"Redemption" June 16th, 2001
KIT S INTRODUCTION
Kit awoke in a bed of crimson silk. Bear furs were piled upon her, and she felt like going back to sleep. The room was decorated with deep plush carpets, beautiful paintings, furniture of the finest woods, and&of course&a large ornately carved bed made of dark wood. Kit next turned her attention to herself. She smelled her skin, and found it to smell of rose petals. Where she had been injured a cool healing salve had been applied and in some places clean white bandages. How long have I been sleeping? she thought.
She stood, wobbled on her feet briefly, and then walked over to the door. For a moment her mind raced, Has Javair locked me in?!? Kit breathed a sigh of relief as the knob turned and the door opened. Beyond the door was a large columned hall, with doors up and down its length. Kit wondered at how she had been left alone to her own devices. She could hear the sound of music and laughter, and chose the door that the sounds seemed to be coming from. It also opened easily, and beyond was a hexagonal room with a large stone statue of a muscular man in the center of the room. Stairways led up and stairways led down from this room, and a set of double doors were closed directly across the room from her. The music and laughter were much louder now, and came from behind the double doors.
Kit crept quietly to the beautiful wooden doors, and turned the ornate crystal doorknob. Beyond was a sight of wonder. Two huge fireplaces dominated the far end of the large dining hall, and several doorways led out of the room. One large oak table ran the room s length, with at least 24 seats around it. Everyone of the chairs was occupied, and dining together were muscular orks, skinny goblins&some bright red and some a subtle shade of gold, humans of varying shades of skin color, a black dwarf or two, a kobold, and a variety of other humanoid creatures. Sitting near the head of the table by the fireplace was a huge female bugbear, wonderful dressed in silks and precious metals and gems. To either side of this female bugbear were two large brown bears standing on their hind legs, as if they were guarding her. A large black bird was perched on the mantle of the fireplace, and cocked his head to the left, and then the right, as if he was taking it all in.
The source of the music was quiet evident. Javair sat in the chair directly in front of the fireplaces. Kit had heard Moontree sing many times, but it was clear that Javair was singing in a totally different style&an older style. Javiar sung of a deal struck with giants, on a giant battlefield in the clouds&a deal to hold back the storms for part of the year. He sung of the blood spilled by human and demi-human alike in a great war with the giants&a war which had forced the giants to give in, and give way for summer in the Azure Kingdom. The story took on a life of it's own that painted a vivid picture in Kit s mind. It caused her to think back to the negotiations with the Kobold Queen and how mad she got as the party gave her little support in her posturing for dealing from a position of strength. She had been quick to blame the fight on Kerbach and his berserker rage, but were others to blame in the party for their words that fed that rage? The comments made by some party members, "that they are just Kobolds" stuck in her mind. She had heard similar words come from the mouths of her Drow Master's when they had to deal with Humans and other races they considered inferior. The question would come up, "What if the humans refuse to follow our instruction?" And the answer always seemed to be, "We will just have to put an end to their pitiful lives, after all they are just Humans." This attitude was distasteful to Kit as a past slave, and when those words came from someone that inspired others&it may have steered them toward rash decisions.
The vision of her friends, dead in the town of Widow's Grove came flooding into her mind and the spell that Javair s song was weaving lessened. Yes, attacking the Kobolds while under the flag of truce was a terrible action and Kerbach should not have done it. Even if the some others in the party had agreed with his actions, they did not deserve to all die for what had happened. After all they had vanquished Belack and his Goblin allies thwarting their evil plans that would have meant the deaths of untold numbers. They had delivered the Goblin refugees to their own territory. And they would probably have surrendered to the Ork army had the threat of an attack or tribute on the people of Widow s Grove not been levied. Feeling they should help them defend what little they had was in itself a noble, if somewhat suicidal, stand.
As Javair's Song came to an end he looked over at Kit standing in the doorway. He looked at here questioningly, and then smiled. The odd crowd was applauding his playing, and eating at the feast on the table before them. Javair strode across the room, weaving in and out of the many servants that were working the room, pulled from his pouch a vial, and handed it to her. "This should heal up the last of your blisters and soreness." Kit drank the potion without hesitation and felt the warmth flood her body. Her skin smoothed except for the scar on her left forearm that she had received back in Goran's lair. The pain completely vanished. Even her singed hair seemed to regain it's full body. Javair smiled and bowed low before Kit, causing the room to erupt in laughter and whispers. Please, come and feast with us. You must be hungry.
Kit smiled back, and allowed Javair to take her hand. As they walked the length of the room to the head of the table, Javair leaned closer to Kit and whispered, Seeing you in person, I find it hard to believe that you gave my Captain, Jack Skull so much trouble back at Widow s Grove&.
Kit answered with a smile, You know the Drow have a saying that the shortest path to death if between the 5th and 6th ribs." Javair visibly tensed and began to pull away from Kit, but the dark Drow held his hand tightly and pulled him closer. Lead me to this feast! I am starved!
ZEEK S INTRODUCTION
Zeek wore an apron and a hat, and tried to blend in with the servant s in the kitchen area. He had been surprised to see the strange mix of humans and other races in the Dining Hall of this strange new Lord of the Azure Keep, and had just had enough of his wits about him to grab a serving tray and walk along with a few other servants to the kitchen. From Zeek s hiding spot he saw Kit make her entrance, and Javair bow to her. Even this backwards savage could recognize how talented this bard, and self-proclaimed Lord, was with people s emotions.
Zeek had travelled quite a distance to try to release Oren from his captivity&and now here was Kit dining with the enemy! And where was the other group of Marked Ones that had come here with him? Were they now Captives? Would they be held and punished just for being Marked Ones. Zeek was used to the justice of his tribe&the savage justice of his youth. Crime was punishable by decapitation of certain body parts, or more often with death. Occasionally someone would be exiled&a fate that usually led to death in the harsh jungles of the Valley of the Mists. Zeek was sure that a similar fate awaited him and his friends at the hands of this Javair.
Clearly, Zeek thought, if he was to have any impact on the court proceeding that would surely follow, he must gain some sort of element of surprise&perhaps challenge some mighty ork to hand-to-hand combat and try to earn some sort of justice from these creatures. After all, was it not better to die fighting, than to be beheaded or hung like some coward. Yes! Zeek thought, I will go down fighting!
OREN S INTRODUCTION
Oren had traveled with Vikos and a large unit of orks from the Clan of the Red Spear. Grotten Redfang and Jack Skull had traveled with them, while Wraps had stayed behind with the troops that continued to observed the people of Widow s Grove as they rebuilt their walls and gates. Oren had been impressed with the fact that the orks had not simply left the town defenseless, but had stuck around to make sure no one else raided them while they were weak. Was this kindness on the ork s initiative, or was it on orders from the man that hired them&Javair?
Oren was careful to maintain a respectful distance from his hosts&or were they captors? After all, he was the son of Galen Green. Though he had a hard time believing that his father had actually signed the warrant for his friends arrests, he knew that he had to look into it. He had to see what changes had taken place in the politics of the land since he had left home and begun adventuring. And truly, what choice did he have. Had not he stood against this army with axe and shield, and had not he almost died. Oren had carefully taken care of the wound on his arm&the wound caused when Fedden the assassin took a sample of flesh from him. So many questions and no answers&this irritated Oren.
The orks had been very clever about their journey through the harsh Azure Kingdom winter. They appeared to avoid any valleys that might carry the cold currents of wind that spilled forth from the Storm Gates, and they never allowed themselves to be exposed to these killing winds. They wore skins of thick white fur, and claimed that they had cut a thousand such coats from a single monstrous Ice Wyrm they had found dead and frozen in its lair. These coats had been passed down through several generations by now, and they protected the wearer from the coldest of conditions. They loaned Oren one, as they had Vikos. But the orks made it very clear it was a loan, and that they did not give these coats to ANYONE.
Even with the coat, Oren was cold. The Month of Iron was always harsh, but this close to the Storm Gates, the winter was deadly. Oren noticed black skin on his hands and ears the second day of his journey. A shaman came to Oren s bear skin tent and spread a smelly salve on the frostbitten locations while chanting strange orkish words in a low grumbling hum. The next day, Oren s dead flesh had been restored to its normal burnished tan color.
The Azure Keep was a wonder to behold. Oren found himself wondering at the vast network of tunnels and rooms deep within its icy mountain shell, and the manner of their construction. He caught himself thinking thus, and attributed it to a cold-addled mind. Clearly these thoughts were not proper thoughts for the human son of Galen Green. Why should he care about the tunnels beneath, he should be concerning himself with the politics that occurred above ground! He was the human son of a nobleman. As he thought these things, he touched his newly restored ears, and felt the point atop each one. How strange. The cold must have scarred my ears after-all. It wouldn t be normal for a human to have points on his ears. Clearly this was damage from the cold. Where is that Shaman when you need him, he thought.
Upon entering the Azure Keep, Oren was treated quite properly and with respect by this Javair. He was taken before a fire, and fed a great feast. Javair sung several songs for him. One about Galen Green and his valiant protection of the Forest Green. The other two were about Dragon Dwarves&one a work song sung in while the dwarves chipped away at their tunnels, and the other a song about a great King of the Dragon Dwarves who could transform into a gigantic dragon to fly the mountain skies. Oren was curious about the choice of songs, but was so impressed by them he decided not to inquire about the reasons for the choice.
Javair led him to a long room with a stage at one end, and put a beautiful book on a table before him. Oren began to flip through its pages, and then he put his face in the book and began to read. What a wonderful book about rocks, and construction, and the flow of water underground. Amazingly written, and very captivating. Oren read and read&he knew not for how long. And then Javair re-entered the room. With him was a party of Marked Ones. Not Oren s friends, but another party of Marked Ones! Oren spoke with them awhile about Javair, and how he had been treated, and then Javair whisked the party out of the room with all sorts of talk of new adventures to go on. Oren put his face back into the book and began to read again&..(for a more detailed description of this encounter read towards the end of Journey to the Azure Keep. )
JERAMIAH S INTRODUCTION
Jeremiah's gear was all packed and leaned up against the wall near the door of his very small room. Jeremiah stretched out his arms and his fingertips touched the white-washed brick wall on opposite sides of the room...and he laughed. Though the room was small it was much cleaner than the room he lived in when he first came to Rosehill...the room above the stables. He had been very young, and without options...but the clerics and knights of Rosehill took him in, fed him, and taught him what was important in the world.
They taught him of Heironeous the Invincible, and of justice, valor, chivalry, and honor. They taught him what it meant to be a man, and they taught him of hard work. First he swept the stables, then he trained the horses, and finally, when he had grown into a strong adult...they taught him of weapons and of magic. He hadn't believed in magic when he came to Rosehill...but years later HE was the one directing spells granted to him by Heironeous.
Jeremiah walked to the door, picked up his gear, and walked from his small room...perhaps for he last time. He walked down a long and winding white hall towards the chapel. Creaking open the large white ivory doors, he walked across the grayish tiles of the chapel. "Bishop Meiterose...I am packed and ready."
The Bishop was kneeling on the alter, praying to their Invincible god. He was silent for a moment, and then put his fist sideways straight out in front of him and whispered, "This hand for Justice." He then stood and turned towards Jeremiah, a large smile on his face. "Indeed, you look ready, my boy. Oh, pardon me, my strong missionary. In my eyes you are still a boy. In the eyes of Heironeous, you are a brave soldier in his cause. You are a cleric in the Order of the Rose!"
Jeremiah clasped the older man's hand in his own. "Bishop Meiterose, I am proud of what I have learned here...and I want to do the bidding of the Order, but I have so much more to learn?"
The Bishop held Jeremiah's hand. "You will learn all you wish to learn. You will see all you wish to see. There is time enough for what we can teach you here at Rosehill. But we need information about this new Lord in the Azure Keep. We need ears and eyes within his court. You will be those eyes and ears."
Jeremiah looked downwards at the floor. "I worry about the honor of 'spying' on this new Lord, even for the Order...."
"It is not 'spying' my son. You will not have to keep your true alliegences secret. You will tell him when you get there, that you are loyal to your God, then your Order, and THEN the governments of man...in that order. You will keep no secrets from this Javair, and if when you offer your assistance to him...you will mean it. You will be honest and honorable in every way. I would have it no other way!"
Jeremiah looked up and released the Bishop's hand. "May I receive your blessings before I leave for the Azure Keep? It may be a very long time before I can worship properly at a Temple of Heironeous."
The Bishop led Jeremiah by his elbow to the alter. "The deeds you do in his name will be your worship." And the Bishop began a Ceremony of Blessing.
Javair sat in his large leather and wood chair, his harp silent in his lap. "Follower of Heironeous, I appreciate your honesty...and your directness regarding your loyalty to Rosehill. Your introductory speach to me was beautiful, and almost worthy of being set to music. I assure you that your loyalty to Rosehill will not conflict with your friendship with me! I respect their beliefs, and I share many of them."
Jeremiah looked around the large hall, the two large fireplaces, the high ornate ceilings, the carved wooden trim and doors, and all the furs and rugs on the floor and walls. "Javair of the Lost, I wish to offer you my services. I want to help in your rumored quest to restore summer to the land. My weapons and my magic are yours to command, as long as you serve justice, valor, and honor."
"I need your help more than you could know!" Javair sipped at his wine, and then continued. "A group of adventures, gathered together by the mysterious Hooded Mage, have lost their way. Their lives are sought by an army of orks. They are hunted by a base assassin. And they have lost their focus. You are worthy of a great challenge, I can see that in your fiery eyes. Please help me to guide this group. Help me to get them back on the path of honor, and virtue. Will you do this for me?"
Jeremiah looked deeply into Javair's eyes. He was trying to size up the friendly bard who-would-be-King. "I offered you my services, and this is the favor you have asked of me. I will do everything I can to bring honor to these adventurers. I expect that after they have been redeemed, it will be up to me whether to remain in their company?"
Javair laughed. "Yes. Of course. Though you may be an old man before they allow themselves to be fully redeemed!"
JAVAIR, JUSTICE, AND THE GOBLIN QUEEN
While Kit feasted she said hello to the large female bugbear sitting across from her. Kit had guessed that this was the Goblin Queen, and Javair had confirmed it. The Goblin Queen responded, but in a fairly cold manner with very little enthusiasm. Javair had been so nice to her, and now the Goblin Queen had somewhat rebuked her with inattention. Javair leaned close to Kit and said, It is time to make amends, and put all of this trouble behind you. It is time to face up to what happened. Then aloud for everyone to hear, Everyone to the stage&let us have justice for what has happened! At his words, the crowd in the room made their way through a set of doors on the side of the room&into the large room where Oren had been sitting and reading.
Balconies ran the length of the room on either side, and a large stage was positioned at the far end of the room. Not only did those in the feast room enter the room with the stage, but also men, goblins, orks, and other humanoids from the staging tunnels beneath the Keep. Javair had clearly arranged to have as many witnesses present as possible. Zeek made his way secretly up onto the balconies above the room, while Oren and Jeramiah took places near the front of the room in the vicinity of Kit. Javair and the Goblin Queen went up onto the stage, while Vikos and Jack Skull took position on either side of the stage&in perhaps a guarding position.
As Javair began to speak of the goal of peace among humans and non-humans, Zeek leapt from the balcony onto the floor of the room, sending the crowd running from his general location. THESE PROCEDINGS ARE FALSE, AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH JUSTICE! BRING FORWARD YOU BEST CHAMPION, AND I WILL FIGHT HIM FOR MY FRIENDS FREEDOM!!!! Zeek was eyeing Vikos, the lightning priest. Clearly this is who he would have to fight.
Javair spoke up quickly. Zeek, we have not even begun to speak of justice yet, and already you interrupt. Why must you have primitive justice&why must you always fight? I was about to bring up the terms of your punishment, but you are a very bad guest. You sneak in&you hide in my kitchen&then you jump down in this rude manner. If it is primitive justice you want, then perhaps I will give you primitive justice, afterall!
Zeek s face screwed itself up into an angry grimace. You drag my friend Oren here, seeking to kill Kit, he, and myself&and then you insult me on top of it all! Bring forth your champion coward! Jeramiah sensed that the crowd was very angry at what was taking place, and cast a spell upon as many as his godly magic could effect to keep them calm.
Javair was clearly angry, but appeared to be trying to appear unfazed. Why do you think I want to kill you? I paid an enormous amount of money to have Grotten Redfang s Clan of the Red Spear capture you instead of killing you&why would I waste all that money just to kill you now!?! Think a bit about this, Zeek. Allow your mind to wrap around the concept that I just might be trying to help you make up for what happened in a way that is positive. But, if it is primitive justice you seek, I shall give it to you. It is up to you&.
Zeek looked confused. Well,&if you&well, you weren t going to kill us? I am sorry&.I am used to the ways of my tribe, and&I expected you sought our death. Forgive me. I will hear your justice.
Javair continued. It is clear that adventuring is dangerous business. Things occur which are not anticipated, and actions are taken before the results are realized. And we must live with what has happened, once we have made a mistake. The main actor&or actors that caused the death of the old and fallen Kobold Queen
A FRIEND OF JAVAIR
SHRINE, BRIDGE, AND TUNNELS
THE ELEVATOR & THE ELEMENTAL
THIS IS AS FAR AS I VE GOTTEN!
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