Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 28

"So, comfortable chair?" asked Sacripant. 

"Very," said the tall man.  "The ropes are comfortable too!  I'd give you a thumb's up, but you know, my arms are tied.  Also very well!"  He flashed a cheery smile.  "Oh, and great job on binding my wound.  This is really just a top notch hostage experience."

Nathan blinked.  "You have much experience with that?"

"Both as a hostage and a hostage taker!" said the tall man cheerily.  "The second is generally the better deal, but you know, the first is less stressful, I find."

Sacripant glanced at the man in dull wonder.  "How's that?"

"Everything is out of your hands," answered the tall man.  "Life, death, all of it--not your concern.  Oh, you can worry about it, but it won't do any good.  So, best thing to do is sit back, and enjoy the ride.  After all, they probably won't kill you, and if they do, well, not much you can do about it."

There was silence for awhile.  "You have an odd view of life for a professional killer," said the Marsh Erl at last.

"It keeps me going, in a very difficult profession," replied the tall man.  "And really, isn't that all any of us can ask for?"

The pair stared at him for a moment.  Sacripant sighed and turned to Nathan.  "So, you sure this is a secure place?"

"Old Lamplighter safehouse," said Nathan.

The Erl seemed surprise.  "You guys need them?"

"If you haven't noticed, this is a dangerous city," replied Nathan with a shrug.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: Paper With Strange Writing In Red Ink On It

An odd curio, believed to date back from before the Holy Empire, a bit of paper written in a strange tongue, in red ink.  This would imply it was important, whatever it was, though it must be noted it is not in any known dialect of the Dark Tongue.  Some suspect a hoax, though records do suggest great age in this case.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: A Very Large Shell, Possibly from an Oyster.

A very large shell, brought as a gift by the White Horde of Kizaks, who acquired it from a group of Shadow Woods merchants, who claim to have gotten it from an island far to the East.  Efforts to locate this isle, both through magic and non-mystical means have failed.  The shell remains unidentified, though it appears to be from an exceptionally large oyster.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: The Bottomless Glass of Lord Assur

A drinking cup with no bottom that Lord Assur was fond of handing out as a prank, frequently while allowing the victim to believe that it was a magically enchanted cup that never ran out of liquor.

Discovering it was not was frequently quite unpleasant for the victim.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: Badge of the Order of the Fern

Symbolic badge given to members of the Order of the Fern, an honorary brotherhood founded by Lord Assur to promote his ideals.  It was disbanded a hundred years later, after causing numerous drunken incidents.  Some involving livestock.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: Silent Brother Whistle

A brass whistle used as a simple form of communication by the Silent Brothers of Saint Aloysius, an anchoritic order who take a vow of silence, amongst others.  The most common use is to notify  Brothers living in an abbey of the time for labor, for rest, and for silent contemplation of the Lady's will.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: The Dice of Lubric

A pair of dice, reportedly the former possession of a demon, won by the Dark Lord Assur from it in a game of chance.  Those who hold them are said to feel a chill, and hear a little voice in their ear asking them if they wish to play a quick game.

It is advisable not to answer.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: The Lace of Zenobia.

A great quantity of lace, the property of Zenobia Cthonique, eldest sister of Lord Grendel.  Immensely fond of it, she wore dresses bedecked by it, the materials gathered from the farthest reaches.  Most of it is gone, frequently used as scraps and like by the staff. 

There is still an incredible amount left.  She was a deeply troubled woman.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pages from the Cthonique Library: The Hammer And The Rose

A popular song of a hammer that rules a land with force, that starts a war with a rose bush.  The war lasts and lasts, despite the hammer claiming it will be over soon, until the hand that holds the hammer drops it, and the hammer rusts into nothing.

The rose bush covers the remains of the hammer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: The Necklace of Diarmid

A simple necklace of polished stones, reported to allow the bearer to win the love of whoever they desire if that person sees them while they wear it.  Said love is less affection and more a mad obsession.  The necklace has lead to murder, to madness and to disaster.  Or so the stories say.

It is kept very securely locked.

POSTSCRIPT:

Apologies for the break in the story, but you can see why.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 27

Sacripant moved through the rainy street with an eerie grace, eyes glittering in the shadows.  As Nathan watched him, so fast and sure-footed in this murk, it struck him this was how the Nightfolk had fought off the Holy Empire and caused so much trouble in the Lands of Light.  The Lamplighter gave a slight shudder--and then remembered that without the Erl's talents, he would be dead.

He took a deep breath, and followed Sacripant across the street.  "What's.." he began.

Sacripant raised a hand to silence him.  "Careful. I'm not sure I hit him.  Or her.  You have female assassins in Talossa?"

"Probably," said Nathan hesitatingly.  "I really don't know.  I don't talk to the Guild."

"There's..."  The Marsh Erl sighed.  "Of course there's a Guild of killers, or some such thing."

"Guild of Knife-sharpeners," answered Nathan.  "At least, that's what I hear."

"Right," said Sacripant.  "Should have expected something like that."  He coughed.  "All right.  Whoever is there, I'm giving you a chance to surrender.  Before I really unleash the pain.  And the possible killing.  Which I'm very good at.  Any answer?"

There was silence for a moment.  "That... that sounds very reasonable," came a quavering voice.  "Especially avoiding the killing.  Yes, yes, I think that is very appealing to me right now."

"Well, just come out," said Sacripant, "and..."

"Ahhh.... yes, sadly, when I fell from the pain of your horribly accurate knife-throw, I think I sprained my leg," the voice said awkwardly.  "And with my arm still less than usable, I don't think I can get up."

"Your answer does not encourage trust," said Sacripant.  "Especially when you recall that you tried to kill me."

"Actually, that was my associate.  Who has fled," said the voice.  "Now, please, please just come and assist me.  By Guild law, I've just signed my death warrant by agreeing to this."

"So why did you?" asked Sacripant.

"Because in a very short period of time, you've managed to scare me more," came the answer.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 26

The short man with the peg leg clicked his tongue and readied another bolt. "I told you we would need another crossbow ready!"

"I thought you could get it in one shot," said the tall man. 

"For heavens sake, there are two of them.  Even if I shot one, there'd still be the other to deal with," noted the man with the peg leg.

"Well, I thought I'd get the other one when you took out the first one," answered the tall man.  "You know.  When he was all... distracted."

"With what?" said the man with the peg-leg.  "There's no other crossbow, thanks to you!"

"With this!" said the tall man, drawing a knife.

The short man blinked.  "So, your plan was to kill whoever I didn't kill with a knife." 

The tall man nodded.

"Were you going to... walk up to him, or... what?"  muttered the short man with the peg leg, casting another glance across the street, and noting that it was even harder to spot the two men he was trying to kill.

"Well, I was thinking I could throw it," said the tall man.

The short man considered things for a moment.  "Do you have any idea how hard that is?" he asked at last.

The tall man shrugged. "Ahh, you hear about it all the time.  How difficult can it really be?"

"Extremely difficult," replied the short man.

"Sure," said the tall man with a snort.

A knife, thrown from across the street, buried itself in his shoulder.  He gave a yelp and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The short man with a peg leg watched him for a moment, leveled his crossbow, and then threw it away and began to hobble away.   "Bugger this," he muttered, as he  ducked down a back alley.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 25


"So," said Sacripant as they reached the surface, "it's clear what we do now."

"Yes," said Nathan.  "Go home.  And eat.  Then sleep."

Sacripant stared at the man.  "That's it?  A member of the damned Ancients, who so far as I can tell are the people who run this crazy city..."

Nathan nodded. "You've got it.  More or less.  There are complications, and..."

The Erl raised his hand.  "I get it.  I get it.  Anyway, he's dead, and you're not going to check into it?"

Nathan sighed.  "You're going to insist we look into it, aren't you?"

"I've got a job to do," said Sacripant.  "Same as you, I suppose.  The Cthoniques sent me here to figure out what was going on.  And I think I'm on to something.  So I'm going to keep looking."

"That's not how we do things in Talossa," said Nathan.

Sacripant rolled his eyes.  "I've noticed."

"Well, it doesn't seem to be penetrating," hissed Nathan.  "There are rules here.  Some written, others... just understood.  And the greatest is 'mind your own business'/"

Sacripant nodded.  "Right."  He looked out over the rain-filled streets.  "What's that oath of yours?  That gets you Lamplighters out in the streets at night to make sure the lanterns are lit?"

Nathan looked away.  "I'm not allowed to divulge it to outsiders," he said.

"I bet you I can guess the jist of it," said Sacripant.  "And that part of is keeping your fellows here safe."

Nathan was silent for a moment.  "That's an... interesting guess," he said at last.

Sacripant seemed about to say something, when he stopped, and tackled Nathan to the ground.

The crossbow bolt struck the wall behind them.