View Full Version : A Paladin's Heart

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2006-09-05, 06:14 PM
Manar sat outside, the bright spring sun alternating between bright glare and muted glow as the clouds passed by, carried by the strong breeze. It gusted again, bringing to her nose the scent of the flowers growing in the gardens in front of the Temple of the Morninglord in Waterdeep. It had been an unusual day so far, so unusual that her mind was still in somewhat a state of shock.

It had all began with the summons. Manar had not even been back for 15 minutes when a breathless acolyte rushed up to her and blurted out, “Lady Ryanelle! Master Kom needs to see you right away!” Without even getting a chance to finish brushing the worst of the travel dust off of her, she was pushed into the sparring grounds where Master Kom, the head of her Order at this monastery was teaching some of the younger recruits the finer points of bashing things with a warhammer.

The dwarf told the recruits to continue their practicing when he saw her enter, and he strode as fast as any dwarf can over to her. She was quite a bit taller than he was, obviously, as she was tall even for a human. At 6’1”, she had always felt awkward around Kom, and today was no exception.

“Manar! I wasn’t expecting you for another week, so when I got the messenger from the Morninglord’s Dawn requesting you to come right away to him today at Waterdeep, I shook my head, wondering what I was going to tell him, but lo and behold! Here you are, early!”

Her thoughts raced, not hearing anything beyond the Morninglord’s Dawn requesting her. What would His Grace Balthor want of her?

Somehow, she found herself on her mount once again, not even unpacked or cleaned up, riding hard for Waterdeep. It was a half day’s travel there, and her creative mind found a million reasons why such an important person would like to see her, but she admitted to herself as she rode up into the courtyard of the temple itself that none of her ideas had any ring of truth and that she was walking into an utter, total surprise.

She was ushered into the great hall, travel stains and all, and she became acutely aware of how she smelled. In her desire to come home, she had skipped bathing the day before, imagining that she would have plenty of time to clean up once she reached the monastery that served as the base of operations for her and many others of her order. The Morninglord’s Dawn, His Grace Balthor rose from his seat, smiled, and immediately dismissed his attendants. He was an older human, short grey hair, a thin, pronounced nose, deep-set brown eyes, brown skin, a very kindly face, and a palpable aura of good around him. When everyone but Manar and Balthor had exited, he walked down the steps of his dais, put his arm around her in a familiar way and beamed.

Stunned, not saying a word, Manar numbly allowed him to walk her over to a couple of simple wooden chairs on the side of the hall, where they both sat down, facing each other. He seemed to take no notice at all of her muddy boots and leggings, not to mention any scent.

He took her hand in a fatherly way and said, “Thank you for coming so quickly. My dear, I have a very special assignment for you. I know of your Order and the work you do. In order to be truly a tool in the Morninglord's hands, you have to be gifted in the ability to read others. We have some very special, and unusual, visitors arriving here over the next several days. I want you to greet them. Talk to them, get to know them, and observe them closely. Learn all you can without being obvious, and don't be overly kind or cruel in those observations. I want you to get as close to the truth as you can get. I prize honesty very highly. After some time, I will ask you for a report, and I want you to tell me what you have observed. The first is arriving within the hour. Do not worry - you will be able to pick them out immediately. Go out and wait for them as they arrive. I will give you some forewarning so that you can be out front. But you are to be our liaison, our representative at this temple, to these visitors. You will show them their rooms and assist any needs they might have until the purpose of their visit is accomplished. Take a few minutes to learn where the guest quarters are here since I know this temple is much larger than what you are used to."

He paused for a moment, still smiling warmly. "My dear, do you have any questions for me?"

She smiled and gave him an appropriate half-bow, her mind still whirling so much that she couldn’t formulate any appropriate questions. "It will be an honor, Radiance. Can you tell me the names of the visitors and perhaps give me some idea what they look like, so I can greet them appropriately? And.... is there anything in particular you want me to learn?"

He shook his head. “You will not need their names. You will pick them out very easily. As for learning, isn’t every experience a learning experience? Learn what you can and will from this. And you might want to hurry and bathe and change clothes. The first one will be arriving very quickly.” He stood and smiled. “Hurry, child. You don’t have much time”

She barely had time to bathe, change into some clothes from her saddlebags, and rush out front. Not quite out of breath, she sat, gathering her thoughts and scanning the trickle of people coming into the temple.

2006-09-05, 06:32 PM
Manar sang to herself under her breath as she watched the road to the temple, trying to calm her nerves. He said I'd pick them out easily.... what kind of visitors would merit his attention? ...and why me? Whatever they are, I'd best make a good impression.... She carefully adjusted her sash, brushed a strand of still-damp golden hair out of her face for the umpteenth time, and narrowed her focus to two things: the road, and the next line of the ballad. The sun on her face felt like a personal blessing, and she smiled. Yes. I'll make this work.

2006-09-05, 06:37 PM
All this only took a few minutes. Something glinted in a ray of sunlight escaping from the clouds, and she looked up. His Grace Balthor was right. This had to be one of the new arrivals.

Knights in full plate armor were not so rare that they attracted too much attention, but when they stood near 8 feet tall with a bull’s head and long black curving horns coming out of their heads, plenty of heads turned and gaped. Nearly anywhere but Waterdeep, a minotaur would be attacked on sight by any brave enough to face him, or at the very best, be treated with terrible fear and suspicion. Here, he was unusual enough to draw stares, but no overt hostility. The City of Splendors was jaded indeed. He hadn’t seen her yet, but she could tell that he was slowing down, looking around for some direction, someone to talk to.

2006-09-05, 09:37 PM
Samson stood there, a bit awestruck at the city. He had grown up in a monastery, probably the best thing, considering his race, and he still was a bit surprised at the hustle and bustle of the city.

Samson looked about, seeing clear over the top of anyone in front of him. He was used to that, as he stood over seven and a half feet tall. His broad frame made him practically an island amid the sea of traffic in the city road, as people would break to move around him on either side. His full-plate armor and greatsword appeared to be in immaculate condition, as if even during the travel, he had found time to polish them. His reddish-brown fur was neatly trimmed to his head, providing a coat a little over an inch thick.

In his massive hands, he clutched a large piece of paper and a map. He had copied the map himself out of the temple Atlas before he left, so that he would be sure to reach Waterdeep.

He saw a woman standing in front of the temple, the only person in the city not moving other than himself. There, I'll ask her to make sure I haven't gotten lost. Carefully, he makes his way over to her, being careful not to step on any small children.

Pardon me, is this the temple of Lathander? I am a paladin of Tyr, and I was told to report to the temple of Lathander in Waterdeep by Grand Justiciar Callahan.

2006-09-06, 03:58 AM
Even at six foot one, Manar felt very short as she looked up at him. She pulled her hands away from an unconscious attempt to straighten up her clothing, half-closed her emerald eyes to keep them from going as wide as a child's, and said, in a soft, musical voice, "Yes, this is the temple of Lathander; I am Manar Ryanelle, a paladin here, and His Grace Balthor has instructed me to be your guide and help you with whatever you may need." Heh... dressed for the occasion, and I still feel as if I'm a cadet in front of my teacher.... I wish Florian were here. Does he believe me, I wonder? She knew that in a lot of respects, she didn't look the part for a paladin--even when wearing the sky blue shirt with the sun-on-horizon emblem and the bandolier-style pale orange to blue sash that was only worn by members of her Order, the image she cut was more city girl coming to a nice event than holy warrior. An advantage at most times, but now.... particularly compared to this visitor....

But best not to think about that. Talk, Manar... if nothing else, imagine the stories he must have! "If you would like, sir, I can escort you to the guests' quarters.... but first, may I have your name?"

2006-09-06, 10:25 AM
Samson listened to her story, and after she finished, waited a long moment to respond.

Interesting. There hadn't been many female paladins back at the monastery. But there hadn't been many minotaur paladins either.

As he looked down at her, ready to begin to speak, another wave of thoughts passed over him.

Don't look and talk down your snout at her. No one likes that. Be civilized! Especially to a lady.

Samson kneels, his armor making hardly any noise as he does so. His head is lowered down to the level of hers, and he makes eye contact with his large, yellow eyes. As he speaks, a careful observer would note that Samson is making every effort not to bare his fangs.

I am Samson. It is good to meet you, Lady Manar Ryanelle of Lathander. As far as the guest quarters, that would be excellent. If we have time before we are to be summoned before his Lordship, I would store my armor and seek the care of a good barber.

2006-09-06, 06:12 PM
"Right this way, then, sir; there are enough people coming, or so I hear, that I think you will have plenty of time to freshen up." I love the irony of my having barely had enough time to freshen up, but.... Manar turned and beckoned him towards the stairs to the guest quarters. "The washrooms are over there, and the kitchen and dining hall are down that hall there," she explained, gesturing at the various locations as she led him toward their destination. "If you need something to eat and it's an odd time, don't worry; there's always someone in there, and they'll usually be able to whip something up for you. And if you have any questions and I'm not around, most people'll know where to find me--though I imagine I'll be pulling a lot of front-steps duty, so I shouldn't be too hard to locate." She smiles back and up at him as they round another corner. I shouldn't be the only one talking... it doesn't sound good. Besides, the stories... "I imagine you must have come quite a ways; where did you say you were from? What's it like?" Safe enough topic, right?

2006-09-06, 09:09 PM
As they enter the temple, Samson's eyes widen. The temple at his monastery always brought a tear to his eye with its elegant simplicity and tempered style. This temple, in the city of splendors, filled him with awe. The various statues of saints and patrons were lined up on either side, and the grand architecture drew his eye to the main altar. He looked it over, but then focused on where Manar was leading him, and what she was saying.

More? There are more coming? How many? And why?

Samson follows her, but as he rounds each corner, he finds himself commiting its location to memory. He hadn't been in an unfamiliar structure in some time, and so he forgotten this instinct.

As the directions are listed, Samson nods, but he cannot stop himself when she mentions being served food at all hours.


He composes himself again, and waits until she asks him a question. He rolls his head as if mulling his response, almost catching one of his horns on a corner.

I have walked for most of two weeks. I could have taken a boat, but the hike was good for my spirit. I am from a Monastery of Tyr, part of the Order of the Merciful Sword. My monastery is located in the Graypeak Mountains, Southeast of Llorkh.

And what of you, Lady Manar Ryanelle? Where are you from, and did you have to travel light in order to arrive in advance of me?

2006-09-07, 10:54 PM
"Well, actually, it's more that I hadn't unpacked." She smiles. "I'd just got back from circuit--that's our training period, you know--imagine my surprise when they had an assignment for me before I'd even had time to recover my bearings. At least it meant I didn't have to worry about what I was carrying...." ...babbling is NOT a good idea right now, Manar, so STOP IT... She shrugs. "Besides, it's only half a day here from Brightwind."

2006-09-08, 12:13 AM

Brightwind? Never been there. What's it like there?

Samson pauses for a moment.

You didn't seem overwhelmed by the temple here. Is your home temple as ... impressive?

Samson rolls his horns again. Manar might see a pattern reflected off of them if the light catches them at the exact right angle.

Tread carefully, you wish to be respectful and friendly, but don't scare the lady.

I find it best to have friends in new places, as I tend to draw attention. May I take the room next to yours?

2006-09-08, 12:53 AM
"Not a problem at all. And if you need my help, you can always knock." Manar shrugged and looked up at Samson. "As to the not looking around in awe--I've been here before, a time or two; it's one of my mentor's favorite temples. And to be perfectly honest.... I'm faking it." She grinned conspiratorially, then laughed, gesturing around her with one hand. "After the first time you visit, you get funny looks if you're gaping around like a schoolgirl on holiday. They're awfully polite about hiding it, though. Besides, would you really trust me as a tour guide if I was stopping every few minutes to gush over the windows? Anyway.... Brightwind's a normal city--buildings, cobblestones, a shop on every street and a vendor at every corner. After you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. But... I've never visited any of the smaller monasteries.... what are they like?"

2006-09-08, 10:43 AM
Well... the land is less flat. That's the most obvious difference.

My monastery is located next to the village of Amot, an area where farmers bring their goods to the river so that they might trade. The monastery itself is a large complex, I guess, but the buildings are each smaller. The Temple devoted to Tyr was only large enough to just fit everyone, and they had to make the door bigger after I grew.

Samson laughs, or at least, you think it's a laugh, a hearty belly laugh after saying that.

We had a lot of space. There was a small wood that the monastery owned, and we would train in it. There were separate buildings for most activities.

Samson stops, and blows a bit of air through between his sealed lips, making them buzz.

I guess that's about it. I would have the pleasure of your company for a while longer, but first, I must remove my armor and store my pack with supplies. So please excuse me, Lady Manar Ryanelle.

With that, Samson enters his quarters and removes his armor carefully. Afterwards, he will also change his vestments, and make note that the ones he had been wearing under his armor required cleaning.

After about 10 minutes, Samson emerges, wearing a very large blue vestment, and a white garment underneath. As he exits, you see why Samson wears his armor so frequently. The partially sheathed sword symbol that is supposed to appear on his right shoulder is actually about 8 inches too low, and the vestment appears very stretched over Samson's massive shoulders. This ill-fit is in stark contrast with the natural way the full plate armor rested on Samson's body. He exits, looking around to see if Manar is still there.

2006-09-09, 02:50 PM
She is; she's leaning on the wall, eyes closed, singing to herself, but she looks up when she hears Samson's door open. "Feeling better? I know long trips always made me a bit uncomfortable." She smiles. "And would you prefer to hang around here, or be shown around a bit more? I'm fine either way, but I imagine your feet must be killing you."

2006-09-09, 03:41 PM
Samson lifts up his hooves one at a time, displaying his silver horseshoes.

I just got these fitted a few months ago, and had my nail cut before I left. I am fine, I assure you.

I would like to see more of the temple, and perhaps the surrounding area. Let us walk about. The exercise will be good. Would you like my arm, Lady Manar?

Samson moves over to her, and stands beside, offering her his arm.

2006-09-10, 02:40 AM
She smiles and takes it. "I hear there's an excellent trail out behind the temple... shall we go find out?" At the slightest hint of a nod, she starts walking towards the back door, the hand that isn't on his shoulder still gesturing animatedly with every word. "So.... how'd you end up being-- Ah, crud, what's their term for being brought into their order? You'd think by now I'd be able to keep them straight.... "--chosen?" She smiles. "I know how it works in my order, but I imagine a lot of the gods have different approaches, and I've always been curious--you can read about these things until your eyes bug out, but it never gives you the full picture."

2006-09-10, 12:20 PM
Samson walks with Manar, and kind stares off into space.

Well, at least she didn't ask why I wasn't killed first..

He speaks slowly, in a measured, deep voice.

Well, Father Madigan suspected I had been chosen when I was found only a few weeks old, and that I hadn't already had evil planted in my soul.

After being found, I was brought to the monastery, as the Order of the Merciful Sword was unsure what do with me. They decided to save me, and so I was raised in the monastery, with the light and justice of Tyr all around me.

When I was 5, I decided that I would repay the debt I owed Tyr for saving me by pledging my life to him and his work. Shortly thereafter, I had something like a revelation, where I knew that I had to become a paladin, like the man who found me, and that set my path. There were ceremonies, and tests, and training, and education. But those are details you weren't interested in?

I've said a good bit about myself. Tell me a bit of your past. What sort of business have you done for your Church? How did you become a paladin?

2006-09-10, 02:52 PM
Please tell me this isn't going to turn into one of those debates....

"Well.... I only just got out of training, actually." She laughs. "With me--well, we're the unlikely ones. The ones that blend in. You've probably heard of us--though I'm hoping you've heard of us as the Children of the Dawn's Cleansing Light rather than as 'Those crazies who think evil can be redeemed if given a good talking to.'" The humor goes partway out of her voice and is replaced with a slight hint of irritation, and she pushes the door open just slightly harder than is really necessary. "We're not too picky about who's brought in, since it's Lathander choosing us and not our own; I was a street performer, I had a friend who came in after several years as a chimney sweep, and we even had a lawyer tapped once. I suppose I was tapped because I already believed in and loved the idea of redemption; all I know was that I was in the middle of a performance one morning, felt someone's hand on my shoulder, looked back into the fountain behind me and saw an image of a man in the last tinted ray of sunrise. Then when I was done performing, I was approached by someone in the audience--nice fellow, laugh to his voice, went by Florian. Turns out he'd been sent there 'cause he had a feeling somebody would be tapped there--all I knew at the time was the first thing he asked me. 'Did you see him, too?'" For the last sentence, she drops her voice a little and adds a bit of a chuckle to it in an impression of the man in question.

"Once I was out of basic training, he took me on as a student, and I worked with him until I was sent here--mostly attempting to talk around people who haven't seen the light yet, since Florian and I were lucky enough not to end up in the middle of too many fights--we're supposed to turn here, I think." She guides Samson onto a path lined with trees and sorrel that leads up the mountain behind the temple.

2006-09-10, 08:24 PM
Samson lets Manar turn him, and then he waits until they have moved on.

Well... I would say that I am evidence in the possibility for redemption in anyone. Everyone can be good. Some of my order might disagree, but... it is something I must believe.

Your order sounds most worthy. Working with other honorable people is always rewarding.

Looking up the mountain, Samson taps his foot on the ground.

Now this is a familiar site. But perhaps my hooves are more tired than I have thought. May we sit in the shadow of the mountain?

2006-09-11, 03:29 PM
"Yes, let's." Manar drops to the ground in a patch of grass, setting into a odd sort of position which, though it can't be the most comfortable, doesn't look like it'll result in any extremities falling asleep, either, and starts absently braiding a few stems of grass. "Good to know you're a bit more flexible than a lot of the people out there; I've lost count of how many times someone from another order's taken one look at one of the signs of my order and either burst out laughing or started trying to tell me how wrong I am." She shrugs. "I imagine there's going to be a lot of waiting around in our near future if His Grace's talk of 'guests'-plural means anything.... what sorts of things do you usually do in your spare time? I might be able to show you where's best to do them."

2006-09-11, 04:01 PM
Samson sits, and then leans back, stretching and arching his back a bit, and then resting his body weight on his arms.

Thank you for the offer, Lady Manar, but I assure you I will be most capable of entertaining myself during any delay. These sorts of waiting periods come up somewhat often in my duty, so I guess I've gotten used to dealing with them. I will try to keep my time in the city to a minimum. The people of the city may be perfectly comfortable with me, but I am still not comfortable in such crowded surroundings.

Samson breathes heavily out his snout to emphasize that point.

As far as you being right or wrong, I prefer not to think of it that way. Some paladins just have more left to learn than others. The key is understanding both how little and how much you know, and not being overwhelmed by either.

Samson chuckles.

At least, Father Madigan used to tell me that when I was having trouble with schooling. Speaking of which, you've mentioned scant little about your tutor. I would like to hear about him.

2006-09-11, 07:11 PM
"Well.... he's Florian. Not your average paladin, but none of us are, so that's not saying much. He always told me 'Anyone can destroy evil; all it takes is a sharp enough sword. But to bring it back... now there is a challenge.' Then again, he's also a firm believer in the idea that only boring people let themselves and their friends get bored, which is why I asked." Manar leans back and looks up at the sky. "He's the kind of person who's fun to talk to because he always knows something unexpected. Always has a new story--or a new example for why our approach works. Usually one doubles as the other, and they're a treat to listen to either way."

2006-09-11, 08:46 PM
Samson looks over at Manar as she leans back, but thinks better of lying down himself.

Well, my approach has always been to listen and think. And after you think, think some more. The right idea will occur to you eventually. And then, you set it in writing or set it in motion.

That way, you keep your purpose.

What is your approach?

2006-09-12, 01:30 AM
"Mine's to talk my way through things--or sing through 'em, when there's nobody to talk to. Whether it's questions I can't answer or just being left with nothing to do. Old habits die hard, I guess, and sometimes I feel like there's someone else listening." Her hand swings out towards the horizon, and she smiles. "It's like it's sung in 'Starsong, Moonshadow'; 'In song you pray, in prayer you sing/a voice which brightens everything/a call beyond the skies you see/the answer comes on light and free.'" That last part she half-sings, her voice clear and practiced. "Of course, it gets odd looks at times, but I'm used to that, and hey, every now and then I do somehow have an answer at the end. Like the old riddle song--'Alone in flight it can't be seen, but glorious sight it brings to me; my questing fingers ne'er reveal, but on me resting it I feel.' Tell me if you get tired of those, by the way. Old Iram, a man I knew before I was tapped, always told me, 'I wouldn't worry about you talking the hind leg off a donkey, Manar--you'll sing it off first!'" Her voice switches into a startlingly accurate imitation of a creaky old man.

2006-09-12, 01:50 AM
Samson thinks for a long moment, and then repeats back slowly...

'Alone in flight it can't be seen, but glorious sight it brings to me; my questing fingers ne'er reveal, but on me resting it I feel.'

Most people would say that there's only one answer, but I think there are two.

We see both by the light of the sun and the light of our Lords.

2006-09-12, 02:24 AM
Manar nods, smiling brightly. "Then again, in some Orders that is one answer." She looks out over the temple, whose walls glisten in the sunlight. "And either way, it's right, in more ways than the unknowing would believe. Do you have a taste for riddles, or did it just seem to need solving?"

2006-09-12, 09:30 AM
I enjoy puzzles, yes. My preference is for visual puzzles as opposed to words. I just kind of close my eyes and let the pieces move themselves for a while, and when I open my eyes I already have a good idea of where to start.

As for that riddle, if I hadn't solved it now, I would have pondered it before resting later. Now it is finished.

Samson looks up at the sky, and notices how far the sun has traveled since they sat down, seemingly a short time ago.

Lady Manar, if you are going to give our other guests as proper a welcome as you gave me, perhaps we should return to the temple. It is getting on in the day.

Samson rises, and once again offers his arm to Manar, walking back towards the temple with her.

2006-09-12, 03:13 PM
Manar pulls herself to her feet and walks with him. "One last thing...." She's a bit more hesitant on this one, as if she's having to think through every word. "How do you deal with the more.... hidebound of the people out there? I know acceptance is a valuable quality, but it's unnervingly rare in a lot of people." She meets Samson's eye for a moment, then looks down at the temple in front of her. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but..."

2006-09-12, 03:34 PM
Samson nods his head.

Well, my size helps me. I don't like to intimidate people, but even you took a short step back when I approached. Most of them just avoid me out of fear.

The ones that don't, I try to show them that I am a paladin by example. If they don't give me that chance, sadly, on a very rare occasion I have had to use the flat side of my sword in self defense. I can only hope the ringing headache was lesson enough.

With that, Samson begins walking back towards the temple, this time leading his hostess. When they reach the temple.

I will try to return shortly. But I haven't had my hair trimmed in two weeks, and I don't want to look unkempt. Be well, and may the rest of our associates be pleasant company for you.

Samson attempts to find the nearest barber.

2006-09-12, 06:02 PM
It was later in the evening. Samson explored the temple, its rooms and corridors making a perfect map in his head. Before long, he found a barber who was suprised and afraid at first of the large paladin asking for a trim, but in a very quick while, the barber was perfectly at ease, or as perfectly at ease as one can be while trimming the fur of a monstrous, though kindly, creature.

Manar went back out front and sat, watching the sun go down in the east. Like all temples of Lathandar, this temple had two major entrances, one in the west, and one in the east, so as to see the sun come and go every day. She felt the pangs of hunger, and decided to go to the mess hall, but merely minutes after sitting down, a messenger arrived from Balthor, telling her that another new arrival was nearing the western entrance. She almost asked if she would have time to eat something first, but thought better of it immediately. Putting down her food with a sigh, she raced back to the grand archway symbolizing the birth of each new day.

A large fountain sprayed into the air behind her, and the crowd had slowed to a trickle. Lathandar never closed his doors to the wounded and weary, but only the more desperate would attempt to come this late in the evening.

She barely had time to calm her thoughts again when she saw another unusual figure on horseback. The dimming light made it hard to see, but it looked like he was wearing a burnished breastplate, and...Is that a fur hat? she thought to herself.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-12, 07:30 PM
Aleksei rode slowly through the city, sweating a bit in the southern heat as he surveyed the city with an apprising brown-eyed gaze. So large and prosperous…I have never seen so many people together outside of a battlefield. Tyr guide me that I might find the temple in this maze of buildings!

He was riding Raisa, a fine mare who had been touched with Tyr’s spirit to aid him. She was fast and lightly built, with a fine bay coat and very bright eyes. He gave her an affectionate pat on the neck as he wondered where the temple might be.
Aleksei was surprised at how few people were looking at him. Normally, a mounted man in bright, ornamented armor and a regimental hat would be the subject of awe or fear, depending on where you might be, but these people hardly gave him another look. Of course, with your gear all travel-worn, perhaps you’re not so impressive as you think, Aleksei. Or perhaps it is my stature…most warriors are larger than I.

Aleksei wasn’t particularly big or small-he stood an inch under six feet, and his build was thoroughly average (though quite muscular). His brown hair came to about his shoulder, and he kept it in a ponytail to keep it out of the way. Aleksei felt the rough bristles of stubble on his face as he wiped more sweat from it. I really need to clean up, but I suppose I should at least check in at the temple before I do.

He was fully equipped, as if for battle, for he had been forced to fight quite a few times as he made his way to Waterdeep. His breastplate, mithril inlaid with mother-of-pearl, shone dully beneath the dust of the road, though his Order’s cloak seemed immune to such mundane troubles-the golden sunburst on his back still gleamed as bright as the day he earned it, and the white cloth was completely unstained. His boots were filthy, and their bright yellow hue was all but undetectable. At least his hat was still relatively clean, though the square fur cap was overkill in this climate. Reflexively, he felt the front, and sighed slightly as he noticed his regimental emblem was still pinned there. I may serve a better cause now, but I will not have my past be sundered from me completely.

Aleksei’s arms were plainer than his armor-a simple long saber, a plain lance, and a kite shield, completely unmarked. His face fell slightly as he touched the bare steel of the shield, and he spent a moment gazing at the ruby ring on his left hand before turning back to the present.

I need to find that temple…

2006-09-13, 06:32 PM
That must be the one.... Oh, drat, he'll miss the entrance if I don't say something! Pitching her voice to carry as far as possible, Manar cups her hands about her mouth and shouts "Oye! You with the fur cap! You want to turn right HERE!" and rushes down the temple steps to try to intercept him, one hand thrown out for balance and the other swishing yet another wayward strand of hair out of her face. If I'd known I was going to play beacon, I'd've borrowed a mirror to flash....

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-13, 08:04 PM
Aleksei reined Raisa to a halt, turning to inspect the bright-haired stranger who had addressed him. After a moment's contemplation, he realized that this was likely the person who was sent to meet him.

Gear clinking, Aleksei dismounted, keeping Raisa close to him as he approached the woman.

"Are you the one I was to meet, sent by the Temple of the Morninglord?"

His voice is accented strangely, though his words are clear enough.

Perhaps now I can get some answers...

2006-09-14, 01:29 AM
"Yes, sir. My name is Manar--Manar Ryanelle, of the Dawn's Cleansing Light. Here, come this way, both of you." She smiled at the newcomer, and then at his horse. "They are more used to us bringing our partners than most places, after all. There are adjoining quarters that should accomodate both of you quite nicely. Would you mind introducing yourself and your companion?"

I'm one for one so far, here's hoping I don't get the usual....

2006-09-14, 10:31 AM
Manar barely had time to finish speaking when yet another odd figure rode by. It's not often that a knight is shorter than his mount, but in this case, a very tall dog ambled by with a halfling on his back. Obviously freshly scrubbed, both took no real notice of Manar or Aleksei as they headed purposefully towards the brightly lit Temple of Lathandar.

2006-09-14, 12:10 PM
The halfling smiled as he rode through the city, "Waterdeep hasn't changed a bit Buddy." The halfling's clothing was well made and obviously not travelling attire. He wore a shirt cut off at the elbows and a tattoo can be seen on his left forearm. His pants are cut at the calves, and tattoos matching the one on his arm can be seen on his ankles. He wore no shoes, and his brown hair is well trimmed, both on his head and on his feet. He carried a short bow with a matching quiver slung over his shoulder and a short sword dangled from his belt. A backpack is hung from the side of his mount, and the saddle looked well made and elaborate. His mount is a large dog, to the knowledgable eye it appeared almost like a great dane, but something is different. His muzzle is black and fades to brown as it approaches his body. The dog yipped and the halfling patted him on the neck. "We're almost to the temple now, we'll get you some food and you can relax for a while, I know its been a long ride."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-14, 01:29 PM
Aleksei bows as he introduces himself, ignoring the other rider as yet another odd passer-by in this great city.

"I am Aleksei Fedotovich Rytsar, paladin of the Zenith Order. But I come alone...unless you mean my horse? Her name is Raisa."

He streches and tries without success to brush some of the dust off of his clothing.

"Forgive my appearance, Manar Rytsar. I have traveled through many long miles of unfriendly land to come here, and I have not yet got my bearings. Indeed, I have not been told why I have been summoned, which interests me greatly. Perhaps you could shed some light on this for me?"

2006-09-14, 09:24 PM
"Yes, I mean her. It's a pleasure to meet the both of you--hangonamoment, nobody told me I was greeting two at once.... oye! You! You one of the people summoned in for weknownotwhat? I'm supposed to be guiding you here! Can you amble over this way, maybe introduce yourself?" she calls over her shoulder, and then sighs. "If I ever find out why.... anyway, where was I? Ah, yes--no, they haven't told me what's going on either. Just that I'm off soul-saving duty and on tour guide duty; I'm not sure why any of us were called in, or why I'm the one who's supposed to talk to everyone at the gate, or much of anything. I suppose they've decided that this is one of those Mysteries No Poor Confused Mortal is Meant To Know.... and don't worry about your appearance now, it's not like they're going to drag you into the audience chamber immediately! There'll be plenty of time to clean up, and goodness knows I was at least as much of a mess when I showed up." ...and got dragged straight into the audience chamber, but let's not go into that, hm?

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-14, 09:48 PM
Aleksei whips around, focusing his gaze on the small rider, then turns back to Manar. Raisa stamps a hoof impatiently, but Aleksei keeps her steady.

"There are others, Manar Rytsarina? I did not know...you said you were called, yes? Where might you hail from?"

Interesting...what cause requires so many, and why can the local orders not handle it? Something dire, I think...

2006-09-14, 11:28 PM
The halfling slowly wheeled on his mount and quickly appraised the pair. "You're my guide? You appear a bit busy there lass," he said as Manar continued to speak after calling after him, "I can leave you and your beau for a while if you need some time alone," he said as he smiled mischieviously at the pair.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-15, 12:00 AM
Aleksei laughs loudly. "She's no beau of mine, stranger, though I'd not be sad to know her a bit better. However, we are paladins both, so...trivial encounters, shall we say, are things we've left behind."

He glances over at Manar and grins. "Well, I left such things behind. If you are more familiar with the Rytsarina than I, perhaps you know better, eh?"

2006-09-15, 01:24 AM
Manar rolls her eyes for a moment before settling into as cheerful a demeanor as she can manage, given the hour and the amount of confusion.

"Please. I get that enough as it is. Now.... why don't we slow down, introduce ourselves, I can take the four of you up to get a bite to eat and somewhere to rest, and we'll all be good, all right? Here, I'll start--I'm Manar Ryanelle, from the Order of the Dawn's Cleansing Light, and I'll be your guide over the next few days as we try to figure out why this temple is turning into a paladin convention site. You?" She nods to the halfling.

May I have the patience to accept what moves past me at high speed....

She smiles and waits for the exchange of names to commence.

2006-09-15, 09:26 AM
The halfling dismounted and continued to smile. You get the feeling that smiles come to his face quite easily. "That's what I've been waiting for. Well met Lady Ryanelle. I am Rayvon, a Chosen of Yondalla," he said as he bowed. He rose to a standing position and patted his mount on the shoulder, "This is Buddy." Buddy approached Manar, raised his paw and barked sharply twice.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-15, 11:26 AM
Aleksei bows once more, then gestures to his mount.

"I am Aleksei Fedotovich Rytsar, Chosen of Tyr. A pleasure to meet you, Rayvon Rytsar, and your fine dog. This is Raisa, my blessed horse. Might I ask from where you hail? It seems that several have been called, and from places not too near."

I've never seen a halfling Chosen....I wonder how he might fare in battle?"

2006-09-15, 12:10 PM
"Nice to meet you, Aleksei. I was in Baldur's Gate on a mission when I was called," and it was damn inconvenient, I almost had him again, "so not too far. I originally hale from Cormyr. And yourself?"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-15, 02:16 PM
"From Venyesh, near the Spine of the World. I doubt you have heard of it; most southerners have not. It has been a taxing journey, my friend, for our neighbors are unfriendly, and the lands held by bandits many. Indeed, subduing the bandit lands has long been one of my occupations, and I wonder at what need has called me away from protecting the people of my homeland. Many have died from the raiders, civilian and soldier alike."

Aleksei's face darkens for a moment as he touches the ring on his hand, but soon recovers its previous cheer.

"Regardless, I am here, and I shall follow my oaths wherever Tyr takes me. Manar Rytsarina, I trust I have accomodations at the Temple?"

2006-09-15, 02:53 PM
Rayvon smiled, "You'd be surprised lad. I've travelled a lot further than you'd think my short legs could. I've actually been north of the Spine. Icewind Dale to be specific. What is this Rystar you keep referring to?"

2006-09-15, 03:09 PM
Manar leans down and takes Buddy's paw, then releases it and straightens up. "It is a pleasure to meet all of you. Guest quarters have been set up for both of you, and yours if you so choose is right next to reasonable accomodations for Raisa. As I said, they are used to paladins coming in with their blessed companions, and as it would be an insult to them to treat them as mere livestock..." Manar smiles warmly.


"Shall we speak as we walk? I imagine the two of you are quite hungry from your journey, and there is little we can say that cannot be said en route or over a nice meal, now, is there?" She starts up the stairs, turning a few steps up to make sure the others are following.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-15, 03:10 PM
Aleksei follows Manar gladly, and frowns slightly as he searches for the word. "It would mean...knight, I think you call it, or the honorific Sir. A warrior belonging to an order, of paladins or not. A title of respect for one's station. Forgive me, I'm not yet completely comfortable with this tongue."

2006-09-15, 03:32 PM
"So I take it Rystarina is the female form? Fascinating." Manar smiles. "Perhaps you could teach me the basics of your language while waiting to find out what's going on? My order rather depends on being able to communicate, after all, and I've never met a language I didn't like--and then it might make it a bit easier for me to help you get your tongue around some of my language's quirks. It certainly has enough of them."

Okay, maybe it's not quite what I was supposed to ask about, but oh, does it sound useful. I'd best be careful to go easy on the slang....

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-15, 03:36 PM
Aleksei nods. "Yes, Rytsarina is the feminine form. I'd be quite happy to teach you, though I've never tried to teach a language before..."

Aleksei begins, in a somewhat haphazard fashion, to teach the basics of Venyeshni to Manar, starting with basic sounds.

2006-09-15, 06:15 PM
Rayvon smiled at the exchanged and listened intently to the impromptu language lesson. Interesting. A decided mixture of Thayese and Daleland speak. He's from further west than I thought. Very quickly he started repeating Aleksei's sounds almost perfectly, with only a minor accent on them.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-16, 12:35 AM
Having demonstrated the letter sounds, Aleksei begins the use of simple verb conjugation...which proves not so simple, due to the enormous variety of conjugates in Venyeshni.

2006-09-16, 12:48 AM
On hearing Rayvon's near-perfect approximation of the language, Manar gets a bit of a light in her eyes and redoubles her efforts. I was right; this is going to be a blast! Somewhere halfway through the explanation of the past imperfect, they reach the companions' quarters.

"Sorry to interrupt, but here we are," Manar explains during a break in the word patterns, beckoning to a nearby acolyte to come make herself useful. "All the hands here are trained in the protocols of dealing with divine mounts, so there's naught to worry about, though you might want to talk to them about your preferences and Raisa's, and I'll remember which accomodations you're using so you can take the adjoining guestroom. Rayvon, what usually happens with Buddy when you stay places?"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-16, 02:16 AM
Aleksei laughs. "Raisa is used to quarters on the campaign. A roof and fresh food are luxuries!"

However, he does take Raisa into the stables and make sure she is treated well before going to his own quarters.

Perhaps I can wash the grit and blood of the road from me now...

2006-09-16, 02:40 AM
Rayvon continued to catch onto Aleksei's language quickly, and by the time they reached their quarters he could form a simple sentence. His travels had taken him across the world, and most languages have similiarities that Rayvon can build off of. "You seem to have a knack for languages, Manar, I'll have to teach you how to understand Buddy," he smiled down at the dog, "He usually stays in my room, but he has a mind of his own. Tell your people to let him wander if they see him out. If there are any children on the grounds he'll find them, let any parents know they'll be safe with him. If any parents have objections let me know. And tell your kitchen people keep an eye out, he likes to sneak food," Buddy barked sharply at the comment and Rayvon smiled fondly, "Be nice," Rayvon joked at the dog, "Fine, tell them he can have one small portion of beef if he arrives outside of eating hours."

2006-09-16, 03:00 PM
Manar smiles down at Buddy. "Nothing to worry about there; they're pretty good about feeding people--and divine companions--around here. Now, if you'll come along this way, I'll bring you to the kitchen and we can get all of you set up with dinner." She leads them around and to a nearby doorway, then through the corridors to the kitchens; as she does, she asks, "So.... how did the two of you meet your companions? And what's it like working with them?" There's more than a hint of wonder in her voice--both have probably heard that tone before, from younger paladins who aren't quite ready a given stage on their paths--particularly that one--but can't keep from asking anyway.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-17, 03:28 AM
Aleksei chuckles a bit at Manar's enthusiasm. "It was the second year after I finished my term as a squire. I had just lost my last horse to a distinctly unpleasent group of bandits-they had deserters in their ranks, and had actual discipline, you understand-that cut the unfortunate beast out from under me. I do not know how it is around here, but in Venyesh, it is quite necessary to have a steed of some kind to traverse the border quickly, for it is long, and the settlements spread widely.

I went to purchase another from the horse-merchants that keep camp near the Order's headquarters, and one of them all but sang to me to pick her. I did, and it was Raisa. She has served me faithfully and well ever since."

Aleksei thinks for a moment more, then continues.

"As you know, she's more intelligent than the typical horse, but she can't really communicate abstract concepts very clearly. Still, she does her job well-she's very sure-footed, and can be a terror on the battlefield. I can also be assured that she'll come for me if I am seperated...once, she dragged me away from a battle that had gone poorly for us (I had been wounded pretty badly, and was close to bleeding out), and managed to get me to shelter so I wouldn't freeze before I could tend to my wounds. She's saved my life, and I hers, and we trust each other."

2006-09-17, 11:55 AM
The smile on Rayvon's face disappeared as Manar asked about how he met Buddy. He sighed and patted Buddy reassuringly as the dog's head drooped. "That is a sad story Lady Manar. The short of it is I failed. Buddy was the only member of his pack I could save," Buddy gave a couple short quiet barks and Rayvon addressed him, "You need to stop blaming yourself."

2006-09-17, 03:48 PM
...push or leave alone? On anyone else, I'd be trying to talk them through it, but it'd be kind of rude to ignore Aleksei and the language barrier's going to make a mess of things... but I can't not do something... best to approach him later.

"That must've been horrible," Manar says, instinctively reaching down to give Buddy a scratch behind the ears. "Sorry to have pushed things.... you don't need to go on if it hurts too much. I will let you know, though, my Order's training includes ways to heal the soul, so if you ever need anything...."

2006-09-17, 10:04 PM
Rayvon smiled up at the tall human woman and Buddy barked twice quietly. "It doesn't hurt me anymore, at least not anymore than any failure hurts. But failing is merely a test of our faith. To continue despite failure is the strongest show of our faith. Anyway, Buddy said I should tell you the story... It was several years ago, and I had just recently been hit by a bout of wanderlust. I was heading east then, to see the great ocean in the east. I was asleep when I heard the sounds of battle and felt the taint of evil nearby. I obviously had to see what was going on. I found two packs of animals fighting, well what was left of them anyway. There was one of Buddy's pack adamantly refusing to let the remaining three worgs pass into a small cave. I rushed to help, and finished the remaining worgs, but the final guardian had passed. I went into the cave to see what was so important that an entire pack of dogs were willing to give their lives to protect, and I found Buddy. He was young then, his eyes not even open. Obviously I couldn't let their sacrifice mean nothing, so I took Buddy and raised him. A true blessing from Yondalla as it turns out. He's been a blessing on my journeys and missions."

2006-09-18, 01:05 AM
"Ohhhhh..." Manar's silent for as long as it takes to get to the kitchen. The smell of warm stew reminds her what she's supposed to be doing, though, and she opens the door and beckons her new friends in. "Right this way. Mind the first step. The communal pot's over there; grab a bowl and spoon from the rack by it, and use the ladle hanging by the main vat." She shows them how by deftly scooping up a bowl and spooning herself some stew, then waits for them to do the same before wiping whatever sticks to the spoon off with a stain-splotched towel there for such a purpose. "Sit wherever you like; most of the evening crowd's gone by now, so there'll be plenty open," she says as she does so, gesturing at the rows of sparsely populated tables with the ladle before hanging it back where it belongs.

2006-09-18, 11:15 AM
Rayvon walked quietly to the dining hall. He'd taken time to clean up before arriving, but he hadn't taken the time to eat. He spooned Buddy a bowl, taking care to add a few extra chunks of meat to it, then took a large, for a halfling, portion himself. "Do you know anything of what is going on Lady Manar?"

2006-09-18, 07:34 PM
Manar smiles and starts in on her portion. "The only thing I've heard that you haven't is 'Could you make yourself useful getting everyone settled in?'; sad to say, nothing else they've told me has been anything resembling an answer, and His Grace is always busy. Pity, that, since every time I run into someone I find a few more questions...." She shakes her head. "But for now, all we can do is settle in and get to know each other, I guess."

2006-09-18, 07:37 PM
"We're the first ones here then?" Buddy yelped and Rayvon said, "Buddy would like to be excused to explore."

2006-09-19, 02:23 AM
"Shouldn't be a problem if he explores a bit; he'll know how to find us, right?" She smiles at Buddy again, then turns her attention back to Rayvon. "You're not first, though; first was a paladin of Tyr who goes by Samson. He arrived earlier today. We might run into him at some point; you'll know him when you see him, I think. He stands out."

2006-09-19, 09:44 AM
As soon as Manar gave permission Buddy trotted off towards the door, pausing for a second before disappearing through it, "He'll be able to find me, yes. Why does he stand out anymore than the rest?"

2006-09-19, 05:04 PM
"You'll see." Manar smiles mysteriously. "Let's just say he's head and shoulders above all of us, hm?"

I've probably been hanging around Florian far too long.... ah, well. A little mystery's good for all of us.

"Soooo.... if you don't mind my asking, how'd you end up walking the paladin's path?"

2006-09-19, 05:42 PM
"You certainly know how ask slightly painful questions don't you?" *He frowned thoughtfully and paused for a moment, "Let's just say I'm ashamed that it took tragedy and betrayal to start me down the road to salvation."

2006-09-19, 05:54 PM
...and people want me to do this why? If I can't even open my mouth without hitting something sensitive...

"I'm sorry.... I guess since most of the stories I've heard from members of my Order about the kinds of things I'm asking were generally pleasant memories, I didn't think..." Manar becomes VERY interested in what's left of her stew.

....and that's going to help even less. Though given the order, you'd think.... gah, shows what happens when you try to generalize, doesn't it? Merciful Lathander, why me?

2006-09-19, 08:12 PM
Rayvon smiled at the tall human woman, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be what I am, despite the pain of the passing. It's like being reborn, which in a sense it was. I was just a fool not to see my path earlier. I was a vagabond and a delinquent after I was old enough that the orphanage couldn't keep me anymore. Always looking for the easy way, or the fast way, or the fun way. I was more interested in myself than others. When you grow up with nothing sometimes you get selfish," he sighed and looked at the ceiling for a moment. "It took a young priestess to mature me, losing her to set me in motion, and the matron mother to focus me down this path. I was lucky, one small difference and I could be down an entirely different route. I thank Yondalla I wasn't found wanting."

2006-09-20, 05:10 PM
Manar smiles back. "That actually sounds a lot like most of the stories that come out of my Order; we're focused on turnarounds, after all, so rare's the person who doesn't have at least a few spots coming in. Theoretically, I'm one of the relatively clean ones, but given that I was a performer first, I've seen people who'd argue that that isn't the case--and hey, that's their opinion, so I'm not going to worry about it. But we've always believed that the ones best suited to bring people to the light are those who know of its power for change...." She finishes off her stew. "Dirty dishes go in that tub in the corner, by the way," she adds, pointing to a wooden tub, half-filled with water, with her spoon.

2006-09-20, 05:37 PM
Rayvon chuckled, "A performer huh? Explains why you were set to greeting us. Any suggestions on what to do while we wait for the rest?"

2006-09-20, 06:05 PM
"Well.... there's some nice trails out back for hiking; there's getting cleaned up and ready, not that that generally takes too long--" ...as I had to figure out the hard way...., "--there's general exploring, icebreaker games, sitting in on the services, volunteering with the people whose turn it is to take care of the domestic stuff..." She leans down and whispers conspiratorially, "And I hear they feed their volunteers," then straightens and finishes, "...anyhow, the possibilities are pretty wide. What do you usually do when you're stuck waiting? I might be able to help you figure out where's best to do it hereabouts."

2006-09-20, 08:22 PM
Rayvon smiled and pulled a pouch from his belt and dumped it carefully on the table. A few tools can be seen, as well as a half finished toy, a small knight. "Usually I make toys. Although if I get bored of that I sometimes play cards or dice..."

2006-09-21, 06:55 PM
Manar's smile widens. "That's wonderful! I've never managed to do anything more complicated than sewing...." She thinks for a moment, then continues, "Well, we've got workrooms indoors and nice quiet places outdoors.... and I know if nothing else we can see about continuing our language exchange with Aleksei, if he's still willing--there's also some lovely trails out back to look around. Including one that goes to a lookout point partway up the eastern face of the mountain, so if you time it right you get the most beautiful sunrise view. People from my Order visiting make a point of seeing it at least once; it's a strong experience for us." Speaking of which, I should probably find time sometime during this visit. Maybe tomorrow morning, if we don't get any early birds....

2006-09-21, 07:35 PM
"Perhaps, new sights are always impressive, and a part of our faith. If you're really interested in languages, I will teach you how to understand Buddy. Unfortunately we kind of need him to be here, I can't begin to duplicate some of the sounds he makes."

2006-09-22, 01:41 PM
Aleksei had ducked out earlier, and most everyone else had cleared out of the mess hall while the two talked. But as they sat, a distinct clop-clop-clop sound of hooves could be heard coming down the hall, and they both turned to look at the newcomer.

It was really hard to measure exactly how big Samson was as he passed through the door, which was big enough that he did not have to bend over. But when he saw Manar, his face lit up and he walked over, and it became immediately apparant how large he stood.

Rayvon had never actually seen a minotaur before, though he certainly knew of them from tales, and to say he was stunned to see one of these legendary monsters walk into the room, let alone be dressed in obviously religous vestments, is quite the understatement.

2006-09-22, 01:58 PM
Rayvon looked confused for a moment, then chuckled. "I understand now," he said as he rose. "The first arrival I assume? I am Rayvon."

2006-09-22, 02:20 PM
Samson runs his hand through his freshly trimmed hair, and he looks a bit confused.

First arrival? I assure you, there were others here when I came. But I am Samson, paladin of Tyr. Sir Rayvon, what brings you here?

He reaches out to shake hands with the halfling, and finds his hand to be about as long as Rayvon's arm.

He looks towards Manar.

Lady Manar, how has your evening been? For my part, I was able to locate a barber. I am most pleased with his work. After that, I retired to my quarters for a short rest, and then hunger woke me. Pardon me for a moment.

He motions to the kitchen, and then turns, going and getting a large helping of whatever meat is available, along with some stew and a beverage. When he returns, he sits, gingerly testing the chair before letting his whole weight rest upon it.

They have well-made furniture here. Sir Rayvon, where do you come from?

2006-09-22, 07:27 PM
"I'm glad you could join us. We've another new arrival as well, though he wandered off a bit ago; I'll introduce you when he gets back." Manar smiles. "Good to see you've been finding everything you need; as for me, well.... I've been busy. 'S fun, though. By the time this's over, I imagine I'll be grateful for having met so many people, though for now it's more along the lines of wishing they'd either get here all at once and get it over with or one at a time." She laughs.

2006-09-22, 11:17 PM
Samson nods.

I too am eager to meet with this leader and find out what caused us to be summoned. There must be dark forces at work. Did you know that this temple has the symbol of the morninglord built into its walls? I was just noticing that while exploring the second level. I was amazed.

Samson begins to eat quickly, but carefully, cutting the food before passing it through his jaws.

The chefs here are talented, but I feel like they overcooked the bird a bit.

2006-09-25, 09:34 AM
Rayvon looked like he was about to answer the minotaur's first question when Samson's attention shifted to Manar. The minotaur's attention shifted back to Rayvon and asked him another question... Rayvon's expression became quite confused. Maybe he's a bit slow in the head? Rayvon chose to ignore the questions and comment on the current line of conversation, maybe he's forgotten already anyway. "Yes, very good for human fare. If you want to see some real talent, come to a halfling village, if there was one thing I as an orphan never lacked it was good food..." he smiled then stopped for a second and looked speculatively at the minotaur, and a wide grin crossed his face, "The doors would need to be widened and the roofs lifted first though."

2006-09-25, 09:59 AM
Samson snorts, and by now Manar recognizes this as his laugh.

Even the humans had to enlarge doors for me. I wouldn't be surprised if I filled your entire common area. That, an my tastes in food are likely very different from your own. Nevertheless, I would give it a try.

Samson nods and rolls his head in a circle.

I know it is rude to interrogate, but Sir Rayvon, you never told me where you came from or why you are here.

2006-09-25, 10:13 AM
Rayvon smiled, "You seemed to be a bit distracted, I didn't want to interrupt. I was down in Baldur's Gate when I was called here. I originally hail from a small village in Cormyr. And yourself?"

2006-09-25, 11:08 AM
Interrupting them all, Aleksei, looking a good deal cleaner than he had before, walked in with an irritated look on his face, which was replaced by shock, then determination as his hand reached for his sword, then surprise as he realized that the minotaur in this room was not rampaging and the other three were looking at him rather calmly. His mouth worked noiselessly for a moment before he plopped down across from Manar, next to the halfling, still staring at Samson while trying not to look as though he was staring.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-25, 11:22 AM
Aleksei, looking slightly stunned (and rather annoyed), took a moment to compose himself before speaking.

What is a minotaur doing here, of all places!

"...I believe I do not know your...friend, Manar. Could you perhaps introduce us properly?"

First Balthor won't even let me SEE him-let alone explain why I dragged myself through so many leagues of hostile land-, and now there's a minotaur in the common room. I suppose they do things differently this far south...

2006-09-25, 11:35 AM
Rayvon chuckled a bit, and addressed Manar,"You may want to give the rest of our arrivals a bit more warning. The rest of them may not be able to handle a, um, joke as well as Alek and myself. Although I have to admit, I might not tell them either," he grinned ear to ear, "But someone might have a weak heart and die from shock."

2006-09-25, 01:13 PM
Samson turns to face the new arrival at the table, and sees Aleksei's look of distrust.

You'd think the common room of a church would be a place for more tolerance.

Samsons eyes light up, and he speaks before Manar can.

I can speak for myself, thank you very much. I am Samson, paladin of Tyr, and I was just conversing with Sir Rayvon here before we were interrupted.

Samson blows noisily through his snout, and then turns back to Rayvon.

Sir Rayvon, I assure you I am no joke. I am here by the will of Tyr. I see more no need to warn anyone of my presence than I see to warn them of yours.

Returning to our conversation, I traveled here from a small monastery located in the Greypeak mountains.

2006-09-25, 01:30 PM
Rayvon stopped smiling and frowned, a decidedly foreign look on his cheerful face, "I'm sorry to tell you this Samson, but you're different. I'm not being rude or mean, this is merely fact. And unfortunately there are many, many people who would strike first and ask questions later, as I'm sure you've discovered on your travels. A bit of a warning isn't too much to ask. And I have seen the prejudice too Samson, don't think I haven't. I'm either too small to protect myself, or a thief who'll take anything that isn't nailed down, when neither is the truth."

2006-09-25, 01:49 PM
Samson looks back at Rayvon, and you get the feeling that he has said what he is about to say several times.

But to acknowledge that difference, and to warn others of my presence, merely reinforces the idea that there is something naturally wrong about me that requires special warning. I would rather risk physical attack than give credence to that mindset. I am a paladin, just as you are, and I won't agree to be treated differently from any other paladin.

2006-09-25, 02:22 PM
Rayvon shook his head and said, "I beg to differ... How many minotaurs do you see here? I believe that that does make you, how did you say it, 'naturally wrong', here, in this setting. Actually in my travels you're the first minotaur I've seen, which puts you out of place in almost every setting. You are correct, we are all chosen representatives of our deity, but we are, first and foremost, mortal and therefore flawed. We don't live in a perfect world, however much we try to make it so."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-25, 02:42 PM
Aleksei jerks upright at the gentle admonition.

"My...my apologies, Samuilovich Rytsar. I meant no discourtesy, though I admit my manner has been...off. The lord of these place will not see me, and I have traveled many miles to get here, through bandits and, I fear, some of your kind that have not seen the light. It is an honor to meet you, Samuilovich."

2006-09-25, 03:24 PM
Samson smiles at Rayvon's words.

I agree. The world is imperfect. And part of my ... of our... struggle is to try to treat an imperfect world as perfectly as we can. Let me just say that I find it best to be the change I want to see in the world. If what I suspect is true, however, we will have ample time to discuss the difference further.

Samson turns his attention to the new arrival, and finds himself a bit confounded by his speech.

Sam-wheel-oh-vist Rit-star?

He pauses, thinking for a second.

I am Samson, and unsure why you said something different. I can only assume that we are not being seen because it is not yet time for us to be seen. Things happen at their own rate, and rushing them is folly.

2006-09-25, 04:27 PM
Rayvon chuckled and decided to let the line of conversation die quietly. Pretending the world is perfect isn't what a paladin is about, but to protect those few perfect things against evil, perhaps Samson will learn this one day. "Perhaps something to pass the time while we wait? I have a set of dice or cards. Otherwise I'm going to go down to the docks and see if the fish are biting."

2006-09-25, 05:24 PM
....I'm impressed. Conflict and resolution in the time it took for me to figure out what to say--but I still have to say it, I think. Florian would be upset with me for not pointing out something this important.

Manar had stayed out of the way of the argument to collect her thoughts, but observes, "Under normal circumstances, Rayvon, I would agree with your point, but given that we are in the middle of a temple, and that Samson is wearing the garb of a holy warrior, anyone I would be likely to introduce him to here who would smite first and ask questions later doesn't deserve to wear their Order's emblem." She shrugs. "At least, that was what my mentor always told me about fighting without thinking. But we should find something to do; which games do you prefer, Rayvon?"

2006-09-25, 05:33 PM
"You're quite right Lady Manar, but then again it isn't very nice being surprised in such a way either is it? People can't always control their initial reactions, and feel bad about them afterwards. This is all a part of that imperfect world I was speaking of early. Anyway, as for which games, any, I love learning new games. Dragon's Talon or King's Crown are good ones."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-25, 06:03 PM
Aleksei turns to Samson.

"It is your name, in my native tongue. Sir Son of Samuel. I feel more comfortable with formal titles in it."

He returns to the others and smiles.

"Games, eh? I'll play any you've got. Used to be that's all I did between fights-gamble and...well...Anyway, what ones do you people know?"

2006-09-25, 06:35 PM
"Have game, will play." Manar grins. "Guests' choice, gentlemen."

2006-09-25, 08:35 PM
Samson slides back in his chair.

I will be content watching. Maybe I will join in a bit.

2006-09-25, 09:40 PM
"Would you teach us one of your games Alek," Rayvon asked. "I've never actually been near your homeland, one of the few places I've missed," he said as the natural grin fell back to his face.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-26, 01:20 AM
Aleskei grins, and his eyes light up.

"Well, here's one we played in the Hussars when we were between missions...not that we were for too long, being that we were the Hussars, but it's not hard to learn. It's called Gyal."

He winks as he begins dealing. "I'm not very good at it, though."

The game is a modified trick-based card game with some unusual trump rules, but as he said it is not difficult to learn.

2006-09-26, 02:35 AM
Rayvon looked at the man with an amused look, "Of course not," and he chuckled, "It doesn't matter how good or bad they are, everyone always says that," and he started to learn the rules of the new game. It becomes fairly obvious he knows what he's doing, at least in the short term.

2006-09-26, 09:34 AM
As the game goes on, Samson watches the cards change hands, trying to gain some insight into the strategy.

After a time, he stands, and walks around the common room, stretching his legs. He then returns to the table.

I think I will join the game, if it is possible to include me at this stage.

2006-09-26, 11:14 AM
The card game went on for a little while in a friendly fashion in the near abandoned mess hall. Aleksei, actively trying to overcome his active discomfort with the minotaur, offered to team up with him in another four man game called Kings and Dragons. The stakes grew higher when Rayvon, leaning back and obviously enjoying himself immensely, tossed a gold coin in the middle of the table and suggested that they try their luck in gambling with each other. "A friendly wager," he said with a wink.

2006-09-26, 01:01 PM
Samson shakes his head.

If it is all the same to you, I'd prefer not to bet.

He leans back in his chair a little and yawns, grabbing his left horn as he stretches.

It's a new game, and I have traveled far.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-26, 01:05 PM
Aleksei smiles. "As have I, friend, but I shall match good Rayvon's wager for us. I have played this game many times, and it has peaceful memories for me."

I was hasty, I think. Samson seems every bit the paladin-including the straitlaced mores. Ah well, we can't ALL be like me, or our reputation wouldn't be so pearly white!

"Let's see...the last time I played this game, we were charged with hunting bandits in the hill-country..."

2006-09-26, 01:19 PM
Rayvon shrugged, "It's fine either way. I've found that games are more fun if there is something at stake, people try harder." He laughed as Aleksei went on with his story. At an appropriate time Rayvon interjected,"That reminds me of when I played this last... I tracked one of my assignments down in Calimport. I'd been travelling through the desert for the last week and stopped in at a tavern to rest and gather a bit of information on the area. Ironic thing was my partner was the man I'd been sent to find. Decent player too, when he wasn't cheating," he chuckled a bit.

2006-09-26, 02:36 PM
Manar also tosses a coin onto the table. "My last time, Florian and I were still on circuit. Ran into one of the worst cases on the street, and Florian set up the strangest wager I'd heard at the time--his coin against the other guy's willingness to try out living for the good of others. The look on his face when Florian won was priceless. Utterly, utterly priceless. We always say, fit the weapon to the situation!"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-09-26, 03:05 PM
Aleksei gets a good chuckle out of that. "And did this man make good his wager? I'd think that precious few would hold to such a promise after you left."

2006-09-26, 03:44 PM
"Yep. The guy's one point of honor was that he always made good on his debts, and besides, Florian made sure there'd be someone keeping an eye on whether he did or not." Manar grins. "We're not as blindly idealistic as the other Orders paint us, after all."

2006-09-26, 07:30 PM

I agree with that. Although gambling hasn't been critical to any of my missions.

I've never been much of a card player. I always preferred puzzles. When I was young, I was given a set of stone pieces, and told they could be assembled into a square in three unique ways. The first two I found quickly, but it was 5 months of playing at it before I found the third combination. That was most satisfying.

Samson continues to try to play with the others as best he can.

2006-09-26, 09:40 PM
You wouldn't be able to remember how they were designed do you, Samson? It might be a good addition for my toys," he said as he studied his cards.

2006-09-27, 11:54 AM
The game went on for another 30 minutes before they all finally agreed to go to bed. Rayvon wandered out with Buddy to sleep at the inn he was staying at, and the other three settled down in the guest quarters at the very large temple.

It had been a very odd day, to say the least.

The next morning, everyone but Rayvon met again in the mess hall for breakfast. The small paladin was nowhere to be seen. Samson got many stares, some of them hostile, and it was disconcerting to receive them even in a temple, but he had grown used to them over the years. Late in the morning, Rayvon still had not shown up, and Manar had ducked away to write a letter arranging some personal business back at her monastary, leaving the other two to wander the city or the temple as they so desired.

In the middle of writing, there came a knock on her door, and the same messenger poked his head in. "Lady Manar, you are needed at the East entrance right away!" Tucking the letter away, she raced out there and waited for only a few minutes before seeing two figures on horses, trotting up the walk. One bore the obvious livery of a Herald of Torm, and the other wore much simpler clothing. These had to be the next two arrivals.

Standing in the center of the walkway, she stood out from the crowd, and the two newcomers saw her in the same instant she saw them.

2006-09-27, 03:25 PM
Here we go again.... may as well get all the important stuff out of the way at once.

"Greetings!" Manar calls, pitching her voice to carry to them as she steps forward. "Welcome to the Temple of the Morninglord; my name is Manar Ryanelle, and I have been instructed to be your guide until someone sees fit to tell us why we have all been summoned. Unfortunately, His Grace is not currently seeing people, so no, none of us have any idea what is going on, but I can and will attempt to answer any and all other questions you might have. May I have your names, please?"

Memory for later: Find out how many more people are coming. That or spend the next forty-eight hours doing things it'd be bad to be interrupted at, since that seems to be when everyone arrives.

2006-09-27, 04:09 PM
The first of the two riders squeezed his horse's flanks with his knees lightly, guiding her towards the waiting woman gracefully without needing to use the sable courser's decorative harness. "Herald Owyn and Squire Malfirin, at your service, ma'am." He had a clear baritone voice obviously accustomed to speaking above noisy backgrounds, and as he took off his oddly styled helmet, shoulder-length blonde hair burnished to gold by the sun. His face was weathered and tanned by long years of exposure to the elements; high prominent cheekbones behind an arched aristocratic nose and almond-shaped eyes marked him as clearly half-elven. That, plus the lines around his eyes, meant that he was likely twice the age of the woman meeting him.

Certainly, his equipment spoke of long years of travel. While his clothes were of Cormyrian silk and fine leather, they were cut in a fashion more common to northern Moon elf hunters and scouts, a close-fitting mix between court dress and practical wear in browns and greens. His boots were also finely made; their spurs were brightly polished but looked both removable and not particularly useful in goading a recalcitrant horse. Chain clinked beneath his tabard as he dismounted, the bright silver of mithral, and he bore a sword with no brightwork but an elaborate iron hilt.

Holding his reins in one hand, Owyn turned towards Manar only to reveal that he was almost a foot shorter. Though he was definitely looking up at her face, he managed to give the impression of meeting her eye to eye, on even ground. "You said 'us'; may I assume that we're to be working together shortly?" His eyes flicked over Manar, evaluating her in an entirely professional manner, then he smiled warmly and extended a hand. "I'm afraid I don't recognize you; it's been several years since my duties last brought me here."

2006-09-27, 07:37 PM

Trailing the herald, sitting somewhat uncertainly atop a slender brown mare, is an attractive young human man. His hair looks to have been cut recently and inexpertly - but there is a winning smile and agile eyes beneath the uneven brow. A dusty cloak covers a tabard of Torm, and there is the telltale clink of metal beneath that. A short sword is at his belt, and his horse is laden with two bulging bags and a small bow.

He follows close behind Owyn, and dismounts as the other man does - a bit more jerkily. As he straightens his attire, it's clear that he's only a few inches taller than Owyn, and almost as slender.

Malfrin bobs his head at the beautiful lady - Manar, was it? He tries hard not to stare at the golden-haired vision that Owyn is greeting, and so looks

up at the other warrior greeting them. And up. And up. Wow. Minotaurs look WAY different up close. And they smell...kind of good, actually. Warm. Comforting. And, of course, incredibly lethal.

With a clear lack of assurance, Malfrin smiles brightly at the massive minotaur and extends his hand.

Um, Malfrin, at your service, sir.

So he looks at the ground. The ceiling. The walls. And then just gives up and stares at the lady.

Hi there. Malfrin. Squire. Pleased to meet you.

2006-09-27, 09:47 PM
"It's not surprising you don't; I'm only just past circuit training with the Dawn's Cleansing Light." Manar half-smiles. "I'm not entirely sure if we will be working together once everyone knows what's going on, but I'd assume so. Pleased to meet the both of you; shall I show you to the stables? I imagine you've been on the road for a while; where were you when the summons came?"

2006-09-27, 10:09 PM
The mare's ears pricked up at the notion of stables, and Owyn smiled. "Please, I'm sure Lady would love the chance to stay in a proper stable. I don't get to pamper her nearly as often as she deserves." He pats her flank with long familiarity, and she whickers. "I'm sure Malfrin's horse would rather be stabled as well, poor thing. Lady and I aren't used to traveling at a normal horse's pace."

Owyn followed her towards the stables, continuing to speak. "I was most recently in Baldur's Gate, delivering messages there, so it wasn't a bad ride at all. Once my duties there were fulfilled, Malfrin and I made haste here, but it was not at all unpleasant." Though Manar is leading the way, Owyn obviously knows it; in fact, it looks almost as if Lady is leading him. "If it's not too much trouble, after we've stabled, I'd like to meet the others. Are we the last to arrive?"

2006-09-28, 02:45 AM
Manar nods to Lady and leads the way. "Rest assured, they know how to treat our divine companions here. You can get a room adjoining her accomodations as well, if you would prefer that... and as for whether you're the last, I don't know. I wasn't given numbers or when to expect everyone, just told that if someone was seen coming I'd be called to the gate. You should've seen the look on my face when our third guest came through while I was trying to greet the second." She laughs. "You'll run into the others soon enough; most likely over dinner, since that seems to be the most convenient time for everyone to walk into the same room."

2006-09-28, 02:58 AM
Owyn shakes his head and smiles. "Please, it would be discourteous of me to stay with my Lady here and not partake of your generous hospitality. She and I have traveled together for enough years not to get lonely the first time we part. I will take care of her myself, as will Malfrin take care of his mount, but afterwards I would be glad to join you for whatever meal you may be eating." His statement about Malfrin's horse seemed to be mostly for his squire's benefit; less a chastisement and more a gentle reminder of priorities. Owyn proceeded to unsaddle and brush his mount, taking care of her water and food with the ease of long practice. The process was made quicker by Lady's adroit assistance in the matter, freeing Owyn to watch his squire and point out occasional mistakes or overlooked pieces of work.

2006-09-30, 03:15 PM

The squire nods at Owyn's gentle direction, and does what he can to follow the much older paladin's lead with his own horse.

C'mere, Slim. And...sweeping back from the ears. Back from the ears. Ack! Yes, sir.

When the grooming is nearly complete, Malfrin turns back to Owyn and Malar. His words come in a rush.

I would be honoured to complete this task on my own, sir. You have travelled far, and deserve to rest. If you wish, I will see to the packs and bedding as well. And shall I inquire with the smithy about assistance with that place in your armour where the ogre caught you, er, unawares, sir?

With a small bow and head bob to Manar, Malfrin smiles and awaits instructions.

2006-09-30, 04:10 PM
Owyn narrows his eyes at Malfrin. "Malfrin! I've already told you, I don't need a bodyservant. You've traveled as far as I have, on a worse mount, my armor is fine, and you really need to stop worrying about propriety! I already told you, I'm not that kind of knight!" He looks at Manar abruptly, suddenly realizing that his discussion - or argument - had an audience. "Ehm, I apologize, milady, err... we've only recently begun traveling with each other." Unsuccessfully trying not to turn red, Owyn turns back to his squire. "Besides, it's more important that you finish in time to get some food before we make use of this temple's salle. Your footwork is alright, but your swings still could use more force. You're not knife-fighting anymore, boy, so until you learn better you're going to be doing crescent moon drills until you can't feel your arms, at which point we're switching to lunges."

2006-09-30, 04:39 PM

Malfrin endures the upbraiding with a certain twinkle.

All right. I just figured you'd want to be a bit more proper in front a strangers. I'm sure Slim won't mind being called a worse horse, 'cause she knows how much I've come to love her.

And I'll tell the smithy that you'll come see them yourself about the torn links in your armour's butt.

Knowing that he'll pay dearly for this in his training session this evening, Malfrin is nonetheless incapable of suppressing a grin. He returns to complete Slim's grooming.

2006-09-30, 04:50 PM
Owyn turns an even brighter shade of red and stiffly turns around to continue his care of Lady, who whickers in a suspiciously snicker-like fashion. Of course, Owyn takes the opportunity to brush slightly too hard, then adroitly dodges a mock-bite at the side of his head. His ceremonial herald's tunic covers his body down to the back of his knees, but it can be noticed that he tends to squat rather than leaning over when picking things up, and that he is jingling slightly more than chainmail tends to when in proper repair.

2006-10-01, 03:27 PM
Manar's smile widens somewhat, though she doesn't quite snicker, but she can't resist the opening. "Not to worry, gentlemen, you'll find everything you need, so we can safely say it'll all come out right in the end."

She beckons them towards the main building. "The kitchen's this way, and the training grounds are down the path here and to the right... might it be possible for me to join you? I haven't been knocked around a ring since near the end of my circuit training, and there's only so much I can do alone." Besides, in his eyes I probably deserve to take a few falls after that last line....

2006-10-01, 03:47 PM

Very quietly, and shielded from the eyes of both senior paladins by Slim's body, Malfrin falls in love. In the end? My god, she's strong, beautiful AND a total cornball.

Completing his chores, Malfrin nods at Manar.

I'd be honoured to train with you, Madam. Till dinner?

With a tip of a non-existant hat, Malfrin shoulders his pack and bow, and trudges off to find his assigned lodgings.

2006-10-01, 04:42 PM
Owyn shakes his head ruefully. "Let me get my gear squared away, and then I'd be glad to train you both. I could use some practice defending against multiple opponents, and it's always good to work up an appetite before meals." That said, Owyn grabbed his backpack and hoisted it onto his shoulders, moving the apparently full bag effortlessly, picked up his shield from its pocket on his saddle, and hung the saddle on a nearby post. Giving Lady a friendly pat goodbye, Owyn stepped lively to catch up with Malfrin and Manar. "So, tell me about the rest of your visitors. Are they all knights and squires as well?"

2006-10-01, 05:24 PM
"You're the only ones who come in pairs I've seen so far," Manar replies. "So far, we've seen two of Tyr, one of Yondalla. Samson, Aleksei, and Rayvon, respectively. They all stand out a bit; Rayvon's a halfling and being followed around by a dog about as tall as he is, Aleksei's a northerner so he showed up in a fur hat, and Samson's a minotaur. Wonderful people, all of them. They've some fascinating stories."

A few steps further, and she tells Malfrin, "Here, this way. May's well get you all settled in, hm?" and proceeds to lead the visitors towards their quarters.

2006-10-02, 12:58 AM
Owyn smiled at that last, and murmured "I would imagine so", then continued with a quizzical look on his face. "Are these others also Lathanderites, then? Torm's is not yet a numerous faith, though its followers compensate with zeal what they lack in manpower. I am personally familiar with most, if not all, of the knights in my Lord's service, and I know of few northmen, few halflings, and not a single minotaur, save that which decorates Sir Derrick's trophy wall." In a slightly lower tone, he continued "and Gods know how many times we all heard him talk about how he killed it, with only a broken sword and his eating knife as weaponry - while he was alive, anyways, rest his soul."

2006-10-02, 10:35 AM

A northerner, a halfling and a minotaur. Sounds like the start of a joke, back home. Hmm.

Following, Malfrin smiles at Owyn's story, and murmurs the the traditional Torm take him to his rest at the mention of Sir Derrick.

At their quarters, Malfrin forces himself NOT to automatically scan for possible hiding places and points of emergency egress. You're an invited guest here, stupid. Nobody's going to come after you for your bed. Smiling warmly and with gratitude to both Manar and Owyn, he pipes up.

Thanks again, Lady Manar. Now, I don't know about both of you, but this squire is going to find some hot water to soak his saddle-sore ass in.

Abruptly, he turns and goes into his chamber, trying to hide his own reddening face.

ASS? You tell Lady Manar about your ASS? Smooth move, Squire Manure For Brains.

2006-10-02, 01:37 PM
Aside from a muttered "Decorum, Malfrin", Owyn doesn't criticize his squire overmuch on his choice of language. While the boy earned a little bit of teasing for his earlier remarks, Owyn thought, this is a new situation for him, and he's reverting to behaviors that make him comfortable. He'll earn his penance on the battlefield - though if the two of them team up on me, it might be me that earns his bumps and bruises. That boy is deadly accurate in close quarters, for sure.

Owyn went to his quarters and squared away his gear, then went back outside to wait for Malfrin before they headed to the practice grounds. In his combat dress, Owyn is quite lightly armored, wearing only a silvery chainmail hauberk and a similarly colored cap, with chain to protect the neck and back that is covered by a white burnoose. His shield is fairly traditional, and uncovered reveals the emblem of Torm with no family name nor noble background accompanying the religious insignia. His sword appears to be a lighter blade, an intermediate type between a saber and a rapier of austerely fine and unornamented quality; little else is noticeable while it is still sheathed. He is also carrying a well-nocked and dented practice sword of an unusual round wood; bound with leather are covered slots into which may be inserted lead weights to adjust the blade's balance and weight.

2006-10-02, 11:08 PM
Manar shakes her head. "Nah, I'm the only Lathanderite of the six of us who've arrived so far--that includes the two of you, of course. You might even have run into Rayvon en route; he said he'd come from that way as well. Oh--give me a moment, my mentor'd have my ears if he knew I messed up my blues swordswinging when I had a choice." She vanishes into her own room, returning not long after in leather armor and a somewhat stained green undershirt, her hair in the closest approximation of a ponytail she can manage for its length. "Much better. All right, Sir Owyn, I'm ready to be reminded how the ground tastes, once Squire Malfrin's ready. While we're waiting..." All right, what can I ask that won't be too sensitive? "...how does your Order determine who squires whom and for how long?"

2006-10-02, 11:29 PM

The teen steps back into the hallway just in time to hear Manar's question.

With a twisted sense of humour, and until they no longer find it amusing, I think.

Malfrin hasn't changed much, but a ton of the dust from the road has been scrubbed away. He's donned a steel cap that tufts of his hair manage to find a way out from underneath. He wears a chain shirt similar to Owyn's, but with a plain woolen burnoose. He has strapped a simple buckler onto his right arm, and the copper pommel of his sword glints as it swings from his belt. Malfrin's boots have seen better times, but they're about as polished as the leather permits.

Malfrin almost flinches at the sight of Owyn's practice swords. He mentally reviews, and tries to think if there's any part of his body that hasn't been bruised, battered or accidentally crushed, either through his own misstep, or through Owyn's 'gentle' instruction.

In truth, Owyn's been a patient guide and teacher, and I'm grateful to be in his service.

Bowing to the senior knights, he indicates that they should precede him, if they wish.

Not that saying that will get me out of extra drilling tonight.

2006-10-03, 12:53 AM
Manar chuckles and teasingly asks, "Then would you prefer I take the roundabout route and show you some of the sights, or just bring you straight there and get this over with?" Without waiting for an answer she leads her two guests through the halls (showing them the sights en route, as well as she can--a few statues here, a particularly spectacular window there, and of course the kitchen when her path takes her past it) and into the salle, pausing only to pick up a practice sword of her own at the entrance with a nod and smile to the temple armsmaster. "Well... here we are." She gestures in front of her at the salle; it's wide and open, the floor is covered with fresh sawdust that gives off a cedary aroma, and scattered throughout are knots of people and individuals sparring, or performing their exercises, or otherwise training.

2006-10-03, 10:49 AM

Malfrin tries his best to keep up with Manar's tour, but managed to do little more than gawp at the finery of the temple.

Wow. They probably have nice stuff like this in the temple of Lathander in Suzail, but not in the front room. There, they got one big statue, but everything smaller is pretty much nailed down.

He pauses. Nope. No good way to fix that.

I hear.

Malfrin tries to walk with confidence into the salle. There, he unstraps his sword and lays it carefully aside, then goes through the regimen of prayer and stretches that Owyn had not quite literally beaten into him, and looks around at the others working out in the salle.

2006-10-03, 10:52 AM
One figure immediately stood out - the minotaur, wielding a huge greatsword, was beating the stuffing out of a dummy. Slow, but deliberate, each blow was well placed. Most of the other warriors gave him a wide berth, all except for one figure, leaning on his sword and watching. As the group approached, they could see that it was Aleksei, catching his breath. Rayvon was nowhere to be seen.

2006-10-03, 11:46 AM
Owyn began stretching and praying with Malfrin, but didn't really bother to pay too much attention to how the squire was doing it. As far as he was concerned, Malfrin knew how already, and if he didn't stretch properly, it would be his own miserable hamstrings in the morning. That, and he had teased the boy enough already today - though maintaining his impassive demeanor on the walk to the salle had been difficult.

"Samson! and you must be Aleksei!" Owyn called out, sparing a moment to wave a hand before returning to his leg stretch. "Would either of you care for a few more sparring partners? I'm sure that if the dummy would talk, it would probably concede defeat." Owyn grinned as he spoke, looking at the tattered training mannequin. With that, he stood up and bowed slightly in the other paladin's direction, more of a habitual action than anything else. "Herald Owyn and Squire Malfrin of Torm, at your service." The formal bow quickly metamorphosed into a handshake of friendly camraderie with the first of the two to approach.

2006-10-03, 01:57 PM
Samson leans down on his sword, eyeing the new arrivals. He walks over, and offers his massive hand in a greeting.

I am Samson, Paladin of Tyr. It is good to meet you, Sir Owyn and Sir Malfrin.

He steps to the side, and bows low.

And Lady Manar, it is good to have your company again.

Stepping back, he turns to Owyn.

Well, I accept your offer. How does your squire fight?

Samson looks over Malfrin.

I figure he'll do fine. I propose the practice to be Malfrin and I against Owyn, Manar, and Aleksei.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-03, 02:23 PM
Aleksei smiles, and bows formally. "Aleksei Fedotovich Rytsar, chosen of Tyr. A great pleasure to meet you and your squire, Sir Owyn."

Aleksei wears his battle-gear to practice: embossed mithril breastplate, a plain tunic and pants, and yellow leather boots. He still bears the old, somewhat beat-up plain shield he came into the city with, but his normal blade is nowhere in evidence. Instead, Aleksei has a practice saber, long and somewhat curved, with a very blunt edge.

"I would gladly accept more sparring partners. My morning drills were quite dull until Sir Samson here showed up, and I think the more the better. I believe the arrangement will be fair, Sir Samson, though I've no measure of the skill of our newcomers. I am ready...shall we?"

Aleksei smoothly drops into a fighting stance, shield up and sword ready. His motions speak of many years of experience, and his eyes betray no hint of his next action.

2006-10-03, 02:42 PM
Manar half-smiles, steps back next to Aleksei and brings up her own practice blade, her stance balanced and her eyes darting between her opponents. "Works for me."

Here's hoping I don't come across as too rusty... I've a reputation to uphold, after all.

2006-10-03, 04:44 PM
Owyn smiled politely, but his voice had a hint of enthusiasm as he squared his shield towards the newcomer and hefted his sword up over his shoulder. "Malfrin and I are rather skilled at working together, and have some practice with it; it should do us well to encounter each other's fighting styles when both of us have groups at our back." Though he says this, his eyes are firmly fixed on his larger, more capable foe. I know how Malfrin fights... one or the other of my partners should be able to keep him off our backs while the other two of us tackle Samson. He's big, and strong, but if he's not as good as he thinks he is, he's being very cocky... There was an additional edge to Owyn's smile, but he refrained from mentioning anything of the sort. Humility in all things, after all - it is entirely possible that this character is good enough to take on two trained knights by himself; if so, this bodes well for whatever venture we're about to embark upon. If not, well, best he learns it now, before he has to learn a lesson taught with steel.

2006-10-03, 07:11 PM

The squire draws his short sword, the blade gleaming reddish in the light of the salle, and nods to the massive minotaur.

Sir Samson, I'd be honoured. I'll, uh...do my best.

Owyn's already sizing up Big Fuzzy as a threat. Probably aiming to teach me more by leaving me to one of the other two. Maybe I can use that.

Malfrin steps over close, but not too close, to the mighty minotaur. In marked contrast to the cool-headed Northerner, his eyes have already started darting around the room, looking at the floor, the other sparring couples, even the ceiling. Trying to take it all in before the mock-combat begins. As the others gather, he drops into a very low fighting stance. And waits.

2006-10-04, 12:18 PM
Sparring is different than real combat. Holding back even a little can alter the course of the fight, and in this case, it favored the minotaur and the squire. Quickly working out a combined fighting style where the bull-man swung large and wide keeping the others at a distance, while the much smaller squire stayed right up against the larger creature and jabbing at anyone who came close, the two of them successfully fought off the other three.

Later, while laughing over the bruises, Owyn commented that had he really been fighting, his slice across the back of Samson’s legs in an unguarded moment would have hamstrung him, while the minotaur’s swings did a good job of simulating the actual damage his greatsword would cause. He snorted in agreement, and pointed out as well that Manar’s strike to his ally’s head would have killed him outright or at least spun him to the ground, making the ground dangerous to walk on. “Blood is quite slippery,” Aleksei agreed.

But Owyn did not give Malfrin much time to rest. True to his promise, he set him to drills that left the young man drenched in sweat and utterly exhausted, though Owyn did everything his squire did and more, leaving him almost as tired as his young charge. Then, to drive the point home, he sat with him and taught him that a paladin, even when tired, must always give his devotions to his god, and they spent thirty minutes in prayer and meditation.

All said, it was a long evening and a tiring one. Rayvon joined them for dinner and seemed amused at the tiredness of the others. He talked about his explorations of the city and told them about a spot he always fished in every time he came here. “If you have trouble finding me around here, odds are good I’ll be there,” he said, and then described the location of the little private spot he had discovered.

After dinner, Rayvon left again, and the rest performed their evening prayers and collapsed into bed.

Manar stayed up later than the rest, finishing her letter and then thinking about her assignment. She had no idea when exactly she had drifted off to sleep, but the candle had burned out sometime after her eyes had closed, so when the pounding came on her door, she leapt up and barked her shin on the little table by her bed. Trying to shake off the sleep and fighting the pain at the same time, she rubbed her leg while muttering, “Hang on, hang on.” Fumbling in the dark, she finally found her tinderbox and lit a lamp. She looked down and realized she had fallen asleep in her clothes, so she opened her door to see the same messenger, also seemingly just woken up.

Apologetically, he said, “Lady Ryanelle, the last arrival will be here shortly at the west gate.”

“What time is it?” she asked as she rubbed her eyes.

“The crier just called 2 in the morning not five minutes ago.” He winced in sympathy, and then stumbled back to his own quarters on the other side of the temple. She hastily shut the door, threw on her blues, and raced, half limping, to the west gate. Once there, she sat quietly, rubbing her leg and being tempted to heal the minor pain herself despite Florian’s instructions that her holy power was not for personal comfort. Aside from the guards, her sleepy eyes could not see any other person, but after a few minutes, a splashing noise inside the temple caught her attention.

Oh, no – did changing my clothes let whoever it was slip inside before I could catch them? Fearing the answer was yes, she limped back inside to the courtyard and looked towards the noise. One of the four fountains in the dark corners of the temple courtyard was occupied. This was an unusual enough figure that she knew immediately that her delay in her room had created a rather awkward situation.

There was a naked man in the fountain.

2006-10-04, 12:20 PM
The Lady Favored of the Light walked with her due sense of purpose toward the fountain. The man - slight of build, dark of color and somewhat shorter than average for this part of Toril - stood with his back to her. He was bent down, washing himself in the fountain. Just as she was about to say something, he spun around, a crossbow held at arm's length and aimed directly at her head. He stood with a grim look on his face for a full two heartbeats. The look changed briefly to confusion and... dissapointment? before he obviously recognized the impropriety of the situation.

He quickly put down the weapon and picked up a piece of white cloth from the edge of the fountain. Placing the cloth, apparently some sort of headdress, on his bald head, he quickly hopped out of the fountain.

With his head properly covered and more at ease, he bowed deeply, and in a heavily accented Common, said, "I plead my sorrow. It was desirable to wash the dust of many roads before giving my report." Turning, the man began picking up his clothes. "If it please the lord of this house, I will dress a moment." The man placed a robe on his shoulders, bracers on his wrists, and quickly laced up some sandals. Then he gathered a shoulder-slug bag, and a belt with a sword, mace and a number of other attachments hanging on it. He placed the crossbow in a holster on a bandolier over his left shoulder and the bag over his right.

Finally, decked out in all his gear, he turned back to the woman and bowed again, quite deeply, "May it please the Lord of the Dead, the Lord of the Morning and the lord of this house, Amun Natsur comes as called."

Amun remains fully bowed until spoken to.

2006-10-04, 03:33 PM
In the time between the crossbow being raised and lowered, Manar instinctively reaches for her sword and then realizes she doesn't have it; after that, the threat gone, it takes her another half minute to recollect enough of her wits to gasp out "....what do you think you're doing?!" This is the next guest?! No, wait, Manar, calm yourself....

She takes another few deep breaths, watching the newcomer carefully. All right, easy does it.... thank the gods he got dressed while I was still in reasonable shock, or this would be utterly.... no, let's not even go there. "Here, let's take this from the top. What's your name? Is there a reason why you arrived so late? And did anyone ever teach you not to point loaded crossbows at people in temples who just want to check the fountains?" Though the first two questions are in her usual greeting tone, a more than a mild hint of anger creeps into the last one.

2006-10-04, 04:33 PM
Amun is taken aback by the anger. "If my behavior offends, then I beg your forgiveness. At this hour, any activity but those of the guards is suspicious, and a guard would have announced himself at a greater distance." He appeared to have no shame in his actions at all, but shows guarded confusion.

"As I have said," he begins, bowing again, "I am called Amun Natsur, humble servant of Osiris, Lord of the Dead, Keeper of the Sacred Rivers, Guardian of the Lost Soul. I am come many months to this land and this house upon an errand of my Lord's choosing. Though I do not know the reason, I am come with all haste. I found that I could reach this city before morning and therefore abandoned rest for this night to complete my journey all the sooner."

Amun pauses, not quite sure how to continue. "May it please my Lord and yours, I am here now and prepared for further instructions."

2006-10-04, 06:21 PM
Manar sighs. "Granted, but by the same token, most people ask permission before taking a bath in the fountain. The last time few times I found fountain-bathers in the middle of the night, they were newly-Tapped acolytes who sprinted off before I could get their names, so I'm inclined to walk first and ask questions later." And I'm pretty sure it was always the same one, but I could never prove it.... heh, this is either going to be highly entertaining or highly irritating. Probably both. Florian would love it.... then again, Florian would also be reminding me to do what I take other people to task for not doing and stop being such a stick in front of the guest. She regains her usual cheerful demeanor, albeit with a certain amount of effort, and continues, "Pleased to meet you. I am Manar Ryanelle, Lathander's Order of the Dawn's Cleansing Light, and I have been assigned to guide you around the temple until such time as someone explains why so many paladins are being asked to congregate here. For now, let's get you inside and find you a room, hm?"

2006-10-04, 06:35 PM
Amun's face showed unmasked surprise at hearing Manar's title. It slowly changed to the now familiar mixture of confusion and disappointment.

"I... expected..." he began, but paused, tugging briefly on the narrow, braided-and-wrapped beard on his chin. "It is of no weight. Please show the way. I am grateful for the kindness of this house."

2006-10-04, 06:55 PM
Manar raises an eyebrow. "If I am not meeting expectations, I would like to know why."

Perfect opening. Here's hoping he isn't about to say what I think he's about to say.... He probably is, though. This will definitely be interesting--do I want to know what's going to happen when he meets Samson?

2006-10-04, 07:43 PM
"I beg forgiveness, but the ways of the West are still new to me. I am sure that my manners are as unexpected to you."

Amun pauses for several seconds, thinking. "The traditions of my people... Women..." Pausing again, he lowers his head, showing honest embarrasment.

After a few moments, he appears to gain confidence, knowing what to say. "Again, I beg your understanding. I wish no disrespect to you or your order. These are new situations for me and I wish to learn of the ways of the West. It is true I did not expect to be met by a woman, and women are almost unknown in the clergy of my home.

"I have acted as I am accustomed, but I see now that I am not being slighted, but merely introduced to new cultures." Amun bows again toward the Lady Ryanelle, "I hope, in the interest of friendship, that you will help me learn."

2006-10-04, 09:34 PM
Thought so. Well, nobody said this was going to be easy!

"Ahhhh, that's the issue. I'll be glad to help you get used to our ways; it's what I'm here for and why they sent me and not someone from one of the less social orders. Speaking of which, I'd better warn you, I'm not the only surprise you're going to run into. Or the biggest." And if I merited a crossbow... down, Manar. No. Jumping. To. Conclusions. "I'll tell you now so you know not to react the wrong way--one of our other visiting paladins is a minotaur, so... well, don't overreact. We've already had one near-incident." All right, let's see how that goes over. "Either way.... right this way." She leads him towards the door through which she entered the courtyard.

2006-10-05, 01:11 PM
Amun's confused look returned. "My days are young in the Western lands, and the words are still new for me. Please say what is 'paladin' and 'minotaur'? The words of my summons did not mention others, but if Osiris wills it, I am eager to meet them."

2006-10-05, 07:36 PM
Now THAT I was not expecting. Silly me... at least it'll make life easier. Once I figure out how to explain us, anyway.

She thinks for a moment, then replies, "Paladin--that's us. Those of us chosen by our gods to be shining examples of Their codes, and holy warriors. What term is used where you come from? And--well, best way for me to describe a minotaur--think someone who looks sort of like bull-meets-human, about a head or two taller than I am. I was a bit worried how you'd react because most people in these parts tend to go 'Aaaah, monster!' first and think later. Even some who in an ideal world are levelheaded and well-trained enough to know better. And since those kinds of tales only get more exaggerated as they travel..."

A moment later, she steps into one of the cross-corridors. "We turn here, by the way. There anything else you want to know?" Kinda hope he's awake enough to get the questions out of the way--goodness knows I've had all the sleep scared out of me for the next half hour. It's almost a pity we're so close to the guest wing.

2006-10-06, 11:23 AM
Turning the corner after his host, Amun nods his head. "I see. Holy warrior, yes. We are Osir Dirat. It is Hand of Osiris. As for the other, I must wait and see.

"If I have marked the chimes of this house properly, it approaches the third hour. We have two hours then before the morning meal? I shall gladly have this time to study and pray."

2006-10-06, 05:18 PM
So much for that.

"I'll see you at breakfast, then. That room at the end there is yours, I believe." Manar points to the door in question. "Have a good night, then." She stays in the hall long enough to make sure Amun gets properly settled, then ducks into her own room.

The next few days will be interesting....

2006-10-06, 06:06 PM
Manar had trouble sleeping that night. Tossing and turning for several hours, she finally got up and prayed and meditated until the 6 am bell rang. Tired and stiff, she rose, bathed, and dressed for breakfast. She grabbed an acolyte wandering by and sent her to fetch Rayvon, who was staying at the famous Yawning Portal Inn nearby. Suddenly feeling very stretched thin and worn out from the past two days and the week of travel before that, she sat in the corner of the mess hall, eating quietly and watching for the others. Nothing made sense. It was a very odd group that had ben called here, but what now? Her assignment made no sense – why analyze fellow holy warriors? She rubbed her eyes, trying to clear some of the bleariness she was feeling from the very short night after a long hard evening. Finally, they began filtering in, Aleksei first, followed by Owyn and Malfrin, and then Samson. Surprisingly, Rayvon arrived next – she had expected him to be last – and sat down next to the huge minotaur. Hoping that Amun would leave his weapons behind in case there was a scene, she had uttered only the words, “I had ano-“ when Anum walked in and saw the group.

2006-10-06, 06:12 PM
Amun Natsur entered the hall and scanned the room. His eyes fell on the table containing the one person he knew, but they quickly fell on the large paladin. Without a pause he drew his longsword, the only item he carried, and ran at full speed toward the minotaur.

About six feet short of the large knight, he skidded to a halt on his knees. Placing the sword, hilt toward Samson, on the ground, he bent with his forehead to the old and pitted blade.

"Apis asha'. Ptah-Sekir-Osiris hashut. Osir Dirat Amun Natsur he'thet ketur. Dirat Apis me'ten!"

The short, dark man shows no signs of rising from his position.

2006-10-06, 10:25 PM
That was quite unexpected. ....we should have an exchange of languages at some point, and I have to ask him what it's like where he comes from. If nothing else, so we have a few fewer surprises.

Manar spends a moment trying to get over the shock of yet another unexpected twist, then collects herself and says, "Gentlemen, meet our newest arrival, Amun Natsur, Hand of Osiris. Amun, these are..." Oh, dear, he hasn't moved.... "...well, I'm sure they can introduce themselves when you're done here...." I think we've long since gone beyond the usual range of situations they train us for.... what's the protocol for something like this? Is there one? ...I wonder what he said... what the heck do I say now? He's still not moving.... "....ahhhh.... would you like some toast?"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-06, 11:16 PM
Aleksei raises an eyebrow. "That's...interesting...I don't think I've ever seen someone do that before. Samson, perhaps you should do something? He seems to be waiting on you."

Well, certainly a novel way of introducing yourself.

2006-10-07, 10:29 AM

Samson looks down at the kneeling man speaking a strange tongue. Carefully, he picks up Amun's sword, and examines it. He then bows to Amun, replacing the sword, and offering him a massive hand.

I know not why you honor me so, but your company is most welcomed.

2006-10-07, 02:44 PM
Owyn looked up from a plate of potatoes and eggs. "At ease, Sir Nastur. We're all equals here. Come, break your fast with us. For certain, the benches are probably more comfortable than the floor." Someone from someplace I've never been? That's unusual... There are knights here from literally all over the world. What sort of quest requires such?

2006-10-07, 10:05 PM

Huh. I though I'd be the fish out of water. Amun? Hmm. He looks eastern. Maybe they worship minotaurs or something.

Hearing Owyn's instructions, Malfrin can't help but retort:

But some are more equal than others.

His simple breakfast complete, Malfrin gets up to clear dishes and make the table more inviting.

2006-10-08, 10:34 PM

Well, we are all equally confused by our summoning. Let us hope that we are seen today.

Samson clears his dishes, and then returns, sitting at the table.

2006-10-09, 01:31 AM
....it's times like this when I wish they'd sent someone else for this....

Manar smiles. "I'm sure they have their reasons for not speaking to us; perhaps this is a test of their patience?"

Come to think of it, my job's a test and a half, isn't it? she thinks as she too deals with her dishes, then sits back down at the table. I wonder if being able to ask the right questions is about to be needed for something.... hm, I wonder...? If this is a test, what're they looking for? What might they need? Maybe someone else has an inkling, and if nothing else it might give me a few of the answers I need....

"So.... I know none of us has any clue what we're here for, but--anyone have any guesses? Hunches? Divine inspiration? Crazy ideas that are probably so far off they're coming back to true from the other side?" She grins. "Might not be right, but if nothing else it'll be fun throwing out ideas, right?"

2006-10-09, 09:35 AM
Rayvon covered his mouth and his shoulders shook from contained laughter. Slowly he controlled his response and a poorly hid grin lined his face. "Um, it was Amun something right? You've got the wrong impression of our friend Samson here," he paused for a moment as he stifled a chuckle, "I really don't think he's a, um, servant of Osiris. Unless there is something you still want to tell us Sammy?" He couldn't contain himself anymore and started laughing. He stopped quickly, but still couldn't remove the grin from his face, "I'm sorry Amun, it's been many years since I've been in Mulhorand, please forgive me for my outburst."

2006-10-09, 12:01 PM
Owyn chews and swallows, taking a drink of cold cider. "Has anyone heard of a plague recently, of possible supernatural origin? It would explain the prevalence of sacred knights, to both cure the healers and to defeat the plague's cause. If the foe were strong enough, it might not be possible to spare this many mighty knights, all from the same order. Or a creature that kills with fear, which we would perforce be immune to. Demons, devils, or a similar ilk... the walking dead. Or, perchance, a quest for a holy relic of days gone by, thought lost to modern times, guarded by fierce giants and wicked dragons." The tone of Owyn's voice shifts gradually from speculative to enthusiastic, from logical exploration of possibilities to pure speculation. "Forgotten ruins; inverted ziggurats floating in the sky hiding the treasures of an ancient and terrible civilization, secrets to be buried and destroyed; savage cults of subhuman beasts in the bowels of the earth." He coughs, and looks a little sheepish. "You did ask for outre."

2006-10-09, 01:53 PM
After a moment of awkward silence, the still-prone Amun speaks, "She is Apis. She is handmaiden of Osiris. I have been called here, and I see now that I am come to recieve instructions from the great Apis.

"Speak, great Handmaiden, that this servant may obey!"

2006-10-09, 02:10 PM

I am not Apis. I am Samson.

Samson rolls his head, and thinks for several minutes before speaking again.

There are myths that my people are descendants of some sacred animal. Perhaps he calls that animal Apis.

Amun, I am not Apis. She may be my ancestor, but I am Samson. Rise.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-09, 02:11 PM
Aleksei watches the scene with interest, but keeps his peace.

2006-10-09, 07:48 PM
Amun rises slowly to his knees, the look of wonder still plain on his face. "Then, Samson-Dirat, I will bow to your wisdom and leadership in all matters concerning this holy quest."

Amun gets to his feet and, bowing again to Samson, puts away his old sword. "By your leave, Apis-handi, I will eat quickly."

2006-10-09, 08:44 PM
Manar blinks a couple of times. Just what I thought.... this is going to make this whole mess very interesting--or very old very fast. As to the only response I've gotten... he's right, I did ask for conjecture. And some of those sound a lot more interesting than what I was coming up with. More amusing, too. Should I say something... nah, i think I'm just going to let this finish playing out. For now.

2006-10-10, 10:04 AM
Rayvon chuckled a little more, then said, "I've got a feeling this is going to be one of the more intriguing experiences in my life. Its quite a collection we've got here."

2006-10-10, 10:26 AM

What if it isn't a threat from evil, but a threat that seems to be splitting the ranks of good? A threat from evil, even an extraordinary one, typically does not require this sort of meeting. But what if the source of the trouble was within an order of paladins? Then you would need a mixed council to investigate.

2006-10-10, 11:01 AM
Rayvon shook his head, "I don't really think it's worth speculating. We'll know when we know," he smiled and continued, "But I think the more appropriate question to ask is why us? Why this group? What makes us special that we were chosen from across the world? I mean it wouldn't surprise me if we saw a paladin from Maztica or Kara-Tur show up next."

2006-10-10, 11:25 AM
"The one presupposes the other. If we know or can guess why we are needed, we might perforce discover what needs to be done. It might indeed be another order in trouble - yet, why would they not be able to deal with the matter themselves? I know for certain that for my own order to ask for external help in dealing with an internal conflict would be.... most unusual." He takes another bite of food, chewing as he thinks, and swallows. "If we were lazy bards, we might chalk this up to our destinies; that some fabled prophecy chose us in specific - realistically, that seems an unlikely proposition. Perhaps there are so many orders because we crusade to an area unfamiliar with the goodly gods? Or that all of us act as ambassadors to a nation with gods newly discovered? That might explain the specific presence of a Mulhorandi, at any rate - familiarity with the procedure."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 02:25 PM
"I cannot say what is more likely. I find it best not to speculate on the will of the gods...they tend to make themselves known when and in the manner in which they wish."

2006-10-10, 03:03 PM
There's so much that can be learned if you ask the right questions. Especially when the conjecture gets fast and furious.

Manar grins at Aleksei. "Granted that, but they work in subtle ways; what's to say one of the gods isn't waiting for a conversation like this as an opportunity to make His or Her will known? They help those who help themselves, my mentor always told me. And these are fascinating possibilities. If it's an ambassadorial mission, it certainly explains why one of the Orders represented is mine, since our job is as much to talk evil around as to fight it.... okay, maybe to talk evil around after fighting it. Destiny it may not be, but we know there's a divine hand in it somewhere, just from what we are... and I know my summons got to me with what a layman would consider unnervingly perfect timing." She thinks for a moment. "Do any of you have types of assignments your Orders tend to prefer sending you on? Things you're suited to?"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 03:18 PM
Aleksei laughs, and indicates the sword that hangs at his side. "A soldier I was once, Dame Manar, and a warrior I remain. The Zenith Order sends me around to protect with force that which requires it-be it a village, a magistrate, or a great weapon against the darkness."

He thinks for a moment, then continues. "The gods may indeed send their messages quietly, but Tyr has always shown me my duty clearly when He has a purpose specifically for me. The call for me to come here was about as subtle as a sergeant's wakeup call, and with much the same effect."

2006-10-10, 03:21 PM
I will always be sent if there's any trouble with a giant. I speak the language, and the giants don't look down on me so much.

He smiles in amusement at his own humor.

Other than that, I have been called to the occasional diplomatic meeting. A few times I've felt my presence was more to discourage anyone from commiting evil rather than to actually combat it.

Direct messages from Tyr have come to me rather infrequently. I agree that you have to look for your god's will in the world.

How about you, Amun? What do you do in your homelands?

2006-10-10, 03:26 PM
"I'm good at finding things, whether its new places, people trying to flee justice, or important items that have been lost or stolen," he said as he pulled out a pipe and started filling it, "You speak giantish hey? I've been meaning to pick that one up, never know when it'll come in handy. I've never had to deal with them yet, though thankfully."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 03:27 PM
Aleksei smiles at that. "That I can believe, Sir Samson. I can think of no one with an ounce of sense who'd want to antagonize you needlessly."

He takes another swig of his cider-which, though not so fine as that at home, was quite acceptable-and waited for the strange foreigner to respond.

Who is this Osiris he speaks of, anyway? I've not heard anything of what he talks of, or the language he speaks...he must be nearly as far from home as I am, and in a very different direction. Maybe I'll ask him about it later..."

2006-10-10, 03:42 PM

Not wanting to be left out of the discussion, Malfrin speaks up.

I'm, uh, kind of new to this, but I'm quiet, and careful. And, well-

He colours slightly, but then raises his head high.

Well, I guess I'm pretty good at picking locks and getting into places. Only got caught the once. Paid 'em back now, of course, before I left. Sort of a "journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" thing, only I had a few more steps to go through.

2006-10-10, 04:04 PM
Rayvon smiled at the youth and winked, "Getting out is the more important lesson Mal. It's always easy to get into things, not quite so easy to get out."

Reminds me of my first days. I wonder if he'll use the skills he's learned for good, or just bury them.

2006-10-10, 05:42 PM
Amun sits at the table with a small bowl of porridge and some bread. *Before eating, he turns to Samson to answer his question, "I serve the Lord of the Dead by destroying those who would defy Him. I slay the sylmach, the undead, and their creators."

Amun bows his head for a brief prayer, then begins to eat.

2006-10-10, 05:54 PM
"I have been a crusader and courier in the name of Torm for over thirty years." Before half of you were out of swaddling clothes, thought Owyn wryly. "A long while ago, I made a vow to, as His herald, visit every household shrine, village temple, or church dedicated to Him that I could find, and I pledged myself to spreading His messages both spiritual and mundane. Since then, I've been involved in everything from major wars to disputes between noble houses to assisting in childbirth; there's very little that I haven't learned how to do. Often my job requires secrecy, speed, or silence; that's why Owyn is my squire in particular. I personally have a few of his talents, though I never learned how to pick locks, or pockets." Owyn smiled at his squire with approval; making it plain that he considered the usefulness of the talents and what he was doing with them now far more important than what he had used them for in the past.

2006-10-10, 05:58 PM
Manar ticks the group off on her fingers. "Warrior, talker, combination of above. Finder, quiet type--" (and the way she says that is with a sort of knowing amusement, as if she's used that euphemism describing friends of hers before and knows it's just a wink to expectations) "-- subtle crusader--heh, good to know there's places other than my order where that isn't an oxymoron--and hunter of undead.... hm. The good news is, between us we've got someone for almost any situation thrown at us.... which isn't too good for puzzling out what kinds of situations we're to expect, but hey, we'll be told when the time's right, hm? The bad news is that describing the lot of us sounds more like the beginning of one of those 'diverse group of people walks into a bar' jokes by the minute." She chuckles. "Makes me wonder what the punchline is."

So many stories here.... how long is it going to take to sift through them, I wonder? And we really do need to perform an exchange of languages; I think by the time we'd finish we'd probably be able to talk to just about anyone from anywhere. Splendid....

2006-10-10, 07:05 PM
Rayvon lighted his pipe and took several puffs studying the group. Definately going to be an interesting experience. "Well, I think speculation on our task is pretty useless, as we'll be told in time anyway. Since we're all here with little else to do, perhaps we should take this time to get to know each other better?"

2006-10-10, 07:09 PM

Good point, Manar. I always figured that I was just asked along because I was with Owyn, but maybe there is something...more specific for us.

Now, I don't put much stock by fate, but I sure feel like HERE is the place I'm supposed to be. I sure don't feel like it's all an accident. I'm here to help these people, if they need it.

Embarrassed at the length of his speech, Malfrin glances around.

Meantime, maybe I'll help myself to some more toast. Anyone else want anything?

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 09:44 PM
Aleksei finishes his cider and passes it to the squire.

"Well, since you're offering..."

After Malfrin leaves, he turns to Owyn, eyes serious.

"How long has young Malfrin been your squire, Sir Owyn? Have you been teaching him long?"

I know I'll have to train a squire someday, and I think this veteran knight could show me a few things...both on and off the field of battle.

2006-10-10, 09:55 PM
Owyn waved off the offer for more food by Malfrin, and looked at Aleksei when spoken to. "Malfrin and I have only been traveling together since Suzail, and we've since traveled in this general direction, though in an indirect manner - no more than a month or two, regardless. In any case, it's by no means a traditional squirehood, though that is his rank within our order. It's closer to an apprenticeship than anything else... Heralds aren't nearly as common as other knights within the order, and have very specialized duties." The lines around his eyes tightened slightly, as if something had sobered his mood.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 10:07 PM
"Heralds? Forgive me if this is a difficult subject, but I have not seen any orders of paladins, or indeed knights, outside of my homeland. 'Least, not on the right end of a sword. What makes a Herald different?"

Aleksei ***** his head and listens intently to the older knight's answer.

2006-10-10, 10:39 PM
Owyn cocked his head, thinking. "I believe that it varies for many orders. My own personal duties include the memorization of the coats of arms of the various knights of the order, carrying messages between churches in times of peace and between the commander and troops during time of war, and to spread the Word of Torm and his messages. In addition, I'm on a pilgrimage to every shrine to Torm in the world, but that's a more spiritual duty, and less clearly delineated. Basically, I - and Malfrin - are holy messengers." He grins a wry half-smile, one side of his face twisting up much farther than the other, which has a faded scar on its cheek. "It's not the most glamorous Duty, but it is a vital one, and more importantly, it is my Duty. Er, ours."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 10:49 PM
Aleksei nods, making mental notes on the matter. "I serve the Order of the Zenith Sun, or the Zenith Order in less-than-formal parlance. As I mentioned, my duties tend to lie in battle, for that is where I spent much of my life before I was called...I was permitted into Lord Lyam's Royal Hussars, once I motivated myself sufficiently. We were the sword and shield of the Tsar-King, that would be here, I think-and I fought fiercely for many years, fending off bandits, savage creatures-no offense intended, Sir Samson-and, worst of all, the renegade soldiers and nobles who would depose the King. They were worst because they were skilled, and could put down an ambush to shame the most cunning of kobolds..."

For a moment, he is silent, and looks at the gold ring on his left hand before continuing.

"But enough of me. Tell me, Sir Owyn, what did you do before you were called?"

2006-10-10, 11:12 PM
Owyn raises an eyebrow. "What did I do? It's an interesting answer. I didn't really have time for much else - before I was a Herald-in-training, I was a runaway and a vagabond, an apprentice musician to an old friend - a gnome. How he worked magic into his music, I'll never know...." His smile turns wistful for a second, then he shrugs. "I abandoned a noble rank and title for Duty's sake; that's part of why I'm a Herald rather than a Knight. Knighthood is for nobles; it's part of the rules of our order. Most commoners chosen to His service become Templars; Heralds may be ordinary Heralds or Heraldic Knights, with little distinction except for technical rank. I'm Herald Owyn, not Sir Owyn. I don't miss the honorific, really." He shrugs again, this time with a more uncaring feel to it. "Many of Torm's servants win a noble rank; I have no need for it, and indeed my Duties forbid me from accepting it. It is my Duty to travel in Torm's name. I cannot accept responsibility for any one piece of land; thus, I remain a common Herald."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-10, 11:36 PM
"...for one piece of..I see. Knights in Venyesh are, how do you say, more like knights-errant. We do not hold land until we decide to settle down, and with the lives most of us live, the King needs not parcel out much of his territory at all. I suppose we're more common than knights here."

Aleksei scratches at the stubble that is already threatening to form on his chin before continuing.

"Few knights in Venyesh garner enough attention and favor from the King to earn lands before they have served their term, and as I mentioned, the term is long and the life hard. Knights of an order, like my own, however, can be very different...some orders parcel out land that they have tamed through force of arms, while others merely save space for retired knights in their headquarters. The Zenith Order is a paladinic order, however, and we tend not to retire at all-the reaper gets us before we are willing to cease our work."

2006-10-10, 11:45 PM
Owyn's face returned to its more serious demeanor. "Indeed," he said while looking at Malfrin, still across the room getting food. "All of us must lay down our Duties some day."

2006-10-11, 09:34 AM
Rayvon smiled as he smoked his pipe and listened to the conversation, "Or in some of our cases, one of our duties is set aside our duties and settle down. Yondalla is the goddess of family. I'm not quite ready though, there's still too much to see."

2006-10-11, 09:51 AM

Malfrin returns with a mug of cider.

Sir Aleksei.

He settles near Sir Rayvon, and seems excited by his comment.

A family? I just thought that all paladins were like Herald Owyn - dedicated to a life of service, and service alone. You're saying that many of your order raise families and do this?

2006-10-11, 09:59 AM
Rayvon looked at the youth, "Some of our more sedentary members do both. Yondalla doesn't have a whole lot of what are called paladins, so we don't really have a set of rules to follow. Some are like me, wandering the world, exploring. Some are merchants. Others bring justice to wrongdoers, and yet others are guardians, staying in one place. Each paladin decides how best to fill his own role, but at some point we need to start a family of our own. Guardians can do this while fulfilling their duties. I can't right now, it wouldn't be fair to be gone so long from a wife, but some day..."

2006-10-11, 12:51 PM
Owyn laughed quietly. "A family. Wouldn't that be nice... Some of our knights do raise families, typically those who also maintain noble rank. For a herald like me, though, my duties towards my Lord are mutually exclusive to the duties I would have as a husband or a father. The order requires no oath of chastity, only that we do our duties and conduct ourselves in an honorable fashion." His cheeks pinked slightly, and he looked to the side, leaving the thought hanging, half-finished.

2006-10-11, 01:09 PM
Rayvon grinned widely, "I think I detect an interesting story there. You'll have to share it sometime," he said and took a puff of his pipe. *He leaned back and watched the rest of the assembled group for a bit, studying them.

2006-10-11, 02:09 PM
Owyn turned slightly pinker, but just coughed and said "Oh, ehm, no, not really." He quickly looked at everyone else, as if searching for a distraction, and came up with "Of course, in a company such as this, I'd wager we all have our tales of heroics and derring-do, no?"

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-11, 02:52 PM
Aleksei thanks Malfrin quietly before rejoining the conversation.

"Indeed we do, Herald Owyn. I recall an incident before I was Chosen. I had recently, through some daring (and foolhardy) actions, obtained a spot in Lord Lyov's Hussars. This was one of my first missions, and the first of the sorties against the deserter army, led by Jalkyr the Fox."

Aleksei leans forward, becoming more animated and a trifle less stiff as he gets into his tale.

"I was in a small squad, led by a fine lady and leader, Captain Galina Sashava. She was a Chosen of Tyr, from my own order, though I knew next to naught about paladins at the time. Dame Galina was the soul of a paladin-generous, fair, and the very model of competance. She was my mentor, you know...she gave me something to look for when I reached what I thought was the top..."

He sighs, and looks slightly downcast as he continues.

"Perhaps another time, I shall tell you the tale of her death, but that is not for today. Today, we speak of acts of valor and glory. So it was we headed out, myself a veteran made little more than a raw recruit in the company of the experienced Hussars. We were to eliminate a camp of deserters who had be preying on farmers near the eastern border, and we made all speed to destroy these men-turned-wolves.

When we arrived, we found many more than we had been told waiting. Dame Galina bid us stay hidden, and at night, we attacked. The deserters swiftly made ready to defend themselves, and the fight reached its height. I was over my head-I had fought mostly in smaller skirmishes and hit-and-runs, not this mass of confusion in the darkness. I lost my horse to a soldier's pike, and down I went into the chaos."

Carefully, Aleksei traces a line from his right shoulder to his left thigh. "The man that slew my horse nearly did the same to me. When he saw that I was down, he dropped his pike and drew his saber. Disoriented as I was, I could not block the blow. He all but cut me down where I stood, and for some time, I knew, knew that I was dead."

"And then Galina arrived. She had seen me be pulled down, and though the enemy was thick and strong forced her way to me. Such was her prowess and righteous fury that those she did not slay fled before her into the night. She kept the wound from killing me, and offered me her own steed to get to safety.

Angry and in shock, I declined-with some vigor-and together we forced our way to the center of the deserter's camp, where Captain Ivan-who had once been a great warrior and hero to our land-and his personal guard waited.

Such a fight it was! I had skill with the sword, there is no doubt, and Galina both great skill and holy power, but against so many we had little hope. Still, we pressed on, Dame Galina with the steadfastness of duty, and myself with the courage that only a paladin can give to those who fight by their side.

Captain Ivan was fearsome, and his guard doubly so, but when the dust of battle settled and the sun rose, we were victorious. Dame Galina and I had cut a swarth through the center of the camp and forced Captain Ivan to surrender. We managed to capture about a third of the camp; the rest were slain or fled. However, Captain Ivan's testimony at his court-martial proved invaluable in locating the other deserter cells, as well as the foreign man who instigated this uprising.

Were it not for Galina, I would be dead or crippled now, and certainly I would not have found my way to Tyr's service. Such is the will of the gods..."

2006-10-11, 07:27 PM

Standing by Aleksei, Malfrin is drawn into his story. At the end, he murmurs a quiet, "Blessed be their names." before continuing.

I'm afraid that most of my best stories are actually Owyn's, but if he'll permit me, I'll share with you a story of a...quieter valour, that of Sir Emryld and Miss Farnir.

Taking a sip of his own cider, he warms to the attention.

As a Herald, of course, Owyn is often called upon to deliver important letters through all sorts of impossible conditions. Of course, when it's a matter of war and peace, dozens of lives hanging in the balance, you expect acts of great courage and wit in getting the messages through. And he does, of course. But the mission that I most admired him for helped only two people, but he still -

Malfrin's voice breaks slightly at the memory, and he ducks his head for a moment, embarrassed. Then he's back.

While in Mintar completing another task, we were introduced to a young Amnian doctor, one Omar Emryld, who was doing wonderful work in dealing with illnesses from a spate of tainted foodstuffs. He had planned to go home to Athkatla that month to marry a young girl, a Miss Weldi Farnir, if I recall. From the doctor's description of her, it was plain to see that this was a love-match, and an arrangement much to his liking.

Still the doctor felt that his work and his patients needed him there, and he was unable to make the long journey back to Amn at this time. Miss Farnir had already stated that it was her devoutest wish to be married in her family's home, so even if she could have been enticed to make the journey to the Lake of Steam, it would have been in contravention -

Malfrin glances up quickly at Owyn to confirm that he'd pronounced the word correctly. A deep breath, and back into the story.

- of her deepest wishes. Plus, the dear doctor feared that if he failed to make the arranged date of his nuptuals, Miss Farnir and her family might take it as a slight, and make other arrangements.

So, the doctor swore out an oath of his marriage vows, he and Owyn signed the document, and Herald and squire were off like crossbow bolts.

Well, I've got to tell you that the travelling we did, the bandits we slipped past, the ettin he outsmarted...well, Owyn doesn't like me to brag about him. But he was just as determined to get through, just as careful with that message, as he was with any.

And when I saw the look on Miss Farnir's face...once she got over the shock that Doctor Emryld would not be there in person...well, I guess I understood the power that the right words, at the right time, can have. And that it might be a good way to spend a life.

He grins at Owyn.

Plus, we got invited to the wedding feast, and it was a GREAT party.

2006-10-11, 07:58 PM
Owyn smiles and nods at his squire. "No job too big nor too small; no honorable message that will not be delivered in time. It's our motto, if not our actual success rate." He looks back at Malfrin, smiling. "I suppose I should tell a heroic tale of Sir Malfrin, then. It was soon after we had begun traveling together that we had the misfortune to run into an ambush on the road. We'd had little if any time to train together - worse, what we ran into was above and beyond the normal frame of what could conceivably be run into. He had just enough presence of mind to leap off his horse onto a low-hanging branch and avoided the scourging blast of acid from a green-scaled bipedal beast of some sort which had decided to waylay travelers on the road for treasure. Lady and I charged underneath the spray, but this beast's strength was more prodigious than even our good Samson's might." Owyn illustrated a line from his left collarbone to his gut, his mouth twisting ruefully. "I regret that it caught me with a particularly good swing and knocked me flying out of my saddle into a tree, against which I laid dazed, trying to regain my bearings enough to heal my wounds. I was about to be spitted when Malfrin jumped out of the tree screaming, grabbed it by its scraggly hair and put a knife to its neck glowing with Torm's own light. That was the second time Malfrin saved my life."

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-11, 08:15 PM
Aleksei raises his mug. "To the gods, and the health of all assembled here!"

He nods at Malfrin. "Not so flashy a tale as mine, but a good deed all the same, and it seems you are not wanting in courage either. You have a good squire, Herald Owyn."

Noting the silence of some, Aleksei turns and gestures at Samson.

"Come, Sir Samson. Tell us a tale, of valor or of good deeds, or perhaps how you came to be called to serve? It is not often we see minotaurs who come in friendship instead of war."

2006-10-11, 08:16 PM

Embarrassment and pride fight for control of Malfrin's face. The results resemble a mild stroke.

Well. The thing's breath was really bad. Behind it seemed like the safest place at the time.

He sits down next to Aleksei, beaming a bit.

2006-10-12, 12:22 AM
Samson shakes his head.

Telling stories has never been my strength. That is why I focus on listening.

He closes his lips, waiting to see if that's enough. When it's not, he reaches up, and grabs hold of his left horn.

Very well. This story takes place shortly after I finished my training with the order. Some hill giants had moved lower in the mountains following a particularly cold winter, and were getting close to a town, and were starting to conflict with humans over hunting grounds. Our order was asked to resolve the situation, peacefully if possible.

I was selected to travel with a more senior paladin, Sir Nathan.

When we arrived, I was wearing my armor, new from the forge. It still shined brightly in the sun. When I approached, the giants stared at me. I introduced myself in their language, and asked to speak to their leader. One of the giants charged me at that point, but I was able to wrestle him to the ground. Impressed, the giants led me to their leader.

After that, it was just a matter of convincing them they would be better off in the mountains. Work done mostly by Sir Nathan.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-12, 02:19 AM
Aleksei nods appreciatively. "A most peaceful outcome, Sir Samson, and one I think we can all agree would be best if it could be so in every case."

Aleksei takes another swig of his cider and turns towards Rayvon. "What of you, valiant halfling? Tell us a tale of yourself."

Impressive...I didn't think that such a warrior would take well to negotiations, but-of course he would. He's a paladin, Aleksei, no matter how much he may look like a raider...

2006-10-12, 10:13 AM
Rayvon sat forward and thought for a moment, the smoke from his pipe rising through the air. "It was about twenty years ago, I'd just finished my tutelage the previous year and was set loose on the world. I'd just finished a mission in Thay recovering a relic from the wizard who'd stolen it. I hadn't been given a new mission yet so I decided to head south and visit Luiren, the ancestral home of halflings. I'd just left Mulhorand and decided to cut cross country south instead of following the road. Stupid mistake as it turns out," he took a puff from his pipe and continued his story, "This was years before Buddy was even born; speaking of which, I wonder where he's at? Anyway, I'd picked up a pony in Mulhorand, but it was still slow going. I was new to cross country travel and kept wandering in circles without any landmarks. About six days out I was captured by some plainsmen. They took me back to their camp and decided to have me for dinner, literally. Here's a word of advice to you all, if you ever capture a halfling, don't let them out of your sight, we're fairly adept at wriggling out of bindings," he grinned broadly, "Things got a bit confusing after that, a couple of fires miraculously popped up and all their horses somehow got free. I'm not sure they even tried to follow me after that, I know I didn't see any sign of them for the rest of my trek."

2006-10-12, 08:29 PM

Malfrin seems to take a special delight in each of the stories.

Wrestling giants. Cannibal plainsmen. Wow. The world is a much bigger place than it seemed in Suzail.

Hey -

His eyes flash, and he folds back his ragged bangs with a slender hand. He turns to Rayvon.

You said that you were travelling from Mulhorand. Any chance that the two of you have met before?

2006-10-12, 08:43 PM
Rayvon looked over at Amun as Malfrin asked his question. "Maybe, I doubt it though. It was twenty years ago. Twenty years changes people, especially humans. And I didn't stay much longer than learning the language," he smiled as he remembered. "A very different place. Haven't been anyplace quite like it."

2006-10-12, 08:52 PM
Owyn nodded, leaning his elbows on the table as he finished eating. "Seeing the world is one of the advantages of being a knight-errant; Lady and I have seen more trail dust than I care to remember but it's always interesting to see someplace new. As I see it, the gods wouldn't have given us mounts if we weren't meant to ride them, yes?"

2006-10-12, 11:37 PM
I don't ride much. When I had to learn, I would ride an elephant, but I never really took to it. And lucky for me, hooves don't get sore.

But I haven't seen much of the world. Not surprising, I guess. The mountains make a good home, and there are plenty of challenges there. My Order tends to act locally, in the Graypeak mountains. Clean air, clean water, and clean living.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-13, 02:25 PM
Aleksei nods. "The mountains are a good place to live, most of the time."

He turns to Manar, and gives an encouraging smile. ";Dame Manar, tell us a tale of yourself and your homeland! I dare say you owe us a story after listening to ours, eh?";

Quite a diverse group here...for what purpose have you called me to join them, Tyr? I live to serve, but occasionally I like to know why I'm abroad...

2006-10-13, 04:32 PM
"Well, let me see.... most've what I've been doing has been trying to talk people around under my mentor Florian's watch, but.... there was a time, a while back, when we came to a village. We'd heard something about kobold issues--it's always kobolds around there, but it sounded like they were getting worse. First thing that happened when we rode into town, frantic lady--the baker, if I remember correctly--runs screaming up to us yelling 'Kobolds took my baby!'. Florian calmed her down, I went to find a witness who wasn't half-panicky, what we pieced together was that there'd been a kobold raid not long before, and that her daughter Chumani'd been playing near the edge of town and been swept up in it. So of course, we went to go do something about it--brought half the town militia, of course, but it was pretty much agreed we had to get Chumi out first. It was an interesting little sortie, let's put it that way. Florian got us past all the little traps on the way, then told me that he was going to provide a distraction, and I needed to slip in and get the girl to safety, and then we'd do something about the kobold menace. Florian enjoys his diversions--I'm not entirely sure what he did, except that it was bright and flashy and involved a lot of fireworks. And meanwhile, I was slipping closer and closer--unfortunately, lightfooting it's not entirely my strong suit. Florian taught me enough that I know technique, but it was still a close, close thing. They went boiling out to see what the fuss was, leaving two or three of their number to guard the child; nearly tripped over me on the way out, I'm still thanking Lathander they weren't a couple feet more to the right. So I wait for the main group to pass, get there, leap out, run straight for where they're keeping the girl, find one of the tripwires the hard way..."

She pauses a moment, partly for dramatic effect, partly to brush a chunk of hair out of her face, then continues, "So there I was, flat on my face, with a trio of confused kobolds trying to figure out where the heck I'd come from. Not the world's most dignified way to make a heroic entrance, that's for sure. While I was trying to get my foot loose from that wire, one of them finally got up the wits to ask 'What the heck are you?!'" During the last, she adjusts her posture to be more, well, koboldy, and injects a little bit of yip into her voice. "Fortunately for me, I spoke the language. So I told him--I think it was a him--that I was there to warn him of a great danger. 'Why would a Big One like you warn me of anything?' he asked, and I, having just got the silly wire off, picked myself up, started moving around them as subtly as I could, and told him the truth, only a little modified--that the villagers were angry and had come to take their revenge, that my mentor, a warrior of the light whose skills far outstripped my own, was leading them.... but that I had come ahead, because I was merciful like that--or stupid like that, in their dialect stupid and merciful are pretty much synonymous--and that if they were to embrace the light and stop preying on the weak, not only would my mentor not fall upon them with the wrath of a shaman whose cauldron had been upended--gotta love kobold idiom, huh?--but that there would be justice, harmony, plenty of food and shinies for all, and the wonderful feeling people get from working together. Quoted chapter and verse, with personal anecdotal examples, and put the utmost of my heart into it."

Another pause; she takes a long sip of cider and looks at the assembled paladins and adopts, for a moment, a grander intonation. "And they heard my words, and the sun came from behind the clouds, and their hearts were cleansed by the Light.... okay, maybe not. I wish it'd been that way. It would've made my last few arguments with that Pelorite prelate back home a ton easier, let me tell you. No, they heard my words, paused for a moment, thought it over, then turned around and as one told me 'Naah.' But by that time I was close enough to Chumani to go to my backup plan: pull the poor kid up onto my back, get around their cookpot, kick it over to slow 'em down, and run somewhere a little more defensible. Not that I got too far; I found a little rocky corner with a ledge just barely in my reach, and they were right behind me, so I set Chumi up there--three cheers for being tall--drew my sword, and prepared to do battle. And we fought, and we fought, all the while me trying to convince them that I didn't want to fight them and that there really was a better way to live than eating random villagers--I think I might almost have convinced one of them, but it's hard to say. Long story short, eventually I managed to defeat them, and I finally got to tend to poor Chumi--girl'd been scared out of her mind. Took care of her scrapes from the scuffle, worked my way around the main fight as Florian'd told me to--not that he'd've needed the help, really... met everyone back that the village, after they'd dealt with the rest of the problem. We stayed in the village that night, and left the next day to figure out where the warband had come from--that was a long story, involved us getting a bunch of help, but what I mostly remember was being met on the road out of town by little Chumani. She gave me "Something for luck", as she called it--a little rag doll on a string, I think it was supposed to be me but it's hard to tell. I still carry it; 's a bit dirty, but that's to be expected; it's been a good half year, after all." Manar half-smiles wistfully. "I think when all this is over, I might go back there for a little while. See how everyone's doing. They're awfully nice people, and I promised Chumi sometime I'd come back and let her show me a "special spot" on the river. Something about all that..."

2006-10-13, 05:43 PM
You all have such incredible tales and fascinating stories. I feel I could sit and listen to you for a long time.

Samson turns to the busily eating Amun.

Tell me, Amun, what of you? Let us hear something of your past.

2006-10-13, 06:02 PM
Amun starts, a bit surprised to have been addressed, but answers quickly, with a deferential nod. "May it please Samson-Dirat, I have served as Osir Dirat for six years. Before my calling I was a priest of Osiris. I studied in the temple, and served comfort to the dying. Then I spent almost three years wandering the battlefields of the godless hordes of Unther, administering last rites to the fallen. The valiant Rayvon has already spoken of what one may find there.

It was upon those fields that I found Ashen-Dediroh and my purpose." Amun displays his sword, the awe and wonder in his eyes belying the old, stained and pitted weapon. Replacing the blade in its scabard, he continued, "It was then that I slew my first sylmach, two vile creatures that fed upon the bodies of the fallen. In the years since, I have wandered from Unther to Thay, seeking out and destroying the undead, the glory be to Osiris."

2006-10-13, 10:56 PM
Samson nods approvingly, and puts his hand on Amun's shoulder, gripping him and shaking his shoulder a little.

You do your work well, Sir Amun. It is good to work for the glory of the powers.

Samson stands, and looks over the others.

Perhaps it is just us in the mountains, but I find the outdoors to be a much better place for discussion than this closed space. Lady Manar showed me a trail that leads into the hills. Shall we walk there?

2006-10-14, 12:13 AM

A walk sounds great to me, Sir Sampson. We sit around a few more minutes, and Owyn will have me back drilling again.

Catching his mentor's eye, he very quickly amends.

Not that I don't need it, because-the-quest-for-personal-excellence-is-the-paladin's-best-way-to-reflect-a-desire-for-excellence-in-the-world.

Standing up a bit stiffly, he stretches a bit.

I've spent a lot of the past few months outside, and I'm starting to like the smells. And a lot of places are awfully beautiful. But give me four walls and a warm fire, and that's the best outdoors still.

2006-10-14, 01:24 AM
Owyn raised an arch eyebrow at Malfrin. "If you're so fond of the outdoors, I can introduce you to a concept called 'hiking with full kit.' It's about time you learned how, anyways; it's a crucial part of any military campaign. Today we'll scout a good route; tomorrow we'll get you used to the pack. If we're still here the day after, we'll go running with the packs on; being able to run distances carrying 6 stone of ballast may save your life some day." From his tone, it was clear that Owyn was not joking in the slightest, and would probably be carrying more weight than Malfrin. "Torm grants us powers of healing, but a good knight plans for every contingency, including the one where you strap your friend with a broken leg to your back, dump everything except for water and medicine, and trek 3 days through swamp on an empty stomach while dodging lizardfolk ambushes."

Owyn pulled aside the collar of his tunic, showing a small star-shaped wound. "Luckily, the spear wound didn't start going septic until the third day; I had used my ability to negate disease on my companion, whose wounds had taken swamp water. Eight years later, Sir Derrick kept eight priests of Talos from summoning a typhoon that would have killed upwards of a hundred thousand people, easily. To never abandon an injured comrade is one of the highest points of Duty, something which you would do well to remember."

It wasn't a rebuke, quite. Just a reminder of the seriousness of what Owyn was trying to teach, coupled with an object lesson to drive the point home. Hopefully, Malfrin would be able to visualize himself carrying one of his companions across these woods - well, maybe not Samson.

2006-10-14, 03:03 AM

Catching at least a bit of Owyn's gravity, Malfrin is briefly silenced. At length, he nods. He speaks with an unfamiliar solemnity.

It will be an honour, sir to hike with you. And with any others who wish to join us.

A small smile creeps into his demeanour.

And at this time, sir, I would like to volunteer to carry Sir Rayvon, should circumstances require it.

2006-10-14, 04:31 PM
Manar chuckles at Malfrin's comment, then turns to Owyn. "I take it that means you're going to want to swing by the guests' wing first?"

....I wonder... is this something I should be doing as well?

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-14, 05:12 PM
Aleksei grins. "A loaded march will do me good. I would be glad to join you."

Aleksei stands and bows. "An honor to meet all of you...Herald Owyn, I shall prepare myself for the march. Shall we meet in the courtyard?"

2006-10-14, 06:13 PM
Samson smiles, baring his teeth.

I shall carry my gear on the way out. But perhaps Sir Owyn will be kind enough to demonstrate for his squire by carrying me back.

Samson laughs deeply, before he stands, and then leaves. If Manar happens to be immediately behind him, he will get the door for her.

Samson quickly moves through the building to his quarters. He prepares himself for the trek, and then carries his gear to the back of the cathedral, where the path that he and Manar had explored.

2006-10-14, 07:15 PM
Owyn nods at Manar. "I could probably make my way back alone, but the honor of your company would be a pleasure. Actually.... do you have a spare backpack I might borrow? The one I use has a dwoemer on it to negate the weight of what it carries, which would defeat the purpose of the practice. I had planned to scout out a likely route to hike today and bring the kits tomorrow; but if you have one in mind then we can eschew wasting time."

2006-10-15, 10:41 AM
The smile on Rayvon's face disappeared, This is beginning to sound suspiciously like work. His smile returned quickly, "I'll go find Buddy. I'd hate to ruin your exercise by slowing you all down with my short legs."

2006-10-16, 04:11 PM
....oh, am I in for it now.... at least he gave me something I can rightly use...

"Well, to be perfectly honest.... I have the same sort of backpack. Florian insisted I pick one up, because he got sick of me underpacking everything and hoped that not having to worry too much about how heavy it was would ensure that I brought what I needed." Manar chuckles wryly. "Suffice it to say it still has yet to work."

2006-10-16, 04:31 PM
"I would gladly attend this venture, but I have not brought much pack. I can offer only my company. But I would very much like to see more of this land."

2006-10-17, 02:26 AM

Well, a very wise man once taught me -

He shoots Owyn the smallest of grins.

That there is an important distinction between being ready for trouble and seeking it out. Perhaps the gods will be satisfied with a brisk walk this day, even if we're not bent under full packs, so long as we remain vigilant?

Amun, I'm fairly new here too, but would be happy to try to explain some of our odd customs...

Malfrin matches stride with the Mulhorandi, marvelling at the smoothness and assurance of the stranger's gait.

2006-10-19, 03:17 PM
Amun grins at the young man's offer, "Thank you Malfrin-Sha'ten. I look forward to your instruction.

"My first curiosity is why you do not cover your head in the presence of women? That is considered very rude in my land." Amun accents the question by touching is own headdress.

2006-10-19, 03:32 PM
Owyn, overhearing, shrugs at Amun. "As to why we have the custom, I couldn't say, but often it is actually considered impolite to cover one's head in the presence of a lady - though exceptions are made, of course, for those with religious observances. It also varies from country to country, and on the respective social statuses of those involved. A noble does not have to doff his hat to a scullery maid, though it behooves him well to do so and is typically considered an honorable gesture; whereas were a noblewoman to walk into an average bar in this town, it's likely that every man jack among the patrons would stand and doff his hat to her before putting it back on and sitting back down." As he finished his sentence, they came to a junction in the hallway; Owyn turned away from the living quarters and headed for the stables. "If it's a pleasant walk we're after, I'm sure Lady would love the chance to walk with us and listen in. I let her out into the pastures this morning, but like me, she's not overly fond of being cooped up anywhere. Not that she couldn't just jump the fence, but... in any case, she would kill me if she found out I let her miss out on a chance to gossip."

2006-10-19, 03:56 PM
Rayvon left the assembled group to find Buddy. He was found being chased around a courtyard by a group of children. Rayvon smiled as he approached and whistled once. Buddy trotted over and licked Rayvon's face, and promptly knocked him down gently. "Sorry kids, I'm going to have to borrow Buddy here for a while," he watched as the look of disappointment crossed their collective faces. Rayvon chuckled and placed a bag on the ground and several toys spill out, "Here you go, you can play with these until I bring him back." He looked over the children one last time and grinned widely before hopping on Buddy and riding to find his companions.

2006-10-27, 01:44 PM

Samson waited and watched as his companions assembled. They had seemed equally at home in the mess hall and in the training room. But a good mountain stroll was always an excellent way to measure a man.

As the group gathered, Samson found himself studying the smaller paladins, reacting to them in much the same way as he figured they reacted to him.

Once everyone arrived, Samson decided to speak first.

Well, yesterday Lady Manar and I strolled this path. I can tell you that there is an easy trail and a more difficult trail we could choose to walk, leading us into these mountains. I would suggest taking the difficult road out, and coming back along the easier path. What do you think?

2006-10-28, 07:21 PM
Amun steps up to the large paladin, "I will follow your experience in this, Samson-Dirat." Amun moves the sword hanging at his waist onto his back where he also has placed a crossbow retrieved from his quarters.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-10-29, 08:59 PM
Aleksei returns, bearing armor and a full pack. His gear has been completely cleaned since he arrived, and he looks parade-ready.

"Ah, good. Are we prepared?"

Ah, a good march through hill-country NOT swarming with foes. This should be quite pleasant.

2006-10-29, 09:14 PM
"I'm ready when everyone else is," Manar declares, leaning on the wall with a haversack slung loosely over one shoulder. "And yeah, looping the trail in that order sounds good."

2006-10-30, 02:21 AM

Shouldering his own pack, suppressing a grunt, Malfrin nods.

Yup, all set.

Oh, boy. Hill country. Steep climbs and treacherous descents. Well, it's a chance to see how well Owyn's drilling's paid off.

2006-10-30, 10:05 AM
Buddy barked twice as he and Rayvon walked towards the group. Buddy has been saddled and looked ready to go, "Hello everyone! This is Buddy for everyone that hasn't met him. He says hi. Are we ready then?" Rayvon asked as he climbed onto Buddy's back. He looked Malfrin's pack and shuddered.

2006-10-30, 12:46 PM
Indeed we are.

Samson picks up his pack, and is still wearing his armor, and begins to stride towards the mountains, an ease about his walk.

So, Malfrin, what sorts of drills does Owyn train you with? You were a most capable ally yesterday.

2006-10-30, 12:55 PM
Owyn returns from the stable leading his elegant black mare behind him, who stops just shy of the group, lifts her right front hoof, and bends her head low in a reasonable facsimile of bowing on one knee. "Lady bids you all welcome, and is more than willing to leave if the rest of you are as well." Since it looked to be that the group was leaving on more of a pleasant excursion than a hiking exercise, Lady was laden only with a bareback riding pad, and neither bridle nor hackamore. Owyn had also retrieved his pack, but it evidently weighed very little, judging by the spring in his step. No longer on official business, it was revealed that beneath Owyn's tabard lay a chain shirt that resembled nothing so much as silver filigree, woven to cover a man's vitals and little else. The rest of his garb was the familiar (to Ravyn and Malfrin, at least) mishmash of comfortable traveling gear from many different countries. It was clean, but definitely "informal" wear.

2006-10-31, 12:39 PM
Within only a few minutes of walking, Amun begins to range up and down the trail and off to the sides, apparently scouting, in marked contrast to the casual nature of the hike.

From time to time he stops by the group to listen in on conversations.

2006-10-31, 06:00 PM
"...so then he tells me that there's no chance, people will never choose to change, and I say--" Manar breaks off from holding forth on the topic of a religious argument she'd been in midway through the sentence and calls out "Oy, Amun, what's going on? Can't you stop and join us?"

2006-11-01, 11:51 AM

Malfrin glances up at the big, smiling minotaur.

You're kind about my contribution, but I just got in a few lucky shots because everyone was more worried about you, Sir.

Well, until this year, my fighting style was what Owyn likes to call "instinctual". I was fine in a knife fight, I guess, but not much use fighting alongside others. He's...he's REALLY good with a bow, and has a lot more experience fighting beside other people than I do, and he's shown me a lot. So I guess a lot of what we've been doing is sort of, I don't know, resetting what I do by instinct, so that I don't end up getting someone else killed.

Biting his lip for a moment, Malfrin glances around at Manar and Amun. Bringing his attention back to Samson, he grins.

You know, like stepping out of your way when you need to get somewhere.

Plus, you know, parrying drills until my arms about fall off. Learning the difference between stringing a bow so that it'll fire, and stringing it RIGHT.

But I'm sure that you already know all of that. Man, back in that training session, it was like a mountain that knew how to dance! I never seen anyone that big move so good. Well. Did you do some of your training before you took on the Call, or is there a special...I'm sorry, I just never met a minotaur before. For all I know, there's a big academy for...that.

Hopelessly lost in his own conversation, Malfrin pauses.

So, um, where did you train?

2006-11-01, 11:53 AM
Amun falls in beside the Lady Paladin and with a respectful nod explains, "Osiris teaches that the Hand is Eternally Vigilant." Amun shows the palm of his left hand, on which is a tattoo of a stylized eye, very similar to the makeup he wears on his own eyes, inside a triangle: the holy symbol of Osiris.

"Forgive, but habits are powerful. You feel safe here, so I will endeavor to follow your example. Pray, continue with your story. I find it most interesting."

Amun remains with the group for a while, but sometimes starts to distance himself from them only to return quickly, a slightly embarrassed look on his face.

2006-11-01, 01:48 PM
Samson chuckles a bit.

No, Squire Malfrin, there is no minotaur academy. Most of my kind only come together for necessary reasons, and even then, a pair or a small group do not last long.

I was found, as it were, by some paladins as a baby. I can only assume they had recently killed my mother in battle. I was not yet large enough to pose any kind of threat, and there was no reason to kill me.

I was brought back to the monastery, kept for examination. Eventually, I was welcomed into the arms of Tyr, and felt that a lifetime of service was the appropriate repayment.

As for battle training, it seems to be something natural to me. The training never gave me many problems. Must be something common to my people.

And Malfrin, I have some advice if you ever meet a minotaur again.....

Samson reaches down, and scoops up Malfrin, holding him tightly in his left arm.

Try not to look quite so much like a snack.

Samson laughs, and then sets down Malfrin gently, patting him on his back.

Ryshan Ynrith
2006-11-01, 04:11 PM
Aleksei smiles at Manar's comment to Amun. "A soldier's training is not easily shed, Dame Manar. I must confess to scouting myself, rather than enjoying this place-though it is far too warm for my liking here. Does it even snow in the winter?"

He looks around, consciously ignoring the various locations ideal for ambush or defense.

"This is pretty country you have down here...so many bright colors, and such odd trees...most of ours are, what is the word..."

After a moment's frustrated silence, Aleksei remembers. "Evergreens! That's it, evergreens. Very prickly ones, which make very annoying swishing noises when you try to sneak through them. Tell me, what is that tree?"

He indicates a rather tall, sturdy-looking tree nearby.

2006-11-01, 05:09 PM
Rayvon chuckled at Aleksei's comment, "That's an oak. And this place gets fairly cool during winter, even snow once in a while, although the ocean tends to moderate the weather here. Calimsham, a couple hundred miles south down the coast, is the farthest south I've been, and that is all desert. Freezing at night, scorching by day and water scarce as a minotaur paladin," he smiled, "If you sail south from there you reach the jungles. Apparently they have trees as wide as towers and twice as tall, it rains everyday, and it gets so hot at times that water boils. I didn't get a chance to go there so I can't really say for certain."

2006-11-01, 05:35 PM


Finding himself abruptly airborne and then squeezed into the crook of Samson's arm, Malfrin barely finds the strength to breathe, let alone comment. His grateful lungs intake once returned to the ground is interrupted by the friendly pat, causing a brief spasm of coughing.

Opening his eyes again a moment later, Malfrin manages a weak grin.

You're just lucky you caught me off guard there, or you'd have...well, you'd have done the same thing, but it would have involved more running first.

Actually, that's...that's good advice you offer, Samson.I suppose Sir Aleksei over there'd be a main course, and Sir Rayvon an appetizer? I, uh, I'm wondering how you go about seeming un-snack-ish. Any pointers?

2006-11-01, 06:13 PM
Samson looks over Aleksei.

No, no, Sir Aleksei looks rather stringy. He wouldn't season well.

Samson says this in a deadpan manner, so it's not easily understood if he is joking or serious.

As for seeming insnackish, I might suggest belching loudly. That, or seeming too small to be worth snacking on. Or, though I don't recommend you try this on me, having something about a foot long to wedge between his jaws.

But, the best way of all is to be on his side. So I think you're alright.