The Veir turns back to the wall for a brief moment, his fingers running along the carvings in the stone. "Caleph, the God who created me, is the God of Many Faces. His name comes from the three masks that he had from time immemorial: Joy, Rage, and Grief. He used these masks for drama, and his performances moved the other Gods in ways that no other could. Caleph usually bore the Joy Mask, and he was seen outside his plays as a very amiable and charming God." As he tells of Caleph, he has a half-smile on his face, unaware that his excitement is projected so obviously.
"However, when the War of Gods and the Primordials came, his drama had to be set aside as he prepared for battle. From what passed down to me from his lips, he fought with his best spirits. The War seemed to be going toward the Gods' way, but suddenly, he was dealt a furious blow by a retaliating Primordial that cracked his Joy Mask. Falling, he cried out, blinded, until Mora..." He nods to Moraq'om. "Indeed, our Gods are in league. It is interesting yet small wonder that we'd meet and band together as we have." He stops his tangent and continues the story.
"Mora helped him up, and he was mostly unharmed. However, his favorite Mask had broken, and he was forced to choose between Grief and Rage. After the war, Caleph could only rely on these two masks for his drama. The brilliant comedies turned to bitter tragedies, and while the Gods still were amazed by his performances, they were so very depressing. He became disillusioned by his saddening and rage-filling performances. From this, he brought forward a new interest to attempt to raise his spirits. Seeing the other Gods giving tribute to the Goddess of Life by creating mortals, Caleph tried his own hand." His face seems crestfallen now, as Ruminaw's eyes look to the ground when he continues.
"I am his first and only creation. It seems that... I did not live up to his standards when he created me."
Lakota turns to look upon Ruminaw with shock over his words, though her features do not change. “I do not understand. Why would you say such a thing?” Her emotions may not show on her face but they are clear in her words. “I think you do not give yourself enough credit. You have skills and talents that others do not, which will be of great benefit as we travel together. I am certain of it.” The shardmind feels sympathy for this man, but not in the way he may think. These soft bodies races live such sort lives and she would hate to see Ruminaw waste it thinking he was less than he is.
She reaches out to trace some of the stone carving depicting Caleph. “It may be that the gods have withdrawn to allow their children a chance to grow up.” Or, it could simply be that the gods were busy elsewhere. It had not been very long since the creation of the races and it may be that the gods will return once they are done with whatever it is that has caught their attention. "It is good that this is here. It is important to teach the young ones about the Beginning. Thank you for sharing your story with us."
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of dragons; for you are crunchy and go good with ketchup
After the Ruminaw's story, the lot of you step into the tower. Much as the outside was, the inside is covered in murals and frescoes. At the end of a somewhat roomy entry chamber is a desk, with a woman sitting at it. Her hair is tied up and she wears some of the glass lenses like Maroly did. Lakota assures the group that this is the fabled Secretary. You approach her, and, filled with a surge of courage, Kava asks her about getting a meeting with the elders. She asks why, and Nim pipes up with the offer of mapping areas to add to the collective information banks. The Secretary seems pleased with your offer, and says that she will "pencil you in" for an appointment early in the morning. Thanking her, the party leaves.
Lodging for the night is available at fair rates at the Three-tailed Harpy, and the party makes due with the lodgings for the night. Even Lakota is glad to stay there, instead of at the forge, for the inner rooms of the inn are also carved with artwork, in the same style as the tower, and there is plenty to spark a person's interest.
In the morning, the party rises early and returns to the Elder's tower. While they are on time for the appointment, the elders seem not to be, and the party is forced to wait several minutes past the alloted time before the elders see them. When they are led in, the party is met with but one elder.
The elder looks odd to you, though he is presumably human. His skin is wrinkled, and his hair is white, and these are not standard human traits. Some of you have heard of such things being meant by the gods to designate the first generation mortals from those who came later, but for some, it is the first time you've seen it. He looks unwell compared to a second or third generation human.
Still, his mind is sharp, and his attitude moreso. "Well?" his voice cracks like a whip "Make your case."
Lakota is pleased with how easily they were able to get an appointment with the Elders. If the Secretary was any sign, the Elders may welcome their idea. She looks forward to seeing what the morning will bring, but as a shardmind, she is not so eager for the time that she would rush through the evening. Every moment in time is one to be savored, for its like will never come again.
She does excuse herself during dinner. She makes her way back to the Smithy, where she is greeted with enthusiasm. She quickly explains that she has not returned, telling them of what happened in the caves above Hinata. She tells them of the dangers of the crystals and points out the possibility for setting up trade with them three letters she has written over the past week. They are written in dwarven because the recipients are dwarven. Despite their difference in race, these letters have the feel of a daughter writing to her wizened grandfather, her mother, and her brother. In essence, they repeat what she has been up to and what she has learned about the world. There are so many fascinating things it is hard to keep the letters short enough to go with the next load of wagons back to The City of Mists hidden within the Thunderstrike Mountains; called that because of the continuous thunderclouds and lightning that play about the peaks year round.
Her business settled and everything smoothly handed off to a very happy Barren, she heads back to rejoin her new companions. She could stay at the Smithy but she prefers to remain with her new companions. Once she sees the amazing artwork inside the rooms of the Three Harpy’s Inn, she is doubly glad she chose to remain with them. While they sleep, she guards over them and also takes the opportunity to study the various paintings and pictures and carvings. (This should aid her as a historian.)
The morning passes all too quickly as soon Lakota and the others find themselves back in front of the Elders. Well, one of them anyway. She is uncertain where the others are at. When the Elder in front of them snaps for the reason they are here, she assumes they will not be waiting for anyone else to arrive. Shame.
She politely turns to those in the group who are better speakers than she is. She has the heart and a lot of times the knowledge, but she doesn’t seem to understand the ways of diplomacy and why so many humans discount her because she is not human. Whatever the problem is, there are others in the group who seem quite skilled in being able to talk with others and she brightens with encouragement as they begin to speak. (In other words, she lacks the Diplomacy skill and I'm not foolish enough to rish such an important thing on a +1 modifier. Time for the experts to step in.)
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of dragons; for you are crunchy and go good with ketchup
Hmph, I assume this is one of elders everyone reveres here. He doesn't seem special. Moraq'om notices the wrinkles of the man, curious why someone at most as old as him appears to have such a different appearance. None of the other Moraq have changed in such a way, to his knowledge, so why this human? Clearly the elder didn't always used to look that way, from his memory the original humans looked much the way he does now.
Moraq'om finds the momentary silence annoying as everyone expects someone else to speak first. He decides to take the initiative and speak to this supposedly-intimidating old man."We have come to offer our services in mapping out the surrounding regions, as well as ridding them of any foul creatures that inhabit the area." He reaches into his pouch to retrieve one of the small round silver pieces their previous employer rewarded them with and holds it up for the man to see. "In return, we - well, the others really - desire some amount of these metal pieces in return."
Moraq'om stands staring directly into the eyes of this elderly man, awaiting a response to the proposal. His arms are folded in front of himself in impatience, as he is eager to have their request accepted and be on their way.
Ruminaw slinks up from the back of the group to add his thoughts to Moraq'om's introduction. He usually prefers to lay low and watch the conversation, as he had in his weeks of lurking around Halrema, but he decides his words might be able to influence the Elder's decision. He nods approvingly to Moraq'om, before turning to the Elder.
"The reward, however, is not our frontmost desire. We seek only funding for travel gear, suitable equipment, and rations, not for our own devices. The real purpose of our services is to expand the reaches of Halrema's knowledge of her surroundings, as well as seek out possible trade routes, uncivilized races, or even ruins from the time of the Dawn War." He pauses a moment, letting the man think for a moment, before continuing. Attempting to assuage any doubt in the man's mind, he speaks again:
"The trade should look quite beneficial to you, really. We aren't here to ask for handouts, we want to pledge our services to the city. What say you to this offer, great Elder?"
The Elder considers your proposal for a long moment, stroking his oddly white beard. "You say this trade should look beneficial to me. Yet it does not. I do not know the quality of your work, or your ethic for completing it. And yet, you still are asking me to fund your work, which is a handout every bit as much as asking for money only." He looks at you with eyes that seem poised to take in every detail, every flaw.
"I shall not grant your request for funding at this time. However, I will agree to review my position on the issue should you provide for me a map, of your own making, that I might determine its quality and accuracy." He lifts a small hammer from his desk, and raps it down on the wood loudly. After, he rises and begins to leave the room. At the far door, he looks over his shoulder. "I should really enjoy a personal map of the Dimaran Earthmote." he muses aloud. Then he exits, leaving the adventurers alone in the audience chamber.
"I don't suppose any of you know this 'Dimaran Earthmote'?" Moraq'om asks of his companions, turning to face them as the unhelpful elder leaves in the other direction. "Lakota, perhaps? You seem to know a lot about this area."
The Moraq is mildly annoyed that their first assignment will actually be making a map, and he only hopes that there are some manner of foul beasts lurking at their destination. He stands with his arms crossed, frowning in the direction that the elder left. He is still bothered with thoughts of Moraq'un and her horrible fate, thinking it must have been a punishment for poor service to their Lady Mora. He feels he should prove that he is still worthy of her blessing, but making a map does not seem like a proper way to do so.
Greel sat quietly and observed the others and made notes in a black journal from time to time. Subjects: Nim and Veil. Type: Humanoid Class: Shapeshifter Characteristics of note: Both subjects are capable of altering their forms. Thus far only other humanoid forms have been displayed. Subjects have the ability to mimic vocals of assumed forms. Veil subject claims to be a first born and thus merits close observation. Internal components: Unable to determine at this time.
The necromancer gave a thin smile as the other travelers he was with laughed at the spectacle of the two of them take on the form of the being known as Kava. Greelah clapped her hands and spun about before shirking from her brother's glance and quickly bowed her head again.
Subject: Kava Type: Humanoid Class: Giant-kin Characteristics of note: Subject has displayed in combat an abililty to harden it's epidermis and has displayed a frightening endurance to pain and damage. Claims to be called a Goliath and the names seems rather fitting. Internal components: Subject has displayed blood loss from injuries, suspect internal organs similar to human in placement and type.
Sensing the crystalline entity gazing at his sister he closed his journal and tucked it away inside his robes and took up the goblet of spiced wine and waited until his magic caused it to steam before sipping it.
"I also advise that we have a name for ourselves. Something that will help distinguish our cause, like the Halreman Explorers, but with more of a ring to it. Any suggestions?"
He scowled and issued forth a harsh whisper, "Tread carefully in the giving and taking of names. Once given they are open to the world. Things once named can not easily cast aside their names, names can carry power and true names are a most dangerous thing indeed. Nothing has been done as yet to grant upon this host a true and worthy name that can carry power and might. The words will reveal themselves in time."
Greel and Greelah rose and slowly moved after the others once it had been decided to seek the 'wisdom' of the Elders. Greel disliked the First Born more and more as he dealt with them though none had been as vile as their father thus far.
The necromancer gave the markings and relgious glyphs and art an appraising look. It was certainly impressive in its own right though the ziggurats of his home a less 'grand' recording of events. Greelah appeared enraptured at the telling of the tale of the mask, Greel much less so though he made mental note of the tale in the scrolls of his mind. Of the shattered twitching bodies of several stone carvers he merely stepped over the spirits as the party entered the Hall of the Elders.
Greel merely stared at the Elder and gave a genuinely disturbing smile as he took in the advanced age of the man. He could see the long shadows cast off from the man and knew that there would be one less first born to plague the land in the not so distant future. His drowned sister's frame shook with silent sobs and cold water formed beneath her before vanishing into the marble floors.
"Ah yes, cartography. A noble pursuit and a true art in the creation of such things. Such is the request and such shall be the task. Again so many things not stated and no contract. A map is all that shall be given then. There will be no other knowledge given as that was not the stated desire of 'the Elder'. An Earthmote..fascinating. Perhaps there will be avian creatures or other being capable of flight that can be dissected and studied for my..'our'..personal knowledge."
Greel thought that Dimaran Earthmote sounded vaguely familiar and tried to recall what he may have read or head about the place.
Lakota remained in the background, allowing the others to speak with the Elder. She is actually quite pleased with how well the interview went. The Elder showed wisdom is giving them a chance to show how valuable their services can be. And a map is exactly the way to show what they can do. She knows that in order to make a map of an area, it must be thoroughly explored. If there are dangers, they must be added to the map so others will know to avoid that section. Yes, she is quite pleased with the direction of things.
She nods in response to Moraq’om’s query on whether she has heard of this Dimaran Earthmote before. “Yes.” It takes a moment to recall where she has heard the name before.