An Unplanned Meeting

Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: An Unplanned Meeting

By Jaron on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 07:57 am:

November 22, 794 TR

Sage Advisor was rapidly jotting down notes in his logbook, keeping track of those he had recruited by such criteria as name, mana-attuned or not, age, and overall usefulness to the guild of Kaat'n. It wasn't that he really needed the notes - he was more than capable of keeping track in his head - but it gave him something to do now that he was done for the day.

The total was up to six now. The potential recruits were happily in bed, already on the payroll - cash deferred until later training, with compensatory living expenses until such time readily provided. This had been one of his most successful trips so far since Kaat'n had opened its gates a few months previously. Keeping logs was a prudent thing to do, for purposes of accounting for all expenses from Kaat'n. Though its richness was vast, the guild sought to increase its available capital, not diminish it.

Eventually, these six would end up as wizards or warriors, trained by the masters of Kaat'n, and he tested them daily, whether they knew it or not. Sage Advisor always kept his eyes open to discern the traits of his disciples, so he could determine who needed the most observation and who could be readily trusted. His was a dangerous business, and some of these six would be entrusted with great responsibility. Best to learn early on rather than late in the game.

Midnight was close at hand, and the innkeeper had already barred the door for the evening, when a vicious pounding startled Sage Advisor and sent the inkeeper scurrying. The other patrons of the inn still gathered in the common room watched with idle carelessness as the inkeeper grudgingly let in a young man and woman from the bitter cold. The woman exchanged words with the inkeeper, arranging a stay for the night, while the young man made his way to the nearest table and slumped down in it, exhausted.

His attention drawn, Sage Advisor noted the immense outwelling of mana from the young man, who seemed to be younger than he actually appeared, yet quite fit and ready for work. The girl finished her discussion, and returned to her companion. She talked for a few moments, then paused. Then she would do it again. Sage Advisor knew she was carrying on a conversation, but the young man never moved his lips.


Joerda pounded heavily again at the inn's door. She was tightly huddled in her cloak, as was Jaron. He was still weak from his ordeal, having not fully recovered from two weeks of famine and struggle in what he had decided must have been the Well Between Worlds. The two had travelled daily from sunrise to deep in the night for just over half a month, and he was exhausted. With a wrenching sound, the door was hauled open by the squat innkeeper, and the two were ushered in.

"Hurry up, get in her you two! It's not like I'm heating all of Generia or anything," the innkeeper quietly, even somewhat irritably, said. "The weather and time of day aren't exactly the best time to be out travelling, I don't care how young you both are. Obviously, you'll be wanting a room, warm, and probably some food. And I'll be wanting money."

Joerda nodded in understanding. She pulled free a small pouch from beneath her cloak, and spilled from it two golden coins of Dantimos. "I know Generia's under loose Dantimian jurisdiction, but all we have is their currency."

The innkeeper's eyes glittered at the sight of the gold, but turned a tender heart to their plight. "We don't normally accept their money, seein' as how we prefer home-grown Generian coin. But gold is gold, right? We get more than enough travellers here, and two gold is far more than I'd ask of you. That in itself would keep me in business for several months! Have you anything smaller?"

Fumbling with her pouch, Joerda grabbed three silvers and ten steel. Jaron collapsed into a nearby seat. "What would you deem a fair price for three nights, plus meals?" Joerda asked the innkeeper.

"Three steel, one per night, not including this one since it's so late. Pay in advance, but I'll refund you the unstayed nights if you leave earlier than intended." Joerda nodded again, and pushed two steel into his hands. The innkeeper smiled graciously. "I'll get you set up in no time. Just wait here for a few minutes."

Sitting next to Jaron, she gabbed his hands and struck up conversation. "How much further is it to Kaat'n? I don't know how much longer you can push on like this. You need rest."

{And I will rest when we get there, love. Not before. There's something about this place. I think Kaat'n is closer than we think.}

"Is that why you brought us here?"

{In part. But I do need rest. Three days should be enough time.}

"That's what I paid for." She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Way ahead of you on that count, Jair." Joerda smiled.


Sage Advisor's curiosity got the best of him, and he noisily shoved back his chair and arose. Both Jaron and Joerda stared at him as he approached. Jaron loosened the dagger at his belt, but made no outward sign of aggression, preferring to judge this encounter on the stranger's actions.

"Hello, you two. I realize it's late, but I wanted to introduce myself. My name's Sage Advisor, and I represent the guild of Kaat'n. I couldn't help but mark your arrival." Sage Advisor extended his hand to Joerda, who grudgingly shook it while huddling closer to Jaron. "The two of you seem to be in a sore position, with little money and I doubt a place you could call home. I'm actively seeking people who are interested in an adventurous career..."

"If you wouldn't mind, Mister Advisor, could you please take a step or two back? Jaron is sick, and I don't want to expose him to too much strain all at once."

"Of course!" he obliged, stepping back. "Now, as I was saying, I'm looking for people to welcome into the guild of Kaat'n. We recently reopened, and can offer payment for services rendered, as well as lodgings and comfort for free. Would you be interested?"

"That sounds all well and good, Mister Advisor..."

"Call me Sage."

"Okay, Sage. But we've been travelling many days and need some time to rest. We don't want to be accosted by strangers in a strange land."

Sage Advisor took a seat and leaned forward. "But it's to a strange land that you have come, and strangers will accost you. But what has brought you here, the ass-end of the frontier of Dantimos? You border on entering Kaat'n's land if you travel much further." His mind operated one step ahead; he knew that was precisely where they had been heading - there was nowhere else to go from Generia.

"Perhaps you were not running to something, but away from something. You're not in some kind of trouble elsewhere, are you?"

"Yes, I mean, no. We decided to leave home." Joerda silently berated herself for slipping. Jaron chimed in with his displeasure as well.

"Which is it, yes, or no? I'd wager it's the 'yes.' What if I could guarantee you that whatever trouble you're fleeing, it won't find you if you come to Kaat'n with me? Would that convince your friend there, my lady?" Sage Advisor sensed their silent communication now that he was so close to them.

"Young man, you don't speak much, do you. Jaron, was it? Well Jaron - mind if I call you Jair? - You look like a strapping young lad, the making of a fine warrior. And your lovely girl here could work well in the kitchen, I'd bet."

"Jaron cannot speak, so I shall speak for him. And I don't work in kitchens!"

Sage Advisor chuckled. "Whatever you want to do will be just fine, my lady. Why doesn't Jaron speak?"

{I simply choose not to, Sage. I have never had a voice.}

"What a strange curse life can bestow."

{I know. No offense to Joerda, but within a matter of moments you dissected much about us. You are patent and observant, and I think your claim is genuine. I have heard of you, Sage, and I had also heard of Kaat'n reopening. That is where I was headed. I have some meager training in the arts of magic, but Master Sunset refused to teach me and directed me to you.}

"Sunset sent you? Sunset of Oor-Tael? That is news indeed. Why did he refuse to train you, I wonder? No matter. How's the chap doing? We haven't spoken in ages."

{Master Sunset was murdered.}

"I see. Very, very unfortunate. Nothing can be done about it now. Such a terrible loss to all."

"We were both there when he was murdered, Sage. We left in a terrible rush. I can still see his face..." Joerda said.

"Witnessing a murder can be quite damaging to the psyche. I don't think either of you did the deed, so we'll not dwell on it much more. I'm going home tomorrow afternoon. We would be glad to have the both of you."

"No, we won't," Joerda said.

{Yes, we will.} Jaron cut her off. Sage Advisor smiled.


It was very late at night, quite early in the morning really, when Jaron and Joerda made it to their bed and fell in it together.

"Why did you say yes to him? We don't know if he's the real thing or not, or what his game is. We can't trust a man we don't know."

{Yes, we can, Joerda. I was watching how he carried himself, paying attention to his deliberate choice of words. He had a desperate edge to his voice; his quest is genuine. I believe he already has six people here that he's taking back to Kaat'n.}

"How do you know they're not going to be some sacrifice for some strange spell or whatnot? Jair, you're too trusting."

{I trust you, love. But I also trust him. I was able to touch the top thoughts he had. Thoughts he didn't want to reveal. I intrigue him and neither of us know why that is, him or me. He wants to know, and now so do I. I have seen sketches of Kaat'n that my father had; Sage's memory has it close to the surface and it matches. I'm not powerless, and I trust my power more than I trust those around me at times. He also has the same glint of agelessness that Gandalf and Master Sunset did. If nothing else, he's more than old enough to be the true Sage, and few are as old.}

"Well, you know more about this business than I do. If you say this is the proper course of action, then I support you."

Jaron grinned. {Thanks, love.}


The next afternoon, the two departed, along with Sage Advisor and his six other potential apprentices. Joerda was concerned, but Jaron was unshaken by the coming change in his life. He looked forward with eagerness, not regret. His past mistakes still bothered him, but he was sure of his most recent decision, and was glad that Joerda would be by his side.

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