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VoB - Noble District, Sinestadt

 
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:51 am    Post subject: VoB - Noble District, Sinestadt Reply with quote



Please post stories taking place in the Noble district here
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued from Old town.]

Raphaelus made his way quickly to the noble district, the afternoon glare of Sol causing him to shield his eyes. There were less people on the streets here, but many horse-drawn carriages clattered along, carrying people of wealth and dignity. Raphaelus began to realise he looked quite out of place in his plain, singed robes. One gentleman raised his kerchief to his nose in an obvious affront as Raphaelus passed. Ignoring him, the old scholar began to search for the Collegiate. The noble district did not appear large, and he was loathe to ask the locals for directions.

[Upon finding the Collegiate, Raphaelus will enquire inside in a similar manner as he did with the shopkeep, stating his purported business and origin (Research, the Balorian Collegiate). He will not mention the church.]
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A man dressed in black robes with white breeches is seated behind a massive polished oak desk. Hair slick with greasy oils, the dark clothes only serve to accent his pallid skin and crow like nose, down which the man looks at Raphaelus for too long a moment. Sighing, he stands to lead the old scholar to the row of books he would seek. Other than this, not a word is uttered from the man, clearly full of self importance.

As they walk through the library, Raphaelus gets a chance to take in its surroundings. Around the moderate sized hall is a buzz of silent activity, as various young scholars work and study. Various noble sons can be seen pouring over old tomes and scribbling notes. Raphaelus notices varied fashion and dress amongst those present, some better off than others. It becomes clear that this is possibly the only building of its type in the city, if not the nation, and that people of wealth send their sons here from all around, almost as much as a symbol of status as for any real education purpose. Raphaelus had noticed similar trends back west, as the upper middle class tried ever so hard to blur the lines between themselves and nobility.

Up a flight of stairs the scholar finds the section he is looking for. Here, with a small desk provided he has a real chance to read up on what it is he looks for.


[OOC] Ill let you fill in here. Raphaelus will find plenty of books concerning the current state of religious affairs in Sinestadt, predominately from the view of the Solarion Church. He will note that the church here is closer to its ancient roots than it is back west, clearly secluded from the west like everything else. The vast majority of books will be of eastern origin with only newer books from the west present. But what will stand out most is the near complete absence of books relating to the state of religious affairs before the arrival of the Nissian empire and the Solarion church. Despite finding no books relating directly to the fact, there are many mentions of various cults and beliefs of the locals in the more historical Solarion tombs, as well as various comparisons to Urias cults and the like. Sadly no proper analysis of the cults is on offer, instead there is only talk of the conversion of the nation and how Solarias shall prevail.

After much more reading, Raphaelus will begin to notice various historical landmarks relating to the fall of the old beliefs. There is great mention of Lord Drachenfeldt, last king of Svalsing and worshiper of Urias (though it is mentioned he called his god, or gods, the Sha'Hal) and his stoic defense of the nation, continuing to defy the Nissian invaders with a campaign of terror after the nation was conquered, till his downfall at some battle and subsequent siege of his castle. It is widely held that local beliefs died with him and his men.

A quick look around the library will show that there are books written before the Nissians that are present in other areas, but none relating to Sha'hal or any other such cults. It is apparent that some books are absent from the shelves, perhaps on loan. There is plenty of staff on hand should Raphaelus choose to ask for help in finding any information.[/OOC]
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raphaelus was surprised that his research had not yielded more fruit. Clearly, there was a wealth of knowledge here, but his efforts had unearthed little detailed information on local Svalsing deities and customs in the repository. Most books had nothing to say other than that ancient customs were heretical. The references to cults that he did find in historical tomes were tantalizingly brief and sensationalized, sometimes hinting of nameless rites and sacrifice. More detailed scholarship on ancient customs proved elusive.

His research did show, however, that the nature of the church was very different to that which he was used to in the west, far more traditional and ancient. There were hints of ritual which Raphaelus conjectured had originated in still older beliefs; pagan practices that still lingered within the church. He suspected that missionaries had hastily converted many local peoples of the valley by amalgamating Solarias with the local Svalsing deities. A similar tactic had been used to spread the faith from Baloria throughout most of Alinia during the Great Enlightenment.

In Baloria however, all similarities of the Sun Cult to local beliefs had been expunged long ago, by edict of the Administratae. Raphaelus knew that was not the case in Svalsing. There had been no Inquisitions, no purges. The whole region had been out of reach of Baloria for centuries. Gustaland and Ipsburg, far from direct Balorian influence within Alinia and spared from much of the purges, still held onto many ancient beliefs. These countries were rich in tradition and lore, and he saw that in Svalsing too lay many secrets waiting to be unearthed.

Drachenfeldt was an interesting lead. Raphaelus could not help but feel empathy for his cause. He wondered if the Sha’Hal were really analogous with Urias, or if the name of the enemy had merely been invoked by the church après coup. He knew that in Alinia, any belief not pertaining to either Sol or Lune was usually associated with the Dark One. He reflected on far older beliefs in the savage south, where the orbs in the sky were not so revered, and darkness held no sway over the brutal tribes. He wondered what the Sha’Hal might represent for Svalsing, and whether shadows of their existence might still exist in folk-memory.

At length he found his material exhausted. After several hours of study he had gleaned little solid information, yet found his ravenous curiosity piqued. He beckoned to a nearby staff-member, motioning to the paper on Drachenfeldt.

“This is an exceedingly interesting period in the regions history. I was wondering if you held more on this “Drachenfeldt” era. Perhaps your archives hold more detailed records?”

[Raphaelus will continue his enquiries until he finds what he is looking for, or becomes too exhausted to carry on. While a chronic insomniac, he has been awake around 40 hours, disregarding the unconsciousness caused by the fire. Fatigue will surely set in soon and hamper his research.]
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

some truly great rolls

A young helpful library assistant leads Ralphaelus towards another section of the library. Here, large tomes list various studies of history. With the assistants help, Raphaelus soon has a pile of books to churn through for the remainder of his afternoon.

Hours pass as the old scholar pours over the books. No single volume says all he wishes to hear, but over time a picture draws up.

Close to two hundred and sixty years ago, The Empire of Nissia invaded Svalsing from the south east. At the time Svalsing was under the rule of Sollen Drachenfeldt, a king worthy of little comment and of little popularity with the people. The small nation with its small army was at the mercy of the invaders, who streamed upward through the nation, conquering all that got in their way.

Soon, the Nissian invaders were on the doorstep to Sinnestadt itself. Surrounded and outnumbered, the citizens of the city remained resolute. A large wall had been constructed around the eastern portion of the city and the larders were stocked for a long siege. On top of this, winter was coming and it would be far from kind to the invaders in their thin canvas tents.

They had not factored in the tactical brilliance of their enemy however. The Nissian army had been on a conquering warpath for decades and had fought from steamy jungles through dry deserts to frozen mountains. Equal to the mighty Balorian armies of antiquity, a mere wall was not enough to stop them in their advance.

Before dawn, the Nissians sent an entire army on boats along the Curgesing river, bypassing the walls from north and south. The relentless invaders cut into the populace with reckless abandon, their ranks made up of thousands of men from dozens of lands of the empire. No one was to be spared, be they man, woman or child. The slaughter was immense, with half the dock district alight and the city walls still surrounded.

With his people dying and with no where to run, Drachenfeldt had no option but to surrender and swear his unconditional loyalty to the Nissian empire.

The large Nissian army set about rebuilding Sinnestadt, as well as quelling the few remaining pockets of resistance. Whilst Drachenfeldt remained apparent governor of his lands, it was nothing but a hollow post, the real rule belonging to Nissian "Advisors".

Several years passed. In this time Nissian rule was firmly set in place, many Nissians migrating into Sinnestadt itself. Eventually the occupying army was moved elsewhere to continue the expansion of the empire, with but a small garrison remaining.

Whilst unpopular during his reign as king, Drachenfeldt was a prime example of the moment maketh the man. Having been reduced to nothing but a worthless title holder under Nissian rule, the former king could stand it no more, and it was with a righteous hatred in his heart that he struck back upon the Nissian oppressors.

First he ejected all Nissians from his castle, in the Bluttenburgs far north of Sinnestadt. Secretly he gathered a small army of rebels from the country side, recruiting any and all who would stand for him. Those who would not were soon swayed when the rebels would make examples of those believed to be pandering to the Nissian oppressors. It was not long before a sizable portion of the population outside the capital were supporting the cause in one way or another. And those that did not were starting to appear as grizzly examples of misplaced loyalty, rotting at cross roads or on hills impaled upon pikes or locked in vicious cages.

The Nissian empire was a large thing, and by the time it reacted what had started as a small uprising was turning into full blown rebellion. Soon an army was sent to support garrisoned troops, some two years after Drachenfeldt had began his revenge. This army tried, and failed, on many occasions to force the guerrilla rebels into a standing fight, but always the people melting back into the countryside. As time dragged on more Nissians solders would fall as the rebels mounted fast raids and ambushes upon them.

But this would not last. It did not take the invaders long to draw the source of the rebellion back to Drachenfeldt and soon their forces amassed to raze his castle. Knowing the time had come, the rebel king drew his forces together and prepared for the onslaught.

The two armies met where the mighty Curgesing joined with the Balkan River. Though numbering in in the tens of thousands, the rebels were heavily outnumbered and relied upon the rivers to guard their flanks so that they may force the battle at the Northern crossing, the bridge leading to the Drachenfeldt castle.

What followed, involving men in the hundreds of thousands, was to be the biggest battle to have ever taken place in Svalsing history.

Storming the bridge under driving rain, the Nissians tried to use their weight of numbers to force their way across. Countless times the rebels would throw them back. All day and night the two sides battled, dieing in the thousands. As the rain hammered down, and boots stomped the damp earth, thick clinging mud began to cake defender and attacker alike. The river swelled as rain waters added to its bulk that pushed against the clogged pillars of the bridge, hundreds of bodies forming add hock damns. Soon the bridge itself was just another landmark in a crimson plain of mud and water were foe battled foe in the most desperate of struggles. Late in the second day, the lack of numbers showed, as the tired rebels began to lose ground to the Nissians. The invaders made one final push that smashed the defenses, forcing the surviving rebels to take flight for all corners of the compass.

The sight of this battle, which came to be called the Battle of Crimson Lake, would go down in history as one of the bloodiest ever endured by Nissian or Svallish troops alike. So wrecked was the land where it took place that a swamp still lies where thousands of horse and men fought. For days the Curgesing river was said to run bright red, with thousands of bodies washing down its length over the following months. So great was the dead that the Nissians would only collect their own, leaving the rebels to rot, as they were too wet to burn.

But this was not the end for Drachenfeldt. He, and what loyal followers remained, had fled to his castle. The Nissian army soon moved in and, fearing another blood bath, settled in for a long siege. It can only be assumed what went on behind the castle walls. But months later, when the walls were void of guards, the Nissians finally moved in. What they saw inside was stricken from most records, save for mention that what the men witnessed was that of only the utmost depravity, evil and desperation. Drachenfeldt, for crimes against man and the Nissian empire, was soon hung, drawn and quartered. His dismembered body was scattered and sent around the nation as a warning for any and all who would consider rebellion again.

******

Raphaelus continued to take notes as the assistant, Alexander, returned.

"Scholar, I am sorry to say that a book I think you would be most interested in, Expanding the Empire The Memoirs of War Marshal Hellinski is not here. Whilst very little of it deals with Svalsing, he commanded the force that defeated Drachenfeldt. It has an entire chapter to it, including what he witnessed in Drachenfeldts castle. A fitting full stop to all you have read today." He beckons to the piles of books with a sweep of his hand.

"Sadly, it appears to be on lease. Overdue in fact. Odd too, it would seem that the young man who has it also has several of our tombs on ancient Svallish religions. Would seem you share a mutual interest. Perhaps you may know him? Victor Chern. If you do, please ask him to return the books. It would be appreciated."

With this, the young man leaves Raphaelus to his own devices.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raphaelus pored tirelessly over the documents; finding them of a singularly historical caste. The Battle of Crimson Lake was described in minute and painstaking detail, but there was scant reference to the beliefs of Drachenfeldt, or his followers. Raphaelus sighed. The details of the region's military history did not interest him.

What struck a chord, however, was the aftermath of the savage conflict. Raphaelus could only imagine what had gone on behind the castle walls during the siege, though cannibalism seemed one likely course. There were few cults he had investigated that ate the flesh of man; the practice was restricted largely to the blood cults of the south.

Frustratingly, there was still no hard proof of any definite occult activity, merely hint after tantalising hint. Raphaelus was all too aware that these leads were often dead ends. Whisperings and rumours could gain credence remarkably quickly, and even concrete mentions of cult activity could be conjured to discredit enemies. At length he put down his quill, exhausted. His efforts at an end, the assistant Alexander returned.

Dorian wrote:
"Scholar, I am sorry to say that a book I think you would be most interested in, Expanding the Empire - The Memoirs of War Marshal Hellinski is not here. Whilst very little of it deals with Svalsing, he commanded the force that defeated Drachenfeldt. It has an entire chapter to it, including what he witnessed in Drachenfeldt's castle. A fitting full stop to all you have read today." He beckons to the piles of books with a sweep of his hand.

"Sadly, it appears to be on lease. Overdue in fact. Odd too, it would seem that the young man who has it also has several of our tombs on ancient Svallish religions. Would seem you share a mutual interest. Perhaps you may know him? Victor Chern. If you do, please ask him to return the books. It would be appreciated."

With this, the young man leaves Raphaelus to his own devices.


Raphaelus had a moment of bitter nostalgia as Alexander departed. The young man had more than a passing resemblance to himself as a youth, and he reflected on the passage of the years. He felt his eyelids close and his head grow heavy, his chin touched his chest. Snapping awake, he looked down at the desk and at his hands. Ink-stained and calloused, they pulsed with a dull, dry ache. Documents and notes lay strewn before him, the results of his labours.

Suddenly all too aware he had not had not had a decent rest for two days he stood shakily and packed the notes into his satchel. He resolved to seek out this Victor Chern, wherever he might be. But first he had to deal with his immediate situation. Returning the tome on Drachenfelt to Alexander, he thanked him for his time and gave him a small coin produced from his satchel. He then asked the youth about lodgings in the collegiate.

"Lodgings, sir?" Alexander replied, unsure of Raphaelus' meaning.

"Yes. I need a place to rest for the night, perhaps longer. I am on sabbatical from the Balorian Collegiate in Upper Feronia."

"I see." While the youth tried to hide it, Raphaelus could see him appraising this old man's burnt garments and dishevelled, sleep deprived face. His next words came out slow and measured. "There are lodgings here, but all are reserved for scholars belonging to this College, sir. Perhaps if your visit had been arranged in advance…" The assistant trailed off.

Raphaelus frowned. He was not altogether surprised. The same kind of bureaucracy plagued the other Collegiates he had visited. "Very well. What then, of accommodation in the immediate area?" he asked.

Alexander brightened a little. "You could always try the church or in town at more humble lodgings, sir."

Raphaelus grunted. "I have no interest in the church. What of these others?"

"There are some hostels just on the edge the noble district, catering to poets, playwrights and other itinerants. They should meet your needs. Down the main avenue, past the church and to the right." He leaned in closer, and his voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper. "Don't let them overcharge you though. Most of the lords will charge a lower fee if you stay several nights and pay in advance."

"Thank you, your advice is most appreciated." Raphaelus tipped his cap to the youth. "I'm sure I will see you again."

There was something unreadable in the assistants eyes. Perhaps, Raphaelus thought, he was merely pitying this old man; so frail near the end of his years. As he turned to leave the youth spoke clearly but softly to his back.

"Tread carefully."

Unfamiliar as he was with the local Svalsing dialect, Raphaelus could not tell if this was merely a farewell, or something more ominous. Regardless, it raised the hairs on the back of his neck, and brought home a shuddering realisation. He was alone again, cast adrift in a strange land. The feeling was one he had not experienced in more than a decade; not since his dark travels throughout Alinia’s occult underbelly had come to a close. He shuffled out of the library without a further word.

***

Back on the streets of the noble district, Raphaelus found street-lamps being lit as the last rays of Sol hung about the horizon. The church was easy to find; its tall, shiny spire catching the dying rays and reflecting them in the twilight; dark tones of red and auburn. Passing the shrine, Raphaelus half expected some Solarian official to emerge and accost him, as he had been promised. But the grounds were silent. All the clerics must be inside performing the Last Rites of Sol, he mused.

After the church he turned right, as Alexander had directed him. He found himself on a dark side road leading back to the town centre. At first the streets were lined with rich cobblestones, but they soon faded as he reached the edge of the noble district. Various inns and pubs occupied this area, advertising themselves with crudely painted signs and the occasional woman of easy virtue. He clutched his satchel tighter to his chest.

Raphaelus searched for what seemed to be the least disreputable of the establishments, eventually finding some that fitted Alexander’s description. Amongst the brothels and pubs there were a variety of small, dingy hostels that appeared to cater for Svalsing’s itinerant artists, musicians and poets; bestowed with tacky names such as The Quill’s Feather and The Broken Lute. A young poet was reading some interminable verse aloud, shouting to be heard over the boisterous whores and innkeepers, and failing miserably. Raphaelus caught one awkward line before he was accosted by a loud proprietor:

"O, hearken now ye wanderers of yore! Taken 'ere by…"

"WE DO ROOMS BY THE HOUR, AYE! ROOMS BY THE HOUR!!!"

"No, thank you." Raphaelus replied firmly.

Raphaelus pushed himself past the innkeeper, making his way towards the more reputable looking establishments. Stopping at The Broken Lute, he enquired inside. The proprietor was a wiry, bespectacled man whom Raphaelus felt he could deal with on even terms. Shuffling through pages of sheet music, he appeared distracted and non-threatening. Approaching the man's desk, Raphaelus announced his presence.

"Good evening. I was wondering about acquiring a room for an extended stay."

"Oh?" replied the still shuffling man.

"Yes. Do you have rooms available?"

"Well now. We always have rooms available. What specifically are ye looking for?" The thin man, now finished with his papers, looked over his glasses at the scholar.

Raphaelus cleared his throat. The proprietor's candid attitude unnerved him somewhat.

"The cheapest you have available. I need only bedding and a desk." Raphaelus paused, looking around the dingy establishment. "Clean bedding. No lice." he added.

"Well then. We may be able to find something for you. How many nights will you be staying?"

"That I haven't decided yet. At least three nights. I will pay you in advance for those nights. In silver." Raphaelus laid several shillings on the table.

The thin man made a clucking sound as he counted the coins. "That might get you a few sessions in one of the whore-houses down the road, but not here. Usually I would charge that much for a single night."

Raphaelus let a few more coins slip through his fingers. "This much in advance, for three nights. No more." he said. "If you see my room remains undisturbed there will be a significant bonus at the end of my stay."

[Haggle]

[Raphaelus may now count as fatigued, as he has been awake around 40 hours straight (not including the unconsciousness suffered from the fire), a long stretch even for him.]
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pushing his spectacles up his nose with a long wiry finger, the proprietor looked down upon the coins. He fell silent for a moment as he considered them, before looking at Raphaelus with a content look.

"That shall suffice for three nights, but meals shall not be included with the room. Please, this way."

Picking up an oil lamp that the man had used to illuminate his sheet music, he led Raphaelus up a wooden flight of stairs to the single rooms. Pushing open a heavy wood door he revealed Raphaelus's room.

Small to a point, with barely room for bed, chest of drawers and a desk the room seemed more like an enlarged closet than a true room. A small lead lined window looked upon the streets below. Sealed either by design or age it did nothing to alleviate the room of its musky claustrophobic feel. A rough woolen blanket covers a mattress, through which straw can be seen protruding from loose weave. Before the desk is a high backed chair, stained from hair wax and the grime of years.

Lighting a small lamp over the desk, doing little to improve the rooms appeal, the landlord takes his leave. He has left a key to the door behind on the desk.

OOC due to a good roll, Ralphaelus has secured the room for only ten shillings, less than two nights rent. No doubt this has contributed to the choice of room however.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raphaelus closed the door behind the man, fastidiously checking the locking mechanism and hinges, before taking a seat at the desk. The room was suited to his needs, he mused. He was used to spartan lodgings, and this was certainly preferable to the stinking canvas tent the expedition had supplied him with on the journey to Svalsing.

Raphaelus closed his eyes and rubbed his brow. He was beyond tired, but he knew it would be a time before sleep would claim him. He had to relax, remove some of the stress from his body. His mind flicked briefly to the whorehouses down the road and he chuckled. His days of philandering were long over. He had never had much time for the fairer sex, and those brief affairs he had enjoyed in his younger days were long behind him. His work consumed him now.

The act of translation sapped his mental reserves, so he decided to read. Settling on Daevirsh's Black Magick Rituals and Perversions as perfect light reading material, he began to flick through the pages. He had read Daevirsh's work cover to cover countless times, but the prose had a certain brutal charm, and it was, after all, meticulously researched. Raphaelus only wished he had met the man, but he had been killed before Raphaelus was born.

He began with the Conjuration of the Black Shape ritual, described as usual for Daevirsh in exacting detail. Raphaelus knew that the Fellish scholar must have witnessed a ritual, or perhaps had it dictated to him by a tortured cultist. He shuddered. Daevirsh was well known for his sadistic streak, and to have worked closely with the Inquisition. Still, the details were so striking, the prose so evocative, that Raphaelus found it hard to believe it had come from a mere... confession.

Daevirsh had made the same damned pilgrimage to the south that Raphaelus would make decades later. The Fellish scholar somehow survived several months on that blasted coast, but did not return to his collegiate for many years. Rumours abounded of his actions during this time; that he consorted with warlocks in Ipsburg and danced around bale-fires in Gustaland. Raphaelus dismissed these tales as mere foolery; Daevirsh was by all accounts a devout Solarian. When he finally did return to Fellum, however, Daevirsh was near mad and stricken with fever. He carried with him strange artefacts and even stranger tales, striking horror in those who saw and listened. Most of Perversions was written during his convalescence.

Raphaelus had first read the text as a student, having acquired it through a less than reputable librarian. He later purchased a copy through the black market, and took it with him to the south, as a sort of macabre reference tool. Raphaelus found many of Daevirsh’s assertations to be true, and many others he did not dare touch upon. The Conjuration of the Black Shape he had witnessed for himself, one moonlight night crouched in an inland forest.

The ritual had matched Daevirsh's account with horrifying exactness. The number of cultists, the ragged circular arrangement - even most of the incantations were the same. Raphaelus was, however, intrigued with the one discrepancy between the accounts: the identity of the sacrificial victim. In Daevirsh's account the sacrifice was a middle aged male, tightly bound, possibly a captured slave. He had vividly described how the wails of the doomed victim mingled with the chants of the sorceror and his coven, until the two "were as the same voice". The sacrifice went unwillingly to his death, that much was clear.

Raphaelus' experience was different, and he thought back to that night more than two decades ago. The coven had carefully pre-selected their victim, a young girl of maybe fifteen winters. In a trance either self imposed or drug induced (Raphaelus could not be sure), she eagerly embraced her death. Her fevered moans raised hairs on the back of his neck and churned his stomach. The memory of it, even across the gulf of time, made him shudder in his chair. It must have been drugs. Mandrake root or similar...she had wanted release...begged for it...

The presence of a willing sacrifice changed the atmosphere of the ritual from a violent act to an overtly sexual one...unnerving the young scholar no end. The chanting grew ever more fevered and hypnotic as the girl flung herself on the altar, squirming and convulsing. The rhythm of the chant changed, becoming faster and matching the girl's movements. This was no primitive, barbaric ritual, Raphaelus realised. This had been rehearsed through hundreds, perhaps thousands of generations. It was a window on the abyssal plain of mans beginnings, visceral and unassailably real. For all his research, Daevirsh had not communicate the sheer power, the force of it. It was as a force of nature.

Raphaelus' nerve broke, and he turned and ran as the witches screamed their obeisance to the Dark One. He retreated from the forest to the relative safety of the coast, emerging hours later, covered in thorns and branches. He could only assume that the rest of the ritual proceeded as Daevirsh had described. As he lay down that night, however, he fancied the stars were dimmer than they had been before, and even Lunarion's glow seemed swallowed up by the obsidian blackness of the night sky.

It was a deep and private shame that he could not muster the same courage his forebear had, and he cursed his lack of composure. To experience such horrors one needed to be numb – cold, as Daevirsh had been. A piece of oneself had to be removed, excised from the 'soul' - if there was such a thing - and cast away. Raphaelus pondered this as he finished reading the ritual, placing the tome carefully back in his rucksack and settling into bed. Had he left a piece of himself there, on that blasted coast? If he had, it had been a necessary act. A man of more fragile countenance would soon succumb to madness faced with such things. With this still on his mind, Raphaelus snuffed out the desklamp, plunging the room into darkness.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raphaelus awoke some time after morning, the rays of Sol crawling slowly through the dusty window. His back ached, as usual, worse now thanks to the poor bedding. At least he had slept till a respectable time, he thought. The dreams that plagued him were but a memory now. He got himself dressed and made his way down the stairs. The proprietor was at his desk, reading something that looking like a gazzetta. The man looked over his paper, nodding to Raphaelus.

“I don’t suppose there are any public baths around here?” the scholar asked.

The proprietor continued to read, waving a thin hand in the air. “Most be in the whorehouses, but go left down the cobbles till ye see the brass casting of a kettle - Ludwig’s Bathhouse is nextdoor.”

Raphaelus thanked the man and took his leave.



The bath water was tepid, but Raphaelus relished the sensation of immersion. He had not had a bath since leaving Baloria, and had missed the simple pleasure of his weekly bathing. Many considered it unhealthy to bathe so often; indeed, the bathhouses of Baloria were often havens for disease. In his old age, however, Raphaelus found the act soothing, a balm for his many pains.

Others languished in the lukewarm baths nearby, mostly noblemen with numerous attendants and mistresses. Raphaelus tried to ignore them as he washed, but their boisterous laughter and conversations were hard to block out. He was quickly picking up the peculiarities in the local Svalsing dialect. The accent was thick, and not too dissimilar to Strassburgian, but with a deeper, more resonant timbre. Soon he would be able to pass as a local, he thought.

With the heavy soot from the fire sloughed from his body he took his leave, paying the man at the exit. He made his way back to The Broken Lute to retrieve his satchel. There was a brief moment of trepidation as he opened the door to his room, but the bag still lay under his bed, covered in straw. He retrieved it hurriedly and shuffled out the door.



Raphaelus retraced his steps to the collegiate, careful to avoid the beggars crowding the sidewalk. He arrived at the ornate building as Sol crept close to its apex. Beginning his search at the study halls, he received several negative responses before stumbling across a young man, obviously of noble birth.

“Victor Chern?” The boy asked. Raphaelus nodded.

“Ah, the westerner. You can find him at the Gilded Chalice, just down the road.” He paused, smiling. “Nice inn, that. I happen to know the owner’s son.” Smugness was evident in his voice; apparently the owner was someone of great wealth and bearing in Svalsing. Raphaelus shrugged and grunted. “Huh.” The student, put off by Raphaelus’ derisive response, returned to his work, and the scholar shuffled out of the collegiate in the direction he had been given.



The Gilded Chalice lay near the centre of Svalsing’s noble district. The buildings nearby were resplendent in recently dried paint, and fragrant smoke billowed from golden censers, bringing the stink of the city to a tolerable level. A few people cast him strange looks as he entered the inn, but he barely noticed. Cosy warmth and the smell of food hit him as soon as he entered. An attractive young girl attended the desk, flanked by a large, bearded gentleman, obviously a doorman of some kind. Raphaelus cleared his throat, slightly nervous under the maiden's blue eyed gaze.

“Hello, yes. I’m looking to speak with Victor, Victor Chern. About matters of the collegiate, you see. Is he in at the moment?”
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