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At Cauldron's Gate

Posted in: Play by Ariel on March 26, 2009

Everyone expects Indira to be cheerful, helpful and patient. So why do I feel like screaming? I can’t get this image out of my head: me pushing Zallie to the side and leaning down with my hand outstretched to Kaurophon. I truly wanted to help him. In that moment I still could not see his true aims. What does that say about me?

Ever since I all but touched the black stone, I have felt…. odd.

I think of it as a shadow in my mind. The light of Pelor seems dimmer to me. My spells have been less effective. I can’t keep all of them straight in my head! This morning I concentrated on the high level spells and left the others to gather dust in the corners of my mind. As we head to the gates of Cauldron, I must to be ready with powerful spells.

I walked beside Acgar and Hamouk (who was carrying Alek’s body) for most of the morning. She is a quiet and undemanding companion. I needed the quiet as I try to sort out the play of light and shadow going on inside me. As we got close to the gates, we stopped to discuss how to enter the city. We know there is an “Adventurer Tax” of 50gp and that some new security patrol has been set up to guard the city and its gates. It sounds like an outgrowth of the old Magical Threats Squads we have encountered before.

I held back from the discussion. I felt petulant about the tax. I didn’t want to pay that stupid tax! and I know that that is not what I would normally think, so I held my tongue. Cinder, Sadi and Myntilly all wanted to circle to the east to try to find the secret door near the Coy Nixie. Ian, Various and Zallie figured that they could walk in as regular folk. We all tried to dissuade Various. She would not listen to reason.

Acgar shrugged. “I’ll pay the tax. I’m a paladin after all.”
I smiled. “I with Acgar. I’ll pay. It’s the right thing to do! And that way I can stay with Alek’s body.”

We stood in a line waiting to enter the city. Zallie was right behind me. Ian was a few people back and Various was behind him. I could see a cleric of Wee Jas standing beside a few half-orc guards. There was also a wizard of some sort and a man with a clipboard who was asking questions of each traveler.

I have a visceral reaction to Jasidin ever since finding the fake lemon balm with Embril’s handwriting and realizing that she killed the Pelorian clerics by substituting the false herb for the real. If the head cleric of Wee Jas could do such a thing, why should I trust any Jasidin?

We easily made it through the gate. We readily gave our names and our gold. What more could a bureaucrat ask for? We had arranged to meet the others at the Coy Nixie. So we strolled that way, keeping an ear out for our friends behind us. Zallie and Ian came through just fine but as Various stepped to the head of the line, there was a commotion.

I gave up pretense of not watching. Everyone else was gawking at the scene. Various, her smoking eye proudly displayed, was talking to the bureaucrat. “I will not go anywhere with you!….. Who am I? I am a scholar and a lady. Don’t touch me!”

I leaned towards Acgar. “What should we do?”
“Let’s wait and see what happens. Then we need to get to the others. We can’t save her.”

Various got louder and louder. The bureaucrat was flustered by her. The half-orcs seemed nervous. Finally one of them started towards her. “Keep your creatures in hand, sir” She bristled at the bureaucrat. And then she shot up about 30 feet into the sky. The crowd let out a sigh. She hovered there and began to berate the half-orcs. When one of them reached for his bow, she enveloped herself into a cloud of mist. Out of the cloud a voice asked, “What’s a nice inn close by?”
Someone in the crowd yelled “The Brass Trumpet’s quite nice, Miss. Dead ahead. Fly straight on, it’s right by the lake.”
A coin came flying out of the cloud. “Thank you.” And the cloud flew over the walls of the city.

Acgar tugged at my sleeve. “Look.” She pointed at the squardron of half-orcs jogging by. “They’re following her. But not too closely, I see!” She laughed. “Let’s go find the others.”

………… [to be continued]

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