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The Nystad Twins & Casca's Ascension

Discussion in 'The Black Library [Archives]' started by WarderDragon, Mar 17, 2010.

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  1. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Concerning Nobles - Nicholas the Old meets Aino & Kullervo Nystad.
    By WarderDragon
    Sunday, January 11th, 2009.​

    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1 -

    Greetings, my friends and fellow Britannians!

    You may have recently been blessed with the opportunity to read Lady Oriana's most splendid editorial, in which she profiles the beautiful (and rather elusive) Lady Aino Nystad; a visitor from the Merchant City of Vesper. In the course of their dialogue, Oriana manages to profile a young woman on a mission; one that seeks the reestablishment of their fallen house and the restoration of her families good name amongst the noble peerage of Lord British's Realm. In these black and troublesome times; even courtly intrigues can be frought with pitfalls all their own. Alas, that such dark days be our own.

    I doubt your reading this passage to mull over idle philosophical conjecture; so I shall get to the point. Nonetheless, if you haven't yet taken the time to read Lady Oriana's story, I most strongly recommend that you do so. I dare say, she could be the next Freeborn yet! It can be found amongst the news stands throughout West Britain, or here.

    "Why," you might very well be asking yourself, "am I merely repeating the mere comings and goings of another spoiled celebrity? Why, the shadowed hand of Nosfentor and Faulinei streach over the length and bredth of Greater Sosaria, whilst the mysterious 'Six' have disappeared all togeather? What about more important individuals, such the Illustrious Lord Casca?" Why, dost thou ask? My answer, for one, is because I bloody can! But alas, my editors demand more substance should I wish this to make it to print. With that in mind, I do say that there is always more to the story; more to follow-up upon; some tidbit for the gossips and the courtly ladies (of whom the only difference be how many pairs of brilliantly-hued sandals their husband can afford). That is not to mention the wealth of young courties who wish to know Lady Aino's favorite flower, or her favorite dessert. Blast, I dare say; I wouldn't be shocked if half the Knighthood had already pledged themselves in her honor in the upcoming tournement. Britain's tailors are going to have a fit attempting to reproduce Nystad's Colours.

    Yet; as promised, I have come upon several relatively fascinating new details regarding our beautiful foreign visitor than were previously known. A number of trustworthy sources - my "eyes and ears" if you will - have indicated to me that the Lady Aino has a brother; one Kullervo Nystad. The boy is her fraternal twin, and had been spotted in the realm of Dawn nearly one weeks past. Strange. You would think that twins seeking the favor of the Royal Court would attempt the mere appearance of impropriety. Its well known that the Cross Family has no right to defy the authority of Lord Cantabrigans chosen legislature.

    So, 'tis with such questions in mind that I packed my bags and headed for the nearest moongate. I exited the ethereal door just outside the City of Old Moonglow, and proceeded immidiately for the cities dock. It took me several hours, but finally I was able to barter for passage aboard a merchants vessel headed in the direction of the Bay of Lost Hope. The Captain, a certain Jerhyn Bashere, purported to be part of what sounds to be a newly minted Trading Conglomerate based out of Old Nujel'm. I should note that I caught a peek under the hatch of their galleon; discovering several crates covered in seaweed. Clearly, they had been recently recovered from the sea. Upon closer insprection, I founded something quite troubling on the side. "Sierra Cascade Trading Company. Blackrock Shipment. Due 1st Mirtul in New Trinsic. Fier Warehouse." Its not suprising that those blasted Feluccians would be dealing in illegal substances; but the name struck me. The chief officers of the Sierra Cascade had been assassinated earlier that spring, while all their holdings had been immidiately confiscated by the Royal Council just prior to their murder.

    The trading vessel finally arrived at the Bay of Lost Hope, the dawn of the next mourn (no pun intended). Merchants from both Dawn, and nearby Avalon and Wind were there to greet the eastern traders. Much to my own relief, the traders left the crates of blackrock within the hatch; instead, trading crates of "Xel's Sake Shots" and "Golden Spring Ale" for Dawnite Pipe Leaf, Avalonian Oak, and various herbs and spices grown on the Grand Duchess' Private Estates.

    I payed my fare to the traders, and inquired about the local taverns. I was disappointed to learn that both the Dead Dove Tavern and the Dawn Acropolis had both closed their doors years ago. They mentioned something about vampire plagues and drow. I was pleased to hear that something new had been opened in their place. Apparently, Old Man Rouvale had donated part of his estate for the establishment of the Dragons Breath; and the barmaids there weren't half as snobby as those from the Acropolis.

    It turns out that the Dragons Breath Tavern wasn't half as wild as the merchants described it to be. I suppose I should've expected as much; hard times had fallen on the land, and even the Kingdom of Dawn wasn't immune. A single, exotic looking maiden sat behind the bar; polishing what appears to be an otherwise clean mug down once more. I immidiately took note of the cavorting club hanging from her hip; better be careful around that one.

    Out the kitchen door entered a rather plump, balding middle aged fellow with a rather large moustache. The barkeep. He seemed a cheerful enough fellow; too cheerful for an empty tavern, but alas! These Dawnites were strange folk.

    "Melisande," he laughed. "You're giving our customer the evil eye again. How are we ever going to attract new customers if you keep that up?"

    "How do you know he isn't...one of those Minax folks?"

    "He's too ordinary looking to belong to some 'faction,'" he quipped.

    "Ordinary!?" I blinked.

    "True," she growled, still staring at me like she intended to thump me one. It reminded me too much of my last girlfriend. "He isn't wearing those funny pink shoes, or some bright orange robe."

    "My, inquisitive you are," I teased. Alas, before I could continue; the doors swung open behind me. I looked around behind me, facing what appeared to be a young knight or prince of the realm. He wore the customary red sash and blue cloak famous amongst Dawn; the jeweled scabbard of his broadsword hanging from his hip. Strangely, the lad wore an ominous looking eyepatch; although upon inquiry, it would turn out that he didn't need the patch quite at all.

    "Zackarias!" Melisande shouted happily, rushing around the bar to wrap him in a hug.

    "Oof! Morning, Meli," he laughed.

    "What can I get you?"

    "Carrot juice," he smiled. She rushed back behind the bar, opening one of the shelves.

    "Uhm," I coughed. "Hello! Excuse me."

    "Oh," she looked up. "Yeah, what can I do for you?"

    Way to make someone feel welcome, I grumbled. "What do you have?"

    "Hm," she looked over the labeled bottles and pitchers sitting on the counter behind her. "Dead Dove Brandy, Golden Brews Harvest Ale, Fairhaven Vineyard Merlot," she continued. "Lumarian Banana Rum, Verity Isle Vodka, Ancient Order Sangrea. Cartel n' Coke. Spawners Spiced Rum."

    "She also knows how to make the Dane Alexander," Zackarias cut in.

    "...and Nude Sake Shots!" Someone in the back corner shouted, hiccuping. He was not kidding about the nude part.

    "The Cabal is always tasty," the old barkeep added.

    "Its hell on your throat," Zackarias added.

    "How do you think it earned its name?"

    I sighed; cutting in before this debate progressed to the point from which there is no return. "I will take the Summer Ale; and some Sake Shots."

    "Woo-Hoo!" someone shouted from the back.

    Sighing, I seated myself at one of the tables; as far away from the nude sake addict as possible. Zackarias, seemingly unaffected by the presence of some undressed wild man, seated himself across the table from me.

    "Greetings, stranger." He smiled, resting his hands on the table. Melisande set their mugs out on the table before them; foaming with the famous golden ale that had been the legendary staple of inebriated Britannians far and wide. She set two sake shots before me; along with a tray of Spicy Gaman Wings.

    "Greetings," I replied. I quickly downed the first shot, almost choking upon the unfamiliar brew. I quickly wiped my lips with embarasment "Who's the nude...patron?"

    "Oh, he's just some Wanderer," Zackarias laughed. "He apparently likes the Sake." Zackarias lifted the foaming mug of ale to his lips, sipping on it for a moment. "Oh, forgive my manners. My name is Zackarias."

    "Waylan Harper," I replied. "Britannian News Network."

    "Britannian News Network? Whoa. We haven't seen your folk about these parts in...oh, about five years now? Dawn was featured in the Britannian Spotlight."

    "I remember," I said with a smile. "Much more...amicable times."

    Zackarias nodded. "So what brings you to these parts?"

    "Well," I replied slowly; unsure just how much I should share with this stranger. "I've heard that you've recieved a visitor?"

    "Oh?" Zackarias replied. "We've been recieving losts of visitors lately. Lady Sara and Lady Oriana of Luna regularly visit. Oh, and some Orcs too! They claim they belong to the PaxUgz Tribe of...some mountain they call 'Cheezypeak.'" He chuckled.

    "Cheezypeak?" I asked, blinking. I had never heard of such a place; but then again, these Feluccians were strange folk.

    "Don't ask," he replied, laughing. Wiping the tears forming from his eyes, he lowered his voice. "Oh, and don't tell anyone...but, I heard that Nicholas the Grey is coming for Dawn's Anniversary on St. Valentines Day."

    "Nicholas the Grey?"

    "He is an old conjurer," Zackarias smiled. "He deals in fireworks and sleight of hand tricks. He is also quite the storyteller."

    I began to grow impatient. Surely, the appearance of some young nobleman - fallen house or no - would be met with some fanfare in these rural parts. "What of noblemen? Have you seen any noblemen?"

    "Just those from the trading companies," Zackarias replied.

    I feared that the trail was growing cold. More still, I feared that Aino's brother may have been a fleeting rumor; mayhaps even a wild goose chase intended to throw me off while our compeditors got the interview with Lady Nystad. "What of Kullervo? Have you met a Kullervo Nystad?"

    "Oh!" Zackarias laughed. "Yes. Well, no. I haven't personally met him. He was here a couple nights ago."

    "What happened? Were you impressed by the visit of such a noble?" Zackarias looked at me strangely. Certainly, such rural bumpkins should be impressed by the visit of a true, Highborn Britannian. Yet, he looked as if I just had sprouted gone cross-eyed.

    "Nobleman?" He asked. "Who, Kullervo? I thought he was just some ordinary woodsman. A highwayman, for all I know."

    I shifted my jaw, just to make sure that it had not fallen into my lap. Surely, Lady Aino's brother couldn't be some ordinary woodsman. "A...highwayman, you say?"

    "Well," he sighed. "A highwayman? A bit unlikely. He came and left in peace."

    "Oh bloody flaming hell!" I grumbled. I had come too late. "Do you know where he went?"

    "No," Zackarias replied. "I have heard that someone bumped into him."

    "Really?"

    "Well, I heard this all from Melisande. Who heard from Otik, who heard from his wife, who heard from Tarwyn Runeblade, who heard from Betsy Rosette, who heard from the Duchess WildStar, who..."

    "...just get to it, already!"

    "...told her that Kullervo and Nicholas the Old met."

    That, my readers, is how the long story began.
     
  2. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Chapter 2 -

    'Twas several sunrises ago - on the same drearily cold and arctic mourn that Lady Aino arrived in New Britain to reclaim her noble house, and the elusive Kullervo arrived under mysterious circumstances in Dawn wielding his families ancient Ukko and Sampo - that the Ol' Conjurer Nicholas Aumar (called "the Grey" by some; "the Old" by others) could be found wandering to and fro in silence amongst the snow-laden glades and leafless oaks of the Samlethe. Long has the winds blowing through the Serpents Spine Pass - whistling amongst the trees in an eerie; albeit musical manner - inspired the flutes and fiddles of Sosarians trobadours. It was unknown what the old man was doing in this part of the Old World; but rangers watching him from the forest would later tell Zackarias that they heard him absentmindedly muttering about "Wolf Brothers" and "Beornings."

    Still; despite the befuddled appearance the old man would often portray, he cleverly picked up the barely audible crunch of deerskin boots 'pon dry and frozen leaves. He whipped about, the ashen-white stave clutched defensively in his hand. For a moment, he looked not so old at all; his grey eyes becoming brighter, his body more limbre and agile than the achy old man he seemed to many.

    The intruder, a tall-man cloaked in greens and earthtones, raised his hands; his palms open towards Nicholas. It was the customary sign of peace, an ancient sign oft' used by the Farstriders and Borderlanders that wandered the Deep Forest; silently guarding the only overland pass into Dawn and Avalon.

    "Greetings," the ranger said.

    "And well met, stranger," Nicholas replied.

    "Well met." The ranger bowed politely to the old man. "I assume that you are Nicholas; the one they call Mithrandir?"

    "I am."

    The ranger smiled beneath his hood. "Her Majesty, the Grand Duchess of Dawn sends her regards, and requests your presence amongst the Halls of Cross. She instructed me to deliver this missive to you." The ranger reached into his belt, producing an unblemished paper envelope. The finely pressed papyrus - an expensive commodity that couldn't be harvested in many locales outside Gravewater Shores - was sealed with blue wax; stamped with the Seal of the Duchess.

    [​IMG]

    The old man silently thanked the ranger, taking the letter from his hand. He gently broke the seal, unfolding the letter within. He looked up to dismiss the ranger; but he had already gone. There was no sign of the ranger, except the slight indentations of his deerskin boots; something only an expert woodsman would have noticed.

    Nicholas carefully read the letter; inspecting every word and every syllable for secret meanings. Alas, that even in these parts, so far away from the Royal Intrigues of the Britannian Court; nobles still were forced to resort to "Daes Daemar." The Game of Houses in the Old Akalabethan Tounge. This letter didn't seem to contain anything too sensitive. It spoke of a wanderer - a certain Kullervo Nystad - who appeared to be some minor nobleman of Britannia. He had come appearing as no more than a mere woodsman; but WildStar had recognized the family colors on his shield; and the family heirlooms, Ukko and Sampo.

    Strange, he pondered silently there amongst those ancient trees. There were few amongst the so-called Highborn of Britain with the stomach to leave the safety of their Kingdom; fewer still who would simply trudge into Dawn unannounced. Thus far, the Kingdoms of Britannia and Dawn had lived in relative harmony. Although the Royal Britannian Council largely rejected any claims of Dawnite self-governance; oft' they silently agreed that Dawn was doing them a favor so long as they had other graver threats to contend with. Afterall, they had retreated from the Old World, leaving it to their own devices ("abandoned" was the word more used amongst the natives). Still, those much more amicable times were fading into the dim; draconian councilmen replacing their once largely more compassionate and virtuous elders. 'Twas also a matter of public humiliation for the Council, when the Grand Duchess arrived with a flotilla of ships bearing food and supplies for the Knights and War Maguses of Magincia and Moonglow; herself amongst the front lines, offering mystical healing to the wounded and battle weary.

    Still, the Duchess' words did not appear to convey that fear. Silently, the old wizard hoped that was the case. In other times, he might have been better prepared to arbitrate some truce between the two Kingdoms; but this new Lord Casca was unfamiliar to him.

    Hours passed before Nicholas Aumar finally arrived within the City of New Britain atop his trusted steed, Shadowfax. He had taken council with Seppo the Oracle days before; and the ancient seer revealed that he had come into the posession of a great library. The diaries and epistles of Erzulie Dantor, Gabriel Kieron, and Archimedes the Old. Nicholas was merely conjurer and performer of sleight-of-hand tricks to some; but the old man was more. A sage, a collector of magical scrolls and ancient lore; which he hoarded to himself like some bloated, greedy dragon. He had brought several wells of ink, scrolls, notebooks, and so fourth. He had every intention of copying the entire library.

    It was there within the Office of Oracles Seppo and Pallando that the old, grey man would find something that would distract him. A scribe of the Library of Avalon once claimed that the old sage must have the bloody of a Bobbit (A Britannian Halfling); for his curiosity had this strange way of overriding his better judgement. Alas, what could he do? With a quick glance to and fro to ensure that Seppo was not about, Nicholas cracked open the red leather-bounded journal and began inspecting its pages.

    How curious, he thought. The book was not old by any means; in fact the thick, nauseating smell of black ink still drifted from the books fine vellum pages. More curious still, that the journal was entitled none other than The Nystad Twins. The tome spoke of two young twins - barely old enough to be considered adults by any standard - who dwelt within the Merchant City of Vesper. Oddly, they had not originated there; but instead hailed from some manor to the north. The Nystad Family was once amongst the noble peerage of Lord British's Dominion; but the family had fallen into tragedy when their ancestral family home caught fire. The entire family died within that conflagaration; save the twin heir and heiress, who were rescued from the fires by some miracle. The first twin was Aino, a young lady who had taken to the magical and poetic arts; the finer things in life. Her fraternal twin Kullervo on the other hand had shunned the cities everything about them; becoming very much a woodsman. Curious; for surely this book spoke of the same Kullervo that had only recently visited Dawn!

    Strange coincidences are rarely coincidental; or so goes the old saying in Fairhaven. He would have to finish the arduous task of copying each book for another time. Strange, that Seppo would take such an interest in two mere nobles; one of whom had only that day visited Dawn! The old sage collected his wide-brimmed hat, striding out the door of the Oracles Home. Shadowfax waited for him outside, nibbling on the hedges that stood in front of the old refurbished building.

    He patted the stallions muscled neck, chuckling slightly. The steed had severed him well for many years, trained to need no bridle or saddle. He would've mounted then, and rode out to wherever it was he was going (such a meddlesome old man); when he paused. Over his shoulder, he heard some young upstart scolding another poor lad. Amused, she old man glanced over his shoulder; just as the young woman hiked up her skirt to climb the hill leading to Seppo's Office. The yellow-robed man who followed her seemed confused. Nicholas wondered for a moment if the lad had some speech impairment; for his words came out garbled, muttering things like "lawl" and "ralph-ah-mow!" The poor lad probably couldn't help it.

    She walked right past Nicholas - almost dismissively - swinging wide the doors of the Oracles Office. "Someone really important must live here," she exclaimed in wonderment. "Isn't Britain simply wonderful?"

    Nicholas shook his head, rubbing the stallions dark nose. Once again, he made movement to climb on the steeds back; when he heard her speak once again. "I simply don't understand why my brother Kullervo won't come to Britain. There are many nice women here that would be perfect for him!"

    Nicholas the Old, halfway onto the horses back, merely looked up at the clouded sky. "Heavens," he exclaimed, slipping back down.

    "Oh," she laughed. "Hello, Nicholas."

    Nicholas turned towards her, raising a bushy eyebrow. "You know me?"

    "I merely guessed. You do look like Nicholas the Old."
     
  3. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    An anonymous missive was recently found amongst the trash bins and discarded scraps behind the Salty Dog Tavern in New Britain. The white vellum page - crumpled and barely legible at first glance - clearly was the work of some rushed hand.

    The Paws Village Herald.
     
  4. WarderDragon

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    The Stage Is Set. The Pieces Are Moving. Castle Blackthorne Under Lockdown.
    by WarderDragon
    Tuesday; January 14th, 2009.

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    Greetings, friends and fellow citizens of the Realm!

    It would appear that our new King - His Royal Majesty, the Glorious Lord Casca - has already begun to exersize his authoritative powers within our realms. Castle Blackthorne, once the home of Lord British's closest friend and dearest advisor (later the headquarters of the Partisans of Chaos), has come under complete lockdown. Canoneers have been posted on the bridge mere steps from Seppo and Pallando's Office; while black-halberd wielding sentinels have been posted at the gateways and doors. My sources tell me that the Blackthorne Guard - the smallest contingent of knights that refused their lord and remained behind during the Exodus Wars - are currently locked within the Keep. The gate had been lowered, so I cannot personally confirm these reports.

    I personally requested admittance, hoping that I might interview the Captain of the Manor Guard and gain some insight into these strange events; but Lord Casca's men merely crossed their halberds before me and remained silent. I wonder, why would our Glorious and Noble Liege take such steps that are normally reserved for...more "pressing" threats? The Chaos Guard, despite expressing philosophical differences with that of Lord British, have remained loyal and lawful citizens of the realm. Does our liege intend to punish these Philosopher-Knights for their former masters crimes? Before having the opportunity to write this; one gentleman, a certain merchant named Jerhyn, suggested that Casca intended to convert the castle into his private residence. Currently though, the sign on the keep still reads "Castle Blackthorne."

    I turned to depart for my home in southern Britain. Clearly, I wasn't going to gain anything from the Guardsmen. It was then that I spied across the bridge leading to Britain, some strange greybearded fellow arguing vehemently with one of the canoneers. I took two steps forward, intending to inspect what the ruckas was about; when I caught small movement in the corner of my eye. Just off to my left, expertly scaling the wall in the evening shadows, was this little fellow. 'Twas a short, stoud lad in a crimson waistcoat and brown woolen breeches. Concerned for the boy, I kept my mouth shut. Better a young theif excape with a bauble and learn his lesson another day; than loose his head in these anxious times. He hopped over the wall, and disappeared from sight.

    I turned back towards the bridge, noticing something even more strange. The old man looked towards the wall, nodding. Then, regarding the guards with a cheerful gaze; he patted them on the shoulder, apologized, and turned to depart. The guards looked at each other in confusion, then merely shrugged.

    Strange times, indeed.

    - Malthon Cuthalion,
    The Paws Village Herald.
     
  5. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Kullervo's Journal: "The Magic Mirror."
    By WarderDragon
    Saturday, January 17th, 2009.

    Greetings, my friends and fellow Britannians!

    I suppose that by now, you've had more than ample opportunity to view our Royal Council's decree; forming for yourself an opinion regarding the "coronation" of our new Lord and Liege, His Highness the King Casca. Elf Friend and Thieves Bane, they call him in the northlands. If you have not, then I dare say; have you been living under a rubble rock for the past week? Or, perhaps you've been chasing futons throughout the eastern isles? Alas, I should send Mama Faith after the whole lot of you. Her Cavorting Club'll teach ye a lesson you'll not soon forget.

    So, where was I? Ah, yes! Our new king.

    This past winters eve, I've had the pleasure of watching our elven liege place the Crown of Kings atop his brow. 'Twas an interesting sight to behold; certainly not the traditional ceremony you might've expected from the Lord of Britannia; no less one standing in the very City of Kings. Indeed, such self-coronations are uncommon in recent history; considered the blasphemous pratice of the Heathen Kings of Old. A warriors coronation. A conquerors coronation.

    Yet, it is not Casca whom I seek to dwell upon. You shall certainly be hearing more about him, from both the Stratics and Britannian Heralds; along with sketches and the like. I seek not to form your opinion for you; but even the most loyal Britannian must question such threatening words being bandied about so casually. Instead, I wish to focus upon something that I discovered shortly after Casca and Sherry departed.

    You may very well say, the crowd was shocked by what they had just witnessed. The crowd argued amongst itself; some tossing flowers atop the podium, others crying for the return of Lord British. Still, others screamed that they needed no king; and more than bloodied nose was to be found departing the foregates. I noticed an old, grey-robed man leaning on some strange wizarding staff; consulting with a raven-haired swordsman. I couldn't make out the words, but he seemed troubled. They were soon joined by a fair-haired noblewoman. The only piece of their conversation I divulged was when Handalf the Chicken King sqwaked: "Clerists?"

    I proceeded down to the end of the bridge, intent on visiting Castle Britannia to seek an interview. It was there that I spied none other than the approach of Mistress Aino. I had been hoping for an interview; but the moment the crowd spotted her, I was nearly trampled. The stampede of bodies surrounding her, chatting her up and asking questions. In the minutes that followed, the crowd calmed; the young woman taking questions with reporters from the Stratics Herald and that golden-haired woman. The grey-bearded man stood behind them, silently puffing on his long wooden pipe. What a nasty habit!

    Nevertheless, I just got close enough to hear tidbits of the conversation.

    "Alas, I fear that I must depart," he said with a hint of urgency. "I shall speak with thee anon, Mistress Nystad."

    Lady Aino nodded her head in response. The old man looked to the other noblewoman - the gaze clearly conveying something of importance, for she nodded silently in response. The old man turned, striding with the swiftness of a man half his age to his great white stallion; the steed patiently waiting at the base of Locke's Crag. He lept upon the war horse, and galloped off down the road.

    I gazed back at the crowd. Clearly, I was not going to get the exclusive interview now. Too many people. Too many sensitive subjects to discuss. On the other hand, the old man might know something? Old men were usually senile, but what else was I going to do? So, I produced an onyx figurine from my pouch; tossing it to the ground at my feet. Poof! An ethereal unicorn stood before me. I lept atop the transluscent beasts back - somewhat unnerved by my ability to peer into the beasts innards (where in the name of Hythloth did that thing find carrots?) - and spurred it into a gallop. I wheeled around the corner of the Bardic Conservatory, galloping south in the direction that I had seen the old man charge off. I would have to ride like a speedhacker if I hoped to catch up with this old conjurer.

    I followed his trail for nearly an hour. I thought that I had lost him more than once, only to catch a glimpse of the grey old man astride his white stallion some fair distance away. Past the hamlet of Paws we galloped, down past the Britanny Farms and beyond. Through the woodlands for what seemed like hours, until at last I caught the old man dismounting his horse beside a small pool of water. The white stallion bent its thick neck, dipping its nose into the frigid snowmelt to drink.

    I dismounted my own ethereal stallion, commanding the beast to return to the Ethereal Void from whence it came. I collected the onyx figurine, and strode just to the edge of the treeline. I stopped. The old man had found a book on the ground, dusting its cover.

    He stood there for a moment, reading the text, before carefully setting it back upon the ground. Patting his horses neck, he lept upon its back, and shifted his gaze into my direction. I froze. Drats, discovered again!

    "You there," I choked. "I am with the Paws Village Herald. I would like to interview you."

    The man raised an eyebrow, regarding me silently for a moment.

    "You know...to get your thoughts on the recent coronation of King Casca!"

    "I fear that time is something I do not have to spare right now, lad." The stallion snorted; and somehow I got the sense that he was responding to the old wizard. "I have business in Avalon!" With that, he dug his heels in; the massive war horse bellowing loudly as it sprung into a full run.

    I had no other option, but to inspect this dust-covered and discarded notebook. I could return to Britain; but Lady Aino was probably long gone. I would break my neck and lame even my ethereal stallion if I tried catching up with that old conjurer. With a sigh, I approached the book, kicking the cover open.

    I nearly fainted then. The book was missing several pages, but it was a journal. Scribbled on the weather stained parchment was the title: "The Magic Mirror" by none other than Kullervo Nystad. So, the rumors are true! Aino does have a brother. Or could this be a hoax? A ruse, meant to lead me on some wild goose chase? I don't know.

    I copied the contents of the entry, and reproduced it here for you to read:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With consideration to the fierce competition as of late, I shall keep the location of this book a mystery; unless, of course you can solve my riddle. "The information you seek lay behind the titaness. Just be careful. You wouldn't want that forbidden fruit to give you a concussion"


    Happy Hunting!

    Malthon Cuthalion,
    The 17th of Hammer, 2009.
    Paws Village Herald
     
  6. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Baja Transcript:

    Sherry the Mouse:

    Lord Casca:

    Transcript copied down and distributed by Oriana of the Stratics Herald.
     
  7. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Maribel was not in a pleasant mood. In fact, she was absolutely fuming.

    "Those bloody flamin' sorry excuses for menfolk," the waitress growled, visible frustration painted across her pretty face. "If those louts keep this up, I will show them why my last lover sought a restraining order against me!" She strode quickly around the corner of the Britain Tailor Shop, careful to dodge the massive puddle of rainwater that had formed in the old cobblestone street. She did not want to tarnish her new silver-leather slippers. In her nimble hands, she expertly balanced a nearly full pitcher of some strange, clear substance. "You know, really?! Why can't Master Otik send one of the lads to deliver Xel his sake...!? Really, why do I always have to be the delivery girl!?" Maribel sighed to herself.

    She paused mid-stride, catching something out-of-place in the corner of her eye. At the foot of a lamp-post, laying in the grass, was a crumpled vellum note. Only a few feet away from it was another piece of parchment; this time an envelope with a broken wax seal. A wax seal?! she thought to herself. It must mean it's important. Important stuff! I'm sure Xel can wait.

    Maribel knelt down, carefully setting the pitcher aside. She lifted the note from the damp ground, uncrumpling it. The note was written in a skilled, elegant cursive script. Whomever had written this was a man of letters.

    Greetings Sara,

    I must first apologise, fair lady. I would have approached you with this matter in person, but urgent matters seem to demand my attention elsewhere. I have some sentsitive information that I am passing along to you; things that I am hoping you might be able to look into for me. I know that you have eyes-and-ears throughout the Five Kingdoms, and are in a much better position than I to determine the meaning behind these strange and troubling matters. I have included a couple sketches, along with a log taken by a witness to these events.

    I arrived in Britain City late yesterday afternoon, proceedong on foot to Blackthorne's Keep. I have been seeking a private audience with our new liege for well past a fortnight now, hoping that I might be able to barter a compromise between our kingdom and that of our longtime friend and ally, the Kingdom of Dawn. Mayhaps, he would be more apt' to listen to a retired sorcerer who has long served the Royal Crown of
    *the words "Akalabeth and" seem to be scratched out here* Britannia, than the Duchess of a Kingdom he considers rebelling against his authority? I would like to think the best of this new king, but I still do not know yet. Alas, such a meeting was not to be so. Despite my protests, the guardsmen on the bridge blocked my path, and told me once more that the King was not recieving visitors today (How dare they!? They should know who I am!).

    I was about to leave in frustration, when I was approached by a superstitious and paranoid knight; who proceeded to harass me and call me a witch. Apparently, he was part of "The Inquisition", and claimed that I needed to be watched, before I brought some curse down upon innocent citizens. Clearly, I am some evil mastermind. I suppose I must forgive such ignorance. The average Britannian is an ignorant, superstitious dolt, who believes all the dark tales about wizards told to him by his mother in order to frighten him into keeping quiet at night, the consequence of which he expects me to start leaping through Britain naked, gibbering and ranting and transforming him into a frog with the wave of my wand. Not that I couldn't, mind you!

    Nevertheless, if you could look into this so-called "Inquisition," it would be much appreciated. The man left me with a rather nasty cut on my shoulder, and I would like to return the favor.

    Nevertheless, I was on my way out of the city when I was approached by "Mum" (some of you know her as "the Widow"), who brought me to a man named "Augustus." I was rather shocked when she first mentioned the name; one I've not heard spoken to me since my youth. Then, I realized it wasn't me she was speaking to. Apparently, Lord Augustus and his sister, Lady Pritty, sought tomes of Sosaria's history and lore. I provided them with the location of Dawn's Royal Library, and the "Buuk Liburi" of the "Dawnurk Horde."

    Once concluded, I proceeded on my way. I arrived at the West Britain Bank about an hour later, where I found Master Ceno and Mum discussing something in rather hushed tones. I approached, just as the widow and the legendary historian of the Mage Tower were saying their farewells. I was about to question Ceno on their discussions, when I was distracted by a sqweeky voice that demanded carrots...

    I looked at the ground behind me, and spied a small furry critter staring up at us. A talking brown rabbit, no less. Of course, my first instinct suggested that it was none other than Sir Zackarias. I think he all know what happens when he irritates our good friend, Lady WildStar. Then it spoke again.

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    I recognized that voice. It was none other than...Xel the Wanderer!

    [​IMG]

    It was unclear what he had done to deserve this punishment; but knowing Xel, it doesn't take a streach of imagination to put the pieces togeather.

    I would've offered to help the afflicted lad, but it seemed like he was having too much fun in his newfound form. Not to mention, my attention was distracted by the arrival of Kemer the Royal Guard, who stumbled down the street in a druken stupor. He seemed rather depressed about something, which actually left me slightly concerned for the good natured fellow. He stumbled up the stairs to the top of the bank, with Ceno and I following closely behind. We were joined by Xel the Wanderer, the rebellious Zorax, and a recently returned Widow. Knights Zackarias and Shovel of Dawn, along with Madgalena of Queen Sheba's Kingdom, arrived moments later.

    [​IMG]

    Ceno and I surrounded the lad, and you might say that we began to interrogate the poor elf.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We expressed our concern for our friend Clainin, and the drunk man revealed that the Royal Thaumaturgist was taken to one of the towns in Trammel, the New World**. Considering the widows reading in regards to Clainin, I found this information to be very...useful.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A great many other things happened that evening, but I fear I am running out of paper. Nevertheless, don't tell anyone what I have just told you (except maybe Oriana), and don't come looking for you. I shall come find you once I have found more information on...an old friend.

    Warmest Regards,

    Nicholas

    Maribel folded the letter, slipping it into the pocket of her half-apron. She seriously doubted that Lady Sara, the famous herald of the Ancient Order, would simply discard a sensitive letter in the street like this. Obviously, it had not made it to its destination. She would find Lady Sara, and deliver the message herself.

    Suddenly, she heard a loud scraping noise behind her. She looked around in confusion, realizing the pitcher was missing. Turning on her heel, a strange brown rabbt was on its hind-legs, desperately trying to drag the pitcher that was twice its size away. "Saaaaaaakkkkeeeeeeeee!..."

    "Xel...!?"

    * Five Kingdoms: The five kingdoms refers to the various independant entities within our current world. These include Britannia, Dawn, Luna, Umbra, and Zento.
    ** The New World: The New World refers to Trammel, whereas the Old World refers to Feluccia. It is one of the terms used by the peasantry, and some people in Hyperborea (Dawn, Avalon, the Borderlands, and Vallachia).
     
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