Thursday, September 19, 2019

161 - “In the Library” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

<<<>>>

"I am Normath Collector. I am the Guardian of this temple of the Seekers." He was an older man with long, silver hair, and he spoke with a tired airiness to his voice.

Thissraelle walked down the hallway, a few paces behind him and Korr. They hadn't invited her to come along, but they hadn't stopped her, either.

Korr responded, "Collector is an interesting name. How did you earn it?"

Normath had an eager smile. "That's what I want to show you!" They topped a stairway and turned down another hall, opposite the direction they'd originally come from.

"Thissraelle!" Eddiwarth caught up to her, catching his breath. "Where are you going? I thought you wanted to see the eelwhales!"

"I did. They're beautiful. Thanks for coming to get me." She didn't stop. She didn't really need to, as Normath and Korr weren't walking very fast anyway.

“Well... where...?” Eddiwarth just looked at her with furrowed brows and fell into step beside her. The hall was cut into the stone, like almost every structure here in the temple. It was not long, and there were several doors on either side along its path. It was lit by small oculi imbedded into the walls just below the ceiling, just like most of the interiors she had seen here.

“There are an awful lot of oculi in this temple,” she suddenly thought out loud. “It must have taken a lot of wizards to charge them up. Or a long time.”

The old seeker stopped for a moment and looked up at them. “Back in the great reality, it would have. The Vast, however, is a magical place, sometimes strangely so. I often get to the point where I take it all for granted.” He smiled to himself, then stepped toward one of the doors.

“The great reality?” Eddiwarth said, “What’s that?”

The old man turned his hands in the air as if he were shaping a great ball. “That’s the universe that your world - our world - is in. That’s where you came from. Twynne Rivers, Umbrawood, Emberfire... Those are all little dots in the great reality.” He grabbed the handle of the door and pushed it open.

They stepped out onto a narrow balcony overlooking a deep, wide hollow pit. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth stepped forward, timidly looking out over the edge. There was no railing. Across the chasm, she saw that the balcony was actually a ramp, spiraling gradually downward into the depths of the cylindrical space.

“Welcome,” the Seeker said, “to the heart of our temple.” As Thissraelle looked back, she noticed that the wall behind him was made entirely of shelves and berths filled with books and scrolls. She rushed to them, running her fingers gently over the leather-bound spines. Some were short, some were thick. There were so many different colors and languages in the imprinting. Her mind immediately flashed to memories of Granthurg sitting in the library of the forest abbey, while she sat relaxing with some tea. She rushed down the ramp, touching the books and the scrolls. Occasionally, a shelf held small figurines, sculptures, or a helmet. Oh, Granthurg. You would love this place! Granthurg! 

She began to cry. In the short time she’d been here in The Vast, she’d thought about him, but still wondered where he was and if he’d lived. She’d been so focused on The Vast, on Karendle, and Heathrax that she hadn’t had a chance to feel his absence. The weight of that emptiness suddenly bore down on her heart. Oh, Granthurg, my friend.

She heard the old Seeker talking to Korr. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and stepped back up the ramp toward them.

“...so, I’m the Collector, and this is my collection. Well...,” he corrected, “...OUR collection. I’m only its caretaker. We’ve gone through the whole world, in many different times and places, gathering records and writings. Histories, philosophies, poems, stories, maps, ledgers...”

Korr wondered, “But shouldn’t the people of these places and times keep their own histories? Why collect them here?”

The old man laughed. “Oh, we don’t keep them! We make our own copies and store those here.”

“That would be very difficult, rewriting all of these tomes. There are thousands!”

“Hundreds of thousands! Maybe more. But we don’t rewrite them. This is The Vast, son! We use magic!”

Thissraelle stepped up to them, still wiping her eyes, as he continued, “We are the Seekers of the Great Reality, but only because we come from there. In fact, it’s The Creator we’re seeking. We believe--we know-- He is real. Looking at all of creation from here in The Vast makes it impossible for us to come to any other conclusion.”

He waved his hand before him, and suddenly they were all standing on the familiar terrace near the dormitory wing of the temple. Startled, Thissraelle looked around her. The sudden dimensional shift left her feeling a bit dizzy.  Normath was unfazed. “Look above you, around you.”

She did as he said, taking in the clouds sparkling with color and the masses of matter floating past. The eelwhales swam away in their own steady path, trailing thin wisps of color in swirling eddies behind them.

“What we’re really seeking is the Creator Himself.”

Korr asked in hushed tones, “Have you found Him?”

“Oh, no! Heavens, no!” the old man laughed, “ Not yet, anyway. We just keep finding more of His creation.”

Thissraelle stood thoughtfully, as Normath continued, “And each of us needs to sense His guidance and find out what He wants from us, individually.”

Yes. Guidance. I’m starting to see. Maybe I just need to trust the guidance I’m getting.

Then, in a breath, they were all back in the cavernous library, standing on the ramp. Thissraelle blinked her blurry eyes and stepped up to the shelves. On one was a clay sculpture, a sphere, with a map of her world etched into its surface. She traced her hand around it, recognizing the small shape of the continent and mountains that form Wynne. Her home. She tapped a finger on the dot that was Twynne Rivers, and drew a line up to the Emberfire Mountains.

A shriek and a whoop sounded behind her and echoed through the huge empty space. She jumped and saw Eddiwarth waving his arms frantically to keep his balance, and falling outward off the edge of the ramp.

“No!” She shouted, and ran toward him, grabbing for his hand. Her feet slipped a on the stone floor, and and her leg slid forward out from under her. She missed his hand and tumbled after him. She felt her foot slide off the edge of the ramp, out into the emptiness of the pit. Her backward knee hit the stone, and she spun away. Her stomach twisted inside her as she fell. She screamed and closed her eyes. A moment later, she heard Eddiwarth laughing. She felt no air rushing around her.

She opened her eyes. The rows and stacks of books weren’t flowing past her. They weren’t falling, either. Nervous, she looked around as she flipped and spun in the air, floating toward the center of the pit chamber. The world sphere she had been carrying whirled in the air beside her.

“What’s going on?” She called out to Normath.

Eddiwarth was chuckling and twirling himself as he swam in the air. “Look! I’m an eelwhale!”

“Oh, there’s no gravity in the pit. That’s so you don’t have to walk all the way down the spiral if you want a book,” Normath answered. Thissraelle was finally able to twist herself so she wasn’t twirling, and she folded her arms across herself and drifted to the other side. Korr sat down on the edge of the ramp and tentatively waved his hand out over the pit, trying to feel the difference. He looked up at Normath, who shrugged. The only explanation he gave was, “What can I say? It’s The Vast.”


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

160 - “The Works of His Creation” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

<<<>>>

"That dragon makes me nervous," Thissraelle said as they walked along the hallway past their sleeping rooms. The small creature bounded ahead of them, following after Parith and making him stumble as they strode. Eddiwarth walked farther ahead, frequently turning around to urge them forward.

Korr thought about that as they all turned a corner and began walking down a long stairway. "I often find it irritating as well."

"Irritating? It's not safe! Those dragons burned down the cathedral! They almost killed you!"

"This one didn't!" Parith called back from the stairs ahead. "Besides, they were technically drakes, not dragons."

"There's a difference?" The stairs leveled off to a short hall before a door.

Korr nodded. "The Seekers here showed us. Drakes are smaller and not as smart."

"They're like the dragon equivalent to puppies," said Parith

“That one on the cathedral balcony looked pretty big to me!” Thissraelle huffed.

“Apparently,” Korr clarified, “Real dragons are even bigger.”

Parith gestured to the door, as Eddiwarth took the handle. "Are you ready?" The excited grins on their faces made Korr wonder what was about to happen.

"Be amazed!" Eddiwarth exclaimed as he pulled open the door.

They all stepped through onto a wide balcony. It had a high ceiling, with thick, ornate pillars every thirty feet. Beyond the pillars, he could see the dark and colored sky of The Vast. There were about a dozen people already at the stone railing, talking and pointing to the left and below the balcony.

As Korr approached the pillars and the railing. He hurried up to an empty space next to an older man in Seeker’s robes and looked where everyone was pointing. His eyes opened wide in surprise and awe. Thissraelle gasped with excitement, clapping her hands.

A huge creature drifted slowly past the stony island where they stood, passing near the balcony, but a bit below. It looked in shape a lot like the koi fish that darted about in the pond in his master’s house, except the body was elongated. The tails and fins were longer as well, like banners elegantly streaming behind its swaying, swimming body.

“Eelwhales!” Thissraelle shrieked, “I’ve never seen one so close!” Others at the balcony were also speaking with awe and amazement.

It was easily more than a dozen feet across, and, including the tail, as long as a few buildings on a busy city street. Its smooth skin was a gleaming white, but as it undulated past, Korr saw many colors reflecting off its surface, like thousands of gems had been crushed and sprinkled onto it.

It passed by the balcony only twenty to thirty feet away. It had bony protrusions that swept back in an angular way from the point of its head, with shorter streams of thin skin rippling like streamers behind them. Underneath one was the eye, which tranquilly observed the crowded balcony as it passed. There were two others behind it, swimming fairly close. As they passed, colors streamed from their fins and tails as if the magical dust of their skins were being washed off, floating away and dissipating into the space left in their wakes.

Korr looked on, barely able to breathe. People around him were chattering with excitement, but he was entranced by the beauty of these magnificent creatures.

One of the eelwhales raised its head and a gaping mouth appeared. From deep within, it bellowed a deep haunting groan that overwhelmed the viewers and echoed across the expanse. After a moment of surprised silence, everyone around Korr began cheering and whooping in response. The great beast called out again, lowered its head, and resumed its path.

More eelwhales followed these three, coming from the other side of the great floating stone island the temple was built in. The first ones, the head of the school, swam on past the island, and out into the vast, while the others continued to round the island and flow past the balcony.

An aged voice next to Korr said, “The Vast is full of wonders beautiful and frightening. As many times in my life as I have seen this, it always fills me with astonishment and joy.”

Korr nodded to the older Seeker and quoted, “Great are the beasts of The Creator and vast are the works of His creation.”

The man smiled. "You know your scriptures!"

"My master frequently held readings of ancient works. Scriptures, histories, works of philosophy... Many passages have stayed with me."

"And what do you think? Do you believe? Is there a Creator?"

"My master says--"

"I didn't ask what your master says." The old man smiled. Korr saw Thissraelle listening intently. "What do YOU believe?”

When Korr hesitated, Thissraelle jumped in. “Is there a Creator? Who is He? Everyone seems to be telling me and other people what The Creator wants us to do! The Church, the Guild, the King... Everyone claims to have His Holy Endorsement! Who really knows Him?”

At that moment, the ground around them shook. One of the eelwhales had swum up close to the rock formations to the left and above the balcony and was rubbing its body against it, rotating back and forth as if it was using the stones to scratch an itch. Chunks of rock broke free from the arches of the ceiling and the stones above it, falling onto the balcony and out into The Vast. Sparks of color also scraped from the skin of the eelwhale and drifted down. The shaking threw everyone off balance for a moment and they all grabbed for the railings and each other, shouting.

Then the great beast rolled over, and hurriedly swam away from the island to rejoin its school. The many watchers on the balcony looked around in surprise, then resumed their places at the railing. Thissraelle stood and she and Korr helped the old seeker up.

He invited, “I would like to show you something. Follow 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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins

Thursday, September 12, 2019

159 - “Practice and Wisdom” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

<<<>>>


Stance. Korr's feet stomped the stone floor.

Back straight. Breathe. He brought his fists slowly up to his side, then opened his hands, fingers raised and together, and flexed them forward. Maintain focus, tension. 

Breathe. 

Sweep left, right. Punch.

Breathe.

Step, block low, punch. Korr burst out with a sharp shout with each harsh move.

He closed his eyes before continuing.

Breathe slowly.

Turn, step forward, cross my arms. Set my stance. He stamped his feet again, growling low each time. Part of the challenge of practicing the forms was to keep them from becoming too comfortable, too routine. He swept his torso low, across his forward knee, and back up, throwing his arms into another fast series of blocks and punches, punctuated by loud barks.

It had been quite a while since he’d had the opportunity to practice his forms. He had done these motions, among others, daily, while in his master’s house. The challenges of travel and searching had made it difficult to find time and space for these routines. Here in the Seeker’s temple, however, there was this large peaceful terrace under the beautifully strange sky of The Vast and time was, in fact, immaterial.

He paused the form, holding the posture, and let his awareness flow through his body. He checked for balance and the proper amount of tension in the muscles. Satisfied, he stamped his feet back into the basic square stance, raised his fists to his side, then slowly lowered them while exhaling and bringing his feet together.

He opened his eyes.

He was surprised to see the elf girl standing in front of him, perhaps only a dozen feet away, just outside of the hallway leading into their dormitory rooms. She was wearing the simple gray robes again that the Seekers had given them all when they arrived. Her long white hair flowed down over her shoulders, framing a slightly embarrassed smile. She leaned slightly to one side, with one hand resting on her other elbow in a sort awkward way. She was thin and looked even a bit frail. He had never seen a high elf before their encounter in the cathedral, and he’d not been paying much attention to anything other than surviving at the time. She had been strong and commanding then, not so dainty or... pretty.

Korr forced his stance to relax and bowed, his hands held overlapping in front of chest. Korr had preferred to wear the loose tang suit he had become accustomed to as a disciple in his master’s house. They were a bit ragged and the drake claws had left a few tears in the fight, but they were more comfortable for practicing than the spare robes.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said with a light voice, “I’m interrupting you.”

Korr remained in his bow, not wanting to look up just yet. “No need to apologize. I’m not trying to be private.”

As he raised up, he saw her trying to mimic his bow and it looked unfamiliar to her.
Korr spoke first. “Thank you so much, once again, for your help as we fought in the cathedral. Your command of magics is quite impressive. I was lucky to have you and your friends come to us.”

“Yes, well, apparently it was not quite impressive enough.” She looked away. “We’re all lucky that the Seekers found us.” Her voice, cheery at first, seemed to have taken a turn for the melancholy. He just nodded. She sighed and continued. “I do need to talk to you, though, about this Heathrax character.” She started walking toward one of the stone benches on the perimeter of the terrace.

Korr followed. “I guess we’re on a similar quest.”

“Yeah, but I have no idea why!” She sat down with a bit of a huff, as if she’d been wanting to say that for a long time. “Who is he? Where is he? Why is he so important?”

Korr sat next to her, but not too close. How close is too close? What is proper here? He scooted quickly a few more inches away.

Thissraelle went on, letting more frustration come out, “I mean, is he supposed to save the world? Maybe, but from what? Up until a few months ago, I didn’t think the world needed saving! The next thing I know, I’m fighting slavers, dragons are attacking, and I’m being whisked away into interdimensional space! In the middle of all this, strange men are visiting me in my dreams and telling me to find this guy!” She ran her fingers through her hair, pulling it back out of her eyes. She shook her head. “What do you know about him?”

Korr shrugged. “He is a friend of my master and he lives in the Emberfire Mountains. Probably.” He looked over at her and tried to smile with some measure of reassurance. “You seem to be troubled with this task.”

She stood and stepped away, crossing her arms. “Don’t you want to know what’s going on? There’s something deeper here and it seems to be pulling me left and right. I want to be in charge of my life and everything is trying to push me around!”

Korr thought about this. He wanted to help. He quickly dug through memories of his master’s teachings. “When it seems to be too hard to climb the mountain, we should just look at the path in front of us.”

She turned around, one eyebrow up. “What?”

“My master would say it to us when we would get overwhelmed with our own goals. Mastering our art is a long and difficult work. I think it means that sometimes when the task looks too big, focus on the next step. Don’t look at the mountain, look at the path.”

She dropped her hands to her side. “Yeah, that’s right. So, we should probably just go back to Wynne, to reality. To Emberfire.”

Korr nodded. “And we should probably go soon. It would make sense for us to travel together. I suspect Parith will want to go. What about your friends?”

Thissraelle shrugged. “Probably. I don’t know.”

“Hey!” Parith called out, jumping out of the hallway. Korr stood and Thissraelle whirled around as Parith stepped up to them. The little drake jumped around his feet, yapping. Eddiwarth stood in the door as well. “You’re going to want to see this! Come on!”

Thissraelle looked at them, then at Korr. He tossed a look of uncertainty back at her and they followed their friends.


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins