• Solo • [Raelia] Silver Stalker, Chapter One (Graded)

The cities and villages of Melrath are as varied and diverse as they come. The capital of Raelia is the the jewel of this western kingdom, playing host to a merchants, artisans, Aesir priests, as well as a cut throat political landscape dominated by the nobles of Raelia. To the south in the depths of the Myrkvior Forest lies Melrath's second largest, and oldest city, Fensalir. Here people have learned to live alongside spirits and the natural world by maintaining their loyalty to traditions laid down the first Melrathi. To the east lies the small fishing village of Noatun, and to the western mountains rests the Mer city of Verimeer, the brewing town of Alivilda and the alpine village Vormund.
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Ashling
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[Raelia] Silver Stalker, Chapter One (Graded)

Silver Stalker
8th Zi'da 719 in Raelia

CHAPTER ONE

It was blistering cold in Melrath this time of the year. It was no weather for foreign weaklings but the cold wasn’t an issue for Ashling. She was born and raised in Melrath. Like all other Melrathi she was accustomed to the climate. Stories about how outlanders suffered when the temperature fell made her laugh. Why couldn’t they dress right?

The snow creaked under her winter boots as she walked along the silent street in Raelia. She was on her way to The Ox’s Bellow, a tavern she had bad memories of. She had stayed there in early Ymiden. There had been a biqaj couple she never wanted to meet again. The man, Helwig if she recalled it right, had made fun of Ashling. For a moment he had made her believe that he walked around with other people’s cut off fingers in his pocket. It had only been sausages. Ashling had understood the prank a bit too late. The only good thing with those sausages - “thieves fingers” - had been the nice dog they had attracted. The biqaj’s wife Adèle had been even worse than him and people had called her a witch. Ashling had yet liked that the woman had turned up to tongue-lash her husband.

She still found the tavern worth a new visit. Soren, the tavern’s owner was one of Ashling’s very few contacts in Raelia. Last time she had been there he had been able to tell her a bit about the serial murders that had been going on at the time. Nasty stuff. Ashling had left the city. It had felt too dangerous to linger there. Besides, the herb she had been looking to buy had been sold out. Hadelwiz. That flamboyant biqaj couple had oozed of it. Ashling wasn’t sure of if they had used the herb in their perfume or to spice their liquor, or even if those two saw any difference between liquor and perfume.

Ashling had hesitated to go to the tavern today. She didn’t know anything more about Soren than his name, his profession and how he behaved at work. As she recalled him he was a typical businessman in the tavern branch. He had mixed drinks and told stories in an ever jovial manner. He had also obliged and helped out when she had asked for hearsay. Those serial murders in Raelia had been a mystery at the time. They might still be. But, nowadays, Ashling believed that Myrkvior’s Kin had been behind the deeds. That organization had claimed the credit (as they saw it) for a plethora of deaths during Vhalar.

As far as she had heard, Myrkvior’s Kin was a militant, radical and violent movement. As a traditional Melrathi who kept to the old ways, Ashling could sympathize with their goals. But, she didn’t sympathize with their methods. She was all for exiling outlanders en masse, but she saw no reason to slaughter them. Melrath could send them away back to where they belonged. They could go to their own homelands, out there in the bad world they had come from. That would be enough.

Fensalir was a big city, but Raelia was bigger. As Ashling hadn’t been there so often she had lost her way in the maze of unknown streets. She had tried to take the same route as last time she had visited Raelia and expected the street she was on to take her to The Ox’s Bellow. But, she had been mistaken. The tavern wasn’t here. The street was almost empty, but a group of children were coming her way, laughing and playing as they walked. They were like a flock of happy puppies. When she stopped them to ask about the way to The Ox’s Bellow they tittered and one of them bellowed like an ox. The other children laughed so hard that they weren’t able to speak. Their faces glowed with an appealing blush due to the cold. Their smiles revealed that some of them were shedding teeth. In short, they were lovely little cute innocent citizens of Raelia.

The children told her the way to the tavern and then they rushed away, eager to get home in time for dinner. It was that time of the day. The daylight was turning into dusk and soon it would be dark. The winter days were short in Melrath. Ashling memorized the directions the children had given her. She would continue along the street until she came to the barbershop at the next corner. There she would see a big sign over the door, with a picture of a knife and scissors on. She couldn’t miss it. Once she was there, she would turn left around the corner and enter a new street. She would follow it for a while until she came to “a big house” where she would climb over a fence and cross a yard, then climb out on the other side and take a shortcut through an alley, then ...

Later, Yrmellyn regretted this decision. It had been stupid to navigate by following the directions of children. The barbershop had been easy to find, but after that it became troublesome. After a while, she had arrived at a house that was bigger than the buildings nearby. There was a high fence that would be a challenge to climb. When she had stood there for a moment, a big angry dog came rushing to stand and bark at her on the other side of the fence. Common sense told her that it must be the wrong place. She wasn’t going to climb this fence like a thief in the dark. The risk of being attacked by watchdogs and accused of trespassing was obvious. That wouldn’t take her to The Ox’s Bellow. It would only take her to jail.

The children must have meant some other big house.

The angry dog kept barking after her as she walked away from it and continued along the street. The houses were all big now, but there were no fences. Stairs led up to platforms were imposing doors. They looked like gates you couldn’t expect to pass through without an invitation.

The days were short in Melrath this time of the year and the daylight had turned into dusk. It would soon be dark. Looking around she spotted a light farther down the street. In the hope to find a place where she could ask about the way, she walked toward the light. When she came closer she saw that it was a shop of some kind. There was a sign over the door but due to the lack of daylight, it was hard to see the motif. Ashling decided to enter regardless. A small bell rang when she opened the door and stepped in. At first, the shop seemed empty bar for shelves with items for sale. But, almost at once a middle-aged man with a pair of round glasses in metal frames stepped into view.

The shop’s interior was more luxurious that Ashling had expected. They had lacquered the shelves and other furniture of dark golden wood and polished them for extra shine. Small flagons of different colours and shapes rested on matching velvet cushions. There were also small baskets full of soaps. Glazed pottery jars with ribbons tied around them to keep the lids in place added to the elegant style. There were small boxes of wood and even smaller boxes of metal and other things they sell in a perfumery. Many pleasant fragrances of flowers and spices blended in the air. The scented air, the warmth and elegance was such a strong contrast to the winter street outside. Ashling felt like she had stepped into another world.

“What can I help you with?” The man with the glasses wore plain dark attire, but his shirt collar was white as snow. His wavy hair, shoulder-length and somewhat grizzled, was brushed back from his face. “Are you looking for something special? A light day perfume or maybe something heavier for evening events? We have something for all tastes and occasions here.”

While he spoke he looked at her. Ashling wore her winter attire from Fensalir. It was traditional. She wore a warm winter parka and warm winter boots. It was clothing that was appropriate for the climate. That was what mattered. The fashion trends of Raelia didn’t interest her one bit.
She was about to ask for the way to The Ox’s Bellow, but before she had time to say anything the man took command. “We have an excellent collection of affordable wares over here. This way please!”

Without waiting for an answer he walked to the very back of the room. Ashling had to follow so she could speak to him. A small assortment of less impressive flagons sat on a narrow shelf. There were a few soaps, jars and boxes too. The man spoke and spoke. Soon, she realized that her only chance to get to ask him about something else than the things he was selling was to buy something. She settled for a soap with a very faint scent of some kind of wood. It was the cheapest soap they sold there. The shop assistant tried to speak her out of that decision by telling her that it was a dog soap. Ashling didn’t care. She didn’t need it as she didn’t have a dog, but she could give it away to somebody else. To the man’s barely concealed annoyment she demanded to get it wrapped as a gift.

When it was time to pay she took a silver coin from her purse but stopped before paying. She had a feeling that it was best to ask for information first and pay after.

“The way to ... The Ox’s Bellow?” The man looked at the coin. “Well ...”

He described the way to the tavern in a haste. It seemed like Ashling had a long way left to walk. A bit disappointed, she paid and left the shop. The small bell rang when the door closed behind her. Outside, the winter’s cold and darkness enclosed her again. Ashling put the small package with the dog soap in the pocket of her winter parkas and pulled on her gloves. Then she braced herself for a new encounter with the streets of Raelia.

This time she would follow the street back to where she had come from. When she reached that barbershop, she would turn right around the corner. Then she would turn into the first street again, the street where she had met the children. By now she understood that the directions they had given her must have been a prank. Seething with irritation, she hoped the little blighters would be late to their dinner. In the best case, they would get cold food and a rant. It was what they deserved.

The perfumer’s directions seemed more reliable. She followed them to the point. The only problem was that the way was so long and there were so many details to remember. In the end, she found herself lost again, in yet another empty street in Raelia. I was the time of the day when people had dinner and almost nobody was out and about. Ashling looked around for people or new places to ask for direction in, but there didn’t seem to be any. There’s wasn’t anything else to do than continuing forward.
Continues here
word count: 1960
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Doran
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Re: [Raelia] Silver Stalker, Chapter One

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Ashling:

Knowledge:
Skill:
Navigation: Failing to take "the same route as last time"
Navigation: Getting lost by following the directions of lying children
Navigation: When expected landmarks don't exist you have come to the wrong place
Navigation: Asking for directions in a shop
Navigation: Failing to follow correct directions due to forgetting details
Negotiation: Gaining answers from a very greedy shop owner by asking before paying

Non-Skill:
Myrkvior's Kin: A militant and violent Melrathi racist organization

Loot: One Dog Soap
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: This was an enjoyable and entertaining thread!

I find your writing quite easy to read.

The first paragraph made me laugh. It also immediately revealed a bit of Ashling’s personality though which I thought was great!

The rest of the thread was quite entertaining as well though. The prank with the cut off fingers was quite clever – even though Ashling didn’t approve!

Enjoy your rewards!

word count: 170

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Ring of Reversal
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