Vala:Just when you thought it safe to exit the Temple

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    • Markshire PCs:

    The look direct, the tone expectant, no one else near. There could be no mistake of who was being addressed. In the falling darkness the Radiance rose, filling eye, helm, mind and will, blotting curiosity, stifling amazement at the language spoken in recognition of what, not whom, she was speaking to. In an alleyway leading to the Laatneer district of Stonemark, bathed in a bright radiance of cold, purple light, her life was choked out of her, quickly, cleanly, effortlessly, silently.

    The Radiance fell, the night’s dark rose. Sanity, permitted to regain control, completed a stalled thought. How did she know? There would be no explanation. That voice at least had been stilled. More thoughts. Imperative decisions. Brought for the purpose, poles unlashed, fitted and re-lashed to form a frame. This one was not to be left for roaming dogs and errant street sweepers. Scraping the laden travois over the cobbles of Laatneer, heading south west to the shuttered decreptitude of Ozrics’ abandoned dockside chandlery. Cold night air on bare skin, invigorating the body yet soothing the mind whilst magic kept its icy bite unfelt. So good to be free.

    How had she known? The People were known for knowledge and wisdom afforded by their longevity but even so, such instant recognition. Her physical size and features, delicate tapering ears, exotic facial beauty, almond eyes all spoke of The People but not one of the local groupings of the race, hair style too, and dress, all said “Foreigner”. Stranger in a strange land, not to be missed perhaps, not to be known now either; if the Radiance permitted there would be regret for those sweet lips gone cold and unwelcoming.

    The last corner, the door at hand, the last tricky turn by the sputtering street lamp .. the Watch poking long poles into the scummy dockside waters over by the hissy roar and turmoil of the aqueduct outfall. The Watch? Here?! Why here? Why now?

    Be still. Be silent. They speak.

    “Her father said she threw a vase of flowers at him, and screamed she’d throw herself off the aqueduct if he tried to make her stop seeing the boy, then ran off.”

    “So? There’s at least three daft young girls ev’ry minute, why’d we have to come an’ poke an’ prod the waters here, an’ at this time o’ night? It’s cold an’ I’m gerrin wet !”

    “Cos she’s a Beroe girl, a North Beroe girl. Mumsie has friends at Court, Daddy is bezzer mates with the Steward, Hels, even her Pony has connections in the Court Stables. So you get roused and dowsed and made to earn your pay for once. Keep a grip on that rope, if that raft drifts under the outfall we’ll be poking and prodding for the lads too.”

    A suicide. Tss. Such a waste. We should have found her first.

    “Speaking of lads, where’s that new boy? Been recruited all of two days and you’ve taught him how to slide off already. Young ‘un? OI! YOUNG ‘UN! GITCHORESORRYASSOVERHEREANDTALLYONTHISROPETHISMINUTEORBY .. .. “

    Banging door, running feet, wild yelling.


    “Odin’s Right Eye! What’s the ruckus for, boy?”

    “I seen Dead People, Sarge! Dead People! Through that door!”

    “Ozrics’ door? Ha! Ya daft young fool! No one tole ya not to bother checking locked doors in this city? Ho, ho, ho! Corp’ral, you got a really evil sense of humour, you know that?

    “Yes, Sarge! Thanks, Sarge!”

    “Lookit, Young ‘Un, you pay no mind to Harrow’s Boys. They do The Job so we don’t have to. Now keep your itchy fingers off of those door handles from now on, see?”

    “NO SARGE! Not them Scarecrows, they’s just Walking Sticks! I mean rows of dead bodies all laid out nice n’ neat and with dead Scarecrows stuck in amongst ’em. Just like a veg’able patch!”

    “Either you has been Drinking On Duty or, worse yet, you is tryin’ to be smarterarsed tnan Corp here!”

    “Noooo, Sarge, ‘s true! I seen ’em! Through that door over th.. .. Thor’s Frozen Nuggets! WHAT’S THAT?!”

    We are discovered. Fly, you fool!

    Drop the dead weight. Sprint. Feel the hot blood rush, the cold air caress bare limbs, free to move, free to run. Vigour. Vitality, new stolen, spend it now. Dodge west through the alley, up the ramp. Splash through the cold of the aqueduct, down ramp. West. Ramp up, lose them in the narrows of the Warren, no one has terminal curiosity in this part of Laatneer. Down. West. Bear right, up to the dark, dark, shadows of the bulk of the Pumping House. Breathe. Listen. Composure. We are still free. Approach the last ramp, down west.

    Be ready. Poor fare. Nothings! No one will care, another fool adventurer to challenge The Sewer King. Go. Crush them!

    Rats. Pouring through the broken sewer grate. Scritching, scrabbling, swarming. Dying. Necks broken, skulls crushed. Hideous strength in a cold blaze of purple. Down the rusty ladder. Sanctuary.

    Get dressed. Be yourself .. ..

    Dull realisation. Bare limbs, bare belly, wet slippers. Shiver. Get dressed. Partial memories, a pretty face, foreign eyes, terrified eyes. Who was she?

    How did she KNOW?

    • Markshire PCs:

    Draw the cloak tighter, I hunger

    ‘How the Light shines when you do, I dread we will be seen.’

    All the better to see their throats, My Dear

    ‘I do not want to do this!’

    You defy me? Your will is pitiful, yet you attempt to defy me still? You are Mine. Accept it

    ‘You make me do these terrible things, to people I do not even know, all for your insatiable hunger. And then you mock me for it! I hate you ! I curse you! .. I hate myself.

    Curse? You are much too late for that, My Sweet. And hate as much as you can, it adds a delicate bouquet .. be still. One comes!

    From off the aqueduct road, down the ramp opposite Chaz’s cooperage, light feet trip and patter. In the half-light and rising purple haze, a girl child.

    ‘no. No. NO!’

    You find Fight? You have some Will? How droll! You amuse me with your foolish defiance. And needless. Look again

    A child’s height, but most certainly not a child’s figure. A wavering flame sparked in hope dies in a wisp of smoke and ash.

    See that proud jut? A Gnome’s nose for certain. Now go! Feed me!

    From the nook of the retaining wall, from the deep hiding shadow, bright sparkling haze bursts forth into the street light and takes a few quick steps. A hand to the shoulder, spin her around, other hand to the throat ..

    ‘no! punch! let me punch! she will not feel if unconci ..’

    NO MORE DEFIANCE! Do MY will NOT yours!

    Both hands to the throat and .. squeeeze. Eyes raised up, looking up, noting, observing even to the point of death.

    How Gnomish. Curiosity to the last. Move on, there is nothing left here. And you foolishly lost the means to move it to your .. Place of Final Rest. Let the dogs scavenge, there are enough of them needing the meat.

    Hurried steps away, two corners, a dead-end of deep shadow. Slump to the wall heedless of unfelt cold even though the frigid breeze caresses bare skin.

    You can be so pitiful at times, so weak even with my strength in you

    ‘I would have you gone, I would rather crawl than stride at your command’

    You would crawl? Then do so. Be yourself ..

    Collapse, barely missing a puddle of drunkard’s vomit. Retching, roll away, curl up and .. no it won’t permit that easy escape. Struggle up. Find the Will while it slumbers, find the will. Hear the dogs. Find .. the .. .. DOGS! No! Nononono ! Surge! Find the Willpower ..

    Surge, age!
    Surge, leves!
    Iam convenit!
    Lux Oritur!

    From almost forgotten classes so long ago, ancient and foreign texts of interest to scholars, Sages and desperate clerics in dire need ..

    Rise up!
    Now is the time!
    The Light Shines!

    Stand up, draw breath of cold air, feel the bite on bare skin .. get dressed! An ecstasy of fumbling at pack and pouch. Pants! Tunic! On! On! Put them on! Boots! Cloak! Grab pack and .. scrolls! Are there? .. There must be .. scrolls! RUN !

    Retrace those escaping steps, return to the crumpled body, fight off the .. .. no dogs! No Dogs! No dogs. Thank You, Sif. Thank You. Forgive me Sif, Thank You, no dogs! Breathe. Breathe. Composure. Read the scroll, stop the trembling hands blurring the words, read the scroll!

    “Ohh! Uhhhh! Wha . . . what, uh, what happened? Uhhhh. I . . .I uh, oh my head!”

    “Looked like you were dead there, Little Sheila .. had to scroll you up again! What happened to ya, cobber?”

    “Uh, well, thank you”.

    Her upward look conveys, surprise, uncertainty, gratitude to a kind stranger, and not too much nose at all.

    “I, uh . . I was on my way to the cooper’s . . and, and . . there he was, or mayhap a she?”

    “Who? Chaz?

    “I’m not sure . . . it happened so quickly!”

    “Chaz is a bruce for deffo, gnome bruce at that. Can’t mistake him, not with his nose. So what did happen?”

    “She was standing there in the light . . . she startled me. I began to speak to her . . . then, then she attacked me! For no reason! She began beating me about the head . . . I, . . . I tried to defend myself. but . . . she was, she was very strong”

    “My Word ! That’s not nice of her!”

    “Then she grabbed me about the neck, her fingers tightened, I felt as though I was caught in a blacksmith’s vice! The power of those hands! I’ll never forget it.”

    A reflex motion brings the fingers of both women to their own throats, testing, assuring.

    “See! Look here!There must be bruising!”

    “Yea .. some .. looks like finger marks for sure. Unfair go there, cobber. You actually got strangled to death?”

    “I did that! And for no apparent reason! Daft she was! Evil too! I could see it in her eyes as I lapsed into unconciousness.”

    “You .. uhh .. manage to get a look at this grievous great galah? Any description? Cos sure as joeys jump, you got to report this to the watch!”

    “She was wearing a strange helm.”


    “But it happened so fast . . . I think it might have had something on top and a bright, shiny colour . . . I’m not sure . . . It was so fast. I think she was female. About your height and build, but with a strange helm. It all happened so quickly.”

    “Lots of sheilas around my height and weight .. still it’s a start.”

    “I’d know the helm if I saw it again, I’m sure of it. I’ll never forget it.”

    A pause, reflecting on the insanity of violence, sudden death, the kindness of strangers, the narrow averting of absolute disaster.

    “Well, I must be off. Thank you for raising me. And I did not catch your name .. ?”

    “No problem, cobber, only too glad y’know, it’s what I, uhh, clerics, are supposed to do. But mind yourself, looks like we have a problem brewing around here.”

    “I think you’re right, umm .. ?”

    “Ah. Vala”

    “Ah! A fine name!”

    “Vala Feimakiir, shieldmaid of, uhh ..”

    “I’m Boppi, Boppi Baulnurd. Pleased to meet you, and thank you again Vala!”

    “Only too glad, Boppi, nice to meet you too.”

    Watch her go. Diminutive but vital, breathing, Alive. Slink back to the shadowed nook from whence sudden violent death sprang and huddle in shame and mental turmoil.

    Clever of you. That one can feed me again. We must try that more often.


    Tss, resistance is useless. You are mine, you belong to me. A little while longer, just a little while, and Sif will renounce you utterly. You will be MINE!”


    Draw the cloak tighter, I hunger

    [Not being an absolute plagiarist I offer a quick Nod and half a Beck to John Milton and Wilfrid Owens, fine poets both; to Douglas Adams, and to Aelswith for dialogue spoken in game. I thank you.]

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