Le Morte d'Jepeth

JepethJepeth Posts: 274
edited December 2020 in Roleplay
***Part 1: Six Months Later***

It was a chilly day in Vesper. The wind coming up from the ocean made the patchwork island city extra cold and despite it being the early afternoon frost still hung in the shadows. To keep warm a gaggle of children ran back and forth in front of the ornate windows of the city government building. The children laughed and fought and pushed and generally made the right amount of racket. Inside the building the staff tried to keep focused on their scrolls but each secretly wished they could go outside and run around a bit.

The gaggle formed a circle and from opposite ends two children were pushed forward.

“It’s your turn, do it!” cried one little girl.
“I’ll start! Take it easy, take it easy!” the boy across from her replied.

The two children flanked by the circle began to clap individually to a beat and began to recite a song punctuating every rhyme with a clap on the other’s palm. The workers inside the building smiled, remembering the same games they played as children. Their rhyme went something like:

The fool-knight left the town,
Thought he’d save the day,
But was thrown down!
Why did the fool stop to pray?
Didn’t he know he’d have no say?

Fearsome beast and undead scream!
Big bright comet from a Gazer seen!
Who was the dolt who found his death?
Blew himself up, that fool Jepeth!


“Oi!” yelled a man from within the building.

The ornate window flew open and a tall man with a bushy brown head of hair leaned out. His face was angry and shocked.

“Vas Flam!” he cried and a firebolt shot from his hand scattering the children who screamed and laughed and ran away.

“They’re just kids, sire,” said a surprised voice from inside.

“Brats.”

The man leaned back in and closed the window with a grunt. Tejnik the Mage was tired. He had been leaned over a short table examining maps all day and his back was beginning to ache.

After a moment Tejnik sighed. He felt embarrassed for his reaction just then. He usually tries to be a better representative of mages than that. He made a mental note to conjure some food and maybe a few exciting fireworks if he saw those same children later.

“We should stop for the day,” said Tejnik.

“As you wish, sire!” replied the clerk excitedly. He looked forward to getting to the tavern early.

“I’ll leave you to sort the maps, then. Thank you for your hospitality as always.”

“The Government of Vesper remains at your disposal as long as you need.”

Tejnik bowed, turned, and left the clerk behind.

“... for all the good it’ll do,” said the clerk under his breath as the door clicked shut.

***

Tejnik weaved his way through the maze of bridges towards the mainland edge of town. He had taken to casting his recall spell away from the city. Vesper wasn’t Trinsic or Minoc where the open use of magic tended to draw unwanted attention but he had been trying to keep his profile low. An effort he had ruined minutes ago with that fireball.

It had been a frustrating six months. An entire half year since his former employer and (Tejnik thought anyway) friend had disappeared. From two dozen feet away he saw what Jepeth had done. He thought of it often. At the moment of triumph instead of striking the final blow he saw Jepeth sheath his sword. He saw him lay a hand across his foe’s twisted, horrible face. He saw Jepeth say something but could not hear it over the noise of the battle. A light and a sound and then nothing. Jepeth left behind no body, only a mystery.

Six months of investigating this mystery had left Tejnik frustrated.

“He’s dead,” Jepeth’s cousin Threepwood had told him months ago.

“Accept it,” said Jaanin, the head of Tejnik’s order of mages.

“Would you want this much fuss?” asked Harbottle, the healer who served with Jepeth during the Ilshenar Wars.

And yet the mystery persisted for Tejnik. As a mage Tejnik knew that things don’t just “blow apart” and vanish. There should have been remains. The only thing they ever found of him was his helmet.

Regretfully the mystery only became muddied with many false leads. A Jepeth pretender had presented himself to a lost party of adventurers in Deceit. That man turned out to be a very cursed and confused bard. A conspiracy theorist gave a speech in Skara Brae claiming Jepeth was both alive and had gone underground to overthrow the King. The crowd ignored him, though, because he was a goblin and was clearly trying to cause strife. Finally, a con artist thief attempted to pass off some bones and a sword to the Royal Council as being Jepeth’s remains. After an analysis those bones turned out to have passed through the stomach of a Destard dragon. The con man found himself in the dungeon at King Blackthorn’s order for that insult.

But, shockingly, the bones were fake but the sword was Jepeth’s. The one he had sheathed right before disappearing. After some coaxing the Council learned the thief found the sword in Ilshenar. He tried to pass it off with the bones to increase his bounty reward. This new clue had deepened the mystery and provided plenty of entertainment for people around the realm who delighted hearing of the gory end of others. To Tejnik’s horror Jepeth’s name had begun to be associated with a violent end. The children’s song was just the latest example.

Tejnik fished a rune out from his satchel, held hit in his hands and whispered a spell of recall. His penchant for loud bangs and light to announce his magical coming and going had dulled in the last six months. Silently he appeared in front of a modest stone tower set in the deep woods. He had lived there since first taking his now former Skara Brae administrator’s job a few years ago. It was small and constructed from weathered stone and Tejnik liked that from its roof you could just about see Relvinian’s Hedge Maze over the trees.

He entered, sat at his desk, and sighed. For the sixth time since Jepeth’s disappearance he had to send this dreadful note. A monthly reminder of his failure.

“Threepwood,
No progress since my last.
-T, mage.”

Tejnik rolled the parchment into a neat scroll and sealed with some magically heated wax.

He opened his desk drawer and drew out an oddly colored rune stone. Tejnik closed his eyes and whispered.

“Vas Rel Por.”

A shimmering blue moongate sprung to life in his drawing room. Tejnik stood, looked down at the parchment scroll, and tossed it gently through the gate.

As the light of the blue moongate extinguished Tejnik was left in darkness.

***

Worlds away the moongate opened and a scroll fell out of it. Jepeth’s cousin Threepwood bent over and snatched it from the ground.

“It’s amazing how his spells can always find ye,” said a voice behind Threepwood.

“Aye,” said Threepwood grimly as he looked at the parchment.

Threepwood unrolled it and scanned the parchment’s three lines.

“This be cruel,” said Threepwood. “He does not deserve this.”

“I know,” replied Jepeth.

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  • JepethJepeth Posts: 274
    It was about a month and a half ago from now and from within his cell Reeves Quick could feel the weather getting colder. His small space did not have a window, thankfully, so this frost was only transferred in via the cold stone of his walls. If he was unfortunate enough to get a window, his good spirits the last few days would probably be sapped by the incoming chill off the sea bordering Yew.

    He sat on his single wood cot and waited. He had spent the last few weeks doing the regular prison things. Counting the stones in his wall, trying to decide which stones were more similar, less similar, more round, more square. He'd never been a fan of naming the stones like other prisoners. It had always felt too informal to be on a first name basis with one’s prison cell.

    Regretfully he was an old hand at some of these prison games having been a ‘guest’ of the Court of Truth a few times before. In all these experiences, though, he felt lucky to never have been tossed into one of the vile, moldering dungeons across the land. It was, as the do-gooders said, “cruel and unusual punishment” for living souls to be shoved into the depths of the great dungeons like Wrong or Deceit. Reeves always got a bit of a kick out of that. People like him were bad enough to be locked away in this miserable above ground prison, but not quite bad enough to get locked into the truly horrendous below ground prisons. Still, he often wondered how well he’d get along in a place like Deceit. Probably not so bad.

    Ostensibly he was here to learn his lesson but two weeks in the prison at the Court of Truth had only given him a slightly unkempt look to his normally tidy hair and goatee. If anything it gave him an idea. Maybe, he thought, the best idea he’s ever had. This one thought had kept him awake at night thinking into the wee hours. The screams and wails echoing down the prison corridor didn’t affect him in the slightest. If his cell mates could hear him over that wailing, they may have heard a giggle every so often.

    He waited. In fact he was positively vibrating with excitement. But he cut his teeth as a pickpocket and learned long ago to shove that feeling of adventure and excitement way down and not bungle the job.

    At least he heard it: footsteps down the hall accompanied by the sound of a heavy metal object striking the stone as they walked. A woman in chainmail carrying a large dangerous looking halberd stopped in front of the metal bars of his cell.

    “On your feet, Quick,” said the guard.

    She was affecting her usual curt tone with him. He could read people well enough to know never to push her lest he understand why she had to develop that tone in the first place.

    “Aye ma’am!” said Reeves trying to keep the happiness out of his voice.

    “Your two weeks are up. I will accompany you upstairs for outbound processing where your belongings shall be returned to you.”

    “Oh, my dagger, excellent.”

    The guard smacked the halberd against the metal bars creating a sound which echoed through the entire complex.

    “Do not interrupt, prisoner!”

    Reeves nodded and cast his head down, staring at his feet.

    “After processing you will be escorted to the Moongate of Yew where you shall depart this city!”

    She placed a hand on the metal door of his cell and whispered. The lock clicked and the door swung free.

    “Walk,” she commanded.

    “Aye, ma’am!”

    He walked in front of her keeping his hands along his sides. The guard couldn’t help but notice he had a slight spring in his step.

    “I’ll remind you,” she said. “You are ordered to stay away from the Royal Governor’s Council! Violate that order and King Blackthorn and his Governors will be far less lenient with a pathetic gutter thief like you.”

    “That may be hard,” he whispered to himself.

    “If you do not wish to spend the rest of your life as a guest of Yew I suggest you find honest work!”

    “Ha,” said Reeves. He stopped and turned to the guard flashing a smile.

    “I’m going to find work, I assure you. But I don’t know how honest it shall be?”
  • JepethJepeth Posts: 274

    The Felucca version of the Shattered Skull tavern in Skara Brae was far dingier than its Trammel counterpart. The great room was mostly empty with a couple of souls sitting by their lonesome at the bar. Horus the bartender made a show of laying out cups, opening bottles, and pouring drinks all one handed. In his other hand he held a large rusted war mace ready to swing. Along the bar top various dents and pits could be found where he had brought the mace down hard on the hand of a thief trying to steal from behind the bar.


    The only mirth to be found in this unhappy, abandoned bar came from off at a corner table. Reeves Quick sat there laughing with a pair of chums. His plan since leaving jail two weeks ago went off without a hitch. How smooth it went was a shock to him, even after spending considerable time in jail trying to account for all the variables.


    “We’ll be rollin’ in it,” said one of his companions. He was skinny and had a hungry look about him. “Richer than the Sultan of Nujel’m!”


    “Right you are, Phil!” said Reeves happily. “Cheers!”


    The three men raised their tankards and clinked them roughly, spilling ale across the table.


    “They’ve all had to have heard by now,” said the other man. He was better dressed than Reeves or the hungry-looking Phil, but no less dangerous looking. “Can you imagine? Sittin’ in their great halls and then boom, all a sudden!”


    The three laughed heartily again.


    “Like a firefield lit under ‘em!” said Phil, grinning. “Al, you know what that’s like don’tcha?”


    “Ruined my best trousers!” said Al, the better dressed man in indignation.


    “One more time!” said Phil, “A toast!”


    “A toast!” exclaimed Al excitedly.


    In mock humility Reeves smiled and shook his head, but raised his mug none-the-less. He began to open his mouth to say ‘cheers’ but at that very moment all three men were blown backwards out of their chairs. The mugs they were holding went flying and were smashed upon the walls behind them. The winos at the bar doubled over in fear.


    A great light and sound had emanated from the center of the room, as if lightning had exploded from within. Standing within the center of the flash was a tall mage in deep blue robes. The floor was singed around him.


    “Quick!” yelled Tejnik the Mage. The room shook from the sound of his voice.


    Reeves, who had found himself upside down and backwards in a heap against the wall, attempted to straighten himself and stand.


    “You were warned,” growled Tejnik.


    “Git outa muh bar MAGE!” screamed Horus the bartender who ran towards Tejnik with his war mace over his head.


    Tejnik wheeled around in a flourish of robe and cape and held a palm out in front of him towards the approaching bartender.


    “An Ex POR! Ort Por Ylem!”


    The bartender was paralyzed in an instant and then flung backwards crashing over the countertop. Tejnik turned back to Reeves who had come to his feet and was dusting himself off.


    “I’ll thank you not to mistreat my citizens," said Reeves.


    “Thief! King Blackthorn and the Governor’s council will not tolerate this insult!”


    Reeves made a show of snorting and looking back towards Phil and Al while pointing his thumb at Tejnik.


    “Can you believe this mage! You dare call the Governor-elect of Skara Brae a thief?


    “We are to believe you went from trying to con the Council into paying a fraudulent bounty for troll bones to winning the Governorship of a Royal city?”


    Reeves looked up at the ceiling and smirked.


    “Aye!”


    Tejnik’s nostrils flared.


    “In Flam Grav!”


    He snapped his fingers and fire leapt up behind Reeves. Tejnik took a step forward grabbing Reeves by the shirt collar and pushed him backwards towards the flames.


    “Alright, alright!” said Reeves. “Take it easy my tall fellow. This was amusing at first but you can’t very well murder me in town. This may be Felucca but there are still some rules.”


    “What are you playing at with this, Quick?”


    “I’m not playing at anything! I won the election fair and square, whether you believe it or not!”


    “Haven’t you insulted Governor Jepeth enough? Trying to scam us with a phony corpse you claimed was his, and now stealing the seat he held?”


    Reeves began to feel the back of his shirt growing uncomfortably warm. Smoke began to rise around him.


    “Well that’s it, innit? It’s not his seat. It’s the ‘Brae seat. You can be cross about this all you want but he’s gone and I’m here. And here in Felucca I found all the support I needed to win it!”


    Al and Phil, who had been cowering behind a turned over table, feebly made a cheer of support for Reeves who returned their gesture with a beaming smile.


    For a split second Tejnik seriously considered holding Reeves down into the raging firefield, but instead pushed him to the floor away from the fire.


    “An Grav.”


    Tejnik waved his hand towards the fire which extinguished itself with a dull pop.


    “I think it goes without saying,” said Reeves as he stood back up, “that your services to the City of Skara Brae are no longer required.”


    Tejnik scowled at him. “I left that position months ago.”


    “Oh that’s right!” said Reeves smiling. “You’re still trying to find poor Jepeth lost somewhere in dangerous Ilshenar. How’s that going, by the by?”


    “Know this, Quick. Step out of line and there will be no place in any facet on any shard of the Gem that I cannot find you.”


    Reeves smiled broadly, shaking his head.


    “I suggest you work on your deference before we meet again,” said Reeves.


    “And if I find that you have abused your office,” said Tejnik. “You will, I promise, burn.


    Tejnik cried his spell of recall and vanished in a show of light and sound, practically knocking Reeves off his feet again. He sneered at the place the mage had stood as small flames danced in his magical wake.

  • JepethJepeth Posts: 274
    “How?” the Governor of Vesper asked, scowling at Reeves.

    “How?” he replied, grinning.

    “HOW?”

    “Truthfully, I expected to have to do no small amount of bribery. Even had me man Burly-Phil on standby to knock a few heads.”

    She gave him a look of deep disgust.

    “But, no, all it took was a little beer and bread. Plenty of people, especially those left behind in Felucca, will crawl over glass for that.”

    The Governors of the royal council were all lined up behind their seats listening to Violet, the long-time Governor of Vesper, interrogate Reeves, the man they perceived as a thief of the Governorship of Skara Brae. Reeves Quick was, as he often was in this situation, proud of himself for telling the truth. But the other Governors turned away in obvious disgust.

    This was the reaction he expected. “Can’t win for trying!” he often told himself when people didn’t like the truths he said. It’s why lying came so naturally to him; he was at heart a people pleaser.

    He ran his hand along the seat before him. Beautiful Magincia style Yew wood thrones flanked one side of the giant stone council table in the lower level of Castle Blackthorn, under the throne room. The last time he was here he had been rather unceremoniously dragged from the chamber by a guard after trying to collect on a bounty. While that incident had given him the drive to reach for this newer, better scheme he still felt a small bit of annoyance. Just because the bones weren’t authentically the former lost/dead/whatever Governor of Skara Brae shouldn’t have made a difference. He was gone, who cares?

    He looked out at the waiting audience. The King had yet to arrive but there was a healthy supply of nobles awaiting the meeting. Sitting there in a chair seemingly too small for his freakishly long body was that mage. Reeves had anticipated some resistance to his new role as Governor but had severely under-estimated the Mage’s devotion to his former employer. He had always heard that Jepeth was an outspoken critic of magery in all its forms. Even as far as being labelled a bigot. That this mage, Tejnik the so-called Marvelous, was clearly holding a grudge against Reeves for trying to pass off a body as Jepeth's would probably be an issue soon enough. “Better to get ahead of this,” thought Reeves.

    Reeves grinned broadly at Tejnik and waggled his fingers at him in mock greeting. Even as far away as he was he could see Tejnik’s nostrils flare in anger.

    “Good evening,” a calm voice said from behind him. “Shall we begin?”

    The entire chamber rose and bowed to King Blackthorn. Reeves made sure to put a little flourish in his genuflection.

    ***

    Tejnik observed the meeting’s proceedings from his wooden chair in the back row of the audience seating. As he was no longer an official of The Crown nor attending as any representative of the Council of Mages he opted to sit with the general audience usually occupied by the merchant class of Britannia. The titled nobles all sat behind the Governors and King as if to show solidarity with the Sovereign.

    As usual the meeting descended into its regular chaos and in-fighting, all though much earlier than normal. Tejnik listened to Governor Reeves Quick make his prepared statement with barely contained fury. Quick gloated about his election, gave insulting and coded statements when questioned by the others, and most infuriatingly flaunted a priceless historical treasure that he wore across his brow.

    Tejnik recognized the piece immediately, he himself had once cataloged and did some historical scholarship on it at the behest of Jepeth. It was an ancient golden circlet bearing the crest of Skara Brae that was crafted pre-Britannian unification. “The Crown of the Ranger King'' had been worn by the rulers of Skara Brae for hundreds of years before the lands were unified under Lord British’s rule. The late Shamino Sallé Dacil himself had last worn it, all though entirely in a ceremonial capacity.

    When Jepeth had a survey of Skara Brae’s remaining historical treasures cataloged he made Tejnik promise to treat it very carefully and to never, never put it on.

    Watching Quick preen and dissemble to the other Governors while wearing the circlet tore at Tejnik’s sense of honor. Quick must have noticed this because he kept twirling his fingers ‘hello’ at Tejnik.

    After the meeting ended (very little was accomplished) Tejnik left quickly rather than have to speak to anyone about either the new or the old Governor of Skara Brae. His efforts to find Jepeth had always been beset with delays and uncertainty, but lately progress had completely stopped. The scouts dispatched to Ilshenar all returned empty handed. He knew that despite their efforts there was no way to truly search every single part of that mysterious realm. One of them was even injured in an altercation with a Juka near Wyrm Mountain.

    He passed under the large black stone gate outside the courtyard. Before him was the bridge which connected the small island the castle was built and rebuilt upon to the rest of Britain. The castle stood tall and proud on this island which barely contained its size as parts of the structure extended into the lake water. Before North and South Britain were connected by the five bridges a person could sail from the ocean through this channel right into the lake the castle upon its island now occupied.

    As Tejnik crossed the bridge he could feel the cold water moving below him. It was a chilly night and Britain was quiet. Smoke rose from the taverns and cooking fires scattered throughout the city. He exited the bridge but before casting his spell of recall to leave for home he stopped. Something caught his eye.

    There to his immediate right was a series of memorials. Four torches burned everlasting atop four colored plinths. The stones were colored deep blue, silver, gold, and forest green. Below these plinths were each four marble pedestals and set upon them four items: a lantern, a crystal ball, a globe, and an open book.

    Tejnik had passed this memorial many, many times but had never really paid it any heed. It was installed before the Split and therefore existed in both Felucca and Trammel. Like so many wondrous things in a city of wondrous things, it simply blended into the background. But tonight something about the memorial piqued his interest.

    He approached each item on its pedestal and saw that they, too, were stone work but of the most delicate and fine crafting. They were carved to resemble their real-life counterparts to exact detail and were expertly colored. He passed each item reading their inscriptions before stopping at the stone book set within the green plinth under the everlasting flame. He ran his fingers along the stone pages of the book and bent closer to read the inscription. It was barely illuminated by the flame above but Tejnik could make out its meaning.

    It said:


    “Seers,” whispered Tejnik to no one but himself and the monument.

    Finally, finally, after months of dead ends. He finally realized how he could find Jepeth. The answer was literally written in stone for him.

    He shouted into the night:

  • JepethJepeth Posts: 274
    Tejnik sat on a bench in one of Empath Abbey’s beautiful marble corridors. He had been waiting for around twenty minutes now and his excitement had only grown minute by minute. Monks and scribes of the Abbey went about their duties down the hall in front of him and he was surprised how noisy such a place of peace and contemplation really was.

    Of the three fortresses to the principles which embody the virtues Empath Abbey was perhaps the oddest one. Serpent’s Hold was a garrison to Courage, the Lycaeum to Truth, and the Abbey to the principal of Love. Tejnik had never visited the Hold, but was well familiar with the Lycaeum. He spent much of his youth studying in the Lycaeum’s cramped and dusty chambers which were over-filled with books and shelves. It actually gave the sandstone structure an uncomfortable feeling. The Abbey, by contrast, was somewhat austere. One could tell the Monks work hard at keeping the building immaculate. It did, however, give the building a sort of cold aloofness. Rather incompatible with the guiding principle of love, Tejnik had thought.

    About a week ago he went before Jaanin, one of the Council of Mages members whom he knew could help him.

    “A Seer?” she said doubtfully as she looked up from the book she had been reading.

    “Yes!” beamed Tejnik.

    He had rushed straight from the Royal Council meeting to find her after he realized that soliciting the help of a Seer may be what finally leads him to Jepeth.

    “So now you’re looking for two people?” Jaanin asked, frowning.

    Some of Tejnik’s courage melted away.

    “I.. I’m out of leads. This has gone on for more than eight months. I truly don’t know what else to do?”

    “Then young man, again, have you considered he is well and truly gone?”

    “I will not.”

    Tejnik drew himself to his full height.

    “I will not,” he repeated.

    “Alright,” Jaanin said. “I’ll write the letter.”

    She looked at him sadly for a moment and returned to her book.

    Back in Empath Abbey’s corridor, and still on his bench waiting, Tejnik continued to stare at the office across from him. Just as he began to wonder if he had been forgotten the door opened and a monk in a brown robe gestured for him to come inside.

    He entered a sparse room with a pair of chairs facing each other. Because it was an inner chamber there were a few candles burning on wall sconces.

    “Before I show you to him,” began the Monk as they both sat down, “I have a few questions.”

    Tejnik nodded. The Monk was an older Elf and her pointed ears had a slight droop. Tejnik knew enough about the Elves of Heartwood to recognize that this slight visual appearance of age had no bearing to her actual age. A single eye wrinkle on an Elf could mean millenia.

    “We’re rather protective of these men and women. Their gifts, while incredibly powerful, were also incredibly taxing on them. The few who survived their Purge are under our care and we strive to keep them sequestered for their benefit.”

    “I understand,” replied Tejnik. “I only have one or two questions and I’m appreciative of this opportunity.”

    “You would have no opportunity if the Council Elder did not write on your behalf,” said the Monk. “You seem surprisingly well connected for one so young.”

    “I’m not so young?” replied Tejnik with a smile. This was a game all Elves seemed to delight in.

    “Be that as it may, do nothing to upset the Seer. Do not discuss their Purge.”

    “I would never!”

    “Treat him with the utmost respect.”

    “Of course!”

    “If he ends the conversation leave immediately.”

    Tejnik smiled and nodded solemnly.

    “And, give him this.”

    The Elf pressed a small package into his hands. It appeared to be some wrapped baked goods.

    “He awaits you in the last chamber down the hall and to the left.”

    “Thank you, Ma’am!”

    Tejnik stood and bowed low to the monk. He turned and left, leaving her alone in the interview room.

    As he walked alone down the hall towards the chamber the Elf directed he passed a few open doors. Inside he saw old men and women in meditation or leaned over books. A few wore robes of deep forest green tightly bound around them. Some were clearly the victims of violence and had missing limbs or the visible scars left by fire.

    He reached the end of the corridor and knocked upon a beautifully carved ornate Yew wood door.

    “Come in!” a voice called from inside.

    Tejnik entered and in the small chamber sat a man in a deep green robe. It had golden trim along its hem, sleeves, and hood which was thrown back. The room itself was sparse but obviously lived in with a pile of books stacked upon the floor in the corner, a small table with seating for two, and a comfortable looking cot. It had a single window which overlooked the western ocean off Empath Abbey.

    “Please sit,” said the old man kindly. “Although now that I look at you…perhaps that chair may not be so comfortable?”

    Tejnik gingerly sat his tall frame into the rather small chair. He was used to this.

    “I’m Kristos,” said the old man extending his hand to Tejnik.

    He shook it gratefully but noticed the Seer had no strength in his grip.

    “So,” said Seer Kristos. “You are the mage Tejnik the Marvelous and are on a quest to find the lost former Governor and Knight of Skara Brae, Jepeth? Do I have that correct?”

    “You do!” said Tejnik, perhaps a little too excitedly.

    “Don’t be too impressed by that, the Elf spoke to me in advance.”

    “Oh.”

    The Seer looked down at the table for a moment and then up towards Tejnik. He wasn’t, however, looking at Tejnik. If anything it seemed as if he was looking past him, through the door of the chamber, out the Abbey itself, and across the whole of the world. This went on for a few moments before he blinked a few times and then focused back onto Tejnik.

    “Ah,” said the Seer. “Alright. I can answer some of your questions now.”

    “Well then! Ah, how can I find Jepeth?”

    “You can’t.”

    It was a moment before Tejnik regained his wits.

    “I don’t understand? Say he’s not dead!”

    “He’s not.”

    “Then where is he?”

    “Ilshenar, for sure,” said the Seer. “I recognize those far shores.”

    “Then why can’t I find him?”

    “Because he’s already been found.”

    Tejnik cocked his head to the side in confusion.

    “You approach this as if he’s a maiden in a tower waiting for a rescue. I think that chivalrous Knight must have had an effect on you, my magical young friend. But that’s not what is happening here.”

    The Seer closed his eyes for a moment.

    “No,” he said reopening them. “That’s not what’s happening here at all. I see a completely different storm to weather upon this sea”

    He smiled warmly at Tejnik who had the look of a person who had just been robbed.

    “You seem disappointed?”

    “I.. I’m not sure what to say. I suppose I thought you’d have told me exactly what I needed to know.”

    The Seer shrugged his shoulders.

    “It’s alright to be disappointed.”

    Tejnik shook his head suddenly, remembering his place.

    “Seer, no, of course not,” said Tejnik. He bowed his head low.

    “I am grateful for your time and insight.”

    “Ohh,” the Seer waved his hand at him. “I hear the Monks in what you just said. They so like to fret over us.”

    “Who could blame them after what you all endured?”

    Tejnik’s face felt a little hot. He realized he broke his promise to the Elf. The Seer, however, took no notice.

    “May I have the cookies now?” asked the Seer.

    “Oh!”

    Tejnik drew the small package from his robe pocket and handed it to him.

    “You knew I had them,” said Tejnik, smiling.

    “Again, don’t be that impressed. Our Sister Agatha the Elf always sends me up a few after I use the Sight. She knows it makes me a little hungry.”

    “Oh.”

    “Forgive me young man but I need to end our chat here. We retired folk enjoy an early turn in.”

    “Of course, Seer!”

    Tejnik stood and bowed low once again.

    “Before you go,” said the Seer with a slight wry smile. “Consider this: Jepeth has already been found, it wasn’t by you, and he’s still in Ilshenar. Who could do this and perhaps never want him to return?”

    Tejnik’s eyes moved from the wry smile of the Seer to out his chamber window. He saw clouds in the distance and the blue ocean churning.

    He left the chamber and walked through the great halls of the Abbey. His experience left him more than a little perplexed but something the Seer had said had begun to pull at him. He walked aimlessly out the entrance of the Abbey and towards the coast. The sun was beginning to set and in the evening light he saw the double waxing crescents of the moons Trammel and Felucca.

    “Who could do this?” he asked himself. “And perhaps never want him to return?”

    He stared out across the water and suddenly in his head he heard voices. Voices which had been telling Tejnik to abandon this task.

    “Accept it,” Jaanin has said. But she had just helped arrange this meeting.

    “Would you want this much fuss?” Harbottle had said. But Harbottle wasn’t telling him not to pursue the matter, just that Jepeth wouldn’t approve.

    “He’s dead,” Jepeth’s disreputable cousin Threepwood had told him months ago. Tejnik had been writing letters to the pirate regularly. Letters which had all gone unanswered.

    “And if he’s not dead,” Threepwood had said only a month after Jepeth’s disappearance, “then where the bloody hell is he?”

    “That.. scoundrel,” Tejnik said angrily to himself.

  • JepethJepeth Posts: 274
    ***

    Eight months ago at the end of the battle Jepeth sheathed his sword and knelt next to the gasping hulk. With his left hand he pulled its snarling head to the side revealing the face of Willibrord. It wept.

    “Forgive me,” Jepeth said.

    He closed his eyes and breathed in deep. He ignored the yells of confusion of those around him and laid a gloved hand over Willibrord’s forehead.

    “Dium Prostra,” whispered Jepeth.

    An orange glow of light flare between Jepeth and the abomination. His silver armor reflected the light like a prism casting colors in all directions. It flared brighter and brighter as it engulfed the both of them. It made a beautiful, melodious harp-like sound.

    At that very moment Jepeth felt a tug on his chest. As if his father had come up behind him and scooped him up to carry him on his shoulders. But this tug felt stronger and stronger. As the sound and light cascaded to a crescendo Jepeth felt his whole being give way to this pull. Color and sound swirled past him as he felt himself lifted away from where he was. The smell of the sea and the light of the morning vanished. His helmet flew off. His sword belt pulled hard at his hip and ripped away. He felt like he was tumbling off a cliff into a deep abyss. He held his eyes shut and tried to control his fear.

    Suddenly the light and noise ceased and everything changed.

    Now he truly was falling. The sound like a harp was gone and in its place was the rush of wind. He opened his eyes just long enough to see the night sky above him as he crashed into the ground.

    For a moment he lay there certain he was dead.

    He knew he was in pain. He knew something, probably the smashed remains of his plate chest armor, had folded back into him and punctured his flank. He tried opening his eyes again and beheld the night sky. There was a single moon and the stars were strange.

    He lay dying, bleeding out and broken.

    Suddenly he heard a sound which, if could be believed, scared him more than tumbling through space and time.

    Alghaza,” hissed a deep voice.

    Jepeth opened his eyes once again and through his blurred vision he saw above him several Juka with their weapons drawn.
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