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22FEB15 - Chapter 1: The Meeting

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    Posted: 22 Feb 2015 at 21:09
Rikoo leaned on the doorframe, his hand wrapped around a hot cup of coffee. He looked out through the open doors, past the railings of his balcony, and down onto the street below. It was close to the middle of the afternoon and the weakening sun cast an orange tint over the scene. It was still warm and would remain that way through the night, but a recent storm gave the shadows an edge of coolness.

The older, dark green-skinned orc could see the usual crowd below; shoppers haggling for clothing or tools while small groups of pedestrians formed islands of loud conversation off to the side. A tavern was open and packed full to the point that some drinkers sat outside on the logs that formed the boundaries of the street. 

The establishment was called The General Chat, and Rikoo watched it almost every day. It was his job to make sure the citizens of the town -- and the continent, if he could manage it -- got along as much as possible, and one of the easiest places to spot trouble brewing was at the bar below. He stood on his balcony for so long, many citizens forgot he was there. The truth was that he was within a pike’s reach of the ground. Or, in some cases, a stone’s toss when he announced something the citizens didn’t like.

He sipped his coffee and glanced up at the greater city that towered above them all. Centrum it was called, and it was easily the largest and busiest city in the entire continent. He sighed; it would be another long night. He could tell from the gathering noise below.

“Sir, your guests?” said Tyran, Rikoo’s helper. He turned to see the familiar face of his servant, an elf. Rikoo nodded and held out his cup. The elf took it and paused.

“More?” 

Rikoo shook his head no. “Are you heading home for the night, or do you want to stick around for the meeting?” he asked Tyran. The elf shrugged, turned around and headed to the kitchen. Rikoo smiled to himself. The little elf was one of many orphans left at the city’s gates. He took him in at the urging of the city’s religious leaders. 

The boy was referred to as a servant but Rikoo made sure that the youngster could do whatever he wanted. He knew that a young elf needed to explore and get into trouble; their long life deserved some fire. Tyran, in exchange, helped with household chores and was a fantastic assistant to Rikoo. 

“Oh yes, Tyran, before you go?” Rikoo yelled at the hallway. “Prepare some more snacks and coffee? Oh, and some beer.”

Rikoo heard a muffled, affirmative sound from the back kitchen. He knew the goods would be on the table by the time company arrived.

An hour later, the first of the guests began to arrive. First was Koda, the astronomer. He was a short man with a striking stare. He showed one blue eye and one green eye, both shiny as tiny jewels glinting from within his tanned skin. His hair was a mess and he was usually clothed in a primitive fashion. Many thought he could turn into a bear or beast, and no one knew what he did during the night. He came to the council by the community’s demand. Despite his strangeness, he was very popular with the citizens. The man walked over to Rikoo, took his hand in his and shook vigorously. Rikoo smiled.

“Koda. So good to see you again.”

Koda smiled and nodded. “You too! I brought you a pack of goods!” he said. The wily looking man leaned out of a window, whistled at something on the street below and made a symbol. He paused as he watched the thing move into position. Rikoo could hear the growl of a bear, the standard companion for Koda. Koda leaned up out of the window and looked at Rikoo, smiled, then made his way to sit down.

“Uhm, you can get it later.” he said. Rikoo nodded. Next walked in a pair of humans. 

One, a taller woman in full armor, with pale white skin and long, black hair, was named Rill. She was the geographer, known to be involved in almost all areas of government. She knew almost everyone and could rattle off laws that no one seemed to remember.

Nokigon, the historian, was a human man with white skin, goatee, and eyes that seemed to constantly dart around underneath his bushy eyebrows. He broke off from Rill and sat in a chair. He nodded at Rikoo and folded his hands on his lap. He was known as someone who possessed the greatest overall knowledge of the lands.

Aurordan the ambassador walked in next. He was a tanned-white human with a sharply-maintained goatee and broad shoulders. He had spent most of his time travelling on behalf of Centrum and the King, contacting old and newly-discovered groups or factions. He recently went on a very long trip to the Broken Lands, the newly-opened continent to the south of Elgea. He shook Rikoo’s hand wearily and sat down, looking through the refreshments on the table.

Next stomped in Artefore, the biographer, a male dwarf with tan skin, bushy facial hair and glittering eyes. His job seemed simple enough; to catalog the royal family and its history, but his path was very dangerous. He had to decide which information was good for the public, and which bit was better left unpublished. He sat down next to Aurodan, grabbed a cup and drank it without seeing what was inside.

Rikoo considered the group. It was a fine gathering and counted for some of the most experienced minds he could find for the task. He sighed, however, because he would eventually have to tell them the truth of why they gathered. 

“Thank you all for coming once again. I know that many of you are busy.” Rikoo began. He noticed Koda playing with his food. “Be sure to give me your listing of expenses so I can refresh your accounts. Many of you travelled a long, long road to be here, and the city wants to show its thanks.” He sat down, opened the massive book in front of him and prepared to take notes. He looked over at the magical scribe that would take minutes of the meetings. 

“Begin.” he said to the magical quill. It drew itself up and readied itself to write on a stack of blank pages.

“As the first order of business, we will turn to Koda.” Rikoo started. “He brings with him details on the calendar. As many of you might know, King Avrael the Mad not only ruined much of the land but also burned off much of our knowledge.” Rikoo turned to the quill to see if it was writing. It scritched away at the paper. “So, the date.” 

Rikoo turned to Koda who was busy with a stack of papers. The hyper man flicked through some, tossed a handful on the floor, smiled and began. 

“Currently it is the year 1037 -- just turned 1038, actually -- of the age of conquering. Just the current age, really, but I thought it needed a name. I would, of course, allow the King or his company to title the current time. I like conquering, though. Yes, it’s a peaceful time but so much conquering as well… I mean, if you consider…”

“Koda.” interrupted Rikoo. “To the topic?”

“King Sigurd, eldest of three,” Koda continued with a smile, “took the throne at age fifteen in the year 1012.” Koda snapped a look at all of them with a smile. “His family first took the throne around 762 with his earliest relatives showing up around 734. Before that, records get spotty. Dusted. Broke. Artefore can speak to the kingsline more?” 

He looked at Artefore, who nodded. 

“If you don’t mind, Koda, I would like to interrupt while we are on that topic.” Artefore said.

Koda nodded. “Please!” he responded to Artefore.

“Well, I found this interesting bit. It seems to argue against your date of the royal family’s beginning, but this is just one conflicting bit. I found not much more.

‘At the foundation of the current dynasty, some 800 years ago, it is known that statues were erected across Illyria to the first King’s two grandfathers and eighteen great-uncles, all of whom carried arms in the struggle to establish the dynasty. However, the Order of Allembine at that stage had more urgent duties than the recording of the Royal Family’s predecessors, and so no written records were made.’ 

“That’s from the Allembine Scribe’s tomes. So, you can see, the royal family is supposed to have started before your estimation, but the records were also -- admittedly -- poor.”

“Noted.” Rikoo said as he wrote something in his paperwork. “We’ll examine that later. For now, let’s assume Koda is spot on?” Artefore nodded.

“So, on the first age? We are currently in the third age – or the age of conquering -- titled thusly for now.” Rikoo was still looking at his notes. Koda smiled at the use of his title. The note-taker scritched feverously. “So what about the first one? Do we have dates and information on that?”

Koda fished through his stack of papers. "....the end of the first age, yes. From the page on Tenaril. Uhm… here we are:

‘In the very south of Illyria, beyond the coast of Tallimar, beyond the reach of Council and King, stands a tower of granite and gold, of hope and power. This is Stormstone, once the home to Tenaril, born at the close of the First Age, and legend and inspiration to sorcerers across Illyria. Many of the mightiest magics wrought in any age were formulated here, by Tenaril himself, an enchanter claimed by some to be Elven, and by some to be Human, and by some to be a god.’”

The man looked up, smiling. It was a lovely passage, he thought.

“This would be the end of the first age. So, what about year ‘zero’?” Asked Rikoo. “When did this all begin? Time?”

Nokigon interrupted with a wave of his finger. 

“In my opinion, year ‘zero’ was the foundation of the Order of Allembine -- 1038 years ago -- and year one was at the establishment of the ‘first house’ because its foundation started the calendar we use today. Here, from the Allembine papers.” The man shuffled through a stack.

‘These three duties have preserved the Order for ten centuries, and will preserve the Order for centuries to come. But the Order is not to be preserved for its own sake, but as a light for the world. The Order has risen as civilization has risen. The calendar is dated from our foundation, as blessed Allembine founded the first House in the year that we now call year one, and our historians have been chroniclers of the years since.’ 

“So year ‘zero’ was the foundation of the Order of Allembine, and year ‘one’ was the ‘first house?” He asked the room.

“1038 is the date right now, so the 10 centuries figure is about right.” Artefore responded. “The ‘first house’ refers possibly to the first lineage of Illyrian kings, of which Sigurd is part of the second, or maybe even the third. I will need to check my papers more closely.”

“But, it reads to me as though it means the first Allembine church, or monastery, or whatever they had.” Aurordan added with a dismissive wave of his hand. “It's unusual to describe someone as having ‘founded’ a family. Just my impressions. Take them as you will.” He finished with a sort of polite nod.

“I tend to agree with Aurodan.” Rill said. “I read that as the founding of the first monastic house of the Order.”

Rikoo smiled and waited for Koda’s rebuttal. None came. “This is all well and good, but of course you are saying that the first age started 1300 years ago. Fine.” He said to the group.  â€œBut be aware that this means you leave hardly any room for the second and third age as well, unless I am misunderstanding when they could have started.” He looked around the room. “We’ll have to add that on to the notes and will investigate it further.” He heard no objections, and so continued. “Concerning the age of the world itself, Koda?”

Koda looked up. "When I was investigating the factions I discovered that they believe, uhm, ah, here it is: 

‘...they will fight whatever foe may come, to persevere in the memory of the valiant souls who have stood as they stand for one hundred generations, since the First Age.” 

Koda looked up at the group, all of who sat listening.

“That means one hundred generations -- a generation is known as ten years, so. Anyway, here is a slightly confusing bit, and would perhaps become a bit of controversy in the community: 

‘After travelling through the densely populated and fertile valleys of the Wen Kun, the population gradually dwindles as we head up into the foothills bordering the Tien Zao Mountains. We can see this young mountain range proudly spiking up into the heavens ahead of us, fiercely piercing the clouds with its pillars of ice and snow capped granite. I estimate the range to be less than 200 million years old…’”

The group gasped.

“Yes, I agree.” Rikoo said. “There would be a lot of… dissatisfaction if we let that out now. It might or might not be true, but we need to verify it first” 

“Oh, and here.” responded Koda, pointing at another paper, “From the New Light: 

‘In the Second Age, the Order of Silver Light brought peace, prosperity, stability and order to these lands, but failed to keep control over their subjects. After the Sundering, surviving mages, hedge-witches and sundry practitioners of secret arts came together to rebuild the Order.’”

He beamed at Rikoo. 

“That would mean,” continued Koda “That if we can date this Second Age, we can get a date on the sundering of the Broken Lands as well!” Rikoo smiled and the others shuffled. While Koda’s enthusiasm was nice, they all knew the scope of the task he was describing. 

“And, from the Clan Dollogh, here,” he pointed at another piece of parchment from his stack. 

’When the Sundering ripped across the land at the end of the Second Age, the magics tore trees from the ground, whipped the air into great cyclones, and tore at the earth itself. The lands shook, plains rose up to form ridges, and mountains plunged into an abyss to be swallowed by the sea. For surface dwellers this was a cataclysm. Millions died, and only thousands survived.’

“This is excellent news, Koda.” Rikoo said. “If we can work on setting a solid date on that entry, we might be able to move back and tell when the sundering occurred. But, for now we have to agree that the First Age occurred, well, somewhere between now and 1038 years ago?” Rikoo looked at the others for any objections. None came. They were all slightly struck by the enormity of their task. This meeting only served to show just how much they still had to do.

“So, we know that the current year is officially 1038. We are in the Age of Conquering. The end of the Second Age -- as we’ll call it, was when the King’s families first took over, 700 some-odd years ago. The end of the First Age? That we’re not so sure of. We’ll have to come back to it.” Rikoo nodded and stacked a few papers. The magical quill scratched away. He knew it was also recording emotion and even the foods they ate. He eyed the half-eaten bread on his plate and smiled.

“Now, on to the roots of the factions.” He continued. “Where did the factions come from? Obviously, this is something we think we know a lot about. There is no shortage of information on the factions, thanks in large part to the last three king’s insistence of maintaining connections with the outside world through ambassadors and trade. Of course, much of what is written about the different factions of our world is -- possibly -- suspect. Not only have record-keeping techniques become more effective in only the last few generations, but the factions themselves have only recently become more trustworthy.”

“Some of them.” noted Nokigon. “For example, the Breaking of Alda Amar. Presumably it happened some time ago, what humans might consider to be a long time ago, but the Elves remain bothered by it. The Illians, the Lyrians, and the Turians -- at least -- spun off from this. 

Then there’s the Fall of Duraz Karag, also some time ago depending on your race, all the Elgean dwarf clans split up after this. Or look at the Orc War Nobody Ever Calls the Same Name Twice, within living memory of both humans and orcs. It had a defining impact on most of the orc factions. There was also the Council's various wars to expand their control out from MK, maybe prompting Sigurd to send the Lords of the West to the WR.  I don't recall if it ever says what that was…”

“Alright, thank you.” Rikoo said, holding up a hand. Nokigon had a brain like a trap, and when he became animated about a topic, he could go on for a while. “We’d like to revisit that, Noki, but I believe the next topic is going to be the King himself, guard his name. When did his family or ancestors first make an appearance in record? What are some of their origins? I believe we assigned Artefore to this task.” He looked at the dwarf. “What did you find?”

“It’s interesting,” Artefore began, spitting a pair of bread crumbs from his beard. “I found a wealth of information on much of the topic. Most of the kings of the past had a respect for information and did very little in the ways of overlaying their own names or families on the pasts of the previous kings and queens… 

For example, the question of ‘when did the royal family first make its appearance?’ They first appeared in the year 734. Simple, I know, but I found out only after I did some digging. Or, for example, this interesting bit I found…” he rummaged through his own stack of papers. 

“The royal family, ancestors to the King Sigurd, first made their appearances in the year 734. They began with Harken Geyrik, the first son of Lord Saren Geyrik, a Lord formerly in Keppen.  The Geyriks had been recently driven out of Keppen by goblins. Harken went on to marry Brenna Groensen. Now, Brenna was a daughter of Asmund Groensen, Duke of Norweld. The Nordlanders had been reduced to a small portion of southern Norweld and a small part of the Middle Kingdom by that time, yes?  

The King at the time, year 734, was ‘Mad’ King Avrael of Illyria, who was rumored to be half-elven. Although at the time he wasn't mad, necessarily, and although the kingdom was in decline, he ruled from Hastelbury as Centrum had been abandoned because of orcs overrunning a large part of the east. Meanwhile, the Geyriks – Harken, his wife and his family -- settled a new home for themselves near their Norweldian allies and founded Pellimont. Harken and Brenna have a son, named Brandar, in the year 736.

Now, to Brandar! At the age of sixteen, Brandar takes a company of friends to the ruins of Centrum, discovers an ancient crypt full of silversteel weapons and armor and gifts them to his friends to form the first Praetorian Guard! Ha! Can you imagine! The guts of that child!

Brandar goes to Centrum and attempts to build it back to its former glory, but it is known now that it was also an attempt to find more treasures. He is very successful in restoration, and eventually forgets about the treasures and becomes dedicated to restoration of the kingdom and capital.”

The others smiled at the thought of old glories.

“He also decisively destroys an orcish horde in the Battle of Trottingham Fields in 758.”

Rikoo grimaces at the mention of the old orc wars, but only for a split second.

“Jealous of Brandar's success, the now fairly-insane King Avrael imposes harsh taxes on Centrum. Brandar refuses to pay, so Avrael declares him an ‘enemy of the throne’ and banishes him from the kingdom. Realizing he is in control of the true capital of the kingdom, Brandar garners the support of the Nordlanders and his parents at Pellimont and declares himself King, thus beginning the Deyrik-Groensen lineage. He then defeats Avrael's forces at the Siege of Centrum in 762 and marches on Hastelbury.

After catching the mad king trying to flee Hastelbury as it is stormed, Brandar banishes him to the mountains of the deep northwest, where Avrael’s followers found the Undying Flame. Brandar weds Avrael's daughter, Mara, in 764, further cementing his throne-claim. Their first son, born Eirik in 766, is the second king of the Deyrik-Groensen lineage.”

He looked at the others, but they had no objections. 

“This is excellent, work, Artefore. Thank you.” Responded Rikoo. “I have to admit to some embarrassment as even I – someone who spends a good deal of time around the royal family and its caretakers – did not know much of this. Or, I should say, have not had it put this way.”

“Good work.” Rill said. The others smiled and nodded.

“We come to his majesty, the King Sigured himself.” Artefore continued. The others reached for their drinks. “He is, of course, the current ruler of the land and the eighth monarch in the Deyrik-Groensen lineage, and he took the throne in 1012 at the age of fifteen. He is the eldest of three. 

His brother, Lord Grendam of The Western Realms is one of three Lords of the West. He was sent by Sigurd to rule over the West in 1019, to subdue the region and make it a loyal bulwark on the Kingdom's west flank. I have a note here: 

‘…the Lords of the West charter lists the year of their sending by the Council as 1002, which means either Grendam was sent later to replace someone or the dates are off by some.’

Grendam was a hardened veteran of many battles and is the middle brother of the three.”

Artefore paused and reached for a drink. The others took the chance to sip their own. 

“Next we have Lord Porthur, the Royal Duke of Keppan,” he continued, “and the youngest of the three siblings. He was sent by the King to rule over Keppan in 1019, in the hopes of increasing the region’s agricultural output.

King Sigurd’s father, the great Drendor of Illyria, the seventh monarch of the Deyrik-Groensen lineage… he passed away – rest his soul – in 1012, shortly after Sigured became king.”

“I can locate more if I gain more access. Perhaps to the king’s personal library. I have your permission to access the private files of the king?” Artefore raised his eyebrows and looked at Rikoo.   

“Yes, of course.” responded Rikoo. “Excellent, thank you Artefore.”

“I think we will turn to Rill next. Rill, you were tasked with making some sense out of the continents Elgea and the Broken Lands. Curious what you find out about some of the major geographical elements of the land?” 

Rill looked up, took a sip of tea and began.

“A seemingly simple task!” she giggled. “This planet is called, we believe, Illyria.” she waved her hand, indicating the whole of the land. “While this might sound like common knowledge, many citizens think we live on a great platter or on the back of some animal. Discussing planets is not a common hobby, and we can hardly see outside of our own place in the greater soup of stars. 


Cont. in part 2: 


Edited by GM Rikoo - 30 Mar 2015 at 13:47
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GM Rikoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Feb 2015 at 21:10
Part 2: 

Still, I found some interesting facts concerning the Broken Lands. Probably the major geographic feature in Broken Lands is the huge expanse of lava and volcanic terrain in Calumnex, roughly centered on the map, right here, at the faction hub called Omen, or often-named The Tower.” Rill pointed at the map, to a dark ominous area that was rarely visited.

“There are many obsidian mines in the area, and you will occasionally come across some brave souls who have settled in the rare fertile nook or cranny. They seem safe there, but personally I wouldn't want to be around when things heat up.” The others nodded.

“Another major geographical feature would be the body of water dividing the ‘Lands in ‘two’ where Glanhad and the ‘pirate isle’ are located.” she pointed at a very large map that covered a good portion of the table. The others scooted their drinks and plates away. Without their noticing, a young elf carried the dishes away into the kitchen.

“I also found many minor geographical features. First, the Lapou Lua sea. It’s due west of Lapou Lua, here. It boasts some interesting flora and fauna.” The others leaned in to see.

“In Newlands, here,” she moved her finger, “of the west there is a peninsula, noted for its giant fruit! There in Glanhad… many large, massive hills. Possibly a plateau, but we have not found our way to the top yet! Also surrounding the coordinates of -129, -1691 in Glanhad there is a peninsula, and west of that is a bay with an island in it. I wonder if the location at -203, -1595 is a strait?” she shrugged. Rikoo marveled at her ability memorize locations.
 
“I've noticed that in Glanhad there are seven islands, though these are hard to find without access to a strategic water map, and the Argiri faction on Glanhad hosts a city called Seven Blessings. Might be much more than a coincidence.” She took a breath, finally. She leaned back in her chair, sipped her tea and looked at the others.

Rikoo stood and walked to windowsill. Dust motes swam in the light. 

“Do we have an idea about how the lands came into being, how they were literally formed and when?” he asked.

Rill nodded. She reached into a dusty notebook and pulled out several burned pages. 

“I have found my task much more difficult than I expected. There are many different ideas and opinions about how the lands of Illyria first formed.  As such, I still need at least a few more days to investigate some competing ideas about the origins of the lands.  First, here is the legend I heard as a child in Norweld.  I am still awaiting reports from the Temple of Reason and a scroll from the Circle of Five giving their accounts of this same legend.” She unfurled an ancient scroll and began by saying “This is the scroll from my old village. I promised to bring it back.”

‘In the beginning, the world was formless and void, and the spirit of the Crow hovered like a storm over the deep. 

And then the Crow said ‘Let there be land,’ and there was.  And he peopled the land with orcs and elves, dwarves and humans, each in their time.  And cities rose and fell, and it was good for a time. But the land was flat and without features, and it pleased the Crow not. So, the Crow said, 

‘Let there be mountains in the north, in Kal Tirikan and Ursor, and in the southwest in Tor Carrock.  Let there be plains in the northeast in Tamarin and Qarosslan and mighty forests in Norweld.’  

And so it was, but the Crow was not finished.  He called forth jungles in Kumala and with fiery breath laid waste to Kul Tar until only desert was left. And the Crow looked at his creation, and it was better than it was before.

Then the Crow’s companion the Lion spoke to him and said, 

‘This is well enough, but what is land without water?’  And so the Crow called forth in Kumala the river Ataman, and from it sprang great oceans, mighty rivers, large lakes, tiny streams and small lakes, lochs and tarns.  The rising of the water was not without consequence for the inhabitants of the land.  Some cities were caught in the floods and were saved only by the power of the great mage Tenaril. The Crow looked then upon his work and said that it was a beginning.

The hills resounded to the boots of marching dwarves and the plains to the hoofbeats of human cavalry. The thwang of elven bows and the chanting of orc hordes filled the air. And yet still the land was too silent.  And the Crow created the animals, the wolves to howl, the scuttlers to rustle, the lions to roar and the elephants to trumpet.

At first the animals were shy and solitary, each keeping to the spot where it first arose. But the Lion said to the Crow, 

‘This is not the way of animals. They do not stand still and wait to be slaughtered. Set them free and let them roam the land. Let them divide and multiply and do higher mathematics.’

The others looked up at Rill. Rikoo raised an eyebrow.

“And so the Crow freed the animals from their pens and let them wander. Behold, they multiplied, and soon there were myriads of scuttlers, cornucopias of alligators and vast herds of mammoths.  But none of the animals were so prolific as the poisonous crawlers. The crawlers divided and multiplied and added and subtracted and until they threatened to take over the continent. And the Crow saw that was very bad indeed. He called back the animals by the twos, by the tens, by the thousands and tens of thousands. He smote the excess poisonous crawlers and decreed that each animal should reproduce according to its kind, never too many and never too few. And that was much better.

The land was fruitful, and the people of the land prospered. But never was there sufficient food for the multitudes. So the Crow in his wisdom called forth fish into the seas and into the rivers, and finally into each lake, loch and tarn so that the people could be fed. And the fish were good, for the people who were starving.

And the Crow called forth minerals from the earth and herbs from the land for the people to harvest. But the people were never satisfied, and as their cities grew and more and more inhabitants swarmed the land, they called upon the Crow for relief. 

‘The land is not enough,’ they cried. ‘Give us a new place to live!’

The Crow muttered and gnashed his teeth, and the Lion growled deep in his chest, for the land was not yet prepared for them. Even so, they listened to the cries of the people. And so the Crow flapped his great wings and the Lion gave a mighty roar, and from the southern ocean more land arose.

The plans of the Crow and the Lion had not had time to mature, and so lo, the land was broken into many parts, and the whole south of it was still molten and raw, and volcanoes in the north seem dormant but may not be so, a trap for the unwary. And the people flooded into the new land. The Crow watched in silence, for even he could not tell how it was this half-formed land would hold the people. But they settled in the land, and to them it was very, very good.’”

The others looked at Rill, wondering how much more she had. To them, this was all new.

Rikoo smiled, took a sip of coffee and watched as Tyran began to clear the remaining dishes. “Thanks.” He said to the boy.

“Does anyone else need anything before I go?” the elf asked the table. Each person shook their head and began to help clean up the mess they made. They are, if anything, a polite bunch thought Rikoo.

Once the dishes were cleared and Tyran gave his goodbyes, Rikoo walked to the balcony doors and looked out. The crowds were strong. There was a great noise that came from the streets below, and Rikoo had learned to love it. Would he miss it if it all went away? Of course he would.

He closed the doors behind him and latched them tightly. The others exchanged concerned looks. What was Rikoo doing?

“Fiona, PaganMistress, will you come in now, please?” he said to the air.

The others heard a small shuffling sound as a female orc with dark green skin walked in, followed by a tall female elf who maintained flowing blonde hair over pale white skin. They all knew the orc from the King’s court; he often turned to her when magic was the concern. The elf was lesser known but power emanated from her. It was rumored that Fiona had a hand in designing the magical clay plates that helped transport prestige to needy commanders.

The pair seemed to ignore the others and barely nodded to Rikoo. He stepped back to the table, sat down and watched. The others looked at him, perplexed, and then back at the pair of ladies.

The two women split and walked to opposite sides of the room, drawing from pouches at their sides handfuls of a form of powder. Its distinctive smell meant that it was goldstone, a rarely-used mineral. It was a reagent in magic? 

As the pair walked around the parameter of the room, they hummed a quiet song. The powder began to glow on the floor until the two met behind Rikoo. They poured the mineral lines into each other so that there was a glowing line around them all. The pair looked at each other, said something in a strange language and clapped their hands twice. 

Snap! went the air as the mineral powder shot upwards and formed a glowing wall. It bent at the point where the walls met the ceiling and climbed across until all of the room seemed to be encased in a glowing box.

The ladies turned, crossed their arms and watched the others. Rikoo turned and looked over his shoulder. 

“Thank you,” he said. He turned back to the others around the table.

“Alright, this is better. Now no one can hear us or see us. In fact, to the outside world we don’t even appear to be here. I needed this sort of privacy to talk to you about… “

“About what?” piped Koda. He looked concerned, even though he was one of the more magically-inclined citizens Rikoo knew.

Rikoo held up his hands. “I’m getting to that.” He took a sip of his drink, stood, walked over to a shelf and withdrew a small cache of five scrolls and one massive, rolled map. 

“These come from agent Luna, who has been off in the south for a while, as you may know.”

“Luna?” asked Rill. “She went to study magic in the north!” 

“She did, but only partially.” Rikoo responded. “She is also an agent of the kingdom and always has been. And an apt spy.” Rikoo rolled out the massive map. On it was a series of scribbles that looked to be text of some kind. 

It glowed around its edges and began to hum. The others stood up from their chairs and walked away from it. Had this been a trap?

“Don’t worry, all, just give it a moment.” Rikoo reassured them.


“Her, uhm, her handwriting is horrible.” Rikoo rotated the map until he could make it out. Nokigon felt his stomach turn as the massive image rotated as the room stood still.

“I have confirmed that the Undying Flame is active again. They are massing numbers in the South and East, here and here, and slowly moving towards Centrum, here. They do so boldly, and for good reason.” Rikoo looked up. The others were starting at him, their mouths open. First this map, now the words Undying Flame, something rarely heard in official business. The faction was connected to Mad King Avrael and had, for centuries, been a growing menace but a distant one.

“They need not move in large numbers,” Rikoo continued, “for they have their hands in the kingdom already. I have heard agents tell it themselves, the stories of the influence the king is under. Such an influence as to cause him to make decisions based on their needs and plans.”

“No!” Nokigon stood. “This is madness and you know it, Rikoo. Perhaps it is Luna who is…”

“Nokigon I am well aware of how mad this all sounds.” Rikoo said. “And I am also aware of the better-known influence of the Circle of Five. But I can assure that there is none other as loyal as Luna and her agents. What Luna says in this is true, isn’t it Rill?”

They all gasped and turned to Rill. She sat with her mouth closed, confident. 

“You believe,” she said to them “that my expressions of support of the Undying Flame defeat my loyalty to the crown and kingdom? How dare…”

“I am not questioning your loyalty. At all.” Rikoo responded, “In fact we do not care where your loyalties lie, as long as they lie dormant! But have you not expressed, on many occasions, a joy at hearing mentions of the Undying?”

“I have.” She replied, jaw clenching.

“That’s fine. I know plenty who do.” Rikoo smiled. “You are not on trial here. No one is.” The rest of the table shuffled uncomfortably. “The Undying is not taken seriously, not like the Circle of Five.”

“Then why are you asking Rill about the Undying Flame?” asked Aurordan.

“She knows them better than most here. Correct, Rill?” Rikoo responded.

“Yes. Probably.” Rill responded. “So why all of this, then? Why put us all through these hoops when you could have just asked me to come to Centrum to be questioned.”

Rikoo held up his hands. “Hold on.” He said. “I never said we needed only you, and I never said we were going to question you. We have no issues with you. In fact, the opposite is true. We value your participation. All of your participation.” He looked at each person around the table. “You are a key part of this, yes, Rill. But, I want to caution each of you; this has been planned for a long time, and if you feel like you might not up to helping us, then let me know now.”

Everyone looked at someone else. No one budged. Rikoo smiled. 

“I didn’t think you’d leave. That’s why we picked each of you. We asked you to gather this information as part of the council because the king does need this information and did ask me to form this council. Your hard work means that we now know more than we did before. And I thank you for that. But, now we come to the part that we do not want the king to know about.”

“Our cover is the council. We’re really here to discuss a connection between the king and the Undying Flame.” Nokigon said. Rikoo nodded.

“As I was saying, Luna has sent details about the Flame’s plans. Her information is solid and our other senior agents have confirmed it where they can. It appears that the Flame has agents in Centrum, right now, and even some that have managed to make their way into the inner court. We even believe that the king is under some influence of theirs, one that might be working through the Circle of Five, but we’re not sure if it’s magical or something else.”

“What else could it be?” Asked Koda. “The king would never volunteer to help the Flame!”

“They could put something in his food or drink,” Aurordan answered “ …and control him with that. There are very few who master the art of mind-control poisons.”

“And it’s our task to find them.” Answered Rikoo. “So for each of you I have an assignment.”

He walked around the table and handed each of them a small scroll that was tightly bound. 

“It’s sealed magically. You can only open it when you are safely back home.” He said. “Inside you’ll find details about your particular role. I will give you some details now.”

“Please do,” said Artefore. “You have us in the dark, here, Rikoo, and I know I am not just speaking for myself when I say that this feels a bit sudden and well more than a bit dangerous.”

Rikoo looked at the glowing map. Around it stood citizens whom he hoped were best for the job. He knew they were, but even he wasn’t sure what they were going to uncover. He sighed. Where was his coffee? Oh, yes, Tyran went home.

“Alright, then. Let’s begin… “ he said to the group.

Illyriad Community Manager / Public Relations / community@illyriad.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mistery Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Feb 2015 at 22:15
Thanks for the bedtime story, Rikoo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BlackBlood Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Feb 2015 at 23:25
A parchment came on its way, from that of the newly built office for the man only known as Black Blooded Champion. He was known by few for his never ending chat, failure of role playing and his tendincy to be a royal pain in the arse.

The parchment read:
[I]I have returned but of today and already am easedropping and skulking. We know of your hushed talks but i dont care about your quest. I payed close attention and it seems some information you dont whant publicised ... i aim to find that information myself. Like many of the illyrian people i aim to learn, especially the kings guilty secrets. I will stick to the shadows and
listen carefully to what you all say, you have my word. Love BBC xxx[/|]

It seemed once more BBC is going to try way to hard to be the centre of attention ... great ]
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 20:35
I look forward to more rikoo. I enjoyed it.
I AM THE ULTIMATE!!! NONE SHALL DEFY ME!!! Naww I'm just kidding, im a friendly guy. Im WITE
          
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeliciousJosh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2015 at 14:11
Loved it!
Nice to get some insider knowledge too.

Why do I live in Europe =(

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Farynn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2015 at 23:06
Clap More, more! Bravo! Clap

I loved reading this! (And the wondrous moment when I finally caught on to who the great Crow and Lion were, haha!) I would *so* read this novel! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eilanor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 2015 at 00:16
Very nice. Writing style reminds me of Patrick Rothfuss.
Fraea in game
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DeliciousJosh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2016 at 09:48
MORE!??!?!??

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