Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chapter 4 of the Chronicles of Granorda

Greetings from Siarles to the authors. This is chapter 4 of the chronicle of Curufinwë, Avriel, Amras, and Collin.

Chapter 4
Avriel Tîwele
(In which we run afoul of a few soldiers and rescue a certain sword inlaid with Wrathsbane from street thieves)

Well, I suppose that since everyone else has written something for our little book, it’s now my turn.  Introductions would take too long, suffice it to say that some of my views about government are . . . politically incorrect.  I hold to the belief that the people should have the main balance of power.  The kingship is nothing more than a ceremonial position that should be used mainly militarily.  The position of Bey, in my opinion, has become corrupt and complacent in its authority.  The current one, Andrasfir, is the worst in a chain of power-hungry stewards that have siphoned control away from the king and toward the Bey’s position.  I . . . oh, I see, by your silence, you drew me out and almost got me into an introduction, didn’t you?  Nice try.  

I believe Amras has written up to the point at which she killed the Wrinthrakei all by herself.  After that incident, we moved to another point on the hunting grounds and camped there for the morning.  After noon, we kept moving west and a point north.  On the evening of that day, we could see Vrielorn in the distance.  The next day, we actually arrived in the city.
Vrielorn is our largest city as well as our capital.  It was a cacophony of street thieves, merchants, townspeople, and politicians.  The politicians fought with each other for power, the merchants tried to cheat people out of their money, the thieves stole from everyone, and the civilians just tried to stay out of the way.  The town was a tribute to decadence of the ruling society and a place I hated.  Needless to say, our stay in the city was short and unpleasant.  
Vrielorn was constructed like a conch shell, with layers turning in on each other until they all arrived in the center at the citadel of the city.  This citadel had been built three hundred years ago by a genius architect who used several sets of walls, a moat, and many other hidden traps to make the place virtually impregnable.  Why they didn’t just do that for the whole city and save lives in wartime, I have no idea.  The first layer contained the slums and the parts of the city inhabited by poor people.  This was also where the pickpockets and thieves made their abodes when they weren’t robbing the upper crust blind.  Therefore, we were potential targets as we walked into the city.  
The mode of operation of these thieves was fairly simple.  One would engage your front and provide a distraction, while the second would come around your rear and steal whatever valuable items you had.  This job was usually given to a master pickpocket and caused much consternation on the part of the mark when he found his purse missing.  I was prepared.  The others weren’t.  
A thief crew descended on Amras.  Under the guise of selling jewelry, the thieves slipped under her guard and slipped her ornate sword out of its sheath.  With a triumphant crow, the thief sped off, quickly followed by his co-conspirator.  At first, there was no response from Amras.  After a short time, however, she took off after the bandits, with the rest of us close behind.
It didn’t take long for things to “gang agley,” as the Herebarians in the northlands say.  Curufinwë, using what seemed to be a natural knack for getting into trouble, plowed over a soldier while chasing the vagabonds.  The soldier lay on the ground, yelling something about being “very much hurt” and calling for other soldiers. .  A portly soldier and one skinny as a reed came to the aid of the first, muttering something about those attacking the watch being punished.  Knowing that the punitive system in Vrielorn is a laugh at best, I advised Curufinwë to run quickly in the opposite direction while I went after Amras.  Collin elected to stay with Curufinwë.  Hoping that the two wouldn’t get themselves into even deeper trouble, I sprinted after Amras.  
I found her in the second spiral of the town, the Merchant Quarter.  There was a trail of destruction straight through the heart of the area, which showed Amras’s path.  In the distance I could hear the muffled sounds of screaming, yelling, and general chaos.  I was slightly surprised that three people could create such mass amounts of bedlam.  Hoping I was not too late, I grasped one of my knives and continued into the fracas.  
The thieves had upset a merchant’s booth and were holding Amras and the annoyed merchant off with Amras’s own sword.  It was painfully obvious that neither thief had had any training whatsoever with a sword and therefore the entirety of their defense was blindly swishing the blade at anyone who got too close.  One of the spectators, apparently one who sold blades, offered the thieves two thousand byzants for the weapon, which was about half of what it was worth.  The thieves did not know this, however, and, since selling the stolen property had been their original objective anyway, they cautiously made their way toward the merchant.  I saw my chance immediately.  Taking the knife I was still clutching, I threw it straight in front of the thieves’ path.  Needless to say, they stopped immediately.  I grabbed another knife, this one still stained with black Minotaur blood from our night out on the Hunting Grounds, and advanced slowly.  Amras also ran up on the thieves’ rear.  My guess is that this particular group had never been cornered by their quarry before, and I was going to give them a crash course.  My method started with the usual snarl and growl.  “Did you really think we would let you get away?” I asked, lazily twirling my knife around.  “Were you playing sick on the day they were passing out the brains in this town?  Where is your skill?  I could have made that pick in about half the time with less of a distraction easily, but your complete lack of skill is beside the point.”  I grabbed the one holding the sword and threw him against a post, sticking my dirk next to his throat.  “Will you come quietly or do I have to actually start playing mean?”
The two pickpockets made no arguments.  I snatched the sword out of the hand of the one and gave it back to Amras.  While I had contemplated denouncing them to the authorities, I believed that the prisons were too important for a few pickpockets.  Therefore, I let them go, warning them to steer clear of the Upper Quarters for some time.  They sprinted back to the slums, grateful for their lives.  Amras and I went in that direction as well, hoping to find Curufinwë and Collin.  

Collin found us halfway between the two quarters.  He was standing in front of an inn called the Crescent Dragon, which looked fairly clean and had decent food, according to the sign in the window.  As we went inside, Curufinwë hailed us from one of the tables in the common room.  We rushed over, eager to hear what Collin and Curufinwë had done to escape the watchmen.
“It was quite simple, really,” Collin began.  “All we had to do was lead them through the slums and out of the city.  They chased us for about a half a mile before we swung back around into town.  The poor fat guard was so tired by the time we finished the chase that he fainted in the gate threshold.  I’m not sure what happened to the other guard.  I think he went to find a decent pub when he saw he was outnumbered.  How about you two?”
I gave them a brief overview of the fight in the Merchant Quarter, making sure I left out the part about letting the thieves go.  Curufinwë nodded.  
“Very well done,” he announced.  “Now, I’ve been trying to explain to Collin here about the Wrinthrakei, but I am doing a horrible job of it.  Could you try to explain?”
I nodded.  “Wrinthrakei have their origins back in the Time-Before-Time, when Orodreth Narmolanya reigned in the heavens and there was no pain and sorrow.  The first of their kind was named Gûntárok, and he was the first high king.  To him we also owe the art of weapon forging.  Now, Gûntárok was discontent with his status in the King’s house, and he wished to become king himself.  He found therefore others of the same mind as he, and formed a rebellion that started in that ring of standing stones we saw last night.  There, all of the rebels pledged full allegiance to Gûntárok and his kingdom.  Satisfied that he had all he needed to overthrow Orodreth Narmolanya, Gûntárok moved toward the royal palace.  
His rebellion failed miserably.  The King Himself overthrew the rebels and cursed them to the spirit world, whence they could only escape if certain conditions were met.  Unfortunately, the standing stones are one of the few places where they have anything close to full abilities.  Even there, they can only summon forms of shadow and smoke, which is all they are.  But enough of such things, let us eat and get some rest.  Tomorrow is a big day.”

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