Resplendant in freshly worked dark gold armor, the winged helm tucked under one arm, Knight's Claw at his side, Daniel makes his way up the main aisle of the temple in Vehl. Pausing to nod to Justicar Reus, he awaits the Elder Protectors acknowledgment before continuing to the altar. Justicar Reus smiles briefly at him before turning back to his discussion with an underpriest.
Kneeling, Daniel sets his sword before him and pays his respects. As he does so, he speaks quietly, "Never again, Great Dragon, do I wish to feel your ire. I am chastised, but stand ready once more to do your will." As the words are said, there is a change in the room, a warming of spirit more than anything visual and several present turn to view the man kneeling. There is something both earthy and newly emphemeral about Daniel, a humbleness rarely seen in one of his station. Quiet strength and patience mixed with new found wisdom and determination. With a nod and some unheard voice, Daniel rises and leaves the temple.
As Daniel waits for a librarian at Bydel Castle, his attention turns inward. Finding a quiet corner, not difficult in the library, he bows his head, "Great Dragon, All Seeing, you above all must know what transpires, if this change in the heavens represents a threat to the people, grant me the wisdom and knowledge to protect them." His simple prayer done, Daniel takes in his surroundings carefully as he waits once again.
A barely constrained Daniel paces the library floor, not bothering to step aside for the librarians as they make their way through the aisles. Instead, the librarians and scholars of Aragen simply step around him and continue on, like a semi colon in a very long sentence. Every now and again, Daniel stops and acknowledges the presence of one of them, looking hopeful, then continues his pacing afer he receives a shrug. Clearly, a man of action with his Knights Claw firmly on his hip, lost in a sea of contemplation, Daniel's patience is being tested. Finally he stops at the head librarians desk and calms himself, "Still nothing, Ma'am? No insights, revelations as to the c0nstellations?" he asks.
"No, nothing, but rest assured we will continue to study the matter. Truth is, Sir Knight, most of us have moved on to other areas of study. The pages of the book demanding turning, as we like to say. I simply cannot justify keeping so many scholars on this task when there is so little else to go on." The librarian, like many of her ilk, reminds Daniel of his own past and history. Ink stained robes and fingers, but they seem to lack passion, or perhaps they are simply more restrained than he ever was, even then. The librarian continues, "Rest assured we shall keep a few on this task, perhaps you should return to Vehl and seek your own answers there, Sir."
"Are you trying to be rid of me?" Daniel asks his lips curving in a bemused expression as he notes her dispassionate features not move an inch. "Nevermind, I can see I am but one of many seeking answers where few can be found. Aye, perhaps it would be best if I returned to my own fold. I would ask for the curtesy of a letter should anything relevant be found?"
"Of course, sir. Now if you don't mind, I am needed in the archives. Good day." All delivered in a monotone. Knowing himself and his limits, Daniel simply offers a pained smile and makes for the stables. It was worth a try to visit Aragen's Temple.
It all seems so strange. The constellations shifting, his reimergence from a staid life in Wayfare. Yet, he had to admit that it was better than watering the plants, this life of adventure, as long as the spirit clings to the sinew. Daniel thought with a twitch of his silver white mustache. Wry humor, love, and duty - these have become my true shield against the melancholy of age.
There were other compensations to this life. Meeting Andrew's ward, Lola , was one such. Like most young people, she seemed full of life and passion, if a bit shy and distracted. Her magic was as Lana's, wild and self contained and he could tell she questioned and struggled with it, much as Lana did at first. Smiling at the thought, Daniel paused in his writing, "I am certain she will manage in good time, Dragon willing."
Back to the matter at hand. There is a large group of us investigating various threads regarding the constellations, yet I am most certain cross purposes abound. For example, Sty as he calls himself. I have prayed for the Dragon's insight and found no friend of the Gold in that man, yet I am constrained by my own belief that actions and words, not impressions, are the only true testimony that can be used to judge. Yet, the man's interest in examining the dead does seem abnormally intent even for a mortician, which he admitted having some knowledge of the field. He bears watching, that one, as we conclude our trip to Vanavar and see Biele's grandfather laid to ground.
*a mismash of notes relevant to various events Daniel has participated in*
Aa-ry-Elf found near death at the Aragen Temple in Bydel Castle. Later died. First victim of Liquid Death/Rot? Dsearilaney
Family: Biele (sister) Ilselferi Dsearilaêny(grandfather-deceased due to age, curious manifestation during interview). Location: Vanavar.
Daniel carefully sets the original letter from Ilselferi aside intact, pausing only to examine the burnt markings in the parchment both with his inner sight for the Al'noth and with a piece of gnomish glass. His best guess was that some sort of hot poker was pushed through the parchment. No matter, the burnt marking about the size of a finger hole did not impact the shaky elvish writing in any way important. Although, he wondered if some manner of ring had been worn through and out of the envelope. An avenue worth investigating, if there was time.
He sets the translated copy on fresh parchment aside. His Elvish had never been very good, but he felt fairly confident he had the jist of what the old elf was trying to say. Still, perhaps Acacea, with her penchant for books and Elvish and lore in general would be able to glean more when she saw the original. The translation read:
human knight excuse granddaughter treats me like child sometimes sick not foolish sick not insane body failing not mind. stories important remember tell others now is time. five families will save stars conjoined as before bielaebisáimf is signal most forgotten. told by grandfather. difficult to breathe very tired. hall of seven must find answers important hidden deep fractured moved protected dangerous start at the Eye seek ever deeper. dark cannot breathe cold must rest cold must rest
Daniel paused and underlined a sentence. The prophecy he recalled hearing during his interview with Iselferi, he hadn't imagined it, but since it was in elvish, his mind had failed to recall its importance.
Once again, a wiry shadow creeps into 189 Wayfare and once again, Daniel sleeps in the big white chair. More cautious this time, Charlie approaches the elder man and stands for several long moments, listening to the easy in and out of his sleep before moving to the pantry cupboard. A wary glance behind him, confirms it, the old man is sleeping for real.
Gathering his prize, Charlie sits down and gets a mouthful of applish delight when he hears a shifting and a quiet word spoken, Daniel is gone, disapeared! "Holy Cats!" as he jumps to his feet, eyes scanning the small room. "Da?! Yer scaring me." he swallows, now feeling a touch ill. A thought of drawing his blades is dismissed. This is Da, Sir Daniel, honorable Knight Captain of the Wyrm, but what is his game?
"Good." by his ear and Charlie jumps as large hands come down on his shoulders and with strength he never knew the old man possessed, is returned smartly to the chair he was just sitting in. Daniel comes into view over his left shoulder. "You will keep your hands on the table and LISTEN to what I have to say, or by the Dragon, I will not only thrash you within an inch of your ill-mannered life, but I will disown you, Sebastion of Krandor."
Another swallow, this one bitter as the sugared apples sour in his stomach at the mention of a name he despises along with a village he dislikes. What did he do to deserve this? Mind racing, he recalls calling Mrs Sampson fat, swindling a few true from a street urchin in dice, and rigging Jo's codpiece with an minor electrical trap as a joke. That was just the start of his shennanigans that came to mind!
"I have it on excellent authority." Daniel begins and Charlie cringes slightly. Here it comes! He thinks. "That you have maligned and mocked a dear friend of mine, Zarianna."
"Da, I did nothin.." A rough shake of his shoulders and Charlie shuts up.
"I am speaking here, not you. It seems you take issue with light hair color." Daniel turns Charlie by the shoulders not very gently. "Am I dim witted as well?" Daniel's anger comes through clearly as he gestures to his own blonde locks.
"No sir." Sullenly as he recalls jesting with Toby in Center. "I don't think yer stupid."
"Very good, now here is what you are going to do to restore my good graces. You are going to apologize sincerely to both Toby and Zarianna and until you do. "Daniel pushes the pie away. "No more pie from me, rewards are for the worthy, and I find your insinuation of Zarianna's intelligence very disapointing and unworthy of the Poetr name." Stepping back, Daniel releases Charlie. "You are dismissed." Dispointment in his tone and body language clear.
Charlie made for the door, stopping at the stairs , he turns, "Who snitched? Kate, Jo? Was it that elf, Toby?"
Daniel sighed, "Does it matter, you know what you did, now make it right." With that, he waves the young man out of the house.
Shifting into slumber, Daniel rolls onto his side, placing an encircling arm around Lana. As his thoughts fade and his mind's eye turns inward, images begin to form.
All is black, darker than a cloudy night with winds that howl and blot out all the normal night sounds. Breathing heavily, I stumble down the path, briers and branches scratch at my hands and face, but something compels my feet forward. A sense of profound dread rises inside my breast, a living terrifying fear as I break the treeline and behold the sight in front of me in the dim light of a dying fire. A trail of blood leads from the stair below and Bella lies unmoving, small spiders crawl over her person occasionally biting exposed skin. I call upon the Lord Protector in a harsh voice and his fury strikes them, flattens them to paste, but leaves her, my beloved, unharmed. I am crying, something I rarely do as I check her life-signs and find the thready thump on her slender neck amongst the many scars some recent some quite old. Hands shaking, I summon the healing essence inside me that is the Dragon and it pours forth in torrents so strong the area is blasted in white and gold radiance. As she breathes, I note the armor she is wearing, a curious mix of spider silks in odd colors I have never seen her in before nor recall in her possession yet are strangely familiar. Before I can puzzle out the odd armor, a hairy leg the size of a small tree top cusps the lip of the cliff wall from below and I gasp in renewed fear as multifaceted eyes breach lip along with two foot fangs and mandibles. The eyes stare hungrily at the two of us as it advances.
Beads form on his forehead and his arm around Lana tightens in reflex. Murmuring in his sleep, the clawed medallion on the table next to the bed fills the small room with white radiance. Daniel returns to his nightmare, understanding smoothing the consternation lines on his forehead.
"It is past time to slay this monster, Bella." Dream Daniel says grasping his medallion as the white fury encompasses them both, denying all infirmity. No poison, no weakness can touch either of them. Sword and shield at the ready, Daniel summons more white fire that takes the form of a word of truth. As the word expands, his spirit gladdens to see the monster's eyes brighten then go dim unseeing. "Attack!" He cries, rushing to Bella's side, but she is already moving, ducking and stabbing with precision and speed unmatched, her mithril blades biting deep into carapace as the monster shrieks in agony. Daniel's shield blocks and bashes, occasionally he gets a mighty overhand blow in, hacking off a leg or descending venomous fang. In the dream, a song can be heard about them, beautiful and fierce, driving both into a deadly frenzy as the blows rain down. The monster's cries weaken and finally, it drops still. Bella cleans her blades on its hairy backside before sheathing them. She turns and regards him her face a mask, perhaps her true one.
"Thank you." She whispers, her voice hushed and whispered. "I'm a'right, Dan."
"I know you shall be, Viper. I am not your enemy, but a friend."
The dream fades. Lana opens her eyes, sensing something different, but unsure what. Her senses tell her nothing is wrong and she snuggles into his arm returning to her slumber. Daniel's breathing deepens as his dreams shift and a small smile plays on his lips.
A shadowy form of a horse materialized on the deck and Daniel knew he had mere seconds to react. Calling upon the Dragon, he sent the white fire out focusing on Lana. As the prayer settled into her its tendrils spread out, blocking infirmity in all those standing around her, but for Zarianna - one of Ilsare. Heedless of the personal danger and still in his robes, Daniel plucked up his Knight's claw and shield from the deck and charged the beast, knowing the quickest way to end this fight was to banish the beast from whatever place it came from. Olmae, Tobias, Quenton, and the rest all joined him in forcing the beast to remained trapped against the rails, hammering it with blows that mostly passed through its form, but some few finding purchase and wounding it.
This was the source of the curse, this being of shadowy power. As the Shadow horse fought, its dark gaze stuck those on the deck as a physical blow. Most, protected, remaining standing, but Zarianna gave a cry and fell. Daniel's heart wrenched and his blows redoubled until finally the dark horse fell and faded. Banished. Turning he surveyed the deck, almost absentmindedly sending energy into those around him, knitting their wounds close with a plea.
Head bowed, he made his way to Zarianna's still form, now held in Tobia's arms. Daniel placed a hand on her booted foot as others, Tia'Sar'ru, Lana pressed closer. His mind searched within and he found what he sought in the white fire, but dare he call upon it? This was Zarianna, his first kiss, perhaps his first love? Ignoring those around him, Daniel spoke the words, "Not for her, but for my sake Great Dragon." He felt the ordered flows ready within him and forced them to his will. In his mind, he heard the growl of Rofirein as the call connected. Disharmony, chaos, creativity, the very core of inspiration battled with his own will and that of the Dragon, a being of supreme order. He knew, at that eye blink of a moment, his error, but could not stop the magic. 'So be it.' He thought as life returned to her as it fled from his own shell. His heart stopped and he fell into the white fire and remembered no more.
Words pulled at his soul and Daniel drew a shuddering breath. Lana, her beautiful face filled with anger, looked down upon him, an instrument of his own writing crumbling to bits in her hands. Standing, he leaned into her heavily. His death had taken a bitter toll, both upon his health and upon his mind. Lana berated him, justly, for his foolishness. What could he say? She was in the right, yet could he have done differently and still be the man he was?
Mulnari, Junar 9, 1544
The Trial of Taloren :
Justicar Reus tasked me to oversee a court proceeding for Taloren of Hlint in regards to alleged theft. Judge Kirus, who would normally oversee such a case, recused himself due to his familial relationship to the accused. Taloren being his nephew. Upon my arrival in Hlint, the old resentment of all outsiders common to the folk there, led to some difficulties, but my beloved Lana was able to move about and make inquiries with limited success. In summation, the Trial itself rested mostly on written testimony provided by various parties involved. A copy of those statements I have enclosed in my journal here.
Deposition 1: Elia Feroth
Taloren came here from Port Hempstead about 8 months or so ago. We were all a little uneasy because Hlint's just had a really rough time from outsiders. People come through here all the time and seem to think that it's no big deal that they just travel through and take what they want and then blow on past again. Everyone always holds their breath until they're gone. We've been tired of all of the self-righteous adventurers thinking that we should be overly grateful to them every time it's their fault we get attacked and then they come and "save" us. But really, we just wish that people would leave us all alone. So when Taloren came to actually live here, we had hoped that maybe it wouldn't be that bad because he's related to Judge Kirus. Taloren said he was a carpenter, and I had a hole in my shed roof from when that dragon came through to take care of those blood-thirsty bandits. Anyways, I figured I might as well give him a fair chance and I asked him to fix the hole. He did a really good job, I'll admit, and I asked him to do a few other jobs after that. He seemed like he was an alright fellow and we had him over for dinner a few times. But then I started missing things after he started having dinner with us. At first I thought maybe they were just misplaced. A silver candlestick, my grandmother's broach. You know, little things. Apparently he was slipping them in his pockets when he was there.
Deposition 2: Prenton Dornt
I thought everyone's fears about outsiders was a crock of horse dung really. I didn't have any carpentry work for Taloren as per his skills, but he didn't seem too proud to help out with other odd jobs like helping me feed the chickens. Just seemed like a pretty easy-going, helpful person. That was until my sack of coins I'd made from selling my cow Bess went missing. I must've turned my back just long enough for him to take them from the house while I was working.
Deposition 3: Tybalt Selane
I always knew he was no good, but nobody wanted to listen to me. He took my uncle Tom's dagger. All I did was offer him a job and apparently the pay wasn't good enough because he had to steal from me too. I want him run out of town.
Deposition 4: Captain Nefzen
Taloren came to Hlint 8 months ago. He spent much of his first few months trying to get to know people and looking for work. His work seemed to be picking up, but then complaints began to come to me of missing or stolen items. There were very few suspects except for unrelated thefts from the outsiders that pass through. Then we received an anonymous tip to search Taloren's belongings. There we uncovered two of the recently stolen items, a dagger belonging to Tybalt Selane and a broach belonging to Elia Feroth. After discussing with the affected persons, it was discovered that each of them had had Taloren at their home around the time that their items had gone missing. Taloren claims innocence and has not given up any further information on the whereabouts of the remaining stolen items. Among his other possessions we did find a gold ring with a sapphire setting, but it did not match the description of the one claimed to be stolen.
Deposition 5: Binforth Orenson
Yes, I had Taloren over for both work and as a friend. I don't know if I believe that he did it or not. The man seemed honorable to me, at least as far as I could tell. He helped me rebuild the wall to my house. I don't think it's ever been this sturdy even when it was first built. Yes, I'd like to see the ring again that was stolen, but I just want to make sure that it's the right person that gets called up for it. They haven't found my ring yet. It was a gold ring with a ruby set in the middle. I'd like it back if anyone finds it. It was my mother's.
Deposition 6: Ava Rien
I lost a necklace. I never thought Taloren would have stolen from me. I thought he liked me. I guess he only said those things to trick me into trusting him.
During the trial itself, it became apparent that Ava Rien and Taloren were in a personal relationship and that Tybalt Selane also possessed feelings for Ava. It was in this reveal, along with Tybalt's belligerant attitude and the absence of the more easily disposed goods that led me to suspect that Taloren was framed for the thefts. Further questioning of the victims revealed most had held Taloren in some higher regard prior to the accusations due to his carpentry skills which he plied for more than a few and for his forthright nature. With these facts and after a brief consultation with Judge Kirus on a few points of Divine Law and its authority, I had Captain Nefzen search her guards quarters, of which Tylbalt was one.
Her finding of Ava's necklace under Tybalt's pillow has revealed the truth and justified my instincts. With this information, it is my intent to see if Tybalt will confess his crimes through his own actions. My plan is simple. Bring Ava into the Judges chambers and reveal the missing necklace, returning it to her if she claims it as hers. I will bid her to wear it during the reading of my findings in court. My finding will be Taloren innocent of the charges against him based on the evidence. If Tybalt attempts to flee or other aggressive actions, that should be enough to convince Judge Kirus and Captain Nefzen of his guilt. Regardless of Tybalt's actions, I have discharged my duty to the Lord Protector, Justicar Reus, and Hlint in this matter.
There is another matter, in regards to the legal proceedings which I find troublesome. Without my presence, the absence of Rofirein's divine authority over this trial would have been absent. A symbol of his Divine Law as lacking and I was forced to improvise using my own holy symbol during the swearing in. To this end, I will extend a gift to the people of Hlint. A 1/4 sized statue of the Great Dragon, cast in bronze, gold leafed, set into a block of dark marble. Upon the base will rest the nine stars of Rofirein's constellation with the words. "May The Light of Truth Bring His Divine Justice To All Who Enter Here."I will of course bless and consecrate this edifice to law and order and myself. I offer this gift at no expense to the people of Hlint so that they may know All-Seeing.
Daniel Benjamin Poetr
Knight Captain of the Wyrm
High Protector of Rofirein's Divine Law.
A quick note
The escort of one Neema of the Lady went well, I think. She asked to be escorted to the Tomb of Lost Heros in Willows Weep and this was accomplished with the help of my beloved, Lana, and Oly. I started the journey in relatively high spirits, finding both the companionship and banter refreshing. We traveled on the wings of the Al'Noth from Crossroads to Dalanthar and I fear Neema suffered the worst for it. Such a journey can be..surprising the first time it is done. The troupe of us even hiked for a time in the Rift, showing her the dangers that dwell there before continuing on to Willows Weep. I had forgotten the old names that lie in rest. Varka Cleaveson, Ayla, Mellana. The last being kin by marraige to my uncle of the same name as myself. Whilst our purpose was to ascertain the energies of the place in an attempt to discover why some resting places are peaceful and others not so much, it was a bittersweet visit to the Tomb. My mood sank low for a time. Lana insightfully pointed out, which raised my spirits once again that it was a true place of rest and rememberance. As we left, Lana recalled snatches of an ancient song I had not heard before the subject being Varka Cleaveson's exploits in a bygone age. She said she believed it was the great work of Ayla recalled from her own travels. I must ask her to repeat the verses again some day. The melody of it haunts me for some reason much like our visit.
I received a shock today on my way back to the Store from Center. Along the road, I bumped into a young lady, my own child, Rebecca. She has changed much over the years and yet, much about her remains as it was. She speaks now, yet her words are broken at times and she struggles with them. She has her mother's frame, slight, wiry, and quick. I was dismayed to smell bad ale on her breath and here of how Charlie took her to a tavern of all things for drinking! We talked of many things, but foremost was her journey from the cloistered sanctuary of North Point Temple to Center. She told me she had killed a man in the defense of another and I believe her, but still I will request an account from the priests at North Point to be certain there will be no complications of law in the matter. She has bound her self to the stones, as she claimed to wish to be like her parents. I am saddened by this only because I know the threads that all who are bound hang by. Charlie did not tell her of the pact with the bindstone, I doubt the lad knows fully, how the soul mother tears and sometimes takes a piece of you in each death. This news jolted Becca, I could tell. We parted in the rain near the gypsy tents. She wished no material fortune from me, so I gave her a father's love and we promised to meet again soon.
Great Dragon protect the last of my bloodline.
Ferrit is at least free of the beast heart that has plagued her for these many years. We sought and slew the beast in the far north, in a dark tower. I am writing this as we rest after the battle. We still need to find this traitor , this former follower of the Lord Protector, Keolith, and deliver the Gold's justice upon him. My own daugher, Rebecca, travels with us. I confess to mortal fear for her being, but she stands still. Even after two hell blasts of magic, she remained alive, which is remarkable for one with so little training in fighting. I am proud of her, I suppose. I hear the others stirring again. I will write more of our quest another day.
After much slogging about that wretched tower, we finally confronted Keolith and put the traitor down. Truthfully, I expected more of a fight, but as the Gold wills it, I am happy with the outcome.
Other events press upon my time and energy. At Vrebel's behest a small band of us ventured into the Moss Crypt. Had I been paying more attention, I would have realized the banning of such excursions by Liwich Kingdom. As it were, I was caught completely unawares when we at last confronted a Great Black, one of the ancient wyrms called the "Black Plague" in the common tongue. We bartered for our very lives, but in the end, Vrebel, in a great show of strength, slew the beast after refusing the Black's demands. There have been repercussions since. Prophets have come forth and named each of us doomed. I have come back to Liwich Kingdom to ascertain what I can and to ready myself for the coming consequences.
Daniel glanced as he stepped from the portal in Center. By the Gold, he was shook. It started with a curious black and white cat who watched him with the utmost intensity. So, he followed it about Arnax, to the very entrance of that vile temple to Corath. Glancing in, he saw that very same cat with the high witch herself. Ducking back quickly, Daniel circled around the back of the temple looking for a source of information, but upon seeing his garb and symbol, all refused him and told him to be gone.
Under the cover of the Dragon's sheltering wing, he fled Arnax and reached Lor. Again, oddness, a sense of danger. As he contemplated his situation, the Crier of Lor began babbling and sweating profusely. He spoke the words "Eyes in the Dark, Eyes. In. The. Dark. ,two moons rising, the Black Sun dawns" The man had nothing further to say, so Daniel left him and made his way back to Center.