BK
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CH
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The Doors Beyond
Choices

…continues from Book #01, Chapter #02, Postscript

Synopsis

The 13th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey
The group have reconvened in The Bronze Lion and Tradden and Khalin share their tale of their journey to the Gloom Marshes.

Cast List

Scene Length

This scene started on Thursday 9th December 2010 and completed on Wednesday 15th December 2012.

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Article Notice
Originally in Google Wave

!

This scene was originally written within Google Wave. The scene has been transcribed here for completeness, and has been edited where required.

The original Wave is now lost with the demise of Google Wave, but the PDF extract of that original scene is provided here.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

01

After taking their time to get some rest in a comfortable bed and to clean their gear Khalin and Tradden made their way downstairs to the bar in The Bronze Lion. The rest of the group were already there, talking amongst themselves conspiratorially, each with a drink and a small plate of food.

The pair joined the group and began to tell their tale — Tradden taking great delight in recounting Khalin falling asleep on guard duty a number of times.

Tradden and Khalin hadn’t been the only ones busy, however. Celestia had spent some time talking to the Initiates of Pelor and with their scribe, Beltak. Although she hadn’t been granted an audience with their leader, who always seemed to be referred to as His Radiant Servant, which quite amused the elf, she had managed to learn about a couple of books that had been found by the townsfolk — one at a stone circle about a league to the northeast, and another in a ruined tower on an island on the lake to the southwest.

When Celestia had told the other two, Kireth was very interested, Zero less so. However, Kireth managed to convince Zero to use his charms on the female initiates to get Kireth access to the books, even if for only a few minutes.

In the late hours of the previous day, Kireth had managed to examine the books in private for fifteen minutes whilst Zero kept Dania, one of the younger initiates, ‘busy’.

Unfortunately, Kireth had reported back to the group that the writing therein was of a foreign tongue that he couldn’t decipher and seemed to have spent the rest of the evening in his room, sulking.

The group pondered what their next move could be.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

02

Once his part in telling the tale of his and Khalin’s earlier exploits had finished, Tradden sat mostly in silence, his brow furrowed and his gaze often fixed on the light from the torches shimmering on the top of his frothy ale. An earlier attempt to go and check up on Caldring had been foiled by the initiates at the Temple, who refused all access on the basis that she was resting there until the morrow.

That did nothing to improve the young fighter’s mood.

As the conversation about what to do next bandied back and forth the others started to notice that the young man clearly had something to say, but every time he seemed about to out with it, a member of the bar staff or a local was within earshot of the table, and so he was clearly biting his tongue. However, at one point the group seemed alone, and the teen leant forward, unable to hold back no longer.

‘It’s all wrong!’ he hissed.

Not for the first time, Kireth’s eyes raised to the heavens.

‘What is?’ hissed back Zero in friendly mockery, the accompanying giggle betraying the strength of the wine in his cup.

‘Well, look — these people have been here what, nine months or so? In that time they have built this place, started a farming operation and a mine, scouted a lot of the local area and generally had a big ‘Hello, Mainland, from the Free People’ flag flying from the top of the temple.’

He took a swig from his ale and carried on. ‘And in all that time, they say all they have had is a few measly little goblins throwing themselves against the city walls, all of which were easily dispatched by that arrogant bastard Valino and the guards. However, we have been here a few days and when we so much as take one step outside the walls we are attacked by large numbers of goblins, kobolds, skeletons, elven mages, the undead and weird, weird green slime!’

He took another swig, in full swing now. ‘Doesn’t that seem strange to you? I am not enlightened in the ways of magic or the gods’, he waved towards Kireth and Celestia with his free hand, ‘and neither am I trained in the ways of battle or the ways of… whatever…’ Zero seemed content to let that one go, but at the same time Tradden wasn’t going to get back those two gold pieces he wasn’t even aware he had been separated from.

‘But, I tell you this… it doesn’t feel right! The townsfolk seem to buy into this story of there being just a few wild creatures kicking about the woods, but I for one don’t!’

The group, as one, sat back in their places. If any of them had harboured any such thoughts, the young fighter had brought them to the forefront of their thinking. If they hadn’t been thinking that way at all, well, they had something to mull over now.

Suddenly the inn seemed slightly darker and drawn in.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

03

Khalin was the first to speak, although while his next words were clearly delivered to the table, his focus seemed to be elsewhere. ‘Careful, Master Tradden. If you are right, and I say if, we should be careful — you never know who is listening. In fact…’

Quick as a flash the dwarf’s hand went from his tankard and snaked down under the table.

There was a moment of grabbing around and then just as quickly up his hand came again, this time grasping a halfling by the scruff of its neck, instantly recognisable as Skillet. The warlord plonked him down between himself and Zero, who lazily, but deliberately, reached out an arm to rest on the back of the dwarf’s chair, his cloak thereby screening the presence within the group of the now nervously grinning halfling from the rest of the tavern.

‘Erm, drink anyone?’ Skillet managed feebly.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

04

‘Care to explain yourself?’ growled Khalin, releasing his grip, but very liberately keeping his hands on the table, showing that they were ready to move if needed.

Skillet hastily composed himself, brushing down one shoulder and pulling forward his lapels. ‘Very difficult running an establishment like this,’ he said confidently, ‘lots to do — can’t stop from sweeping the floor just on account of guests.’

‘Oh?’ interjected Kireth, leaning forward and resting his chin on steepled fingers. ‘I commend you halfling, for undertaking such a job without an actual broom.’

‘Ah, yes, well’, said Skillet, pulling at his collar. ‘As I say, lots to do — my mind goes a mile-a-minute I can tell you — easy to forget a little detail like that. Drink anyone?’

‘You were listening into us!’ said Tradden, aghast. ‘Why?’

The halfling took a deep breath, ready to speak, but Kireth again spoke up before he could.

‘Oh, I think that is fairly obvious — clearly he is a trusted agent of the Council here. They must hold him in very high esteem to trust him to come and risk his life in spying on a new group of dangerous warriors.’

Skillet looked speechless, his jaw firstly dropping and then wobbling ever so slightly.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

09

‘What!?’ the halfling nearly shrieked, then remembered where he was. ‘Those jumped up fools? They don’t know true talent when they see it! Washing tables and fetching wine indeed!’

‘Surely we are not talking about the same people here?’ queried Celestia carefully. ‘We have spoken to the Council and they appear to be men of great integrity, with only the best interests of the town at heart.’

‘Oh, they have, no doubts about that,’ the halfling continued haughtily. ‘But politics takes it place. Luck also — they certainly got lucky with those magic stones.’

‘Magic?’ whispered Kireth, now fully engaged.

‘There have been plenty of attacks, but whatever is in those stones acts as a defensive barrier. I have seen with me own eyes large scale attacks in the middle of the night — erm, I am a light sleeper — all of which have been repulsed by Valino and his cronies with reasonable ease. The dwarf Fafnir knows more than he lets on, as do the Council, ’course. However, they don’t tell the townsfolk, oh, no. Only way Skillet ’ere knows is because I know how to keep my ears to the ground and can slip in and out of the shadows like a good ’un.’

Zero laughed, choking on his wine a little. ‘You? My little fellow, are you telling us that you, YOU are a master of the shadow arts?’ He chortled into his wine. ‘I think not!’

The halfling narrowed his eyes at the rogue, who sipped his wine with a big grin on his face.

‘Well, clearly we have detained the barkeep here long enough,’ interjected Kireth, coolly. ‘He is only sweeping the floor, after all.’

Khalin notably relaxed at this, and took a much anticipated quaff of his ale.

‘Not a problem, gents, lady,’ said the halfling, hopping down. ‘Misunderstandings are frequent around here. Think nothing of it.’

‘Oh, and you,’ he continued, dusting himself off and raising an eyebrow to Zero. ‘You are not as good as you think you are.’

As he turned to walk back to the bar he tossed a coinpurse towards Zero, who caught it with surprise — it was his, and worse, it was the one he kept in his inner robes that no one knew about.

The bar, previously quiet, was suddenly filled by the raucous laughter of both Tradden and Khalin.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

06

Kireth watched the halfling with intent until he was satisfied that eyes and ears were no longer on the table. Muttering a few arcane words he leaned forward into the group and waited. Gradually the group stopped talking amongst themselves as they acknowledged Kireth’s sign and leaned forward themselves to hear what he had to say.

‘It seems that there is valuable knowledge to be had here,’ the wizard whispered, barely audibly. ‘I’m not sure these people understand what they may have found.’

Kireth took a good look around before he continued.

‘Although I have not been fully successful in deciphering some of the texts we have acquired, I do believe that they can be understood. However, I would need more writings to further any investigation. The only writings I believe exist are the ones that the clergy now hold, which we have seen, or any that remain in the tower where they were found.’ Fearful of intrusion, he took another look around before continuing. ‘I suggest that some of us go there and take a look, to see if we can find anything of use.’

‘You mean to that island in the lake they talk about?’ queried Zero, a furrowed look on his brow. ‘Well, I’m not going on any water again, not after last time!’ The rogue sat back in his chair with a huff and crossed his arms.

Kireth turned and looked at Celestia, who shook her head, counting herself out.

‘Well, maybe it was just a bad idea,’ Kireth began, pointedly ignoring Tradden and Khalin.

Tradden just couldn’t help himself. ‘I’ll go!’ he exclaimed boldly, standing up suddenly, hand on the hilt of one sword, his tied back hair flicking over his shoulder in what he hoped was an impressive fashion (it wasn’t). This somewhat predictable turn of events drew scowls from all around the table. ‘I fear not water, nor mists. In any event, there’s nothing on that island anyway, apart from a bit of a ruin — the guard have been there and found nothing.’

‘Aye,’ sighed Khalin, not sure if this was a good move or not. ‘I’ll accompany the boy. Someone’s got to try to keep him out of trouble.’

‘Are you sure?’ asked Kireth, his sudden caring demeanour somewhat out of character. ‘I myself will unfortunately have to remain here to study the current manuscripts. I’m afraid this time I will not be able to join you.’

There was a barely imperceptible wink from Kireth aimed at Zero.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ said Tradden, already impatient to leave. ‘Not a problem. Consider it done already! Khalin and I will be back before dark, eh?’

‘Indeed,’ replied the dwarf, somewhat warily, realising that he was in for a day of Tradden looking to rack up any kind of action that might he would be able to try and impress a certain elven blacksmith with on his return. ‘We’ll see what we can find, Kireth. You just work on the translations.’

‘It will be dark soon,’ interrupted Zero. ‘No sense in going now. Have another round and join me in a game of Three-Dragon Ante. See if you can win back your silver.’

The rogue produced a deck of cards seemingly from nowhere, and Tradden faltered.

‘Alright, we’ll wait until the morrow,’ the young fighter decided. ‘We’ll head off at first light.’

With that, the group settled back down for the evening, with plans for the next day been drawn.

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Scene
Completed

End

[…continued in Book #01, Chapter #03, Scene #02a…]