The Comet Cycle

JepethJepeth Posts: 10
edited February 13 in Roleplay
OOC: 

Hello everyone! Over on the Chesapeake Stratics board I've been adding a story every week to the "Comet Cycle," a long arc that I'm trying to tie deeply into Ultima lore and the modern game. I'm going to begin cross-posting them here as well starting with this week's entry but if you're interested catch up with the links below. Thanks!

Part 1 They Who Watch
Part 2 The Comet
Part 3 Trammel and Felucca
Part 4 Magery
Part 5 The Shrine


Comments

  • JepethJepeth Posts: 10
    Part 6
    The Chamber:

    It was twenty-five years ago and the stone floor in the Chamber of Virtues was clean and polished. The monks who cared for the Chamber which sat close to the center of Britain had spent the entire day before meticulously scrubbing the floor and walls, touching up missing flecks of paint of the stone tablets, and preparing the Chamber as if Lord British himself was due to arrive. Even more important guests than the Sovereign would soon visit the Chamber explained Elder Dorr to his fellow Monks. The Chamber had to represent itself and the Virtues for which it was built well. The magic of Trammel had not extended into repelling dirt, afterall.

    The next day they arrived through a red moongate. One after another, each held the hand of the person in front of them forming a long chain, as they stepped out of the glowing gate. Seventeen small children, all before apprentice age, arrived at the Chamber with their Master who fussed and fretted over their muddy shoes on the Monk’s clean floor. Elder Dorr and his fellow Monk’s watched their hard work disappear in an instant as the children, excited from a trip through a moongate, broke hands with each other and ran into the stone chamber wildly as children and mongbats are want to do.

    Minutes later when order was restored the children sat criss-cross on the stone floor, huddled in groups around one of the eight virtue tablets. The tablets were large and square, about a meter by a meter, painted in teal with each virtue sigil etched into the stone and leafed in gold. It was Lord British himself who helped design the Chamber. Using language that had not made much sense to the monks and mages of that era he requested it not “look like a grand cathedral, like something French or like that one in Glasgow.” It was “not supposed to intimidate,” he had said, but instead “be a tranquil place of contemplation and education.” Lord British’s origin from a strange land had always set him apart, but one couldn’t argue with his eye for architecture. The Chamber was austere, but beautiful. It perfectly captured the simple life a follower of the Virtues was to strive for.

    The group of children, however, had quickly lost interest in Elder Dorr’s explanation of the Chamber’s origins. A brother Monk had noticed that they got bored even before the Elder had transitioned his story into speaking about Lord British’s contributions, a new record.

    The morning session wore on as the Elder Monk hobbled around from tablet to tablet, leaning on his crook for support, explaining a little something about each virtue the tablet represented.

    “Compassion is the quality which compels one to forgive others,” said Elder Dorr, “represented here by the heart. Can anyone tell me which city embodies this virtue?”

    Elder Dorr looked around the chamber, and noticed that every face in the room was purposely looking away. He knocked the tall crook onto the stone Compassion tablet, which made a loud echo sound startling everyone.

    “Ahem, compassion is the virtue of Britain,” he looked at them, “where all ye are currently at.”

    In the back of the room the children’s Master placed his hand across his eyes in both embarrassment and annoyance.

    “Anyway,” continued Elder Door, “compassion is pure love, which touches many of the other virtues. Moving on down the row..”

    A hand went up from one of the small children. He was seated with a few others around the spirituality tablet.

    “Sir?”

    Elder Dorr nearly lost his balance. It had been ages since anyone asked a question during a school visit.

    “Aye, young master?” said the Elder.

    “I don’t understand. Compassion is love and love touches the other virtues, but aren’t some of the virtues then at odds with each other?” said the boy.

    The old man smiled, “of course not! The Virtues are harmonious. Even poor humility over there,” he gestured with his crook to a tablet across the room, “which is both independent and dependent of truth, love, and courage fits with the others.”

    The child looked around the room confused. “But that one is justice,” he pointed at a tablet with a scale, “if they’re a law breaker how can we have forgiveness? And that one,” he pointed at the green tablet with a gold sword, “doesn’t valor mean we fight for right, no matter what?”

    As the child spoke the Elder noticed his strong Skara Braen accent as he rolled his r sounds and stressed particular vowels. He appraised the child for a moment before answering.

    “Young master, if we lack compassion then justice is revenge and valor is slaughter. Revenge and slaughter makes our already difficult world worse. They would be an unending cycle. You must understand these Virtues set us apart from the vile beasts and villains who would over-turn this place of knowledge and peace,” said Elder Dorr.

    The child’s face felt red. He suddenly became aware of the Monks looking at him hard.

    “I didn’t mean.. I’m not..” he mumbled.

    The Elder smiled warmly. “You’re forgetting another virtue, young master.” He pointed his crook at the stone tablet which bore an open palm. “Your question was honest. Taken individually the Virtues seem monolithic. We have to take them all together. Honesty and Valor. Sacrifice and Honor. Justice and Compassion. Spirituality and Humility.”

    The child smiled faintly and drew his legs in upon his chest, readjusting himself to more comfortably take in the rest of the Elder’s lesson.

    ***
  • JepethJepeth Posts: 10
    Twenty-five years later it was raining and dark in Britain. Willibrord the mage could see the Chamber of the Virtues from the desk window of the small room he was renting and felt great annoyance at the light which it emanated. Since open hostility with forces of “The Fellowship” had started the Chamber had been converted into a sort of command center much to the objection of the caretaker Monks. Each stone tablet had a rune fitted over it which alerted the Monks to the presence of an occupying force at the corresponding virtue shrines spread across the land. The Chamber was thus a buzz with mages, paladins, knights, logistical agents, and all sorts of officials who were aiding in the conflict.

    Willibrord turned away from the window and back to the desk before him. He looked worse for wear. His previously tidy and pressed robes were mud stained on the hem and wrinkled. His skin looked pale and he had clearly not shaved in days. A new, red spellbook of far less intricate design than his last sat open. In his left palm he held a pile of plant roots tightly with the back of his hand resting on the book. Where his right hand should have been was a bloody stump clumsily bandaged.

    “In. Vas. Mani.” he said.

    Nothing happened. He opened his left palm and noticed that some of the reagents had burned away.

    In VAS MANI,” he repeated

    Nothing happened again. He smelled the familiar scent of ginseng burning.

    “IN VAS MANI!” he shouted so loud it startled awake a sleeping man in an adjacent room.

    He squeezed the remaining burned reagents hard and pounded his left fist into the new spellbook.

    “Careful dear,” said a woman’s voice behind him, “you’re running low on those.”

    “Finally,” Willibrord said, spinning around to face her, “I sent that message days ago!”

    As he turned to face the woman he noticed she wasn’t alone. A man accompanied her holding a drinking cup and for a split second he wondered how they had entered his room together so silently.

    “We’re busy,” said the man in a gruff voice as he took a sip.

    “That we are brother dear,” said the woman gesturing out the window at the Chamber, “lots to coordinate. What do you want, little mage?”

    “What do I want?” shrieked Willibrord loudly, “look at me!” He raised his bloody stump towards his visitors. “Look what he did! You have to help me!”

    The gruff man scoffed and turned away and began poking through Willibrord’s bag out of indifference and boredom, spilling a little drink as he went.

    “You were paid for your service,” said the woman, “what else do you want from us?”

    “I can’t fix this!” he yelled, shaking his arm at them, “and the Council won’t help me! I’ve lost my position with them and they won’t help heal it!”

    “Ha,” said the gruff man.

    “Mmm, paladin’s are tricky aren’t they? Their smith’s enchant their weapons to do this sort of thing,” said the woman.

    Willibrord looked exasperated at the two. He couldn’t believe they weren’t more angry or upset at the situation. It was almost as if they were indifferent? Or worse, unsurprised?

    “You cannot leave me to them,” said Willibrord trying to calm himself. “I know what you lot are after.”

    “Do you?” the gruff man laughed.

    “There’s more I can tell them!” said Willibrord.

    “You played your part perfectly, dear” said the woman, “we’ve no complaints.”

    “But.. but I told them you paid me about the comet! He.. he knows it was you!” said Willibrord

    “And now he’s angry and attacking people in other cities,” said the man flipping through one of Willibrord’s books, "he'll think everyone is us, and we're everyone."

    “They’ll all be at each other’s throats,” said the woman.

    The man turned back to face him and leaned into Willibrord slightly. “Did you really think he wouldn’t eventually just be able to look up and see the comet on his own?”

    “Oh dear, you Council mages really aren’t very bright,” said the woman.

    Willibrord looked at the two and felt tears welling in his eyes. For a moment his mind glimpsed a game far grander than he realized and to his absolute horror he now understood he was simply another sacrificed piece. He slunk back into his chair.

    The woman moved across the room and opened the door to leave. She turned to face him.

    “We are very pleased with you, little mage,” she said smiling.

    The man smirked at Willibrord, turned away to leave, but for good measure turned back around and dumped the rest of his mug onto Willibrord’s new spellbook. They exited the room chuckling.

    Willibrord was alone.
Sign In or Register to comment.