Clovius and beyond

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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Alberich » October 11th, 2013, 12:28 pm

"I repeat," replied Tim, crossing his arms, "I don't know what you're talking about. There's no 'last meal' going on at this table. I know these young ladies and they're in sparkling good health, they're eager to get back to their families in their own countries, none of them is planning to die, no one's about to harm them without going through me first, and no one we know has just died."

Well, Amalric had, but that had been a few days back, and no one here needed to hear about it.

"So can you tell me what is supposed to be going on? We'd like to get along in this city -- if someone would tell us what this is all about. But we've only just arrived and this talk of 'cold' and 'last meals' is really quite a mystery to us."

Tim suspected the meal was going to be lost. If these people were this determined to be offended, they probably couldn't be trusted to prepare their food and drink...especially not if they had some kind of morbid notions about a "last meal." Maybe unaccompanied young ladies were assumed to be so despondent over their unmarried status (or widowhood?) that they went to restaurants to poison themselves. Maybe Desiree's red dress was the "color of suicide" around here or Tamina looked like their "Angel of Death." Or maybe there was some ritual of metaphorical death, in which everyone treated someone as just-about-to-die before some rite of passage or another. Tim wasn't planning to taste a bite, or let his companions do so either, until some answers were forthcoming.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » October 11th, 2013, 3:06 pm

If anyone in the restaurant could hear Tim's oration over the building din, they didn't particularly show it. The old man on his feet was removing the head of his cane to reveal a vicious-looking blade, causing Therese to realize to her chagrin that she'd left her own sword in her room. (Why would it be needed in a normal restaurant? She'd later conclude that the decision had been sensible enough at the time.) She started to review her combat magic and rally magical energy ... although she still wasn't sure why.

Another old man was rising to his feet, holding a heavy staff in one hand -- the only hand he had -- and the crowd was growing noisier, when suddenly, a voice penetrated the hubbub, a voice with thorns and stickers and barbs and blades on it. "ENOUGH!!"

Equally suddenly, the din diminished, and the standing men melted away, leaving a tall, severe-looking gray-haired woman glaring at the crowd with her arms crossed. A lower, muted rumble began to be heard. "Yes, ma'am..." "Whatever you say, Ms. Tovah..." "Tovah says..."

The woman forced her way to the table where Desiree, Tamina and Therese sat, the crowd parting before her as though she'd waved a staff over it. "You three will enjoy your dinner in peace and quiet," she decreed in a loud voice, getting muttered assent from the other diners. She turned to Tim. "And YOU, sir, will come with me." She'd carefully turned to face across the street as she addressed him, so that her voice would curdle the milk in the inn across the way rather than their own.

And then, about thirty or forty decibels lower, she added something for Tim's ears only.

"My Brother in Our Lord Luminosita." Her glare hadn't softened to meet the words, though.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Jack Rothwell » October 11th, 2013, 5:00 pm

"And YOU, sir, will come with me."

Tamina, having spent most of the growing state of public discontent in a growing state of confusion, elected to get involved when the old woman had demanded that the Priest leave. The whole thing smacked too much of the escapade with the security forces at the warp gate in Lorrel. The kobold took a moment to check her non-human bits were covered, then spoke up.

"Tim hasn't done anything wrong." She said, speaking as clearly as she could manage. "We we're just eating, you're the one interup... umm, bothering us."

She'd have added more, but she didn't want to be risk being mistaken for a familiar and shot with a yukki staff again.
Last edited by Jack Rothwell on October 12th, 2013, 11:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Alberich » October 11th, 2013, 9:41 pm

A little piece of Tim thought the situation had been rigged against him - that there was no "right answer" for him except to already know things he couldn't. He quashed that thought immediately. The world owed him nothing, the heathen of Clovius -- unlike Tamina, there -- could not be trusted to show basic decency or common sense, and complaining about it would take him absolutely nowhere.

This "Tovah" had had no knowledge he was coming here and so, unless his luck was incredibly bad, was unlikely to be preparing a trap for him. She was an authority figure and he'd lose no face by acceding to her wishes. By going along with her, he could stop the impending violence and so spare the lives of these elderly diners. He didn't care how many of those staves were swords or wizards' tools -- he'd seen Tamina and Therese in battle, and pitied anyone who went up against them in a fight. And if Desiree joined in with her preferred attack, well, some of the older fellows might not survive it! And if Tim himself did vanish? Well, he was an officer, not a noncombatant "innocent" like Desiree, and at the end of the day he was expendable.

He clapped Tamina on the shoulder, pure comradeship without a hint of sexuality, then bent over and whispered in her ear. "Thank you," he said, barely breathing the words -- he trusted her sensitive ears and quick mind -- "but I'm going with her and I need you to keep Dezzy and Terry safe. Watch for poison and, if there's danger, get them back to Rosie. I'm counting on you." Between Rose, Amalric, Desiree, and the Clovians, he always seemed to be among aliens with weird priorities of their own. This kobold he could understand. He repressed an intense desire to hug her. And was probably lucky that Rose wasn't around with one of her empathy spells to misinterpret his warm feelings.

Then he stood up straight, squared his shoulders, said "Right!" - and walked proudly along with Miss Tovah.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » October 12th, 2013, 12:30 pm

The old woman was silent until she and Tim had left the hall, leaving Tamina, Desiree and Therese to their (now uninterrupted) dinner. When they were some distance from the entrance, she turned to him, her stern, severe face curiously reminiscent of Father Amalric's.

"Young man," she began, "you and your friends have much to learn about Clovius. Most of the people here do not follow Our Lord Luminosita as we do. They have some other, strange religion where they worship what they call the Mountain King. To them, your friend in there was wearing mourning clothes, the kind worn by a widow whose husband disappeared in a mine or a forest, and who is about to go join her husband, wherever he went. They see that as an entirely proper and normal offering to the Mountain King."

Seeing what Tim was about to say, she held up a hand. "I am not interested in your views on their religion. It's false, of course, but there are still a hundred, or a thousand, of them here for every one of us. Our church has almost disappeared from Clovius, and we've learned to keep our heads down so that our numbers are not reduced further."

Her scowl hardened. "Or at least we were keeping our heads down until you and your friends damn near started a religious riot in there."

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

None of this was known to Sister Rose, now fast asleep in her room after ... well.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Alberich » October 12th, 2013, 2:18 pm

"No doubt," said Tim. "and many thanks for getting us out of that one!" He genuflected.

He didn't resent the imperious tone she'd taken in doing so. By putting on that show in public, she'd shown the locals that she was in charge and could end any threat he posed to their weird beliefs.

Even in private, this was not the place to assert his priestly status. He could not offer the local community of the Faithful any succor from Veracia itself. And although Rose seemed to have trouble with the concept, his intuitive understanding was that the status and powers of a priest in the Veracian theocracy were bound together with their responsibilities. Since he couldn't discharge those responsibilities here -- such as protecting the Faithful from the Infidel -- it would not feel right to try to assert the rights. Instead, he recognized this Tovah as a leader on her own ground and let her talk as she pleased. (And really, if anyone was to blame, it was Amalric for planning to set them down where they'd have to walk through this heathen country, a place where he'd obviously lived, yet not providing them a map of the cultural quicksand.)

Despite Miss Tovah's strange apprehension he hadn't been about to critique the "Mountain King" faith. He'd been about to ask a question.

"We're not planning to stay long," he said, "in fact we're passing through Clovius rather than stopping here, but can you tell me what we need to know about this local faith, so that I can keep us out of further trouble? Those people seemed to have the idea that my companions were about to visit the Hall of the Mountain King before their time, and it put them in a mourning mood..."
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » October 12th, 2013, 10:08 pm

"It would take half the night to explain," Tovah said irritably. "If you want to stay out of trouble, just stay off the streets. Your women will be left alone now, or at least, they should be. Just show up for Matins. Now if you will excuse me, it's past my bedtime." She stalked off without a farewell.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Jack Rothwell » October 13th, 2013, 2:48 pm

Tamina had watched the departure of the priest with unease before returning to her meal. The kobold was becoming of a mind that expected trouble in every new place they visited; the groups track record was certainly in support of that idea. She reached her glove-covered fingers to retrieve the cutlery, and cursed as the knife fumbled awkwardly out of her short digits to clatter on the table.

"Cabra... no-one makes things to fit us." She muttered, only half under her breath.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Drusia » October 13th, 2013, 8:16 pm

I twig to the gifts far faster than the others. Mourning. They think I'm dressed darkly because I'm in mourning. Damn it, I should have worn the bright red dress afterall.

Well, it seems harmless enough. A few small gifts an words of condolence. There isn't any real harm in it, and I can always claim that I'm seeking to remarry because of my husband's death since that seems to be a thing up here.

Of course, Tim has to butt in. Why is he even here? Maybe I can pretend I don't know him?

"How dare you interfere with a Last Meal! Now either let your sister enjoy herself to the fullest this one last time, or go find the damned body!"

Last Meal? That's... unpleasant sounding. And what body? Oh, never mind. If Tim wants to interpose himself on this one, then I'm not about to stop him.

"Thank you," he said, barely breathing the words -- he trusted her sensitive ears and quick mind -- "but I'm going with her and I need you to keep Dezzy and Terry safe. Watch for poison and, if there's danger, get them back to Rosie. I'm counting on you."

I rub my forehead. Poison? Really? Why does he always have to make a scene? If we'd just avoided saying anything, it wouldn't have escalated.

Never mind.

I go back to eating, trying not to feel entirely humiliated. And if I end up with a few minor gifts, then I'll just consider that humiliation tax.

-- Desiree

OOC: I was away for the weekend at a wedding. Back now.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » October 13th, 2013, 9:59 pm

Things had quieted down somewhat in the dining hall; at least the mutter of conversation seemed more normal now, and nobody was coming over to the three women's table with condolences (or, on the down side, bags of money). Therese reached over to the table knife that Tamina had dropped. "Here, let me get that for you," she said, although it would have been just as easy for Tamina to retrieve it herself. She had an ulterior motive, though: the motion brought her closer to Desiree's ear. Damn, she smells nice... no, concentrate.

She dropped her voice to a low whisper, something she'd had plenty of practice doing in Goriel. "I think we're safe for now, but we're going to have to be careful in the morning. It sounds like these people are expecting you to commit ritual suicide, or offer yourself to the trolls, or something, and they might not take it well to see you walking around with no intention of doing it. You'll want to avoid being recognized tomorrow. Before we go out, I'll help you get into a disguise." She smiled roguishly, unsure whether Desiree could see it. "I got pretty good at those doing my work in Goriel." The fact that decking Desiree out in disguise might also involve a certain ... intimacy didn't occur to her at all. Yet.
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