• Closed • Unus Annus

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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Unus Annus

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NOTE
This thread is intended to be a follow-up of Past, Present, Future. The two threads are exactly one arc apart.
Arc 722, 18th of Cylus
Darius awoke to the sound of a cockerel.

It wasn't as familiar a sound as it once had been, for there were not many such birds near his home within the walled confines of Hopetoun, but it was enough to stir Darius from his slumber. Bleary grey eyes stared up at the ceiling of his house in the hills behind Scalvoris Town, and he quickly recalled the previous evening.

He was supposed to head to Egilrun. He wanted to speak to the shipbuilders there about expanding the Faldrass fleet. But as he'd boarded the Libertalia at Hopetoun's dock, he'd allowed a moment of whimsy to take hold, and decided that he would go to Egilrun via his home town.

Of course, Scalvoris Town wasn't on the way to Egilrun at all. It was a major diversion, but it afforded him the opportunity to spend an evening with his father. Josef and Darius had shared a hot meal with no shortage of stories and laughs to pass the time. By the time the younger Baer had left Josef's house and begun the climb up the hill towards his own, it was well past midnight.

So now, as the rooster crowed at the sight of the tiniest sliver of morning sun, Darius was left to wonder if he should have left his father's home a break or two earlier.

But nothing could be done about that now, and so he rolled out of bed and walked to his hand basin. Splashing water on his face was an immediate help in waking him up, and the fresh droplets that ran down his cheeks and eventually nestled in his beard felt fresh as they caught the air that brushed against them with his movements about the house.

Before long, he was fed, clothed, and (mostly) awake. After gathering his knapsack, his longsword, and an apple, he left the house and - after locking the front door and taking a bite of his snack - he looked out over the Hollow Sea. And then he began to make his way down the hill, completely unaware that his letterbox was not empty as he walked past.
OOC
The reference to the letter is not to tie this thread into that plot. It is merely to explain why Darius is doing something else on the trial that the letter is delivered.
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Darius went about his trial.

There was no sense of anything specific about that day - but it was, as it transpired, one of those days.

Some trials, everything that can go wrong, does. But others? Others are those where Lady Luck seems to smile upon you. Not in big ways, but in small, noticeable, convenient ones. That was the kind of day that Darius had. He avoided the woman throwing dirty water out of the window, he found a coin, things like that. Nothing major, just the kind of day that can leave you feeling like it was a very good day.

Unfortunately, of course, such days also fall under Ralaith's boot and, as such, time ticked on. The sun rose in the sky and soon, noon beat down on Scalvoris. There were small inns and so on along the way and, whatever means of travel Darius used, wherever he chose to go, he found himself feeling hungry.

The other thing that Darius noticed, that morning in Scalvoris Town, was that he kept seeing cats. Now, this wasn't unusual in and of itself, but these ones were. Vividly coloured coats, strange-coloured eyes - those might catch Darius' attention. But then, there was the cat in window of a building he walked past, sitting and watching him. Another on a rooftop, another that walked alongside him a while. There was nothing uniform about these cats, some were normal-looking, others were very odd - but they all had one thing in common.

They weren't so much cats as kittens.
OOC Notes for you!
1. Please describe what Darius spends / spent his morning doing.
1a. Include cats 😸🐱👓
1b. Include examples of Darius being lucky! (You can use this to your material advantage, but don't push it toooo far!)

2. Take yourself to the point that you start to eat your mid-day meal (or whatever time he eats).
Thanks!
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Darius had never subscribed to the concept of luck.

"Shallow men believe in luck, lad," his father had said countless times. "Strong men believe in cause and effect." (It was actually Ralph Waldo Emerson who said that!)

So when he stopped in the street to pick up a nel that had become wedged between two cobbles, he didn't think anything of it. And when a bucketful of ablutions landed on the spot in the street where he would have been, had he not stopped, it seemed like nothing more than a coincidence. And then, when he heard a thunk - followed by a yell - from a nearby alleyway, and he turned and caught a ball that was flying past, that was just quick reflexes.

Each of these things, (along with a handful of other fortuitous curiosities), might have been brushed off as completely meaningless on their own, but added together, they began to catch Darius' attention. And, as the sun neared its zenith and his stomach complained of neglect, he realised that each of these beneficial encounters had been accompanied by something quite unexpected.

"Kittens," he mumbled to himself as he made his way down an alley that lay at the back of a nearby tavern.

"Have my little cousins been bothering you?"

The voice was a familiar one, and Darius turned to see Ledas, the giant ice tiger that he had first meet on Ishallr. He was glad they were in a small back street, lest Ledas' presence spook some of the nearby residents.

"No, they're not bothering me," the Scalvorian replied. "But they do seem interested in me for some reason."

A guttural growl that passed for a tiger's guffaw escaped the beast's mouth.

"Perhaps that's because you're interesting."

"Me?" Darius responded, the scepticism audible in his voice. "I'm not interesting."

"Says the man talking to a tiger made of ice..."

Darius realised he didn't have a good retort to offer to that statement, and as he stepped out of the alleyway - and Ledas made himself scarce in a way that only a spirit companion could - he realised that perhaps there was something more going on than a series of unfortunate events.

His stomach's growls seemed as though they might rival Ledas' by the time he stepped inside the inn and ordered a meal. He decided he would need to keep an eye out for any more kittens - just in case - but he couldn't put off his hunger much longer.
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"I swear to all the Immortals that I am going to KILL THOSE CATS!"

That was the cry that Darius heard as he sat and waited for his meal. The Inn he'd gone intogeneric Tavern #245 was nothing special; it was clean and there was plenty of variety in terms of the drinks on offer. The menu, though, was limited. It was limited to "Stew".

His waitress - a pretty young girl who seemed rather skittish, but not overly so, smiled slightly - apologetically. "Don't mind Bert," she said, softly. "We had a delivery of meat yester-trial and, it's a new supplier. Seems to be something attracting cats, I don't know what. But they're all over him and the kitchen."

As the next few moments progressed, Darius would notice a few things. Firstly, he'd continue to hear the odd exclamation from the kitchen. Bert, it seemed, was not one bit amused. And while he'd seen cats and kittens on his way, a glance through the door as his waitress stepping into the kitchen told him that the kitchen itself was... full of cats. Not just kittens, here, but cats large and small. Beautifully well-cared for and scraggy strays - in the time it took a door to open and close Darius could ascertain that they most likely numbered in their hundreds in there.

Eventually, after maybe ten bits, there was the sound of a lowd meowling and then a loud crash. Bert, it seemed, knew some Scalveen which was quite .... colourful? Certainly a good thing there were no children in the Inn.

"I CAN NOT DO THIS ANY MORE!! I QUIT!!!" Bert raged from in the kitchen and, just a few moments later, out came his waitress who approached Darius and said, apologetically.

"I'm sorry, Sir," she said quietly. "I'm afraid that we have no stew available." She looked a little upset, truth be told. "I .. umm... we appear to be needing to close."

Other patrons started to grumble but no one seemed inclined to help. ... or did they?
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The outburst from the kitchen immediately caught Darius' attention. He had been in some fairly rowdy taverns in his time, but that was usually the patrons causing a racket, so this was certainly a new experience.

Bad menus, though? They seemed commonplace. Sometimes it seemed as though cooks were trying to be as boring and predictable as possible. That was quite the criticism coming from someone who had established a settlement that had spent no small amount of time living off potatoes and fish - or it would have been, if he'd ever vocalised it.

But this particular tavern had to be the pinnacle when it came to such an uncreative approach. It was as though they had started to write the menu, listed one item, and then become bored. The options were so limited that Darius was left to wonder why they'd even hired a waitress. Surely, it was either "yes, I'll have the stew" or "goodbye"...?

But they had hired a waitress, and the pretty young woman was doing her best to apologise for the commotion coming from the kitchen.

"It's not a problem," Darius tried to reassure her, although he was really only of the opinion that it was clearly not she who had the problem.

The mention of the cook's name unexpectedly sparked a childhood memory. Darius tried to remember what had become of his bunny, and he wondered what Gwendoline was up to that trial. He hoped she was happy.

Unlike Bert the cook, who was very vocal about how he was not happy. Not happy at all, which was revealed by the sight of innumerable cats and a departing cook who stormed out of the kitchen.

"Do you suppose we should investigate?" Darius quietly asked Ledas.

"Why do you people insist on investigating things when you could just lie down all trial?" came the sighed reply.

"Because it's the best way to meet charismatic ice tigers who take such things seriously," Darius quietly retorted, causing Ledas to make a growling guffaw. "Aren't you curious about those cats?"

"I am a cat. Of course I'm curious!"

"Good. Maybe you'll be able to talk some sense into them."

Darius turned to the waitress as she arrived and explained that the store would need to close. The woman wasndoing her best, but she would be no match for hundreds of cats. Something had to be done.

"No need to apologise," Darius said. "I'd like to help."

And, without waiting for the waitress to potentially decline his offer, Darius rose to his feet and - hand on the hilt of the blade which rested against his hip - made his way to the kitchen door and pushed it open.
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Darius was the only one who offered to help, and the waitress smiled at him gratefully. There was no suggestion that she'd try and stop him and so, Darius walked into the kitchen.

And there he saw a sight unlike any he'd seen before, most likely.


The kitchen was quite large. It was well-tended and clean, the place had an air of well-looked-after to it. It also looked like it would cater for a menu more enticing than the two options of "stew" or "nothing at all". But, Darius saw that all that was cooking here was in enormous pans atop the stoves and large pots hanging over fires. Stew.

Three of the pots (as far as Darius could tell at a quick glance, maybe more if he took the time to look) were spilled over the floor and the stew was all over the place. Counters, stove-top, dripping down cupboard doors and, of course, all over the floor. Sitting on the floor, covered in the stew he was sitting in, sat a man (presumably Bert) who was no longer shouting. Now, he was sobbing. He was a large man, tall and broad and with a rugged red face and very little hair. Currently, he was sobbing uncontrollably into his dishcloth.

And that was not the most unusual thing Darius saw as he stepped into the kitchen. It was like the room itself was a furry sea. Everywhere he looked, there were cats. Small ones, big ones - adults and kittens here - they were lapping up the stew. It was like they couldn't get enough of it. One of them was licking the stew off Bert's bald head. One particularly unfortunate one had fallen into the pot it was trying to eat from and was currently both cooking and eating.

It was feline chaos.

After a few moments of getting the other patrons Out Of There, the waitress came in. Bert looked up, tears pouring down his face.

"I'm not a chef," Bert said. "I'm covering for my brother who's away for a ten-trial. But he said.. all I'd have to," Bert gave a sort of hiccup-cough that only someone who has been or is still sobbing can manage "... all I'd have to do is... is... serve the stew. He got it from his ... his... his... his friend Onard." He was calming a little. The cats weren't.

"But the cats. It's getting worse every day and they follow me home and .... " Bert sighed a deep and mournful sigh. "I'm not a chef," he repeated and started to cry again as cats crawled all over him licking off every last drop of the stew.

Should Darius pay any attention to the stew on the floor, the small parts he could see that weren't being licked up by cats, he would notice a few things about it. There was a lot of meat in it. An awful lot, really. Much more than one would think would be profitable for a business to sell and, come to that.

It wasn't entirely clear what the meat was. It didn't look like any meat Darius had seen.

The waitress put her hand on Darius' arm. "We have another delivery of stew tonight," she said, looking between him and Bert. "What should I do?"
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