Lyrical Legion

The sword song was the first lesson that Crevan had learned from his master and it was now what he tried to teach Kit.  It was a rhythmic chant which accompanied movement of the sword.  The key was to swing with the right exhales, not the one your opponent would expect.  The nuance would take at least a year of daily practice before Kit could move to the next concept.  In five years or so Kit would be able to move beyond a sword to other weapons or something in his off hand.  Crevan had told him Kit his voice needed more work than anything else.  Kit responded laughing saying he just needed a better song to sing.

A mandate from Alvin meant Crevan was free to start teaching at least three new pupils.  This was an unexpected change since the king of Iseb had banned the school from teaching when Saj-graf had come under his domain.  Yet with the monoliths protection gone, Alvin was willing to bring back the fighting style to protect the city and boost moral of his ward.  In addition to the Forest Walker, Crevan had received an inept student named Zahar from the Ardent Order, and  a young teenager by the name of Aryne.  The other two pupils were not as eager as Kit to learn, and had not shown up today for their lesson.  Aryne’s actions were slightly more excusable as his youth was as fault.  Zahar would rely on the pressing needs of the Order as his excuse.  It was a weak one as Crevan knew no such demands existed.
While going through the paces again, Crevan thought back to when he had been a teen. The Lyrical Legion had not been disbanded and the Saj-graf Marshal was more than just a spiritual seer.  Volka’s master had had that privilege for only three years before Iseb had taken control.  Iseb knew the spiritual leadership they provided was a strong symbol for Saj-graf.  They toyed with destroying the Legion all together, but bid their time when the wounds of war were still fresh.   In the end, only the position of Marshal was retained.  Volka’s peers had been sent from the city to preserve the teachings.  A few were still around and Crevan would need to find them to help build the ranks up again.  Crevan only had some much knowledge and experience to pass on

Crevan smiled as he came back to the present.  A young boy by the name of Groth trying to mimic the two of them.  The lad was too young to take in as a proper soldier, but was now an aspiring apprentice under Crevan.  It pleased Groth’s father to see him learn the old ways, and to have a strong interest in skills his ancestors had practiced. For now though Groth contented himself running errands and learning the laws of being in the Lyrical Legion.  Crevan returned his focus to Kit.

 

“Again, and this time try not to butcher the refrain,”  Crevan barked.  He cleared his voice and started with Kit, “I strike when you make fit, but that is not where I hit”

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Chasm

Sun light cut through the haze that still rose from the ground.  The chasm had cut the city, running a jagged line from the Saj-graf Monolith to the Chalice Gate.  It swallowed not a soul the day it formed, but left many hurt in its creation.  Nothing came flowing out though the top of a spire fell in. Many a basement now had light.  The Locked Chancery had a new window to the world and lost a large amount of beer to sate the chasm’s thirst.

Hector walked with Corvus along the length of the chasm.  Hector had been asked to evaluate the best places for bridges to cross the gap by Mayor Alvin.  He hit the ground with his staff trying to judge the response.  The two were discussing what the lack of a monolith meant for the city and debated how long it would be till Ogres or a manticore showed up to threaten the city.  Their conversation paused as they watch a couple of teenagers run and jump a narrow point of the chasm.  Corvus shook his head at the foolishness while Hector laughed at the teens’ success.

“I still cannot think of anyone in town that would do such a thing.  Hewing the best protection we have and then no other follows through.”  Spoke Hector.

“It is probably the work of some group of mercenaries looking for work.” Corvus responded.

“Then they should go work for one of the trade houses, or volunteer for the wars in the south.  There is no reason the people of Saj-graf need this burden.”

“I agree, if the city is attacked I am expected to muster at least a hundred men, well ninety-nine if I choose to serve.  I think that would be every person I have working in the fields.

“Do you think it could be an agent of King Vincent?  He has always had his eye on Saj-graf as a port town with access to the Vertrive Sea.  That seems more likely, but why would he not coordinate with his corsairs’ attack on Port Gertrude. It would have made more sense.”

“Lord Corvus, have we taken to admiring the City’s new feature?” A voice spoke up from behind.  It was Gabriel, walking down the street in one of the few times during the day.  Walking alongside him were Martell and Kit.

“Yes, and talk with my brother Hector, he is charged with management of the city’s infrastructure you know.” replied Corvus pondering what Gabriel was after. “Have you taken on a personal guards?”

“Them?  No we are on our way to talk to Ardent Order.  They are interrogating a bandit named Sartow for his motives in the city.  He was roughing up some patrons at a tavern when the guard arrested him. Best of luck with your civil service.”  The trio continued on their way.

“War would alter the power structure in this city,” Hector mused. “Surely a few of the nobles will seek glory in battle in fail, freeing their lands to be distributed.  Corvus, are you the one they call the Prince?”

Corvus burst into laughter. “Hector, if only I had the brain for such planning.  No, I am far too petty for that job.”

Fenshorn Manor

Siwaldh looked out from the balcony of the Fenshorn Manor.  From there he could see the glistening Saj-graf Monolith protecting the city. The marble floors were a nice contrast to the inconsistent wood of the inn he spent his nights at. If Siwaldh had the luxury, he would spend every night in a place with so few drafts, and filled with the aroma of a garden below.  Grabbing an apple from nearby he savored the freshness and lack of bruises on the flesh.

Unfortunately, as an uninvited gust of the Fenshorns, Siwaldh would only have some much time to make preparations and fell the monolith.  He had chosen the manor because this enchantment required a line of sight to work.  With luck the Fenshorn family was residing in their country manor so he only had to deal with a few servants for access to the place.  No doubt the family would miss their loyal maids and butlers, but witnesses were not part of the contract from the Prince.  He needed only two days to complete his task, plenty of time to be out before the neighbors should notice anything amiss.

Siwaldh had seen the monolith from many angles since his arrival and had been able to plot the weakest point.  Research back at the guild of Enchanters, had taught him that this was one of the earliest monoliths and had never received the protection against what he was about to do.  For almost a moment his morals sparked, contemplating the ethics of his action before his mind was awash with details of the preparations.

He knocked everything to the floor from a sturdy desk and started etching into its surface some channels.  Next he poured liquids from various vials he had brought with him. While they sat he dragged over a brazier and started a fire.  It was no Invoker’s Lantern, but it would do the job.

On the second day, Siwaldh was seen leaving the front gate of the Fenshorn Manor by a passing guard.  He stopped him to ask what business he had at the estate.  Before Siwaldh could answer there was a loud cracking noise as stone buckled and sheered. The ground under the city itself shook followed by screams of panic.  Siwaldh waited for the guard to choose his next action, slowly back stepping away.  He then turned and ran, leaving the guard still dazed by what was transpiring.

Forest Walker

Forest Walker, it was never how he would refer to himself.  It was a matter of convenience for him that this is what the people of Saj-graf called him as he is uncertain as to what name he would call himself while in town. His master had always referred to him as Kit.  He always took that as a way of putting him in his place.  For a while he had gone by Eld, and then Erikahn but those days seem distant and the reasons for those names were gone.

Kit reluctantly walked the streets of Saj-graf looking for someone he did not know.  Twenty days earlier his master had a dream of a noble ghost called out for help.  The ghost was guarded by two knights, one made of wood and another unable to speak, and brought together by a third whose face was obscured.  The ghost was in need of help that the three others could not provide. Kit was puzzled by his master requiting him to investigate.  A Forest Walker had little use in the confusion of the city, best he could do was clean a well that had gone awry with taint or disease.

Out in the woods on a calm day, he could mend wounds and ailments as if it were a tailor fixing a shirt.  He needed the calm of the forest or plains, to hear the wind or water direct the flow of life’s energy.  In the city it was all disjointed, a cacophony of noise and a lack of order in the background hindered his focus.  There Kit could not tell if the life force he felt was from a passing horse or any one of the passing people hurrying by.

Kit looked around and realized he had wandered a bit further from the denser portions of the city, closer to the outer walls.  There sat an old house with many unfortunate souls sitting outside.  He heard a hum from inside something; it reminded him of the spirits outside the city, unbound to a body.  It was a pleasant hum; he could see the pull it had on those around the house.  It was as if it was nourishing or healing those around, but lacked a complete understanding of how they worked.  He gave pause to investigate, and then a small bird chirped. The hum now grated on Kit’s nerves.  He sensed a second energy beyond his ken.  Something that was feeding inside the house, but on what he couldn’t tell.  Kit made a quick retreat back to the better populated portions of the city, scared as to what that may have been and thankful to the bird’s passing.

Catching his breath and orientating himself a passing warrior caught his eye, her equipment was adorned with two trees.  Perhaps this was one of the ghost’s guards.

Interrogation

Siwaldh looked around the room.  He saw no windows, no decoration, just himself sitting at small wood table and the two women across from him. One a younger woman, with short brown hair dressed in a loose fitting shirt and pants.  Her hands and feet were hidden in worn leather and a small dagger hanging from her hips.  The second woman looked slightly older than the other.  To Siwaldh they looked related by the green tone of the eye and certain curves in the face.  The older one was lither, with longer darker hair.  The younger one he thought looked familiar, as his eyes focused he realized her as the one called Maeve.  He had failed in his contract on her so far and had a glimmer of hope this may say why.

Siwaldh couldn’t quite recall how he ended up here.  He had been walking back from a conference with Eartle in the afternoon and then was here.  He had several enchantments that they should have not been able to bypass, unless one of them was an enchanter themselves.  Yet neither looked the part nor matched descriptions of those in the higher circles.

“Maeve,” the older one said, “I believe your job pays more so, you can go first.  I do so like when we can work together.”

“Very well Cerridwen,” Maeve responded. “Siwaldh, You are a hard man to locate and track so we are holding you here till we have our information.   It has come to my employer’s attention that you are causing problems for several merchants in town.  I am, at my discretion, to find out whom you work for and what your goals are.  If you provide what I need I will release you to Cerridwen who will settle her business with you.”

“You ask for cooperation when I have no guarantee of safety from your sister.  What if she is paid to kill me, where is my motivation?”

“I will not kill you,” Cerridwen commented not masking her disinterest.

“There you have it.  So answer now or we have to step up motivation to talk.”

“Those who employ me cannot be less powerful than the ones who have hired you.  Once they find out that you have taken me captive…”

Maeve cut in, “Yes, yes I get it.”  She walked over and placed the blade of her dagger on his left thumb and nicked it.

“Point taken,” Siwaldh replied. “However I am bound by oath and enchantment to not talk and cannot talk.”

Cerridwen stood up and walked over to behind him.  She reached in amongst his hair, grabbing a tuft close to the neck and yanked.  As he creamed out, she commented, “There, I think the bond is broken.”  She dropped the pile of hairs to the floor.

“Woman, do you know the first thing about enchantments?”

“I know you should answer questions, when a young lady asks nicely.”

“I said before I cannot say that the Prince and Earlte…”

“I think you fixed his problem,” Maeve smiled.  “Go on, you were saying?”

Siwaldh was flummoxed as she had broken the enchantment.  His protection was gone and he said more than he had ever planned too.  He paused weighing his situation, then responded. “They have odd jobs for me to do.  I don’t ask for their motives as that lowers my pay.  I am here for two weeks of service than gone.  Cerridwen are you an Enchanter?”

“That is all I needed,” Maeve answered.

“I need only one thing from you Siwaldh.” Cerridwen stated. “Where do you keep your enchantments?”

Before he could stop himself, he answered, “Various places, a few on me and others hidden in the room, each a puzzle to open and each with a different puzzle to use.”

All went black for Siwaldh after he spoke.  When his vision came back in focus he stood in the middle of the street on his way back from Eartle.  He tried to recall who he talked to and it faded like a dream on waking.  As he tried to grab details they pulled back faster.

The Grousing Porcine

The Grousing Porcine is a small tavern just west of Saj-graf.  It has been handed down for three generations now and each has had the privilege of expanding the building to accommodate more people.  It was two days after the tournaments that Einden was starting to hope the crowds would ebb soon.  They had more than broken in the new tables in that time, but he did not care as he had more than made back any damages he would find.

The stories going about how a Forest Walker by the name of Arkith defeated Sir Corvus in the final were the excitement.  Following it in popularity was how Lady Kala had to bow out after Arkith had a word with her.  Einden had missed the fighting, as he was not one for a regulated fight.  Yet in the past two days he could have recreated the whole situation as the town remembered it.

“Another round here for us,” Jaspert called over to Einden. “To the rest of you I have now told you the story of the Incursion of Port Gertrude.  And if you had not all been at the fight yesterday I would entertain you with that. Yet I now need a new story, so let me tell you of the old man in Anjin Col. He lived up in a cave in the mountains east, with few trusted contacts practicing in the forbidden art…”

Eiden did not have time to listen to stories, but Jaspert did seem to have some good ones and patrons kept buying him drinks.  Eiden was waiting for someone else to show up. Crevan was to show up and give him guidance for the future.  Crevan’s advice was not cheap, but the man was accurate.  He could read your future with a few questions and a short consultation of the heavens.  He would show you the path you were on and tell you when to change.  What Eiden wanted to know was if his fortune was tied to Saj-graf or if he should sell the place and move on from here.  Ertle had given him a nice offer that he could live on the rest of his life.

Saj-Graf Tournament

The Saj-graf games are a series of tournaments one might expect from warriors trying to compare there skills with one another.  Though out right killing of one’s opponent is forbidden, mistakes happen and at least one unfortunate person has a brush with death.  That dual is a private fight with the results known by all.  The events culminate with a dual by those that have won the most events.  Usually a fight between three to four of the best, in the past it has had as many as tent men on the field at once.  The city uses this time to celebrate and feast before the start of the planting season.  The weeks following find the city empty as those who were once idle return to the fields. Also this is when merchants deem the roads best for travel and set out with trade to their neighbors.

Sir Corvus looks forward to these times as he once again looks to maintain his reputation.  He has heard a few new challengers are attempting to take the title from him including Lady Kala, his friend Sartow, and Zahar from the Ardent Order.   He would rather dual each of them outside the games, yet laws prevent each of them fighting him without provocation.

Jaspert looks up from his drink to see Sir Corvus stroll by.  He is sitting taking a break from retelling the story of the Incursion of Port Gertrude.  The story makes him a decent number of drinks as people gather around to listen.  Each time he adds his own flourishes to the fights. At times he make it seem as though the pirates had taken more of the city before the Prince’s reinforcements show up to save the Saj-graf forces from humiliation.  He is learning what details people want to here about and draw them in.

Cerridwen sits two tables over finished listening to Jaspert’s fiction.  She likes how Jaspert now refers to her as a spirit of mercy when he retells things.  “Flying past after the bell sounded three, an ancient spirit of Gertrude set out to call others to help.”  She was a whisper on the wind, but not the influence he thought she was.  Cerridwen thought about correcting the young man, but instead tossed a couple coin on his table and the few words, “Thanks for the story.”  Jaspert would realize only later who she was.

Out in the street there was commotion to distract everyone for now, Sir Corvus being slapped by a woman unwelcoming his advances.  “Sir we can settle any grudge you keep with me if you make it far enough in the tournament.”  Martell spoke, not knowing who he was.  She walked on unaware the curses Sir Corvus uttered under his breath.

Artron

Artron the silversmith is used to requests for cups and serving utensils.  He does not bat an eye at inlaying silver to accentuate pieces of armor and swords.  When the choice is given he would rather do a casting of a spoon over the fine work of jewellery chains or setting gems.  Today’s request has caught him off guard.  He is uncertain as to why the young man before him wants arrowheads made of silver.  They would be far superior made of iron and at a cheaper price.  Artron even was willing to give recommendations, but the young black haired lad insisted they had to be made of silver.  Asked if he planned on hunting some beast outside the city barriers, the patron smiled and said not this time.  Artron tried and poked at his customer’s business but not a clue was given to him. Artron took the coin and gave him a time to come back for his order at.

The next person in the shop was Sir Corvus, “A very odd boy there,” he spoke.

“Indeed, he was in once before, wanted some ruins written in a dagger.  He pays well, but gods know what he does.  You are here for your gauntlet I take it?”  Artron went to a corner of the room and looked through some shelves before coming back with a left glove.  “As requested, the black outlined silver dragon here on the wrist and the gold flames up the back of the hand and down the fingers.”

Corvus picked up the gauntlet and tried it on, tightening various straps to improve the fit.  “Artron you have outdone yourself.  This will look perfect at the games next week.  They are expecting more competitors this time.  I am hoping not to be disappointed.”

“Sir, I think you will not be pleased till you met your fate on the fields of valor.  Not that I mean ill for you, sir.”

“Relax Artron, no offense taken.  I do love a good brawl, but I cannot harm someone that has your skill.  Who else could I trust to do this level of detailing?”

“Pardon,” a young voice spoke up behind Sir Corvus.  “My name is Kaisu, I am here to pick up a cup made for Lyph.  I am sorry to break up your conversation but she has me on a tight schedule for her today.”

Corvus looked over at Kaisu, he wondered of this was the lady that had snubbed Ertle.  He had said it was a young lady in the employ of Lyph.

“I have the remainder of the payment right here,” she said handing over small bag to Artron.

“Oh yes, it is ready, give me a moment young lady.  Sir Corvus, just a moment and I will be back with you, sir.”

Kaisu gave a slight curtsy to Corvus.  “Sorry my lord, forgive me for not recognizing your lordship.”

“Not an issue young lady,” Corvus reached down and kissed her hand. “I have time to spare, yet you seem very busy.  Perhaps you could come by if Lyph does not keep you too busy. I may have easier tasks for you to do.”

The Gardens

The Saj-graf gardens are large enough that there are many corners that allow a respite from the city and let one forget about the thousands of people in the city. The path ways are such that if you know where to turn you could have a small clearing to yourself. Though they started off as well manicured gardens for the Whistrach Estate, over the years they have expanded and enveloped additional city blocks as either the mayor or lords felt.

The Whistrach Estate lays somewhere in the maze of trails, currently used as a greenhouse by the Erush Order. The perimeters of the gardens are maintained by the city these days and certain endeavors are made by families to periodically bring order to regions of the gardens. Yet the gardens themselves have pushed back and there are areas within most folk know better than to go. In these areas one would think animals would thrive, yet they too have determined they should keep their distance.

Stories are that people have been buried in these parts of the gardens. Other people tell of ghosts or spirits that haunt the place. It is in one of these spaces Zahar sits and waits for his meeting with Lord Elwin. He does not like meeting Elwin alone as he always fears the Lord may no longer favor him. Zahar sits quiet, in a corner, like a well discipline child waiting to be given freedom to move. As far back as Zahar can recall this is how he has always waited to see Lord Elwin. If he knew how to, Zahar would curse and confront Lord Elwin for his late arrivals.
Meanwhile in another part of the garden, Kadin walks pondering things that have building. Kaisu has been spending more time around Maeve and they have grown secretive about their latest project. He wonders if it was wrong of him not to let Ertle at least meet Kaisu a few years back, she would have been well cared for. Sudeman was to return this next month and he is curious on the man’s take on things.
It was during his walk in the garden Kadin met a lady who approached him. “I am Captain Katranna of the Ardent Order. I am looking for one of my men, have you seen anyone else this evening?”

“No, you are the first person I have seen this evening. It is late and most are at home,” responded Kadin. “Perhaps I may walk with you for a bit if we are headed in the same direction. I could use an opinion not my own on something.”

Katranna replied, “It may be short, but I see no reason not to. Depending on where you are headed, it may be slightly safer for both of us.”

Nyo-ji

In a small one room house along the outer wall of Saj-graf lives Nyo-ji. The house is forgotten among the other buildings except those that come across it in their desperate search for salvation. The interior of the house contains an altar several rows of wooden benches and along the walls many piles of sheets where the unfortunate visitors recline waiting for Nyo-ji to help restore their strength.
Nyo-ji does not venture out of the house as the spirit has long since forgotten about interacting with the existence outside. Those that are left here are dropped off by believers that the house will heal those in their worst place. Sometimes it is a friend of someone that has felt Nyo-ji’s hand upon them. Other times a person is dropped off by people that have taken all they can from the person and want to let them whither at the house in their final days.

This is where Nyo-ji met Crevan who sometimes leads others back. The ones he leads here are not famished physically; they need the nurture and reassurance no sane mind has patience for. Nyo-ji will heal that which is broken if his patient allows it. Occasionally Nyo-ji will finish the ending started elsewhere as all cannot be fixed. Nyo-ji feeds on that and then passes its wisdom and strength on to those it can assist, but Nyo-ji does not let Crevan know or else Crevan would bring no one else.
It was twenty days after the meteor shower when Nyo-ji was introduced to albino. He showed up in the middle of the night as is often the situation with these meetings. This one looked important, as if he had a purpose in the world. The albino should not have been dropped here, yet Nyo-ji does not discriminate and therefore tried best to fix the bones and seal the cuts. Nyo-ji used a rare spell that it once learned from a poor enchanter, it would strengthen the body of the albino and let him live. The spell though took a few years off the albino’s expectancy and would torment him with nightmares once a year. The exchange to live and play his part was a reasonable exchange to Nyo-ji.

Nyo-ji poked at the memories of the barely living one. Nyo-ji cringed and shuttered at the abuse suffered in the hours before his arrival here. Riddled with questions he could answer, this albino had not said a word more than a blessing upon his assailant, Sartow. That name rang through Nyo-ji’s own memory. He often brought ones here that Nyo-ji could not fix. No this albino would not be healed with enchantment. Nyo-ji would pamper this soul and make him stronger. This one would live and if he was lucky Sartow would return here in his place.