The Kael and the Silver Flame - Part 3

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The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 2

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

Evening


Dinner is served late at the ir’Lumm estate. Luminel comes to retrieve you from the guesthouse less than a half-hour before dusk.

He escorts you through the foyer, past the dining hall—the table already stacked with food—and toward the gallery.

The gallery is the villa’s dominate feature. Its circular dome rises 50 feet above the ground, and from its gilded height dangle four crystal and silver chandeliers.

The elegance of the room’s architecture pales before the magnificence of the art displayed within. Like other rooms, much of the art here exalts the Silver Flame, but that religion is not the only motif. Here and there ancient relics and even more contemporary works laud the Sovereign Host; many positioned prominently.

Most of the paintings feature scenes from rural life: burly artisans crafting furniture, shepherds sheering sheep, and women hanging laundry. They all seem to be illuminated by some subtle magic. Despite the coarseness of their subjects, each painting lauds the work as divine, presenting their subjects in styles usually represented for saints and nobles. Each is magnificently rendered—truly inspired and inspiring.

Lenorf ir’Lumm, quietly steps out from behind the gallery’s centerpiece—a large statue depicting a battle between a priest and a serpent. Carved into the statues front is an altar.

Lord Lenorf ir’Lumm is a tall, sturdy man. He wears an elegant mithral mail shirt beneath rich robes of purple and black. Though advanced in years, he stands tall and straight, his strong chin tight with unwavering resolve. Across his eyes is tied a silk sash that matches his robes. As he makes his way around the large altar-statue, he draws his hands slowly over the stonework, absorbing its nuances through the subtlety of touch.

“Greetngs Sir Oggrim, Templar of the Chalice of Blood. I am so pleased you have come to my humble villa.”

“The pleasure is mine, Lord and friend,” Oggrim looks around the gallery. “It has been some time since my last visit to your magnificent gallery. I see you have added to your collection.”

“Yes, yes I have. Anthroparaio returned last year, inspired by a recent trip to Cazhaak Draal. She has graced my home with her illuminated visions of the Flame’s faithful. It was her painting of Tira’s Miron’s sacrifice that was, however, our undoing. It was such a magnificent piece that I felt it must be displayed within the Cathedral of the Silver Flame. When it was shown to High Cardinal Krozen in Flamekeep, I was told his breath was taken from him. Alas, it was the Bishop at’Rox who I believe poisoned the Cardinal against the glorious work. Once the Cardinal learned that the painting’s creator was a “monster of Droaam” he dismissed it and sold it to some eccentric half-orc from the Shadow Marches. I was ordered to dismiss Anthroparaio and once again suffered to defend my faith. She and her talent will truly be missed."

“But I digress, this talk of ignorance upsets me. Oggrim, I was told you have brought friends? Please, may I meet them… and if possible touch their faces so I may better be able to see them?”

“Indeed” Oggrim replies. “This is Lord Kohl Ikao of Ound Shyr and his beautiful cousin Lady Taveah Ikao.”

Lord ir’Lumm smiles. “Welcome to my home. I trust the Flame has kept you safe on your travels? May I see your faces?”

“Lord ir’Lumm, it is a pleasure to meet you sir.” Kohl steps forward and allows him to ‘see’ his face.

Taveah smiles. “A pleasure, Lord,” and steps forward to allow him to touch her face.

Lord ir’Lumm smiles and gently touches the outlines of their faces and feels the many small horns upon their heads. “Oh, you are not Sarlonan. I thought perhaps Ound Shyr was a city state there. What manner of people are you?”

Kohl notices the statue. “This is the statue of St. Cirlan’s final battle, Sir Oggrim told me of the battle. If I may be honest, he was pridefilled, a wasteful death. If he wished to prove his power, he should have hunted down a demon on the loose, not already imprisoned.”

“Perhaps,” ir’Lumm says. “I often see Cirlan as a metaphor for the current state of the Church—its pride as ultimately self-destructive.”

“Interesting, I had not gotten the feeling there had been trouble within your church.”

“When there are people with power, trouble always soon follows.”

“Power corrupts,” Kohl says darkly, “unless their are strict laws that bind all to the same tenets.”

“May I ask My Lord, what caused your blindness? I am skilled in laying on hands and rituals of healing.” Kohl asks.

Lord ir’Lumm frowns. Luminel steps forward.

“My master believes—and I believe rightly so—that the Silver Flame can be richly seen in the toil and struggle of ordinary people. After the Last War he became dissatisfied with typical images of Silver Flame sainthood and commissioned artwork that lauded the work and toil of simple, industrious people. Certain members of the clergy who prescribe to a more rigid view of our faith persecuted him. They called his work a vain heresy, and plucked out his eyes so that he could never look upon it or any other art again. They somehow cursed the wounds so they could not be magically healed.”

“And while High Cardinal Krozen chastised and even ‘punished’ the overzealous inquisitors that crippled Lord ir’Lumm, the church claims it cannot dispel the curse that impedes my lord’s healing, and it agrees with the assessment of the inquisitors that the artwork commissioned by Lord ir’Lumm was heretical.”

Lord ir’Lumm is clearly agitated, but subdues his quelling anger with a sigh. “Thank you Luminel. But these good people didn’t come to hear of my ailments or my stories. Isn’t that correct Sir Oggrim?”

Oggrim replies, “We are here per your request, as you already know. My companions do have questions if you do not mind, however.”

“Who was this Half-Orc the painting sold to? Is the buyer still local or has he traveled back to the marches?” Kohl asks

“I have no idea,” he replies, ”As I said, I gave the painting to High Cardinal Krozen as a gift. He sold the painting. I have little information beyond that. I am sorry. Perhaps a visit to Flamekeep is in order, after your tasks are complete here."

Kohl smiles ”Of course, of course. I am sorry, I just have another question.I recall when speaking briefly with Anthroporaio that she said you both spoke of the art she crafted. Did you ever discuss that particular piece? Perhaps what her inspiration was to use the runes she did? And if so, were they based on anything factual? The runes she used are of my language, the rune sitting prominently on Tira’s sword could be that of my God Torval.”

“The rune of YOUR God on Tira’s sword.” Lord ir’Lumm laughs heartily. “Ho! Ho! Now wouldn’t that be treasonous. Oh how the Bishop would hate that! Tis a shame I never saw it… obviously. However, I doubt they are one and the same. You are after all not from this world, and do not follow the Flame.”

Oggrim interjects “Lord ir’Lumm it was I who saw the similarity, whether by mistake or not. I did not bring my companions here to discredit your artist’s work.”

“Sir Oggrim,” Lord ir’Lumm replies, “No disrepect taken… nor has the work been discredited by any means. Kohl, unfortunately my connections with Flamekeep and the Cardinal are limited. You would be better served relying on Sir Oggrim and the Chalice if an audience with the High Cardinal is what you seek.”

Kohl agrees, “Very true and I mean no disrespect at all. I do not wish to cause any distrust or treasonous thoughts or feelings. My cousin and I are only trying to find a way home and are investigating all options.”

Taveah speaks while looking at the art in the gallery,, “Anthroparaio created the artwork with Torval’s rune? Why didn’t she say anything when she saw your armor, Kohl, I wonder? "

” There was smoke from the fires and my cloak covered most of my armor, perhaps she didn’t see it” Kohl answers.

Taveah turns back to ir’Lumm, ”Perhaps she saw it in… what did you call it… Cazhaak Draal?”

“Yes Cazhaak Draal, my lady. It is the home of medusa-kind in Droaam. Ruled by the powerful and mysterious Queen Sheshka. Anthroporaio said she was inspired by an illuminated text found in the Queen’s library.”.

Taveah looks to her cousin with excitement in her eyes. “Cousin, we should visit Doaam and see if we can see this tome? Perhaps Anthroporaio would help us gain admittance since we prevented her untimely burning to death.”

”I agree.” he says. ”We will help you Lord ir’Lumm with this hound issue and then travel to Sharn. Perhaps Anthroporaio can grant us audience with the Queen of Stone and allow us to see this illuminated book”

ir’Lumm begins to make his way out of the gallery, “If there will be no more questions or talk of art, then let us return to the dining room. Luminel has seen to preparing us a wonderful Thranish meal.”

The cuisine is heavy, filling, spicy, and delicious. Thrakel-seared beef in red sauce, three-thrakel fish stew, and traditional silvered vegetable skewers. To counter the spicy nature of the main meal, Your dessert consists of sweet and cold Beesh-berry sorbet on top of silverfruit pie.

Lord ir’Lumm discusses his predicament over the deliciously spicy meal.

“The moors have a legend of a terrible hound…or hounds. They’ve been said to haunt the woods since before the place was a goblin haunt, but the first historical reference I have been able to find is after my ancestor helped clear the woods of goblinoids four centuries ago. It was that very same ancestor, Minar ir’Lumm, already called “the Hound” for his doggedness in hunting goblin prey, who supposedly fell victim to a pack of these strange creatures deep within the Harrowcrowns."

“At first it was believed that the beasts were some curse brought down on him by his routed goblin foes, but I think that is pure superstition. I think it more likely the creatures are a local threat than some cures. These creatures have not been spotted since my grandfather’s time, and I fear that Bishop Iustin at’Rox does not yet believe the hound is a real danger. And probably sees the beast as a tool to keep the masses fearful.”

“If anyone can find this hound, Taveah can.” Kohl laughs looking at his cousin.

“And if I cannot, Skarn — my own hound… of sorts… — certainly will. He didn’t have any fancy clothes to wear. He sends his apologies.” She chuckles.

Skarn whines sadly and covers its face with its paws while lying on the floor next to Taveah.

“Are there any more questions then?” Lord ir’Lumm asks.

Kohl thinks silently for a moment then asks, “The woods appear to be a big place, any thoughts on a good place to start? Are there old ruins where the goblins resided?”

“Perhaps it is where they once thrived. In terms of where to start yes, I do have ideas. But it is important that you know I take my ancestral duties seriously, more serious than that worthless Bishop.. If the hounds are hunting again, they should be stopped. Some local shepherds have already lost sheep, and a local woodsman reported that he saw a strange creature at the forest’s edge and then again in the old ruins of Stern Keep. These people come to me, because they doubt the bishop will do anything…that and they fear the ‘protection’ of the inquisition.”

“Unfortunately I have no men-at-arms now that I have devoted my life to art. I tried to get the bishop to act, but he laughed at me, and said I was an old, blind and doddering fool.” Th e lord stops at this admission, visibly quivering in anger. After a few moments he regains his composure. “That’s why I have procured your services. Not only do want to save lives, I want to show the bishop what a fool he is.”

Kohl looks concerned. “Hmm, I fear unless done with care, showing the bishop his misgivings could prove to be a bad decision. He or his people would need to see the beast, see it’s dangers before we kill it. Otherwise he could say that the beast that was slain was placed here…a sham…an attempt by you to regain lost glory no matter how deserved it is.” he says.

“These beasts are unmistakeable. Have no fear Kohl, if the beast’s head is brought to my villa. That shall serve as proof enough.”

“Good enough then.” Kohl says assuredly.

Taveah takes her last bite of her meal. “You have aided us in our own search, Lord, and so we shall aid in yours. Fear not. If there’s a hound or hounds to find, I will find them. Do you wish them dead or captured alive?”

“They are a blight on the lands. Dead is certainly most preferable. And proof of their demise would be even better.”

“Heads, then.” Taveah says looking at her cousin. ”Very good. The meal was delicious, thank you."

”You are certainly welcomed… but the thanks should truly go to Luminel. You may see him after we are finished if you so wish.”

Oggrim finishes his meal then asks, “Lord ir’Lumm, while we have a great tracker in our midst, perhaps it would be useful to know how we may find our prey? What do they look like?”

Lord ir’Lumm takes a sip of the Aundarian wine at the table (a very good vintage), “Different sources have different descriptions. Some say it is a two-headed beast, others claim the hounds have the faces of men. Almost all of the descriptions say that it is an unnatural looking beast and tell of strange runes etched across the creature’s hide.”

“So these creatures are not were-touched then?” Oggrim queries.

“Not to my knowledge. These beasts predate the lycanthropic scourge our country faced in the past.”

“Are they witnessed more often at night or day, Lord?” Taveah asks.

“Both Luminel and myself have heard their dread keening over the past week. I believe they become bolder with each nightfall. I am sure you are quite skilled my lady, however it is said their maw is strong and fierce. All of the sources agree that these creatures have supernatural senses. That sneaking upon or ambushing Harrowcrowns Hounds is near impossible. So be wary.”

Kohl looks at Taveah. “My axe is sharp, Cousin, point me to the beasts,” he says. ”My Lord, we will obviously be here until your problem is solved. As these creatures are most active at night, once dinner has concluded, I would like to take your leave and get a layout of the lands, with my companions if they are in aggreeent.”

Taveah stands from the table. “I am most in agreement. It will be good to hunt again. Allow me to change out of this lovely dress, and we’ll begin!”

Lord ir’Lumm laughs once more. “I like your spirit good woman. While you are most welcomed to leave this evening, Stern Keep is over 12 miles from my villa over difficult terrain. It is at least 8 hours on foot. By the time you reached the ruin it would be nearly dawn and you all would be quite exhausted.”

Oggrim looks pensive. “Hmm… perhaps we should leave at first light? It would be easier to track as well. However, I will defer to Lady Taveah, she after all is the tracker. I am simply the sword and Kohl the axe.” Oggrim grins.

“Sage advice.” Kohl says. “Agreed. Tonight, good food, wonderful company, and I believe my cousin can regail you with several stories of her prowess as a tracker. In particular, how she thwarted an emerald claw cut purse over the roof tops of Regalport!"

Taveah is a tad disappointed. “Very well… Perhaps a bit more rest would be good for us after all. I do have some stories, cousin. There was this one time I was tracking a Gnome through the streets of Sharn…. Oh! THAT story? That’s wasn’t anything….” She blushes a little.”

“I would be quite interested in hearing your stories, my lady.” Lord ir’Lumm boastfully flirts. “You are welcomed to join me in my library for an aperitif you like.”

Taveah’s ears perk up at the mention of a library. “That sounds splendid!” She says rather naively.

Kohl smiles, “Lord ir’Lumm, I would like to thank you, as we have thanked Sir Oggrim many times on our journey here, for your company. It has been too long that we have been in the company of Lawful folk.”

“Perfect then!” Lord ir’Lumm stumbles a bit to stand and claps his hands. “Luminel! I believe we are finished and I would like to retire with our Lady Taveah to the Library. Gentlemen, if you could humor an old man and allow me to escort your lovely companion? Luminel will then see you to the guest house if you like.”

”Of course my Lord. Thank you again.” Kohl stands.

“Please, Lord, I am dying to see your library.” Taveah takes his arm.

Oggrim gives Kohl a sarcastic grin and then politely excuses himself as any good knight of the Silver Flame would.

He then gestures to Kohl, “Come friend. Lord ir’Lumm deserves a pleasant evening with even more pleasant company than a scruffy orc as myself and a … well… whatever you may be.” He smiles. “Lord ir’Lumm do not bother with Luminel, we can find our own way back to the guest house.”

“Agreed Brother. Cousin remember we will be leaving at first light after my morning devotions.”

“Do not fear Kohl” Lord ir’Lumm says, “I am an old weary man. I merely intend for a drink. I will not keep your cousin up late. Come my dear.”

Oggrim and Kohl retire. On their way out, Oggrim would confess that he is concerned about the Lord. His anger shows even more than the last time he visited. The man has obviously suffered more than most strong men could handle. The Lord comes from a strong line of devoted knights and it saddens Oggrim to see one in such a broken state.

Back in the villa, Taveah and Lenorf walk to the Library. For a small library in a provincial lord’s manor, the ir’Lumm library is impressive—at least to those slavishly devoted to Silver Flame art. A reading table sits in the middle of the room, surrounded by four comfortable chairs. Two windows on the north wall let in amble light.

Not all of the books are devoted only to art. The ir’Lumm library also has considerable volumes devoted to Thrane and its family history. Lord ir’Lumm would pour himself some Talentan Brandy and offer some to you. He then motions for you to sit at the reading table in one of the four chairs. He then does the same assuming you follow his lead.

Taveah will take the Brandy and sip, then sit at the reading table. “Very impressive, Lord ir’Lumm. I know the wilds well, but… in truth… it’s truly books and the knowledge they hold that inspires my travels. When I was young I hoped to document the unknown things of the world in books just like this.”

“Books are … were, my truest love.. Next to my wife that is. How I miss her and them. Tell me, why are you really here? The Silver Flame has no sway over you and Kohl.”

“I am sorry for your loss. I have lost someone, also… I know how badly it hurts.” She considers his question. “Oggrim told us of the art and the rune of Torval upon it. We hoped that perhaps there was some connection between it and our own world. We are desperately trying to find a way to return to it.”

Taveah pauses for a moment, then changes the subject. ” Lord ir’Lumm, it would be my honor to read to you, if you wish it."

He entertains her story for a few more minutes, then decides he would like to hear her read one of his family stories. After a few minutes of reading he is completely asleep.

While Lenorf sleeps, Taveah peruses the library’s books. She finds that all references to the Harrowcrowns and lycanthropes have been altered or edited, always with a mind to paint such that locale and those creatures as evil and sinful. In addition an entire page of one of the family histories has been torn out of one volume. The text around the extracted page hints that it told story of the current lord’s grandfather and a meeting with a strange creature during the lycanthrope purges. It is obvious that the grandfather survived, but the particulars of the meeting are not referred to in this book or any others.

The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 4

The Kael and the Silver Flame - Part 3

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