Tribulation

Pull out your pack and head on down to the Prancing Pony for some great Role Playing (try to stay in character)!

Postby Tempest » Mon Aug 07, 2006 8:31 pm

"You don't understand," Akara said, lifting her head and meeting Jaxon's gaze. "When I speak of my people, I do not speak of Rhun. There are some who do not recognize the King. We have our own history, our own laws. A bitter wasteland is our inheritance, with little luxury, and so far away as not to tempt even the greediest of rulers. The Sagath we know only because they travel sometimes into the wilds for training."

Her face flushed. "And when you say I will find no easy path apart from this one, you are correct. There has never been an easy path for me. There is only suffering. Such is the way of the Easterling."

Even as she spoke with a certain amount of defiance in her voice, something clicked in her mind that had been troubling her. She shook her head. No, it was too ridiculous. It couldn't be. And yet, there were too many coincidences that weren't coincidences. It was possible...

Her face paled slightly and her hand dropped hesitantly to her side. "This Mazur that you speak of, could you describe him for me. You say it has been a long time, but how old would he have been?"

"What do you mean?"

In a hushed tone, Akara leaned forward. "Do you think...it's possible to see the body of this man?"

"The body? Why?" Jaxon asked.

"I need to know."

"I doubt the innkeeper would like that idea. He's jumpy enough and besides, it's been awhile now. Didn't you hear how he died?" Freahelm interjected.

"Please, I need to know."
Last edited by Tempest on Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hunter » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:21 pm

~

"Need to know what?" Hunter asked quietly. Her heart was filled with pity for the young woman who suddenly seemed so vulnerable and small. "If he was someone you knew?"

All Akara could do was nod and bite her lip to keep the sudden fear she felt under control. No, it couldn't be...

"What good would it serve to see his body?" Hunter cautioned. "It's been well over a week since he died. Gertie never said what was done with the body, but surely he has been buried already." She didn't want to say what she was thinking; that his body may have been disposed of in another, less civilized manner. He had been after all, a stranger...and a foreigner. She turned to Jaxon.

"If your description of Mazur turns out to be someone Akara knows by a different name, perhaps we can persuade Fillers to hand over to her whatever belongings were not buried with him. There might even be some clue that may help us."


~
Last edited by Hunter on Sun Aug 13, 2006 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tempest » Sat Aug 12, 2006 10:42 am

Jaxon began slowly, recalling everything she could about the man she knew as Mazur. With every word, the girl before her grew a shade paler. When she came to the end of her tale, Jaxon paused and then said gently, "It is as you feared."

"I helped kill Ztula," was all Akara whispered as she brought her hands up to her face.

"No, you didn't. That package didn't kill him," Hunter reassured her.

"But it can't have been a coincidence." she replied in despair.

"You knew him as Ztula? Strange that he would change his name." Shadowfax mused.

"He was a great warrior. He rescued us in a time of peril. He trained us...he trained me to use a bow. Now I've repaid his kindness by assisting others in killing him," she wailed. Freahelm stepped forward and gently steered her toward one of the beds to sit, fearing she would faint.

"Akara, think for me. When was the last time you saw Maz...Ztula?" Hunter asked softly.

"I...I don't....It has been awhile. Nearly two years, maybe a little less."

"You said he rescued your tribe, but as you told us, your tribe lives toward the south, quite a distance from the center of Rhun. Did he ever say why he was so far from home?"

"He said..." she looked at Freahelm through her tears. "I can't think...I can't think."

"It's all right," he said soothingly.

"But, there's a man downstairs who might be able to answer some of your questions," a hard edge came to her voice and she suddenly clutched Freahelm's hand. "His name is Terven and he recognized you well enough."

"Me?"

"I don't care anymore. I knew more than I pretended earlier. I know at least one of the Easterlings down there," her tone grew desperate. "And he knows me. It's not a mistake that they used me in this...plot. I don't care what you do to him. If he used me to kill Ztula, then he deserves no pity, no protection from me!"
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Postby Hunter » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:24 pm

~

“But, there’s a man downstairs who might be able to answer some of your questions,” a hard edge came to her voice and she suddenly clutched Freahelm's hand. “His name is Terven and he recognized you well enough.”

“Me?”

“I don't care anymore. I knew more than I pretended earlier. I know at least one of the Easterlings down there,” her tone grew desperate. “And he knows me. It’s not a mistake that they used me in this...plot. I don’t care what you do to him. If he used me to kill Ztula, then he deserves no pity, no protection from me!”

The pleading tone in Akara’s voice was apparent and everyone remained silent. Freahelm stood looking down at the young woman trying to read in her face what she expected of him. Finally he asked her quietly, “What would you have me do Akara? Go downstairs, seek out Terven and kill him?”

“Y… No!” Akara answered, confused by the simple earnestness in his voice. “I…we need to find the truth of what happened.”

“I agree,” Shadowfax spoke up as he straightened from where he leaned against the wall. “We need answers…not bloodshed.” He shot a warning glance at Freahelm who answered silently with a curt nod.




Mortamer sat deep in thought, barely listening to the low drone of conversation coming from the direction of the fireplace. Tomorrow he would leave for Fornost in hopes of finding the tower which had belonged to Malbeth, his master’s brother. He wasn’t exactly sure of the location of the tower, all he’d ever heard Asteroth say was that it was near Fornost. He really had hoped that he’d find someone…anyone who was familiar with the land. Mortamer sighed again and raised the tankard to his mouth. Suddenly there was the loud crash and the sound of breaking pottery.

Marvis, the other serving wench who worked at the Inn had dropped a tray filled with platters and bowls. She stooped to the floor and quickly started gathering up the broken pieces. There was a moment of silence and then a few loud guffaws of laughter from the group of men gathered around the hearth. Mortamer didn’t look their way for his attention had been caught by something else; the sight of a figure leaving the common room. There was something familiar about the man, but Mortamer couldn’t put his finger on it. Maybe it was the set of his shoulder or the way he carried himself…

He closed his eyes for a moment to think. It had been a long time…could it be? Mortamer opened his eyes- then wished he hadn’t.

Into the common room strode one of the men Mortamer recognized from the night before; one of the Easterners. Pulling down the brim of his hat, Mortamer slumped down wishing that he could disappear. The Easterner was joined by two others and they stood for a moment looking around the room. Daring to peek out from under the brim, Mortamer had the impression they were looking for someone-and he silently hoped he wasn’t that someone.

The first man turned and said something under his breath to the others before turning to leave the room. The two remaining men split up. One moved to the side of the entryway and leaning casually against the wall while the other moved across the room and found a seat out of view from where Mortamer sat.

~
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Postby strider- » Wed Feb 28, 2007 7:32 am

Jaxon pondered the words of Hunter while Akara struggled to remember what Mazur the Herald had said of his mission in the south or Rhun, near the banks of Gondor. Too many coincidences to not add up to something, she thought.

"Assuming Mazur is the same man you knew, perhaps his effects would tell you all you needed to know. His body would have been long dealt with. We should find a way to "convince" Filliers to hand over Mazur's possessions and the package, if it indeed still remains in the Inn." said Jaxon.

Freahelm was growing impatient, and his desire to help Akara grew with each passing moment, "I am sure I could easily convince him." he said, tightening the grip on the sword at his side.

Jaxon smiled, "No, I was thinking a more subtle approach...something with a woman's touch? she said, her eyes shifting to Hunter. "It's likely a confrontation with any of us bearing a sword will go ill, but the encouraging words of a woman, may play out differently." At this Hunter rolled her eyes, paused and nodded. Her information gathering would need to continue a bit longer.

"As for the rest of us," Jaxon said, "We may find these puzzle pieces and questions more beneficial than we realize. I find there are too many coincidences to ignore. Mazur in the South, near Gondor for example...I had been in Gondor for many years. His meeting up at the same Inn as Verran not long after we were supposed to meet in Rivendell. The package, the missing Captain and a dead Herald of the Royal Family ..all connected to me in some fashion..all meeting up here. No, we cannot ignore such signs - I believe it is all connected. But where to head next...once we retrieve Mazur's effects...is the question."

"I have another." said Badger, "If Mazur was killed by poison, as I think we can safely assume he was, and if Falma - our main suspect in the dreadful deed left the same day Jaxon arrived, how do we explain Jaxon's subsequent poisoning and add to that...why didn't Jaxon succumb to the Herald's fate?"

"What are you getting at?" asked Hunter.

"Simple." stated Badger, "We have another conspirator...one who is still here in this Inn, biding their time if you will, and probably very very nervous right now to again see the Arthedainian Woman they've poisoned return, not to mention the same messenger who left a mysterious package for a now deceased guest? And now these same people are asking difficult questions about said guest... I don't think it will be too hard to find some answers to those questions we've been posing. We just need to shake a few more bushes...and see what rats scatter."
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Postby Hunter » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:26 pm

~

“Or turn to attack,” Hunter muttered as she walked over to the table. The bread and cheese had barely been touched. “Some rats turn vicious when cornered,” she said over her shoulder to Badger as she cut off a few slices of cheese.

“Or run scared,” Badger replied.

Hunter made a face as she nibbled the piece of cheese. There was a slight bitter taste to it. Shadowfax, who’d up till now been silent, saw her and reached for the bottle of wine. He poured her a glass. “Not the best, huh? Here, have a drink.”

Hunter took the glass from his hand and sipped it slowly, rolling the wine around in her mouth before swallowing, while looking thoughtfully down at the tray. Shadowfax reached for one of the slices and she slapped his hand away. “Don’t!”

“Why?” he asked in a puzzled tone. “You don’t think…”

“No, I don’t,” she said as she picked up the tray. “It’s just bad cheese. I’d feed it to swine before I’d serve any guests at my Inn. Filliers will hear about this!”

“You’re going to complain about the cheese?” Jaxon asked a bit surprised.

“Among other things,” she said smugly and then winked.

Shadowfax chuckled quietly as he followed Hunter to the door. “I gotta see this.”

*****

Into the common room strode one of the men Mortamer recognized from the night before; one of the Easterners. Pulling down the brim of his hat, Mortamer slumped down wishing that he could disappear. The Easterner was joined by two others and they stood for a moment looking around the room. Daring to peek out from under the brim, Mortamer had the impression they were looking for someone-and he silently hoped he wasn’t that someone.

The first man turned and said something under his breath to the others before turning to leave. The two remaining men split up. One moved to the side of the entryway and leaned casually against the wall while the other moved across the room and found a seat out of view from where Mortamer sat.

He reached for his crutch and slowly pushed his chair back. The Easterner near the entrance glanced at Mortamer, his lip curling up in a sneer before looking away again in disgust. Averting his eyes, Mortamer hobbled across the room, stepping carefully around Marvis as she used a broom to sweep up the remaining pieces of broken pottery.

Suddenly, a booted foot reached out and swept the crutch tip off the floor. Thrown off balance, Mortamer went sprawling on the floor. The hushed silence fell across the room. Slowly Mortamer pushed himself up to his knees. His crutch had slid across the floor out of reach and he started crawling towards it. Someone across the room snickered and then someone else made the squealing sound of a pig.

Head bent low to hide the flush of anger and hopeless frustration he could feel coloring his cheeks, Mortamer kept crawling across then floor. ‘Only a few more feet,’ he told himself. Then a pair of boots stood over to the crutch. Inwardly Mortamer groaned. He didn’t dare look up, not even when the snickering and sounds from behind him died down. Then a hand reached down and gripped him firmly around the arm and pulled him to his feet.

Hesitantly Mortamer looked up at the man holding his crutch out to him. Recognition dawned slowly and then his fear was replaced by relief as he briefly leaned against Shadowfax. “My prayers have been answered,” he said in a low husky whisper.

Looking up at Shadowfax’s face, Hunter’s questioning eyes met his. He shook his head and she nodded in return. This was neither the time nor the place for explanations or introductions, all eyes in the room were on them. “I’ll go find Filliers,” she told Shadowfax.

“And I’ll see this gentleman to his room,” Shadowfax said loud enough for those close enough to hear. The Easterner who had tripped Mortamer just sneered and turned his head as if to signal that the do-gooder was not worth his time.


~
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Postby Hunter » Fri May 18, 2007 8:45 am

~

Marcus Filliers sat at his desk counting up his receipts for the day. The coins, neatly stacked in even piles of copper and silver, were lined up in neat rows across the worn wooden surface of his desk. Counting them once, he sighed and counted them again just to be sure and then wrote the sum at the bottom of a column of figures in a worn, leather bound book. His shoulders sagged as he placed an elbow on the desk and leaned his head tiredly on his hand. The frown on his face deepened into a scowl.

Receipts were still down. He flipped back a page, looking at the dates and amounts listed there, confirming the same thought that had been running through his mind the past week. He had tried to squelch the rumors of food poisoning, but word had spread and the common folk who lived in the area no longer came to the Inn as they once had and it showed. The local trade had started to decline shortly after the foreigner had died such a strange and ghastly death. “And yet those Easterners keep showing up.” He rubbed his forehead in frustration. “What’s an honest man to do?” he asked himself.

Someone tapped quietly at the door. “Can’t have a moment’s peace to myself,” he grumbled under his breath thinking it was more than likely Gertie coming to say the last meal had been served and she’d be leaving for the night. “Come in.” He sat up straight and began to gather up the coins.

Behind him the door opened and a man stepped into the room. He stood for a moment taking in the surroundings.

It was a small sitting room, part of Filliers private living quarters. There was a small fireplace on one end, its cheery fire chasing away the chill of the cool autumn night. An old, overstuffed chair was pulled close to the hearth. It was a favorite place of the Innkeepers to sit late at night before he retired and have a quiet smoke and a glass of plum brandy. His pipe lay on a small table next to the chair waiting for him. The desk Marcus Filliers used to tally his receipts was pushed against the wall near a window framed by heavy curtain. Near the desk was a tall narrow cupboard. It was here Marcus kept anything important. Opposite the fireplace was a door leading into another small room where Marcus slept. The door was opened so the warmth from the fire could seep into the room.

“No complaints I trust? All is right and the customers are satisfied?” Marcus asked still thinking it was Gertie as he opened the lid of a metal bound chest and dropped the coins in.

“The wine is inferior.”

The voice wasn’t Gertie’s. Marcus whirled around, standing so quickly the chair he’d been sitting on tipped over and fell to the floor. Trying to shield the chest containing the coins, he felt a knot of fear twisting his bowels. The chest behind him held more than the day’s receipts. It held his whole life’s savings. Drawing a deep breath, he tried to quell his alarm. He straightened his shoulders and tried to keep his voice clear of unease. “I’m busy. What do you want?”

“Not your paltry coins,” Abram replied with a dismissive nod toward the chest behind the Innkeeper. His sharp dark eyes scanned the small room while his hand rested casually on the hilt of the gracefully curved sword buckled at his side.

Filliers recognized the man. He was of Eastern descent, though not clothed in that style. He had stayed at the Inn a few times in the past. He searched for a name, but his memory failed him. Easterners all had such foreign sounding names. Underneath his apprehension, Filliers grew confused. It was obvious that he was looking for something. What did he want? “How may I help you then?”

Abram walked over to the desk. “I stayed here a short time ago. A few days after I left, a countryman of mine arrived. He was a distant relation. Word has reached me that he died. A rather strange and violent death…”

“Yes it was,” Filliers replied looking uncomfortable. How could he forget! Rumors had run rampant. Some claimed the food served was tainted, while others said it was the ale. One ugly rumor even alleged the straw in the mattresses was moldy and filled with poisonous vermin. “My sympathies,” he murmured and was about to explain what in his mind he believed had happened when the man cut him short.

“I have come to reclaim what was his,” Abram stated simply.

“Of course,” Fillers nodded. He was somewhat relieved. The man apparently placed no blame on Filliers for the death of his relation. He turned to the cupboard near the desk, unlocking it with a key from his pocket. “He didn’t carry much with him, just a few papers and…”

“Mister Filliers,” someone called out as a light knock sounded at the door. Before Marcus had time to reply, the door opened and a woman stepped through carrying a tray. “I’m sorry to disturb you…” Hunter started to say, and then stopped. “Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything. I thought you’d be alone.” She turned to leave but was shoved the rest of the way into the room.

“Selmar knew you would show up once you had heard the news of Mazur’s death,” Ozias sneered contemptuously as he shoved the woman in front of him roughly aside. Hunter stumbled sideways, nearing dropping the tray as her shoulder slammed against the wall with a dull thud. Rubbing her arm, she stayed quietly where she was as the Easterner shut the door behind him.

“Ozias.” Abram nodded curtly and eyed his fellow countryman with dispassionate interest as he took a step away from Filliers. He noticed that Ozias’s hand gripped the leather wrapped hilt of his sword and deliberately moved his own hand away from his sword, crossing his arms across his chest. Abram smiled thinly. “Selmar? And where is the dung pile of a mongrel that you call leader?”

Ozias’s eyes narrowed at the intentional slur and he edged the blade of his sword slightly out of the scabbard.

“He left me in charge,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Ah! I see. The pup is on his own.” Abram leaned back, resting against the edge of Filliers desk. His smile broadened as he goaded Ozias further. “And just what do you intend to do now that you have found me?”

“I am to take you to Selmar.” Ozias’s blade whispered sharply as it was released from its leather sheath.

“Indeed…” Abram barely had the word out of his mouth when Hunter stepped from the wall, the tray raised above her head. “No!” he called out, but too late. Ozias saw movement to his right and spun on his heel raising his sword in defense and to ward off the blow that was aimed at his head. The edge of the metal tray came down hard against his forearm, deflecting the blow so that the sword missed its mark. But Ozias had drawn a knife with his other hand and trust forward, catching Hunter in the side. She gasped when he pulled the blade free.

Everything around Hunter moved in slow motion, including the sound of the measured beating of her heart sounding in her inner ear. The sickening feeling of the blade as it was pulled from her flesh stretched on and on. She felt a scream building in her throat but gritted her teeth against it. Ozias’s sword arm rose in a slow arc, but her feet felt leaden and heavy as she stepped backward until she felt the wall at her back. Raising the tray, her only defense, weakly with one hand, she closed her eyes and silently prayed to Eru as the wicked curved blade slashed downward.

Seconds passed and then the sound of steel clattering to the floor forced her eyes opened.

Ozias stood in front of her, swaying like a slender reed being buffeted by the wind. Eyes wide and staring, his mouth worked soundlessly as his hand groped for the small blade protruding from his throat. Just as his hand found the hilt, his legs gave out and he fell to the floor at her feet.

Across the room, Filliers slumped heavily against his desk, his eyes wide and staring with one hand clasped tightly over his open mouth. How could this be happening? One guest killed and another wounded! When word got out about this… He may as well lock the doors right now!

In two strides Abram was across the room and standing in front of Hunter. Instinctively she shrank back but then saw the concerned look on his face and let him pull away her hand from her side. Blood was slowly seeping from the wound. Abram pulled her linen shirt up and carefully examined the wound. It was deep, but as far as he could tell by its placement, no vital organs had been pierced, only flesh. Taking a silken cloth from his pocket, he folded it and pressed it firmly against the flesh. “You will live,” he said to her. “Hold this firmly in place until it can be bound. You should not have interfered,” he added sternly.

He turned to Filliers. “Now… If I may have what I came for, I will be off,” he nodded toward the fallen figure on the floor as he helped Hunter to one of the chairs by the hearth. “Before there is more trouble.”

“But…but…what of his friends?” Filliers sputtered wringing his hands “What will they do?” He envisioned the Easterner’s anger and their possible reaction.

Indeed. What would the Easterners do once they found one of their own lying dead in the Innkeepers office? Abram didn’t want to cause unnecessary trouble for the man. He thought quickly. “You can tell them a thief broke in and that Ozias just happened to appear and tried to aid you. They will accept your story, especially since your serving wench can back you up. They might even recognize the knife in his neck.”

He looked at Hunter expecting her to nod in compliance as he steadied her while she lowered herself onto the chair. She gripped his arm and whispered urgently near his ear. “You knew Mazur!” Abram couldn’t hide his surprise. Then she added louder, looking over Abram’s shoulder at Filliers, “They will believe the story, since I was wounded also.”

The Innkeeper straightened, going over the scenario in his mind. It might just work. He turned to the cupboard and began looking for the small leather packet he had placed there a few weeks ago, all the while muttering to himself. “They must believe the story! After all, I thought robbery was his intention… Now where is it? Oh bother. This is such a mess…”

While Filliers was searching the cupboard for the packet containing Mazur’s possessions, Abram knelt near Hunter. He examined the wound again, the blood flow had lessened. “What do you know of Mazur’s death?”

“Only what I heard from the cook. I’m a guest here, not one of the help,” Hunter replied quietly, keeping one eye on Filliers. “A friend traveling with me knew Mazur. You should speak with her. She was here near the time of his death,” She hastened to add.

“There is no time.”

“Please!” Hunter gripped his arm stopping Abram from rising to his feet. “She was poisoned too!”

Abram didn’t know what to think of this information. He looked at Hunter’s face closely searching for any sign of duplicity, there was none.

“I will make camp tonight a few miles up river, near the water’s edge. Tell your friend I’ll be there until noon, I can wait no longer than that.”


*****

The hour was late when Hunter, with the help of Marcus Filliers, made it back to the rooms. She was tired and the wound in her side was throbbing more after the exertion of climbing the stairs. All she wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep, but she knew there would have to be some explanations first.

“Well, it’s about…What happened?” Shadowfax had been reclining on the bed talking quietly to Jaxon when Filliers opened the door. He jumped to his feet when he saw Hunter’s pale face and the dried blood on her torn shirt. He hurried to her side.

“Thank you Master Filliers,” Hunter said to the Innkeeper standing in the door behind her. Filliers bowed his head and muttered a tired, but heartfelt, “No, thank you. I will leave you in your companions care now.” She heard him mutter to himself as she closed the door something about going back downstairs to soothe the irate Easterners.

After settling Hunter comfortably on one of the beds, everyone gathered round and she told then what had happened in Filliers office.


~
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