Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

Trentham was a charming small town, its narrow and cobbled streets well-kept & clean. Galdren arrived an hour before dusk, making his way to one of the larger inns for lodging. A tall man, with long hair pulled in a pony tail, leaned against the front of the Inn & smiled at him.

“Mancer Galdren?” the man enquired as he approached. The man stood up straight & held out his hand. Galdren nodded and shook it, finding his hand softer than he expected. “Call me Asher” he said.

They went inside, secured lodgings & sat in the common room.

Galdren asked

  • Where are you from? 9%
  • how can you help me? 27%
  • which way should we go? 0%
  • why did Jasper send you? 64%

“Jasper and I have been acquainted for a number of years” he replied. “I was visiting the Manse and offered my services”.

“You aren’t a Mancer” said Galdren sceptically. “A Librarian?”

“Not a Librarian” he smiled “but a scholar of sorts. An expert in the Portal & the Planes.”

Galdren harrumphed. “This little journey is proving more dangerous than I expected. I hope you can defend yourself, mr scholar.”

Asher held his hand out & a dagger appeared. It was long and wicked, the blade pitch black.

Galdren nodded at the trick. “We are being pursued.”

  • “Who? Why?” 21%
  • ”Are you sure?” He smirks 57%
  • ”They have been delayed” 22%

Galdren frowned at the man. “A Light Mancer sent a Throne to find me. That means pursuit.

“It means you were being chased” said Asher, smirking.

“If you know something, speak man” said Galdren, mildly frustrated.

“I suggest we look forward rather than back” the man said.

Brief silence & a nod from Galdren. Galdren ordered a meal, though Asher said he had eaten.

“So tell me what you know of our destination” said Asher. “West?”

“West, then North” he said, putting another spoonful into his mouth. “Through Urith and into Mirith.”

“Is that wise?”

  • I need someone in Althera 7%
  • We need help from Luscent 36%
  • You go where I say we go 21%
  • Not wise, but necessary 36%

“Luscent” Asher said. “It’s been a while since I visited that interesting place”.

“Me too” said Galdren. “Me too.”

They spent six days riding West, camping each night close to the horses. They talked but Galdren remained wary of the relative stranger. Asher remained cryptic.

They crested a hill on the morning of the seventh day to see a village sparkling on the horizon.

Galdren squinted. “Bittle” he said. And kicked the horse forward. “Know it?” he called over to Asher.

“Not well” he admitted. “I have only travelled to Luscent by portal.”

  • A village of outcasts 39%
  • A religious retreat 30.5%
  • A training ground 30.5%

“Outcasts from the city?” asked Asher.

“Yes, there are two outcast villages. Bittle & Lettle.”

“Luscent is an accepting place, so I remember, though it has been… some time”

Galdren snorted. “Not so accepting of people who’ve ‘lost their way’.”

Asher nodded in understanding.

The last time he visited the zealots of Luscent they’d put to death their non-believers. It seems they’d mellowed over the years.

There were two groups in Luscent. Day worshippers & Night worshippers. Interesting people. Its founders were portal scholars. Like him, he smiled.

  • Bittle: ex Day zealots 46%
  • Bittle: ex Night zealots 54%

“This should be fun” said Asher with a grin.

They rode into the village which had already come to life. The people were mostly somber, looking at the two with mistrust in their eyes. Asher smiles and waved at a woman that glared at them sharply. She harrumphed & turned away.

“This should be fun” said Asher with a grin.

They rode into the village which had already come to life. The people were mostly somber, looking at the two with mistrust in their eyes. Asher smiles and waved at a woman that glared at them sharply. She harrumphed & turned away.

  • “We stay the night” 92%
  • ”We need to move on” 8%

“There” Asher nodded towards a sturdy looking tavern. “That looks respectable enough”.

They rode to the stable entrance at the side of the Inn, handed their reins to a boy & entered.

The Innkeeper was a contrast to the dour faces in the street, beaming at the two new guests.

“Two of your best rooms!” smiled Asher.

“You paying?” grumbled Galdren. Asher winked at him, fished into a pouch at his waist and gave the woman two gold pieces.

“This should cover the rooms & our sustenance tonight?” Asher said.

The Innkeeper nodded. “Mostly.” She grinned.

  • Settle in their rooms 8%
  • Settle in the common room 54%
  • Take a walk through town 38%

They secured their travel kits in their well-furnished rooms before heading down to the quiet common room. A clock on the mantle showed it was approaching mid day.

“Quiet in here” said Asher.

“Oh, it’ll liven up” said Galdren, waving to the inkeeper for food & drinks.

Galdren ate his meal quietly, Asher’s almost constant prattle washing over him. His mind was elsewhere.

Asher stopped talking to look at his silent companion, the break in words getting Galdren’s attention.

“Tell me about your…

  • visit with the Gray Magi” 62%
  • time at the Manse” 15%
  • last time here” 15%
  • training with the Mancers” 8%

“How do you know I visited the Grays?” Galdren frowned over his mug at Asher.

Asher’s grin dropped from his face and he stared at Galdren intensely. “You would be surprised at what I know.”

After a silent moment, Asher grinned again. “Well? What did they have to say?”

Galdren considered him. He was still very much a stranger and he didn’t trust the man.

“I went to visit a friend” Galdren said.

“Yes, yes” Asher said. “Barton. And?”

Galdren thumped the table with his fist. The innkeeper studiously ignored them, though she surely listened.

  • “What do you know?”25%
  • ”My friend was dead” 17%
  • ”None of your affair” 17%
  • ”You know he was murdered” 41%

Asher looked directly into Galdren’s eyes, head tilted, the Mancer’s anger burning bright. Asher spread his hands “Yes. But why do you suppose he was murdered?”

Galdren’s anger was replaced by confusion. “I don’t know” he replied, sadly.

“Think, man!” Asher barked.

“He didn’t know I was coming” said Galdren. “It couldn’t have been related to my visit.”

Asher sighed. “You’re so sure? Are there not those who see such things?” Galdren’s brow furrowed. Asher continued. “What reason would someone have to kill him?”

“I need to know” he nodded.

  • Demand Asher talks 67%
  • Seek knowledge in Bittle 0%
  • Seek knowledge in Luscent 16.5%
  • Summon a demon for help 16.5%

Galdren’s eyes clouded black in his anger. To his surprise Asher laughed. “Then we shall try and find out” he said. “Have you finished?” He gestured at the empty bowl in front of the Mancer.

Without waiting for an answer he stood and walked to the staircase up to their rooms.

Galdren followed up to Asher’s room.

“Sit” said Asher, pulling a chair to the foot of the bed. “He dug a shallow bowl from his saddle bag, followed by a bottle of black liquid. Popping the cork, he poured. Placing the bowl on the floor, he touched the liquid with his finger.

  • Images appeared 47%
  • Sounds filled the room 20%
  • Smoke filled the room 27%
  • Light filled the room 6%

The ripples danced on the surface of the liquid, showing images. Asher smiled, Galdren’s brow furrowed. Leaning down, Asher flicked the bowl hard. It rung like a bell and resonated in Galdren’s mind. The images were suddenly in his head, not in the bowl. Colourful and clear.

Galdren saw through Barton’s eyes. The older man’s hands were deeply wrinkled, scratching some notes onto a creamy parchment. He heard the door creak open slowly, expecting an acolyte with some tea but was shocked, when he looked up, to see a very unlikely visitor.

  • A female Paladin of the Light 32%
  • A small, pale girl 21%
  • High Mancer Serabel 37%
  • Light Mancer Arkath 10%

“High Mancer!” Barton said in shock. “What brings you here?” he cranes his head around the tall woman to see if she’d been escorted.

She sneered & raised her hand, angelic symbols circling her wrist. In reaction, Barton leaped from his chair, holding a finger ring towards her.

A translucent shield appeared in front of him but it was not sufficient to prevent the Judgement she cast. In seconds he was crippled by the accumulated guilt of his life’s wrongs, unable to move.

She slowly approached him, a sharp knife in her hands. She slit his throat.

  • The image dissipates 40%
  • The image continues 60%

Galdren continued to see through Barton’s eyes even though he laid on his side, clutching at his bleeding neck. He watched Serabel step lightly over the growing pool of blood, lifting her white robes up so as not to stain them. She stopped in front of someone at the door.

“It’s done, High Mancer?”

“It is. Things are now set in motion. The Shadow Mancer will find have to find assistance elsewhere.”

Serabel turned back to watch Barton die, a smile on her face. “The old fool.” Galdren felt hate.

Serabel’s companion looked past her at Barton, too.

  • It was a female Paladin 42%
  • Gray Mage who helped him 58%

Barton died & Galdren returned to the inn with a deep gasp. Asher looked at Galdren with a smile, his face expectant. Excited.

“Well man? What did you see?”

Galdren glared at him. “Did you know?” he demanded?

“Know what?” Asher replied

“That Light Mancer witch!” he spat.

Galdren explained what he saw, venom in his voice.

“And now she chases me” he said.

“There was treachery in the house of the Gray Magi too” Asher prompted.

“I vow they will both get their payment” Galdren spat again.

The Portal was dimming. The whole day had passed.

  • Back to the common room 47%
  • Out into the town 33%
  • Talk more in the room 20%

Galdren was as hungry as he was angry. “Let’s go back down & eat. We need to discuss next steps” he told Asher sternly.

Asher nodded in response. “I’ll follow you down” he replied, moving to clear the bowl.

The liquid was gone, thin tendrils of black steam drifting up.

The door closed behind Galdren & Asher picked up the bowl. He smiled, happy with the way things had gone. Most of the vision has been of Galdren’s own making. It had just needed a bit of a nudge here and there.

Replacing the bowl in his bag, he left to join his companion.

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