Post by Devius on Jul 23, 2013 10:54:23 GMT
March 22nd. 2477 AS
My name is Vidar Ragnarson, and today I celebrate my fourteenth spring. I'm the second child of Tilga, a great warrior, and Ragnar, a wealthy merchant.
I live a good life, with a bright future ahead of me. Thanks to my father's rise from mediocre merchant to the wealthiest in town about five years ago, he could afford to send my elder brother and I to be tutored at a school set up by a university graduate in the next town over. My good education combined with the prestige and glory my mother has brought our family in the field of battle is bound to grant me a good apprenticeship once I turn sixteen and become an adult, which will certainly set me on a path to great success.
My elder brother, Harald, has already made way on that path. He turned sixteen last winter and immediately got an apprenticeship at the town's blacksmith, the most desirable position of all. In less than two years he will be able to move to the greater cities and work as a blacksmith there, we are all very proud of him.
My father's wealth has not only bought me and my brother bright futures, but happiness in the form of being able to raise our two younger siblings, Tekla and Ivar. I love them very much.
I love my brother as well, of course. He has protected and comforted me for as long as I can remember. We are very different, though. He does not listen as closely to the lessons of father and mother as I do, instead he only smiles his infectous smile and insists that he will figure things out as he goes along instead of letting the wisdom of those who came before prepare him. I sometimes berate him for it and tell him to be more serious, but he only smiles and I soon find myself forgetting what I wanted to say, smiling alongside him.
I do, however, still remember my parents' lessons.
My mother has taught me never to give up, no matter how grim it looks. She says her will and determination is what has let her live through so many battles, not just her skill with the axe.
My father has taught me that a honed mind can be more effective than a sharp blade. That there is always a perfect solution to be found for every problem and keen eyes are needed to discover it.
Both of my parents have taught me to keep my emotions hidden. An enemy who can't read your face won't know where you will strike, and a customer who does not see you twitch a muscle when he pays won't know you're making a bargain.
My brother says I've taken the last lesson too closely to heart. That I keep my emotions hidden too often and should relax sometimes. He calls me paranoid; I call him naïve. Then he smiles and it does not matter anymore.
My name is Vidar Ragnarson, and my life is amazing.
Post by Devius on Jul 23, 2013 14:23:31 GMT
June 25th. 2478 AS
My name is Vidar Ragnarson and my life is in ruin.
Half a year ago, my mother died on the battlefield. My father went mad with grief, spent a fortune on her burial, and has been constantly drinking ever since. His shop has lost all credibility and we can no longer afford my tuition at the school. My brother had to quit his apprenticeship and now only does small work around town to feed the family.
Meanwhile, all I do is taking care of Ivar and Tekla all day. But I won't even have that duty as eventually they'll be old enough to go the village elders and be taught the basics of Ulvar society. It's not much of an education but it's the only free one. It won't put them on the path to a bright future, merely a
Of course, that path is now closed to me as well. My incomplete education won't net me any apprenticeships on its own as my father has in six months managed to tarnish the reputation my mother built over half a lifetime. The only future ahead of me now is a slow wait for the day I turn sixteen, whereupon I'll be able to work the same jobs as my brother does now or join a mercenary company. It would be the same kind of work as most adult Ulvar spend their entire lives with doing, simple and honest. But it would be nothing close to the bright future I was promised.
It wouldn't bring my brother his apprenticeship back and it wouldn't give my younger siblings the education they deserve. Our family would be stuck in mediocrity for generations to come, no honour or glory. My mother would be twisting in her grave if my father hadn't wasted a ton of money buying an entire longship to give her a ship funeral. We don't even live by the sea!
My fool of a father. All of my respect for him has disintegrated. He couldn't even follow his own teaching and keep his emotions in check. I've vowed to never make the same mistake myself, I'll never become such a pathetic shell of a man.
Sometimes he apologizes for his behaviour, what he has become. Those times are the worst. They remind me of how good things used to be and it hurts way worse than any of the insults he slurs in his stupor. The pain it causes makes my entire body ache and tears well up inside. But I push them down, I silence the pain and strangle the emotion.
I've become used to the process. The last time he apologized I didn't move a muscle, my face was void of expression. I am in control.
Post by Devius on Jul 29, 2013 14:47:25 GMT
March 21st. 2479AS
My name is Vidar Ragnarson, and I've made up my mind.
This last year has been nothing but agony. Things have only gotten worse, and the futures of me and my siblings have only gotten bleaker. We're in a downward spiral into nothingness. The way things are going, we might very well be the last generation of our family.
I won't allow it. I will break the pattern. I must leave and make a future for myself, then I can return and share my success with my siblings.
Tomorrow is the day of my sixteenth birthday. I could stay and work as an errand for the baker, like Harald has arranged. But that extra coin would pay for little more than my steadily growing apetite. No, I must gather my belongings and head to Stilgard, that's where my future lies. I don't know how, but I'll make my way there and enter the university. I'll find a way, the perfect way.
My tutor told me of spirits, and how students at the university may one day make a pact with one to achieve great power. I will make a pact with the strongest spirit I can find, no matter its ability, its strength will make me excel in whatever field it may cover. That way I will return to the radiant path I was promised!
I throw my eyes wide open. I panic for a moment before I realise it's still nighttime and I didn't oversleep the time of my departure. I get out of bed, get dressed and pull out the rucksack I've filled with a few days worth of food, a knife and a map.
Before I leave, I head to my father's room. It's empty, as expected. More often than not, he spends the night drinking and sleeps in some ditch. I find his money case hidden below the third floorboard to on the left, where it has always been. I feel no hesitation as I grab the few coins that lie within it, as they were supposed to be spent on my education, and thus are mine by right.
Afterwards, as I make my way to the exit, I pass by Tekla and Ivar's room. When I see them sleeping innocently, a feeling compels me to merely kiss their foreheads good night and head back to bed, to stay here forever. I strangle it.
When I pass by Harald's room, I find it empty. For a moment I worry before I spot him slouched over the kitchen table, fast asleep. As I make my way past I notice he is holding something, a sword. I lean over and manage to make out the words "For Vidar" engraved on the hilt. A wave of feelings wash over me as I realise it's a present for my birthday. How much must he have worked to afford this?
I strangle the feelings one by one and make my head clear. While the blade would be useful for my journey, I can't take it with me. It would be better if they sold it, they could use the coin. Fighting the indescribable pain in my heart, I turn around and head out the door, into the night.
As I exit the city gates, I notice tears are streaming down my cheeks. I try to kill the feelings that cause them but I am not strong enough. Silently wailing, I make my way down the road and swear an oath.
My name is Vidar Ragnarson, and this is the last time I cry.
Post by Devius on Jul 31, 2013 14:19:33 GMT
November 17th 2484 AS
"Did you manage to copy the rune for faith? I got the basic shape down confidently but I'm not sure about the radicals." Miira asks as we exit the auditorium of Stilgard's university.
"I think so. But if our sketches differ too much we can always pay the temple another visit, we're bound to find a few instances of faith there." I say matter-of-factly.
Most students would roll their eyes at that statement and say something like "Well, duh!" or "Haha, yeah." Miira doesnt, though. She only nods and says. "You're right, let's go there immediately."
There's a reason she's my only friend at the university.
She approached me the very first day, asking me to study together with her. When I asked her why, she said neither of us had brought the required books, and would have to work hard to make up for that.
"So let's work together, to make it easier."
I saw the wisdom in that, and agreed. When I asked if she would approach the other students without books, she shook her head.
"They're different from us. They're nervously looking around, praying for an easy way out. I won't give it to them."
I just shrugged. Nervousness was one of the easiest feelings to kill.
From then on, we've done our best to copy everything that has been said or written during lectures, and then compare notes afterwards. For some exams, certain reading is required and at those times we'll take shifts overlooking the library in hopes of catching the one copy that students could borrow.
Over time, through short conversations or brief mentions, we've learned about each other. Miira is from a Vuosaar family of some note, and actually has the funds to buy the books required if she wants to. But she doesn't, and that's her most interestic characteristic. She opposes many of the laws and traditions inherent to Havsgard. And as a sign of opposition, according to her a way to illustrate their pointlessness, she refuses to follow them. In this case, she's determined to stop the practice of "required reading" that students are encouraged to purchase on top of their expensive tuition fees.
She's an amazing woman, and I even briefly considered the thought of taking our relationship beyond platonic academical pursuit. But after witnessing how she'd turned down even university graduates with impressive records and high status without hesitation, I decided it was wiser to spare myself the shame and regret.
We arrive at the temple. It's our most dependable source of runes, as all the books on the subject in the library hardly sit on their shelves for more than five minutes before another student needs them.
"Let's head to the priests' graves. But keep your eyes open on the way." Miira says. I nod and begin to survey the different gravestones as we pass them.
Most have no runes at all, the graves of the uneducated. Some have a single rune and the illustration of an animal. I've deduced that they belong to pacters who wished to honour their spirits with the rune of their aspect and the image of their familiar form. Some are covered in runes, either due to superstition, tradition, or faith.
"Faith." I see it on a small gravestone hidden inbetween two larger ones. It doesn't even have any letters on it, only the one rune. Miira turns and sees it as well.
"Excellent." She says. "Let's compare it with our notes."
We do. It turns out we've both missed the intricacy of the rune's center. What we thought of as a collection of dots is actually a number of tiny spirals aligned in an even greater spiral.
"Faith runs deep." I conclude.
"So deep someone would give up their name just to profess theirs." Miira says, referring to the gravestone. "How sad."
I know better than to argue the value of faith with Miira, so I say nothing and we leave the temple in silence.
Miira eventually breaks it. "We're nearing the end of our fourth year, Vidar. Are you still determined to do your pacting ritual already? Another year of studies would prepare you better."
"If I could choose, I'd gladly study for another four years. But I can't, my family is waiting."
"They'll have to wait longer, you know. There's still the stupid pilgrimage tradition, it could cost you another year."
"The pilgrimage would remain even if I delayed it for another year, and so my family would have to wait even longer."
"I'll make them stop forcing the pilgrimage on everyone, you'll see!"
"I don't doubt you. But you won't be able to do it within a year. I'm leaving this spring."
She shakes her head. "I should've known better than to try to make you change your mind, bending steel is easier." Then she turns to look me straight in the eyes. "So instead of that, let me help you. I could talk to the maesters, make them route your pilgrimage through your home village. You'd get to see your family sooner."
"I appreciate the offer." I say, never breaking eye contact. "But I'd prefer to keep myself out of the maesters' attention. My last few tuition fees have been paid later than they should have, and I'd prefer that fact to stay unnoticed."
It's true, although it isn't the true reason I don't want the maesters' eyes on me. In reality, I've been saving up money to bribe an overseer so he won't ask questions during my pacting ritual. Miira would never approve of that, of course, so I'll never tell her.
She sighs. "Fine, refuse all of my help." Then suddenly steps in front of me and stops us both. "But know this, Vidar Ragnarson. When you leave this university, I will miss you." Her eyes are wider and her cheeks redder than I've ever seen them.
A feeling wells up in me, but I kill it automatically before I realise what it was. Without an emotion to guide me, I wear the same expressionless face as I always do when I reply. "And I you, Miira Lovå."
She simply stares at me, her eyes and cheeks slowly receding to their normal state. Then she turns without a word and continues to walk down the road.
Post by Timeon on Aug 2, 2013 15:31:13 GMT
Life in the university in Stilgard was pleasant for some, acceptable for most, and awful for an unfortunate few. It was one of three main universities in Havsgard, and the only one where Ulvar and Vuosaar mixed freely. Built upon the shore of the second largest lake in the Dominion, Lake Stilglas, the city and its university were at best described as unorthodox.
The scholar who Vidar knew as Master Kario was one of those unfortunate few whose life was a misery. He had made it his life's work to rediscover the ancient art of crafting spirit knives, because his father had lost his family's spirit knife through gambling. Of course, Master Kario had failed. His career had decayed over a generation, leaving nothing but a wretched teacher whom the university kept on out of pity.
But he knew something about pacting, even though his spirit had forsaken him long ago.
Stretching out on either side as far as the eye could see, the grey sand of Lake Stilglas made for a sombre sight in winter. The snow had started to fall in the past week, but it would never linger for long. Wrapping his robe more tightly around himself, Vidar walked on towards the pier where he knew Master Kario spent his evenings, thinking.
Surely enough, a skeletal man stood with arms folded behind his back upon the pier, wearing a tattered coat. He had a patchy beard, and a deeply lined face. Master Kario must have heard Vidar coming, for he turned around and looked him up and down.
"Good evening, Vidar Ragnarson."
"Master Kario." Vidar said, waving wearily. "I just had some questions on my mind, regarding my studies, and thought I'd ask you for some help."
He was not wasting any time. Better not give Kario an excuse to launch into one of his philosophical rants.
"Help?" Kario looked confused, but then seemed to understand. "For your pacting ritual? Those must be done alone. You know this."
Stopping before Kario on the peer, Vidar shrugged off a biting wind, and looked the man directly in his grey eyes.
"That's why I'd compensate you, of course. Time is a valuable resource, and the university can't just waste its resources."
"Are you..." Kario paused, mouth agape. "Trying to bribe me?"
Vidar was stone-faced, and unreadable, but he did not break eye contact.
"No. Of course not."
Kario seemed to be choosing his words very careful. He even licked his lips slightly.
"I need to take leave. Go to Chakazia." he said, looking out across Lake Stilglas, which had gathered a thin layer of mist above it.
Vidar knew why this old wretch wanted to go to Chakazia, to the land of the Maiden. Maybe it was to find someone who could take his pain away, or maybe it was simply to die there in peace. Chakazia was the land of self-pity. People went there to beg for help for their issues only after they had already given up on everything else.
"I'll look into it." Master Kario said, smiling at Vidar in a condescending fashion, a gap in his teeth. "My dear Vidar."
Within a few days, Vidar Ragnarson was seated in a small chamber that was normally used to store supplies. His pacter's tools were arrayed on a mat before him, ready for the drawing of the necessary ritual circles. Behind him, Master Kario was biting his nails, and pacing nervously, no doubt afraid that they would be caught.
"Get on with it." Kario hissed.
Vidar reached for the tools, and he began to draw. It was the duty of all Ulvar and Vuosaar to draw runes to summon spirits loyal to the North Wind, to keep power within the family of spirits native to Havsgard. But what Vidar Ragnarson wanted was power and subordination from his spirit. He owed nothing to the traditions of Havsgard, or the spirits loyal to the North Wind. And so he drew all the relevant runes he knew, to summon any spirit that would meet his terms and conditions. Master Kario yelped in surprise when he realised what was happening, but dared not object, given his own shortcomings. Instead, he made any corrections necessary to the ritual circle, skipping details that would have taken Vidar many more months to get right.
At last, Vidar Ragnarson stilled his mind, as he had been taught to do over the years, to reach that place his teachers called the void. It took longer than expected, probably because he was so nervous. A tiny opening of light sparked in his mind, revealing to him the mental entrance to push his consciousness through to the spirit plane.
With a pop, he found himself standing in the room, an odd haze covering everything, as if he was looking through distorted glass. It was very cold. He could hear the wind outside, hear insects in the ground having conversations, and see the stars above. The wind was wheezing with laughter, the insects were discussing burrowing through eyes and brains, and the stars were blinking like madmen. Vidar wanted to scream, but he calmed himself. His subconscious mind was inventing things, summoning his worst fears, just like in any dream.
But he managed to still everything, returning to the void, and the calmness of the room. Then he spread his arms wide, and focused on the summons. He could feel spirits beginning to take notice, clustering towards him like flies towards a light in the dark.
There was a spirit in the shape of Master Kario, except with a mad grin, promising him knowledge on how to make spirit knives.
A spirit like a winged serpent, promising him the chance to hurt those who had hurt him, and reveal to him the origin of pride.
Dancing and twisting, a female outline humming a faint tune, swearing to ensure the fulfilment of all his needs, in exchange for his undying loyalty.
A floating mask, promising him something more than the lie of his stony face, but also the ability to fake any emotional state. The perfect protection from pain.
And at last, an older spirit of water, bubbling around his feet, swearing to give him the glory of the Ulvar at sea, in exchange for enmity with the Vuosaar.
Post by Devius on Aug 3, 2013 2:10:17 GMT
November 23rd. 2484 AS
I turn to the female silhouette first.
"I wish for loyalty to me, not the other way around. You seem to have misunderstood my criteria."
"Mutual loyalty, is that so bad?" She coos.
"You know what I would demand from you. Power and influence. What would you demand from me?"
"My pevious masters were hedonists, and grew weary of the experiences I could offer them. They were impatient, instead of using my skills to seek out new vistas, they simply abandoned me. Join with me, and I will show you that you can win over your enemies with sensations, emotions and experience more easily than with gold and violence."
I nod. Her power intrigues me. "I will consider your offer. Please stay while I interview the others." I say and turn to the water spirit.
"You ask me to turn away from half of this province's population. The power you promise must then be twice as influential to make up for it, no?"
The water contorts into a vaguely female face as it responds. "What fuels a great warrior is his enemies, and no enemy is greater than the enemy of one's forefathers, and the murderer of one's ancestors. The Vuosaar are worthy foes. Your enmity for them will breed glory in your heart, while other spirits will offer you mere trinkets." The waters twist into a smile. "You were denied the traditions of your people, a people of the sea. But it is not too late."
I try to imagine myself loathing the Vuosaar, but I feel no hatred stirring within. I shake my head. "While what you say might very well be true. I cannot summon such feelings at whim, you are better off finding a more suitable vessel. I bid you gone."
The smile drains from the spirit's face. "You are weak, like your father." It says, as it seeps away through the cracks of the floor.
The insult stirs an emotion within me. I crush it and turn to the grinning spirit in Master Kario's guise.
"You promise a gift of knowledge that has been dead for centuries. How could you possibly possess it?" I ask, expecting the spirit to apologize for its deception and disappear.
"For you, boy, have violated the traditions of your people. The runes you write attract those of us who do not heed your laws. Spirits are ancient, spirits are wise, spirits are powerful. I have lived with those who have forged spirit knives, long ago." The spirit's grin extends beyond the borders of Master Kario's face. "The secret, however, will cost you dearly, for it is forbidden."
For once, I entertain the notion that the spirit might be telling the truth, and that the secret of spirit knives really is within my reach. I soon discover the implications are innumerable and decide to focus on concluding the interview before getting stuck in thought. "You lived with them. But did you learn their craft, or do you only have a second-hand account to relay?"
"I have passed on what I know to another before, and he replicated the craft of old."
I tense up, but my face remains blank. A person who has created spirit knives in modern times would definitely be remembered. "And what was his name?"
The grinning spirit scoffs. "You humans and your whimsical curiosities. His name was Stenkil."
I recognise that name. Miira has told me a common story among the Vuosaar, about a man named Stenkil who claimed to have created a spirit knife and invited everyone to come see it one night. But when the people came to knock on his door, he was gone without a trace.
Perhaps I can find out the ending of that story. "What was his fate?"
The spirit's grin turns upside-down. "He tried to kill me. He was a sad and desperate man, driven by a pain in his heart. But he was full of power, and potential. I hoped to mend him."
"So what made him turn on you?"
The spirit's grin returns once again. "That, alas, is related to the knowledge I would only share with you if you accept me."
There's no difference to bartering with spirits in a ritual or with customers in my father's shop, I realize. A seller would always hold the polished side of their item to the buyer, leaving the flaws to be discovered post purchase. I'm not here to bargain for secrets, though, I require a spirit that will benefit me on its own.
"You've spoken much of the knowledge you carry. But what power do you have to present me?"
"Knowledge is power." The spirit reminds me. "But if you want something more tangible, I am able to strengthen your form in combat, and give you what you need to learn to wield magic as a weapon in of itself, like most spirits. I am not special in this regard."
I nod, it's as I expected. "One last question. Why do you take on Master Kario's appearance?"
The grinner shrugs. "The man who guides you is soft-minded. I learned my lesson in offering such people my knowledge when I made a pact with Stenkil. I mock that old man, for he is still a child at heart."
My curiosity has been sated and I decide to move on to the next spirit. "Thank you. Please remain while I continue the interviews." I turn to the winged serpent.
"I have been hurt by no one, and do not seek the origin of pride. Give me a reason not to dismiss you."
The spirit hesitates, its tongue flickering for a moment. Then it slithers away into the void without a word.
"False bravado." the silhouette sighs.
I turn to the floating mask, the last of the spirits.
"I've yet to find pain I could not overcome. As for manipulating people with false emotions, this lady over here-" I motion to the silhouette. "-claims to skip that step and awaken emotions in others immediately. Are you simply inferior to her?"
The mask sneers. "Your lady is naïve, and limited, else her masters would not have abandoned her." The mask begins to transform into various different expressions. "You wear but one face, I offer you many."
"This face has served me well, and I see no reason to alter it. You are dismissed."
Its mouth opens wide in a face of mock surprise, and it spins away. As it does, I turn back to the silhouette.
"You blamed your abandonment on weak-willed masters. Was that perhaps not the case?"
"I trusted in them." She replies. "But they sought me out for fantastical new emotions, memories and experiences. When they grew bored of me, they searched for the next thrill. They were unable to grow beyond their addictions to pleasure. They could not master the most volatile of gifts, or strengthen their magic."
"What are your gifts then, beyond pleasure?"
"My gifts are experiences. And avenues into new sensations. They are all tools, tools for turning oneself into whatever one wills. And they are tools to lure others into one's plans."
"Very well. You still interest me." Now, I will test a theory. I ask the two remaining spirits to be patient, and wait with me.
"What for?" The grinner asks.
"More spirits." I answer. "Perhaps my message has not reached all potentially interested parties yet. Or maybe a prolonged ritual creates interest by itself."
"Presenting ourselves to you is a competition." the grinner says. "All weak competitors are warded off from this place. It was decided by a contest of wills."
"So you claim. But I have nothing to lose in discovering whether or not you lie."
"We can wait." The silhouette says.
Time passes, and nothing happens.
"Here's your spirit!" The grinner suddenly exclaims. Pointing to an insect-like critter skittering across the room. With a swift motion, he grabs it and pops it into his mouth, then eats it.
I raise my hands in defeat. "It looks like you were telling the truth, so it is only the two of you left then."
Another moment passes, the only sound being the crunching of the grinner's meal.
"I'm surprised at your silence." I say. "I've asked my questions, I believe it is your turn to prove to me why you are superior to one another."
The silhouette laughs softly. "Perhaps it is you who should convince us of your worth."
"I don't think so. How often do spirits not of The North Wind get the chance to pact with a Havsgardian vessel, after all?"
"Very often." The grinner says. "We came because you are different. You broke the rules of your society. You are a chaotic individual, your mind is a storm. And you are young. You are an opportunity."
"But that does not make you unique." The silhouette adds. "You are just a boy. If you wish to choose between us, them make your choice. We have already presented ourselves to you."
I close my eyes. My bright future is close. I am at the last fork in the road that will lead to my radiant path. I need only take a step in either direction. I will find a way to make my decision, and it will be the perfect answer.
"A question for both of you, then." I open my eyes once again. "If we were to seal a pact, what would your terms be?"
The grinner answers first. "We cannot use our skills to gain public fame, for fame will only bring us ruin and destruction."
After a moment's pause, the silhouette states her terms. "Our methods and secrets are our own. If you spread knowledge of my arts to others, I will lose my edge. I will be lessened. If you share our secrets, you must reclaim them."
And so the path is clear. I turn to the grinning one. "I wish for fortune, and with fortune comes fame whether I want it or not. You are dismissed."
The grinner walks up to me as to shake my hand. But once again he makes a rapid movement and suddenly I feel the stab of cold steel in my guts. I gasp in pain and fall to my knees. But when I look down I see no blood, no wound, it was all imaginary. The grinner walks away laughing.
"You would have been another Stenkil." His voice warps as he melds with the void. "I was hoping an Ulvar would be different."
The silhouette floats toward me and kisses me on the cheek. Suddenly I see a vision of a rising sun, and the sense of peace it brings.
"Time to wash away the pain." She says softly.
I speed up the process by simply strangling the pain, but the vision and its serenity dies with it.
"You said yourself you didn't want your potential wasted on pleasuring your vessel. I wish to help you avoid making the same mistake again." I say as I rise again.
If the silhouette had a face to express itself with, it would be pouting. "You'll be useless if you try and control your emotions. But we shall talk about that another time." She drifts up close. "Thank you for choosing me."
Only one thing remains. "My last question before we seal our pact. What form do you desire as my familiar?"
"A human." She states immediately.
My blood freezes. I've been prepared to conjure any beast, real or otherwise, no size nor intricacy would discourage me. But a human?
It's taboo. Not just in Havsgard, or the Dominion. Everywhere.
"You know that by pacting with you I am already committing a great offense. Making the familiar in human shape would be near impossible to hide."
"No, It's easy to hide." She says sweetly. "Nobody expects it. It is not done. No spirits desires it, nor any vessel. I would appear as a pacter."
She's right. In that way, hiding it would be easy. I could simply claim not to have made my pact. The only people who know I'm here right now is Kario and Miira. I've already paid for Kario's silence. And Miira... I can lie and tell her no spirit heeded my call, though she will most likely wonder who this lady by my side is.
I shake away the doubt. It is too late to turn back now. My bright future awaits.
"You will have your body. Let us seal the pact and be done with it."
She puts a finger on my forehead and pushes me backwards. I fall and wake up in the same room, in the real world. I feel a presence within my mind.
The pact is sealed. It is time to make the familiar. Remember, I want a human body.
I know. I answer, trying to find a difference between private and shared thoughts.
Kario steps forth, putting the blood chalice in front of me. "Took you long enough!" He says before handing me the knife.
I take a moment to consider its razor-sharp edge while Kario returns to pacing nervously in front of the door.The sooner you do it, the quicker I'll mend your pain.Thank you, but not necessary
. I think as I plunge the knife into my arm. The pain does not hit me immediately, instead I feel a tingle in every part of my body. But a human familiar will require a lot of blood, and after holding my arm over the chalice for a few moments, the pain comes to me.
It merely stings at first. But then it burns. And it burns worse and worse and worse and worse. I howl and scream in pain, but I manage to hold my arm over the chalice. And more importantly, I do not cry.
Kario runs up to me to close the wound but I refuse him until the chalice is filled to the brim. The last few drops that slip out before my skin closes itself should by all means make the surface break and cause some of the blood to spill over. But an unseen power keeps it all together in a fluid mass.
Dizzy from the pain and blood loss, I still manage to force my will upon the blood and shape it to my will. My spirit made no demands on her body's appearance, so I improvise. I make her as common as I can imagine. With an average height, weight and shape. Her hair a light brown with slight curls and her eyes plain green. I give her the slightly round face of a Vuosaar but also the distinguished cheekbones of an Ulvar, she could pass for either. As a final touch, unaware of it myself, I give her freckles, like Miira's.
Ignoring the panicked sounds of Kario as he realizes what I've just done, I look up at my creation, it smiles back at me.
Post by Timeon on Aug 8, 2013 13:32:27 GMT
Kario must have realised what Vidar had just done, because he yelped like an injured puppy, no doubt panicking.
The spirit helped Vidar to his feet.
"You can call me Niva."
With a nod, Vidar turned to Kario, whose eyes were stretched wide in a look of dumb horror.
"Fetch her some clothes, Kario. And control yourself, because if anybody finds out about this, you're in trouble too. They'll at least ask why you didn't stop me from drawing foreign runes, aside from accepting my gold."
Kario's hands fiddled and fumbled, but the mentor seemed to calm down somewhat. His eye twitched as he glanced at Niva.
"Fetch her some clothes." Vidar commanded, and Kario obeyed, scuttling off.
As Kario ran off, Vidar resolved never to tell Kario about the spirit who claimed to have knowledge on how to make spirit knives. Living on more false hope like that would be far more cruel than letting Kario accept his failure.
Now that Vidar Ragnarson had a spirit, he could technically graduate. Except the spirit had taken up a taboo form. So now, the only way out was to pretend that he had failed his studies, and leave the university behind him. He would have to go without Miira, too, because she would quickly figure out the truth. Since he would have failed his ritual, there would be no need to do a pilgrimage. Then again, Vidar did not want to sit around. He needed to move, to practice his bond with Niva.
It then hit him that he could accompany Kario to Chakazia, perhaps. Whenever he saw Kario he was reminded vaguely of his father, the only difference being that he felt some sympathy for Kario, rather than revulsion. He did not know why, but he wanted to find out.
Master Kario returned, throwing a bunch of clothes at Niva with a curse.
Post by Devius on Aug 11, 2013 18:03:46 GMT
December 7th 2484 AS
It's been two weeks since i pacted with Niva. Rumours of how the stone-faced Vidar embarassingly failed his ritual have already spread throughout the university. They've spread even faster now that I've agreed to accompany master Kario on a trip to Chakazia. Of course, the story that's making the rounds among the students is simply that master Kario is visiting a Chakazian university, and I'm joining his journey to keep him company and carry his tomes in exchange for some private tutelage that will help me the next time I attempt a ritual.
I don't care about what the other students think, as long as they're nowhere near guessing the truth. My only issue is Miira, I've managed to avoid her since the ritual. But today is the day I leave for Chakazia, and I know she'd never forgive me if I left without saying farewell.
I spot her exiting the auditorium. Our gazes lock. A tiny smile forms as she sees me, but as she starts walking towards me, it disappears and her brows furrow. However, by the time she stands before me, her face is neutral and unreadable, as usual.
"Where have you been?" She asks abruptly, no greeting.
I motion for her to follow me and begin to walk away from the corridor, to somewhere more quiet. "In my quarters, reflecting on my ritual." I say as we walk. It's not a lie.
"So, what happened?" The question I've been dreading.
"You must've heard the rumours by now." I try to stall. I am about to lie to Miira, and it will be the most difficult I've ever attempted.
"I don't care about what others say! What do you have to say about it?"
"My ritual was not a failure." Truth. "Five spirits approached me." Truth. "I interviewed each of them in great detail." Truth. "Wherupon I determined that none of them was powerful enough to suit my needs. The stronger spirits are simply not interested in me, but master Kario has promised to teach me how to improve my spiritual connection and make my presence stronger on the spirit plane." A lie. An awful, transparent, poorly told lie.
For an eternal second, she stares at me with her cold blue eyes. She sighs and stops dead in her tracks.
"Bullshit." She concludes.
I don't know how to answer. I simply stand there in silence. After a few moments, she begins to pick apart my lie.
"Your potential is plain for anyone to see. The spirits are not blind, in fact, they supposedly have more senses than us humans. There is no way only weak spirits found their way to you, if that was the case you wouldn't even have interviewed them!" She takes a deep breath, and continues. "Besides, what happened to your determination? The Vidar I know would never leave the walls of the university without a spirit in tow."
"She knows you well
." Niva's thoughts reach me from my quarters, where she has stayed hidden for these two weeks.Not now. Stay out of this
. I reply. For a moment, she only transmits feelings of disappointment through our link, but she complies and her presence in my mind lessens.
"Well? What do you have to say for yourself?" Miira is still staring angrily at me.
I open my mouth to tell more lies but I realise the futility of it. I simply sigh before replying. "There is something about my ritual that I simply can't tell you. My journey with master Kario is related to that. In time, I could tell you what I'm hiding, but doing so now would put all I've worked for this far in danger." While talking, my gaze has slowly descended to the floor. I turn it back up to see her reaction.
She looks appalled.
Feelings of shame and regret well up in me. They are among the most painful emotions and I don't hesitate to strangle them once more.
" Niva's voice rings through my head. Her interference disrupts my self-control and the feelings engulf me, it's too late to stop them. This is the worst I've felt in years.
I begin to cry.
Only a few tears make it through at time, I try my best to hold the rest in, to keep the promise I made to myself. But it's already too late. I cover my head in shame and just stand there, shaking. I'm a complete wreck.
I feel a hand on my shoulder. It's Miira. The pain first lessens at her touch, but then returns tenfold. I don't want her to see me like this. I take a step away to leave.
But she catches me in an embrace, and holds me still. "It's okay." She whispers. "I understand. You don't have to tell me."
We stand like that for a few minutes. Me whimpering like a child while she holds me, whispering words of comfort. Eventually my emotions finally settle themselves and my tears stop. At some point I manage to talk again.
"Thank you." I whisper.
She lets go of me and takes a step back. "I won't make you tell me now, but promise me this. I graduate in two years. If you're not here to tell me the truth by then, I'll chase you down wherever you hide and beat it out of you."
My control must still be lacking, as I find myself smiling slightly as I take her hands in mine. "I'll come back to you, Miira. I promise."
She nods. "Good." And begins to walk away. "I'm late for my next class, and you better be on your way. Take care on your journey!" She speeds into a sprint and runs off into hallway.
And so she is gone.
I begin to make my way to my quarters. To pick up my belongings and bring Niva with me to master Kario. On the way I begin to talk to her.I told you to stay out of it. You disobeyed my order.
Her satisfied giggle transmits through our bond. "But it was for the best, wasn't it?
I don't answer, but promptly lock her out of my mind. She might be right but I won't endure her gloating.
Post by Timeon on Aug 15, 2013 13:22:07 GMT
Port of Eslit, on the eastern coast of Havsgard.
"Nobody told me being a human was so boring." Niva sighed, as Vidar and Kario drew towards the outskirts of Eslit.
"Shut up." Vidar stated.
"I'm hungry, tired and also bored." Niva contributed once more.
"You're a spirit. You don't really need food, sleep or entertainment like we do." Vidar felt his control slipping.
"That's rude. I require entertainment." Niva said, before smacking her foot into a loose rock on the road, and falling on her face like a rag doll. "Help me up."
Niva grunted and hobbled to her feet.
"I don't understand how you humans avoid getting eaten by wild animals in bodies like these."
"It's because we're smart."
"No you're not." Niva chimed happily.
Vidar stopped walking and looked up at the sky. It was grey and empty.
"I guess you told me you'd give me new experiences, and I guess I've learned several news ways of being annoyed. This is what I asked for."
"Are you going to cry again?" Niva asked, causing Vidar's eye to twitch.
From the university in Stilgard they had taken a boat across the great lake, to its northernmost point. From there, it was a short journey overland to the Port of Eslit. From Eslit, they could find a ship that would take them to Chakazia.
The city of Eslit had a wooden barricade around it, and a pair of wide gates to monitor merchant traffic and travellers. As they drew near to the gates, Vidar observed a flame-haired man having a shouting match with the guards.
"Let me in, damn you!"
"Only to have you cause another spectacle with your stories and groaning?"
"It won't happen again." the flame-haired man groaned, getting down on his knees. "Don't send me away, please! I have nowhere else to go!"
"The town council doesn't want you loitering around Eslit any longer. That is not going to change."
The man began to weep, and pushed himself back up onto his feet. When he turned around, the breath caught in Vidar's throat. He had rarely seen a man so openly miserable. Oh, there were many people who were as downtrodden as this flame-haired man in the world. In fact, Vidar knew several people like that. He was travelling with Master Kario, after all. The only disturbing difference here was that the flame-haired man did not care that people could see his pain. He was flaunting his vulnerability to the world.
"Where are all the strong people?" Vidar wondered to himself aloud.
Master Kario observed the spectacle shakily.
"I wonder what happened to him."
"Not our problem." Vidar grunted, making as if to continue past the scene.
His plans were foiled when Niva stepped out in front of the flame-haired man, interrupting his escape into the woods.
"Oh you poor darling."
"Miss, please, leave me be." the flame-haired man said, trying to continue on his way. "You can't help me. Nobody can help me."
"That's because you don't know that we're going on an adventure to Chakazia, you silly man. To end the pain of our friend over there, Master Kario. You should come with us."
Niva, please... Vidar said again. He's probably a drunkard and a thief.
"My name is Idmundr." the man said, calming down. He bowed before Niva, who laughed at his antics. "I have never before met such an outgoing and honest soul. Truly, you have caught my attention."
"What's wrong, Idmundr?" Niva asked, cocking her head sideways and sticking her lower lip out sadly.
The flame-haired man clenched his eyes in pain, paused for a moment, then sighed.
"I was a great hero, a slayer of evil spirits, a crusader and champion of the Ulvar. But I fell out of favour. I am disgraced. I seek now only to drown my pain."
Post by Devius on Aug 15, 2013 14:14:15 GMT
December 12th. 2484 AS
Niva. This is ridiculous. The purpose of our journey is to train our bond and practice my magic abilites. He will get in the way, or worse, he could find us out.
"Oh but this is training. Use my powers to mend his soul during our journey and you will learn more than you ever could from just talking 'theory' with me.
" While answering me mentally, she also speaks to Idmundr. "Any disgrace can be redeemed, and pain should be healed, not killed. Come, let me introduce you to my companions."
She grasps the man's hand and leads him towards me. Did you see his value as a training partner before or after you asked him to join us?
She only smiles in return.
"This here is my great friend Vidar, he's a student of the Stilgard university." She directs Idmundr's hand to shake mine. I sigh inwardly and accept the situation. If Niva wants this to be a test of my abilites, I intend to pass with a perfect score. I shake his hand.
"It's an honour to meet a warrior of the Ulvar, as I am one myself. Even if you don't wish to join our journey to Chakazia, please let us treat you to dinner tonight. I'd like to hear your story."
The warrior's eyes meet mine. Beyond the expression of pain that covers them, I spy the remnants of a great flame, perhaps it could be relit. The man breaks out a wide, gap-toothed smile.
"I will think about your offer, and dinner seems the best time to do it. Your kindness warms my heart, young Vidar, you knows what it means to be Ulvar."
I make a brief bow in respect and then walk up to the guards.
"This man is with us now, and we'll make sure he won't bother anyone. Please let us in."
The guard ponders for a moment. To help his decision, I use my magic to instill just a tiny sense of relief within him. It guides his thoughts to the conclusion that finally the flame-haired man is no longer his problem. Or so I assume, with this power, it is hard to tell whether my interference made a difference or not. In either case, the guard answers.
"Go on and take him then, I couldn't care less. But if I hear he causes trouble again, you'll be held responsible, got it?"
I assure him that it won't happen and soon we all go through the gates and enter Eslit.
Post by Timeon on Aug 17, 2013 23:16:03 GMT
"Idmundr the Fire-Haired. Can't disappoint with a title like that." Vidar Ragnarson said before slurping his soup.
Master Kario picked at his smoked fish, no doubt deep in thought. Niva had her head in her hands, and was staring at Idmundr as he prepared to tell his story.
It was warm in the inn, at least. After a disappointing meal in the fishing town north of Lake Stilglas, the party had not enjoyed basic comforts on the road. So even with Idmundr ranting, Vidar felt rather happy. He dunked his spoon back into his fish soup, preparing for another mouthful of paradise.
"So, you were saying." Niva stated, eyebrows raised exaggeratedly. "Tell us how you came to be disgraced, great hero."
"I was born on the distant isle of Mallenholm, to a mighty line of warriors. We were defenders of Mallenholm, proud and strong. One day, pirates raided our home. Pirates from the Free City, led by a wicked spirit. My father was slain, but I took up his hamn, the hamn of a bear. Infused with the spirit of a bear, I wore the hamn to battle, and slew the pirates and their evil master."
The hamn of a bear? How unoriginal. Vidar thought, and sucked in more fish soup happily.
"I became famous for my deed, and was invited to the capital at Eitrat." Idmundr the Fire-Haired stated proudly, eyes shining. "I was offered a place amongst the berserkers of Eitrat. I defended Havsgard against scum for a decade, gaining fame and renown. The day came where I was offered the fruit of Eitrat, the fruit of the North Wind itself. I became one of the Eitervakt, bearing the Archon's spark."
Vidar paused for a moment, because that was a genuinely impressive deed. Master Kario seemed to have broken out of his thoughts, too. Then it occurred to Vidar - he could sense no magic from Idmundr. So, this man was a charlatan after all. A tinge of hatred bubbled up in him, and Niva sensed it.
Let him finish his story. She told him.
With a shrug, Vidar returned to his soup, disappointed.
"I grew proud. Perhaps too proud. Or jealous of the Windspeakers? Or maybe, maybe it was sloth. I was too lazy." Idmundr was losing coherency, no longer paying attention to his fellows at the table. "I wish I knew. Oh spirits, why do you remain silent to me?"
"Excuse me sir." Master Kario said, finally breaking his usual silence. "What are you talking about?"
"I went on a quest." Idmundr ranted. "A great quest. But halfway through, before I could even finish my journey, I lost it. I lost the spark of the North Wind. The North Wind abandoned me!"
Boiling in Vidar's chest, trying to sneak past his self-control, was a wave of revulsion. Such dishonour was hard to imagine, such shame.
"Why?" Niva asked, her face open with surprise and confusion. "How could that happen?"
"I do not know." Idmundr stated. "I returned to Eitrat, begging for answers. But the Eitervakt ignored me, said I was damned, cursed. They said I must have done something to earn it. That the North Wind must have seen something in me, something disgusting. So I was exiled."
"I suppose the perversions of man are visible to the Archons." Master Kario mused. "I suppose you are right, Idmundr. The North Wind must have glimpsed your impurity."
Idmundr looked utterly defeated, slumping down onto the table.
"Spirits forgive me..."
"So, do you have any idea why?" Vidar asked, scratching his chin. "What did you feel, or think, that was so detestable?"
Idmundr clawed at his face.
"I don't know."
Post by Devius on Aug 26, 2013 20:55:54 GMT
December 12th. 2484 AS
"How can you not know? Did you not seek an answer?" I ask, perplexed.
"Of course I did!" The man wails. "After the Eitervakt denied me, I traveled the land. I've asked oracles, seers, mystics and diviners. I've confered with spirits of virtue and sin, sought advice from vessels and scholars. None of them found any clue, not a hint!" He almost begins to cry once more but Niva calms him with soft words and a refill of mead.
I do not know what to make of the man. His story is so unbelievable, the only rational conclusion is that he is a liar. But Nobody would conjure such a convoluted story to win the compassion of strangers. Where does the truth end and the lies start? The only thing I can be sure of is that his life is one of dishonor, and nobody deserves such an existence. To help him meet his end at the gentle touch of The Maiden would be a compassionate end for both a fallen warrior or manic liar.
"So you've finally accepted him to join us on our voyage."
Niva's voice enter my thoughts.I did that earlier, you heard me welcome him."Only in words. Now you've welcomed him in your mind."How can you tell?"You no longer look at him with the same revulsion, I sense some compassion in there."
She smiles smugly at me from across the table.
I disregard her and raise my voice to interrupt whatever story Idmundr is spouting at the moment.
"Your tale was very touching, Idmundr. I really must ask you once again to please come with us to Chakazia, your company would be valued."
"You need not ask again, young Vidar, I will join you on your journey." He breaks into a gap-toothed smile and then proceeds to tell more tales of his former glory.
The next day, we find a ship due to Chakazia's capital. A trade ship with stops at Oslit and Jarnklif for supplies before continuing to the other province. The voyage should take about a month.
As the ship departs, I take a moment to stare at the vastness of the sea. My mother's ashes were spread across these waters, her soul is melded with them. Perhaps she will watch over me on my journey. Emotions stir within me, I lock out Niva before she can comment on them.
To occupy my mind from painful thoughts, I focus on the horizon. I can barely make out the contour of an island straight north. I turn my gaze a little to the left and strain my eyes to see further. Eitrat should be in that direction. I can just barely spot the outline of what could be a great tree, but perhaps it is only the clouds playing into my hopes.
After a few more minutes of mindless gazing, my feelings subside. I head back to my cabin and allow Niva into my mind once more."Something you want to talk about?"
Her voice is tinted with concern, but with Niva it's impossible to tell if it's genuine or fake.No
. There are some things I refuse to discuss with Niva. Most of all my family.
Post by Devius on Sept 9, 2013 15:01:19 GMT
December 13th. 2484 AS
Shortly after leaving port, the captain of the ship offered to greatly reduce the cost of our voyage if we helped rowing the oars, however, Kario assured us it was not necessary at all,. It's becoming increasingly obvious how little he regards his life savings, as he knows he will not need them once we arrive in Dejavaros. Despite that, Idmundr still accepted the offer and is now currently below deck at the oars. Whether it's a desire to feel like he's not merely an object of our charity or if he just craves physical exercise during the trip, I cannot tell.
It's currently nighttime, and I haven't seen Niva all day. I expected her to turn up at our cabin for bedtime but now I realize that's a faulty assumption when dealing with a spirit, human-shaped or not. I decide to contact her.You've given me many excuses. That you need to adjust to human life, that I must understand people before I can understand you, and so forth. But I believe your grace period is over. We have a long time to spend on this ship, with few distractions, I suggest we spend it on proper practice.
I can't help but let my mild annoyance shine through.
She answers immediately. "But of course, Vidar!
" It does not take an empath to imagine the toying smile beyond the words. "How do you plan on getting started, then?
I ignore her mockery and stay on the target, eventually she will have to obey. From the beginning.
"That's a long time ago!" She muses. "A very different place, and time. Back then, spirits were nothing like humans. Unlike now.
For a moment I want to yell at her, tell her she damn well know what I meant. But the impulse is subdued by a memory from my youth, when learning from my village elders. They told me that to know the past is to know the future. This information could be valuable after all. Continue
. I urge her.
"I could try to show you, but that is what will truly require training. Being able to interpret my memories, so that you may experience some of them. Then I could show you. You are very young yet, Vidar Ragnarson, but you may be a fast learner.
" If that's what's required, I will be.
Suddenly, her tone changes. "You spoke of a desire for fame. What do you truly want?
Power, influence, success. I was promised such a future, then it was taken from me. So I will make it myself.
"And you want these things because..?
Is this line of questioning necessary for my training?
I can sense her sighing on the other end of our link. "As I said, you are young. If you do not temper yourself, you will become a madman, or a selfish fool, or someone equally useless to the world. I have seen enough talent gone to waste in a bloody gutter that way. You must mature.
Before I can formulate a reply, she continues. "If you want power and fame because really, you are a scared little boy who would feel safe behind such masks, then it is pointless to seek them. You would remain brittle.
I never expected someone whose powers manifest in empathy to misjudge me so severely, disappointed in her failure, I make a statement to swiftly eliminate her misgivings. I was raised for power and fame. It's what was meant for me, and my siblings as well. It has nothing to do with fear or safety, it's what's right.
"And what makes it right? Do you think your argument that your mother loved you and tried to raise you to be a famous hero will convince your fellow man that you are superior to them? Will you tell them that your mother's authority decreed it?
You will not speak about my mother.
I feel an impulse to end our pact right away. She's wrong, insolent, and claims to understand me when she doesn't know anything. She has failed me in every regard. Yet somehow, I manage to suprpess my emotions and see the logic hiding beneath. Ending our pact now would be pointless, as I'm stuck on this ship for several weeks ahead, making it a collossal waste of time. That time would be better spent to make her understand how wrong she is, to make her obedient and respectful.
I make my response as short and concise as possible. My claim to power comes from a combination of talent, upbringing and dedication. Heroes are made of less
. It's so simple, how can she not see?
Yet again she hears, but doesn't listen. "Then why do I see what I see? A cold, selfish boy who took an uneducated risk. I chose you because you took that risk, not because of the things you claim to possess. You are weak and you are foolish, and when you accept that, you can focus on your flaws and develop them. Until then you will crumble under the first blow to come your way. It is time to grow up.
I delay my response until I can calm down. She keeps on adding attributes to me that I don't possess while disregarding my perfectly solid logic. I need to pick her misjudgements apart, one by one. I never 'claimed' anything, it has all been assigned to me by all the people I've met ever since i took my first steps. Are you saying they were all wrong?
"I am saying your reliance on such trivialities means you will break as soon as a challenge presents itself where they are not relevant. Will your upbringing stop a flood of water? Will the compliments paid to your ego do anything to convince people to stand by your side? If you were an adult, your personality would be inexcusable. But we have time to fix that. I can see the wall you have built around yourself, granting you control. That control is limited, and your wall will break. You must be able to adapt.
I need an even longer pause to collect myself. She's blind, deaf, but still obnoxiously vocal, conversing with her is pointless. I need to remind myself that the only thing I'd gain from ending the pact would be to break our mental link, which I can already block. I'd lose a chance for power, and even if it is unlikely, it's the only worthwhile way to spend my time on the ship. I might as well entertain her way of thinking for the time being. So what would you have me do? How do I learn how to adapt?
"Go make a friend.
I would burst out laughing if the action didn't feel so alien to me. But despite the absurdity of it, I treat it like any formal assignment. If that's what's required, I will.
" She scoffs.Just watch me
. I say with certainty.
" She replies in her normal coy voice. "A nice man is proposing marriage to me. He is very funny, for a human.
There is nothing more of value to get out of her today. So I simply command her to stay out of trouble and then begin to walk around the ship, in look for a friend to make.
I spend the next few hours talking to crew mates passing by. Some of them brush me off immediately while others appreciate the break from monotony, yet all conversations end with them having to leave for work to take care of. I conclude that their busy schedules make any meaningful bond very difficult to maintain, besides, there is a limited amount of conversation one can derive from reef knots and clove hitches.
I decide to call it a day for the friend-making and at a lack of anything better to do, I go down below to check on Idmundr.
"How's the rowing?"
"What?" He grunts.
"I...-" For a brief moment I consider befriending him, but as he seems to have trouble concentrating on rowing and talking at the same time, I deem it a lost cause. "-actually forget it. See you at supper." I turn to leave.
"What is it?"
"I'm thirsty, Ragnarson!" He says with a voice that sounds like wind rolling over sand. I don't doubt his claim.
"I'll get you something to drink then." I move quickly to the stairs, partially fueled by an inclination to save the man from killing himself by dehydration and a slight hope he might reward my service with another one of his stories to pass the time.
Post by Timeon on Sept 27, 2013 14:59:02 GMT
From the port of Eslit they travelled to the grand city of Oslit, the gateway between the isles of Havsgard and the mainland. A constant trail of goods from the Dominion poured into the streets and markets of Oslit, either sold or prepared for another journey further north, to the other isles of the archipelago. Vidar did not wander far from the ship, the idea of being stranded in this metropolis disturbing him at every turn. Master Kario stayed aboard the ship, lapsing into an ever deeper depression by the day. Idmundr was similarly prone to outbursts, but in Oslit, he lightened up, daring to sample foreign delicacies and treat himself a little.
After a day in Oslit, they sailed onwards, west, to the final Havsgardian town before Chakazia - Jarnklif. Jarnklif itself was a small place, used mostly as a stopping point between Oslit and Chakazia. They did not linger there, and Vidar did not leave the ship that time. He instead trained with his magical abilities, though he had so far failed to make a true friend, as he had been instructed. Niva let him learn basic manipulation of the matter around him, or throwing magical projectiles at unmoving targets. He was also able to influence people's disposition towards him, though not in any meaningful way.
From Jarnklif, they moved on to the first Chakazian city, which went by the strange name of Gauduin. In the cold January weather, the Nortmaar sea was grey and uninspiring, often windy and violent. Gauduin was not a haven from the winter storms, it was a reflection of them. It looked like a place that might have once been majestic, but now, it was withered and bitter, much like its people, from what Vidar could tell. Brown and white stone had been cobbled together to house the city's people, with roof tiles of every dreary colour imaginable. Dim lights flickered from behind barred windows, and the streets were full with people - but only the poor ones, or the sick and dying.
Vidar was hesitant to step off the ship at first, but he relented in the end, because of Niva.
You want new experiences, and knowledge? Then go out and there into the world, and learn. See for yourself what is out there.
He brushed shoulders with women wearing full plate armour, their hair tied back, their faces sad but determined. These were the famous clerics of the Maiden, the order of prostitute-knights sent into the world to ease the suffering of the wretched. He often saw them tending to the beggars and the downtrodden, but their ministrations often ended in a merciful death. It was not really Vidar's idea of mercy, but he was not about to argue with anybody.
When they at last left Gauduin, the entire crew of the ship seemed to have fallen into a quiet inner vigil, everybody alone with their own thoughts. Chakazia was not what Vidar had imagined it to be. Perhaps it was merely the wrong season for a visit.
This country was destroyed long ago. Niva said, as they sailed away. During the civil war after the Faloran Empire ended. In the time of Archanicus.
The ship's captain decided then to choose the quicker and more dangerous route to Dejavoros. A route that would take them past the City of Silence. The City of Silence was a place Vidar did not need Niva to tell him about. The legend was that the Maiden's sister, a greater spirit by the name of the Quartz Mistress, had injured her sister in a fit of jealousy, and gone into isolation, imposing silence upon all her followers.
Just a legend. Niva told Vidar, as the shores of the Isle of Regret came into view. But the legend does this place justice.
What a relief, then, Vidar thought, if the so-called Isle of Regret was not so scary after all.
Oh, don't make the mistake of thinking the legend is worse than reality. Niva warned him sharply. The truth behind this place is far more terrible than the charming tale about family relationships between spirits.
"Great." Vidar said out loud.
Within a few days, the weather of the Nortmaar turned even more sour. It was not unusual, but the ship's captain seemed taken aback nonetheless. It grew steadily worse, until they were fighting ever higher waves.
"We may have to dock." Vidar overheard the first mate shouting to the captain.
"Not here!" the captain yelled back, rain smashing the ship's deck. Vidar was at the oars, trying to help, although he was doing little good.
"We have no choice!"
"Yes, we do!" the captain roared, as a streak of violent light tore down across the horizon, followed by an ear-splitting boom.
They struggled on for an hour or two, before a gigantic wave swept the ship's deck. When it had cleared, the captain and half of the officers were gone. Seated down by the oars, Vidar and the rowers had made it alive. But they were without direction.
"Just keep rowing!" somebody yelled.
Another wave, throwing Vidar sideways. He hit his head, and all went black.
He opened his eyes. He was on a soft surface, but something was poking into his back. Rocks. He was on a stretcher, laid out on uneven ground. There was heat, and light, to the side. He rolled, seeing a campfire. He was under a shelter of some sort, though it was growing dark around them. There was Niva, Idmundr, Master Kario, and several other sailors.
Instinctively, Vidar knew what had happened. They had probably been forced to abandon ship.
And he had a pretty good idea of where he was, too.
Post by Devius on Oct 30, 2013 19:12:58 GMT
? ? ? ?
I sit up. Niva is the first to notice me, of course. She smiles comfortingly but it soon fades. Next is Idmundr.
"Ragnarson!" He exclaims as he moves over to embrace me. Everyone in the tent shudder at the noise, but soon calm down.
"Oh, right." He says, in a noticably quieter voice. "They said to keep talking to a minimum, you see-"
"I understand." I assure him. He nods and moves over to master Kario.
"Master Kario, Vidar is awake. We're all in good health, you need not worry."
But the old master doesn't react. He's staring emptily at the campfire, catatonic.
"He's been like that since we got here. His mind has shut reality away, even I can't make him open.
" I can feel genuine concern from Niva, although I can't tell whether it's out of compassion for Kario or worry that her powers are failing her.I believe we have more pressing issues at the moment.
"... Yes, I suppose we do.
" Despite agreeing, she gives me a nasty look. However, I can't be bothered to reprimand her attitude this time.
I try to stand up, but a surge of fatigue tells me a lot of time has passed since I last ate. Idmundr hands me a small piece of bread and a sip from a goblet filled with mead which is being passed around. Once enough of my strength has returned, I try to stand again and succeed, even though my body aches in protest.
I move outside and and look around. We're on a stony shore, framed by a hill. The remains of the ship are spread randomly across the rocks. Some debris is still floating around in the water, moved closer to the shore by the waves, but drawn back to sea by the current. Some men are salvaging what parts they can, collecting them in a pitifully small pile.
I spot a group of sailors huddled around one man, I recognise him as the first mate. They're overlooking a seachart of the area. Of course, it only shows the shape of the coast, not anything of the island we're on.
Suddenly, one of them gasps and points at the top of the hill. A man is standing on it, staring at us wide-eyed. A few moments of baffled silence pass. But then, one of the sailors waves and yells at the man. Two of his friends immediately tackle him to shut him up, but it's too late. The man on the hill runs off.Niva, we're in trouble.