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Chapter 4: A Secret Shattered
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JezSharp



Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 592
Location: The middle of anywhere...

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:24 pm    Post subject:  

Author's Note: The last vote saw a three way tie, of which I picked the two most likely options and played paper, scissor, stone with solus for the winning option. Here now is the fourth Chapter, with a literal and metaphorical title ;).

A Secret Shattered

“Do you know of any quests or adventures that we could go on?” Elvendor asked; this was after all what he had set out to look for. The Mayor’s eyes gently sparkled as he considered the pair before him,

“Well if it’s adventure that you’re looking for, then I have just the quest for you,” he said. “For many decades, perhaps centuries, efforts have been made to progress through the Rusheldon Hills to the South of here. Every time that a group has set out, they have either become lost and disorientated, or fled at the sight of some of the things they have seen. The last group to go was chosen by me personally, and they made it further South than any other group previously has. They managed to reach the ruins of an abbey, that was never fully completed before the monks that were building it had to flee. They stood firm against a group of orc slingshots who tossed rocks past their heads and a giant arachnid, apparently the size of this building, during the night. The spider threatened to attack them once or twice but retreated when the men began to jab at it with spears. By the time they reached the abbey, the men I’d sent out were unhappy and tired from keeping a consistent watch. It was while they were getting ready to sleep on the abbey floor though that something really unsettled them.”

The Mayor downed the last of his wine before continuing, “according to Malthas, the captain of the group, white skinned, fanged creatures with black wings and bloodshot eyes began circling the abbey, making diving passes at the huddled group. All had to grab their weapons and ward off the intruders. Several of the men claimed they heard rasping voices and saw horrific bloodied faces materialising from the dark. The combined effect was that the group refused to travel any further, so they left to report back to me.” The Mayor once again paused, scrutinising Elvendor and Alex, before continuing. “What I need is a couple of beings who are not afraid of such things, to travel as far South as possible and report back to me what they find there. Of course I will equip you for the journey and pay you for a successful return with new information. What do you say to that?”

Both Alex and Elvendor turned to look at each other, unsure of what to say. Finally Alex said, “we’ll need a few days to decide on it Sir.”

“Very well then so be it,” said the Mayor gracefully, “and thank you for dropping by and sharing your stories with me,” he almost purred as they rose.

“Not at all,” Alex replied,

“A pleasure,” added Elvendor. Is that it, he’s just letting us go? Well that was easier than I thought.

The Mayor shook hands with both of them before pinging the brass bell on his desk, signalling Betty. She appeared within a few minutes, looking slightly out of breath.

“Sorry Sir,” she muttered nervously, “I was just cleaning the…”

“That’s ok Betty,” replied the Mayor pleasantly, “would you just show these two gentlemen out?”

“Certainly Sir,” she replied, showing the two back into the entrance hall. As they wandered in, she scurried into the side room, emerging a few seconds later with their bags and cloaks. “Here you are good Sirs” she mumbled courteously. It was at this point that Elvendor suddenly remembered the note that he had been given by his father...in particular the words, ‘in fact once you have read this note, I strongly suggest you destroy it’. All the way to Kostenton he’d occasionally remembered that phrase, and looked for a chance to get away from Alex to destroy it, but had never worked up enough courage to create such an opportunity. What if the Mayor had taken it from his bag…quickly he searched his bag and found much to his relief that it was still there. He ensured though that no change of expression came over his face as he did this, any suspicion that something valuable lay in the bag could lead to a lot of trouble. As they were leaving through the door Betty added with a smile, “I hope you enjoy your stay in Kostenton.”

“That all depends if you’re around,” replied Alex with an outrageous wink, clearly the effects of the wine having not yet worn off. The girl blushed slightly before closing the door behind them and retreating into the vast confines of the Town Hall.

There was very little light left as Alex slipped out of the penetrating chill that had settled upon the city streets into the The Murkey Waters tavern, grateful to ease into the relative safety of the cheery building. Elvendor paused outside the entrance, his hand holding the thin slab of rock. Quickly he jerked it against the solid white wall, shattering the note into hundreds of tiny fragments that rained down amongst the cobbles. The action only took a few seconds, but greatly relieved the load weighing heavily on Elvendors mind. A load that would have grown astronomically, had he been able to observe the more plush surroundings of the Town Hall’s inner sanctums.

* * *

Within the warm upper rooms the Mayor sat examining the list of things within the travellers’ bags, a list Betty had handed him. Mayor Constantine knew the memorandum ‘Knowledge is power’ and knew it well. He had got to be Mayor by acquiring as much accurate information as possible, then using that knowledge to his advantage. Now as Mayor he hadn’t let his guard slip, the more knowledge he gained the more power he would have over his own race...and others. He was deeply suspicious about the two travellers, the fact that the elf spoke fluent English and hadn’t mentioned the fact had already rung silent alarm bells within his head.

Quickly he dismissed most of the items on the list; money, vine ropes and spare clothes. In fact only one object interested him, a copy – word for word of a note that the elfish traveller had had on him. Betty had seen the elf search his bag as he left and reported it to him, clearly the elf had been worried, perhaps about the eighty Goldents in his bag but most likely the note. Getting down one of the big elfish translation books in his private library, he meticulously worked for half the night translating the note. Having finished, he sat back and examining the fruits of his labours again, allowing a smile to cross his plump face. He read and re–read the note before sitting back and chuckling to himself. Slowly events from the past began to swirl about his mind, piecing themselves together…

Two elves passing through on a quest, a dwarf who could speak fluent English after being absent for near on a year and now an Elf who had the same silver sliver in his ear as that dwarf…looking for an object called ‘The Jade’. Clearly then he reasoned, the travellers past had set out, perhaps looking for ‘The Jade’, perhaps not, and had found it. Whatever had been there though had taken them by surprise – a power so great it actually terrified them, causing them to leave it well alone. A power that if it were harnessed by the right hands could be useful…? With a yawn the Mayor rose and waddled off to bed, in the morning he’d set the wheels in motion for the plan that he was even now forming in his mind.

* * *

By the next morning the wine had long since worn off the two travellers. Elvendor was still feeling uncomfortable about being within the city. Still he felt the all seeing glare of the Town Hall burning into him, prying into his secrets, his fears, scrutinising his every move…Quickly he shook his head, clearing the paranoid voices inside as they walked away from The Murkey Waters tavern, breathing in the foul stench of the Kostenton river. Many tradesmen were stepping out of low barges and unloading various crates upon the stone banks, crates of fish and marble ornaments lining the cobbled embankment. The cries of several men selling their goods straight from their boats rang out clearly across the murky lapping waters, briefly overriding the drawn out screeches of the brown seagulls overhead. The gulls dived and swooped above the catch looking for an easy meal. Both Alex and Elvendor barely received a glance from the faceless masses that flocked about the docks, bartering with the fishermen or just moving off to their work within the city. Elvendor had taken the chance to borrow some of Alex’s clothes so that he didn’t stand out so much within the crowd, now he wore loose brown trousers and a slightly dirty shapeless black top. Both turned away from the Town Hall on the opposite side of the river and plunged into the narrow inner streets of Kostenton.

Here Elvendor started to notice the large numbers of people slumped against the walls of the houses, skeletal figures whose lives seemed to be washing away, in most cases through no fault of their own. Poverty and unemployment was clearly a big problem within Kostenton, Elvendor started to feel pangs of sympathy for the huddled forms huddled in the streets. These sorts of problems were never faced by elves who, although emotionally detached, took great care to ensure no-one went hungry or was homeless. They eventually passed by these streets into some slightly wider, more deserted streets, where the more specialist shops lay.

His thoughts were torn away from the sorry sight as Alex turned into a sword shop. Elvendor had insisted that Alex should carry a sword to defend himself, despite Alex’s protestations. Within the antique shop lay rows of knives and swords, a traceable source of most violent attack weapons within the city, however as there was only a minimal police force it had survived any threat of closure. It took a little while due to Alex and Elvendor bartering about how expensive a sword Alex really needed, before Alex gave way and allowed Elvendor to buy him a fifty Goldent long sword. It was still a fairly plain and rather heavy iron sword, but it would certainly deal a lethal blow first time to most highwaymen. They also spent several Goldents on clothes and on meals leaving Elvendor with just eight Goldents by the end of the day.

It was as they were having their final meal of the day in a tavern across the river, just South of the City Hall, in 'The Goldent and the Pauper’ that Elvendor finally picked up some interesting information. Most of the afternoon had been spent in taverns talking with the locals, but all it had yielded up to then was gossip and bad jokes, if that. In this tavern however Elvendor spotted a man slumped alone in a corner of the tavern.

“He looks old enough to remember twenty years back,” said Alex, most of the afternoon he and Elvendor had been trying to gleam information about the two travellers seen in Timburton. Elvendor still regretted not asking the mayor and so leapt at a chance to hopefully gleam some information about them. Approaching the man they sat down, one either side of him and began to talk with him.

After a while the old man (whose name they ascertained to be Elias) stopped examining Elvendors face and, jumping into a lull in the conversation, spoke about it.

“I once saw a face like that, it twas many years ago though…” Elvendor desperately tried to stay calm, as the old man continued to stare with glazed eyes into the distance…”that was it, bout twenty four years past...couple they were, passed right through here they did…sat right where I’m sitting now in fact, pretty couple they were…seem to remember that they had met a lone dwarf. Funny that, don’t usually talk much do elves and dwarves. Anyhow’s they all left together, don’t know what became of them…” He trailed off at this point and when questioned further could give no more details about the event. They left the tavern soon afterwards, Elvendor’s face aglow,

“that settles it, that must have been my father…so what did he discover that was…” Elvendor trailed off, not wanting to let the secret of ‘The Jade’ out, luckily Alex didn’t notice anything wrong.

“Well it would almost be fun to follow his trail” he said looking thoughtful, “which looks like it leads towards the dwarven cities perhaps?” They walked out to the Western gate of the city and asked the gatekeeper there if he had seen two elfin traveller’s depart just over twenty years ago. Unfortunately it turned out that he had only been there a couple of years and had no idea who was there before him. Disappointed they trudged back to The Murky Waters to settle down for the night.

As they lay in their beds that night (which were actually just a couple of mattresses on a wooden floor covered with blankets) Elvendor’s mind whirled with all the new sights and sounds of the day. He heard Alex speak next to him without understanding what he said.

“…What?” he muttered sleepily,

“What’s the plan for tomorrow?” Alex asked, “We’re running low on Goldents so we can hardly afford to spend any more time just sightseeing. We could set off on the quest, and would be equipped to do so, although we don’t have to return to the Mayor. Alternatively we could work here and earn some money before travelling, although I’m not sure where and for what, maybe try to help unload crates along the riverfront? Or we could head for somewhere else such as Port Kranthos or the dwarven lands and see what we can pick up whilst we’re on the go. What do you think?”

Elvendor sighed and brought his mind crashing back to reality with a jolt. What should we do? He thought.

You can jump to Chapter 5: Grave Trouble here.
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:57 pm    Post subject:  

Okay, they're running out of money, our elf hero is uncomfortable staying around here (and with good reason, although he doesn't know it yet).

I shouldn't think there's any real doubt. They should set off as soon as possible. :)
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solus.serpen



Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 608
Location: UK

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:18 am    Post subject:  

ohh, why did they have to spend all their money :( ?
Nvm, since they are low on goldents...They probably shouldn't go to the dwarven city - I think they have seen all they want to here so don't work here. The other options are most likely to be:
- Go on the quest. Which I was against from the start...although doesn't seem too bad now - just it is probably going to take a long time and be entirely pointless except to gain them money, and perhaps experience - which in my opinion, they don't have enough of to go on the quest anyway.
- Port Kranthos. This is better - if they want to make some more money, it would be sensible to go and work in the port. There are usually many free jobs in a port, and it would help to build up their strength. Plus, I think the port is more interesting than fighting off monsters in some hills. :? Although I'm sure Jez would make it more interesting than that, he doesn't like things being as they seem ;).

Oh, I've just realised another option :).
-The Isle of Rabbendon! This lies off Kostenton so it shouldn't be hard to reach, and they might be able to make money here. However I still think its too close to the mayor.
-alternatively, he could just give up and go back home, keeping Alex as a penpal :D. However, I don't suggest this as a poll option as it would rather ruin the story...

hm, I'll think on what I want to do and see if I can come up with any more feasable ideas later ;).

Oh, oh! just thought of another idea :D :D.
-how about they say they are going to do the quest...and then they get all the equiptment...and sell it! :D. Then they can run away to the dwarves :D. Or run away then sell it.

solus.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8879
Location: https://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:31 am    Post subject:  

Well, chasing down the two elves or going on the Mayor's quest seem the real options here. Ummm. Errrr.

Mayor's quest!
:D
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:10 am    Post subject:  

It does seem mighty strange (dumb) to have spent two thirds of our money on a sword. If we do choose to go on the Mayor's quest, a sword is likely to be provided anyway - and probably a better one. :?

Afterall, the Mayor wants information and seems more than willing to part with money to get it. No point sending off more people to find out what is further south and then providing them with low grade equipment just causing them to die or give up.

Also - 80 goldents is also a small fortune - given that the mayor noted it - and therefore not something we are going to earn back at the docks in anything less than a few decades!

So I think Solus's plan is the better one. Agree to the mission - get equipped - and then decide what to do after that. I suspect the Mayor won't send us off alone, he likely has some 'companion'(spy to make sure we don't run off) in mind, but with food, equipment and many miles ahead of us before 'the scary thing' we'll be in a much better position to think of a plan as we travel.

Happy Writing :)
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JezSharp



Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 592
Location: The middle of anywhere...

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:58 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Also - 80 goldents is also a small fortune - given that the mayor noted it - and therefore not something we are going to earn back at the docks in anything less than a few decades! Well...about 4 Goldents would buy you a decent meal...so 80 would buy 20 good meals - at two a day would last someone a week and a half. So 80 Goldents isn't actually quite that huge - most dock workers would get paid about 3 Goldents a day. 80 Goldents is a fair amount for anyone to have on them at one time as most people spend their Goldents on food - therefore: Quote: and therefore not something we are going to earn back at the docks in anything less than a few decades! isn't too far off given that they'd have to spend a large proportion of their Goldents on food.

Quote: It does seem mighty strange (dumb) to have spent two thirds of our money on a sword. You're right, but clearly at the time niether was sure about going on the quest and Elvendor felt the Alex ought to carry protection. Clearly though this wasn't one of his greatest decisions - even Elves can make mistakes - in which case Alex should really have pointed it out, however he was more preoccupied by insisting the Elvendor didn't buy anything more expensive.

However it probably isn't too bad a situation: if they don't take the quest Alex has something to defend himself with, if they do take the quest they can probably get the Mayor to re - imburse the cost of the sword, which is pretty good quality (considering it cost 50 Goldents) - probably about on par with what the Mayor would have provided sword wise.
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The White Blacksmith



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 2629

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:50 am    Post subject:  

I'd say find some dwarf or centaur- one that wont sell them to the mayor- and insist that they get to take him/her as a companion instead of the mayor's choice. Then run as soon as you get the equipment.
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JezSharp



Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 592
Location: The middle of anywhere...

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:29 pm    Post subject:  

Right, after all the feedback I've generated the next list of options up for voting. One of the key issues is whether they accepts the quest, gain the equipment - then try to do a runner once they are clear of Kostenton City, instead of investigating the quest as he should...which sounds tempting, but could potentially set off a dangerous sequence of events if the Mayor was to find out about it...something to consider carefully :smart: .


Happy voting :)
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:47 pm    Post subject:  

I've voted for accepting the mission and heading south - we've got to make it convincing - atleast to start. Once we are a good few days away then maybe we can consider changing direction but for now, relax and look excited about the mission :D

Happy Writing :D
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solus.serpen



Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 608
Location: UK

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 2:27 am    Post subject:  

oooh, I wonder whats going to win...

;)
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OldJoe



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 125
Location: On mah steed.

Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:48 pm    Post subject:  

Ah voted, and ah reckon ah know what is going ter win.
;)
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Ingrothechundyer
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Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 2:07 pm    Post subject:  

Doesn't even look close.
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JezSharp
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Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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Location: The middle of anywhere...

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:23 am    Post subject:  

Ok, after two incredibly tight polls this poll ended up being very one sided :)

Currently the plan is to release Chapter 5: Grave Trouble in just over a week's time :) .
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solus.serpen
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Joined: 21 Jul 2006
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Location: UK

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:52 am    Post subject:  

So long :(.
But if you want to time it for the PPP, I'm not complaining.

Solus.
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Chinaren
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Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Location: https://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 4:01 pm    Post subject:  

Did you just go and add those colors to the old chapters Jez? They seem a bit psycadelic* now! :-o


*However you spell that.
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solus.serpen
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Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 608
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 11:22 pm    Post subject:  

Yes. Aparently...they are more readable in colour :?. Not so sure on that one myself.
But good summery Jez, although maybe mentioning that Alex is a human would be a good idea, as although it is fairly obvious to those that have read the book, those who just read the synopsis to catch up won't know.
Note the subtle hint people! :
Quote: (therefore reading the very start of Chapter 4 where the Mayor describes some of the recent happenings in the Rusheldon Hills is probably a good idea )
Quote: ...some Chapters may contain important details not covered in the summary - including information that may be helpful to this dp...
*cough, cough*!
Sorry, but otherwise I have an unfair advantage as I have already read the chapter. ;).

Solus.
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The White Blacksmith
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Joined: 02 Apr 2006
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Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:36 am    Post subject:  

I can't wait for the new chapter, and just so you know I've added it to my favourites and I'm gonna nominate it for sgotm.
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JezSharp
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Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 592
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Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:40 am    Post subject:  

Wow, Thanks Whitey :) .

I've replaced the phycadelic colors as well, as I seemed to be the only one who liked them :( .
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