The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

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The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Graybeard » May 6th, 2013, 2:46 pm

[OOC: OK, new thread. Therese and Mordan are wandering through what turns out to be a frustratingly slow maze of underground-rail routes, complicated by the fact that many are closed because of landslides. As for everyone else:]

Sister Rose had been expecting a delegation from the temple in Port Lorrel to meet the airship when it arrived the next morning. However, the composition of that delegation came as a surprise, to put it mildly.

Father Amalric was standing at the bottom of the ramp, as spare and austere as ever, and showing no signs that he'd been up for much of the night either traveling or debriefing Tim. The gaze with which he impaled Rose and Argus as they alit was just as steely and martial as his posture.

"Welcome to Lorrel, Sister Rose who was Major Nuria-Lucas and Doctor Cleiviein," he said coldly. "Dismiss your fellow travelers, and then we will talk in private."

[OOC: So does anybody want to have any reunions, mini-adventures in the city, etc., while this interaction goes on?]
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Alberich » May 6th, 2013, 3:47 pm

Tim was in bed and in pain, but not for very much longer.

Amalric, to Tim's mind, had proved just as irascible and unwilling to listen as he had the last time he'd examined him. Lots of snappish, demanding questions, which Tim had answered with the calmest humility he could manage. Experience with Bishop Cyrus made this easy. And this time Rose wasn't there to muck everything up by injecting pointless speculations or information the old man didn't really need to know.

For Tim had managed to tell the tale of Eli, put up with all of Amalric's antics, tell not a single lie, yet leave out quite a few details. Eli's race for starters. Eli was a "heathen" from "maybe in the Northern Confederacy, but I don't know just where." The shape of his ears and the source of his grudge just hadn't come up. Tim couldn't avoid talking about the elf involvement against the Ralkin, but by admitting that the Ralkin magic was a forbidden elvish art, he was able to imply that this, and only this, was what had drawn the wrath of the elves. (Later on, Tim thought he'd been mighty clever by leaving this out. It never occurred to him that Father Amalric might've liked it that way.)

His account had also been vague about what had happened to Eli after Tim and he had purged each other of the Ralkin magic -- only that the elf had "taken him away." If an elf managed to check, this could be reconciled with Drusia's account that she'd killed Eli and burned the body, at least to the hasty reader. He also neglected to mention that he and Eli had woken up next to fetters and a ball gag. Tim wasn't entirely sure what these implements had been for, and suspected a bit of elfin humor in the gift. It didn't seem to him the Church needed these details.

Likewise, he'd been able, without skipping a beat, to leave out a great deal of what had happened in Goriel. Oh, part of him had wanted to tell it all -- how Drusia and her friend had lain in wait for Eli, how she'd stuck a weapon in his back and bullied him, how Rose and Brad had stood by instead of standing up for him, and even lied about the Patriarch to get him to betray his friend to the elf -- how indeed he had warned her and asked for her help before that, only to have her dither, refuse, and start calling in the elves...
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Alberich » May 6th, 2013, 3:48 pm

But no. That would have been petty. At the end of the day, in spite of it all, Rose had sent word to the temple to let him carry out his mission, when she could easily have sabotaged it. She deserved his gratitude for that. Also, he couldn't help suspecting that this Father Amalric was somewhat partial to Rose, and inclined to let her off the hook and give her the benefit of every doubt.

Anyway, the point of this was to create a document so that the Church Fathers who needed to research this matter in the future would know something about the Ralkin magic. It was not to settle squabbles among churchmen. Better leave those games to people who liked to play them. He omitted his grudges against Rose completely. He could only be grateful that Amalric wasn't trying too hard to ferret them out.

But what he hadn't been able to conceal -- it was too integral to the story -- was that he himself had dabbled in this black devil-magic as part of his infiltration, that he had tasted the forbidden fruit. And though through a miracle he was now purged of the memory of how to do it, there could be no denying that he had placed his own soul in appalling danger, and could've ended up as an infernal infiltrator, a traitor to his god as well as his country, a spy for the Enemy in the ranks of the Church. And that would not go unpunished.

When the hard catechism was over, Father Amalric had sent the scribe and the truth-seer out of the room, and given Tim a blistering fifteen minutes of full-heat rage. After that he had passed sentence:

"Brother, your mind may be free of the magic, but your soul is not purged of the sin. Here's what I should be ordering: daily scourgings for a month, a double barefoot pilgrimage to the Shrine of Honorius, on bread and water with daily mortifications, another month of fasting and repentance. In between stages you could explain yourself to the Inquisition. And then we'd see about whether to excommunicate you, unfrock you, execute you, or keep you, and if we kept you -- make you walk a hard path back to grace!

"But today you are fortunate. Far more than you deserve, you stupid, arrogant fool! By Luminosita's grace, Rose's mission still has some use for you, and she's going to be arriving later today. So you're going to get a scourging and off to bed, but when you hear the second morning bell - you have dispensation to heal yourself so you can sleep and prepare yourself to assist her. Which you had better to do the fullness of your ability! Focus all your wits on that, if you have any, dolt!

"And you are not to tell a word of this to anyone but Rose, do you hear me? None of it happened! This account is going to the Heretic Knowledge Vault and you are not going to spread it outside of there! That is not a request!

"Now get out of my sight!!!"


Tim, gathering that his presence was no longer required, had left without another word, and reported himself to Father Unferth -- who had, in the fullness of time, after morning prayers, cut Tim's flesh with a supple rod 'til he was red all over and crying out at every stroke. Then he was roughly escorted back to his cell to pray for forgiveness and purification.

But that was only an hour or two before Second Bell. In fact he could've healed himself even earlier -- no one was checking up on him -- but he played the game straight and waited for that bell. The wounds were easy enough. There were a lot of them but they were superficial, designed for purifying pain not lasting damage, and to a healer of Tim's caliber they were truly no challenge.

As far as Tim knew, Amalric had meant everything he said. It never occurred to him that the screaming, the tongue-lashing, and the lashing-lashing had been mostly bluff and bluster, that the actual sentence he'd received had been very light for an Orthodox priest who'd practiced black magic, and that this "secrecy" business meant that no one would be following up with anything worse. Had he been more subtle or far-sighted, or less exhausted, he might've entertained the notion that Amalric was really quite pleased. He wasn't so he didn't. Instead, he slept.
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Drusia » May 6th, 2013, 5:03 pm

This sucks.

What am I doing? I wanted to see Therese's homeland, so I ended up coming on this stupid mission and now Therese's gone and I'm farther away from home than ever.

And Rose is in some stupid meeting so I can't even talk with her.

Anfisa is combing my hair again. I let her for a while. And then I just say "Would you like to see where I live?"

Because, really, I don't have any reason to stay anymore. I haven't been useful since Goriel, aside from one snake and some creeps that Argus and Therese could've killed anyway. This isn't my fight - it never has been. Rose is the one who's going to avenge Kenny. I don't need a front row seat to know that justice has been done.

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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Alberich » May 6th, 2013, 5:08 pm

Desiree wanted to take her home and she really thought she had to ask?

"Oh, yes, please," said Anfisa. She glowed with relief and delight. Now in truth she'd've been just as happy going to any other peaceful, exotic locale, like Tsuirakushiti for example, as long as Desiree was with her, but Desiree's home was best of all. Desiree's home - Desiree's house - Desiree's bed, oh, yummy, yes, yes, yes!
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Alberich » May 6th, 2013, 5:25 pm

As for Audie, he was soon in a huddle with Irving, the novice who'd fetched Tim in the small hours, hearing all he could about the nearest sights in this wicked city, and seeing if there was some way to wangle the freedom to explore some...
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Browncoat » May 6th, 2013, 6:04 pm

"Now this is travelling"
Mordan thought the dwarven transport was a brilliant idea. It was fast, practical, and underground. Part of him hoped it would take a while to find...
"What are we lookin' for again?"
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Graybeard » May 7th, 2013, 8:27 am

"The Patriarch instructs me to inform you that your request for three weeks' leave, following the dangers and stresses of your world travels, has been granted," Father Amalric told Sister Rose and Argus, his voice and posture as cold and formal as if he was decreeing a change to Veracian ritual.

Rose was dumbfounded. "What's this? This is a terrible time for us to go on leave, Father!" Although I must admit, a little time to ... reach a final arrangement ... with Argus would be welcome. "And I didn't put in for any such leave! Who did this?"

Amalric raised a hand. "I did." Same cold voice, same formality, not a crack in the facade.

Rose tried again. "But you have to understand, there's something brewing in the Far North that may be a serious threat to our Church! Not only have they apparently taken Brother Dalton there, there's something else happening, a cult, a ritual, I'm not sure what, but I am sure that it's damned dangerous -- excuse my language, but it fits."

Amalric didn't blink. "I know this, and you are excused your profanity. I agree that it fits." He might have been one of the buttresses in the temple building, for all the reaction he was showing.

One last try. "But we have to get up there, Father! One -- two of my people are already on the way, and they're going to get themselves killed if -- yes?"

Amalric had raised his hand one more time, and this time the sleeve of his robe had slid down his arm a little -- revealing that beneath it was the uniform of a very high-ranking member of the Veracian military, with the same little embellishment that Rose wore on her own formal threads that said she wasn't (at least hadn't been) on active duty. A brigadier, Rose gasped to herself. I had no idea... And another surprise was coming.

"That is why," Amalric said with perhaps just the slightest softening of his tone, "the Patriarch has also authorized your use of a personal airship during your vacation in the Far North. And I will be piloting it. Now you will excuse me, I must sleep. Be ready to depart at sundown." Without another word, he turned and strode out of the room.

Rose's mouth worked like a fish out of water. Then she turned to Argus. "What just happened there?"

-----------------

Meanwhile, Therese was finding the going rough.
"What are we lookin' for again?"


"We're trying to ride this thing all the way up to the Far North," she explained to Mordan as the car made good time on the "high-speed" part of its route. "That's where they took Dalton, and this is how they did it. I can only hope the system was working as badly for them as for us, so we're not too far behind -- DAMN."

There was a sudden strong jolt, and the car slowed drastically, throwing the two against their seat restraint. Moments later, it ground to a complete halt. The riders could see by the vehicle's lights that their route forward lay completely blocked by a landslide across the tracks. The clamshell doors slid open, and the blue-and-white band across their top started to flash, a hint of red creeping in.

"Damn," Therese repeated herself. "I knew from something -- someone told me that the outlying parts of this system, which we're surely in, had blockages like this. Come on, we're going to have to do some magical earth moving to get this line back open." She started to gather magical energy to move the dirt and boulders around. "Can you help?"
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Browncoat » May 9th, 2013, 8:36 am

"Let me see"
Mordan's eyes glowed as he used a spell to see better in the dark.
"Mhmm. There it is; a fault plus an earthquake equals this. I'll just reset it"
The rocks and dirt shifted up and to the side.
"You ever hear the one where a dwarf an' a human walk into a bar?......me neither"
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Re: The search for Brother Dalton, part 2

Postby Graybeard » May 9th, 2013, 10:26 pm

[OOC: Rose and Argus are briefly "on vacation" in the other thread, but everyone else is free to move, or not move, in this one. As for Therese and Mordan:]

With the track cleared, the red lights along the top of the rail car faded, leaving only the white and blue ones that Therese had deduced were indicators of the route. That was probably good; the red must have indicated a dangerous condition ahead, which meant they could be on the lookout for danger before it enveloped them. "Let's go," she said to Mordan, and they reboarded the car.

This scenario played out a few more times over the next two or three hours, and it got Therese to thinking. I was really rash to run off and do this. The two of us don't have the firepower to take on whatever is waiting up north. But what is done cannot be undone. I think Rose will join us eventually, though; we just have to be patient.

The car was slowing again, but this time the circumstances were different as it ground to a halt. What lay before them was not a blockage, but rather the largest underground chamber they had yet seen. At least four or five other railways converged and crossed in its center. There were also hints of light filtering down from the ceiling that didn't come from the light globes that were littered along the lines; access to the surface, maybe? The car showed no signs of moving, and Therese noticed that the blue and white signal lights had gone out. This appeared to be the end of the line. Had they reached the site in the Far North already? There was only one way to find out.

Yes, there appeared to be a ramp leading from the chamber up to one of the areas where light was coming in. Therese pointed to it. "I think we'd better do some reconnaissance -- careful reconnaissance."
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