Write about your roleplaying adventures, I said. It’ll be easy content for your blog, I said. No pressure, I said.
I am an idiot. An overachieving idiot. An overachieving idiot who needs to take better notes if she’s going to write weeks after the events in question or else resort to embellishing on what actually happened for the sake of a coherent story.
Anyway, here’s the next chapter of the adventures of Marcenda and friends. My friend Scott, who plays Ziggy, has been blogging as well. Read up on Ziggy’s past and his side of the story if you feel so inclined. (He’s ahead of me, though, so spoilers ahead if you read all the way to Part III.) Ziggy makes Marcenda sound so much cooler and more mysterious than the precious, awkward cinnamon roll that she is, but that’s the power of perspective for you.
A Maternal Feline and Paternal Advice
The group decided to split up to better tackle preparations for investigating Colin’s untimely death. Marcenda had noticed the Temple of Mother of Lions when she’d arrived into town. It was impossible not to, really. It dwarfed the shacks and shanties of the quiet fishing village that surrounded it. It’s walls of stone rose high above the town, and she’d noticed the shimmering of stained glass long before she’d caught sight of the rest of the town on her journey.
Now that she knew that Colin had passed his final moments there with a Brother Patrocles, it seemed like the best place to start gathering information while the others gathered supplies. She was so intent on her mission that it took an insistent mew from Schrodinger for Marcenda to realize that she was being followed. “Oh,” she gasped, realizing that the beautiful bronze elf had been half a step behind her.
“You look like you need help,” the elf said crisply. “Ileasa Suncrest.”
“Oh yes, thank you, that would be helpful,” Marcenda said breathlessly. “I’m Marce-”
“Marcenda and Schrodinger. Yes, I know,” Ileasa replied. From anyone else, Marcenda would have found that brusque tone patronizing. But this was the first elf she’d ever seen up close, so Marcenda was too awed by Ileasa’s loveliness to be put off by it. For all Marcenda knew, all elves were like that. “Here’s the temple.”
“Right,” Marcenda said, burying a momentary pang of jealousy of the elf’s cascading curls of golden brown hair. Marcenda kept her black hair back in a long braid and couldn’t remember the last time she’d properly been able to wash it. She wasn’t self-conscious, nope, not at all! “Let’s go inside.”
She reached for the handles of the massive oak doors. They were so intricately crafted that you’d nearly believed that one of the carved lion heads would take your hand if not for carved hands of Mother of Lions resting on their manes. The door opened so easily, belying its size. Schrodinger nodded solemnly at the handle, not so much out of respect as it seemed to be a gesture exchanged between equals.
Once inside, the walls seemed to soar straight up to the sky. It was not entirely an exaggeration; the ceiling appeared to be enchanted since there appeared to be no ceiling at all. Instead, the sun shone down on them just as it had outside. In an alcove beside the entrance, two brothers sparred with one another, the first of what would be many reminders to Marcenda that Mother of Lions was a goddess of battles.
A young monk approached them. As soon as Marcenda mentioned that the mayor had sent them to find Brother Patrocles, he immediately led them further inside to the temple. There were shelves and pedestals along the walls of the antechamber, storing relics and weapons that had to be historically or magically (or both) important somehow. Mundane things we’re labeled with bronze plaques, after all.
However, there was no time to sate her curiosity. The young brother led them into a modest room at the end of the vast temple antechamber. It was far smaller than she expected; only about half a dozen pews lined up in front of a simple stone altar. The room was darker than the antechamber and more intimate. Instead of soaring ceilings, it was lit by light streaming through a stained glass window that looked like the carvings on the front doors. There, Brother Patrocles awaited them.
He was a martial looking man, solidly built and with a sword strapped to his back over his priestly robes. However, his green eyes were kind, the sort of empathy born of leading men both in battle and in their faith. Though Marcenda hadn’t experienced either, they still set her at ease.
“Thank you for seeing us, Brother Patrocles,” Marcenda said.”The mayor said you could help us figure out what happened to Colin.”
“Ah yes. The poor boy,” Patrocles replied. He motioned for them to sit on one of the pews. Schrodinger jumped into Marcenda’s lap as soon as she took a seat. Ileasa brushed off the offer with the slightest shake of her head. The monk also remained standing, but Marcenda wasn’t about to deprive her cat of a lap. “It was a terrible wound. It looked to be from a bladed weapon, though I couldn’t tell you precisely which one. Never seen the like of that wound before.”
Marcenda frowned at that. She was pretty sure a warrior priest would know a thing or two about that sort of thing, so that was a disturbing development. “But how could it have happened? Do you have any idea?” she asked.
“He certainly wasn’t expecting trouble; he knows the road from here to Bodh Gaya well enough, being the runner between our two towns,” Patrocles replied. He shook his head. “The Archdruid, he knew something was amiss. Some evil had befallen the tree…”
“Tree?” Ileasa cut in, her interest piqued.
“Yes, Bodh Gaya is built into the roots of an ancient tree, imbued with Druidic magic,” he replied.
Marcenda looked down at her lap as Ileasa continued to interrogate the monk about the tree, if they had books on the tree, on anything else that could be of use to them, pointed question after pointed question. Every time she thought of a question, Ileasa was already asking it.
What did she know about magical trees? Or magic in general, really? Marcenda didn’t even know how she’d been cursed to start with. How was she supposed to help anyone else?
The monk seemed to notice her dismay. “Whatever’s happened, you’ll have to make your way to Bodh Gaya to sort it out. Whatever lies in wait, you’ll have to look it in the eye,” he said, lifting Marcenda’s chin up. “and not down at your feet. Colin was a brave boy. You must be, too, if you are to avenge him.”
All Marcenda could do was nod. He was right.
Of Course We Got a Sidequest First
Marcenda kept running Brother Patrocles’ words through her head as she and Ileasa made their way to the mayor’s house to meet up with the others. Wherever the road ahead was going to take her, it was probably a long road. She needed to keep her eyes ahead of her if she wanted to see Death before it came to claim an innocent again.
Ileasa introduced herself to McTarly, Koruk, and Ziggy as briskly as she had to Marcenda earlier that day before McTarly led them into Mayor Eamon’s house. If she hadn’t already been to the temple earlier today, she might have been dazzled. Instead, the gold and mahogany furnishings seemed downright garish compared to the solemn awe of the temple. The trophies on the walls, unlike the sacred objects of the temple, were likely souvenirs of adventures. The minotaur’s head was a little intimidating, but not as impressive as the pair of bronze dragon claws. As ostentatious as the display was, there was no doubting that the mayor was a seasoned adventurer.
Koruk and McTarly, on the other hand, were staring at an ornate sword. The blade was perfectly honed with a dark, glassy material that dhe didn’t recognize. The pommel was the shape of a snarling dragon’s head, while the guards were the dragon’s wings.
“Quite a fine sword, isn’t she?” Eamon asked, getting almost everyone’s attention. McTarly was unable to tear his covetous glance away.
“Does it have a name?” Koruk asked.
Alex: … It does have a name. As soon as I think of one.
“So, what more can you tell us about this quest?” Koruk asked the mayor. (Because he definitely did not ask about the name of the sword, no he did not.) “What’s the trouble?”
“We need to determine what’s responsible for dispatching the boy,” Eamon said.
“Colin,” Marcenda said. “His name was Colin.”
“Right,” the mayor said, slightly embarrassed.
“But what exactly are we doing?” Ileasa asked, eyeing the mayor warily.
“I don’t expect much trouble along the way,” Eamon replied. “It’s possible that they boy was attacked by bandits, but…”
“Probably not,” Marcenda cut in. “Brother Patrocles, he said he’d never seen a wound like that before. There’s magic involved, evil magic, and a tree, the Archdruid said some dark magic had fallen on their magic tree…” Everything started coming out in one babbled rush that she found herself gasping.
“Don’t forget to breathe, lass,” Eamon said kindly. “Very well, it’s true that there will be peril. We’ll have to gather supplies before we make the trek to Bodh Gaya. Unfortunately, we’ve also had a supply wagon go astray,”
“Of course you have,” Ileasa muttered.
It wasn’t long before the mayor convinced them all that they first had to track down the lost caravan. But that would have to wait; night was falling and free beds at the Sleeping Sailor were calling to them.