Thursday, August 16, 2018

“Brother, Sister, Friends” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 52: Granthurg

Granthurg pushed on the large wooden door. It gave way easily, though not without a sound. As it creaked, he stepped inside and looked at the cathedral hall before him. Immediately the vaulted ceiling and the arches supporting it surrounded him with a sense of smallness. The hall itself wasn’t so much big as its openness and vastness made him feel small. The colored lights of the morning streaming in through the windows covered the benches in warmth, but left the upper lofts shrouded in shadow and smoke from candles, incense, and hearthfires.

There was a peace, a calm about this place that he found oddly familiar, and, as he looked across the room, made him smile. Churches had always made him feel a bit uneasy, like he was unworthy of being there. But today, it reminded him of an easy summer night on the river, and it filled him with relaxation. He felt an urge to kneel, but he didn’t know where, so he simply stood, awkwardly, in silence, as Thissraelle moved out from behind him.

She stepped forward, interrupting his reverie, toward a man who had been walking up the aisle toward them. Granthurg had been so enraptured by the building that he had ignored the man entirely.  He was a human, but a bit short, and plump. He wore the robes of a monk, not a priest. His hair was cropped short, and his beard was trimmed. He bowed as he approached.

“Welcome! Welcome! A fair day to you both!” Thissraelle extended her hand in greeting. He took it, then surprised her by drawing her into an enthusiastic hug. He set her back down and reached up to Granthurg, who backed away slightly. I don’t know about this...

“Oh, come here!” The brother gently chided, and moved closer to Granthurg, reaching up to embrace the giant. He hesitated, then found himself relaxing. He received and returned the hug. After a couple of gentle pats on the back, the old friar released him and stepped back. “I’m so glad to see you both! Come! Come up here and sit down!”

Granthurg found himself chuckling at his odd and overly friendly style, and followed him toward the altar before the pews. Thissraelle followed.

“I’m Brother Mathazar. We don’t get many visitors,” He gestured to the benches, then sat himself on the edge of the altar’s dias, “Especially mid-day, and mid-week.”

Thissraelle sat on the most forward bench, and Granthurg eased himself down next to her. The bench groaned under his weight, but held.

“What brings you here, today,” Brother Mathazar said, “Confession? Worship service? Marriage?”

Thissraelle coughed, startled. “We’re here because we need your help. One of our traveling companions is looking for some missing children. We believe they might have been brought through this town.”

The sudden silence in the thick air was palpable. Brother Mathazar looked closely at each of them. “That would mean you’re not from around here. That would mean you don’t know about Dirae, do you?”

Granthurg’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve been through here before. I work the river. Mostly the Lesser Wynne, though.”

“When was the last time you came by here?”

Granthurg thought about this. How long ago was it? I was working the Portstown runs last year, and I wintered at home in the mountains.  “Perhaps, two, maybe three summers ago...”

“About a year ago, Dirae became a dark market hub. One of the darkest kind. There, they buy and sell the saddest of wares.” He got very quiet. “They’re slavers!”

He saw their reactions, and continued, “They’ll sell anyone, from anywhere! Even children! They have no shame! And they’re ruthless and bloody. They’ll kill anyone that gets in the way.”

Thissraelle ventured, “Is that why we see no children begging in the streets here?”

“Yes!” the brother whispered, “Good parents won’t let their kids out of their sight, and kids without get snatched up and sold! We had to move our orphanage to the abbey in the forest to keep them safe! The people have gone crazy, here. Every once in a while, there’s a big fight in the streets as rival guilds fight for control. Outside of the waterfront, people just work their farms and stay inside. They don’t come to church any more. Most of them are too afraid.”

Granthurg saw Thissraelle’s head droop. His large hand rested on her narrow shoulder. She looked up and said, “When will I stop being amazed by the horrors I see?”

“Oh, my dear sister,” sighed Brother Mathazar, “My dear, dear sister...”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

“Going to the Chapel” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 51: Thissraelle

“Maybe I’m too naive.” Thissraelle admitted. “It’s true that I barely know these people. And we’re being hunted by the Wizard’s Guild and who knows who else...”

She and Granthurg walked along the waterfront, to the west, as the road followed the flow of the river. The morning busy of the markets was beginning to show on the street. The shops were opening, and vendors were setting up by the side of the road. The sun rising over the town’s houses had replaced quiet with chatter. The barmaid at the inn had told her that following this road would take them to the town’s small cathedral.

She continued, “But then, I barely know you, too. And I find you to be trustworthy.”

He smiled. “Thank you. DeFrantis and her friend seem to be sincere enough, I guess. I’m just wary.”

“That’s probably a good thing, I would think.” She glanced up, and pointed over a shop’s roof. “I’ll bet that spire ahead is the chapel.”  He nodded.

They stepped over someone’s basket of grain. “You seem to be lost in thought. What is worrying you? Besides what we’ve already talked about, I mean.”

“I’m wondering,” He said, looking at the spire she had pointed out. Not really at it so much as beyond it. “What is on our barge that made those men attack us back in the city? What is it they want?”

She shrugged and looked behind her for a moment. “I’m wondering something, too.” Then she looked west again, down the street.  “Where are the children? Twynne Rivers had lots of them, running in the streets, playing, begging, stealing. There are none here.”

They passed the building before them and then stood in front of the cathedral. It was tall, but not as expansive and majestic as the one in the Twynne Rivers Center Towne. This one was plain stone, with smaller, circular stained glass for windows along the sides. It had no lawn, no foliage. It opened simply onto the street. There was a tall spire with a bell tower pointing upward to heaven, and a single larger stained window below it, depicting three bright yellow stars. The Church of Three Lights. I wonder why Antonerri and DeFrantis were so insistent on not coming here. His shirt bears that same image. You’d think that he’d want to talk with them. 

Granthurg turned his eyes away from the chapel to look at Thissraelle. “Well, let’s hope they know where they’ve all gone.” He stepped forward to the door.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

“Darkness” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 50: DeFrantis

The morning sun in the eastern sky cast shadows before DeFrantis and Antonerri as they walked along the waterfront. Shops and taverns were beginning to open up, and dockworkers were unloading barges. Others, who just brought wares to sell, were laying out baskets of grain or fruits onto rugs and blankets on the side of the street. She had never been to Dirae before. It was not a large city, like Twynne Rivers, or even Portstown, but where most villages were little more than a collection of a few hovels where farmers and peasants gathered at the end of the work day, this one had streets of cobblestone, a series of docks on the river, and buildings and business.

The streets along the river were pretty clean, too, but as they walked past the side streets she could see that the paving ended quickly, and the mess and mud quickly replaced it.

Antonerri finally spoke, “So where would we find this dark market?”

“In Twynne Rivers, the dark market isn’t a place. It’s more of a network. It’s a lot harder to shut down that way. Where you go depends on what you’re wanting to find.”

He nodded. “...Or what you’re wanting to sell.”

“Yes. So, once we find a hub, they might be able to direct us to the right place.”

“Once, while I was a guard, our unit was sent to break up one such hub. We just went where we were told and arrested them.”

DeFrantis laughed. “It was probably another dark marketer who sent you. They must have had an argument over a payment or something. You were just doing the cleanup!” She nudged his arm and smiled.

He laughed, too, but not as enthusiastically. “So, what should we be looking for? Do we want to act like we’re buying something?”

She thought a moment, and stopped walking. She looked around at the shops.  “No, I think we’ll be sellers. But we’ll have to get you some nicer clothes. And with something other than the Church’s seal. It’s a good thing you shaved. The half-beard wouldn’t have worked.”

“Worked for what?” He was genuinely confused. “What will we say we’re selling?”

“That's easy,” She said, “You will be selling me.”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins.