Circle of Stone (reprieve)

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Post by Mrs Figg Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:49 pm

cheers hurrah! you are back we missed you lots!
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Post by azriel Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:51 pm

Oh my gosh! thankyou, I feel flattered AND embarrassed ! desperatly trying to read & catch up with the gossip at mo, Very Happy

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:54 pm

its a wee bit spooky for late night reading- Mrs Figg

It has gnomes in it. Nothing with gnomes in it can be too scary.

Well I cant deprive you of reading material whilst you strain the cat litter Azriel.

Um, this next post is a bit longer than previous as there just wasnt a natural break point sooner.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:55 pm

The corridor leading to the Throne Room in the Royal Palace of the Kings of Futura was wide, tall and constructed from a pale yellow stone which echoed to the footfalls of the huge figure of Baron Ironfang as he strode past the guards in their black plumed helms and entered the Throne Room.

Baron Ironfang was an extremely robust man; he was in his late thirties and was easily the tallest man in the Kingdom, standing close to seven foot in height and seeming almost impossibly broad with it. When he entered into a room it immediately seemed too small for him, even ballrooms seemed to shrink around him and his booming voice filled an auditorium as easily as if it were a small cupboard.

His hair was a dark black, thick and lustrous; it showed no sign of grey in it and was worn loose falling about his shoulders. This was considered by the courtiers with the most fussed over, scented and elaborate hairstyles as terribly old fashioned and primitive. And although he shaved twice a day to try and prevent it he always seemed to have a shadow about his wide chin, this too was the subject of courtly comment as it was deemed uncouth by the more effeminate of its members- privately however there were several of its Ladies, and not one or two of the Lords, who found it attractive in a rough kind of way.

He noticed as he passed between the parting courtiers and assorted hangers-on that although it was more than a year since last he had been here the mourning drapes of black still bedecked every wall. In fact the rooms’ appearance had now remained unaltered for a decade and nothing looked like changing any time soon.

The Court, which had been hushed before his entry, now fell stiflingly silent as the Doorward announced him to a solemn drum beat. It was rare for a Baron of Northolt to appear in person at court and the sight of this Baron, dressed in the finest gleaming armour was one to be savoured.

King Mefron himself was seated upon the throne but the monarch was aged far beyond his years of fifty-nine, indeed to the Baron who had not seen him in person for so long the man before him was barely recognizable. He had heard rumours of course but it had not prepared him for the physical fact of his rulers’ ill health. The King was hunched and his skin palloured. His eyes seemed to roam the room as if they were searching for something of import and wanted desperately to find it.

At the frail monarchs side stood the youngest of his two sons, Prince Kell, for whom Ironfang had a great but undefined dislike. The Prince's excesses had made him some powerful enemies; most notably Duke Grande who controlled the lucrative southern Port and whom Ironfang noted was not present for this remembrance of mourning for their lost Queen, though he spied the Port emissaries huddled together in one corner.

Neither, noted Ironfang glancing around, was the Baron Verence present, whose lands included the main agricultural fields of Futura. His absence however was not so surprising. Verence was immensely fat and detested travel of any sort over any distance, his chief loves were music and festivals, both of which his Barony were famous for. Attending courtly functions was no longer in Verences nature, not in these days of mirthlessness without music or dance. For who would come all this way just to mourn the dead? Well Ironfang had, but he had other more pressing reasons for attending.

Of course the Baron Erwin had not failed to attend. Ironfang eyed up his southern neighbour as he approached the throne.

Ironfang noted with some distaste and disquiet that Erwin’s station during his year long absence from the court had moved; it was now on the right side of the steps leading up to the throne, despite the fact he was a relative newcomer to Futura, a mere twenty years, which was nothing compared to the countless generations some of the ruling families had existed for and many of them had never got so close to the power in all that time.

Baron Erwin smiled graciously but without warmth at Ironfang as he passed by. Erwin was a short man, older than the Baron by about ten years. He was roughly five foot five, with long grey hair that fell about his shoulders. He was thin of frame with sunken eyes that darted around without ever seeming to alight upon anything for any length of time, of his face the most remarkable feature was the broadness of his forehead.

The Lady Melladonna Erwin standing by his side looked at Ironfang disdainfully as he approached and with a knowing look Ironfang thought, though knowing of what he was not quiet so sure.
In comparison to her husband she was striking; a tall elegant woman with olive skin and raven hair worn in a tight bun atop her head. A fine black veil hung over her eyes. She was wearing a wide bustle of many layers, deep purple in colour that was the height of current Futuran fashion. The ensemble was finished off with a black rose affixed about her neck upon a silken purple ribbon. Her hands were clasped over the wide midriff of her dress.

The Baron passed the Erwins by and knelt low before the throne intoning the Futura pledge of service.
“In the Throne we trust.”
The King did not make the formal response; his eyes seemed to lay elsewhere seeing things others did not. Instead Prince Kell, standing beside the throne, spoke in his father's place, “In unity we rule.”
‘Not so united in these days of demise,’ the Baron thought. He glanced around as he rose at the drawn faces of the Courtiers and Emissaries clustered in little groups of four and five around the halls perimeter. To think not so long ago this had been a colourful, vibrant place filled with light and music. Now the sun was restricted entry to the hall by the black drapes the King had ordered be hung over all the windows. No music had been heard here in a decade.

It was not Ironfang considered until a thing was gone that you realized its true purpose. The Queen had been just that, a Queen; the loyal loving wife of the King, doting mother of the heirs apparent. Yet more than that she was the Kings inspiration, his delight, his joy.

But in the years since her loss at the Norath Bridge the vitality of the Kingdom had drained away along with its Monarchs to be replaced with this gloomy shroud of sorrow. The King had plunged into a mourning without parallel, and to this day he had refused to come out of it. On the city and castle walls the banners flew only black pendants. The trumpeters no longer heralded people through the gates, replaced now by the sombre beating of a drum; the ever present sound of the mourning court.

All the colour of the Throne Room; the gaudy dress of the Courtiers, men and woman alike vying to outdo one another in glamour and show, the balcony crammed with musicians, the hall filled with sweeping dancers the Queen laughing at their head, all were gone now. Replaced by this dim shell of a place with its darkly dressed occupants, afraid to so much as cough, whilst the room and kingdom outside it died around them on old memories.

Ironfang stepped back from the throne to his allotted position.

The King, the Baron had heard, seldom responded to questions in person these days. His malady it was evident had passed through grief and depression finally manifesting itself in a gradual decline of body and spirit- it was it seemed the most he could manage to raise his crowned head and his eyes never seemed to focus upon Ironfang but continued their incessant searching of the room.

Ironfang cleared his throat, which was like a deep growl in the echoing hall. As was the way when a large group of people had been trying not to make a noise for a long time there was a chorus of snorts, coughs and shuffling feet as everyone else took the opportunity to relieve their own discomforts.

“Ladies and Lords of Futura, Barons and Dukes, Prince and King,” Ironfangs booming voice began. He turned to face the Throne and address the King directly; the old man seemed to be unaware of his presence. “I stand before you, my King, to speak on behalf of my Barony and the Kingdom of the growing threat the Barbarian tribes represent to our Northern border. My request for strengthening of the old perimeter dike has been ignored once more,” he shot a hard look at Prince Kell here and the other man flinched, the Barons stare was difficult to match, “In the last two months I have lost three men to Barbarian raiders. More than in the last ten years. Their families grieve,” he went on grimly, “Our loss is Futura's loss.” He noticed a slight smile play on Prince Kells lips at this, the Prince was no fool and had recognized that Ironfang was expecting recognition and therefore compensation for his losses.

“More must be done, Ironfang continued, “Northolt cannot defend Futura alone, we require the backing of the Throne,” the Baron was pleased to note that the representatives of many families, especially those whose lands were also against the northern border were nodding strongly in agreement and beginning to murmur their consent, emboldened by this the Baron went on, addressing the court directly, “Our northern defences are wide open for many miles east of Northolt and poorly patrolled, “he turned back to the King who still showed no flickers of recognition, “I beseech the Throne; I beseech the King, for your Kingdoms sake wait not but act now. Act to strengthen the defences whilst the Barbarians are content still to harry our herds only and not yet our people.”

The King stirred and made to raise his head but he did not speak, instead he mouthed silently into the air above himself as if lost to another world. Prince Kell, his floppy fringe of blonde hair falling down over his eyes so that he had to brush it back, stepped swiftly forward.

“The Throne speaks thus,” Kell began in what had become the common response since the King had ceased addressing speakers himself, “We are saddened by your losses. Hear now. It will be noted that they fell in the Kingdoms defence. They shall be recorded in the Honours”, he proclaimed in his odd clipped style of speaking which gave the impression he only spoke in statements, “Their families will be furnished with the usual grief payment. Befitting of those who give their life for their Kingdom.”

Ironfang acknowledged this with a gracious declining of his head.

“As to the threat from the north,” the Prince went on, addressing now the Court rather than Ironfang directly, “Which from my reports, Baron Ironfang, I would say you have exaggerated. All intelligence points to these Barbarians being fractured. Split into warring tribes as is their ancestral pattern. These are but border raiders. Of the kind we have had to endure before now. With winter approaching they will disband and retreat. As they always have.”

The Prince paused and took in the faces of the Court; he could see the worry etched there. Some who had supported Ironfang's position were shaking their heads. He knew many of the Barons had not come in person because of him but that did not mean that word would not quickly reach their ears. The nobility grew restless at the reports from the north. Just as they should. He would give a little and seem to act whilst really he was just minding the passage of the days.

“The Throne will not however allow this threat to continue unchecked,” he announced with a flourish then turned his attention back to Ironfang adding, “The order has been issued to remove men from the Port in the south. Which is in any case over provisioned. And place them in the Kings Hunting Grounds to the north. The envoys of Duke Grande will carry the order hither with them when they depart. We shall form a new Border Guard. Whose remit shall run as far as your eastern borders Baron Ironfang,” he tried to fix the Barons eye but quickly found he could not hold the bigger man’s gaze, “I trust you will find this adequate?” He did not wait for Ironfang to respond but continued on swiftly, “But we expect your disappointment. For I am well aware that repairing the old dike would require much labours of repair within your own borders. And I am sure you would have been glad to see the Crown Treasury pay for that. And not your own.”

Ironfang did not rise to this bait, mainly because it was true, instead he changed tact, “And what of the mountains? My scouts reports that goblins have been seen as far south as the Toll Road and the Norath Bridge, what of them?”

Here he looked pointedly at Baron Erwin and his wife standing opposite him. The Toll Road, the Bridge and its surrounds were their responsibility now. Baron Erwin met Ironfangs’ gaze and held it.

At the mention of the Bridge however the old King stirred. He tried now to rise up from his throne, his enfeebled, croaking voice crying out falteringly, “The Norath Bridge! The Norath Bridge!” over and over again with increasing desperation and shrillness.

Prince Kell immediately moved to his fathers’ side and tried to calm and reseat the old King. “See what your question has done? Need he be reminded of that place?” he snapped angrily back at Ironfang then raising his voice up he shouted, “Clear the Court! The King is unwell. Clear the Court!”

To the accompanying funeral beat of the drums the Nobles and Courtiers were all hurriedly ushered from the hall by the black plumed guards. They regrouped in whispering, gossiping huddles in the corridors. Ironfang swept passed them and as he passed each group fell silent and erupted again in excited voices behind him when he had gone by.

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Post by leelee Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:21 am

I had to read slowly there is a lot to understand. Yes continue it is very good.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:00 am

Thanks for reading leelee.
There is a lot to get through- and this is the edited version!
Always a problem when setting something in an entirely created world you have to give a lot of information at the start somehow- I comfort myself in knowing that greats such as Tolkien and Herbert had to start their books with an info dump too! (Not that Im comparing myself to them of course, its just comforting to know better than me have had the same problem).

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Post by Eldorion Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:51 am

I'm sorry for not reading this yet Petty, but I've been preoccupied with various other stuff now that the holidays are over. I will make an effort to read what you've posted soon. Smile
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Post by leelee Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:24 am

Petty dont edit because it seems long to you. Tolkien's fellowship was tiring to me, so what that is how it was. I loved every word, it drew me in right away. You have a gift, don't care if its long, those that are meant to read it and love it just will. It was a privelege not a chore. I let something go that should have been done to read it. I did it much later!
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:13 am

Thanks Eldo and leelee.

It was badly needing a red pen taken through it leelee- part of the reason for posting it in chunks is it lets me edit as I'm going.
But I hope you contiue to enjoy it.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:45 pm

Ok this takes it up to the end of chapter 1


The Baron was oblivious to them, an Ironfang cared little for what opinion made of him outside his own borders. He was deep in thought, which was evident from the frown he bore as he stalked through the corridors to his lodgings. The threat of the Barbarians was uppermost in his mind if only because his hatred for them was fierce and had if anything escalated since his childhood loss.

Only his fathers’ friend, Duke Grande, was in a position to influence the Royal Family, but Ironfang suspected duplicity in the move of men from the Port to the north, though he had no real reason for his suspicions save his mood.

He paused in his stride considering the Duke. It might, he considered, be worth visiting him and rekindling his friendship with the man. It was more than five years since he had seen Duke Grande in person though their aides had contact. Perhaps it was time to speak with him again man to man. Duke Grande and he might find that they have much in common of late.

He was about to turn a marbled corner which led to the wide staircase leading up to the quarters reserved for the high nobility when a voice made him stop. It was the voice of Lady Melladonna Erwin, speaking in a low whisper; he knew it immediately though he had only heard her speak once or twice before. She was not from Futura, indeed nor was her husband, but she had brought with her a strong accent that gave her voice a sing-song quality that was accentuated by her voice being deeper than one expected of a woman. It sounded as if she were only just around the corner. He paused and pressed in closer to the cold wall.

“You fret too much,” her voice said in a scolding tone, “What matters what Ironfang says? Prince Kell will grant him nothing, nothing. You may be certain of that.”

“There are other ears in Court besides those of Ironfang. There are murmurs against me. We have climbed too quickly for the liking of many of the noble houses and with such close patronage that we put ourselves up as marks for idle tongues”

Ironfang recognized that voice immediately, it was Erwin's and it had something of a whining quality to it.

The Baron stayed stock still listening, footsteps were approaching, from the servants’ entrance the Baron guessed, from which fortunately the curve of the wall concealed him.

“You have come from the eastern expedition?” the voice of Erwin asked the newcomer; the Baron could clearly hear the tinge of excitement in Erwin’s voice that he did not try to conceal.

“A do Baron Erwin, fr' Morwins Tomb i’self,” a low shaky, unsteady voice replied heavy with the rural Futuran accent, a peasants voice the Baron immediately determined.

“Well?” Lady Erwin demanded sharply.

“A wis in’tructed tay deliver tay you, this.”

The Baron cursed to himself that he could see nothing, but there was no way to observe what was going on without exposing himself to their sight.

“It’s but wan piece, as proof. See ‘ow it shines? Untarnished, lik’ it wer’ made yes’erday, the silver mus’ be almos’ pure,” the peasant voice said, “The rest is being crated an’ sent, as in’tructed.”

He heard a sound, a soft thud like that of a solid wooden lid snapping closed.

“And you will all be richly rewarded for it,” Erwin’s voice said and now it was filled with an almost childish glee.

“Thank you fur yer grace my Baron an’ fur yer kindn’ss, ma Lady,” the peasant fawned.

“Return to the expedition,” Lady Erwin ordered, “Tell them, we are pleased, and that they may return home. Astagoth shall not forget them when He comes north.”

The footsteps of the peasant leaving echoed down the hall followed by those of the Erwin’s ascending the staircase, the Lady was speaking in a matter-of-fact tone as they went as if merely discussing new drapes for her quarters, “We must of course have them all killed once they have returned.”

“Of course I shall my dear,” Erwin replied, “What did you think I was going to do, pay them?” he laughed a snorting, chortling kind of laugh.

“Now we are ready to begin,” Melladonna declared, “Did I not say it would be so? Our son shall know the power of a King and the blessing of a God. Astagoth shall provide the means and you shall provide the way. Have faith in that which runs in your blood. You will have your revenge. Her death will not go unpunished. The Stones will speak again and the Circle be completed.”

The steps faded away and Ironfang rounded the corner just in time to see the Erwins disappear at the top of the stairs through the double oak doors. He was deeply puzzled by almost all of what he had just heard. What was the expedition? An expedition to where and for what? Who was Morwin? For that matter who was Astagoth? And what of the son they spoke of? The Erwins' were childless. Many questions and no answers.

He had been remiss in not attending Court, much it seemed had been happening without his knowledge in the past year, but it was his families way to take little to do with the direct running of the Kingdom. The thought occurred to him that maybe it was time to change that but he quashed it immediately.

He wondered if Duke Grande was also in the dark or if the Duke knew more of these matters than he. He determined to go and speak with Grande at the first opportunity.

Instead of going to his lodgings as he had planned he sent for a servant to fetch his belongings and went instead to get his horse Masquith from the stables. He would go straight home and take council with Canthiss his friend and advisor before deciding what was to be done.

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Post by azriel Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:04 pm

Ive been reading your story since you posted it, Im still enjoying it & happy TO keep reading it as it progresses. You have a very fluent style of writting, I have enjoyed reading ALL the stories people put here, all different & refreshing, varied styles, its great.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:17 pm

Thanks Azriel, both for the comments and taking the time to read. Is greatly appreciated when anyone does that.

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Post by Mrs Figg Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:51 pm

yeah like I appreciated everyone reading Haddon Hall ppshaw!!!! Shrugging


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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:50 am

I read it- but Turembar sadly opted to leave and never came back and you didnt continue it on your own. Shrugging

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Post by azriel Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:10 pm

I arrived late to this den of eniquaty, this Dickensian rable of escaped lunatics, (God,Im glad Im here!) I joined in the autumn when the joys of summer were still upon me, Ive scooted about reading all the storys I can, & theres plenty of them! I started to read the Haddon Hall story only last night, shall continue asap. Surprised

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Post by Mrs Figg Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:44 pm

Embarassed you dont have to read it Azriel. Laughing I was mostly jesting. But Petty is right it is nice to get feedback even if my writing is a load of old cobblers. I miss Turembar though, he was amazing. Sad
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Post by Eldorion Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:02 pm

Turembar is more than welcome back here if he ever changes his mind. I don't know if anyone has stayed in touch with him.
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Post by Orwell Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:03 pm

Hope you don't mind, Petty, but I've had a bit of a play... Very Happy



Prologue
Beginning in the Past

The Altar was of ancient stone, the first to have been raised on the island. Upon a corroded plinth it stood, darkly stained, channelled with gruesome precision for trickling blood. Around the Altar a circle of younger stones bowed in dreary supplication. Above the Altar hung a golden dome held aloft by carved pedestals of queer design. In a white city it brooded.

Over the island the moon was rising, and swiftly, one moment barely a quarter, almost lost in the deepening sky, the next full and dominant. White it was, then yellow, then a deep sullen red. A harbinger moon. No natural event. And surely in response, magic leaped from stone to stone all around the circle. And there was an unearthly roar. And dazzling light swept towards the dome.

Priests were martialled in that desolate place. They had placed themselves on the perimeter of the circle. Mere mortals and nervy. The old rituals demanded perfect stillness, but they had been shuffling their nervous feet all the while. Their chants were half hearted, dead weighted. Their eyes falling on the grim Altar through gaps in the circling stones, only to look away until they were drawn back, time and time again. The fear in them had brewed for days, and now the last of their courage was rent and they turned and fled toward the sanctuary of their cloisters; cloisters burrowed long ago into the cliff above the Altar as a place for deep meditation, but now only fit for the craven habitation of startled rabbits. A fierce wind bristling with salt and dark magic pursued them, whipping their robes as they fled.

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Post by Mrs Figg Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:22 pm

yes Eldo I do hear from Turembar now and again. I dont think he will come back though. Crying or Very sad
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Post by Orwell Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:58 am

Hey Petty? Reprieve or reprise? Suspect

Oh yes, if you're watching Turembar, all is forgiven. Very Happy Please return and make Mrs Figg happy again! Mad

{{{Turembar, you know, nowadays when Mrs Figg and I are having a hot netosex session, she sometimes gets a far off distant look in her eyes, and I suspect she's thinking of you! Shocked }}}

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Post by Mrs Figg Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:04 pm

Mad
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:01 pm

Reprieve or reprise? - Orwell

Well I was hoping to reprise it in order it might be reprieved, as it didn't go down exactly well the first time out. So,um, both I suppose.

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Post by Mrs Figg Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:15 pm

tell you what chuckles-me-lad, if you ever want to reprise Haddon Hall with me I would be only too chuffed. But you wont, but its ok. Wink
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:23 pm

Chapter Two
First Introduction
“Gnomes,” the Druid mused as she approached the huts. The closest, though it stood on dry land, was nevertheless industriously being raised onto a new higher platform by a large wooden lever manipulated by six hefty tribesmen and a lot of shouting.

Water rising was obviously a problem. There were several abandoned huts further out in the marsh partially submerged that she guessed were not so long ago upon the shoreline.

“Gnomes?” she considered again as she walked passed by without being given a second glance, they were not known for living in marshes, or anywhere near them. There were gnome tribes back home in Motol, not many, but like most gnomes she had ever heard of they seemed to have a skill with intricacy; the small hands perhaps.

Whatever the reason their jewellery and metalwork were amongst the highest priced and the most fashionably sought after anywhere on the continent. They tended to gravitate towards towns. She had to wonder what a whole community of them were doing out here, although at present their main preoccupation seemed to be with trying to stop their village from flooding.

Those immediately about her seemed lost in their labours of moving and carrying, sawing and hammering, all accompanied by the constant creak of the wooden crane as it hoisted the hut up onto its new drier platform. Around it the Gnome children yelled delighted cries as they ran back and forth from the reed beds by the waters edge with ready repairs to roofs damaged in the moving.

Near what once was probably the centre of the village but was now nearer the marshes edge there was a grouping of larger huts. The dwellings she had passed so far were little more than four walls and reed roofs with a hole in the centre for smoke to escape; the hut at the centre of this grouping however was larger. It had four satellite huts around it, each with a net and trident above the door.

The main hut, which was more like a small hall she realized as she drew closer, was raised on thick stilts and reached by a set of what were to the Druid shallow steps. The hall had a shield adorning its doorway as well as two tribesmen, one either side of the door-posts, seemingly guards as they carried spears at their sides and wore studded leather tunics. They looked somewhat bored as opposed to threatening. There was also a tantalizing smell in the air that as the Druid walked towards the hall would occasionally waft past her. It was making her incredibly hungry.

As she approached the hall she noticed a group of six hunters wading in from the marsh. Between four of them, raised up over their heads, was some sort of giant water beetle. Without seeing its carapace the Druid could not tell which species.

The two guards at the door kept her pointlessly waiting several minutes whilst a message was taken all of the thirty feet inside to the Gnome Chief before she was seemingly, reluctantly, allowed to enter.

It displeased the Druid, she had a natural aversion to bureaucracy and self-importance, knowing instinctively that all things were equal had a habit of making her blunt with those who thought they were more important than others.

Inside the hall, whose main light came in through two high windows in the roof and slanted down in a wide beam onto a blazing fire that cooked the air, the Gnome Chief sat on a raised chair. That was another thing about Gnomes the Druid considered as she walked the length of the hall, you never thought of a fat one, but the Chief certainly was. In fact, now she came to think on it many of the tribesmen she had seen save the hunting group had looked somewhat chubby and looking round the hall now at the four others assembled here at least three of them too were of a larger size than she might have expected from others of their kind she had seen.

The look on the Chiefs red round face as the Druid approached the chair through the twisting wreaths of sweet smelling wood smoke said that he had other problems more urgent than anything the Druid could possibly represent. Two tribesmen with parchment and plans of some kind stood either side of the wide chair with impatient looks upon their faces and the Chiefs words were the curt words of a busy gnome.

“Well, speak, who are you and what do you want?” he barked without looking up from the parchment in his hand, “If you wish to make a purchase you will have to come back at a later time, we are currently experiencing some, local difficulties.”

“So I see,” the Druid began, not deigning to bow, “I offer you my greetings. I am a Druid from the kingdom of Motol, far to the east, a traveller in this marsh and I am not looking to purchase anything,” indeed she had very little money in any case to make a purchase with and she did not know what kind of trinkets it was the Gnomes were selling in the first place, besides what use did she have for jewellery out here?

“So traipsing through my marsh are you, I suppose you expect to be fed?” the Chief demanded, “Well as you may have noticed we are somewhat busy at this time, there is a feast later if you have…”

“I have no desire to remain in your village,” the Druid interrupted, raising a hand, “and the marsh is not yours but its own,” a hint of anger rose in her voice as she said this but she went on calmly, “However you would appear to have a problem,” she indicated the business outside with a wave of her hand,
“This marsh is rising, that is the source of my curiosity. I may be able to help you find the cause of it.”

The Chief paused a moment considering this and beckoned one of the attendants over to him. This Gnome was old and not tubby like the others but wiry and he wore a long grey robe. He leaned on a gnarled staff as he walked. Around his neck- much to the distaste of the Druid- were the bones and skulls of several rare marsh species threaded through a cord, from this and the little she knew of Gnome society she guessed he was the tribal wise man, their Shaman.

The Chief whispered something in the old Shamans ear and the Shaman nodded a consent making the bones on his necklace rattle. The Chief turned back to address the Druid changing the posture of his bulk as he moved on his chair, “If you have not come to make a purchase, and you are not expecting to be fed, then what business do you have in my marsh, Druid?” he asked.

“I could ask the same of a Chief of the Gnomes, what brings your people here? I never heard of your kind living more than walking distance from good mining and never next to waters.”

The Chief looked for a moment astonished, as if it was impossible the Druid could not know, “You have never heard of Mecalon de Vie? Or the famous Plate Makis?” he asked wide-eyed.

The Druid looked at him blankly.

“Young lady, have you eaten yet?” the Chief suddenly enquired rather surprisingly.

“No,” the Druid replied cautiously not sure about this turn in the conversation, Gnomes were known to be hospitable but this conversation so far had tended towards references to food which had been puzzling her.

The Chief clapped his hands together and said, “Plate Makis,” then added “for two,” and one of the attendants bowed low and hurried out the hall. “This will not take a moment, you are in luck, today is a feast day to Govana and they will have several ready by now,” he said enthusiastically, “I really cannot believe you have not heard of us? Not even Alon va Dana?” He looked almost crestfallen when the Druid shook her head in obvious ignorance.

A moment later the attendant returned, this time laden down with goods. In effect what he carried was the shell of a giant water beetle of, the Druid noted, the species Gala. Its meat was cooked inside the shell and then garnished but there all pretensions to study of it ended because astonishment and delight took over. The heady vapours it filled the room with would on their own have been enough to tempt any diner but it was in the preparation that it really took the breath away. The intricacy of it was a thing of wonder. The meat was succulent, juicy, tender to look at and all the fame the Gnomes had acquired in complicated, detailed jewellery was here applied with all their racial fervour to food. There were designs in complementary tasting fruits around the sides and garnishes of herbs and marsh leaves, not all of which she could identify immediately, arranged in dazzling procession and placed with as much care and loving as an artist applies a single spot of paint to a life’s masterpiece. Despite her misgivings about over hunting in the marsh the Druid found that her mouth was watering as it was brought down the hall towards them. It was a culinary art piece, it was a shame almost to eat it, but only almost because she was definitely going to eat it. There was no way to resist.

The Chief indicated the cooked wonder with a wave of his hand, “Plate Makis,” he explained, his fat face beaming at the Druid over the steaming aromatic carapace, “I am surprised you have not heard of us. We are really quite famous in these parts.”

And with the tantalizing odours seeking out her taste buds via her nose and making her drool like a starved fool she did not doubt it for a single moment.

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Post by azriel Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:13 pm

read it,now Im hungry! thanks!! As I read all I could smell in my "minds nose" was a chicken Korma/rice, & what have I really got for dinner ??
scrambled bloody egg on toast! I like scrambled egg on toast, but it aint a bloody Korma! Good episode by the way, Im still reading! (future reference..code all the food relavents! use Sanskrit ! for my sake! pale )

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