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Session 8 (Aidan)

Played on 2003/08/31

I awoke lying sprawled on the wet sand of a beach. My mind was as foggy as it has been a few times before. I do no recall much of the last few days, but it seems like I washed up on the beach together with a huge pile of dead soldiers. Hmmm.. That can't be right. We have probably had a fight and I got knocked out during it. A quick checkup seems to indicate I am still in a good condition though. May throat is a bit sore; maybe I had a little too much to drink last night.

Luckily Irtek and Phaedra quickly fill me in about the events of the last days. Apparently we came here helped by some "real" pirates. Arrrr... Matey! Shiver me timbers! We found these, apparently fake, pirates and we beat them up. Well, probably THEY beat them up, because I was lying face-down in the sand. Unfortunately, the wizard which was helping them cowardly got away. No hurry to go after him. We will be probably have plenty of time to catch up with such a slow wizard. Oh, did I mention that the fake pirates claim to be part of the Toolay navy? Anyway, the rest of the party performs a thorough search of the fake pirateship while I rifle through the dead people's possession for clues. While the others turn up a spellbook and a captain's log, I find only money and even that is about the monetary equivalent of diddly squat.

We quickly decided that the best course of action is to give chase to the wizard who has only got about half an hour head start on us. After asking some of the "real" pirates to guard our ship, we quickly start our chase. After some time I propose to use my magic to speed up my pace and thus continue alone. Everybody understands that this is the only way we could catch up with the wizard and the others turn back to the ships while I am singing my enchantment. The wizard's trail is easily followed and the roads seem nigh deserted, so my progress is luckily unchallenged. After a great amount of time, I still don't glimpse a sight of the wizard and I am afraid that my search will prove fruitless.

After some time, I come across a wounded person lying by the side of the road. He seems to be a peasont from the field and it looks as though he has nastily hit his head on a stone. The wound is bleeding profusely and I fear he has not long to live if he is left unattended. I try as well as I can to tend to his wounds, but I simply can not stop the bleeding. Oh, if only Irtek or Phaedra were here. They would have known what to do! But if I were to go and fetch them, he would be dead before I would have even seen them. I try talking to him, but he speaks a language I do not know. Some of the words seem to resemble the ancient poetic languages, but I can not make much coherence out of it. One phrase I think I have understood. For just a moment I thought he said, 'It is a shame that is has to be so.' But I don't think I can ever be certain. At a loss for things to do to help him and pressed for time in the chase of the wizard, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my lifetime. I chose to continue my road onwards and leave him by the side of the road. The moment still haunts me in my nightmares as I think about things I could have done to save him. Maybe, I will still have the time to find and inform his family before I leave this island, but my scant knowledge of the language will probably prevent me.

I continued my chase and after some time walking I noticed a city in the distance. Well, maybe not really a city but at least big enough to have city walls. From my vantage point it was clear that the wizard was no longer on the road and probably was already residing in the city. As we did not really have any knowledge to what the wizard looked like, I gave up on the hope of finding him in the city and I trailed back to the beach. On the way back, I passed the peasant, now dead. I closed his eyes and put him into a peaceful pose. I left him there and hoped his family would find him before an animal would.

As I reached the beach, it seemed the pirates weren't as trustworthy as we thought them to be. As if we couldn't have thought about that before. They even told us they were pirates! So besides from being completely clueless, stupid and naive we are now stranded here as well and our mission needs us to find a wizard in the middle of a city, while we do not even know what he looks like! After a night's sleep we had a big argument about what we were going to do. Most people wanted to walk on the road towards the city. As I was expecting that the wizard would have informed his superiors by now, I thought this was an extremely naive idea. Probably a platoon of soldiers was walking this way as we speak. I have got no problem with getting myself into danger, but I am not going to risk my neck when there is a clear and easy alternative. After a big debate we finally decided to head away from the city and see if we can find a way back to Rorn to report what we have found.

After some hours travelling along the road, we saw a tower in the distance. Hoping to find someone who could give us some information about the neighbourhood, we made our way along a little-used trail toward the tower. After we cautiously looked around, Chrel rashly pounded on the door. Luckily, the tower did not seem to be full of Toolay soldiers, but just one old man. We were grateful that the man seemed to speak the Seven Kingdoms tongue. He seemed reluctant to give us information but at least he was forthcoming with information about the neighbourhood and we learned that two cities were nearby. He seemed especially interested in works of poetry and I promised to recite something for him later. Unfortunately at this time, Chrel decided to barge past the old man up the stairs. Needless to say, the old man was none to happy about that and started to attack Chrel. Ofcourse, he was no real match for the brute and got knocked down by Chrel. After I stepped in to help him to his feet, Phaedra cast some sort of spell, which quickly calmed everybody, but the old man wanted us out of the tower. As he closed the door, I recited a poem for him, to keep my end of the bargain. It was surely not my best performance ever, probably even one of the worse ones, but he was extremely moved by it. After hearing it, he invited me back in. I wanted to have the others join, but he would only let me in. I got a chance to ask him some more questions. After talking a while it seemed that the other city which was close by is the home of the Toolay navy and that he had seen covert activity on the beach where we landed. Probably this means that the fake pirates work is done by a subgroup of the Toolay navy. Maybe this means that they are renegades or that they are part of some kind of secret service. The latter seems unlikely, as the captain of the fake pirate ship told us he was employed by the Toolay navy. He also told us that Toolay as such does not seem to be openly planning war on any of the Seven Kingdoms. Why then would they wage trouble with Rorn by attacking their ships and coast? Are they maybe looking to provoke a Rorn attack to allow them to retaliate? Or are we really dealing with a rebellious group of soldier? Anyway, this might allow us to act as diplomats and contact the Rorn officials on a more diplomatic level, but first let's see what kind of information we can gain here. In the mean time our cover story will be that we were missionaries travelling to Toolay who got attacked on sea. Actually, with all this preaching Irtek and Phaedra are doing, this might just be true. As a thanks for all the useful information I got from the old man, I recited a new poem for him. This was truely one of my better performances. I am not quite sure if I ever recited a better poem and this time I saw tears in his eyes. He told me it was almost worthy of a master! What does he take me for? An apprentice? Surely he must be mistaken. Well, as it turns out, it is a cultural reference, but I will tell about that a bit later.

I bade the old man a fond farewell and we set off in the direction of the base of the Toolay navy. After we were some time happily on our way through the toolay lands we spotted a building at some distance. Hoping to find shelter for the night there, we set off in that direction. About halfway up the road to the building. Berthus saw something. He thought he saw a mysterious building to the right side of the road. We decided to remember its location and return after we investigated the less mysterious building we were travelling to. After a brief stroll, we reached the building. From its appearance we gathered it to be some kind of monastery, although it was extremely well ornamented. It was decorated with beautiful sculptures and reliefs. I had to pause a moment to take in its magnificent splendor. When we came closer to the building, one of the residents of the monastery walked up to us and tried to talk to us. We tried telling her something, but unfortunately she did not speak our language. Phaedra tried some other language she knew and the resident seemed to recognize it. She gestured us to wait here and she went to fetch a regal looking woman. She conversed with Phaedra in this strange language. Phaedra later told me it was Celestial, the language of the angels. The woman turned out to be some kind of "master". Probably the leader of the monastery. She explained that the monaster was a tribute to the God of the arts and that she would be thrilled if we knew some about art ourselves. They were very hospitable and provided us with a good room and a very nice meal. That night I returned the favor of their hospitality and went to a common room where I joined them in song and tried to converse in the Toolay language. I learned some words, but it will be a long time before I can have a normal conversation in the language. My nightly performance seemed to be appreciated and with a satisfied feeling I slumbered off to sleep. That night I had a strange night in which I dreamt of running through the woods with a group of people. They were all dressed similarly as I, with bows and green-coloured clothing. We seemed to be running towards something, but I could not remember what. The only thing I knew was that it was of the utmost importance.

The next day the master had arranged for a translator to be present. This turned out to be the old man from the tower! He looked really nervour and uncomfortable and was clearly either awed by the situation or he did not want to be there. Well, there probably was a reason why he lived reclusively in that tower. Anyway, after conversion with the master we found out that on Toolay, the arts are highly respected and artists are seen as nobles which have complete control over all non-artists. Slightly less respected than artists are wizards and all other people are off the lowest possible rank. The highest ranks are the masters, people who can weave their art with magic. Actually, not so unlike the way I can interweave my singing with magic. As a government idea this does not seem like a too bad idea. Isn't it so that bards like I are well-versed in the arts of diplomacy and conversation? Also, most bards retain a kind of neutrality which is not often seen in the other professions. Most bards are also not of an aggressive nature, so it would be easier to keep the peace. What I did not like though, was that she said that one of a higher rank could just a kill man of a lower rank and get away with it. She kept going on about that example; I hope it's not a hobby of hers or anything. With some subtlety I told her that I too can weave my art with magic and was curious about how one can become a master. She told me that to become a master you must be able to show that you can weave magic with art before at least two masters. These masters can then transfer the hallmark clothing and appearance of a master to you. This would give you higher status immediately. See this as most helpful on our quest, I sang a beautiful song about the tiny folk of the north, which could hide so well that they appeared invisible to most eyes. I ended it by singing the invisibility illusion, thus showing my weaving of magic and music. She liked it and proposed me to go to a nearby city to find another master and perhaps bestow masterhood upon me. Ofcourse I gladly accepted. The old man was also 'asked' to join and we will soon all set off to this city. I am very keen to learn more about this land and of course to be a master...

Always two there are, Aidan

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