December 4, 2015 at 10:47 am #1603
Intrigued, stern leans in just a bit. “Not many know of my people, Yes it is true we have a connection not so much with common written word but more deeper to that of arcane words and symbols These…” as he lets his sigils illuminate and points to them “These are tied to my very soul, they are as much apart of me as breath is to you. Stern looks deep into the burning coals of the fire “When I was young I was drawn if you will into this path that Crom has chosen for me. Natural, gifted, CHOSEN… These were all words that were used to describe me in the monasteries of the Kabals during my formative years as a young acolyte. It is times like these past days where I see the Strength of our gods beholden in the spirits of the people fighting side by side that I know we have been chosen… Hand selected if you will, by our gods to achieve victory for the greater good. So although my people have a bend for the more Arcane I was chosen to lead a different path.”December 4, 2015 at 11:28 am #1604
The shrine’s keeper looks fascinated at the softly glowing sigils that orbit Stern’s head, a look of child like wonder playing across his features, a look that seems strange and inspiring on one so old.
For a while the keeper asks many curious questions about Stern’s Race and Krom. The two speak a good while, some of you lean forward intently, inspired by the shrine keepers curious energy and Stern’s narration. Some of you lean back in the comfy chairs, letting the wine and warmth wash over you, and nod in and out of wakefulness as the two men speak. Then as things die down he flatly states, referring back to Stern’s original comment:
“Well it is a good thing for us you are on just the path you walk.”
The shrine’s bald keeper looks intently into the fire, the light flickering in his dark glittering eyes and across his shaven head.
“Once all the basic needs of life are taken care of, I think knowledge is the greatest gift. Knowledge is like the bright stars that help us to navigate the sea of destiny, it turns those chaotic seas into a river of purpose. There are many books in this shrine, rare books with rare answers. If there is some knowledge you seek, I welcome you, all of you…
And his eyes linger on Grognak for a moment.
…to peruse our humble library, perhaps it might hold some answers for you and your friends…it is really the greatest gift I have to offer, and hopefully you will understand this gift contains the sum of my gratitude, gratitude for how you all have fought beside my Lord, and saved our land”December 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm #1606
Hundreds of years ago, Shen Leng was founded by refugees of the great rebellion against Leoki. They came from a great city called Lu min, whose ruins lie to the south. Lu Min was the first great city in Yun Shan to join the rebellion and rise up against Leioki. It was the first foothold the rebels gained in this land, and Leioki never forgot this.
Leokei unleashed a terrible magic, a gigantic worm, as high as a mighty city wall and a mile long, was summoned from the abyss to destroy Lu Min in revenge. Such magic was legendary, nearly unassailable, but Lu Min had many great wizards and heroes among it’s citizenry, and somehow, they defeated the hellish worm.
The body of the worm stretched across the city, a great mass of demonic flesh, now rotting and oozing disease and flys in the hot summer sun. No one was exactly sure how to extract the grotesque thing, and soon the entire city was filled with swarming flys and stench. Even in death, Leioki’s worm was a curse. Piece by piece, ton by ton, they began to remove the worm form the city. Wizards sought to blast it apart, but this only served to spread gore and offal everywhere. If is said, after a month, what was left of the things monolithic carcass exploded and a horde of demons spilled out of it’s body to consume all who could not flee. To this day they say Lu Min is still down in the south, haunted by soul thirsty demons…can you imagine such an age, when such magics were unleashed?
Ching Sun Ching was a wealthy noble of Lu Min in those days. After the worm attacked, he had no interest in sticking around the city, so he fled to his country estate. Ching was a philanthropist of sorts, and offered to buy a vast sum of the books in Lu Min’s great library, to keep them safe for antiquity. He spent a fortune in those weeks after the worm attacked, and paid more to have cartloads of books rushed out of the city and to his estate.
When the worm burst, Ching gathered up all the followers and people beholden to his house, and gathered up all the people of the nearby village as well, and helped everyone to flee. He led them away from the demon plagued city, and across Yun Shan’s landscape, then torn by civil war. All along the way he used his wealth and way with people to keep the refugees he led safe. Finally, he led us to this place. Somehow he made a deal with the spirit of this land, and we were allowed to live here. By then, Ching Sun Ching, had lost all his wealth, but he had used it to purchase the two most precious of things, Life, and Knowledge!
Thus, Ching Sun Ching is our founder, and a patron saint of this land. like the Golden Lady and Sun Quan, and in time, Caris will no doubt come to such honor…
But I digress, here is where we have settled, in this beautiful place, and beneath this temple, a large fraction of the books from Lu Min’s great library…I’ve estimated Ching saved a sixth of the library…they are here beneath this temple, and I would grant you their study for as long as you wish to stay. It has been my lifes hobby to catalog and index the entire library. My Index is the size of a personal library all by itself, and it’s not nearly finished.
December 4, 2015 at 5:24 pm #1607
Caris shudders at the thought of a mountain of rotting worm flesh plaguing the city and forces the image out of her head. “It’s admirable how much value you place on knowledge and preserving the books of your past.” Caris says to the Shrine keeper. “Tell me, which one is your favorite and why?”
Caris wonders to herself if they have any duplicate copies of books or books they would part with that we could get to the guardian under the Six Lives Monestary…..December 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm #1608
Oh..oh dear…that’s a rather difficult question to answer…
He stares off into the fire for a moment.
You know, I spend so much time taking care of the books that it’s been some time since I’ve even been able to read one! And you can imagine how busy I’ve been since the Nightwalker returned, and there will be ceremonies and commemorations and such to officiate in the aftermath for, well, months..I suppose in good time I’ll be able to finally spend some time curling up to a good book again.
Tonight is a bit of an indulgence to me. You are the most interesting people in Shen Ling, and I have you all to myself. I pretend to shield you from the adoration of the people and here I keep you hostage to myself:) I really don’t usually stay up this late, but I feel like a youngling again, you’re all so interesting…oh, I’ve gotten off topic haven’t I?
Yes, favorite book, well, it comes and goes. The last book I was enthralled by was one called “The Wizards Behind the Rebellion. It’s sort of a rogues gallery, a collection of essays on the various powerful wizards who were influential in the fight against Leioki. It presents itself as non fiction, and it does contain a great deal of fact, but the writer does take some liberty’s. For instance, he suggests the Order of the Scrolls were actually a good hearted society of wizards who protected the world from leioki’s final curse, where as it’s generally excepted they were really an order that went rogue and terrorized Yunshan in the century that followed the rebellion, especially after the first Shinto King disbanded all the wizardly orders. It’s a fascinating read, I’ve always been curious about wizards and arcane magic…
He glances at Grognak.
And then there’s “Yunshan from a Distance” It’s an illuminated folio of maps, of exquisite beauty. The author, or cartographer rather, claims he spent 20 years producing the so called flawless maps while sitting upon a cloud and looking down! The author claims to be Bolin, god of the winds and bandits…it’s a beautiful book, though I doubt it is the work of a god, else I’d probably have it on display in the shrine somewhere.December 4, 2015 at 9:01 pm #1609
“Fascinating! You know… we found ourselves below ground under the Six Lives Monestary where we came upon this amazing creature, a guardian… who let us pass and ultimately free the Unicorn. He was a giant creature with amazing talents… he carved his chamber with such intracesies.. and all he wished for was books. A curious request, but then again.. not so much so, considering he was bound to that gate for all eternity. I questioned his intentions… but he gave us no harm.. and ultimately lead us to the chamber in which to free her. His only request was for books. I know these books are precious to you.. but do you have any duplicates, or any that you would be willing to donate to this guardian who played a role in our ultimate success? I ask this with full understanding of the importance of these books to you…”
Caris glances at her comrades… I hope I didn’t overstep…December 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm #1610
A guardian…he must be very old, perhaps he was around to see some of the things I’ve only read about. I’m sure I could find some books, from my personal collection, that I am willing to part with. Anything I can do Lady Ambrodel. Perhaps there is some way to free this guardian? What is it he was protecting?December 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm #1611
“so very kind of you, I’m sure he will appreciate anything we can bring him. It wasn’t clear what was binding him to his guardianship.. but he had been there for many years. He seemed wise.. and in his spare time carved the walls with the most amazing murals…”December 5, 2015 at 7:09 pm #1612
“He was a gate keeper of sorts… only allowing those to enter to held the key. We had the key and he let us pass. Still.. it was disturbing that he also spoke with Grimeye with the same neutral indifference to who was evil and who was good. It didn’t seem to matter to him as he appeared to be above all of it.”December 6, 2015 at 12:46 am #1613
Some beings do not see the world as we do, and I imagine good and evil mean very little if you’ve been locked up in a cave for hundreds of years. Perhaps the creature was slightly mad…I’ve heard long lived creatures sometimes have problems keeping their minds intact for as long as their bodies remain alive.
Very few know of the gates here, and now you all do. There are a few of them, one at the Unicorn Spring, another below the monastery. They are very old, and kept secret, hardly ever used. That key, the key of the Golden Lady, was hidden in plain sight for a long time. Somehow Grimeye’s servants found out about it, but Daki was able to hide it in the well before they could discover it. Had you not saved her, we might have assumed Grimeye had claimed it, and you would not have been able to bypass his armies and jump straight into the monastery, to free the Unicorn right under his nose!
Grimeye always knew we possessed a key, and that’s why he’s always come looking. Such a gate, in the hands of a warlord, would allow soldiers to be moved hundreds of miles in an instant. We rarely use it, and we keep it secret, because Grimeye is not the only one who would seek it. Such gates are coveted by many, and it would bring trouble down upon us…better to let the one lie in darkness, and the other to be taken as a holy site, well, it is a holy site, but first, long ago, it was a gate. It could have taken you many places you know? It was Ehlonna’s will, a minor miracle of sorts, that if took you exactly where you needed to go.December 6, 2015 at 8:45 am #1614
“Yes, it seems that Ehlonna was with us on our quest. It’s humbling when I look back on all that has transpired… how she assisted me when I helped Daki, how she spoke to me in meditation, guiding us in what we needed to do, even while she was captive.”
Caris becomes quiet, the reality of all that has happened over the last few weeks(?) really begins to sink in.
She wonders to herself if there are loose ends that need to be taken care of here, or if we should all get going and not linger. These gates, should they be sealed in order to deter any more trouble in this land? Should we drop the idea of bringing books to the gatekeeper? Where is Gray? Why is he acting so strange (or more strange than usual). What is Grognak doing… why is he so quiet? Hroth is snoring in the corner peacefully… Caris looks to Stern to try to get a read on his face. Suddenly Caris feels very disconnected.
“Pardon me, but I am feeling tired. If you don’t mind, I’ll excuse myself for the evening…”
December 6, 2015 at 11:59 am #1615
Perhaps I should get some rest as well. We will have a Ceremony of Cups tomorrow, and I wanted you all to join in. It’s a rare tradition, but one these past weeks calls for. People all across Shen Ling will participate, in an effort to settle what we have lost, so we may fully embrace what we have won and the brightness of what’s to come.
Tonight, the potters wheels and ovens will be busy until dawn. A special cup of clay will be made for each person old enough to hold one. There will be light meals throughout the day, quiet mingling, and those who wish to give tribute to those who have fallen will do so before any who will listen. Through out the day, people will decorate their cups as a tribute to the fallen. All sorts of artistic tools will be laid out on the craft tables…people make ornaments to decorate their cups, they will paint them, even carve them. It is like, a kind of busy work each person does as they mourn, yet they do so surrounded by others doing the same. Then, only when they are ready they will join the great and wild feast that will start at sun down and go all through the night until dawn tomorrow. All through the feast people will drink from the cups, and when the bitterness of their loss begins to fade, they will break their cup, cast it on the ground or crush it in their hands, and declare to whoever is near their love for who has passed, and invite the spirits of mirth to dance in them and purify their pain. The cups are fragile, many break on their own or get smashed by accident in the revelry, but when this happens we say it is just the work of the spirit we are morning, telling us it’s time to move on. When one’s cup breaks by accident, it’s considered a very good sign. Some cups manage to survive the night, but eventually they break, and when they do, the time for deepest sorrow has passed. It is a beautiful expression no?
The ceremony is a way to say good bye, not to forget the fallen, but to say the time of morning is closing, and the time for living must be embraced. We are the living, and we must celebrate life, or else the dead have died for nothing…and besides, the good souls are in a better place…what is mourning but a deep sadness for what we have lost? Too much, and it turns into self pity, when we know our loved ones have only moved on, and we shall join them in the shining heavens soon enough.December 7, 2015 at 11:15 pm #1616
You all eventually find your way off to bed, and the next day, the Ceremony of Cups begins just as it was explained. All along the shores of the lakes, beneath trees and vine covered trellises, different groups of people have brought out tables draped in colorful cloths. There are paints, brushes, and metal styluses for etching clay. There are also small pots of dyes and shimmering metallic and clear glazes. There are all sorts of charms as well, feathers, small lengths of silk, metal rings and threads strung with glass beads.
People have brought all these things out from their own homes, and some have been donated by wealthier families, but all are left out and open to be shared. All are welcome to spend as much or a little time on their cup as they wish, and to use any substance laid out to do so. They start whenever they wish, take a break whenever they wish, finish whenever they wish, and there are at least several thousand, mostly humans with the occasional half elf or full elf participating. The result looks something like a crafts fair, or like all the citizens from every walk of life have come out to prepare a host of decorative cups for a celebration.
You look out on this scene from a balcony in the shrine, eating a light breakfast of eggs and toasted bread with your host, Oki Lo Kin, the keeper of this shrine. He instructs you that you need not have lost someone in this battle to participate, you may take a cup and make it to honer someone who has fallen in the past. He assures you there is no need to take part, but perhaps it is a fine opportunity to lay some past grief to rest, that the spirits look down upon such a ceremony and truly grant some sense of relief to those who take part. As Oki speaks, one by one you realize Grey is standing in the doorway listening to the man intently as you are. When Oki pauses to bite into a toasty piece of buttered bread, Grey clears his throat to announce his presence and then bows to the gathering and takes a seat among you.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by DM.
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