March 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm #1725
The last stones have been put in place. The shell of the rocky home you have built on the mountain, or rather used the harp to build, is a fine thing. Built high atop the sleeping mountain to look like part of the land, the lodge you call home has been made to conform with the slant and twist of the land. The walls are made out not in straight lines, but in twisting waves of stone so as to look like some organic structure. Only the windows and doors betray it as a residence. From the moment you saw it’s shell completed, you knew without your work it would lack a certain pride and ownership, so for weeks now, and for many weeks more, you have committed to doing much of the details yourself. Day by day you whittle at a huge log that will be a polished table in time, you hang fixtures to hold candles and torches, and polish the stone walls on the inside of the dwelling to give them a wet gleam.
Some nights you sleep in the unfinished house. There is a peace here you did not realize you needed, a solitude you did not realize you would appreciate. The simple task of building something by yourself, replaces the complex task of killing something with a team that has made up so much of your life. So much blood…it is the way of the world…you have never really questioned it..but now, you are filled with strange feelings…it’s been days since you’ve even had a drink. You wonder if the sleeping mountain is watching you, if he stands like a giant on the other side in that ghostly realm keeping watch. You know he does. You have seen things in these last few months that have changed everything you know, and now, you have found the time to think about them.
You wonder about your friends. Somewhere, a few miles off to the south, you picture Grognak in the House of Pacified Shadows, steeped in candle light as he pours over some tome. You remember simpler times in your mercenary days when you and he might sleep in the same horses stall of an abandoned stable between battles, always watching each others backs. You look to the north, and somewhere in those mountains is a little valley that holds Threnody manner. A smile spreads across your lips as you think of Grey with all his attendants and servants…a true master of the manner with staff to boot. It still gives you a tickle to think of him that way…you think back to that drink you shared in Shen Ling with the tall elf, and suddenly, you feel lonely.
Your eyes look down to Fanlu, just a deaths fall away from you over a thousand feet below. It is such an interesting place. From here you can see Fanlu is really like 4 small towns that sort of run together, hemmed in by an ancient tower dotted wall on the west and north side, the lake on the east side, and the sleeping mountain on the south side. Red town is on the west side of town, the first side of town you came to. It’s really only been months but it seems like years ago. It’s Evon’s Part of town. You can see the palace like Sacred Leaf tea house and the stone gardens that surround it. They are like an outdoor museum, dotted with relics from the fortress that stood here before Fanlu was built. The gardens are built around old archways that belong to buildings that no longer stand. There are toppled columns that have been artfully made into benches, besides restored statues of warlords, diplomats, and mythical creatures from a former age. What stands out the most are a dozen ancient stone staircases that lead up or down to nothing, patiently performing their duty even though the spaces they reach for no longer stand.
There is one staircase that leads down to the underworld market. Evon has offered to be your agent and help you sell off some things…you wonder how that’s going. Caris is down in the little cottage at the edge of those gardens, preparing for her trip back to Shen Ling. You’ve been staying there too, but not for the past week. You wonder how she’s doing.
Red town is off by itself, separated from the rest of Fanlu by a wide belt of orchards, parks, and estates criss-crossed with dirt and cobble paths. You’ve been through those places a few times. There are lots of peaceful places down their where you can’t see the city walls or any buildings, and if feels like you’re walking through the countryside.
The rest of Fanlu’s districts all run together along the lake on the east side. First, right below you is Southtown. Its home to Fanlu’s founding families and the merchants that have become the town’s life blood. Estates, warehouses, yards full of pack animals and wagons, governing buildings and grand saki houses are all crammed together in a gaudy maze of civilization. The merchants have invested a great deal of their profits to show the world they have done well. They are warrior merchants, ones who guard their own caravans and keep a warrior tradition, pioneers of a sort.
Looking further north is Laketown, home to those who came after Yunshan was founded, mostly families of craftsmen and fishermen who live together in big fortified compounds that look like Inns or modified estates. The docks are crowded with taverns. Stern’s orphanage is right along one of its edges. You wonder how he’s doing with all those kids to look out for. It’s a rough part of town. You have never heard a war cry more mighty than that of Stern’s, still, you wonder, if he were to need your help, would that mighty bellow make it up to your mountain…
Beyond Laketown, outside the northern wall is Marshtown. It’s a squalid dump. Fanlu is mostly a model example for what a city can be. Even the rough and warn parts have a clean and taken care of appearance that is rare, but Marshtown is a poor and wretched dump as bad as anything you’ve seen in the rest of the world. About a thousand people live there, in what is little more than a tangle of tents and shanties crowded around a few permanent buildings and taverns. Just one paved road runs through it, and that’s the road that leads north towards Littlemountain.
Littlemountain, your first real fight in this land, where you held back what seemed like an army in that little village. Had you not been there to stop it, Akiba and Slagg might have led their raiders down that road, and Marshtown would have been the first part of Fanlu to burn to the ground. You think of that battle, of your friends, of Grey’s harsh words of judgement after the battle, of Kito and his open nature when you went up to the Light in the Wind, and then of his cool, calculated nature after that. Then you think of the keeper interrupting Kito’s interrogation and giving you an out. What was that all about? And you think of the last time you saw Kito, standing on the porch at Grey’s manor, then walking away into the mists to hang up his sword and live a normal life…you suddenly feel very lonely. There’s about 3 hours of sunlight left, enough time to hike into town and end up somewhere. In a hurry you cast off your work pants you’ve been in for 3 days, towel off from a basin of cold water, throw on a shirt and cloak, and get ready to head down the hill and seek out some human contact. Where will you go?
March 25, 2016 at 7:58 am #1731
As Hrothgard walks away from his home and begins down the hill, he stops, turns, and smiles at his place. A place where he can feel at one with the great mountain. Where he can also look over Fan Lu as the Great Fang Quiang does. Where Hrothgard’s own spirit can bond all the more with that of the Great Spirit of the Mountain… perhaps his spirit will becaome a part of the Spirit of the Mountain? He chuckles to himself a bit and shakes his head at his boyish dreaming then turns and heads down the road, into the large city.
He is stopped and greeted by a few passers-by who Hrothgard always stops and speaks to; answering questions of his new rock-home on the mountain and of his groups many great victories. One barkeep brings him in for a few drinks on the house, just to have him in his establishment. He is sometimes treated as a celebrity now… and he relishes in it!
He finally makes it to his destination – to the the cottage they all share that Evon allowed them to live in. He spots Caris and Evon there and he smiles as he approaches them.
“Hroth! We were just discussing marriage! Come. Join us.” Evon says. Hrothgard jokingly backs away from the conversation to a round of laughter as Caris rises and greets him with a hug and a kiss. “What brings you down?” she asks him.
“I felt like I needed a night out on the town. A night with people and conversation… and drink!” he laughs. “...and… I could use a good date and a great guide...” he says with a wink to them both.
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