The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

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The shallow bay Egilrun is situated upon is used, these trials, for crafts and crafting. From boatmakers to weaponsmiths, glassblowers to metalworkers, the sound of hammers and saws can be heard almost every break of the trial, with crews working in shifts to produce the beautiful craftsmanship which they might, one trial, become famous for.

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Oram Mednix
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The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

22 Ashan 721

Oram liked maps, at least when they were well-drawn. They told you all the information they had quickly; at a glance you knew whether the answers you sought were there or not. No need to spend breaks poring over obscure passages about powers beneath and burning out your eyes.

The map on the crude table in front of him was well-drawn. It showed the waterways and roads that ran through the eastern part of Scalvoris island, especially around Egilrun. It told Oram things he wanted to know and gave him ideas. Ideas about patrols. Ideas about what sort of things he wanted to know. Ideas about Slag’s Deep.

The thing he wanted to know, looking at this map, was what the red splotches across the north-northeastern part of the island represented. Okay, he knew it represented red sand. What he meant was: what else was there? What was the setting for all that red sand? The…what was it called, the landform? A tidal pool? A river or inlet beach? Inland sand dunes thinly covered by sawgrass? A miniature desert? And what else lived there? Were there farms? An uncharted settlement?

All the maps he had seen of Scalvoris were surprisingly scant about what was found in this one area. The ones he had looked at so far told him that there was red sand, and that there was a road that ran east-west from Scalvoris town towards a bridge. That bridge connected to roads that led both to Slag’s Deep and to Egilrun. And the hunter wanted to know more than that.

Oram set a little slate next to the map and started to make notes. One problem with maps is that you couldn’t write on them, at least not more than once. Too many notes, and your scribbles would cover all that great information you wanted the chart to tell you. So Oram would make his scribbles on a slate. And then he would draw some things on that other map…

Leaned upright against the wall of the little abandoned counting-house Oram had claimed for himself was a tabletop. Oram had found the busted table in one of the abandoned buildings and had nabbed it before anyone else could repurpose it. On its finished upper surface, he had asked a ranger who could actually draw to paint an outline of Scalvoris island. Apart for the outline and the trace of the waterways that criss-crossed and segmented the island, there was no detail on this map, apart from the details that Oram would mark on it in from time to time with colored chalk when he was thinking things out, like the possible route of a patrol. Whenever he was done with a project, the chalk would wash right off, while the painted Scalvoris outline would remain.

Right now, there were chalked onto the upright tabletop a bridge, a dotted outline of a road, and red splotches marked “Sand Dunes”. A handful of chevrons representing the Scalvoris Mountains stood along the eastern rim of the island, and dots marking Slag’s Deep and Egilrun. The dotted east-west road extended into the mountains, just north of Slag’s Deep. At various points along that dotted road, Oram had put in numbers that corresponded to the notes he was making on his little slate. At the moment, the numbered list on that slate read:

1) NE Bridge. Keep bridge under observation. Monitor and report on all traffic coming and going. Secure if necessary.
2) Watch path up into Scalvoris mountain. Possible back routes through to Slag’s Deep. Possible activities there we can’t see from Egilrun.
3) Rorn’s farm. Good place from which to observe traffic between Slag’s Deep and Egilrun.
4) Port. Find out what’s coming into port and where it’s going. If Slag’s Deep, who’s the agent picking it up? Are port authorities corrupt?
5)

Oram hadn’t written 5 yet. On the tabletop it was the number next to all those red sand splotches. He hadn’t bothered to formulate it clearly yet because he had been planning to do the patrol up there himself. Nonetheless, he knew he should write something down,eventually, if only to clarify his goals; not now, though, it could wait. He had to brief the other Rangers about his ideas on patrols and the intelligence they required, and that didn’t involve 5. They were coming here any bit now…

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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

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The man walked in and over to Oram. He'd been around all trial, this man - one of the rangers who everyone seemed to know. He didn't talk much, though, didn't socialise. Simply kept himself to himself. Observed. And then, as he walked into the room, he lifted his hands and lowered his hood. Leaning against the table, he looked at the map Oram was studying.

"Hello, Oram Mednix," he said. When Oram looked up, he saw that the man's eyes were made up of oranges and gold colours. Leaves fell in his gaze and for just the briefest moment, Oram felt the power emanate from his companion. He'd stood next to an Immortal before, after all. The man at his side right now was tall, imposing in a physical way and there was an aura around him of energy.

"I was hoping," he said, without introduction or preamble, "that you could help me." He tapped the map, the area where Oram was, arguably, most interested. "Slags Deep," he said. "You have an interest in it. As do I." The swirling eddies in his eyes were almost hypnotic as he turned his gaze back to Oram. "Because the man who lives there swore an oath in my name," he said. "An oath of such power that I have rarely seen in mortals, and his blood flows with the power of that Oath."

He smiled a mirthless smile as he said that and when he spoke again, it was as though the whole area shook, yet his words were quiet and gentle. "Any who seek to stand in the way of the Oath - not the man, the Oath - will find that I stand before them." He paused a moment.

"Yet, I know the manipulation which has be wrought, and I know the blood which has spilled. So I will assist you how I can." Glaring down at the newest Ranger recruit, Vhalar spoke.

What would you ask of me, Oram Mednix?"

word count: 334
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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

This autumn make things fall into place

The door opened, and Oram shot an expectant look at the Ranger who came in, then scowled when he realized it wasn’t someone he had been expecting. In fact, it wasn’t someone he knew at all. Or perhaps he did. He was a big man with an imposing presence, a power beyond that of normal men. Cassion? No. The Sojourn knew it wasn’t Cassion, though there was something similar about him. This man’s manner was more serious and formal. And there was a smell about him, a smell of autumn leaves and late-mowed hay and the smoke of the first Vhalar fires.

Vhalar?! Was that who this was? Oram knew next to nothing about Vhalar. He was not a patron the hunter followed. But Vhalar -presuming that’s who this stranger was- knew him, apparently. And, more importantly to the business at hand, he apparently knew the Warden, and had an interest in him. And Vhalar was asking what he could do for him? Whatever powers the Warden was working with really must be ominous.

For several trills, Oram just sat there dumbly, looking into those swirly eyes, not having any notion what to make of the development nor how to feel about it, let alone how to answer the stranger’s question. Then he looked back down at the map, and at his notes. Taking the reading glasses off for a moment he rubbed his eyes, and looked up at the looming Immortal without them. ”What I wish more than anything at the moment,” he replied, once the startled mites of his thoughts began to resettle, ”is to understand the Warden better, as he is now. I have received hints and indications that he is under the influence of some being or power, something that can corrupt and transform those around it in bad ways, while also giving them novel abilities of some kind. But I don’t know anything beyond that vague description.”

The traveler sighed and cast a glance at the map-not the one on his desk, but the painted outline on the tabletop with the crudely-scrawled chalk artwork. He should try to give the Immortal a more specific request. Maybe something tied in to other things Vhalar had already said. ”You spoke of the manipulation that has been wrought,” he said, choosing his words carefully. ”What could and would you tell me about what that manipulation was, who or what wrought it, and what work it did on the Warden to make him as he is today?”

He paused a trill, thought of something else. ”I didn’t ask you right away about the Oath he swore, because I’m still trying to figure out if knowing that would help me, if the Warden has long since broken from it and its power over him. But perhaps you might tell me that, as well, if you would.” If nothing else, knowing more about what the Warden was charged with before might provide a clue as to why he had been targeted for corruption.

Oram then looked back down at the map on his desk showing the beaches and sands. "One other thing, although it is possible that I am pursuing a false path with this one, is how sands and glass tie into all this. Slag’s Deep mines up a lot of sand, that they would normally sell to the Egilrun glassmakers. And they would buy back some of the glass those guys made. But they stopped doing those things. Yet I hear they are still bringing in plenty of glass. From Viden. And after reading a speculation by the late Baron von Smooglenuff that the colored sands of Scalvoris are connected with some sort of ‘power beneath’, I can’t dispel the thought that there is a connection between all that and what’s going on under Slag’s Deep and with the Warden. Is there? Or am I wasting my time with that?”

Oram exhaled sharply, puffing out his cheeks as he did so. ”I’m not a powerful mage, nor a great warrior. I’m resourceful in my own way. Sometimes I can find things or figure stuff out. Right now I’m trying to figure out what the Warden is and what makes him tick. And I’m trying to find something that will stop him, and also hopefully stop whatever it is behind his turn. If you could help me do that, I might be able to put some powerful, useful information and weapons into the hands of the mage, warrior, or Albarech who *will* stop the Warden.”

The hunter looked up at Vhalar. ”You asked me what I wanted and I recited a goodly list of requests. What do you want from *me* in all this?” he asked at last. That was the real question, wasn’t it?
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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

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He wished to understand the Warden better? As he was now? Vhalar glanced at Oram and nodded slightly. Know thine enemy. It was good advice and the hunter seemed to be a basically sensible sort. That boded well. "He is a being, born of the Immortals who is ancient and twisted. He has known love once in his life, and he is relentless in his determination to free his daughter." he said. There was a sadness in Vhalar's expression as he spoke. "Many arcs ago, he was hopeful, focused on the daughter he had not known he had. Her birth is shrouded in shadow, we do not know anything of her mother or how she came to be in his life." he said, and that was something of a problem to Vhalar it seemed. To Oram's question about manipulation, about the manipulation of the Warden, he shrugged. "The daughter changed him ~ but who she is or what she is, I do not know. None of us do, who I have spoken with. She is hidden from us." He tapped the map again. "She is imprisoned deep beneath Slags Deep," he said. "Beneath even Level Seven. A man who would have been incredibly powerful and a true power-hungry narcissist became absolutely focused on her. On rescuing her."

As for the Oath, Vhalar shook his head and spoke with a clear voice to Oram. "His Oath is to her. To the daughter who resides beneath. He will free her." he said. "An Oath of this intensity is powerful and I am told on good authority that there is a Prophecy lost to time, which speaks of her freedom, of the end of Egilrun." Looking at Oram, he expressed it the best way he could. "From beneath you, it devours"

Oram's description of his thought process caused a raised eyebrow from the Guardian of Oaths. It seemed he was impressed. "The sand, Egilrun. They are important." He paused a moment then continued. "The Coin King knows this, and he wishes to protect the place, for the place has power. Power which would be lost forever, should this place fall." That they were bringing glass in from Viden caused Vhalar to point again to the map. "The glass they bring from Viden," he said, "Is glass which was exported to Viden from Egilrun. Search the records, it will become clear. Or take my word on it, if you will." As for a weapon? Vhalar shook his head. "The Warden is as trapped by Slags Deep as the prisoners are, Oram Mednix," he said. "His power is linked to that place. If you wish a weapon to weaken him, then weaken that place. Craft new seals to trap the creature he calls daughter."

And what did he want? Vhalar smiled slightly. "What I would ask of you, Oram Mednix is that you make an Oath. Sworn in blood and given freely that, should I call on you, you will answer and do as I request so long as it does not break your personal goals or morality. But I ask this now, after I have given you the information, for it must be given without pause and entirely voluntarily."

There would be more questions, Vhalar thought, and he waited patiently.
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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

Your kid can change the world!

Vhalar gave forthcoming answers to all of Oram’s questions. The hunter was not sure if he should be surprised. He didn’t feel surprised, at least not at the moment; he was too occupied with listening, taking everything in to register any surprise at it.

The Warden was mortal-born, quite old, and with large and developed powers. In all his long arcs on Idalos he had had one loving relationship from which he had a daughter. And that daughter, for some reason, was in the bowels of Slag’s Deep. The Warden had sworn to free her, had dedicated himself utterly to doing so.

That was already a puzzle. The Warden ran the place without oversight. Couldn’t he just walk out of there with her? And why was she installed so deep, deeper than either the vilest murderers?

Vhalar continued, that there was some sort of prophecy, and “seals” keeping the girl down there. So there were seals and locks and shackles in Slag’s Deep that even the Warden didn’t have the keys to, then? Who did, and how could new ones be made? And what was wrong with the girl, that her confinement called for so much effort?

And the glass. So Oram’s suspicions were right. There was something about the glass, and the sand, and the power that sand contained, that connected with this somehow. And glass, or perhaps the sand, was being exported to Viden, worked into shape there, then brought back to Slag’s Deep. Why? Did Egilrun not have the art to make the things Slag’s Deep wanted? That seemed unlikely. Egilrun was known for excellent glassworks. Maybe Slag’s Deep didn’t want Egilrun to know what sorts of glasswares they were making?

And then Vhalar made his request. An Oath. A blood-oath, to do as he, Vhalar asked, whenever he asked. The traveler had no sooner heard the request that he knew his answer to it. He knew it in spite of all the considerations and complications clamoring for attention in his mind, calling on him to second-guess his own will. He knew in spite of all the expedience and advantage a different answer might offer him. But before he gave that answer, he wanted to ask a couple more questions. He would try choose them carefully, and pose them sparingly. One did not stall an Immortal over-long.

His first question was about the last thing Vhalar had brought up: oaths. ”You are called the Master of Oaths,” he said, peering up at the imposing Immortal standing over him. ”and the Warden has sworn an Oath which you would not see broken. But you also do not wish to see its goal carried out, yes? How do think to resolve that? Must not the Warden be killed or destroyed, then? Anything short of that, and he just tries to fulfill the oath again later, right?” Oram did not say so, but it was a question meant to find out as much about Vhalar’s stake in this as anything else. What ending did Vhalar seek to this story?

He had many more questions, but looking up into those unsettling eyes Oram decided to confine himself to one topic. One that was crucial, but which he himself was not likely to ever find an answer to in time: ”These seals you mentioned, that confine the daughter. What are they? And who would know how to make more?”

That was it. Two questions. Two big, fat questions he knew he would never be able to find the answer to on his own. Now it was time to move on to his one big, fat answer.

”You asked me if I would swear a blood-Oath to you,” he said, dread building up inside him as he did. He knew his answer. He knew it was the right answer. But that did not leave him feeling any less vulnerable for it. He breathed in and steeled himself:

”No, Vhalar. I won’t do that. I believe you are our ally in this, that you are worthy of trust, and maybe even aid. But after what you just told me about the power of oaths, and the mischief such power can work, I will not do such a thing.” The hunter smiled sheepishly up at the Immortal. ”You wanted to impress on me the power and gravity of Oaths. I guess you succeeded too well. But!… he added hastily.

”…but you helped me. You gave me something of great value to my endeavors. I consider that a favor, Vhalar. A favor I wish to repay. I will not swear an Oath to you, sealed in blood, but I will promise you, as a man might promise to another, that if you ask for that favor, at any time, I will do what I can to grant it -under the same sort of terms you mentioned earlier about the Oath, that is.”

Oram stopped and gazed up at Vhalar, waiting to see how he would respond. Hopefully not by smiting him.

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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

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What was his wish in this? Vhalar sighed, slightly. "Understand, that I speak to you selfishly." he said. "I do not wish the effects of this to come to pass, but the Oath binds me, as it does him. There are ways, other than those you mention, of this ending. But I may not speak them." Swirling eyes regarded the hunter and he listened with intensity as Oram spoke. "The same is true of the Seals. They are shrouded, hidden. I do not know them."

As Oram refused the Oath to him, however, his brows knotted, and just for a moment it seemed as though flames danced in his eyes. And then, Vhalar smiled. "You are a wise man, Oram Mednix. Rare in this world for such wisdom and bravery." He let out a low chuckle. "As rare as those who dare to speak the word 'no' to to an Immortal." he said. But there was no doubt that there would be no smiting to-trial, for he seemed pleased.

He paused for a moment, considering, and then he spoke some more. "The glass moves from Egilrun to Viden, because the woman who makes the glass would not sell it to the Warden. So, he sets up deceptions, traps, decoys. It is his way." he considered it, then explained some more. "As he has manipulated countless mortals so has he - and some of my kind - been manipulated by Cierel's creations." Looking at Oram, Vhalar smiled slightly. "We will meet again, Oram Mednix. I wish you to know that you have impressed me this trial. Should you need me, as a man might promise another, I will do my best to come to your aid, should you call."

Just then, the door opened and a wave of cold air rushed through the room. "Hey, Oram!" One of the rangers he was waiting for said, and in that blink of an eye, Vhalar was gone.

"What're you doing?" His new companion asked.
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Re: The Sign of Five (Pegasus)

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Your Review
Oram

Overview

I so thoroughly enjoyed this thread ~ Oram is a fantastically written pc who has such a lot of depth. You write beautifully, and it is a pleasure to write alongside you. I wondered whether he'd say no to Vhalar in this, and when he did it was entirely in character for him to do so and the way he did it was fantastic. It isn't easy to play such a straightforward yet complex character and you write him with apparent ease. An absolute delight of a thread, please enjoy your rewards.

Points


XP: 20
Renown: 10. Although Oram doesn't know it, this scene was viewed by quite a few folks, and more than one Immortal.

Loot

IC:
Vhalar's Favour: Oram finds, nestled among his maps, a small wooden disc carved with a leaf. It is a single-use item and may be used to call on the Immortal of Oaths - who will help Oram if he can.

OOC:
Medals Awarded:
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In your Favour (for gaining the favour of an Immortal - Vhalar owes you one!)
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Pioneer (for refusing Vhalar and not being smited! [smote?] )
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I've also awarded the Lol Worthy medal for the wonderfully funny post titles etc.
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Painting With Words (because, well, it's what you do :) )

Knowledge

Cartography: Maps provide clarity
Cartography: Looking at maps help with ideas.
Detection: Noting peculiar smells
Detection: Pay attention to small details
Discipline: Remain focused when talking to an Immortal
Discipline: Do not let fear control your actions
Discipline: Telling an Immortal no.
Interrogation: When questioning an Immortal, do so carefully.
Interrogation: Explaining your question helps it make contextual sense
Investigation: The Map is not the Terrain.
Investigation: Notice where things are not
Investigation: Use your powers of deduction
Investigation: The power-level of an individual can be guessed by the power of their enemies.
Investigation: Sometimes, gut feelings are good.
Investigation: Follow every lead, even ones you're unsure of
Investigation: Answers often lead to more questions
Investigation: Confirm your suspicions.
Logistics: Know your environment
Logistics: Consider the terrain
Writing: Consider the surface you're writing on
Writing: Make notes, then transfer them.



If you have any questions or concerns regarding this review - drop me a PM.
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word count: 374
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~~Red in hoof and claw... ~~


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