Into the City

specularumport.jpg
A century ago, Marilinev was a flourishing trade village of 500 residents and the chief port of the Traladaran civilization. After Traladara was conquered and claimed as a protectorate by the Empire of Thyatis, it was renamed Specularum (“The Mirror City”) after the reflective quality of its sheltered bay. Over time, the population grew and city walls were erected. Now, under the rule of Duke Stefan Karameikos III, Specularum is a crowded city of over 50,000 residents of Traladaran and Thyatian decent. It is here, on crowded, dirty, narrow streets, that fate will bring together six young strangers who will set in motion events that will change the course of history.

* * * * *

On the morning of the sixth day of his walk Maruc spied the outskirts of the city he was more weary than hopeful. What astonished him more than anything else was the noise. The cloister was deathly quiet and his journey was solitary. However the city shouted its existence to the skies. The gates where open and people in colorful robes bustled about in gay abandon. Maruc couldn’t help a smile creep across his face as he watched the pantomime of city life unfold before him.

Unsure of watch the gate guards would ask of him as he approached, he paused expecting to be questioned. However nothing happened, so not tarrying overlong he marched with purpose through the gates. Maruc thought a purposeful man would be less likely to be troubled than anyone else.

What manner of people conducted themselves like this? Thought Maruc. There must be no restraint here. Indeed if Lord Stefan dwelt amongst such folk no wonder he does not know himself. How anyone is to achieve quiet meditation in this throng is beyond anyones guess…

* * * * *

Counting them a second time, just to be certain, Miklos once again wondered what he would do once his small stash of coins emptied. After all, he couldn’t go running home anymore–not for a year, anyway–he was supposed to be self-reliant, after all.

Fortunately, they would last for a while, and and were certainly more than enough to enjoy himself for the duration of the festival. In fact, he rather looked forward to meeting up with Gregor for a pint or two that evening… and looking at the sun, he’d better get moving. Wouldn’t want to keep his friend waiting! Miklos broke into a run, hoping he’d make it to the Roaring Lion in time.

* * * * *

Hmm… A day in Specularum. What to do?

First, some fresh water and bread to take the edge off the hangover. What was that rotten Hin spirit he’d been drinking last night?

Then a walk through town. Try and find an honest day’s work. Too late to try the market. Maybe the docks, or a tavern.

He walks east towards the docks, and comes upon a crowd of people. So tempting, so many people obviously straining to see some religious procession or other.

Some hero priest called Lucor. It rings a bell from somewhere, but it’s been so long since Nicolao had been to church that he really could not remember.

But the temptation of so many easy marks. Looking round he saw three other dippers working the crowds. He’d heard rumours of the guilds in Specularum. The Kingdom, now he’d be probably be allowed to join if they caught him on their territory. The Veiled might let him join, or they might dump his body in the harbour. The Iron Ring. Now there was a reason to be afraid. Tales of slavery and the Black Eagle reached even Fogor Isle.

No. He wasn’t going to take any marks until he’d at least worked out who ran which area. That meant an honest days work. Down to the docks then.

 * * * * *

The gate is open. A few soldiers with spears lounge near the entrance. They wear tabards of red and blue with a device of a ship on the front. The narrow muddy streets are choked with people. Most dress in their best clothes and many wear brightly-colored outfits. Jugglers and fire-eaters are scattered throughout the crowd. The noise from whistles, drums, singing, and happy chatter make normal talk difficult. People jostle each other, straining for a look at acrobats, knife-throwers, dancing bears and minstrels. The smells of sewage, grilled meats, breads, sweat and wine mingle in a strange but inoffensive order. This is the Festival of Lucor, a religious celebration honoring a legendary local cleric named Lucor.

Suddenly, the crowd sways to the sides of the street. “The procession is coming!” shouts a young boy. The music fades and changes to bells and chanting. Statues carried by several men seem to float above the heads of the crowd. A sedan chair, borne on the shoulders of clerics, follows.

Saeth glances up toward the street, but the swarming mass of commoners blocks her view. With a shrug, she leans back agains the wall and takes another bite of her grilled corn. She didn’t even know who this Lucor guy was, so how exciting could his procession be? And where did that juggler from a minute ago disappear to?

People jolted and bustled into each other, and Maruc, as he elbowed his way through the press of humanity and to his surprise – inhumanity. (If that is the right way to address elves, dwarves and suchlike). Maruc had never been in contact with anyone else other than humankind. In away he was quiet looking forward to meeting, and talking to, a Dwarf, or maybe an Elf. Maruc wondered which Immortal shepherded folk of such strange ancestry, surely they believed as he believed? But he wasn’t so foolish as to hope for that. Perhaps they were Godless? Maruc had never been racist between those of Traladaran and Thyatian decent so he wasn’t about to start being inter-racist. Here and there in the throng he spotted non-humans, but he didn’t get much opportunity to stare. There was music, shouting and people praising Lucor. Who was Lucor? A local hero or dignitary? No matter, but wait. Maruc instantly recognised the robes of the clerics coming down the street. Those pedlar’s in the easy answers to the real truth, pale followers of the stayed Traladaran clerical tradition selling false tales to the uneducated populous. They do not understand what Stefan will become! Soon they will be shown for their misguided faith…now is not the time though.

Through the procession, interesting as it was to watch the humans worship, Feldard found himself watching little more than a field of waistcoats and waggling sashes and ornimental belts. He found himself caught in a human current, swept along through the streets, able to smell food that smelled quite passable for foreign food but was quite impossible to get to. Finally in fury he found himself climbing to the top of a rainbarrel, his head breeching the crowd with a roar of satisfaction. Hardly anyone noticed–there was a good deal of roaring. At least he could see the swordeaters.

The procession stops. Something is happening at its front. Three men are arguing. A general hush falls over the crowd as everyone moves back from the procession. Two men, one small, plump, and pockmarked and the other tall and lean, are arguing with the lead bearer of the sedan chair.

Angrily, the small, plump man says to the lead bearer, “Bald-headed fool, do you Torenescu think you own the street? There’s space for all of us, without your ape-like behavior!”

The lead bearer contemptuously waves a rod in the small man’s face. “Out of the way of the Procession of Lucor, Radu rubble!”

Saeth the elf stands in a flash. How exciting could this procession be? She might not know who Lucor was, let alone Radu, but this sounded like it could be far fairer sport than bearbaiting or any of the other cruel games from this morning. Dropping the half-eaten corncob, she squeezes through the crowd, ducking around people and under arms, seeking a front row view of the coming confrontation.
The tall, lean man spitting on the statue of Lucor says “That old fool? You make me laugh!”

The lead bearer strikes the tall man, knocking him down. The smaller man tenses ready to lunge.

(DM Note: The characters happen to be in the crowd while this is occuring. At this point it is not required that they interact with what’s going on. It’s up to you players.)

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Dungeons & Dragons

9 responses to “Into the City

  1. Maruc (Clr 1)

    A subsistence diet of root vegetables and mushrooms does nothing for the soul Maruc decided. Day after day of toil on the road made him realise the hardship of the occasional pilgrim that had happened upon his lonely cloister. Frugal use of his food and water saw that he did not weaken over the journey but his muscles weren’t used to the abuse he was subjecting them to now. Especially the extra weight of armour. He’d tried to carry it in his back pack, but it was easier to just wear it in the end. At least it kept him warm what with all the padding.

    Specularum was a coastal town he’d discovered from a traveling tinker. The ships where a marvel apparently and the sights and smells where an experience like no other. The architecture and marketplaces where you could buy anything you could think of, it sounded marvelous.

    It sounded unbelievable to Maruc, whose life had been somewhat restricted in comparison to others.

    As he’d drawn closer to the city the tales that he heard of it became darker and more sober. Tales of muggings and dark guilds of whom it would be better not to cross. Certain people to avoid, areas and inns in which not to linger….

    When on the morning of the sixth day of his walk Maruc spied the outskirts of the city he was more weary than hopeful. What astonished him more than anything else was the noise. The cloister was deathly quiet and his journey was solitary. However the city shouted its existence to the skies. The gates where open and people in colorful robes bustled about in gay abandon. Maruc couldn’t help a smile creep across his face as he watched the pantomime of city life unfold before him.

    Unsure of watch the gate guards would ask of him as he approached, he paused expecting to be questioned. However nothing happened, so not tarrying overlong he marched with purpose through the gates. Maruc thought a purposeful man would be less likely to be troubled than anyone else.

    What manner of people conducted themselves like this? Thought Maruc. There must be no restraint here. Indeed if Lord Stefan dwelt amongst such folk no wonder he does not know himself. How anyone is to achieve quiet meditation in this throng is beyond anyones guess…

    People jolted and bustled into each other, and Maruc, as he elbowed his way through the press of humanity and to his surprise – inhumanity. (If that is the right way to address elves, dwarves and suchlike). Maruc had never been in contact with anyone else other than humankind. In away he was quiet looking forward to meeting, and talking to, a Dwarf, or maybe an Elf. Maruc wondered which Immortal shepherded folk of such strange ancestry, surely they believed as he believed? But he wasn’t so foolish as to hope for that. Perhaps they were Godless? Maruc had never been racist between those of Traladaran and Thyatian decent so he wasn’t about to start being inter-racist.

    Here and there in the throng he spotted non-humans, but he didn’t get much opportunity to stare. There was music, shouting and people praising Lucor. Who was Lucor? A local hero or dignitary?

    No matter, but wait. Maruc instantly recognised the robes of the clerics coming down the street. Those pedlar’s in the easy answers to the real truth, pale followers of the stayed Traladaran clerical tradition selling false tales to the uneducated populous. They do not understand what Stefan will become! Soon they will be shown for their misguided faith…now is not the time though.

    This must be some rite of their’s and Lucor must be some mislead chief?
    Perhaps this is the start of my journey.

    There is a scuffle ahead. I pull my over-robe over my ceremonial emblazoned Halavist shield and take a closer look. In the conversation about the crowd about I catch the word ‘Radu’ and ‘Torenescu’. This piques my interest – who would be opposed to a celebration of Lucor? Who are the Radu?

    A priest has two ears and one mouth – he listens twice as much as he talks….time to listen.

  2. Saeth Tegau

    Suddenly, the crowd sways to the sides of the street. “The procession is coming!” shouts a young boy.

    Saeth glances up toward the street, but the swarming mass of commoners blocks her view. With a shrug, she leans back agains the wall and takes another bite of her grilled corn. She didn’t even know who this Lucor guy was, so how exciting could his procession be? And where did that juggler from a minute ago disappear to?

    A general hush falls over the crowd. And then, “Bald-headed fool, do you Torenescu think you own the street? There’s space for all of us, without your ape-like behavior!”
    “Out of the way of the Procession of Lucor, Radu rubble!”

    The elf stands in a flash. How exciting could this procession be? She might not know who Lucor was, let alone Radu, but this sounded like it could be far fairer sport than bearbaiting or any of the other cruel games from this morning. Dropping the half-eaten corncob, she squeezes through the crowd, ducking around people and under arms, seeking a front row view of the coming confrontation.

  3. Feldard meets Maruc

    Through the procession, interesting as it was to watch the humans worship, Feldard found himself watching little more than a field of waistcoats and waggling sashes and ornimental belts. He found himself caught in a human current, swept along through the streets, able to smell food that smelled quite passable for foreign food but was quite impossible to get to. Finally in fury he found himself climbing to the top of a rainbarrel, his head breeching the crowd with a roar of satisfaction. Hardly anyone noticed–there was a good deal of roaring. At least he could see the swordeaters.

    Suddenly the milling throng stopped and the gaiety churned into moblike murmoring. He could hear some sort of angry dispute that had ground the whole parade to an unhappy halt. He had to hop down and shoulder through a number of people, coming out beside some stranger who looked like maybe a cleric of some strange ethnic stripe. He hadn’t heard the words to precede it, but was in time to see the one man spit on the statue, and the bearer of it push him to the ground.

    The cleric seemed obviously interested. Likely he would know something of worth. He reached up a hand to the mans shoulder to shake him from his reverie.

    “I am Feldard Scarredbrow, son of Bulenar of the Buhrodars, and well-met stranger.” His voice was overloud, more appropriate for shouting over the crowds earlier than for the current tension. “From the looks of you, I trust you can tell me what is the matter here? Who are these men, and what idiocy causes them to bray at one another so? After all, this is a celebration is it not? To stand in the middle of the street and shove each other…disgraceful…”

  4. Maruc (Clr 1)

    ….“I am Feldard Scarredbrow…”
    Maruc glances left then right. Odd he thought, I swore someone was addressing me.
    “…son of Bulenar of the Buhrodars, and well-met stranger.”
    I followed the voice down. A stern, lantern-jaw featured and bearded dwarf with a huge shock of raven black wiry hair stared up at him. He didn’t look very happy, but it didn’t carry in his voice so Maruc guessed he wasn’t about to start a fight. Although by his build and somewhat unpleasant looking mace he had the look of a mercenary. Burnished chainmail glinted beneath his grey tabard and the kite shield he bore had a curious device emblazoned on it.
    The dwarf had shouted so he might me slightly deaf like Maruc’s old calligraphy teacher. Not entirely sure what the correct way to address him without causing offence and still uncomfortable with the situation unfolding before him he leans down and shouts.
    “Maruc. At your service master dwarf.”
    “From the looks of you, I trust you can tell me what is the matter here?” continued the dwarf.
    Maruc felt that explaining the intricacies of the theological differences between the two religions would probably confuse the dwarf and possibly lead to an awkward situation with the clerics nearby. Anyway, Maruc had tried to conceal his priestly symbols and paraphernalia, now was not the time.
    “Sadly I am but a pilgrim and new to Specularum.” Maruc tried to make himself heard over the noise, “I arrived here but a few moments before yourself. It seems that the local priesthood do not consider themselves servants of the people. By their actions they seem to believe they are some sort of nobility. They don’t seem to enjoy the respect my cloister has. Sorry, had.”
    “Who are these men, and what idiocy causes them to bray at one another so? After all, this is a celebration is it not?” the dwarf carried on. “To stand in the middle of the street and shove each other…disgraceful…”
    Maruc smiled to himself, if this was the state of the clergy here it only served made the Halavist position that much stronger. “Aye, ‘disgraceful’ it is my short friend.”
    He wondered if the term ‘short friend’ might have caused offense but it was said now. The unfolding drama in front of him held his attention.

  5. Saeth Tegau (But only kind of)

    Counting them a second time, just to be certain, Miklos once again wondered what he would do once his small stash of coins emptied. After all, he couldn’t go running home anymore–not for a year, anyway–he was supposed to be self-reliant, after all.

    Fortunately, they would last for a while, and and were certainly more than enough to enjoy himself for the duration of the festival. In fact, he rather looked forward to meeting up with Gregor for a pint or two that evening… and looking at the sun, he’d better get moving. Wouldn’t want to keep his friend waiting! Miklos broke into a run, hoping he’d make it to the Roaring Lion in time.
    He cut down a dark alleyway, scattering rats before his quickened pace, and burst out onto the main street. He barely had time to register the crowds, far more than were here this morning. He slid to the left, narrowly avoiding a pilgrim—and tripped over the child standing to next to the pilgrim. They tumbled into the street, right at the feet of the stationary shrinebearers.

    Rubbing his head, Miklos looked about. It seemed he’d stumbled—quite literally—onto the afternoon’s procession. And the child he’d run into, was the boy hurt? It took Miklos two glances to find the fallen figure. To his surprise, it was not a child a all, but a dwarf, and not nearly as disheveled by the fall as Miklos felt!

    Player’s Note: I’m not trying to volunteer to take over Miklos, just trying to keep things moving. Though it was engaging once I got inspired, I sincerely hope that eldersphinx and Liz return quickly!
    We should probably continue the story, even with the diminished party—the rounds run slowly enough as it is that we’ll probably have a full compliment by the time we finish the scene.

  6. mah9

    Hmm… A day in Specularum. What to do?

    First, some fresh water and bread to take the edge off the hangover. What was that rotten Hin spirit he’d been drinking last night?

    Then a walk through town. Try and find an honest day’s work. Too late to try the market. Maybe the docks, or a tavern.

    He walks east towards the docks, and comes upon a crowd of people. So tempting, so many people obviously straining to see some religious procession or other.

    Some hero priest called Lucor. It rings a bell from somewhere, but it’s been so long since Nicolao had been to church that he really could not remember.

    But the temptation of so many easy marks. Looking round he saw three other dippers working the crowds. He’d heard rumours of the guilds in Specularum. The Kingdom, now he’d be probably be allowed to join if they caught him on their territory. The Veiled might let him join, or they might dump his body in the harbour. The Iron Ring. Now there was a reason to be afraid. Tales of slavery and the Black Eagle reached even Fogor Isle.

    No. He wasn’t going to take any marks until he’d at least worked out who ran which area. That meant an honest days work. Down to the docks then.

    Then ahead, a priest and a Dwarf discussing the procession, unusual. He’d seen Dwarfs from Highforge, and he’d never seen them talking to anyone, unless it was related to business.

    Out of the corner of his eye, a youth running through the crowd. The youth is looking up high, and doesn’t see the Dwarf. As if in slow motion, the youth collides with the Dwarf and tumbles over him. Right in front of the procession…

    Too funny. But Nicolai doesn’t laugh out loud, that would not be wise given there appeared to be a fight breaking out at the front of the procession as well…

  7. Feldard Scarredbrow (Dw 1)

    Tries to square himself against the blow, but is several seconds too late. He’s bottomheavy enough not to go bowling over onto the ground, rather he is flattened to one side, losing his helmet and going to a knee. The human who ran him over rolling overhead. He springs up to his feet again, looking around wildly and smoothing down his now wildly matted hair before securing his helmet again. First he fires a burning glare at the cleric, a dare to have noticed any of that–and then stalks after the human who stumbled over him grabbing him by a handful of shirt and pulling him down to his level.

    “By my beard! You miserable, lanky, stumbling, dreg-sucking lout! The next words out of your misshapen head had better be an appology!”

  8. Maruc (Clr 1)

    The rush of activity before him took Maruc several seconds to read the situation.

    In is minds eye he could see the attention of the crowd shift from the fight to this scuffle then the guards would come, then there would be a night in the cells and most likely a fine for brawling in the street.

    Maruc had no desire for the first and no money for the second. And, worst luck, he was already involved. Best to smooth things over and by the look the dwarf gave him this must be done as quickly as possible.

    Maruc leaned down hand helped the man to his feet. Light humour normally alleviates such problems. Catching the dwarves words before he has time to start a fight and more for the crowd than the fallen man I say, “ Ahh, bless me! A man with two left feet I see.” He dusts him down a bit. “I’m sure there’s plenty of room to see the procession. It’s nice to see the enthusiasm for the rites of the church.”

    In much quieter and more urgent tones he whispered to the man and mostly to the dwarf, “ I’d take it as a kindness it you would make your peace somewhere less public, but for now I’d like to see why this first fight has taken place. Then perhaps we can discuss at our leisure our little accident in a nice warm hostelry. Perhaps you know of one here abouts?”

    I return my attention to the fight in front of the procession.

  9. Ok, hold off on comments until I get the next post done. Looks like we’re off to a good start here. I think we can get by with 5 characters, leaving Miklos open to be played by anyone. If Liz returns, we can get Bellassia into the mix, or if another player wants to add a character of their own that’s cool too.

    I’ve updated the Into the City and Prelude posts with your comments. The rest of the posts will be in the new update that I hope to finish today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s