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[Story] The Magic Arts (& Crafts) - Vol 3 - Shades of Truth

Discussion in 'UO White Stag Inn' started by Gerorne, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. Gerorne

    Gerorne Guest

    Volume 3 of a planned eight volume story. Please hold off posting replies until the volume is finished. (There will be twenty-one chapters and then the Afterword, unlike the thirteen chapters of Volume 1.)

    New chapters planned to come out most Wednesdays. Chapter I will be up September 9.


    Sometimes the things that are free,
    Truly cost us the most in the end.


    A new age is almost upon us, with old differences set aside. The world prepares for celebration, and two great powers will be at peace. No longer pressured by those close to home and threatened by those from afar, Melfina can now uncover the secrets of the Ossian Grimoire.

    But is she ready for what she will find? - Only time will tell.

    A place of revelations and discovery - The Magic Arts (& Crafts)


    Volume 1 - Welcome to West Luna
    Volume 2 - Enlightenment
    Volume 3 - Shades of Truth

    Part of uothief.com​
  2. Gerorne

    Gerorne Guest

    Chapter I

    Chapter I
    Melfina reads the passage again. She has finally gotten to something good.

    The Ossian Grimoire was a rare and powerful book. She doubted she had the original, the very first book of necromancy ever created, but all the books labeled as Ossian Grimoires were identical copies. So whether is was the first or the last Grimoire created, it didn't make much difference.

    Her excitement was ready to burst when she finally sat down with it for the first time. She had locked it away for so long, and was ready to inhale the knowledge that was inside. What she found was not at all what she expected. Melfina was horror struck when the first page she saw wasn't related to necromancy at all. After a couple more pages she confirmed she was looking at a spellbook.

    But it didn't feel like a spellbook. She knew difference between spellbooks and necro books, and despite what she her eyes told her, she trusted her feelings more. It was the same book she had used to summon Darksage to her side, and the same book that she held when Archduke Aedilwulf declared all charges against her would be forgotten. They were false charges, but either way it no longer mattered.

    A closer look revealed much more. Spellbooks contained only sixty-four spells, but they were hundreds of pages thick. The thickness was required for durability. Regulating the flow of mana was a taxing process, and if a scribe tried to cut down on the pages when assembling the book, eventually the book would be used up like a scroll. And so with all that extra space in every spellbook, it was often put to use. Ossian had taken that concept to an extreme.

    Every page was filled from top to bottom with notes, patient histories, journal entries, purchases, drawings, and even grocery lists. It was so chaotic that Melfina couldn't get herself to read it for any considerable length in one sitting. What did she care if someone named Stoven, who had been dead hundreds of years, kept on coming back to be cured of itchy feet. Or that he hated appointments with Chima because she would tell the most offensive jokes followed by a horrendous cackle. But Melfina refused to skip ahead and risk passing over something that was actually important. At least the entries about his girlfriend were always sweet.
    Melfina closes her eyes and tries to imagine what it was like back then. Lord British had united almost all the land. The discovery of the moongates helped in creating a sense of identity, and unity, and if necessary, created a quick method for dispatching the Royal Britannian Guard. He understood the importance of magic. It was the creation of the Council of Mages that laid the groundwork for his control of most the world. And while he wasn't a mage himself, he was the one that created the title of Scholar, to be bestowed upon all mages who helped to significantly advance the discipline of magic.

    Like discover the ninth circle of magic she thought. But there is no ninth circle. Melfina opens her eyes and reads on.
    Melfina checked the time, then double checked the amount of recall scrolls she had already made. I'll read just a little bit more, then finish the rest.
    Then Melfina understood. She wasn't reading about the discovery of the ninth circle of magic. This was the birth of necromancy.

    He cast curse weapon. The motion was so simple, and it was the most forgiving of the spells when it came to precision. And it only took one reagent. To this day, healers still used pig iron in some of their medicines. It was almost unbelievable that so perfect a spell existed for necromancy to be discovered. What are the chances? Although she supposed that necromancy wouldn't have been discovered under more unlikely conditions.

    This was the birth of necromancy. The birth of necromancy! She grew slightly dizzy as the power of the statement hit her. The history of necromancy as it formed and evolved was in her hands. And Ossian was extremely meticulous. The very first necro books were made by him. He obviously altered his spellbook through a process that he discovered. The formula was in here. It has to be.

    Umbra would no longer have the secret to themselves. Melfina's book, Discovering Necromancy was near completion. Umbrans were secretive people, and if they wouldn't publish materials about their system of magic, then she would. But if she discovered this secret, and included in her book, it would become a phenomenon.

    There were six months to the Reunification. She could find the secret, and unveil her work to the world at what might be the most significant event of her lifetime. Her first book would be released at last.

    * * *

  3. Gerorne

    Gerorne Guest

    Chapter II

    Chapter II

    "Once the call has been made, it must be answered."

    Stark had been writing some final instructions to Guard Captain Bear, when Melfina barged in. It seemed she found his note.

    Both answering the call and fulfilling his duties as guard captain would not be possible, so Lord Luna was the first person he approached as soon as the Keeper of Lore had left. And Lord Luna had understood. Stark had been hired as a paladin, and must be allowed to be a paladin. The only surprise Lord Luna had shown was that the call had been made so soon. Stark was surprised himself. He hadn't expected it to happen for years.

    "It is a sacred journey that must be fulfilled," he tries to explain to the scribe. "I have one day to set my life in order then I must go."

    "But why!"

    "Refusal means expulsion from the Order of Light. And refusal would bar me from being accepted into any other Order." He added, "I'll come back."

    "But you quit! Why would you come back! Is Lord Luna just going to take away Bear's new rank? No!"

    "Of course not, that would be wrong. But West Luna has more than doubled in size in a matter of months, and the Guard has grown as well. The city will grow larger still, and when I come back Lord Luna will need more than one captain."

    "And how long do you actually plan on being gone!"

    He had explained this in the note, but he answers, "The journey itself will only be a few months. Then a few more as I stay at the Temple of Virtue. I may even be back in time for the Reunification."

    "Can't I just send you part of the way there so you're back quicker?"

    "Melfina. No. This is an important rite. I have to travel on foot. And I cannot take anything with me but my sword and my faith. Meaning I take my sword, ankh, Book of Chivalry, and my Book of Bushido. I can take some supplies, and clothes of course, but no armor. And I must go alone. Through God's will, I will make it to The Temple of Virtue and be greeted by the Keepers of Lore."

    "What's so important there?"

    "Everything. The Keepers are the guardians of our history, which includes the temple itself. It's one of the oldest buildings still standing from before the time the world shattered. One I get there, they will question me, and test me, and record everything I know and have learned of both Chivalry and my secondary field, Bushido."

    "And how will this sacred journey of yours get you home!"

    "The Keepers of Lore are both paladins and scribes. They can gate me home," Stark smiles.

    "What? Paladins aren't mages. I would have noticed some."

    "Only a few select paladins are allowed to study magery and inscription. Taught by the holy mages. When they are finished with their training, they are assigned to the Temple of Virtue, and no other place. And in turn, as Keepers of Lore, they are the ones that appoint a new High Father when the time comes. Same for the Keeper of All, and for all Keepers of Chivalry. Their unique duties ensure that they come in contact with all members of our Order, and so are uniquely qualified to understand and evaluate us all."

    "I guess that sounds important." Melfina grimaces. "Well... do they have a gift shop?"

    He laughs. "If they do, I'll be sure to get you a 'Death to the necromancers!' plaque."

    She hits him.

    It was strange how they had come to this point. Something about her still didn't feel right. She had been changed by necromancy, and it didn't look like it could be undone. But he had adjusted. They both had.

    "Well, here. I made you some muffins."

    "I smelled them when you came in. And they smell delicious," he smiles.

    "You better come back."

    "I will."

    She hugs him. "Be safe."

    He grabs onto her shoulders, "You be safe." He didn't say more than that. More would have just led to an argument that wouldn't end well.

    "I'll be fine. I'm mostly going to be busy working on my book. I want to release it at the Reunification. If I plan this right, news about it will spread like crazy!"

    Stark didn't know how to feel about a book about necromancy being released, but he kept quiet. "I'm glad."

    "Ok, I'll leave you alone so you can finish. You better not leave without saying good-bye."

    "I won't."

    She leaves.

    Now where was I? He looks down at paper before him, and can't think of anything else to say.

    His job had been the safety of West Luna and its people. That population was growing. Once Draven allowed his museum to become an official part of West Luna, more of the neighbors took to the idea. A new house was even being built nearby, funded by a resident of Luna. Apparently he was offered a large sum of money for his property, if he would move out before the Reunification, so his land could more effectively be used to take advantage of the event.

    Lord Luna took an active hand in the growth of his city. Lumberjacks had hired to clear away the nearby forest for even more construction. Both Stark and Bear had been privileged with some of his plans, and had been allowed to provide input on what it would take to maintain the peace of the budding city.

    The Sunlight's Nectar will be interesting to watch.

    When the head banker of Luna decides to invest in his city, it is a clear sign that Lord Luna is doing something right. Leah had a masterful eye when it came to profit.

    More houses, more establishments, and more people, meant a larger area to guard. Bear had already been involved with choosing and training the new recruits. Stark's experience in Luna had made it so he was able to teach Bear a few things, but Bear knew what he was doing as well.

    The guard had performed well over the intervening months. Two more thefts were stopped, with some regrettable damage, but no citizen under their care had been hurt. Bear had been able to provide ideas on how to improve their training to adjust to a growing population, and they had discussed countless scenarios of where and how that growth would happen. They had both shared evaluations with each other of all the guards, and how each could most effectively be used. Bear would be an excellent captain.

    And so Stark seals his letter, leaves a thank you note for Gwendalyne for all her support and hospitality, and heads out.

    Stark exits the doorway of what he had been able to call his home, and at the bottom of the steps, stands Melfina and West Luna Guard.

    "We just wanted to wish you farewell, captain," says the new Guard Captain of West Luna.

    Stark took the compliment.

    "Here," Melfina says, and she shoves a picnic basket in his hands. "Here's some more stuff from me and Gwen. She wanted to be here, but couldn’t make it.

    "Thank you." Stark thought leaving would be easy. He was a paladin to his core, and it was a great honor to be called. But he felt himself already missing the sights, sounds a smells of this place. He felt himself missing the people. Stark hugs Melfina one more time.

    Bear leads the Guard in a salute to their former captain. Stark looks them over before returning it. Alan had some scars and Warren had a slight limp, but they were all fit and alert, and West Luna would be safe. After the salute, Stark clasps arms with Bear. "You will do well."

    "Thank you, sir."

    Melfina steps in front of him, "I expect a gift."

    "I'll see you soon."

    Then Stark turns his back and faces east. The whisper of his prayer carries far into the silence. The paladin stands and leaves without a backward glance.

    * * *



    Next: Chapter II - September 23rd (Delayed one week)
    (My timezone is PST, GMT -8)​
  4. Gerorne

    Gerorne Guest

    Chapter III

    Chapter III

    "Right, right, it just doesn't make any sense! Why would anyone assemble something like that in Dungeon Deceit!"

    Gamblor nods his head on cue and maintains just the right amount of eye contact with the spice merchant.

    "I mean a giant chessboard! What business does that have in one of the dungeons of the Anti-Virtues! If I wanted to play chess, I could stay right here!"

    As if you were the one actually there. "It is Deceit after all. Its very name suggests confusion." Gamblor replies, trying to keep his response as vague and non-committal as possible.

    "That is very true. Let me buy you another drink."

    This spice merchant was obviously repeating tales from other travelers and pretending they were his own. He didn't seem like the adventuring type. But listening to stories never hurt anyone. He just wanted some attention, and someone to share a mug with. Gamblor wasn't about to turn down a free mug of ale. He already finished three.

    The serving girl comes back with two mugs, and the spice merchant puts coins on the table. She picks them up, smiles appreciatively at Gamblor, then goes on her way when he responds with a polite smile and nod of his head. She was only fishing for tips. And even if she wasn't, this wasn't the place to mess around with the serving girls.

    The Sunlight's Nectar was owned by the head banker of Luna. She was powerful and her connections ran deep. The potential trouble wasn't worth it. Things were changing around here, and he wasn't sure how to take it. He used to like coming here, in part, because of Lord Luna's views against the City of Light. And yet he allowed this place to be built and whatever foothold that meant.

    The other reason to keep away from any potential trouble was that this tavern was right next door to Melfina's place. He now had the perfect place to pass the time and wait for her if something came up. He'd be here frequently. And well, he didn't want a bad reputation to reach her ears.

    Gamblor takes a sip from his mug. Leah sure doesn't skimp on quality. Great ale could be added to the list. If he had known that the ever suspicious paladin had been gone for over a month already, he would have tried out this place sooner. It was too new, and didn't have a cozy broken in feel yet, but it only needed some time.

    "So what's the next stop?" The spice merchant loved to talk, so a short and simple question was all that was needed to get him going again.

    "Off to the west, to the League! Trade is opening up there, and I want to make sure I'm in on it."


    "You haven't heard? There's a big change happening," he said with his speech noticeably slower than when Gamblor first sat down with him. "They're looking to trade new goods to find, and hire people with skills, and pay lots. You look strong and healthy, you might want to look into it yourself."

    "I may just do that."

    "Oh, but don't tell anyone else." He leans closer. "Better to be ahead of the competition than be better than the competition."

    "Agreed." Gamblor raises his mug. "To the League."

    "To the League!" They tap their mugs together and drink deeply.

    Gamblor looks around to see if anyone else heard. He didn't know how everyone around here felt about the League. The traffic from their brothel business was a recent issue with the West Luna Guard, or so he had heard.

    A glance reveals no looks of annoyance or anger from the other patrons. Not that there were many. West Luna was still a small place. Not big enough to really be called a city. But having its own tavern was a good start.

    What would be even better is a cardhouse, Gamblor thought. If I could save up enough, maybe I could open one up. But he knew that was never going to happen. He was good at acquiring gold, but not so good at holding on to it.

    Gamblor takes a look at the clock on the wall, and realizes that Melfina's over an hour late. "It's been fun, my friend, but I have to leave now. The next mug is on me." lGamblor didn't even know his name, and didn't particularly care to, but on of the off chance the merchant would remember him, four mugs for the price of one was worth it.

    Where is that girl. She's never this late. Usually it was the scribe that was mad for his never being on time. Maybe something was wrong.

    It takes only a moment to walk from The Sunlight's Nectar to The Magic Arts and Crafts, and inside, he sees Melfina sitting pretty in her seat and not even bothering to look up and acknowledge his presence.

    "You're reading!"

    She still takes no notice of him.

    "Mel. Mel!"

    "Oh," she says quietly, never moving her eyes from her book. She lifts a sheet of paper into the air. "Here. This is what I need."

    "Oh, no, no, no. I'm not working for you if you're going to treat me like some servant," he replies. She feels his glare and finally takes her gaze away from the book.

    Melfina blushes. It was cute. "Oh sorry."

    "Oh you better be. I can find work somewhere else where they'll appreciate my skills."

    "I said I'm sorry!" She looks like she means it. "I just haven't had much time to read this, and there's just so much information here! The secret to making necro books is in here somewhere. But Ossian was so... thorough... when it came to his notes. It's really hard to not get distracted."

    Oh Mel.

    "Did you know that the Demon War was started because mages thought it was a good idea to drain deamons of their blood? That's what the summon deamon spell was used for back then. It looks like the blood was useful in reagent farming and healing. Because of the war, it is expressly forbidden for any mage to summon a deamon for anything other than combat. If someone repeatedly summoned me for the express purpose of draining my blood, I'd want to go to war too."

    "Look at you. Sympathizing with deamons. There's hope for you yet," he winks at her.

    Gamblor ducks a paper ball as it flies through the air.

    "Shut up! That was a major change in how mages viewed the spell. And besides, they're smart creatures. Too bad we can't summon them for their knowledge anymore."

    "This has really caught your eye. Maybe if we had an appointment to drain my blood instead of giving me a list of stuff you need, you'd actually show up on time. Who knows, maybe my blood can cure you of your forgetfulness."

    "Ewww, that's gross."

    He laughs. "I think it's time to leave. I'm glad you've found something you find fun for a change. That constant cloud above your head was getting ugly."

    "Thanks Gamblor. And don't forget I pay you good money, so don't go looking for ways to cut costs when you're working for me."

    She knew he was thief. And he knew that she knew. But when she hired him, he was to do things the legal way. And he was fine with that. When it came to his trade, almost everyone was fair game. He followed The Code, and would never steal from another thief. But it wasn't enough for him. He needed to be true to someone, and she was it. The only good thing about having that annoying paladin around was that he knew she was well protected. Now that he was gone, he guessed he'd have to hang around a bit more. She'd find a way to get into trouble sooner or later.

    "Me? Oh, I'd never." He grins.

    "Bye Gamblor."

    "She you soon. You should come down to the tavern with me next time."

    "I'll think about it."

    Things were changing around here, but everything would be all right in the end.

    * * *



    Next: Chapter IV - 2010
    (My timezone is PST, GMT -8)​