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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