Return To Riveroak (Prelude: NASS)

Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: Return To Riveroak (Prelude: NASS)

By Rett on Monday, January 01, 2001 - 07:32 pm:

Foul day to be outside. The horse stepped lightly on the slick cobblestones. The stalls that lined the wide street were empty. Even the promised shelter of their awnings was not enough to bring merchants out to hawk their wares on this soggy day. That, and the fact that no one else would be outside either, to buy their goods. Riveroak City seemed shut down for the day. The man's hooded head shook, as if to cast off the damp and cold. Foul day indeed.

The horse plodded along, wondering how far it was from a stable and its next meal. He turned his head to eye his rider. Not much longer, and you'll get a rest. The words weren't spoken aloud, but the glare of the man's shadowed eyes were enough to convince the horse that now was not the time to protest. Wearily they trudged onward.

From his mounted perch, the man could see his destination already. The three high spires jutted from the cityscape like groping fingers. Not as tall as those of Riveroak Castle, surely, but imposing enough to dominate the eye. Those spires stood adjacent to the town barracks, and they housed Riveroak City's contingent of battlemagi.

Not much longer.


The man dismounted in the stableyard and handed his tired mount to an attendant. Assured that his horse was taken care of, he proceeded to enter the tall central spire. The guards at the door nodded at his passing.

Once inside, he began the ascent to his quarters. The triangular building was cleverly designed; while from afar the spires looked distinct and ominous, upon closer inspection they rose from the same structure, and were connected by covered passages and walkways. Should the building come under attack, any army who attempted to clear those towers would be decimated, if they did not know the secrets.

The man took the final few steps to his quarters and opened his door. There, at his desk, sat a man robed in black and gold. The robed man smiled. "Welcome back, Rett. What news from Justice Keep?"

Rett threw back his hood to reveal a weathered face. He was perhaps forty, or perhaps four hundred; with magi you could never be sure of their age. Despite his countless encounters, his stern face was unscarred. Most magi preferred to aid battles from safe places, even further from real conflict than the archers. Hence the enviable survival rate.

"News, Seryl? Those fools from the king's expedition returned. Or a few of them did, at least. Loebar is safe again."

Seryl frowned. "Then why has Jecroth not returned with you?"

Rett scowled at the question. "Jecroth was killed early. By a band of goblins, no less. The lives of all the rest together were not worth his loss."

Pouring himself a glass of water from his stand, he continued. "Worse, he was the only person keeping that idiot Cholendan in line. I can only imagine what new scheme he'll invent now to try to take my job."

Seryl laughed. "You have nothing to fear from that one, Rett. Blackdragon would never appoint Cholendan as his second, even if you were cast down somehow. One of the others would surely be chosen."

The water in the glass swirled as Rett spoke. "What worries me is that no one else is acceptable. We've lost many more than we expected, and our ranks thin. Even our hold in New Avalon is weakening."

"How can you say that? Artemis holds the throne, with Blackdragon to protect her. Isham gives us free reign in the city. Even when Dantimos is at war, New Avalon is free from turmoil. The magi may not be loved, but we are respected, and more importantly, we are feared."

"Feared, but not for long! Tradarr..."

"Tradarr is a charlatan, and will be revealed as such soon! His followers are merely sheep, and will soon scatter. I'm surprised his little cult has lasted as long as it has."

Rett finished his drink and poured another. "That's what concerns me. Most frauds would have been exposed by now. And his 'cult', as you call it, is huge. What's more, they are fanatically loyal to him. With whatever miracles he's shown them, he has grabbed their spirits. And his claims to protect New Avalon from war are seductive. Our nation is tired of battle."

Seryl sighed. "Tired of battle, yes, but not so foolish as to throw down their swords at the behest of a priest! Tradarr is not to be feared, nor is Cholendan. Between Artemis and Isham, our power is secure."

Rett stared down into his glass. "Let us hope that your theory is not put to the test any time soon."

Seryl stood and bowed. "I shall take my leave of you, ser. I am requested for further tutoring of the new recruits. Their wild spellcasting is a greater danger to us than Cholendan and Tradarr together." With that, he departed.

Rett closed the door behind him. It had been a long journey. Grateful for the dryness and warmth of his room, he collapsed on the bed and fell immediately to sleep.

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