Knightober 2021 – honour

“Stay on his back! Hold on, let Swift do the rest!”

Of course — of course — the ambush came after days of quiet pleasantries and glass-arts tours and trading gentle verbal duels with Ranai notables. Of course it came when Liamath and his new charge were following yet another dizzying shell-strewn forestgarden trail, one attached to Mairah’s own manor no less.

Oh, they planned it well. But not well enough to mark Liamath’s skill —

And they, wretches all, were also learning all too quickly that no moonstag fared well against the famed flesh-eating steeds of Kauvr.

Of course Swift had the run of House Reinan’s enclosed groves; Liamath would accept no less.

The knot of assailants — sleek creatures in unmarked buff coats, save for their leader in linen and lace and silvered shell-maille — swarmed them. Liamath barked a single warning — “Fall back and be spared” — before he drew his sword, tossed back his head, and howled.

Swift thundered through the trees heartbeats later, fangs bared and hooves lashing. In one fluid motion Liamath scooped the ghost-pale Mairah bodily from the ground and heaved him onto the gelding’s broad grey back, even as Swift laid open a stag’s throat and stove its ribs in.

Then it was time for a culling, and Liamath’s blade was every bit as swift as his companion.

He paid in blood — a gash, two gashes, on his blind side from darting assailants that escaped Swift’s teeth — but two corpses lay at his feet and three others took to their heels. Two corpses, and a kneeling figure in bloodied silvered finery who clutched a shattered blade as Liamath closed, sword high.

Then he grounded it, point to earth.

“You’ve lost your bid to founder the new accord. GIve me your allies’ names and come along in peace, and I will spare your life and render you unto the Rainlord’s court.”

The fallen cavalier gulped air, spit bloodily, tossed back her head in disbelief. Behind Liamath, Swift rumbled warningly, snaking his head low and closer; Liamath clicked his tongue, but kept his attention on the swordmaster before him.

“Stand, Swift. Stand.”

The gelding drew back, snorting; Liamath tried not to chuckle, struck by the ludicrousness of it all. Still he didn’t turn.

“Lord Mairah? Are you well?”

The response was quick, and shaken —

“A — It’s a close thing, Wolf, but I’m alright …”

“Good. Stay where you are, if you please?”

— not that Liamath expected him to actually attempt to dismount at the moment —

“And so here we are, oh would-be righteous one. Will you surrender?”

He saw the nerves, the doubt, in her amber eyes. Well, perhaps understandable. Still —

“You killed –“

“The poor fools, and their beasts, that you set upon us before you dared to close in yourself, yes. I regret, but they could have made another choice — as several of them chose to do.
“Will you surrender your blade, milady?”

“And you’ll do what?”

Liamath shifted his stance slightly, his own maille chimed softly, muffled by wool.

“Remand you to Ranai justice. I have stilled your hand, as was my charge to do so.”

He shifted his hands on his sword-pommel, ready to change grip and bring the blade to bear if necessary. The cavalier watched him for several breaths, listening to the soft chime, eyeing his bloodied furs.

“… You’re some Kauvra wolflord.”

“I am.”

Her blade clattered to his boots.

He offered her his hand.

-*-

Kauvra crystal maille: Perishingly patience-devouring to carve — and not at all silent unless well muffled with wool and fur (often not even then) or enchanted — maille hauberks carved from the toughest, least brittle of Kauvr’s crystal are a signature of the wolflords from the March Of The Grey. Some grow so accustomed to the tiny glittering links and their soft chime that they meditate to the sound.

Knightober 2021 – paladin

As it turned out, the fair young man in question — one Mairah by name, scion of a long line of glassweaver nobility — possessed a certain paleness of eye and angle to face that suggested ties to Cor-cael’s lord. This explained a good deal to Liamath, though he kept his observations to himself as he paced silently alongside the chattering Mairah.

Discretion, always discretion …

He was learning a good deal about the state of affairs in Ranah, to be sure, and the glances he kept receiving from pale-coated, patchwork-embroidered locals were — did the newly-gifted blade at his hip look so terribly mismatched with the rest of him, then? Did the shining thing not suit? Or was it something else ~?

“– So you see, Wolf Corvan, Lord Kaerna frankly dispatched you here ahead of expected, mm, disruptions. I’m not unskilled with a blade, but against …”

Liamath shook his head, dark mane swinging in its formal braid.

“There’s no reason for you to cross swords with dissenters and the lawless. It’s a different sort of fight, that one, all the more when it’s unavoidable.”

He cocked his head to fix Mairah with his hale eye, a thin smile creeping out for a moment. Oh, the lad looked puzzled; very well, then.

“I’m just as pleased that you recognize the difference between a duel, or a skirmish, and what we’re waiting for, young lord. But, rest assured that I have no intention to draw unnecessary blood. That’d be no better than the wretches I’m watching for.
“We protect those needing protecting, and cull when culling’s called for; nothing more, nothing less.”

-*-

Hundred-silver: A tradition still held by many older Ranai families of presenting a gift — a new knife or sword, philtre or pen-set, brooch or buckler — to one who has proven faithful, joined them in an oath, or become new kin. Whatever the object, it is at least partially surfaced in mosiac-work of tiny mirrored tesserae, as a reminder that the whole is made up of its parts.

Knightober 2021 – chivalry

Of course Liamath agreed to make the trek his liege requested; it would never have occured to him to refuse. Though off-balance from his earlier exploits, he’d sworn his oath and would not break it, certainly not for so petty a thing as being out on the road once more. Lord Kaerna did not command his loyalty — and for that, she possessed it until his dying breath.

What he hadn’t expected was what he — and the grumbling Swift — rode to the Mirror Of The Mirror for.

Or, for that matter, how Lord Kaerna planned to have them present themselves.

Oh, milord, you are a clever one. But I know very well that you have more than the favour of loaning out a fancy honour-guard in mind, else you would’ve chosen most any of the youngsters.

Well, I’ll do my best, and hope that a one-eyed swordhand doesn’t put off the fair young man.

Compared to their backlands travels, the road to Ranah was an easy one of waystops and pocket-villages and Swift earning treats from cheerful travellers; when Ranah’s bleached-silver walls loomed ahead before Liamath’s eyes he almost felt that it should’ve taken at least few days longer. And on that fine evening, Liamath drew Swift towards the side of the broad road to brush away the dust and settle their unaccustomed finery of shining dark furs and falls of tiny sparkling beads cascading from caparison and trailing coattails.

Swift stamped one hoof, tossing his head, as Liamath remounted, earning a chuckle and a scratch in his thick ruffed mane.

“Yes, we both look quite fancy, I’m sure. Let us present ourselves and our pledges to the gatekeepers, eh?”

-*-

Heart’s-pledge: One of several oaths and similar promises common to the northern reaches of the Edge, similar to the wolflord’s oath, the blood-binding oath and the guardian’s sword oath (and the Alabaster Blades have a similar tradition). Frequently represented by a special series of glyphs, with or without an inscribed copy of the oath itself; the specific form of the physical pledge varies, from illuminated documents to inscribed crystal prisms, precious-metal pendants or stone tablets. Many carry the physical representation of their pledge as a ward or charm.

Knightober 2021 – leaves

“You’ve had an eventful ride, Liamath. I regret needing to cut it short.”

Liamath couldn’t tell whether Lord Kaerna was joking or not. His liege was hard to read at times, with a cool professionalism forged in the fires of political war, and he admired her steel even as it made him occasionally second-guess himself —

“But do breathe, wolflord, you’re looking a little peaked. It won’t suit to have one of my finest wilting like a snipped flower.”

— like right this moment. He winced, and she chuckled, icy eyes sparkling. The sound echoed through the hall’s cedar ceiling beams, muffling into the tapestries that lined the walls. Liamath covered his moment of discomfit with a carefully contemplative sip from the pearly cup, blossom-like, he cradled. It wasn’t like him to act so much the callow squire, truly, but his nerves felt a touch raw after the gift, and the lost stranger, and the chase afterward, and …

I never thought I’d see the time I preferred to sit in Cor-cael and sip from fancy service. But …

But the warmth of the hearthfires, the smoky cedar beams, the brilliant tapestries and the glittering pillars, the soft dark pelts strewn across benches and chairs …

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe …

“Liamath.”

Lord Kaerna set down her own cup. Her circlet gleamed in the lantern-light, thorns in grizzled silver.

“Will you ride to Ranah?”

-*-

Fernsilk: A creeping, delicate fern, tiny in the wilds of the forest but growing to luxuriance indoors, whose trailing curlicues of feathery leaves lend a cool, minty, earthy savour to Kauvri teas, meads, and raw dishes.

Knightober 2021 – key


A summons back to Cor-cael was not something Liamath expected, but — he’d learned long before — fate did not give a clipped wedge for his expectations.  If Lord Kaerna wished his presence, then her will would be done.

If it’s hostilities or calamity, I’m sure there would have been some hint in the code; but, nothing.  So, vital enough to call me back, not vital enough to inform me.

Or, it’s secrecy that’s needed.  No way of knowing who or what might be about when I received the summons …

As with the firebird, and the children.

His musings kept Liamath gnawing at possibilities — and his growing relief at returning to his liege’s lands — for nearly the entire return trip.  Distractions came when hunting with Swift or, once, offering aid to a stranded forest-gleaner desperate to reach his village and too thorn-riddled to make it back without that help; but no firebird appeared to chide him along, so Liamath deemed the detour more than worthwhile.  They’d make it up.

By the time he trotted through the cobbled lanes of Larell towards Cor-cael’s walls, Swift was growling and snappish and Liamath didn’t blame the gelding one bit.  The last few days turned into hard riding …

“Don’t you worry, my big lad, a warm stable and proper grooming and good feed are waiting for you on the other side of the gate — just tilt me there, now.”

Swift never paused, only sidling at the last moment for Liamath to hold his hand out to the veins of crystal threading through the massive nightcedar gates that loomed above them.  Beneath his palm, pale light flared, ghostly runes flickered, an echo of the light seeping through his glove; and the great Horizon Gate of Cor-Cael yawned open.

-*-

Portal Emblem:  Another example of Kauvri crystalwork, usually a finger-ring, pendant, or cloak-brooch, carved from a crystal spall mounted in metal or especially dense wood.  The emblem responds to the presence of of the core-crystal it was spalled from and is tuned to the life-pattern of its bearer, who can use the emblem to instruct the core to unlock or unbolt access to anything from jewelry boxes to buildings.

#FourMaps 02

This past week was, to put it bluntly, ass, and work did its best to splatter me.

One of the more annoying side-effects of this was that my original idea for a second map just flat refused to pan out. So I grabbed my drawing notebook and a brush pen and just started. No sketch, no pencil work, no grid, no dots, and no plan. It actually worked out pretty decent (and helped my nerves the two nights I worked on it.)

Of course then I forgot to post it here, whoops. *facepalms* So here it is:

Knightober 2021 – skeleton


May this be the last.

Fate is a capricious, fickle thing, and Liamath seldom felt that so keenly as he did this storm-clouded evening, some hours away from the pleasant hub-village and its market filled with cheer.

How fitting, truly, to have his beloved’s final token delivered on bright wings in time for such a wretched discovery.

Whoever the poor soul had been, what scraps remained of their belongings bore no resemblance to the villagers’ colourful woolens, nor to Urulayan or Ranai fashions, or the descriptions of further lands.  The metal of the thin dagger — a strange violet washed with gold — also utterly foreign.  None of it resembled anything Liamath recognized, or had heard of, so where had the lost hailed from? A newworld, perhaps, beyond the Edge …

The pale bones were far too real to only be some primordia fever dream.

Not that it mattered.

In the end the poor creature went down — trampled under Swift’s hooves, its skull shattered like a broken moon-melon between stout sharp fangs, while Liamath swung a prayerlight overhead like a festival lantern, free hand clamped onto the saddlehorn.

The lamp’s pale-gold light flickered fitfully now, the lacy crystal guttering in its greenivory egg, but that was alright.  The work was finished.  Brushing earth and moss from his breeches, Liamath rose slowly to his feet.

I didn’t know your rites, but I did what I could for you.  I hope that our traditions bring some peace.

May you now find your rest, stranger.

And it was time to move on.

-*-

Prayerlight: A delicate crystal carving of interlocking, lacy curlicues, often stylized ferns, fitted into a protective shell much like a lantern frame.  Once activated, such a lamp will cast soothing light out to 60′, in which mindless undead creatures are slow and sluggish, ghosts may not possess the living, and the dead will not rise.  A prayerlight will last for six hours, which need not be continuous.

six tables of unusual kit

Or, what happens when I’m hauled to work four hours early with a likelihood of working 60+ hours in a week if complete catastrophe’s finally landed *coughs*

So I found six table headers with no tables in an otherwise full-up notebook. And I may have gone a little ham, or something, lol. In any case here’s some options to roll or choose for your fighty things, for your magicky things, and what fancy healing (it’s healing, right? you sure?) enchantments you’re sticking in your system — none of this is written to have fancy mechanical effects attached (that weird thing still stabs like a sword, or an arrow, or whatever), but feel free to extrapolate whatever you like.

d12Edged Weapons
01.ancient jawbone lined with razor teeth, gripped wrapped with reddened silks
02.solid-light prismatic-plane array; winged blade-saint
03.alabaster sabre that regenerates chips, cracks and splinters
04.a shard of the moon; pale, creamy, glowing softly
05.gnarled twist of organic iron, black and sporting staring blue carbuncles
06.angel’s feather, bright as dawn and sharp as betrayal
07.hovering porcelain talons, hooked and vicious, that follow your hands
08.fused kaleidoscape of wickedly sharpened glass from a dead sanctuary
09.spiraling horn snapped from one of the Ten Great Beasts
10.a frozen flame, blue-golden and ragged
11.fae-circuited folding fan of rainbow shards, thin as a breath
12.the ghost of a blade, a colourless hollow limned with pale burning
as: swords, daggers, axes, knives, etc etc
d12Non-edged Weapons
01.orbiting sphere, glowing like bright glass, the size of two fists
02.an eternally-flowering branch of blood cherry
03.a stiffened silversteel limb, shedding clockwork dust, claw clutching a brass disc
04.fingerless demonhide gloves lined with bloodiron plates engraved with hymns
05.coiled lash of braided crystal filaments retractable to a heavy donut-shaped wristlet
06.ectoplasmic beast that screams and charges then dissipates until called again
07.fluttering red and gold ribbons that waft weightlessly in the breeze but strike like lead
08.a dead star core encaged by the claws of a bluesteel chain
09.a slab of black basalt, holes for gripping roughly hacked out
10.a calcified plume of phoenix’s breath
11.a perfectly calibrated steel orb of the skies, in a golden frame and grip
12.piston-driven arcanosteam impactor, gleaming moonsteel and glowing crystal
as: maces, hammers, picks, etc etc
d12Distance Weapons
01.bioenamel implant on limb that exudes sharp, detachable and aerodynamic scales
02.deep blue teardrop on golden thread that quivers in light and casts darts of colourless flame
03.folding crossbow like great wings, of intricate ivory and gold clockwork
04.flickering lightning chain that flashes away and returns in an eyeblink
05.razored butterfly wings, as broad as one’s forearm is long
06.a dragon’s gleaming whisker stringing a bow carved from its spur
07.battle halo that launches bolts of scintillant light
08.a swarm of copper-and-emerald clockwork dragonflies
09.thorned diadem that calls translucent hell-ivy from the earth
10.delicate golden technotiara that burns like the sun when thrown and returns with a thought
11.blue ice flute whose music becomes notes of shimmering solid sound
12.necrotech sangrecaster, ghostly icicle of crystal formed around blood-droplets core
as: bows of all kinds, crossbow, throwing knives, hatchets, etc etc
d12Protective Gear
01.articulated bone carapace that surfaces when a threat arises
02.delicate gossamer robe woven from angel’s ichor
03.array of whirring, flying sapphire orbs that intercept blows
04.network of runic circuitry inlaid into the skin
05.carpet of ever-shifting, ever-moving emerald ants
06.ruby carbuncles embedded at all pulse points, absorbing misfortune
07.ivory plates linked with golden hair, carved from an idol’s flesh
08.maille carved of martyr’s bone and prayer-amber
09.four hovering, glowing, rotating phantasmic shields
10.a watchful ghost-guardian; plasm and foxfire eyeshine
11.whirling, whispered ashen secrets of a fallen faith
12.black iron and tears forged into an elaborate technowork carapace
armour is as armour does, but …
d12Spell Repositories
01.shards of cranial vault engraved with blood-red ochre
02.sealed crystal ampoules of strange fluids in jewel-bright colours
03.greenstone plaques embossed with notation in gold and silver
04.waterfalling strings of tiny beads of all material, making tactile patterns
05.hard-light glyphs weaving in slow orbits unless contained
06.tissue-thin scarves soft as moth wings and rippled with watermarks
07.organic jewels in burning colours that adhere to the pineal eye
08.patterns in the fur of moon-eyed cats
09.congealed prayer-jewels stolen from a holy font
10.an infinitely-unfurling rose blossom
11.miniscule glass idols embedded into the skin
12.thumbnail mirrors polished from pearlshell and sewn to bright linens
spells? on paper?
d12“Potions”
01.indigo oyster
02.runic marrowbone
03.blood pastille
04.iridescent extract-pebble
05.softly glowing dust
06.honeyed earthgrub
07.jewel-urchin gonads
08.crystal ampoule injection (do not confuse with spell repository or vice versa)
09.viscous mirror-silver eyedrop
10.crushed pearl (take with wine)
11.skystag musk-paint
12.hundred-year fruitcake
you sure you want to dose yourself with that?