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Lady Tam

The Darakan Chronicles

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"More than acceptable for me. And staying elsewhere is a very good idea. I am also all for the idea of a "shopping spree" as I think there is things we all can pick up. Perhaps we can do that while we wait Lady Baleah's pleasure. Best to let walk out our nerves."

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Whee! And before Good Eats! Yeah me! Here it is, fresh off the press, careful, ink's still wet!

 

--begin--

 

The runes on the ring elude all present. One could almost think the words were Magicked to keep one from understanding them, but that would be nonsense. It is simply spoken in a tongue only dead kings would know.

 

Stern finds the hounds happy, easily setting themselves at the top of the food supply. His beast slobbers its greeting to him while barking his pleasure.

 

Seeking out a Page to gain audience with Beleah, the group is informed that she will be happy to see them, but not until after sundown. Her reasons are unknown to the Page, for he is, just a Page.

 

While the companions talk among themselves, and the Chariot rises higher in the sky, more and more of the castles inhabitants make their way to the hall. Many give a nod or a wave to Warrick, but give him and his group a wide berth. Such an unlikely group of travelers is unknown, even in such a prosperous city. Stern returns with his four-legged companion, clearly telling the kennel master where he could stick his opinion of ëno dogs in the main hallí.

 

The other voices in conversation are hushed, a soft murmur rumbling though the hall. But soon enough, voices try to speak above the others, and the noise begins rising. Those with an observant eye notice most people are wearing a black armband. Soon other servants begin decorating the Head Table in a black cloth, the Lordís Chair being draped in black as well, to mark his passing. Sharp ears can tell the main conversation topic this morning is Hadrenís passing, another prophecy by Beleah, and the imminent return of Regent Fedlak.

 

The dark-skinned man once again enters the Hall on some task or another. Noticing the group still sitting there at the table while the hall fills, he crosses and approaches them.

 

ìGood Morrow to you once more.î He smiles, showing off a suprisingly bright smile. ìWhile milady Beleah would wish nothing more than to offer your group the hospitality of the castle, and a nice, warm place to stay: She is certain Regent Fedlak would be less... hospitable.î He looks at each of them, then leans in a little, keeping his voice lower. ìWarrick, take them to the Blind Monk. You know the one Iím thinking of. In fact, Iíll bring Beleah to you!î He passes a small pouch to Warrick, fairly subtle. ìUse this, it should cover you for several nights. May the Gods watch over you all.î

 

With that, the dark-skinned man stands, and continues on his errands.

 

--End--

 

Enjoy, kids.

 

--lstormhammer

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Warrick accepts the pouch. †"Many thanks, my friend. †Your loyalty runs deep and wide. †May your treasury ever be so."

 

As the man leaves Warrick turns back to the group conspiratorially. †He gathers them in and speaks in a hushed tone. †"Ah yes, Regent Fedlak," he mutters with distaste. †"You'll not find a greasier pig at the fairgrounds. †I haven't mentioned him yet but that's only because I try to keep him out of my mind. †The good Regent supposes to return and advise the young Hadran though I'm sure he hopes to hold puppet's strings. †I would suggest that he may have a great deal to gain should there be a power vacuum but I almost doubt his capability to form such a plan. †Nonetheless he has milord's ear and already wields more power than he should be trusted with. †We should keep an eye on him. †He is a self-serving prig that has sent more than one opponent to the dungeon.

 

"He's rather not fond of me either," he adds with his best smile.

 

"In any event, our ebon-skinned ally has counseled wisely. †The Blind Monk is an inn well known to me. †Nine-Finger Nick is the proprietor; a more reliable chap you shan't encounter. †Not to mention his inn has a few other amenities that we may find well suited to our more clandestine needs.

 

"Since we appear forced to await an audience with Lady Beleah, I suggest we visit the Blind Monk and make our arrangements there. †Nick will see to any belongings we may want to leave there and then we can have a look around Searoad unencumbered. †And as Mykayla suggests, we may have a few items that need purchasing.

 

"Shall we?" †This time he offers his arm to Jesset who happens to be to his right.

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"I will go where others wish us to go. One question. All the dead were powerful and rich except one - Jack the Ratcatcher. How do we know he was killed by these sorrowful men? And if we knew why or where, it might give us a start?"

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Patient as the elven life can be, Jesset does feel the pull toward the Kennels, to discern the treatment of Garr -- and discover how well any handlers and other dogs have fared in his intimidating presence.

 

It is this distraction, in fact, that makes her keenly aware of her focus, so rarely slipping. And yet the groups focus often slips.

 

This Warrick seems business like, and at first I thought may be a leader, but now he steps back. Is he a man to lead us? He has unusual patience for a human. And of the others... who might lead us? None come instantly to the fore, though any - perhaps except this Stern - might be leaders of destiny, and good leaders at that. But I have already fought a war against overwhelming numbers, led troops in larger battles. I am no trained general, but I must face the possibility that this group will need a leader when battle comes and that I might be the best of candidates. Perhaps I should speak of this privately with Warrick, as he seems the other most likely leader.

 

I do enjoy my freedom and I have felt patient and free here within this citadel, but if we are to have a leader when battle comes, we must appoint one soon - else others will not be in the habit of responding to orders when the war arrives. Despite the pleasantness of our table this is an urgent issue...

 

"Warrick, may I speak with you in private?"

 

Should Warrick be amenable...

 

"Warrick, is it Sir Warrick? I believe there is something we need to discuss. Perhaps my membership in my Order makes me sensitive to this, but I believe this group needs a leader and needs it soon. If we wait until just before a battle, it will be too late. We need someone perceptive and experienced. I think you are our presumptive leader - I assumed it and I believe others did too. But in our breakfast meeting, I began to see you yourself have doubts about taking this role.

 

I have experience not as a general, but in leading small numbers. This is what our group is. If we were venturing into the wild, I would put myself forth as a leader. Now, in the city, even with your doubts I wonder if you are not the better person. I would like to decide between the two of us which might better serve, then jointly make a proposal to the group. I have leadership experience but know not these sorrowful men nor this city. You have local knowledge but, it seems, have always worked alone. Shall I be your lieutenant or shall you be mine?"

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Stern nods in agreement, smiles a broad white grin from ear to ear, and speaks to Warrick and the others...

 

"Aye, I 'em with ya sir Warrick.  Tis 'bout time we left these walls and started knockin' sum 'eads...

 

Stern motions to the others to fall in line.  Stern remains close to Warrick's left flank and snaps his fingers twice, which quickly brings Hammer (his dog) to heel.  

 

Leaning forward, Stern places his large hand on Warrick's shoulder and whispers, "If a snap me fingers three times,she'll go fer a gentlemen's bits n' pieces as if 'en she was the Demon Goddess herself."  (Looks down at Hammer and back to Warrick again)

 

Speaking to Warrick again, "This Blind Monk Inn, hmm might they be servin' beverages there?" (raises one eyebrow)

 

 

SK

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[Warricks post happened while I was writing mine. Consider me to have taken his arm & said what I was saying as we took a detour to pick up Garr.]

 

"So, I hope the Blind Monk will welcome Garr. Humans seem to be less welcoming of the mute in their homes."

 

They arrive at the Kennel & Jesset asks the master for Garr. Walking past the other dogs, she puts them at ease while looking for signs of who the dominant dogs in the kennel are. It would be amusing to her if the other dogs deferred to Garr.

 

Reaching Garr, she gives him a little love and a special treat of hardened bean paste which he greedily devours. "He'll eat it all day, if you let him," she says aside to Warrick. "Let's go rejoin the others." She gives Garr commands to heel and remain peaceful.

 

Leaving the Kennel but before they rejoin the others, Jesset asks, "So what are your thoughts now on who should lead?"

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"Thanks everyone, I guess maybe I'll ask Baleah if she can read it."

 

He take the ring back, weaves a thin strip of leather through it, ties it, and now wears it around his neck.

 

Picking up his staff, he stands and stretches. "Hmmm... the food is good, but I'm thinking it's time we move on as well. This Inn sounds like the best course. We can see if anyone knew the "ratcatcher" there. It comes to me that perhaps a ratcatcher would have work to do with ships. His death could tie in to the shipping angle as well. We should also see about whether or not the Abbot had a tie to a ship. I know I do... one would have had to find me foundering in the sea after I fell off the cliff after being chased by... by..." he slams the end of his staff on the ground. A serving maid passing by gives out a quick scream and drops the platter she was carrying. Snatching it up quickly, she runs back the way she came.

 

He looks around sheepishly. "I almost remember... but, no. Be that as it may, it is best to be going."

 

After they leave, he goes outside to where Stern and Jesset are gathering their dogs. Nutkin gives a quick squirrel-bark upon seeing the dogs, wondering if they want to play.

 

"Well Warrick, as soon as the others join us, I think we should check into this inn. I'd like to hear what the common folk say. About this matter, the Men and this Regent..."

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"I will go where others wish us to go. One question. All the dead were powerful and rich except one - Jack the Ratcatcher. How do we know he was killed by these sorrowful men? And if we knew why or where, it might give us a start?"

Warrick shakes his head and smiles apologetically.  "I wish I could answer you, Robert.  Unfortunately, I've had not interaction with Jack.  However, his manner of death was very typical of a hit by the Sorrowful Men.  It just may be that he saw something that he was not meant to.

 

"And now that I've said that, I am even more sure that the Blind Monk is the optimal place to stay.  I'll explain that statement when we get there."

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Leaning forward, Stern places his large hand on Warrick's shoulder and whispers, "If a snap me fingers three times,she'll go fer a gentlemen's bits n' pieces as if 'en she was the Demon Goddess herself." †(Looks down at Hammer and back to Warrick again)

 

Speaking to Warrick again, "This Blind Monk Inn, hmm might they be servin' beverages there?" (raises one eyebrow)

Warrick looks skyward to the larger man, relieved not for the first time that he is on their side.

 

"A war dog is a fine ally to have.  More loyal than the best of soldiers.  She looks to be an excellent specimen.

 

"The Blind Monk does indeed serve a variety of ales, wines, and small beers.  I believe Nine Finger Nick even has a private store of mead for those he marks as friends.  He occasionally entertains a dignitary or two, so he's liable to have even better than that...for the right coin.

 

"I must say my large friend that if you go on another drinking spree, I'm inclined to tie your thumbs down.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere around you if you were to accidentally snap your fingers three times.  The sudden loss of my 'bits and pieces' would most surely dampen my own beverage consumption," he adds with an honest smile.

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"Well Warrick, as soon as the others join us, I think we should check into this inn. I'd like to hear what the common folk say. About this matter, the Men and this Regent..."

"I agree.  You can always catch a slip of useful knowledge from the common man's opinion.  Taverns and inns are some of my favorite places to gather information.  Besides, even if one doesn't glean too much from the conversations, there is still usually good wine to be had."  Again he flashes a smile.

 

"As far as the Sorrowful Men are concerned, they will know little.  The Men are typcially referred to only to scare children or business associates into desired behavior.  To find out more about the Men, you'll likely have to seek out a less friendly climate than the Blind Monk and discuss them with an unseemly representative of mankind.  You know, the interesting people.

 

"The nobles will know more about the Regent than the commoners.  All the commoners know is how to complain about their taxes being too high.  We might spend some time with the nobles to find their opinion of Fedlak."

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"Warrick, is it Sir Warrick? I believe there is something we need to discuss. Perhaps my membership in my Order makes me sensitive to this, but I believe this group needs a leader and needs it soon. If we wait until just before a battle, it will be too late. We need someone perceptive and experienced. I think you are our presumptive leader - I assumed it and I believe others did too. But in our breakfast meeting, I began to see you yourself have doubts about taking this role.

 

I have experience not as a general, but in leading small numbers. This is what our group is. If we were venturing into the wild, I would put myself forth as a leader. Now, in the city, even with your doubts I wonder if you are not the better person. I would like to decide between the two of us which might better serve, then jointly make a proposal to the group. I have leadership experience but know not these sorrowful men nor this city. You have local knowledge but, it seems, have always worked alone. Shall I be your lieutenant or shall you be mine?"

"For you sister in arms it is just 'Warrick.'  Anyone I may spill blood with may dispense with titles.  The only ones I require the 'Sir' from are certain nobles I dislike.  It's enjoyable to watch them swallow their bile after they've had to say it.  Petty and vindictive, yes, but alas, I am a weak-willed man."  His smile indicates that he very much enjoys making certain nobles squirm.

 

He listens carefully to Jesset's discussion about leadership without interruption.  His smile is gone as he concentrates and turns a few ideas over in his head.  When she asks her final question the familiar smile returns.

 

"To be honest, my retreat at breakfast was merely my own self-consciousness.  This is a capable group that has skills that I have yet to discover.  I merely did not wish to put anyone on the defensive if I appeared to be forcing my will upon the group.

 

"To my feelings about leadership, I generally believe they emerge as the situation warrants.  I may be looser in my definition than you are comfortable with but then again, they didn't keep me in the army long either.  'Too indepedent' was among the list of reasons for my transfer, I think."  A broader smile emerges at what is apparently a funny memory for him.

 

"Nonetheless, they could not deny talent, so off I went to the Lord's special unit.  You are right in that I usually work alone.  I think that while we are in Searoad it might make sense that I influence certain decisions more than others.  I am even comfortable making decisions for the group if we are headed down a dangerous path.

 

"But if our search takes us outside the city then I might prove to be a less capable leader.  In the wilds perhaps you or Robert should be listened to.  In a battle, perhaps you, Stern, or Ame.  Among the elves, perhaps Mykayla.

 

"I must apologize if that seems overly simple to you; I assure you I mean no insult.  Your experiences may have taught you to determine a leader as soon as possible.  I generally wait to see whose word will be followed and that can take time.  In the end, the true leader is the one that will be listened to.

 

"Do you think we should name a leader immediately?  If so, then I suggest we make that one of our topics of discussion at the Blind Monk.  Preferably over the first round so Stern will know who he is voting for."  Again the smile.  No judgment of Stern is implied, rather it is genuine amusement that turns up the corners of his mouth.

 

Warrick travels the streets escorting Jesset with great dignity and purpose of stride.  Any raised eyebrows toward the Skoli draws a disdainful scowl from the man.  Otherwise his strut suggests that he, in fact, is lord of this city and none other.

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Mykayla gathers her things up and follows the others towards the exit. Her face is fairly unreadable as she watches the other head out the door.

If we aren't an odd lot. I wonder why were 'chosen' and how we a bunch of stangers in this city can acomplish what those who know it can not.

†With a sigh, she gathers her things and hurries to catch up with Robert.

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I think that while we are in Searoad it might make sense that I influence certain decisions more than others.  I am even comfortable making decisions for the group if we are headed down a dangerous path

 

Enjoying this walk through a town new to her Jesset allows her eyes to focus on those she passes even as her words are directed to Warrick alone.

 

"In light of what you say, I would nominate you as our leader then. This group needs no general, nor would it respond well to one, perhaps, but I will feel much safer if we grow accustomed to following the lead of one voice before a battle lest each of us see a weakness in one flank only to all rush in and let the other flank unprotected.

 

"A ... protector, perhaps. One to watch over and coordinate our actions, the better to defend surely and strike mightily. This is the role for which I would nominate you. And you're right we can discuss it at the inn. For certainly this is no group of privates or tyros or acolytes. They belong to no church, guild or army, but are and should be free. Any leader we take for ourselves may as easily be replaced on the morrow, should the need arise, and none would be accused of mutiny.

 

"All my thanks for walking with me and hearing my case, Warrick. Perhaps this is all unnecessary, but I have fought in large battles before, one small piece in a large tide, and have seen the value of saving a pair of eyes out of the mud to see the whole of the field. I'm certain I owe my life to that foresight, and I would use it and every other tool at my disposal to protect these noble companions.

 

"I do believe in the Lady's word, and therefore that the Gods have in some way chosen us to be here at this moment. But it is said that the Gods' bless those who aid themselves."

 

Changing topics - banishing further discussion of the groups tasks and fate til the next repast - Jesset observes, "This is a lively land Warrick. It could not replace my home, for my forest grows within my heart, but the sharpness of the smells from the sausage-makers, the tanners, the living bodies, the salt air! And your weather! The sun of my home is a dappled thing, its light owned by the tall trees and rarely shared with those who must abide near the forest floor. The Great Spirit Trees - we call them Sequoiya - drink in the sun every moment of the day and slowly release it at night. Unless the mists come to steal your body's warmth there is rarely cold that truly requires clothing as humans use it. And at the highest moments of summer shade is everywhere - there is no need to hide from the sun. But your city! The hot and the cold together in one day! And the sight of the sun rising in its chariot over the edge of the world! Forgive me, I must sound quite exciteable, but this realm of yours has a rhythm and a beauty so new to me it feels almost as the shock of an unexpected wave to one standing in a shallows."

 

She laughs brightly, betraying the image some hold of her as always well-possessed. The close observer might notice that her eyes still scan the townies around her, to Warrick it is certainly obvious, but to most she seems all of her joy and this moment and nothing of her worries or tasks. The bright laughter fades to a chuckling smile before she adds, "That was a sensation I felt 3 weeks ago on the day I first met the sea. I thought I was comfortable in the water! Ah, but now I will never forget what a 'wave' is. There is no teacher like experience." The last is added with a lilt that perhaps only Warrick catches, though if others are very close and used to elven patterns they might catch a reference - in tone only, not in words - to her concerns which have largely dominated this conversation.

 

In the next moment, with a carefree lilt, she finishes: "You will show me more of this city, when time allows, won't you Warrick?"

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"Ahh.  Now the word 'Protector' I like.  In fact I see myself as exactly that for this city, though she may not always agree."

 

Warrick's appraising smile broadens as he re-experiences the wonders of his own city through Jesset's eyes.  A bit of pride escapes him as he enjoys the estimation of his homeland.

 

"Aye, milady, I'd be most pleased to show you all the wonders of Searoad.  Much like a rainbow she is layer upon layer of beauty.  I am warmed you enjoy it so."

 

He turns to the rest of the group and adds, "I hope you all enjoy Searoad.  She bears many gifts and offers them freely.  And I see we are nearly upon one of the first.  The Blind Monk.  Her proprietor is Nine Finger Nick.  He was formerly of the Lord's Guard and retired when a woman finally captured his heart.  They gave birth to the Blind Monk and it has served as quarters to visiting dignitaries and local scoundrels alike, though I wouldn't know much about them," he jokes merrily.

 

"This place will set you in the proper mind for appreciating Searoad.  I know Nick will see to your every need."

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