haven for enemies of Thrane for many centuries. In the 5th and 6th centuries YK the place was a haven of goblinoids clinging to a group of Dhakanni ruins lying somewhere deep in the forest. The goblins were so bold that they sacked the villages of Lessyk and Nathyrr in 465 YK.”

“As I mentioned before, during the lycanthrope purges the place was said to be a refuge of lycanthrope and shifter resistance within Thrane itself, but some dispute the strength and numbers of what Thrane claimed to be the “Lycanthrope Horde of the Harrowcrowns.””

It is around noon by the time they reach Lumm Way, tall rows of frozen cypress trees flank the road. Eventually these windrows thin a bit, as sets of statues stand intermittently between the trees. Each marble statue is a representation of a saint of the Silver Flame.

The track ends in a circular courtyard. A tall statue of a proud lord—bedecked in ancient armor and carrying a bastard sword and surrounded by three stone hounds—stands regally in the middle of a pool that dominates the courtyard. To the east, a large stable and what looks like a guesthouse stands beside a small road that heads farther into the fields. The grounds are beautiful but slightly unkempt. A middleaged man hails you from the great front doors of the villa. He is simply but dapperly dressed. A Silver Flame is proudly pinned to his breast.

“Bless the holy illumination. You have arrived safely! I am Luminel, Lord ir’Lumm’s major domo. I trust your journey was pleasant?”

Oggrim speaks, “It was good friend. No need for introductions on my account, do you not remember me? It is Sir Oggrim. I visited here some time ago. As you are apparently aware, I am here at the behest of the Chalice of Blood, to aid your good master. These are my companions, Kohl and Taveah. Wayward folk who have offered their assistance as well.”

Kohl studies the statues of the saints, searching them for anything familiar.

Luminel beams at Kohl’s attenion to the statues. He gestures to the central statue in the courtyard. “I see you have noticed the statue of Minar ir’Lumm, an ancestor of my lord. He was among the Knights of Thrane who seized a goblinoid stronghold in the Harrowcrowns more than 400 years ago. He was such a relentless hunter of goblinoids that both friend and foe called him “the Hound”. It’s his legacy that gave the ir’Lumm family its coat of arms: three vigilant hounds on a field of silvery fire. It is only irony that so many of Minar’s ancestors have hunted the Harrowcrowns hounds. Though it has been claimed the haunting hounds are a final goblinoid curse. Not that I believe that particular superstition.”

“The wilds can have a long memory,” Taveah says. “May we speak with your master?”

“Currently he’s meditating on his faith." Luminel responds. “He calls this ‘talking to the angels of th_e Flame,’ though he means this metaphorically. He will meet us tonight for dinner, and then he can tell you all about the Harrowcrowns Hound and the task ahead of you. But please come inside or you will catch your death out in this cold.”

He takes them inside and leads them through the foyer. The house is warm and inviting. As they pass through the Foyer, on the way to the dining room, there are a couple of small couches that flank the door ahead, a scattering of busts of ir’Lumm’s ancestors dot the sides, art graces the wall, and a large, beautiful and intricate Aundair carpet covers much of the floor. A balcony overlooks the foyer. Access to the balcony is by the stairs in the adjoining hallways. and on to the dining room. In the dining room is more art and some healthy-looking plants. The main feature, though, is the large table in the center of the room. Upon it are cooled jugs of refreshing wine and water, as well as a large plate of bread, cheese, fruit, and links of local sausages set to help sate the road-worn hunger.

Luminel inquires to the happenings of their travels, and listens intently.

Kohl is quick to speak, “The travel from Korranberg was very relaxing. We have spent this past year, my cousin and I, rushing from one part of this world, to the next. We have yet had the chance to relax and take in the splendor of the countryside. It was when we arrived here in Lessyk that we ran into some problems. Apparently, being the guest of the local lord affords no protection with the people if you don’t look like them…we met Anthroparaio. She is safe, but not before Sir Oggrim, my cousin and I stepped forward and disallowed the mob activities, led by the Prelate. I hope we did not cause you or your lord any problems with the local church in keeping Anthroparaio safe from harm?”

Kohl continues pouring himself and Taveah some water, “What do you know of these Harrowcrowns hounds? What are they exactly?”

Luminel is greatly dismayed to hear of Anthroparaio’s assault, and equally relieved to learn of her escape. The major domo sincerely likes the medusa artist and goes on poetically about her charms and talent. He dithers over how to reveal the event to Lord ir’Lumm, and says it will send him into a furor.

As for the hounds he defers to his Lord, indicating that Lord ir’Lumm will be able to disclose all the necessary information.

After everyone finishes eating, Luminel calls for Hurn, one of the stable hands, to show Oggrim and his friends to the guesthouse.

“Please follow Hurn, so that you may rest and get washed for dinner later this evening.”

Once in the guesthouse, Taveah washes and searches her pack for some clothing more befitting a dinner than trapesing through the wilds. Finding nothing suitable, she asks Hurn if Luminel has anything she might wear.

Hurn hurries off back to the Villa. A few minutes later, Hurn returns and offers to escort Taveah back to the villa.

“Luminel has granted you access to some of ir’Lumm’s guestware, and clothing formerly owned by his late wife.” Hurn says,

Once inside, Taveah finds Luminel waiting for her. “Come Taveah, follow me. I am sure it would please the Lord to know that a beautiful woman is in his presence and adorned with that which pleased him long before he lost his sight.”

Taveah is escorted to what appears to be the Artist’s Quarters. It is plush and quite comfortable. Luminel asks that she not stray far from this room, without his permission.

Taveah finds something suitable to wear. Something that matches her eyes. That is… something mecurial. She thinks it odd that Luminel doesn’t wish her to wander, but she’s been on the road for too long to care. Once back at the guesthouse, she tries to take a nap, Skarn crawling up on the foot of the bed.

The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 3

The Kael and the Silver Flame - Part 2

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