Hasan stepped forward. “Well met, holy one, and peace be upon the Hutakaa and their Vale. Know thee that we come with reverence for the antiquity of your race and its understanding. Know too that we come as friends, of thine and of thine own enemies. Indeed, see now that we bring your enemy as our own bonded diplomat. These humans are thine own friends these many years, and deserve the respect their friendship those many years earned. For friendship and belief is what brings us here. Belief that none can stand idle when evil that can end us threatens us. So I stand before you, an elf heir, young though I am, I will aid you as I can. Pass me the runestick, that I may assist thee.”
“Thanks be to thee kind elf,” she said as she handed him the enchanted stick. “It is only peace that we seek as well.” The more the Hutaakans spoke, the easier it became to understand their accent.
“Koforedz, you are wise, and I will honor your confidence. Take me to the Vault, and I will do as I can. We shall find this Tome of the Hutakaa, and see peace again on this Vale.” Accepting the Rod, Hasan examined it closely. “This looks old, yet still I recognize some of it. Ludo, Miklos, tell me what you see. Use your skills that I may do what I must at the Vault.”
Miklos recieved the rod giving it a cursory glance then turned to Ludo, “We should have brought the Traldar spokesman. It would have been interesting to see what he might have said to the High Priestess’s accusations. My mind is not made up in this matter, as you say I don’t believe all the truth has been told. There is fault on both sides.” He returned his attention to the rod. “It is a key Hasan, I suspect no duplicity at this point. We are here to break the deadlock and in return we shall learn the secrets the the Son’s of Night covert and in doing so we achieve and ultimate good.”
Ludo looked over the rod’s inscribition. “Its a, elven dialect that I am not familar with. Beautifully made, obviously very old.” He handed it back to to Hasan.
Ludo started to ask “I wonder if they have anything to eat,” then stood agape as he was interrupted by Maruc.
“I will not side with anyone willing to curse a land with the sleepless dead.” Maruc said. “But I have not pledged my loyalty to either side and I will not until I have all the facts. I have precious little of those.”
He turned to the priestess, “Kforedz, High Priestess of Hutaaka. If as you say the Traldar released the undead on your lands, why would they do such a thing? They are strong and violent and they outnumbered you I presume? They seem incapable of magic’s that would cause the weakness between the worlds necessary to fill a whole valley with restless spirits. They accuse you and your kin of this deed and the facts so far point in this direction. You admit you are a priest and priests have skills in such areas. But only the evil would choose to do so.” He added darkly. “From my point of view it looks like your culture of what the Traldar call ‘slavery’ broke down in a violent revolution and perhaps this action was a final roll of the dice to maintain power, or simply even to save yourselves?”
Maruc raised his voice as all could hear, “I follow the immortal Halav Incarnate who sits on the Ducal throne of Specularum in the deep South. He is wise and benevolent. I try to emulate Him in my way. I do not believe that the Hutaakan priests would deliberately and irreversibly befoul their land, but equally I do not believe the Traldar would have wilfully unleashed an undead hoard upon themselves. Miklos would be a better man to describe this, but what I think is this. Some delicate magical balance has been disturbed during the revolution. Neither side of the war are innocent. The Hutaakans forced labour from the Traldar, however willingly or not at the first, the Traldar certainly felt aggrieved enough to form a revolution in the end and have in ignorance broken something of Hutaakan making that has flooded the land with evil. But equally a violent revolution casts its own evil light and the Traldar did not choose to negotiate their plight, or were refused negotiation to avoid death and war. I do not accuse the Hutaakan’s of making the evil but of insufficiently containing it. I do accuse you of lack of foresight, arrogance and subjugation of another culture.”
Maruc held up his hand for silence and the babble of voices, “I serve only the furtherance of Good under the eyes of Halav Incarnate. I will not suffer the undead to walk the land and I will do what I can to cleanse this land, but in return for this deed I seek oaths.”
Maruc stepped forward in front of the Priestess and looked directly into her eyes. “Kforedz, High Priestess of Hutaaka. Under the eyes of Immortal Pflarr and Holy Halav who I call in witness, you will swear do all in your power to never again allow enslavement or anything akin to it to enter your culture. And this will be your responsibility and your heirs forever. Do you agree to these terms?”
“Faack…” Stephan muttered about halfway through Maruc’s speech. Sotto voce, “Couldn’t he just say it was an accident and we’ll try to fix it but can you all just be nice to each other. And maybe just leave off that last part until we sort things out.” It was a rhetorical question. “Halav in Heaven,” the Traladarian muttered in way of correcting Maruc’s interpretation of the god’s whereabouts.
Silence bellowed as Maruc finsihed his speech. Ludo looked around uncomfortably and in an sotto voice echoed Stephan “Maruc you sure do know how to make friends and influence people. Come into their home, accuse your hosts of arrogance, evil and slavery and then give their religious leader an ultimatum.” His hand slowly moved and rested on his sword. This could go bad really quickly.
Feldard lost interest in the priests long winded lecture as to the cause and reasons behind the war; it was only when the priest demanded an oath of the Hutaakan that the dwarf paid more heed. He watched the jackel headed priestess for sign of insult and anger, and moved his hand to his axe just in case.
“Kind visitors. You see the ancient art that surrounds us. There are depictions of peace and knowledge, fine craftsmanship and honoring of the dead. You do not see depictions of war and aggression. We are caretakers, living quietly in the valley for ages, faithfully serving Pflarr and performing our duties of sacred guardianship over ancient malevolent forces. We tried to instill these values to the Traldar, but it is not in their nature to know peace. They are a selfish, aggressive race.”
“You ask that we do not enslave the Traldar. I give you my word that we have not done, now shall we ever do anything of the sort. Whatever grievances the Traldar hold against us, we hope we can resolve. War has taken a great toll on both sides. The Hutaakans can pledge to you that if you can help us bring the dead to rest and defeat the evil unleashed by the Traldar’s ignorant actions, we shall do our utmost to come to a peaceful treaty with their clan.”