Debate [Part Two]
1. These short stories and Journal Entries are part of a continuing storyline involving my Ashes character, Kesarakk, a mage part of a guild of mages in the pre-launch time frame of Ashes of Creation.
2. Due to the limited information on the lore, magical abilities, and the various communities in the Ashes world, I am taking the liberty of designing them as to best fit the story that will hopefully be immersive in the Ashes world.
3. I am providing these stories as the Lore and backstory for my guild, Reign, and any other players or guilds that wish to be featured in these stories. If you wish to have your character or guild featured in these stories, please contact me and we can talk about how best to incorporate them while holding to your individuality. This is not meant as a recruitment tactic and rather a conduit for a bored writer who is hype for this game to express his talent with the community!
4. Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your time in reading these stories. It pleases me that people enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Thank you for your support and I hope to see you in game!
Journal Entries Link: https://forums.ashesofcreation.com/discussion/32790/journal-entries
Now to the story:
Kesarakk and his five brethren sat around the open cook fire inside Anastacia’s hovel on the western side of Brekfuntle. The room itself was unremarkable. Heavy curtains covered the windows, making the fire the only light in the dwelling. Shelves took the place of pictures along the bare walls, holding as many cooking and Spellcasting ingredients as their surface would allow. Plants, suspended by rope, hung from the ceiling, each of varying colors and shapes. Furniture included three stools on each side of the fire with a table taking the fourth position and a cot on the far wall that was vacant of shelves and plants. This place had been built for function rather than comfort.
The five mages, Chaka, Thren, Thingalla, Zalen and Phestos dispersed themselves in the tiny living quarters. Some sat by the fire lost in their own thoughts, while others paced the room out of boredom. Anastacia sat in one of the stools sharpening her scythe. She hummed quietly as the stone ran across the edges of the curved blade. The mixture of the elven melody and scraping metal gave the room an eerie feel. No one spoke, allowing the melody to feed their internal thoughts.
Kesarakk looked to each of his companions in turn. They were tired and in a space too small for so many people. Only Anastacia seemed to be in high spirits. The Mage guessed that it was the sudden change in company. The summoner was accustomed to speaking to other planes of existence with creatures that did not view time, companionship and life in the same way flesh and blood did. Normally, Kesarakk would have welcomed the silence. It helped him organize his thoughts, but even he could feel the rising tension in the room. He decided to break that silence, going over their plan he had been formulating these past few days, but Chaka spoke first.
“Why are we still here?” Said Chaka. The orc’s tone told Kesarakk she was near the end of her patience. “We should have gone with Vorc and Stannis back to Zazel. There is nothing we can do here.”
“Magus Grelan is still being held captive, Chaka. We have to do what we can to help him.” Said Zalen, a seasoned mage though still younger than Kesarakk.
“Bah, what are we to do? Storm the tower and take the Magus out by force?” asked the orc.
“Exactly that.” Said Kesarakk forcing the room to silence. The mages looked to each other in trepidation. They knew Kesarakk would do what he could to help his old friend, but were not keen on the prospect of engaging the clerics. Thren spoke then.
“Are ye daft?” asked the incredulous dwarf. “By yer own word, these clerics are lead by an Archbishop. None of us can match his power. How do ye suppose we fight our way past him, eh?”
“With a bit of luck on our side and the information Miller is gathering for us, we will be in and out of that tower before a spell is cast.” Said Kesarakk.
Miller had left the night before to perform at the Iron Spear, an inn catering to the Watch of Brekfuntle. He assured Kesarakk that with the proper mixture of charm, good food and plenty of ale, these soldiers allied with the clerics would tell him anything he wanted to know. The Mage had expected him to return that same night, but there was still no sign of him. He thought about asking Anastacia to summon a creature that could find the Bard but decided against it after remembering her failed attempt at conjuring a fire sprite that had nearly burnt the hovel down with them still in it. All he could do was wait and hope that Miller hadn’t alerted the Watch to their mission.
“I’m still not convinced we can pull this off without bloodshed.” Said Thingalla. She was a young mage, for an elf. In her second century of life, she had slowly risen in the ranks, though still not achieving the rank of Magus. When others in the Tower of Zazel question her on her slow tutelage she shruged it off and replies “I learn all aspects of the spells I study before I attempt a new one.”. Kesarakk found Thingalla to be of great aid when extracting samples from the Gateway. Her spells were measured and exact, more so than even several Archmages within the order. He held little doubt that she would reach the level of Archmage and be one of the most powerful in all the realms of men, elf, dwarf, and orc.
“Blood will be shed no matter how we proceed.” Said Kesarakk. After getting several questioning looks he elaborated. “These clerics are zealots that believe their way is the only way. By taking Grelan they have stated that anyone who uses their free will outside the realm of their doctrine will not be tolerated. They will not return Grelan to us. I would imagine that he will be made an example of and executed for crimes they believe he has committed. The people will back these claims, unwilling to look under their nose at the corruption around them. Some will rise in outrage and war will ravage this world. If we are successful in freeing Grelan from these clerics and have to spill blood to obtain that goal, it will be harder for the clerics to justify any action against us without revealing their part in this situation.”
The mages look to each other as they digested Kesarakk’s words. Chaka stepped forward and nodded her head for a long moment before she spoke. “I don’t agree that this is the correct action. However, the alternative you have presented isn’t favorable either. I have devoted my life to the study of the arcane and the greater world around us. To use that knowledge to take the life of another is unsettling to me… I will help free Grelan with one condition.” The orc extended one brown finger in front of her. “If we encounter any resistance, be it the Watch or clerics, then we retreat. We return to Zazel and allow the Archmages to decide our next course of action.”
Kesarakk winced. He knew… they all knew, that the senate of Archmages would not jeopardize their position in the web of politics over one life. It pained him to realize that his friend would become an acceptable loss to his superiors if they returned empty-handed. It was already likely he would be removed from the order, but Kesarakk resigned himself to that fate. Better that he be without a guild and his friend live than be part of an organization that threw life away so easily. The Mage stood before his companions, leaning on his staff. “I accept your condition. Any who wish to return to Zazel this day will not be faulted. Grelan was my mentor for many years and a close friend longer still. I must do what I can to help him, clerics and Archmages be damned.”
All the mages stood then. Kesarakk could see the fear in their eyes for what they were planning to do, but resignation and determination were there as well. Each approached the Mage in turn and clasped his shoulder in acceptance to their collective goal. Not a single one would leave him and Grelan to their fate. Win or fail, they would do this together. Even Anastacia, who had been silent during the deliberation, rose and laced her arms around Kesarakk. “Count me in! I know of a few beings who are more than willing to help.” She winked at the Mage when he grimaced.
There came a knock at the door then. Three fast taps with two longer ones following. Miller had finally returned from the Iron Spear. Everyone tensed until they recognized the friendly code and relaxed. Anastacia unbarred the door and let the man in. He stank of wine and smoke. There were noticeable splatters on his vest and leggings from wine and food. Kesarakk couldn’t discern if they were from the patrons of the tavern, or Miller’s own sloppy show. He gave the room a weak smile. The lack of sleep was predominate on his face. “Hello, my faithful companions! I have returned with news from the front.” He said jovially.
“Have you been drinking?” asked Zalen with mirth in his voice as Anastacia escorted the stumbling bard to one of the now vacant stools. The mages couldn’t help but grin at the sight.
“Just a lick of wine. It would be bad form to only talk while everyone else is enjoying the nightly festivities.” Said Miller in a drunken stammer. He looked up to Anastacia as if noticing her for the first time. “Oh, Ana. How you dyed your hair again? I must say the red tint suits your womanly form.”
Kesarakk rolled his eyes as he smacked the back of the Bard’s head with the butt of his staff. Miller cried in surprise and pain. He turned to face his attacker. When he did, his eyes focused on the faintly glowing end of the Mage’s staff. Kesarakk muttered a phrase in an arcane language and the light washed over the man. Miller shut his eyes and stiffened as the tingle of magic ran over his skin and through his body. When he opened his eyes again he had to blink several times, adjusting to the now clear vision. “What…” was all he could manage.
“A simple transmutation spell. It will mask your symptoms for a few hours, though you will have a nasty headache when the spell dissipates.” Said Kesarakk as he brought his staff back down to his side.
“I’m not sure which I would prefer…” said Miller.
“Focus, you foolish bard. Tell us what you know.” Kesarakk said sharply. His anger was only for show but it got the job done.
“Right,” said Miller. He cleared his throat and began. “According to Captain Bryndal of the Watch, word has come from the Abbey to the one they call Lurio. Apparently, he is an important figure within that order of clerics. He had been called back to the Abbey on important business. The Watch has arranged an escort for the Archbishop and he is leaving this very day. The rest of the clerics are remaining behind, with a man they call Brother Varyl as the new leader.”
“Did they say anyone will be accompanying the Archbishop? A prisoner, or another companion?” asked Kesarakk with a hint of fear in his voice. If they moved Grelan from the city under armed escort, there would be no hope of a rescue. Fighting the clerics would be one thing, but quite another to attack a company of town guard.
“No… As far I as gathered, only the Archbishop will be leaving the town.” Said Miller.
The mages gave a sigh of relief as they looked at each other. The Mage smiled at the news and patted the bard on the back. “Of all the intruding bards of this world, Miller, you are by far the best. This could not be more perfect. Our mission will be successful thanks to you.”
The Bard smiled at the praise through sleepy eyes. Anastacia brought the man a cup of water. Miller took it with thanks and gulped it down. The rest of the company waited for Kesarakk in anticipation. “Get some sleep, Master Bard. Tonight we make our move. Here is the plan…”