Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ancient Dread: Sulanok Pt II

Pt. I

As Strongbow leaves the temple, he turns and begins heading to the household of Count Rylof, head of the Trilloffin branch of the family.  His goal, to announce himself to the Count and put an end to his dealing in family slavery.  Still dressed in his ‘work’ clothes, he goes to a side entrance and tells the servant that answers that he is a messenger from Her Lady Nessa Trillof, High Priestess of the Faith.

He is taken to a waiting room, luxuriant beyond measure, especially from what one would expect from a Count of an impoverished land.  Strongbow feels that this room is less a waiting room that a display of opulence and influence.  It also has heavy leanings towards Western Empire d├ęcor rather than Land of the South Winds, even taking into account the strong ties between the two nations.
Before to long, he is facing Rylof.  An elf of middle years of average height and weight.  Green eyes and blond hair offset the classic elven grace and beauty.  He's dressed in a robe of state. A rich green trimmed with gold highlights and accents, a finely cut ruby brooch hangs about his neck. When he speaks his voice is smooth as opium smoke.

"Greetings messenger. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit? What does the High Priestess of the Faith desire of me today?"

His voice is even, but with a light tilt to it. Not mocking or disrespectful, but clearly the man feels he has matters to attend to.

"Not only Mi'ladyTrillof but also from her brother Lictalor, my lord.”  Strongbow replies as he looks the Count directly in the eyes, his tone calm.

"It has been many years since I have heard from the 2nd son of Trillof. This must be a matter of grave import if the renowned hero has come to call on me." He sounds curious, and the matter has his attention.

"The family would like you to explain this...”

Strongbow opens the logbook to the relevant page.

Rylof curiously accepts the book and begins to go over the ledger. A frown deepens on his brown and his face becomes a mask of discontentment.

"and, before you answer...” Strongbow continues, " You may want look more carefully at who I am. Perhaps remembering back to an archery competition would jog your memory."

The Count’s eyes shine like knives.

"Also know that I am not the only one aware of this."

Rylof’s manner and bearing change slightly but noticeably.

"Well, I could bandy about with words, dance around the topic, and try to worm my way out of things. Maybe I'd be successful, but perhaps not.I do not wish to waste your time, and you obviously have specific things in mind. So let's not play this game, and just have out with it. What is it that you would have of me, my lord."

His tone is decidedly straight forward and without nuance. It's that tired, almost bored way of speaking to someone directly and without pretense.There is a noticeable emphasis/resentment on the, "My Lord."

"Good man. We don't have the luxury of being able to afford a conflict. So here is how this can play out. All of the slaves from that shipment have been rescued. You are going to rehabilitate them. At your own expense. If you do that, the extended family will not find out about this. you have my word."

He looks slightly intrigued.

"I am always happy to assist, my lord. Is there any specifications to these unfortunate's rehabilitation?"

Full mental and physical health. Family members to be returned to their households. Commoners to be found suitable employment/apprenticeship. You could even make yourself out to be the 'rescuer'.Certainly no other family members or retainers will find their way into similar situations."

"As you require, my lord. What of yourself? How are you to be compensated for your...service to these unfortunates?”

"Honestly? No compensation to me is required. I do, however, have several insurance policies in place should anything 'accidental' happen to me now or in the future. Should that occur, well, those responsible wouldn't have the opportunity to celebrate for long.”

A faint hint of a smirk appears on the Count’s lips when the ‘insurance policies’ are mentioned, as if he wishes to say “I have heard that before”.

"The slaves will be brought to your compound tomorrow. Progress will be monitored. Is there anything else we should discuss before I depart? Former slaves that is."

"It will be as you wish, my lord. Before you depart, might I offer you something to ease your troubles in this matter?”

"Of course, I don't want any rifts between our two branches."

"If you will wait here a moment then."

The Count departs the room for a few moments but quickly returns. In his hands he has something wrapped in a grayish green silk, a curved cone, with western calligraphy written upon it. He presents it to Strongbow with a slight bow of his head.

"A gift befitting the 2nd son of Trillof, and a hero of great renown."

Strongbow accepts the gift gratefully but carefully.

With a tone both of sincerity and mocking, the Count adds “Thank you for your presence this day, my lord. May you use it in good health, and bring great majesty to our family."

"And you my lord, with your permission, I will take my leave."

"As you wish. Go in good health."

Strongbow bows and departs.  As he returns to the Temple, he takes a different and more indirect route.  The package he leaves wrapped until he is well inside where he gives it over to several priests to check for any magical effects or curses.  Discovering none, he and the High Priestess unwrap it. 

Concealed in the sheets is a tusk of pure white ivory. Hollowed out and capped at the point in gold, while the wide end is rimmed in bronze with inlaid rubies and emeralds.Truly a majestic piece of art, a horn to call the attention of all. Reading its history through psionics divulges that it was used in some battles in the western empire against some slave revolts. It is fully functional, but could also be ceremonial.  It's origin was the Western Empire . It was stolen from a minor noble there and smuggled to the LOSW where it was given to Rylof as tribute from the smugglers in addition to their normal payments.

Strongbow reports the meeting to his sister.

"He's up to something and obviously thinks he can best the family. Keep a very close eye on him. "

"I shall send an acolyte around regularly to ensure his cooperation. I'll see to it that he's monitored closely."

“I wouldn’t expect anything less.  The Count seems as if he’s trying to make friends and allies beyond his station.”

"That will not happen. He doesn't have the influence beyond Sulanok. Still, it will be wise to not ignore him as you say."
"Exactly. And I really would much rather use that money to have a celebration than pay off my associate.”

“Your associate?” Nessa asks.

“My gnome friend who'll take care of things if I have an 'accident'”

She nods in understanding.

"A celebration is much more desirable.Speaking of, I hope you plan to join us for dinner tonight?"

“I am. Who else is in the city?”

"Idril will be here, and she would just adore seeing her brother again. Mama is still in Pendletor with Ereinion, and Earendur....."*she sighs*

“Some tavern, casino, or whorehouse I'm guessing?”

"Worse."A dwarf by the name Destor of the clan Grangite came to the temples earlier today. He had a nasty gash to the scalp, caused by our youngest brother. He brought our inebrieted sibling with him."

"Yes. And did not fare well. He is uninjured, but nursing a terrible hangover."

"What was the dwarf doing here in the first place? I thought we had an agreement w/ them?"

"We still do. He's here exporting goods to the north. He even has a writ stating his purpose.Destor makes several trips a year here and keeps a low profile out of deference. He brought in Earen because he has some knowledge of this area, and figured it would be a way to help soothe his presence here, as he put it."

 She elaborates that he was trying to help the Trillof family save some face, knowing Strongbow’s anger towards the dwarves.

“So we have to do all the formal apologies then....”

"Oddly enough we don't." she responds, "Destor only requested medical assistance and a place to stay for the evening before he departs on the morrow.Apparently the altercation Destor was caught up in was enough to get him ejected from the inn he was staying at."

“Please tell me you're not going to invite him for supper.” Strongbow exclaimed in disgust.

"He is being tended to and fed for his trouble, and being given a night without grief. He is NOT being invited to dine with the nobles of House Trillof"

“Good.  I have enough of them on the road, I don’t need to have them in my home. “

"The question brought up from all this is whether or not you wish your youngest sibling in attendance."

“Want? Not really. Should have there anyway? Probably. If we don't invite him, he gets slighted and causes problems. We invite him, he causes problems at the dinner table.You're the hostess, I leave it up to you.”

She looks slightly disappointed at being the one to have to make that call.

"If that is the case then tonight he shall not be in attendance as punishment for causing enough of a scene that even the dwarves were tired of his antics."

"Fair enough. Mother and Erin are going to have to decide what to do w/ him soon if he's escalated to this level of troublemaking.”

"I'll be writing her a letter tonight…and of course Alta will be present as your guest, I’ld hope?

“Excellent. Salmon for the main course?”

"If you wish it, but I would think you had tired of such fare after being away at sea for so long"

“I've only been at sea a short time. Much of my time has been spent in the Northern Wilderness and Old Kingdom mountains.”

"Then you shall feast upon fresh salmon."

Leaving his sister to her preparations, Strongbow goes to check on Mug who has finished his initiation into the faith.  He finds him in a vestibule with a smile on his face and asks if he would prefer to continue making arrows or would like to serve the meal this evening.

"Mug will do as Master wishes. Mug happy to serve. Mug happy to make arrows. Mug....happy!"

“That makes me happy as well. I would be pleased to have you assist in the serving of supper tonight for myself and some of my family.”

"Mug will make Master proud. Mug have re..req...wish. Mug have want of something."

"And what is that?"
"Mug learn to wear, 'right,' clothes for fancy dinner. Not say much, but must not look like mud"

"Some nice servant clothes you shall have".

Mug looks somewhat relieved, as though the thought of wearing his common clothes to an important dinner. Strongbow asks an acolyte to assist Mug in obtaining proper attire then goes to finding Alta still exploring He asks her if should would like to accompany him to dinner. 

She stops for a moment, and gets that dear in the headlights look, "This isn't an ordinary dinner is it?" She asks.

"Well not quite….My sisters will be there.”

There's a brief moment of terror in her eyes, mixed with anxiety, "How much time before dinner do I have to see if I can't find more presentable clothes?'

“Several hours at least. You've met one of them though and that went well.”

"High Priestess Nessa? She seemed very nice.”

She continued “"I'm glad to be well received, but when dealing with the nobleborn you must put on all appearances to satisfy their view of what they think the world is."

Her eyes widen in surprise in a, "Did I just say that aloud?" moment giving the impression that she was reciting something from memory/rote like she had heard it from her father or mother.

"What I mean to say is that it wouldn't do to make a poor first impression on your other sister."

Strongbow takes her hand and teasingly asks if her behavior with his was just an ‘appearance’.

"Only if the first time I met you, and saw you on a ship getting your hands dirty was an, 'appearance.'"

"Heh, well most of my family is very similar in personality to me but a hair more formal due to their official positions. Tonight is going to be an informal family/close friend affair so they'll be more relaxed. "

"I could still do with a bath, and a fresh change of clothes would not go amiss."

"That's what I'm planning on as well. Get some of the road dust and salt scraped off".

"I like the sound of that. If you don't need me for this few hours I'll be off to do just that."

She goes off to prepare herself for the evenings gathering.  Strongbow retires to his room to clean himself up, perform some long neglected devotions, and rest up before he joins his family and ladyfriend.


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