Bright Star Quest I: The Book of Baysil
Chapter 2: Darrick Elf Kin, Cleric
Copyright© 2005 by Porlock
Sex Story: Chapter 2: Darrick Elf Kin, Cleric - Book One of Bright Star Quest. A small group of adventurers start off on a quest to find a long-hidden treasure. S&S in a modified D&D world. Very little sex, but lots of blood and gore.
As Darrick faced the morning light, he felt a glow of inner satisfaction. The day had dawned bright and sunny, yet with a hint of the departing winter's chill to give it zest. He savored the feeling, knowing that only a few more decades remained to him of the two centuries of life allotted a Half Elf.
"These villagers are sure an ugly lot."
He gestured a warning to Furdick, who had joined him on the inn's porch. "Keep it down. We have to get along with these people." He led the way down the steps and into the street.
"All right," Furdick muttered sullenly, smothering a yawn. "But they really are. I've seen a lot of scungey villages in my time, but this one really takes the Grand Medallion."
"Remember your history? This region took the main thrust of the Orcish invasions. By the end of the Second Anarchate they'd had armies from both sides, not to mention bands of brigands, fighting and looting back and forth through here for centuries, leaving their stragglers and bastards behind. You'll see every kind of mixture here, along with an occasional throwback to pure ancestral types."
"Hey, you two!" Baysil shouted from the porch of the inn. "Been to the Temple yet? Then let's get moving!"
The temple and inn had almost certainly been built during the waning years of the Darvish Empire, whose technology had supplanted the waning powers of Magic. Of some nearly indestructible pale stone that had been flowed into seamless units, they stood whole and strong after more than twelve centuries.
The rest of the company straggled out into the fresh air, blinking in the bright sunlight. Their breakfast had been all that Urvache had promised, great sizzling slabs of smoked and salted boar, fried eggs that each more than covered one end of a platter, and griddle cakes that fairly floated in butter, covered lavishly with honey and fruit syrup.
"Come forward, my children. The Gods Themselves watch what is done in Their place of worship."
Priest Doomarr awaited them by the door to the temple, chanting softly in his harshly nasal voice. He was an impressive sight in his vestments; a tall cylindrical crown and a robe that blended many colors. Inhumanly tall, skeletally thin, he was a prime example of Shurrud's mixed racial background. Yellow eyes glowed against greenish olive skin, and he boasted not the slightest trace of hair.
"Distinct traces of Elf. Possibly even some Kobold," Darrick thought. "The Gods only know what else."
As they approached, Doomarr was more, and yet somehow less impressive. He projected an air of command, a personality that radiated fire and darkness. Yet his robe was old and patched, with grease stains around the hem. His crown was dented and worn, its gold facing peeling to reveal base metal and painted wood. They followed him into the temple, where nine shrines were each shared by the nine Gods of that particular alignment. And while a shrine might be dedicated to a particular Deity, sacrifices could be made there to any other of the same alignment.
"You may enter the shrines." In the light of day Doomarr's vestments had seemed tawdry. Here in the gloom of the inner temple, only their magnificence could be seen, and his yellow eyes and greenish skin seemed right and proper.
Burdock and Elm followed Darrick into one shrine. It was dusty, showing signs of long neglect. Each of the others sought the proper shrine, laying appropriate offerings on the altars of his or her choice. Each sacrifice's essence nourished the Gods, even while its substance enriched the temple.
Darrick knelt before the altar of Lawful Neutrality. He sought as always to align the channels of his mind with the precepts of harmonious interaction among all things animate and inanimate, the Primal Concept of rigid cause and effect, ignoring as utterly unimportant the very possibility of Good or Evil as applied to individuals and their actions. The system was all, its goal the attainment of an absolutely orderly universe. As always, he found the task a difficult one; he had always possessed a slight weakness, a turning toward Good, but not enough to cause a shift in his choice of an alignment Deity.
He expanded his conscious awareness, meshing with this aspect of the universe. The contact was there, but it was strangely weak. No stronger, he realized than it would be in any unconsecrated place. Focusing his gaze, he studied his surroundings.
A dusty cubicle. Walls whose decorative murals had long since faded. The altar, a simple block of stone with incised markings. Behind it, a shelf to support small idols and icons.
The altar! He rested his forehead against its smooth coolness, seeking again oneness with the universe.
"Ahh!" His cry was almost one of pain. Within his mind he sloughed off lingering traces of foulness, of disorder and distortion. This altar had been defiled! With fingers that trembled he fumbled within his belt pouch, bringing out a tiny wooden case bound with leather and brass. It opened to the pressure of his fingers and the power of a whispered Word. He reverently drew forth a miniature scroll and a tightly stoppered crystal vial.
The scroll clung unsupported across the face of the altar. Sealing wax around the stopper of the vial yielded to the point of his belt knife. Moistening the tip of one finger with a drop of its contents, he touched it to the four corners of the scroll.
He knelt before the altar and, with face upraised and arms spread wide, chanted a simple litany. A sense of power filled the tiny cubicle, and he was aware with some inner sense of a pale glow that appeared and coalesced about the altar. He felt the pressure lessen as the energies sank into the block of stone.
The air in the shrine felt fresh and clean, as though washed by gentle rains, blown across high deserts. He felt a great peace, a oneness with forces greater than any one person could wield, a benediction upon his task. He arose refreshed and strolled into the temple's central area, leaving Burdock and Elm to complete their devotions.
"Is all well with you?" Baysil's voice was low but stern, his face set in a righteous mask of controlled anger.
"Well enough. You found a problem?"
"My altar was fouled!" He tilted his head back to look squarely into Darrick's eyes. "Yours, too?"
"Mine also. I cleansed it."
"So did I, of course. What of the others?"
"I am sure they are the same, but our companions should suffer no harm," Darrick reassured him. "It will only be as though they had prayed in any unhallowed spot."
"But who would do this thing? And why?"
"Who else? Priest Doomarr has all of the temple in his care, and he proclaims his alignment most boldly."
"He proclaims it indeed, and in any case I would have sensed it. How comes a priest of Chaotic Evil to preside over a temple? It goes against all custom!"
"Who is to tell him he cannot? He suits his people well enough, to be sure..." Darrick fell silent as Doomarr approached, his smile a smirk of evil satisfaction.
"And have your people paid their devotions?" In the heart of his temple, he drew strength from energies stored within its substance through the ages. "I trust that you found everything to your satisfaction?"
"Not entirely, but well enough," Darrick answered curtly. "I would speak with you further, but now my people await me. We must be about our business."
"Be off, then. Jall awaits you even now among his hoarded goods." Doomarr's yellow eyes glowed cat like with an inner anger, but his smile was unchanged as he stepped aside to let them pass.
The village store with its walls of stone reminded Darrick of a dusty cavern. A broad roof shaded the long porch, and heavy shutters hung ready to close off narrow windows. Inside, boxes and barrels were stacked to form a dusty maze, and stout doors led to shuttered rooms. Jall met them at the door, bowing and smiling.
"Come in, my friends! If what you need is to be had, I've got it. Equipment, weapons, supplies. You name it, and it's yours."
"Weapons?" Anji peered down at him through the gloom. "Weapons and armor?"
"Certainly, my Lady." He rubbed his hands together briskly. "And the cost to you will be most reasonable. They may be old and rusty, and some have been damaged in long ago battles. Many were gathered by my grand sire's great grand sire after a battle between Orcish armies not far from here. They have lain in this storeroom ever since, and few men have so much as looked at them."
Darrick smiled to himself as the little man led the way up wobbly steps to an attic room. The little man's story could even be the entire truth, given the history of Orris Kayn. A dim light filtered through vents set high up under the eaves, picking out glints of metal amidst piles of junk. Anji eagerly hefted a great Orc sword, but tossed it aside when she saw that it was deeply notched near the hilt.
"Hah!" Kargh snorted. "Now here's a weapon suited to my hand."
He swung a short handled axe about his head. The haft was of some dark close grained wood, and the head showed few nicks and rust stains. He slung it on his broad belt, adjusting it to hang ready to his hand.
"Here, you take this." He thrust his own short sword at Elm, who was picking through a pile of dented helmets. "It'll do better for you than that toad sticker you've been carrying. Now you'll be all set as soon as you find an iron cap to ward blows from your skull bone."
Elm grasped the sword eagerly. It fit his hand much better than the lighter blade he'd brought with him from The City. His dagger disappeared into the top of one soft boot, and he dug deeper into the pile of gear.
"Here's some chain mail," Bartan called, and several of the others gathered around his find. Some of the mail was reinforced with bands and plates of solid metal, but most of it was of simple interlocking rings. There was a soft clashing of metal as pieces of armor were held up to check for size, then tossed aside to be tried by another.
While his companions exclaimed over their finds, Darrick moved aside to an empty corner of the room. Drawing all his perceptions within himself, he softly chanted the syllables of an elementary spell. His surroundings grew even dimmer, solid walls fading to shadows. To his inner sight the slender figures of Burdock and Tarr were outlined by the faintest of glows, a radiance that flowed out from the belt pouches where they carried their spell books and magical implements.
He turned about, still chanting softly. At one point he thought to detect another source of radiance, but it was only the looming bulk of the temple pressing on his mind. With a sigh he let himself relax, and all about him was normal once again.
"You found nothing?" Baysil stood nearby, holding up a set of chain mail much finer than the one he already wore.
"There was nothing to find, for good or ill. If any of Jall's stock possessed Magical virtue it has long since departed. Or else it is too subtle an enchantment for my small talents. Ah, well. It must be as the Gods will it. Though They must know that just one weapon with even the smallest of magics would make our task far easier."
"They will provide what we need," Baysil affirmed. "That is, if They even care what we do here."
"You doubt our mission?" Darrick smiled gently to take any sting from his words.
"I don't know that we have a mission. We hunt for treasure, what else? Or is there more of a purpose to this than you have told us?"
"What purpose could there be? Or if so, Shurrud is no place to speak of it." He turned away, finding that the others seemed satisfied with what they had found. "All right, let's take this gear downstairs and see what Jall wants for it."
The weapons and armor were brought to the front of the store where the light was better. Straps and bindings, belts and scabbards, anything of cloth or leather had long since crumbled to dust, and the armor itself was of odd shapes and sizes. Odd enough to make Darrick wonder just what strange breeds had made up those long ago armies.
"No matter," Jall told them. "My price will cover the righting of such things. Stoggar the Smith will cut the links and hammer them together to make them fit. Then Frobb the Craftsman will supply straps, buckles and such other leather work as is required."
"Let us count the cost before we contract for such services," Anji snapped, but her hand lovingly caressed the bosses of a finely wrought shield. "We still must purchase other gear, as well as journey cake to sustain us on our travels."
"And some stout rope," Kletta added. "As well as new boots and cloaks for some of us."
"Ah, I would see the color of your money," Jall asked nervously. Could these strangers be outlaws after all, seeking to arm themselves at his expense? "My prices are good, but I too must live."
"I suppose we must," Darrick conceded. "Here is my hoard, such as it is. Come now, friends. Let us all put our moneys in one pile. We must rely on one another in the days to come, or none of us will return from this journey."
"Not I!" Kargh objected harshly. "My money is my own!"
"Then stay behind!" Furdick snapped. "Here are my coins for the pile. Throw yours in, too. Or have you already spent too many of them on ale?"
The others emptied their pouches onto the splintered counter, making an imposing pile. There were coins of all kinds, all ages. Copper and silver were most common but gold there was also, and even a few precious bits of Elvish platinum. Finally Kargh added a handful of coins to the pile, though he muttered darkly behind his beard.
"Hmm hah. Let me see." Jall deftly divided the coins into stacks of like value. Darrick could see his mind working as he added the total, and could see that the little man was not pleased with the answer. "How much will you need in the way of food?"
"Enough to sustain us for a ten day," Darrick answered. "That will give us a small reserve. We can hunt along the way, but too much hunting would slow us over much."
"One week's journey cake. Ten of you. Ha. Hmm hah." He sorted out some of the coins. "Now, the gear you have picked out. Fine old weapons. Fit to be in some Lord's collection. Yes, indeed."
More coins left the stacks.
"You asked for rope. There's a coil of good stout cord there on the wall. Too light and soft for farm work. I'll make you a good price on it."