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Author Topic: The Morgaard Cairn [Lexikov & Belowa2x4]  (Read 110 times)

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Offline Belowa2x4Topic starter

The Morgaard Cairn [Lexikov & Belowa2x4]
« on: December 30, 2019, 03:01:24 PM »
Alseifar
is a sprawling coastal village whose foremost industry is whaling. Longships ply the waters of the Arcadian Ocean hunting pods of whales. They harpoon the great marine animals and return to Asleifar with the flensed and dismembered carcasses. Right whales and bowhead whales are the most popular, but larger whaling ships prefer to hunt sperm whales for the precious substances only that breed holds. The docklands of Asleifar are a rough-and-ready neighborhood; dank flophouses, sweaty brothels, and squalid waterside taverns cater to the tough whale hunters, while nearby harbor facilities and dry docks swiftly repair and refit whaling vessels. The workshops boil down blubber into oil, clean and dry whalebones, and extract valuable cetacean substances, such as spermaceti, baleen, and ambergris. Whale meat is plentiful and popular with locals.

It was cold. Desperately cold. A sharp wind cut through the uncobbled streets - if they could truly be called streets - carrying with it the rancid stench of the town’s whale processing facilities. The locals seemed to not even notice either the stench or the cold as they trudged through the icy mud of the main thoroughfares. Wooden piers sprouted haphazardly from the coast; cold, foamy waves slapping heavily against their greenish wood. Among the innumerable Ulfen longboats, an elaborately decorated caravel towered. It sported a trio of triangular sails and a larger-than-life lion adorned its bow, frozen in a pounce. It was a clear sign that the vessel had been wrought by the skilled Taldane ship-builders of Cassomir, though the craft flew a Varisian flag. However, even those Ulfen who ventured beyond the Land of Linnorm Kings made little effort to differentiate people of the Inner Sea region. So for the whalers and fishmongers of Alseifar, “southern” was the only classification they had any frame of reference for.  The sailors of the craft busied themselves with ropes and weights, casks and crates. Despite its relative small population, Alseifar was a popular trading port for ships from the Inner Sea and beyond. While whale meat was not terribly popular abroad, the Inner Sea’s appetite for cosmetics and lamp oil was insatiable. In exchange, the Southerners brought a variety of manufactured goods: silks from the Varisian coast, glass from Osirion, even ointments and unguents from the Night Markets of Katapesh.

However, this ship’s most conspicuous cargo was the
young man
who stood on the end of the gangway, staring at the thick mud before him with palpable reservation. A human in his late twenties, his hair was brown, cropped short, and his beard was trimmed close to his face, as was common among the clergy and literati for the south. His once-white robes peeked through a dark, canvas cloak, which was fasten with a silver brooch. It was a sealed scroll set against an eight-pointed star. The young man gazed around the dock, his pale skin tinted almost the green of the wood beneath him. The combination of sea travel and the newfound stink of dead whale appeared to have bested him. His contemplation was soon broken by the bark of one of the deckhands. “You’re in the way, wizard!” the sailor called as he began barreling down the plank with a cask under each arm. The young man startled and turned, only to stumble back into a particularly deep portion of the half-frozen mud. He frowned down at his feet as the sailor passed. “Again, my name is Menas and I’m not actually a wiz...” The sailor was already halfway back up the gangway and clearly uninterested in the finer point of magic-using taxonomy. With a heavy sigh, the young man hoisted a bulging, leather pack over his shoulder and began to trudge deeper into town.

It took some time for Menas to make his way to an inn that was frequented by mercenaries, solders, and other hired-hands. He had been told that Taldane was the most commonly used tongue in the region. And while that may have been true among the richer merchants, nobles and academics, Menas was not trying to get directions from any of those people. He had thumbed through a primer on Skald over the course of the voyage, and while he found the grammar interesting, the pronunciations were almost impossible for his tongue - at least simply from reading. He had not known a language could feature so many diphthongs. But, after much pantomiming and more than a few chuckles from the local, Menas found his way to what he understood to be the largest inn in the area. Above the door a large wooden sign - a fish bucking in a net - swayed in the icy wind. Reasonably confidant that the inn’s name translated to something like “The Swollen Net”, he decided that, in any event, he’d rather be warm than right and pushed his way through the door.

The inn was bustling. Menas had arrived in the middle of the day. Most of the men in the village were fishermen, so their work began in the darkness of the early morning, but they were done before many of Menas’ colleagues broke their fast. The large center dining room consumed the whole of the main floor, an open kitchen in the northwestern corner, blocked from the patrons by a bar. A large, gruff looking Ulfen - though Menas found most Ulfen men to be large and gruff looking - stood behind the bar, barking orders into the back. A handful of servants hurried around the room, serving mead and ale, along with plump, round loaves of bread and various preparations of fish. The few who noticed Menas gave him a glance, turning back to their tables with murmurs and chuckles. However, the young man seemed not to notice, preoccupied with removed as much mud as possible from his boots. Once he was satisfied that any more wiping was were rubbing the stains in, he wiped his hands on his cloak and approached the bar. After a moment, the Ulfen looked Menas up and down. A bushy, raised eyebrow was the only intonation of a question.

Oh, um... yes sir. My name is Menas Orlavsky, of House...” Menas stumbled a bit over his words. Common when he had time to consider them before hand. But the barkeep raised a hand. “Mead or ale?” he asked in thickly accented Taldane. Menas let out a small breath of exasperation. No appreciation of decorum... The young man removed his supple, leather gloves and laid them on the bar. “Actually, I’d like a mug and some boiling water, please. And some warm broth, if you have any.” To lend substance to his request, he laid a gold coin on the counter, as well a wooden
medallion
. The barkeep frowned at the pair, but eventually took the gold and called his order back into the kitchen. He set a beaten metal mug before the southerner. “Whatever fool’s errand you’re on, you may find help here for the right price. You can put up a sign over there...” He pointed to an unadorned portion of the wall near the door. “Most can’t read it anyway though.” He added with a chuckle. With that he moved down the bar toward on of the waitress who was hovering nearby. The pair began to speak in the long, lilting syllables of Skald. Menas hoisted his bag into his lap and produced a smaller leather pouch and a small metal item. It looked like a censer, but was only slightly larger than a quail’s egg. His slender fingers gently pulled the metal ball in half. He pinched a wad of tea from the pouch and gingerly arranged it in the infuser, before closing it again and stowing his pouch back in his bag. He gazed into the frenetic kitchen and waited for his order.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2019, 10:45:30 PM by Belowa2x4 »

Online lexikov

Re: The Morgaard Cairn [Lexikov & Belowa2x4]
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2019, 10:14:03 AM »

Quick Stats
Hit Points: 43/43
Armor Class: 17

Passive Scores
Perception: 13
Sense Motive: 19
Knowledge Arcana: 17
Knowledge Dungeoneering: 17
Knowledge Geography: 17
Knowledge History: 17
Knowledge Nature: 17
Knowledge Religion: 17

Languages:
Common, Dwarven, Skald (Ulfen)
The Inn was crowded that day, more so than usual because of the bitter cold and declining weather. The Seer had predicted a storm blowing south from the northern reaches. Fishing season was almost over and soon the fjords would be packed with ice so thick that it looked blue instead of white. The sea itself didn’t freeze although large chunks of ice could be seen drifting by on the currents. However, the whales that were a mainstay of the village would have all started heading for the warmer waters to the south.

The Inn had two large fireplaces, one on either end and the fires were crackling and popping, adding the smell of wood smoke to that of fresh baked bread, mutton, and fish stew. This meant that, with the extra patrons, the common room was quite warm, at least until the door was opened and an icy blast of cold air chilled those closest to it. It became a game of sorts where those closest to the door would yell and shout to see how quickly they could intimidate the newcomer into closing it again. This added to the general din of talking and drinking making it harder to hear each other over the noise.

As Menas made his tea he noticed one servant in particular stood out from the other women carrying drinks and trays. She was a pretty young Ulfen woman with a sour look on her face. Her hair wasn’t the golden blonde or bright red of most of the other women but a soft brown that cascaded loosely over her shoulders with just two braids pulling it back from her face. Even her eyes were a little larger and had a slightly odd hue, hazel with a hint of gold flecks in them that made one think that perhaps somewhere down her line there might even be some Elven blood in her. She was average height but slim with long, willowy limbs that seemed to belie her true strength as she was always the one called on to carry the heaviest trays.

What probably stood out the most though was the way she was dressed. All of the other women servants wore long, colored shifts underneath darker-colored overdresses and short boots. This particular servant donned worn leather breeches and a sleeveless leather jerkin that didn’t quite reach the top of her pants leaving a swath of midriff and bare arms exposed. Her boots were high, coming up to her knees and she wore leather vambraces around her wrists making her look more like a warrior than a server.

The mood in the Inn was light and happy with someone even playing a lyre in the background. The whaling season had been a good one and the village would be warm and well fed this winter. It was a hard life and food wasn’t always plentiful as the growing season was short and they had to rely on the sea for most of their food. The men were all deep in their cups and there was even a bit of dancing near the lyre player as the men would occasionally grab a serving girl and give her a spin amongst a flurry of booming laughter and light giggles.

Only the warrior girl seemed unhappy and her mood only darkened as she had to endure many a swat to her round, little bottom as she held her tray high overhead while navigating the press of bodies. The eyes of many a man slid up and down her toned body but none ever grabbed her for a spin even when she passed close by the group dancing in the corner. Maybe it was her mood, maybe it was something else, but she definitely didn’t seem to fit in with the other villagers and there was an air of danger about her.

About the time Menas was finishing his first cup of tea, he noticed her slipping past with a large tray filled with tankards of the dark brew that the Ulfen seemed to prefer. It was obviously heavy as the muscles on her arms bulged a little under the weight. As she disappeared into the crowd, all he could see was the tray held high above the heads of the crowd as she tried to make her way to her destination.

Suddenly, a loud feminine scream split the air and the tray disappeared from sight with a loud crash. The crowd quickly split and Menas could see the peculiar, serving girl standing in the middle of the cleared area facing a large Ulfen man who was obviously drunk and laughing uproariously as he pointed a finger at her. The poor girl was drenched from head to toe, dark ale dripping from her hair and nose as she stood in a large puddle of the stuff, eyes boring down on the man laughing at her.

With a snarl and a shout that sounded quite a bit like a battle cry, the woman took two steps forward and launched a nasty kick that caught the man right between the legs. The dumbfounded look on his face would have been hysterical if not for the activity that followed. As the man began to bend forward, she grabbed him by his long, braided, blonde hair and pulled him down hard as she lifted her knee into his face. There was an audible crunch and blood spattered from his shattered nose to mix with the growing puddle of beer at her feet.

Without missing a beat, the woman shifted her weight, ducked underneath him, and flipped him easily over her shoulders. The big man landed flat on his back with a groan and a dull thud as his head hit the floor right in the middle of the puddle. Before anyone could react, the woman jumped on top of him and, while straddling his chest, she snarled down at him punctuating each of her points with a fist to the face.

”Remember this Ulfgar,” she snarled as her fist struck his right cheek, ”the next time you grab my ass,” as her other fist struck his left, ”while I’m holding a tray,” back to the right, ”of ale,” as she struck his left cheek again.

It took two large men, one on each shoulder, to drag her off him kicking and spitting. She landed one more kick to the side of Ulfgar’s head as they started dragging her back across the room still struggling and cursing. When they got her back to the bar, the two men held her firmly in place while the bartender removed a plain steel torc from around her throat exposing a greenish ring left by the metal. In its place, he secured a thick, leather, animal collar with a leash that he tied to an iron ring set in a wooden column just on the other side of the bar.

When the men left, she slid down to the floor with her back to the column and her knees pulled up to her chest. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she put her head down and Mensa could see her body shake with quiet sobs. She was soaked with beer and her once fine hair now hung in straggly wet strands covering her face and occasionally dripping on the floor.



« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 10:59:23 PM by lexikov »

Offline Belowa2x4Topic starter

Re: The Morgaard Cairn [Lexikov & Belowa2x4]
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 10:35:04 AM »
In fact, Menas was doing his best not to notice, but merely in an attempt to not himself be notice. The aspiring pathfinder was doubly out of water. It was not the Menas was not a social persons. He had spent many late nights in any number of cafes and small bars that rivet the border of the Merchant’s Quarter and Eastgate back in Absolam. However, none were - even by Absolamian standards - raucous gatherings. He had spent many late night with friends, smoking and playing games. Towers and Mage’s Maze among his favorites. So not only was the young magic-user in tavern, but in one inhabited by Ulfen, who were notorious drinkers, fighter and rabble rousers. The intersection of these two facts meant that the whole situation was overwhelming. For now, he merely tired to blend into the bar and not be spoken to by anyone, fearing another stumble through rocky syllables of Skald.

The young woman had caught his eye at the bar though, as she returned with a tray of empty mugs and horns. The waitress certainly seemed to fit in more with the patrons than the staff, but Menas thought little of the discrepancy, chalking it up to some unknown social convention - or lack there of. A thick, clay mug appeared before him, a silky steam curling off the light brown liquid inside. Roughly chopped leeks and turnips floated lazily around the mug. Menas took a deep breath. Lamb stock! he thought to himself. Given the regions reputation, he had expected a seafood stock. But as he sipped the broth and gazed around the kitchen, it revealed a much more intricate cuisine than the bard’s tales let on. The course, barley flatbreads and thick strips of salted whale meat of legend were fixtures on the shelves. Cloves of garlic, clumps of dried herbs, and bundles of young radish waiting out the winter dangled from the rafters above the kitchen. Small baskets lined the wall with small bales of greens, tubers and various herbaceous roots. A huge wooden tub shook gentle as various fish and eels circled aimlessly. Several large, beaten metal pots roiled over large coals and large oven loomed in the corner. A trio of young men hurried about fixing various platters and bowls, occasionally howling out in Skald to the rest of the wait staff.

Menas took another long drought of broth before unpacking a small journal and a charcoal pencil. He had just begun brainstorming the layout of his flyer when the fight broke out. He turned and gazed out into the tavern, unable to immediately pinpoint the source of the scream among the myriad voices and bodies that filled the room. But as the man’s body levitated above the crowd for an away ward moment, he noticed the young woman a second time. He grimaced and started as the bone-crunching landing rumbled through the noise of the tavern. Though he could only see flashes of her fists above the tumult, he careened his neck to see their work with a mixed expression of fear and curiosity. As the two men drug her toward the bar, and the room’s eyes followed, he quickly turned back to the bar. He sipped his two liquids intermittently as he struggled to ignore the damp warrior on the floor. For a few futile minutes he tapped his page, occasionally darting an eye to the young woman.

A slurp of soup to brace the nerves. Menas raised his hand at the barkeep, who saw but chose to ignore him as he finished filling a set of flagons. After a moment, Menas raised his hand a second time, and the Ulfen trudged over. He didn’t speak, but grunted in a way that led Menas to believe he was listening. “The broth is wonderful, sir. I was hoping you might explain to me what’s going on with this woman. I read a couple of books regarding your land and people. And... The man scowled at the mention of books. “Bah! Nothing good ever came of books, I can tell you that. Probably told you were all savages and fishermen, eh?” He glared over at the young woman, still sobbing lightly. “She’s not a slave, if that’s what you’re thinking. Southerns. You always just jump right to slavery... No, she attacked us. And she was captured in repulsing the raid. And as part of the compensation for our loses we kept her...” He glared over at assailant and spat on the ground. “More trouble than she’s worth, mind you. That’s not the first patron she’s beaten to a pulp either. She’s working here trying to pay off her weregild - though at this rate, I’ll be stuck with her forever...

Another patron raised a hand and called out form down the bar. The keep strode away, content that he had answered the question, and clearly not interested in any follow up. Menas took another bracing sip of broth before sliding his things down the bar, and sitting near the young woman. He cleared his throat once, then agin more loudly. Neither seemed to get her attention. Finally, he swiveled in the stool to face her and began to mumble, his hands contorting slightly into obtuse gestures. Suddenly, the young woman was dry, and he clothes clean. Perhaps cleaner than they’d been in some time. “Excuse me, miss. I’m Menas Orlavsky. Whom do I have the honor of addressing?

Online lexikov

Re: The Morgaard Cairn [Lexikov & Belowa2x4]
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2020, 09:20:32 AM »

Quick Stats
Hit Points: 43/43
Armor Class: 17

Passive Scores
Perception: 13
Sense Motive: 19
Knowledge Arcana: 17
Knowledge Dungeoneering: 17
Knowledge Geography: 17
Knowledge History: 17
Knowledge Nature: 17
Knowledge Religion: 17

Languages:
Common, Dwarven, Skald (Ulfen)
Alfhild silently cursed her own temper but Ulfgar had it coming. All of the men in this town loved to get their cheap thrills by grabbing or swatting the women in the tavern but, he was the worst of them all. She could almost understand why all of the other girls wore the double-layered dresses common to Ulfen women but, she was a warrior, a shield maiden, and she refused to be dressed up like some common serving wench even though that was what she had become.

As she sat on the floor, wet clothes clinging to her lithe form, she thought back to how she had come to be in this position. It was this past Spring and she had begged her father, Jarl Koenig, to let her sail with the first raiding parties. Four years past, after she had seen her thirteenth summer, he had given her permission to train with the Shield Maidens and Skalds, something she had wanted to do since she was a little girl. She had trained hard, harder than anyone else in the village and she was good, good enough to best most of the men in single combat. She was ready to join the raids and had approached her father with pride in her heart.

Now that she would be eighteen there was no reason for him to deny her request but, he did. It turns out that he had let her train only to appease her fiery temper but he never intended to let her go raiding with her sisters. He had always intended to marry her off like some prized animal to another Jarl to solidify an alliance with the other clan. What was worse, he had found someone willing to take the headstrong and spirited young woman and make a wife of her. He was indeed another Jarl but he was an old man, older than even her father, too old to lead raids anymore which meant she would be stuck at home being bred like a sheep to give him heirs. It was not the life she had wanted for herself.

So, on that first day of Spring, she stood on the docks with the sea air tearing at her cloak and the sun on her face while the men loaded the longships. Nobody recognized her because she had stolen a helmet, a breastplate, and the shield of another maiden who was too sick to make the journey. Tucking her long, brown hair into the helmet and smearing her face with dirt had made it hard for anyone to recognize her so nobody thought to challenge her when she boarded the ship for her first raid. She knew there would be trouble when she returned, defying her father as she was, but she didn’t care, she would prove herself in battle and then he would be forced to reconsider this ill-conceived marriage.

Alfhild’s plans didn’t turn out as she had intended. It was still early Spring which meant that the raiding ships could only travel so far. Their target for this raid would be Asleifar, another Ulfen village on the border of the Lands of the Linorm Kings, one who traded openly with the southerners that most Ulfen despised. She wouldn’t get to see foreign lands on this journey but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t still be a chance for glory in battle.

As the longships made landfall up the coast from the whaling village, she strapped on her shield and gripped her axe in anticipation. Since the port was better defended than the inland side of town, the group of raiders had decided to attack from there but the town was not unprepared and the warning bell rang long before they got there. With an Ulfen war cry the raiders attacked and the fighting was fierce. During the battle, she was struck on the helm and knocked unconscious. When she awoke, she found out that the raid had been successful but she had been taken captive and would be a slave to the Innkeeper in recompense for the damage done.

In her naivety, Alfhild told them who she was and demanded her release. However, the Innkeeper had other plans and sent word to her father demanding weregild for her return. Furious that she had disobeyed him, Jarl Koenig refused to pay the weregild and now she was forced to work it off for herself. So, the Innkeeper put her to work as a serving girl and, in the evenings, she would sing for coins.

Now she was in trouble ... again ... and forced to sit here behind the bar, chained to the post for everyone to see. It was completely humiliating but not the first, nor would it be the last time it happened. She was a proud woman and wouldn’t be manhandled by lowly fishermen. So, here she sat frustrated with how things had turned out but determined to earn her freedom.

Alfhild was too wrapped up in her own misery to notice the conversation between the Innkeeper and the foreigner so she was taken by surprise when she felt a tingling in the air around her, almost like a static charge. She knew how magic felt because of her time training to be a Skald although this felt totally foreign to her. She gasped as the air around her heated up and her clothes and hair were suddenly dry.

Turning her head she glowered at the man standing over her across the bar, ”neat trick southerner,” she spat with a smirk, ”but risky. Many men in this village fear what they don’t understand and most only understand the magic of the Skalds. They also wouldn’t be happy knowing that you helped me, I’m not exactly well liked here. I’m not sure it’s an honor but my name is Alfhild Koenigsdaughter from Aegos on the Broken Bay. You’d do best to leave me be”.