-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- MOST UNUSUAL AND SHOCKING NEWS:
ACROSS WHOLE OF KESSIA, NOTHING MUCH HAPPENS 2
- SUMMONING SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON CASTLE ELEMENTAL 6
- THREATS AND ACCUSATIONS TARGET KNIGHT AND COMMONER ALIKE13
- DECEASED LOCAL FINDS NO PEACE IN DEATH17
- YULE FESTIVITIES LEND LIGHT TO DARK WINTE DAYES20
- NEWS IN BRIEFE21
- AN INTERVIEW WITH SIR ASHINARA DE'ALERA25
- INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN LAURDIA AND THE TALLONEAN EMPIRE26
- SCIENTIFIC TRANSACTIONS37
- IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Letters, Essayes, and Opynion47
- FOR THE PUBLIC NOTICE49
- EYE ON KESSIA50
- NEWS OF THE WORLDE51
- AS EYE SEE IT53
- NOTE FROM THE EDITORS55
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
MOST UNUSUAL AND SHOCKING NEWS: ACROSS WHOLE OF KESSIA, NOTHING MUCH HAPPENS
All across the perennially War-ravaged, Spirit-haunted, Reality-warped Kingdom of Kessia, the people of the land are confronting a new Phenomenon to surpass in Novelty and strangeness any of those more customarily experienced; to wit, the unprecedented experience of near-perfect Uneventfulness. From the dark Temples that are customarily the site of bloody unhallowed Sacrifices, to the traditionally Orc-trodden paths of the Trade-routes, to the calamitous and oft-explosive Avenues of Kaezar itself, the entirety of the Kingdom lies under an unsettling Pall of perfect Peace and Calm, which none know what to make of.
[ The text is broken here by an illustration of a placid moonlit street scene, evidently reproduced in woodcut from a camera obscura photograph. Sitting in the shadow of the clock tower to the east, a large stone building occupies the entire side of the block. A wooden placard is fixed to the wall in a prominent position above a bench near its lantern-lit door. Pockmarked with holes and loose stones from the carts and wagons that traffic to the northern, eastern, western and southern sections of Kaezar City, the cobbled road is riddled with frozen slush and icy puddles. You see a large snowbank.
Nobody is here.
Nothing is happening.
A caption printed beneath the picture reads: "Beneath the Moons That Are Not Presently Hurtling Into Thrael, the Horror-Free Streets of Kaezar Slumber Without Terrifying Nightmares." ]
Long-time Residents expressed themselves as cautiously Pleased yet Baffled. "I built myself this new Shed, expecting to see it trampled into Splinters by some gargantuan Animated object or burned to Ash by enraged Fire-elementals, or at least used as the Headquarters of some shadowy Band of Assassins plotting the downfall of Kessian Society," stated one Kaezarian gentleman in some Confusion. He explained with anxious Bemusement that some sabotage-minded Seekers had got in and chewed a Hole in some of the leather Tack he had been working on, and that he was plagued by a terrible Suspicion that a subtle and conniving Cat was going to use the Wood-bin to nest her Kittens in, but that of Demons, Zombies, Liches, Ghost-creatures, Shadow-orcs, hostile Pale-beings, and the usual run of Kessian Undesirables there had as yet been no Sign.
The gentleman then proceeded to draw attention to all the Features of Construction, including fine joining Work that had not been Gouged and Rent, doors that had neither been kicked in nor yanked violently off their still perfectly oiled Hinges, and a small paned Window brought from Never and not since reduced to Shards of shattered glass ground into the Dirt amidst the pitiable Corpses of his entire Family, who instead of being rent Limb from Limb by savage Foes, proceeded during the course of the interview to interject Comments on the state of the Weather, questions on the functioning of Cameras obscuras, and requests that Fidget the Terrier-dog, who had not been spitted alive and eaten by Orcs before the tearful gaze of the Children, have his likeness published in the next Edition of this Publication.
[ A photograph inserted at this point in the text shows a mongrelly terrier twisting around in the lap of a thin-framed woman to nuzzle its muddy face against her chin. The untidy tumble of the woman's dark hair and the angle of her head away from the camera prevent much being discerned of her face except the beginning of a laugh as she turns to say something to a little girl who is yanking on her right arm, her other arm being firmly in the possession of an older girl who looks straight out of the picture with a gravity completely at odds with the rest of the scene. In the background stands a neat little shed in an appalling state of intactness. Oddly enough, the whole scene is slightly lopsided and the figures in it well offset from center, as if the person working the camera did not know quite what they were doing.
A caption to the photograph informs the reader that this is "The Peculiarly Unravaged Household of Mr. F.T. Mitchener." ]
Authorities are at a Loss to explain the horrifying state of Disaster currently plaguing neither Town nor Countryside, with some convinced that in fact the Peace is but an Illusion covering up the hidden Machinations of a malign Destiny that continues to work its Influence throughout the land, and which shall become appallingly Clear to us in future Dayes. This belief stands opposed to that of others, who believe that the typical Atmosphere of Calamity in Kessia is akin to some Pattern in the Weather, such that while generally the Climate prevailing in this Kingdom is one of terrible Doom, yet at times the Storms may drift to cover some other portion of the Empire instead, with the Vortex of Horror presently hovering over the Borderlands which are experiencing such Dire mistreatment at the hands of the Marauding armies of Orc-kind.
Opinion likewise stands divided as to whether Kessia will be all at once Struck by some sudden sickening Cataclysm of the most horrifying Extreme at some point in the near future, or if it will instead Ease back into the accustomed state of general Emergency in a more Gradual manner, such that Disasters of only a small or Moderate nature shall steadily accumulate in a Snow-balling fashion, until altogether they achieve the accustomed Proportions of a magnificent Avalanche of Catastrophe. While these Questions await that clear Resolution which may only be brought by the passage of Dayes, the Eye advises all its Readers simply to bide their time and do their best to Weather the unnerving lack of Disaster, until inevitably the spell is broken by a sudden Deluge of Murder, Looting, Haunting, Plague, and general Destruction, bringing all their Labors of the last severall months entirely to Nought in the comfortable accustomed Way of Things.
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
SUMMONING SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON CASTLE ELEMENTAL
Though it would perhaps constitute an Exaggeration to say that the matter of the great Earth Elemental, that strange Being of tumbled Stone and Debris so unexpectedly discovered behind the long-unbreached citadel Walls of Carhadras Castle, preyed continually upon the Minds of the residents of Kessia following the fruitless Assault upon it this past 14th Daye of Ghust, still its Origins and Motives remained a matter of some small Curiosity, at least on the part of a few Persons who had devoted themselves to a greater understanding of the strange affair.
Mister Guillaumo LaFever, whom the reader will recall from the previous Edition of this paper as having been the original Discoverer of the inexplicable Disturbances at Carhadras, had been encouraged to pursue his own personal Interest in the mysterious Elemental by Mister Malo Haithcock, who had assigned his wizardly Apprentice to conduct an investigation that might offer some answers to the innumerable Questions that still lingered with as great persistence as the Elemental itself. To this purpose Mister LaFever sought out the aid of Mister Astolpho Mandel, Emissary of Duvan, and in consultation with this seasoned Summoner of strange Astral Beings, devised a plan by which they hoped to bring forth another Spirit that might possess the Capacity to illuminate the situation somewhat.
The particular sort of Spirit which Misters Mandel and LaFever had in mind would likewise belong to the varied Race of Elementals, but would be of a much smaller and weaker sort than the Carhadras Castle creature which they hoped to learn more about. As Mister Mandel had previously summoned from beyond the Veil a Lightning Mephit, with an affinity to the elements of Air and Flux, he and LaFever now deemed it possible to use objects of a different nature to bring forth a Mephit of the Earth, which might be privy to some manner of pertinent information on its far larger Cousin at the citadel. For the accomplishment of this aim Mister Mandel suggested that an assortment of Materials possessing an affinity to the Earth might be assembled, and it was with this in mind that Mister LaFever eventually collected a black Diamond, a Pebble, and a small mineral Bezoar. With these Materials in hand, the summoning itself was set for the date of the 10th Daye of Winte, and a number of Persons invited to attend as Witnesses to what would undoubtedly prove an interesting and unusual event.
Arriving at a spot near the south shore of the River Sklad, some ways on from the Hamlet of Blackfish but at a suitable safe Remove from the occupied Castle itself, Misters Haithcock, Mandel, and LaFever were soon joined by a sizeable number of these Invitees, who included among their Ranks Sir Ashinara De'Alera, his wife Missus Anolisse De'Alera, the Xul'Abraxan spiritualist Mister Dalanoth Ithiel, and a handful of others who had either received a request for their Presence, or who had heard by other means and felt their Curiosity sufficiently Piqued to make the journey to witness the proceedings.
Mister Mandel then began to draw the Circle through which the Summoning and Binding of the Mephit might be performed, explaining to the Onlookers that bits of Teg symbolism were worked into the circle's Design, and that the Mineral materials were meant to entice the desired variety of Mephit to appear. Before any such exotic Creature could be drawn forth from the Realm beyond the Veil, however, there swept forth from the Circle a veritable Stampede of tiny scuttling Cockroaches, whose unfortunate little Lives were soon Snuffed out by the energetic Stampings and leapings about of the agitated Crowd. But once this Vanguard had been dispatched, and with an exuberant Flatulent sound, a peculiar mucky-looking Creature oozed into Being in the circle's Center, from which point it proceeded to burble at the Onlookers with cheerful Incoherence.
[ A woodblock print inserted here can only inadequately capture the amorphous likeness of a mucky-looking entity posed sloppily in the middle of a chalk circle. Viscous dark sludge looks to swirl and coalesce around a central ovoid shape, giving rise to a poorly-defined silhouette. A few blunt appendages protrude at odd spaces from the center stack of mud, but otherwise no features are clearly visible nor any sort of visage. The image of this unusual entity has a strangely smeared quality to it, suggesting a not entirely successful effort to capture a form in constant motion.
The small print beneath the illustration describes the strange being as "A Kessian Mud-Mephit." ]
Although there was some Concern at first that the little Mud-being might be incapable of anything its Audience might understand as Speech, such Doubts were soon laid happily to rest as an oozy sort of Mouth opened up in what might with some Imagination be deemed the Creature's Face, and despite its expressed Reluctance to linger long upon this Mortal plane, it proceeded to answer in mucky bubbling Tones whatever Questions its Summoners saw fit to direct at it. And the odd little Creature proved in fact able to provide much information that the Adventurers found to be of Interest, including that the large Earth Elemental was known by the name of Ogremoch, that it had been imprisoned for half of its Existence within the walls of Carhadras Castle, and that it was quite phenomenally put out about this Circumstance.
Further inquiry was made concerning the questions of why and how and by whom Ogremoch had been bound to the Fortress, and how long ago this had come to pass, but the Mud-mephit not knowing all the Details surrounding the larger Elemental's imprisonment, it offered to depart the Summoning-circle to go ask the Entity itself. This being agreed upon as the best Course, the Mephit promptly sank straight into the Dirt and disappeared from Sight, there following after several Minutes the Emanation of an extraordinarily Wrathful series of Bellows from what seemed to be the vicinity of Carhadras, with the grand Finale of an immense Booming noise that shook the very Earth and sent the impatiently waiting Audience tumbling to the Ground.
Despite the generally Ominous nature of these Signs, there came no indication that the dread Ogremoch was in fact burst free from his long Imprisonment and stomping along on his way to wreak his long-awaited Vengeance upon all Mortalkind, and indeed the Adventurers had hardly time to pick themselves up off the Ground and gather their Dignity from out of the Dust and Corpses of Cockroaches when the Mephit returned with the information it had promised. Being questioned, the little mud-being gave this Speech:
"Ogremoch, the Primal Elemental Prince, is imprisoned within the Walls of that mortal-made Castle, bound by Magics over two Millennia old. He was summoned by the Residents of that Castle, with the request that he perform Duties for them. No Prince of our kind has ever served a Mortal, and it went badly for those that made the Attempt to enslave him. The magics bolstering his Prison have weakened over time so that he is able to exert his Will over the Stone near the Castle, creating his own Servants. However, he still cannot escape, and if he does, Woe to the mortal Races."
The Mephit added that chief among the Duties demanded of Ogremoch by his Summoners was the drawing down from the Heavens of the three Moons, and the subsequent Smashing of them directly into Thrael, for what mad purpose none can say, but which seems quite illustrative of the usual Whims and Schemes of Kessian Madmen, whether from the far-gone Dayes of the Wyrd and the Horde, or in our own present Time. However, for Reasons also not entirely clear but which in sad likelihood one may not ascribe to Charitable impulses towards Thraelians, and seemingly having more to do with the Effrontery of Mortals in attempting to command a puissant Prince of Elementals, Ogremoch refused to do his would-be Masters' bidding in this matter, and was consequently imprisoned for this act of Defiance. There the mighty Elemental had remained to this Daye, weakened by his intangible Bonds but seething with the impotent Despair of his long Imprisonment, his Anger, according to the mud-mephit and entirely unsurprisingly, knowing no Bounds.
[ Providing passage over a narrow section of river that flows by in the background of this print from a camera obscura, a stout log bridge seems sturdy, though it has obviously been here for some time. Jagged rocks dot a flat wetland plain that spreads southward, surrounding the gray stone walls of a large castle keep, which stands at the very edge of a lake. Along the eastern border of the plain, dense trees take over suddenly as the land rises quickly into foothills and merges into snow-capped mountains. Two chalk circles, one white and the other a darker color, appear almost to glow gently in the moonlight, while a resplendent black diamond and a cracked rock lie on the ground nearby in the midst of the pitiful squashed corpses of dozens of cockroaches.
Also here are various persons recognizable as Demon Lord Astolpho of Duvan (standing a white circle), Apprentice Mage Guillaumo (standing near Astolpho), Sorcerer Dalanoth, Firebrand Aurorah (standing near Dalanoth), Mareschal Marian of the Kessian Medical Society (standing near Aurorah), Sir Ashinara (leaning on a stout log bridge), a tiny mud mephit (standing in a red circle), Malo, an animated silver-edged teacup, Darthorien, Captain Niall, Maid Naria, and Archempath Anolisse.
A caption printed beneath the illustration reads "Consultation with a Mud-Mephit." ]
This information having been obtained, the Mud-mephit was duly released from its own Bonds and allowed to return to whatever elemental Plane it called its Home, leaving its short-term Captors to puzzle what might be done about the Situation, if anything at all. For certainly it seemed that, even if it should be determined what precisely was the nature of Ogremoch's bonds, and then a means of Rupturing them worked out, without some means of stemming the Elemental's great Wrath and immediately banishing it back to its native Realm, the Prince of Elementals should very probably wreak amazing Havoc on the lands around it, perhaps even to the point of being drawn to the very Gates of Kaezar itself, as indeed nearly every wrathy and Vengeful supernatural Entity is.
Despite some Degree of ongoing Effort on the part of Mister LaFever to observe and investigate Ogremoch and his Surrounds, and to discover something of the identity and Goals of the strange Cabal dedicated to the Destruction of all Life on Thrael via the catastrophic Manipulation of the moons, as of this Date past, present, and future alike remain Hazy in regards to this situation, and Ogremoch, Prince of Elementals, seems set to remained a Royal captive for all time forseeable.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
THREATS AND ACCUSATIONS TARGET KNIGHT AND COMMONER ALIKE
It seems that no Man in Kessia, however Respected he may be or how Lofty his Station in life, may be safe from petty Altercations and Accusations of ill Behavior from any other Person, though in general it is inevitable that such Grumblings will come to Naught, though they be well justified or poorly, when made by the Low against the High. However, in the case of recent Allegations made against Kessia's own newly-knighted Sir Ashinara De'Alera, any such Seeds of Dissent are bound to find particularly thin Soil in which to grow, particularly in light of the Planter's seeming propensity to till the Ground in Gardens far from his own.
To state the case less obscurely, one Mister Kiyoshi, but recently arrived from the Bijapuran region of Vash, has come forth with multiple Accusations against Sir Ashinara regarding several Incidents spaced throughout the months of Plade and Winte. The subject of these Complaints ranges from attempts at physical Violence upon Mister Kiyoshi's Person, to disrespect against himself and certain recently deceased Individuals, to Accusations from the Knight himself that Mister Kiyoshi had threatened him in turn, a suggestion which the latter found deeply insulting and strenuously denied. Indeed, from the tenor of Mister Kiyoshi's Complaints it is in fact quite clear that Sir Ashinara must be a Menace to the whole Realm and Oppressor of entire Peoples.
One may ultimately, however, judge this to be something of an overstatement of the Case, particularly in an incident involving only the Aiming of a single light Blow at Mister Kiyoshi's face, following thise gentleman's utterance of some very offensive Words against both Sir Ashinara and his Liege, and, these words failing to result either in the Blow actually connecting or in Pistols at Dawn, must certainly be considered a far tamer incident than one is accustomed to find in most city Taverns. Whether this constitutes very Knightly behavior is perhaps at greater issue, but the incident as witnessed gives this writer little Alarm over whether all of Kessia may have to fear being Trampled beneath the damask-shod Feet of Sir Ashinara at any point in the near future, though one may never entirely rule out the risk of Explosions and dangerously haphazard Smiting of Demons in his vicinity.
Sir Ashinara, perennially the Favorite of all pugnacious Pranksters in the Kingdom, reported that in addition to these Complaints lodged against him, an anonymous Note had been slid beneath the Door of his inn-room, which was the cause of his own Accusations directed back at Mister Kiyoshi. Inconsiderately supplying neither name nor return Address, this Note said only that Sir Ashinara had best be careful before he was the next one Stung, though it did include a helpful rendering of a Scorpion to illustrate the Point in case there had been any Doubts. While no Evidence could be discovered connecting the sinister Missive with any particular Party, it seems not unlikely that this and other malign Dealings should be linked in some manner to Mister Kiyoshi, who appears to have quite wholeheartedly embraced a personal Vendetta against the Knight, while also delighting in assuming a Manner most blatantly and suspiciously Opaque in response to the most innocuous of Questions that a Reporter, or any other person merely pursuing polite Conversation, might pose. Coinciding with the malign Missive have been vague Rumors of sinister Shadowy dealings among the less Reputable society in town, in the manner of Mutilations and vague Threats against the wealthy and Powerful of the Kingdom, but this Reporter was unable to confirm from any informed Party the Truth of them.
The character and Aspirations of this Mister Kiyoshi are cast further into Doubt by an Incident in which he spoke quite crudely and moreover in a highly threatening manner to a young Vulfen woman whom he had chanced upon in Breen's, calling her a "Filthy Animal" and threatening to skin her to make Boots if she did not immediately leave the Establishment, despite the fact of its being quite Conducive to Filthy Patrons of all sorts. Interestingly enough, this Hostile act occurred around the same time that a number of incendiary Fliers appeared about Kaezar, and though it cannot be said with perfect certainty that the two incidents are linked, still it appears most likely to be so.
One might question the sense of coming to a foreign Country, one oft in opposition to one's native land, and straightaway insulting a Knight of the Realm by insinuating of his Person a certain Status as Boot-licker to that Realm's own Sovereign, or of entering a well-established Bar and attempting to ruin its Proprietor's Business by running off its Custom, but Mister Kiyoshi is nothing daunted by such Nicities. In fact, these smaller incidents appear to be but a mild Prologue to his true magnificent Master-plan, which seem by his own Words to involve nothing less than an attempt to turn the whole of the non-noble Population of Kessia into a Revolutionary force bent on toppling the entire Order under which they remain ruthlessly Oppressed.
Given this extraordinary Ambition, however, and regardless of one's personal Sentiments regarding the furry Races, one must also wonder at the Sense of any person claiming to be acting for the Liberation of the Common Man, who then proceeds to make Threats against one of those very Commoners whom one would suppose the natural Allies and Beneficiaries of his proposed Revolution, and one may only suppose that Mister Kiyoshi considers it a matter of incontrovertible Fact, given of course his vast experience of Kessian social Relations, that any person who is the Enemy of Tyranny simultaneously feels a natural Contempt for all furred Persons, regardless of Status.
It may be supposed that all of the aforementioned Incidents were intended nevertheless to further Mister Kiyoshi's described Ambitions to rouse the oppressed Rabble of Kaezar against the Tyranny of their social Overlords and other supposed Undesirables; however, he was thwarted by the inherent Stupidity of his actions, and has since disappeared without a Trace, presumably in Shame of his failure.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
DECEASED LOCAL FINDS NO PEACE IN DEATH
It is a Conceit fondly cherished by the Downtrodden in this world that, however much abused and Denigrated they may be in Life, howsoever pushed about, Bullied, spat upon, and generally ground down into the Dirt by those stationed above them, in Death at last all Persons shall find the equality that can be only a Dream while all yet breathe. These yearning egalitarian Visions, alas, are formed only to be Shattered by the vagaries of cruel Reality, as indeed must be inevitably expected of all wonderful Illusions in the end.
A demonstration of this sad fact could be clearly witnessed this past Winte in the case of a poor dead Veckle, who found his earthly Remains subjected to the worst sorts of Indignities which one might hope to avoid in Death, however inescapable they might have been in Life. The perished creature had begun his Afterlife well, his Corpse having been laid out upon the bench in front of the Crossroads Inn with quite Touching respect, by Parties unknown, perhaps bereaved Relations, junk-yard Colleagues, fellow collectors of Shiny Things, or other well-wishing Associates of the Deceased. Even more Fortunate for any Connoisseur of shiny Masterpieces, a Collection had been started by which the sad little Fellow might be honored in the course of his Burial.
This collection had in fact been the subject of much Interest on the part of some Residents who chanced upon the small Memorial, which at that point included not only a Bar of sweetly-scented Soap the likes of which the living Veckle had surely never availed himself of, and a Yule ornament whose undeniable Shininess must have done his Soul much good. Being invited by a bit of Parchment, also set neatly out upon the Bench, to Please leave a Memorial for the Deceased, Miss Arcadia and Mister Kiyoshi had made their own small contribution of Whiskey to the Dead, and were continuing to speak on the matter when the respectful little Tableau was interrupted by the arrival on the scene of Sir Ashinara De'Alera.
His attention drawn to the pitiable Corpse, the Knight swiftly judged that it must immediately be taken off to the Graveyard, there not to receive a ceremonious Burial, but simply for the purpose of disposing of the Remains as conveniently but as far out of the way of the Living as possible, stating also that all the Offerings left the Deceased must likewise be tossed to the Middens. While those present argued that such Treatment must constitute a terrible breach of Respect for the poor dead Soul, their Arguments were to no avail and were likely not much helped by the fact of Mister Kiyoshi's being the Veckle's most forceful Proponent, its having been seen in the previous article that this Gentleman had already placed himself strenuously at Odds with Sir Ashinara, and the Vashan's prior Actions having done but little to recommend him even to those less personally Antagonized by him, or indeed to anyone with much Sense.
This being the case, the poor Veckle's cause was clearly Doomed, as it likely had been from the very start, and at last Sir Ashinara took up the Corpse of the unlucky Departed and, proceeding with it to the Graveyard, cast it quite unceremoniously upon the bare Ground, unburied and unshriven. And so this Publication appeals to the tender hearts of its Readers and invites them to pity this poor Unfortunate of the Vecklish Nation, who proved in Death as unlucky and unloved as in Life.
[ Weed-covered mounds rise from the unkempt reaches of the ancient burial ground pictured in this print from a camera obscura. A rusted iron fence runs northwest and south from the twin dolmens of the cemetery's lych gate. One of the barrows spread about the yard still retains the faded remains of its grave marker. No such marker, however, distinguishes the forlorn figure of a dead veckle that lies upon the ground in an unceremonious heap at the center of the photograph. Inexplicably appearing at the lower edge of the picture and only partly captured in the scene is the curving banded edge of what appears to be the rim of a teacup.
No caption defines the illustration, which instead is graced with the following lines of doggerel:
Here rests a poor veckle
Nevermore shall he heckle;
Tears cannot restore him
Therefore I weep for him. ]
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
YULE FESTIVITIES LEND LIGHT TO DARK WINTE DAYES
The Yule Season has come and gone once more, bringing the usual mildly merry Festivities that the residents of Kaezar have come to expect from this otherwise dark and Dreary time of the Yeare. The grand old Yule-tree, provided with the usual Generosity by King Byren Sorrenson of Kitz-Kannaugh, graced the Green once more with its verdant Loveliness, and though it took some time longer than usual for its majestic Branches to be laden down with glass Ornaments to the customary degree, by the time of its traditional Burning on the 4th Daye of Morde there were many on hand to see it go off in what is said to be the usual Spectacle of roaring Flames and glittering Explosions, which must surely be a comforting and homely sight to all Kaezarians missing Explosions of a more vigorous and Deadly sort.
It must, in fact, have been one such discontented Citizen who was responsible for lading the Tree down with Fireworks along with the Ornaments, and for the subsequent mild Injury taken by one of the Persons present. Witnesses to the Scene reported that the Fireworks erupted quite unexpectedly from the depths of the Yule-tree, startling the small Crowd gathered around it and causing mild Injury to one described as "the crazy Woman covered with Flowers," identified by this reporter as Miss Beckah Lothenial, former Royal Bard of Kaezar and but lately returned from Ziguran for the Season. The Fireworks themselves were reported to be quite the Ordinary variety which anyone might have purchased at the Mylywyth Faire this past Kolbre, and no one having since stepped forth to make Confession to the Deed, the Culprit remains unknown.
Unlike the previous Yeare this Season brought no additional solstice Festivities from either Duvanals or Vaenites, and on the whole the darkest time of the yeare passed by in that heavy Slumbrous peace enjoyed by the natural world during these long Winter months. This reporter has heard the vaguest of Rumors that some strange Spirit may have made the usual violently Hostile sort of appearance some time shortly after the Solstice Day itself, but sadly no one has seen fit to provide this Publication with any further Details with which it might reassure and beguile the reading Public, who so anxiously await interesting News in these uneasily uneventful times.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NEWS IN BRIEFE
The perfect Peace of Kaezar was briefly broken on the 23rd Daye of Fraostmonth by the Rampages of a Sharl Colossus, marking the first occasion on which this massive Creature has come by to Ravage the city in a period of quite some many Months. The rambunctious Behemoth proceeded to stamp heavily about Town and upon local Persons for perhaps a good Half an Hour, accompanied by its characteristic Entourage of Myrmidons who cleared the way for their Sovereign by energetic wavings of their mighty Pincers and forceful exclamations of "Dek!"
However, the bold Behemonth's procession through the City was ultimately brought to a Halt at that usual Battlefield of Gods, Spirits, Monsters, and Men, the Crossroads of Kaezar, where a number of brave and bored Defenders make relatively short work of the gargantuan Creature before more than a small number of other Residents had been utterly Annhilated. Sadly, the most diligent Efforts of one Mister Rollo Bracken to retrieve from the Monster's Innards a peculiar Gallstone-like object peculiar to Colossi, ended in nothing more than a quite Fragrant mess. A few Patrols about the rest of town sent the fractious remainder of the Colossus's army to join their Sovereign in the Ul'Mydar, leaving the populace of Kaezar to wonder at the Creature's origins, and make suspicious Enquiries after the Whereabouts of Mister Astolpho Mandel.
~ * ~
It has been announced that this Yeare's long-anticipated Winter Masque shall take place on the 28th Daye of Storme in its usual grand Locale of Malcomb Castle, with the theme this yeare of The Seasons. Already eager citizens of Kaezar are flocking to the Card-room at the Silver Plum to admire and acquire the many fine examples of the Mask-maker's Art that are in brilliant Display there, while Miss Harliekwin herself has put in an appearance for the purpose of making custom Creations for the populace while they wait and watch a Master-craftswoman at work. While some may quibble querelously that the 28th Daye of Storme is not generally accounted to fall strictly within the season of Winter, surely none can object to the no lesser Dreariness of this supposedly Spring month being lightened by the bright Attire and magnificent Decor that the Masque, no matter the Season, brings to the City for one marvelous evening.
~ * ~
The mystery of the eerie horse-headed Spectre has been at least partially illuminated, thanks to information imparted to this Publication by Mister Jurion Tamerlaine, a native of the northern Regions of Peregorne. According to Mister Tamerlaine, this particular Haunt is known by the name of Bwca Llwyd in the vicinity of Bristeach, or Mari Llwyd along much of the northern Peregornian Coast, with the Kessian variant of these names being the Grey Mare.
The shrouded Spook, it is reported by Mister Tamerlaine, is not generally a Violent or especially Troublesome being, at least in comparison to most other supernatural Afflictions visited upon Kessians, and it responds, most improbably, to being Sung at, such that the Creature may be driven off by besting it in a Duel of Doggerel, whereby the Singer that mocks the best becomes the Victor of the fight. Armed thusly with Knowledge, it may perhaps be hoped that, should this Spectre raise its skeletal Head once more in future, it may at that time be dealt with using a novelly non-violent Manner that shall be Newsworthy in and of itself.
~ * ~
Moorstag Markets continues to draw a small handful of Buyers and Sellers to exchange Goods and Services upon the Town Green of Kaezar on the first Moorstag of every month. In addition to the rare Sundries and specialty Flares offered by Mister Astolpho Mandel, the gentleman behind the market's Conception, other Offerings that have appeared at the event in past Months include enchanted Items, herbal Elixirs from the Kessian Medical Society, Portrait sessions, and Lock-smithing services. Any additional enterprising Persons are cordially invited to set up their own Stalls at the next Market and help aid the flow of Kaezarian Commerce.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
AN INTERVIEW WITH SIR ASHINARA DE'ALERA
.. shall not be appearing in this Edition, as Sir Ashinara has vanished without Trace or Warning, leaving not so much as a vaguely-described Advertisement of his present Whereabouts. The Eye regrets the Negligence on the part of its Interviewer to conduct the second Half of the Interview in an anywise Timely manner, leading to the sad Necessity of this Announcement, and wishes to assure its Readership that she has been brought to Suffer acutely for her Errors.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN LAURDIA AND THE TALLONEAN EMPIRE
~*~ Being an Account of the Journey to the Hostile Frontier of Civilized Lands,
~*~ And Beyond it into the Very Heart of Orcish Savagery;
~*~ Describing Also the Extraordinary Sights, Remarkable Creatures,
~*~ And Unusual Encounters Had Therein.
Part the Seventh: Settled Dust and Silence -- The Fenwyllen Proper at Last -- The Unfathomable Ways of Wrens -- The Enticement of Small Enclosed Shiny Spaces -- Curiosity Fails to Kill Anybody, But Is Still Somewhat Painful -- Excelsior -- Above Everything but the Storm
The window onto the world that I had created through the dust-shrouded walls of our paint dome was not one calculated to fill anyone with a sense of ease, nor indeed with any emotion but a sort of unsettled and wondering awe at the scene glimpsed through it. As we scrambled gratefully from the stifling confines of the disintegrating dome, we found nothing around us but great quantities of ashy dirt, heaps and drifts and dunes of it, which rose in powdered streamers with every footfall and stung the nostrils with a painful acrid scent. Of orcs there was no sign, neither in the ravine where we had taken shelter from the storm, nor even less upon the barren flatlands above. No rodent or lizard scrabbled in the dirt, no bird flew by across the sickly green of the heavens, no sound of voices rose from the scoured plain, neither shout nor moan, only the vague hollow mutter of the sullen breeze that now just barely lifted the dust.
The silence and the scene itself were likewise oppressive, and nearly disorienting after the clamor and violence that had surrounded us the last we had been outside of the dome, but under the circumstances neither Mister Haithcock nor I felt much justified in complaint of it. As even the last lingering haze began to settle and clear, we became abruptly aware that before us now there lay not the seemingly infinite blasted expanse we had traversed so painfully up till this point, but the steep sides of a range of high craggy peaks that obscured any further view of the horizon to the north and west. While these very mountains had loomed tantalizingly in our view during the whole plodding journey across the plain, and indeed had been a constant if distant presence for the last few days, they seemed in the course of the sandstorm to have achieved a proximity that was startling in its abruptness.
This was of course nothing more than an idle fancy, the result of having been so long without anything much to look at at all, first in the dust, then in the dome; and surely not in reality the result of any sneaking moves on the part of the mountains themselves. Still, looking at them where they towered up to gouge at the sky, their own sides rent with long crevices like the marks of claws, and the whole mass of them pocked around with odd warped shadows in the gathering dusk, they presented such a decidedly sinister aspect that one could easily suspect them of any subtle and malicious design. They gave the impression even of wrapping the heavens about them in a tenebrous shifting cloak which seemed to indicate that while the dust had settled close to the earth, above us it was caught in some inexorable maelstrom of wind that must yet have swirled with great force around the tops of the mountains. Impaled upon the sharp talons of the pinnacles and battered by the blast, less fortunate than we in the relative stillness below, little rags of clouds the color of bruises fluttered helplessly. But soon the sight of these began to fade and the whole view was lost in the deepening purple-and-green of the ominous twilight.
Despite the swiftly dwindling light my companion and I were determined not to spend the next several dark hours in the silence and unsheltered vastness of the plain, so with the aid of a small greenish fire-light produced by Mister Haithcock (which seemed quite in harmony with the overall color and eeriness of our surroundings) we stumbled our way onwards in the direction of the mountains. We spent perhaps the next hour's worth of time in limping progress across the plain, during which we proved quite definitively that it was not actually flat at all, but was liberally scattered with tiny dips and ridges and sudden foot-jarring pockets that made themselves known in a manner very unkind to anyone who had come straight from pitched orc battles and vertical descents into ravines followed by a dearth of healing elixirs. But we eventually attained the base of the nearest peak, and settled down in the protection of a rocky ravine of which we neither could discern, nor cared to do so, anything more than that it was out of sight, out of the wind, and in general out of the way of every conceivable other thing in the entire universe.
The following morning we roused ourselves from our stony shelter well before the rays of the sun bothered to grope their uncertain way into its recesses, for as it turned out our shelter was not just a small pocket in the mountainside but actually a slot canyon whose high precipitous sides showed only a crack of dim sky far above, and into which the sun must have penetrated only at high noon if at all. I suppose it is not entirely accurate, however, to say that I roused myself, as that office was actually performed by a wren which had evidently judged my hair the perfect material to construct a nest out of, if only it could be detached from the inconvenient holdfast of my head. What any bird was doing constructing any nest of any material at all this late in the season was fairly baffling, but the ways of wrens are well beyond the understanding of any mere daun, or in fact of any other being in the world who is not a wren.
I was content to lie there for some time longer and let the wren make free with my hair, which it seemed pleasant to imagine as a cozy nursery for Laurdian wrenlets when its original owner was far away in Kessia once more, but in the end I inadvertently foiled the little creature's architectural ambitions when it gave a particularly sharp yank at a strand on my forehead, and my resulting sneeze sent it winging away with an explosive flutter of feathers. I was so very remorseful about stymying this poor mother-to-be in all her most exalted plans for her future offspring, that I decided to ease her task by plucking out a few hairs myself and snagging them on a nearby thornbush where she would be sure to take note and retrieve them. So I did this, and was pleased to see her eyeing them with her keen beady gaze from a rock a few paces distant, until finally she decided that the allure of those lovely few strands of construction material were worth any risk of strange foreign beings in close proximity, and flitted to the shrub and away again with her prize clutched fast in her beak.
I was interested to see what she might do with them, and Mister Haithcock was nowhere about to cast mystified and faintly impatient glances at me for troubling myself with anything so trivial as wrens, so I followed her at a respectful distance as she continued on her rounds about the canyon. After endless flutterings and flitterings from one wall to the other and back again, and infinite poking and prying at numerous rocks, pebble-heaps, grass-clumps, and every other feature there was to prod, the little bird finally disappeared into a small vertical crevice in the side of the canyon. Naturally this required further investigation, so I crept up to the crevice and was about to peer inside, when the wren exploded back out of it again, startling me so badly (though I should have expected nothing else) that I jerked backwards, lost my footing on the loose pebbly ground, and fell over onto my back, which was a welcome change of pace from all the falling onto my face two days previously. And from this angle I could see, far back and upwards in the very crevice that had won was the bird's favor, a faint and elusive glitter.
The wren's maternal affairs abruptly forgotten, I scrambled to my knees and pressed the side of my face to the crack so that I could peer upwards at whatever thing it was that could be glimmering so interestingly up there, but this produced no more than the conviction that it had not been my imagination, or a trick of the light from the odd angle -- there really was something wedged far back into the narrow space. And it was, I felt certain, just barely within the reach of a person with a smallish hand and suitably slender fingers, which I felt qualified me for this admirably, at least if I considered my left hand rather than the still somewhat awkwardly puffy right one. The reader may be forgiven for thinking that I perhaps ought to have learned some manner of wisdom through the trials surrounding certain insect-handling incidents occurring so shortly before this, and that if I had been inclined even to forget this affair then that the state of my right hand ought to have reminded me anyway, but this little crack with the glittering thing inside might have had a bit of parchment reading "TOUCH ME" posted to it, so enticing was it to anyone possessed of the least particle of curiosity. So I thrust my left hand into the crevice, in the most imprudent but understandable manner conceivable, for the noble pursuit of Knowledge.
At first this seemed to be of no use whatsoever, as I could feel nothing more interesting than the rough dry edges of the rock itself, and some softer but scratchy material that might have been some of that same phosphorescent moss which one finds helpfully lighting one's way in all the subterranean locales of Kessia. But after some amount of determined scrabbling and shoving and shifting of position, I could feel at my fingertips something small and smooth, almost metallic, its surface indented slightly as if carved with some symbol. Beneath my fingers it was surprisingly warm. All I had to do was prize it free from its stony cell and get it properly into my grasp, and it would be mine.
It is a very odd thing, but I felt at that moment as if I had never wanted anything so much as whatever it was inside that crevice, and if another band of marauding orcs had come rampaging in at that point and turned all their weapons upon me, I think it would not have persuaded me to give off my pursuit of this small shimmering something. I had entirely lost track of the passage of minutes, but after some time and an even greater amount of careful effort I succeeded in loosening the object enough that I could just manage to close my fingers around it, and had only to draw my hand back out of the crevice with its prize. I went to do just this, and -- nothing -- my hand was stuck fast in the crack. Now that it had gotten my hand right where it wanted it, nothing seemed able to persuade the cunning and malicious crevice to relinquish its vise-like grip on my hand, however diligently I strained and struggled and contorted myself to all possible angles (not that there really are so many available, when half your arm is wedged in the side of canyon), and it was of course at this point that Mister Haithcock saw fit to return from wherever he had gone off to.
After I had explained the situation to him with all the dignity and composure available to one in such straitened circumstances, Mister Haithcock asked very drolly, being apparently quite the humorous fellow at such times where the suffering of faithful traveling companions is involved, whether I had thought to let go of the object. At this point he was perhaps fortunate that I -was- presently stuck fast in a canyon wall, as my only retaliation against remarks of such devastating obviousness was a look of such scathing force as should have caused him to burst into flames right then, but of course he obstinately did no such thing, and instead continued to look at me with an infuriatingly bland expression, at which point I held my tongue in regards to what I thought about him and his comments, and resolutely ignored him thereafter.
As I resumed my efforts to extricate my hand, I refrained also from saying that while of course I had -thought- about letting go of my treasure, I had in actual point of fact done no such thing, nor had I any intention of doing so, because I was determined that I should rather die affixed to a remote canyon wall in deepest Laurdia than surrender after I had gone to such trouble and suffering in pursuit of this beguiling and wondrous whatever-it-was. And indeed my valiant determination and heroic struggles did at last bear fruit, for finally I gave up on all attempts at finesse, steeled myself, and with a great wrenching yank pulled my clenched hand free, and while I might have left no small quantity of my hand itself in the crevice, still this was of no import when I could feel the glossy dense object of my quest still in my grasp. I slowly uncurled my bloodied fingers and there, resting lightly in the palm of my hand, smooth and silky and softly angled, was -- a knobbly Laurdian pebble.
I will not even attempt to describe the look that Mister Haithcock saw fit to give me then, nor the snort that he did not make even the barest effort to contain, and which we were quite fortunate did not summon in another army of orcs to investigate an unexpected discharge of heavy artillery. In any case he looked as if he himself had been bouncing rocks off his face and would offer no explanation as to why this might be so, and so any criticism of my own actions, which could only have differed from his in the misfortune of their being witnessed at the end, and not in their degree of inadvisability, seemed patently unfair. As for the stone I had won so hardly from the depths of the malign crevice, when I closed my eyes and ran my fingers over it I could still feel its warm sleekness amidst the water-worn knobs, and the odd indentations in its surface that surely meant something though to the eye they appeared only as barely visible depressions, and I maintain to this day that this seemingly ordinary pebble is in fact imbued with a great power whose mysteries may yet be uncovered, one day.
A meagre breakfast and a brief survey of the canyon followed, which showed that while this extended some indefinite ways into the side of the mountain, passage of it was obstructed only a short distance in by a heap of ponderous boulders that must have fallen into the slot at some point in the distant past, their craggy sides now smoothed by time and festooned with ferns that decorated their faces like shaggy green eyebrows. Normally I would have taken such an intransigent barrier to progress as a challenge to my climbing skills, and answered that challenge with as much alacrity as any gentleman whose honor had just been called into account. But on this particular occasion, with the end of our proposed time in Laurdia rapidly nearing, and my left hand now inclined to disintegrate into an ooze of blood whenever I attempted to make any reasonable use of it such as climbing walls of boulders, and with Mister Haithcock giving me pointed scowls through his own mysterious cuts and bruises whenever I assayed to do so anyway, I had finally to be content with using my feet to scale the mountain proper. We had after all been this entire time headed for an encounter with this very range, and now we had finally met each other upon the barren plain, and the grand nameless peak of whatever mountain whose base we now perched upon was issuing a challenge itself. Here there was a mountain to be climbed, and so we climbed it.
This, of course, simplifies the matter a great deal, and leaves out any amount of tripping, stumbling, sliding about on stray pebbles, slamming one's feet into large rocks, and attempting to recover from such travails by resting briefly upon a ledge, which however barren and devoid of life any such place may seem to be, invariably harbors a vast store of ants which promptly swarm out from some other dimension and proceed to bite with great enthusiasm. It likewise glosses over the many points at which one finally turns a corner, or ascends a long panting ridge, after seemingly hours of seeing it approach with all the speed of chilled molasses, and finding that this was not the final barrier between yourself and the actual mountain peak, which you realize upon gaining this vista is in fact still at least another two miles distant, and probably three, until at last you ascend upon -that- peak and realize you were looking at the wrong thing the whole time and the -real- peak is another four miles away across a valley.
Nevertheless, surmount it we did at last, and there we stood, footsore and weary and hard of breathing in the thin cold air, and had our journey been a thousandfold more perilous, more painful, more protracted than it had been, every step of the way would still have been worth it for that magnificent vista. Though the day had dawned fine, clouds had rolled in masses across the sky after we had been some time in making our ascent, such that our progress had been punctuated by occasional sharp flurries of snow that lasted only long enough to settle a dampness in one's hair and send chilled rivulets trickling bracingly down one's neck. But we had passed through their broken layers well before reaching the peak itself, and from where we stood now, the entire world appeared as a vast ocean of softest white and and gray broken by scattered islands of pinnacles and archipelagos of ridges, with here and there a glimpse through the whorled mass into what one might deem the unattainable depths of the sea, of which no great impression could be formed save one of vast and otherworldly distance.
The peak we stood perched upon was not one of the larger of these islands in area, though it did loft further above the cloud-currents than many of its counterparts dotted across the landscape. Here it rose in a sort of irregularly rounded dome, the entire surface of which was covered with a host of flattened disc-like stones that would have been the envy of any street-paver back in Kaezar, but which when heaped one upon another in a sliding, clinking, ankle-wrenching mass, made for an uncomfortable walk over the last little distance to what we deemed the highest spot. The scene was one of great beauty and great desolation at once, and one felt simultaneously the sublimity of the view and the height and the sense of being above and beyond everything in earthly existence, and the stark and indifferent and utterly inhuman stillness of a land without life, save for the small spark flickering in one's own breast.
Mister Haithcock and I sat indifferent to the cold discomfort of the cobbles and watched for some time as the clouds swept by below us, and as we looked on they began to seem less like a restive sea and more like a silent but raging river, as their streaming currents sank into the confines of the nearby valleys, bumping against the precipitate sides only to rebound against another peak further on, and there swirling off through a deep ravine into obscurity. In fact, we were so much absorbed in this astonishing spectacle that we failed to notice the advance of a much higher cloudbank upon our position, until it was sweeping in on us like a vast iron wall that gave the impression that it would simply crowd us off the peak with its presence once it arrived.
Naturally, it did nothing of the sort, but we did find ourselves encompassed by the densest, dimmest, softest, most silent greyness I had ever found myself in, and it began, without a sound, to snow. The silence was absolute -- no thunderous cacophony or howling gales, just the snow and the soft shifting greyness -- until suddenly there was a buzzing or crackling noise that you felt in your teeth and core as much as heard, and I could suddenly feel the hair on my head rise up, and see Mister Haithcock's doing the same, so far as anyone might tell the difference. In the next few seconds our arms and the tips of our fingers began even to give off little flares and sparks, and it became clear that we had found ourselves caught up in one of the electrical storms that one of the gharkins back at the last outpost had told us about somewhat hyperbolically (as I thought at the time) and which every miner and mountaineer was said to live in dread of.
It was at this point (or at least after the point at which I had been jolted to the ground with a quite indescribable sensation that left not only my head but my whole body swimming) that it seemed prudent to discover some sort of shelter before the light entirely gave out and we stumbled off a precipice, or were chilled to death by the snow, or had our insides turned out by the abrupt incursion of flux, or whatever peculiar and unpleasant thing was going to happen next. If we had known that the next such thing would occur within the space of the very subterranean shelter that we were so happy to discover, then perhaps we might not have been so grateful going into it, or filled with such relief on discovering its many dark but not at all drafty tunnels, but as is the happy lot of mortals we had no inkling of what the next few hours would bring and thus we bedded down in comparative comfort and coziness, sheltered from any danger that we knew.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
Accounts of Research Undertaken
For the Advancement of Knowledge in Kessia
~ * ~
THE FOUNDATIONS OF BARDIC MAGIC
Being A Brief Treatise on the Workings
Of the Bardic School of Vedic Magics,
As Propounded By Siovanhe Haithcock
~ A Brief Introduction to Bardic Magic ~
Bardic magic is founded entirely on vedic principles, and is the only formal school of magic that relies exclusively on the powers of the mind. However, the practitioner is aided by the properties of sound, which is used both in its rawest manifestations as well as in its more complex and evocative form, music. The most basic substance of the bard's spells is always available to him so long as he is capable of vocalization.
THE CIRCLES OF BARDIC MAGIC
~ The Sonic Spells: Via Ira Zem ~
The first type of bardic spell is perhaps the simpler of the two primary types available, though as the underpinnings consist of the physical properties of sound, it may be considered to have the more strictly scientific approach. While the will is required to modify sound, the effect is physical and is due to the physical properties of the sound that the caster has created.
Via Ira Zem is the sole exemplar of this type, and involves amplifying the force or manipulating the pitch of sound waves to produce a physical effect upon a living or nonliving target, including briefly stunning it, afflicting it with an inability to speak, or inflicting physical damage upon it. These spells do not directly affect the target's state of mind in any way.
There is, however, one notable exception: Song of the Willow. The name is a misnomer, for it produces a tone (not a true melody) that lies beyond the range of hearing, filling the target with such melancholy that he becomes slow and sluggish to respond to the world around him. This does not act on the mind in the same way that a sorrowful song would, but rather works its power on the depths of the target's unconscious psyche. While such subtle sounds may create effects of this sort on the mind despite the conscious mind's lack of awareness of them, the exact mechanism by which this works remains mysterious.
The spells of Ira Zem involve, despite their names, very little in the way of true singing, only the use of archaic phrases or the essence-fuelled projection of the voice. This circle is perhaps the closest in nature to the foundational Vedic Prime, some spells of which make similar use of meditational phrases, e.g., Precognition or Serenity. This circle may thus represent the earliest stage of the -formal- development of bardic magics, though I would not be surprised if the the true spellsongs originated still earlier, in more rudimentary form than they exist today.
To sum up, the acting force of Via Ira Zem is PHYSICAL, its target is SENTIENT, its effects are EXTERNAL and TRANSIENT, and its purposes HOSTILE.
~ The Musical Spells: Via Min/Vas Zem ~
The spellsong is produced by singing a melody made up of unique combinations of the fundamental attributes of music; e.g., pitch, rhythm, and so on. While each of these "songs" consists of a verse that the bard must sing, it is not the case that he must continue singing the spell ever afterwards to maintain it. Instead, the singing of the verse (or at least of its melody), in combination with the exertion of will and the harnessing of sufficient essence, seems to set off an effect that continues for as long as will and essence remain, or until the bard consciously chooses to end the spell. It is my conjecture that the melody creates a sympathetic resonance within the Weave which continues to resonate and thereby sustains the spell, long after the bard has completed singing the spellsong's single verse.
The spells perform with equal efficacy on the bard himself as on a "target" or "listener," producing beneficial effects on his own psyche as well as on those of his allies.
VIA VAS ZEM -- Via Vas Zem, or the Greater Songs, is despite its title the more straightforward of the two schools. The spells involve the use of the emotional qualities of music to produce an internal effect. This is vedically a more sophisticated technique than that used by the purely sonic spells of Ira Zem, as the spellsong attempts to change the target's state of mind and effect an altered perception of reality.
Despite the sophistication of the effect, to produce it there is little to no awareness required of the underlying technique. I know of no person in Kessia who is involved in actually teaching these spells, which instead are learned by rote memorization of a short piece of music in a book. This is the case for both Min and Vas Zem: No theory is furnished for either, and the bard comes to it with only the understanding that by reproducing this short piece -- usually a single verse -- with his voice, and simultaneously exerting his will on his target, then the desired effect will be produced.
That these spells are capable of producing such marked effects, even in the absence of any true understanding on the part of the caster, is perhaps an indication of the vast reserves of raw vedic power that exist innately within music.
Everyone is aware of the immense potential of the state of one's mind to affect one's physical state in turn. Music, in its natural form, is known to influence the mental and physical state of the listener, soothing him with majestic cadences on the one hand, and on the other moving him to tears with its poignancy. Thus it comes as no great surprise that music, driven and empowered by essence and will, may have a very profound emotional effect, which may consequently bring great and tangible physical benefit or detriment.
Unlike most spells in Via Ira Zem, those of Min and Vas Zem are not in themselves hostile, and in fact the majority produce a beneficial effect on the mind of the target, or create helpful effects by interaction with one's physical or magical surroundings. The spells of Vas Zem may be used upon a living target for such diverse purposes as bolstering morale, granting greater poise and grace, and improving accuracy with weapons and offensive spells.
Again, these are mental effects, mediated by the power of music; its rhythms, pitches, et cetera lend a certain quality that by itself may be enough to mildly boost a person's spirits, or inspire him with grace, but which with the additional exertion of the bard's will, induce this effect to a very pronounced degree.
While the words of the piece may foster the desired emotional state, being evocative and encouraging in the listener a certain mindset, the melody alone (in concert with the will but lacking the original lyrics) is enough. This is demonstrated by the ability of the bard to furnish his own lyrics or indeed to sing the melody wordlessly, and still have the same impact as the original lyrics written in the spellbooks.
In summary, the acting force of Via Vas Zem is MENTAL, its target is SENTIENT, its effects are INTERNAL and SUSTAINED, and its purposes BENIGN.
VIA MIN ZEM -- Min Zem is similar to Vas Zem in that most of its spells consist of memorized lyrics and melodies, but most of the effects are focused on the bard's environment. However, the spells are less unified in form and function than those of Vas Zem.
The most elementary spell of the circle, Dance of the Sprite, is perhaps the oddest to be included, in that it functions nearly identically to the spells of Vas Zem. It influences the emotional state of the listener to produce a physical effect on his constitution; in this case, enhancing the listener's grace and agility. Why this spell is a member of Min rather than Vas Zem is anyone's guess.
One other spell that seems somewhat out of place is the Song of Sonic Weapon, though there is no other existing circle into which it would fit more naturally. It might almost be thought of as a hybrid between the spells of Ira and Min Zem, as it possesses qualities of both.
Song of Sonic Weapon possesses neither lyrics nor melody, instead consisting of nothing but a single pure tone of a particular pitch. But while this might make it seem a more natural fit for Ira Zem, Sonic Weapon is directed towards the caster, and creates a sustained state that continues as long as the bard harnesses the essence to power it. It is also not innately hostile, though the sonic darts that it allows the bard to create may serve an offensive purpose. On the other hand, I have experimented extensively with this spell, and found it possible, with diligence and a suitable exertion of will, to produce small objects other than darts using different motions of the fingers which themselves create different small sounds.
The unique hybrid character of Song of Sonic Weapon presents interesting possibilities for the development of an entire new circle of spells that would operate similarly, whereby the bard might use non-melodic sounds to create a sustained effect on his surroundings.
The remainder of the spells in the circle have a very different character.
Song of Kenning discerns magical attributes by directing a particular melody at an object of interest. From my experience, I would guess that the melody resonates with the magic instilled in the object, specifically with the arrangement of essence, and that the resonance allows some understanding of the magic that is present. This spell's capabilities are, however, very limited in what it can detect, or perhaps this is a result of my (or other bards') limited understanding of how the spell is meant to work. With greater knowledge, it might be possible to significantly expand the range of properties, magical and otherwise, that the spell may discern.
Song of Renewal and Song of Reflection produce effects external to but beneficial to the bard. I believe these spells work respectively by harmonising with certain aspects of the Weave or flows of essence to produce a complementary effect which encompasses the bard's allies as well as himself.
In summary, while the circle is varied, in general the acting force of Via Vas Zem is MENTAL, its target is ENVIRONMENTAL, its effects are EXTERNAL and SUSTAINED, and its purposes BENIGN.
~ The Dramatic Spells: Via Vas Thespis ~
Via Vas Thespis has next to nothing to do with either sound or music, instead focusing on the visual and dramatic arts, with a greater reliance on the mind alone, or in concert with gestures or Kenzian syllables.
This circle has only been available to learn at the Ghent Center since 646 AoD, and unlike any spells available to a Kessian bard since Vedic Prime or Via Mar Sani Qel, these spells are taught by an instructor. However, no general theory of bardic magic is presented, nor any explanation as to how each spell works (save for the sole exception of Prestidigitation), so once again the student is down to the memorization of certain tricks with no understanding.
Vas Thespis is less focused on combat, which seems to speak of a separate origin from most other bardic spells. It is instead a circle of "utility" spells, which address some of the practical concerns of a person of artistic inclinations.
Half the spells consist of a manipulation of essence using a combination of will aided by Kenzian syllables, while the other half rely on will alone. Writing Cantrips forces essence into a vellum-like material, or strands of inky substance, which function like the mundane materials by which they were inspired.
Paint Dome produces paint from essence, but is quickly made to harden around the bard such that it may be used for a defensive rather than artistic purpose. Infinite Tune likewise visibly manipulates essence, but by instilling one's instrument with it; the strings or reed then defy the effects of stressors to keep it close to the proper key in which it is to be played.
Polyglot, Stagefighting, and Prestidigitation are more classically vedic spells, relying purely on the power of the mind to affect the bard's understanding, his physical state, or a single physical object, respectively.
Stagefighting shows it is possible to create effects similar to those of Via Min and Via Vas Zem, in that all of these spells create a beneficial physical effect, but without means of music. The incandescence that appears upon casting is, I assume, a dramatic manifestation of the essence drawn upon or gathered around the bard. However, this spell can only act upon the bard himself, and unlike spellsongs may not be extended to his allies.
There are further avenues for development for this kind of magic which relies more strictly on the mind alone, or on the combination of vedic force with gestures or Kenzian syllables. This will be discussed in greater detail in the second part of this treatise, to appear later.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Letters, Essayes, and Opynion
~ Heard About Town ~
MT: While I can help with meditation and things of a spiritual nature, I would be no help at all figuring out fish-mongering highwaymen.
BL: I for one approve of the myriad of festive decorations the tree has this year. Maybe even the cup of coffee.
Miss I: I didn't kill the sharl! I was clobbered and then wandered off to look from afar.
VF: I needed some tools sharpened. My tool sharpener decided to plant his face against the stone and he is in no condition to continue his occupation, so thus, I am out to find a more stable tool sharpener.
AD: A house -- we've started saving, although it's going to take a while. We've been talking about things to put in it.
(Manager's Note -- The Readership is invited to write in and suggest to Mr. A.D. what he ought to put in his house. Suggestions presently stand at: 100 Tapestries, 22 Folding-screens imported from Vash, a negotiable number of Madmen and -women to be shoved in closets and hidden behind secret spaces in the Wainscoting and most probably consisting of prior Spouses now never alluded to and diligently concealed from the public Eye, and a Dungeon. Alternative to the Dungeon is a garden filled with Strawberry-pots, bright red Wheelbarrows, and with a nicely-painted Stocks in the middle.)
~ Weather Almanack ~
All of Kessia is in a state of Bemusement regarding the indecisive Weather of these past Winter months, as the Skies have seemed quite unable to come to a Decision whether it shall Snow as properly befits the season or merely Rain. After a wonderfully fine Kolbre in which Solas showed his warm and benevolent visage nearly every day of the month, followed by a Plade marked by a quite uncharacteristic Dearth of Drizzle, Winte, Morde, and Fraostmonth seemed to make it their Mission to re-introduce some of the endless Slog that Kessia had very nearly begun to have to do without during the Autumn, which had caused some Residents to wonder whether, due to some Pecularity in Reality of the like so often suffered in Kessia, the whole Kingdom had been somehow dropped down into some unmapped Pocket deep within the balmy Climes of Indrejan.
Despite the Disdain with which the townsfolk may view these chill Rains and soggy Snowfalls, the farmers of Kessia have welcomed the Moisture of which their Crop-fields were so sorely deprived during the months of Fall. It is reported that the Wheat is now looking noticeably less Parched than it had come mid-Plade, though it must be feared that the poor Germination of these plants following their Autumn sowing shall reduce the Yield somewhat for this coming Yeare.
The industrious Husbandman is perhaps less pleased by the Damp, as some small scattering of reports of pernicious Foot-Rot have been received from around the Kingdom, but compensating for these few Ailments is the relative Palatibility of the winter Pastures and the fine Harvest of Hay from the early months of the Fall, which has been keeping the cattle, rabu, and other Stock quite fat and Happy for the winter months of the Yeare, or at least so happy as a rabu may deign to find itself.
Not having a Weather-witch in hand through whom to divine the future Vagaries of the Skies, this Publication does not even venture to guess what the next Quarter of the Yeare shall bring, save that it shall most probably involve the usual extraordinary amounts of Mud without which no true Kessian may feel properly at Home.
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Storme Edition, Age Of Dreams, 651
FOR THE PUBLIC NOTICE
~ * ~
Against all Odds and in the face of utter implacable Indifference on all sides, the Kaezarian Eye is still seeking talented, inquisitive, and DEDICATED writers! The Eye currently has Openings for General Reporters, as well as positions of a more Specialized nature, most particularly Interviewer, Special Events Reporter, and Astrologer, in addition to offering Apprenticeships to those desirous of learning the newspaperman's Trade. Any Person hired by the Eye must be willing and able to produce at least one Article per Edition, and will receive a generous Salary from the timely completion of their Duties. All Persons interested in Applying for these positions, or having ideas for other Topics on which they might wish to write, are encouraged to speak with Siovanhe Haithcock, acting manager, or to write her at her offices with the Eye, though of course this will never happen and it is an unfathomable Mystery why she should persist in printing this Advertisement at all.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
EYE ON KESSIA
[ Sitting in the shadow of the clock tower to the east, a large stone building occupies the entire side of the very familiar block shown in this full-page woodblock print. A wooden placard is fixed to the wall in a prominent position above a bench near its lantern-lit door. Pockmarked with holes and loose stones from the carts and wagons that traffic to the northern, eastern, western and southern sections of Kaezar City, the cobbled road is riddled with frozen slush and icy puddles. You see a necklace of finely-carved cinnabar beads, a tooled lambskin moneybag, a pair of nubi, a chipped deep red spinel, a green and red leather jerkin, a scratched copper strongbox, a battered elm trunk, a painted amethyst bottle, two copper nuggets, a wooden box, a cracked pale pink beryl, a scratched iron trunk, an opaque heliotrope glass marble, a plaited rope belt, a brass torsion wrench, a rusty tin box, a small pile of slag, an oak box, a chunk of shining amber, an indigo and saffron leather jerkin, a lustrous greenish-yellow chrysoberyl, four tin slivers, an opaque blue-green chrysocolla, a crude pewter coffer, a dented oak trunk, a dried-out orc ear, a plain iron coffer, three thick packaging papers, a grisly humanoid skull, a bronze file, a chipped wooden teacup, a large snowbank, a shining deep red blood garnet, a shimmering smoky purple cordierite, a chipped pale purple sodalite, a dried-out nose, a corroded brass trunk, a medium lead ingot, and a chipped sea-green aquamarine. Also here is Defender Miraklin (standing on some wooden steps), Jurion (sitting on a wooden bench), Rogue Lady Gulnara (sitting on a wooden bench), Malo, and an animated silver-edged teacup.
Miraklin is posed on the steps, an air of triumph about him as he holds a bottle high. Jurion points at Miraklin accusingly, gesturing to the vast pile of garbage in front of the inn. Malo stands some distance from Miraklin and frowns at him, his arms crossed.
The illustration bears the brief caption, "Vandal's Triumph, 15 Morde 650 AoD." ]
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NEWS OF THE WORLDE
By Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor
Newes from the Islande of Vash hath drawn deep concerne with the discoverie that Indrejani merchantmen backed by a substantial contingynt of that country's armyd forces, haf mayde inroads into that most Reclusive Empyre and establyshed a large trade post in the citie of Sagawashii. Whethyr by mutal agreement with thee local daimyos or by force is yet unknowyn, but thys reportyr's sources do say it is both Larger and haf a more military bent than thee Kessian outpost in Koje, wyth many Indrejan Ships of War present in the harbor ande substantial Fortificatyons being built nearby.
The Ambassador Suwa was unable to be reached for comment at the tyme of printing, and indeed it seems thee Embassy in Kaezar hath been emptyed of all persones and the gates sealed to all and sundry. Thus far thee Vashan Quarter hath suffered no declyne in business as the supply of goodes from Koje is still ongoing, tho' how long this state of affaires shall continue, is yet to be seene.
In addition to thee calamities visted upon the Vashan Empire by warfare and stryfe, it is also said that an immense wave did stryke the southernmost islands in the Vashan Sea, causinge much destruction and feare to those inhabytants of those golden shores, tho' signyficant loss of lyfe was averted due to thee efforts of sea-mages of thee Naiad race, who did divert a great portion of thee water around those isles which they coulde reache in tyme. The cause of thee wave is not knowne, despite some islanders later claiming it was thee Naiads themselfes who caused thee evente, and that a Leviathan had been loosed from some deepes to later prey upon their fisher-men and -women, pointing to an Unusually large number of half-devoured sharkes washed up in thee aftermath of thee evente.
Thys reporter must now turne to the Laurdian Front, where not all newes is grim. In a stunning turn of fate, Her Majesty Queen Victaea of Nellwyn haf been safeguarded to Wessumbria, along with thee surviving contingynt of her Royal Guarde, tho' her country doth styll tremble beneath the weight of the orcen boot. The druim'dwer of Durbra'Thrum haf risen to the war effort as well, grantyng the mixed Peregornian forces access to an old fastness of theyrs in the mountainous borderlandes, that they may stryke against thee Talone from a newe vantage point. Rumores doth say the druim may open a long-disused route, or tunnel, beneathe thee mountain to facilytate passage betweene Peregorne and Laurdia.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
AS EYE SEE IT
By Aunty Anony
Hello Hello Hello - Hafe you hearde!
So much to Tell!
Dearies, Aunty can't help but ask about the relationship between the secretive Muir Ahldron Beldroth and the willowy red-headed bodyguard who stands for hours upon hours with hand on sword in the upstairs hallway of the Plum. Aunty doesn't know if the lovely girl is a guard, a servant, or a sweetheart - she serves his drinks, she handles his money, she tastes his food, she guards his person, but that blush when she dances with her "Paragon!" Is her brother the fellow who sits in Breen's and drinks the day away? Someone must know!
The cockles of Aunty's heart warmed to hear news of Sir Ashinara's reunion with his long-lost sister, Miss Arcadia, who made her social debut at the Masked Ball last Sartstag. The family resemblance is unmistakeable. Aunty worries about Miss Arcadia's obsession with mordant gems and whispering voices, but she knows Mrs. De'Alera's Serenite wisdom will help her new sister-in-law cope with Kaezar.
Happy news for Mister Quinnley, so sadly divorced from both Miss Suede Lidrona and Mister Preldin Rin'het. Twice the spouses means twice the heartbreak when things don't work out, Aunty knows. Bereft of affection since his double separation, he has at last found love in the arms of Miss Vivien La Fae--Faelian--Lafaelianne--of Reklar's Asylum. Aunty's little birdies have spied them kissing passionately, often in the company of Mister Ithiel, all about town on the High Terrace and even down at Maedin Park. Such sweet lovebirds can't miss any opportunity to smooch, though Aunty gently suggests an inn room before things go too far in public. Speaking of Mister Ithiel, we hear his resolve is hard as il'lthye steel to see his engagement through and Aunty can't wait till they set a date.
The biggest newes of course is the return of Lord Trantris Esselyon, Lady Ansivrien Feriisingen, and the nefarious Abbot Grimnir Otrygg to Kessia, just in time for the season's ball! A sudden decree by His Highness was all the warning Aunty had and she is dying, dying, dying to know how it came about. Aunty loves to write about Lord Esselyon's household--so full of scandal and merriment--so exciting!
Aunty saw some creative costumes at the masque! Hrolfr the rather stunted giant stood out, but Aunty hopes Mister Ithiel didn't make good on his behind-the-back threat to cut out the poor fellow's tongue. Snowstorms, rainstorms, rain clouds, plum trees, bleeding-heart flowers, foxes and beasts and winte wolves, even puddles were all in attendance. His Royal Highness Prince Corvin shocked and amused all attendees at the masque by declaring the seasonal theme "boring" and, apparently inspired by the dress of Sir Martaigne and Miss Sinjinn Vacendak--who attended as a couple, so thrilling!--commanded the Palace servants to bring in a trove of classic Indrejani costumes so the guests could change into more entertaining garb. So many lucky ladies received Prince Corvin's attentions, it was a shock to Aunty he only managed to spend the night with just one. We hear the poor Prince was not feeling so well at the next day's more formal and private affair, and nearly vomited on Duchess Sarafina's shoes.
Until next issue, Aunty sees all and tells moste!
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
@@@@@ WANTED @@@@@ - Men and Women of the Empire in good standing with the law who are interested in serving their fellow Citizenry by joining the ranks of the Imperial Guard. All applicants must be at least 16 years of age, not have any major crimes on the record within the last two years, and be willing to swear their allegiance to His Imperial Majesty.
- policing the cities and kingdoms of the Empire and upholding its Laws and Ordinances
- defending its Officials, and
- defending its Lands and Holdings against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic.
A 5000 Sovereign signing bonus is authorized, and a generous monthly stipend included. All applicants should either leave notice at the Imperial Keep, or contact one of the 8th Regiment's officers directly.
EYES PRESERVED * VISION GUARDED * BLINDNESS PREVENTED * In Cooperation with Local Empaths and Glassworks * The Royal Scrivener Fills All Your Spectacle Needs * APERTURE SPECTACLES * BOW SPECTACLES * TINTED SPECTACLES * MONOCLES
Horses Bought! We Pay Gud Pryces for Olde Horse and Mule Flesh. Get Ryd of Dobbyn Here! See Beil at Beil's Meat Market
FOUND. Dhansang cat, white and brown. Describe further to claim or it goes to the glover. Rewards happily accepted. Contact D. Smargdas, Walker Ln., Kaezar.
Storme Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NOTE FROM THE EDITORS:
Thanke you for purchasing, or Otherwyse obtaining, our newspaper.
Until the Streets of Kaezar are paved in Seige Gold, May the Publick Be Wary.
Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor.
Siovanhe Haithcock, Head Reporter and Acting Manager.