I told my players they could mark XP if they wrote up each session from their characters perspective :)

I told my players they could mark XP if they wrote up each session from their characters perspective 🙂

I told my players they could mark XP if they wrote up each session from their characters perspective 🙂

The Priest’s Tale part 1

Some two months or so after landing at New Town in the New World, the three humans, Jack, Father Mullah and “The Hawke”, who had formed a loose bond on the trip southwards, found themselves in The Full Flagon – an inn come hostel built by ex-pats and decked out inside as a reminder of the land they left behind, an oasis of nostalgia amongst unfamiliar environs. Like most of the buildings in New Town it was built from reedwood, the stalks of the bullrushes which stood as much as five times the height of a man above the salt-water swamps which formed the eastern edge of the settlement. Father Mullah arrived shortly after evenswail in order to procure another bottle of wine for communion; strange how a congregation of only four managed to empty a whole clavelin of wine in a single service.

Hailing his kinsmen, the cleric noted they were teasing one of the more peculiar looking natives he had seen arrive in the town a few days earlier, a scrawny looking female elf-type with wild blue hair and a voice like waves crashing against a pebble beach. The elf’s slurring words floated, like her stench of seaweed, above the background hubbub of the bar and it was apparent she was upset about having lost a shark’s tooth necklace which was apparently a sacred badge of rank amongst their tribe. The mystery of the missing communion wine seemed solved when the priest saw the form of the elf-woman dissolve and reform as a shark which flopped around on the floor of the bar for a few moments. It was apparent that the good father was going to have to pay more for the wine in future to be sure it was free of whatever contaminant was causing such delusions! Either that, or this was a land of shape-shifting demon savages, definitely in need civilisation by the word of Allus. What other surprises did this strange, new world hold?

Jack, the young locksmith and handyman who had so kindly assisted with repairing the locks on the reedwood chapel and who would regularly help out the church with small errands and large donations, was plying the female with liquor, a practise the father frowned upon. Jack slipped clumsily from his stool and stumbled against the tall, red-haired stranger (Bernard the Red) who had just collected a drink from the bar. In the ensuing confusion of spilled drinks and broken tables, Bernard the Red’s purse fell to the floor and an accusation of cut-purse was levelled at the priest’s friend.

Despite the efforts of the trustworthy and charismatic “The Hawke” to diffuse the tension, the situation descended into a typical frontier town bar-room brawl, which was only brought to an end by the barkeep’s (Frank) shout of despair when a kilderkin of fine ale, freshly racked at the end of the bar and nearly full (he said), was brought crashing to the ground by the drunken brawlers. Holding aloft his wrought crown of thorns, the father intoned a plea to Allus for peace amongst brethren, for did not Allus forgive the blacksmith who tossed him into the briar patch of Klatch, causing His leg to be severed? With a promise to pay the barkeep the 50 coin cost of the spilled ale by the end of the week, and the replacement of Bernard The Red’s drink, the conversation turned to local superstition and the story of how Father Michael had set off on the trail of a band of opportunist adventurers who had discovered a hidden trove of coin and other valuables, reputedly hidden ages past by a long dead band of pirates who stole a shipment of bulk coin destined as pay for the armies of the emperor during not the last war, or the one before that, but the one prior to the one before that. Father Mullah’s attempt to enlist the assistance of the blue-haired elf in translating the symbols on the map scrawled in Father Michael’s diary was met with scorn, derision and a soggy diary, yet the band of misfits agreed that it was worth tracking down their kinsmen who had set off into the wilderness, and so they were to meet again the following afternoon outside the general store and provisioners, equipped for a trek south. 

Jack slipped quietly away to check on his uncle Rodriguez, not his real uncle of course, but Jack was a caretaker by both trade and heart. Rodriguez was still recovering from having both legs broken in an unfortunate accident involving the local militia, a cartload of grain and a case of mistaken identity.

Walking back to the chapel in silent prayer and contemplation, Father Mullah stood for a moment at the edge of the ramshackle town stroking his prodigious beard thoughtfully, listening to the creaking song of the dune-crickets and looking out towards the distant line of trees silhouetted against the star-strewn tapestry of the southern sky. The light from the tiki-torches standing along the town’s rough and ready stockade reached less than sixty feet into the gloom, sending the criss-cross shadows of  sharpened reedwood stakes dancing to the tops of the grass-covered dunes. He wondered what lay ahead for them in that unknown and uncharted land. Their future was surely in the hands of Allus, he was certain of this, but Allus moves in mysterious ways… The bleating of the hungry goats must have drawn him back to the moment as he resumed his meandering in the vague direction of the chapel. In the flickering light of the torches along what passed for a main street in the town, he saw young Jack returning to the bar/hostel, where the cavalier “The Hawke” was probably right now busy vouchsafing the honour of the inebriated, fish-scented Sinathel to whom he had sworn an oath and promptly taken back to his room for ‘safekeeping’.

After tending to the goats and chickens in the chapel yard, collecting a few eggs for the morning breaking of the fast, the Father returned to the chapel intent on getting a good night’s prayer and suffrage in. The most devout amongst the followers of Allus had a curious practise of inserting pin-sharp metal thorns into the skin of the arms, hands and thighs whilst intoning their Lord in return for guidance, protection and the power to do the good works that Allus laid out for them in the Holy Pamphlet of Semita; Father Mullah was no exception to this. With a sad sigh and a shake of his head, the good father noted that the silver candlesticks entwined with golden thornberry vines that had brought with him from the Old World were missing from the altar.

“Allus! Bring wisdom to those who would be misguided enough to steal from you and save them from themselves. Show pity upon them at the time of the rain of thorns. Aye may it be.”

Lighting the last of his cinnamon and thornberry scented votives, the priest removed his cloak revealing the one legged trouser of the devout. He withdrew from one of the robe’s inner pockets a small thornwood prayerbox, a legacy left to him by his grandfather, and settled down on the low bier in the middle of his quarters. Removing the silver embroidered, blood-soaked prayer rag, and taking the wooden-handled penance thorn from its slot in the lid of the box, the first of a series, he began a low, droning chant which seemed to start from somewhere below the very basement of the soul and which drifted, echoing, away into the long, dark night.