A Second Missive for an Empress

My empress,

The youngsters of the group did a good job in hauling the non-supernatural vagabonds that attacked us back over to a “Heal for a Steal” and tossed them inside. There was a bit of rest and just finally quiet for a few hours (two or three) until dawn came and our fearless leader doled out assignments when I suggested we might want to visit the tent merchants before they’re all gone. You see the trick with raising children is really just a prod in the right direction but let them think the idea is always their own. It tends to curb that rebellious streak. It’s a good thing my folks never mastered that art.

Alas, Indaris and Cammy went to check on possible available hotel space in case we did need to move, Overkill and Azariel went to find the tent, and I was stuck babysiting the 600 pound child with a new toy! By toy I mean magic. The more time I spend with Xerx’ses the more I pity him. He hates being a wizard and if the Gods, or his dead parents, were to tell him he could be a paladin he would leap at the chance. Getting him talking is so simple. This lad is an open book as long as you take the time to simply ask. Clearly he doesn’t understand why he has the talent for magic. Even with the powers at his command he does it because of a sense of duty to his tribe. I knew a few other Kobolds that might feel that way and most served Anhur in the old home rather than Set or Anubis. He has no idea how lucky he is to have known the Light from the beginning.

After Azariel and Overkill returned we all set the tent up, I have to admit to a passerby seeing a Minotaur, an elf, a dwarf, and a kobold setting up a tent would be a little strange, even during the melting pot of the Lopanic games. My newfound ability of telekinetic manipulation helped me make up for any size disparity I might have had. As soon as the tent was secure I settled into the rear curtained area while they went to get breakfast…after a quick peek-in to see the vagabonds still tied up. Ugh, babysitting again.

I wonder that it had to be explained that we would eventually have feed the prisoners if no one got the guard. It’s self explanatory to me that it is cruel to starve them. Xerx’ses is very black and white with the law when he thinks he has the right of a topic. It also doesn’t help that he thinks of us as his tribe away from home. Your Majesty he never forgets a title and never fails to use it. He clearly had some very strict parents growing up. He may occasionally be blunt to the point of rudeness, he always tries to come off as polite while doing it. The phrase ‘killing with kindness’ comes to mind, but I doubt the framers of that thought ever imagined Xer’xses. The young Minotaur wizard is a dichotomy that has grown in power too fast to appreciate how much he has truly changed. I have tried to work moral fables from the church into the stories I tell him, and just change the names to be other people rather than gods and such. He has no clue but maybe I can get him to grow up a bit more doing so. I have never seen a child so rapt with attention as when the old Kobold says, “Story time.”

When they returned with breakfast it didn’t take long for the others to share news about having purchased four rooms for 4 days at the Ras Mageras Hotel where many of Palladium’s social elite just happen to be staying. I wonder if some in our number might not be letting their position go to their heads and consider themselves to be part of this ruling elite.

Some crass jokes about Azariel and Miss Hopner are made and the young wizard is so flustered still about the act he looks at the sky and mentions obligatorily that clouds look the way they do. When Overkill seems confused by the random statement, Xerx’ses, picks up the dwarf and holds him above his head so 15 feet in the air so he can get a better view. Indaris hastily draws the scene and passersby just stared at the Minotaur raising the golden clad dwarf to the sky. I hope that the other’s in my group truly understand how childlike the largest member of our party truly is.

I went to study and begin my work on my scrolls when some of the other contestant tried to call Xerx’ses, Overkill, and Cammy out, but those moral fables had taken root and Xerx’ses stuck to the letter of the law. It did my heart proud to see him continue to sell vegetables and I silently praised Ra. I have my work cut out for me with this group of youngsters, but they do learn, which is all we can ask of anyone. Eventually they left to go register leaving our she-wolf here in her true form, that of the wolf, to guard the tent, which was closed for the afternoon. I heard upon their return that Xerx’ses was trying to fit into the crowds in his natural form. I think it grates upon his sinsibilities that the rest of CrIsis can go about in their natural forms, even one of us wandering as a wolf, when he must hide within them as a ‘hooman’ as he so eloquently puts it..

Azariel hired mercenaries from Galthor’s Guards and we got three of them for the 9th & 10th with seven more arriving on the 11th after we returned from spending our night in jail. Cammy tried to see what it would take to fix things with Thurgood. Apparently we would need to make another trip to Llorn and make a public apologiy there for the actions of those no longer with us. That would require much pursuading and some changes of heart. We are a proud and stiff-necked group.

I forgot to mention than on the 9th a scholar, Jaymus Murray, stopped by. He interviewed Overkill and Indaris about their individual competitions and stayed very on topic to the events and how they would tackle challenges in them as they arise. I didn’t hear him leave as the scrolls were very encompassing.

That evening we all headed to the social firing squad that is Miss Hopner. I made my opinion of her evident in my last missive. There was a small moment upon our arrival where they asked Xerx’ses to change down to his human guise and he graciously did so. The good brother was kind to the boy and spun the request as the furniture could not handle the larger size in the eating area. The child-taur thought that seemed very reasonable and changed in another room and was brought three outfits of clothes to wear, currently he is dressed in the height of Lopanic fashion comparing him to the other guests and as a human, he is dangerously handsome given some of the looks he and the Femur of the Lawgiver was getting. Alternatively it could just be that some wanted the femur for themselves.

Well let me surmise what you already know; Azariel had a short joke with one of the staff that went over harmlessly; Overkill was accused of maiming the Gold Coast Manager, a Gaspard I believe overheard saying, “Overkill killed me.”; He was cleared by an Inquisitor Psychic and overseen by Cammy. You also recused him of any involvement in the event in question; Xerx’ses was accused of threatening to eat someone unless he was given a carrot. He cleared up that he just likes carrots; Indaris cleared up the rumors that he was slaying demons all afternoon at the registry tents; I deliberately pissed her off so she’d leave me alone, I was tired and had scrolls to work on with Xerx’ses’ help in mystic energy.

Mr. Sline of the White Ash Guild and Azariel study working on a ward together. After a night cap in the lounge with Miss Hopner after we had left things went well between Sline and Hopner. Azariel got his lessons for free.

I finished the Fire Gems on the thirteenth and Xerx’ses had his mounted in a bronze ring that would change shape with his metamorphing magic. I am a little embarrassed about the 15th when I had a mishap and turned everyone in the tent, thank goodness no customers were there at the time, into mice for a few minutes. During the brief interlude of big ears and whiskers local street rats came in and ran off with a fifth of our total food! A fifth! When questioned the guards said we were lucky to have any food left because they held off the rest outside the tent. Luckily we weren’t trampled to death! The Minotaur laughed at the mishap the way a child has glee seeing a pie hit a clown in the face. He explained to the druid what had happened and just didn’t see the danger, but also would not let the event shame me. Sweet child if a bit slow.

We got copies of the maps of all the event locations because of the those rooms at the majestic hotel in the social center of town.

Azariel mentioned something to the rest of the group on the 16th about what he saw in an Eye Tile the Minotaur had given him that he had planted upon Miss Hopner. Before he could get into details Knights of the Dawn arrived led by their new commander Sir Quixis Ote

His mentor, Sir Niklas Thorpe, had passed away so one of his order was allowed to take his place. Xerx’ses was so excited he jumped once and everything in the tent bounced. I was so lucky to cork the bottle in mid bounce or someone would have been stabbed with a Quill. They even woke up Indaris, but left me alone, hmph. Alone would be taking the bull in the vegetable tent outside. Alone would be quiet. After what seemed like forever of Xerx’ses gushing all over this noble paladin they left.

Soon the great bard Terramore Gleba and the Soldiers of the Torch arrived. It would seem that Xerx’ses inspired the Master Bard to start an army of CrIsis followers and travel where we are slandered and sing our graces. This also gave the army of light an actively roaming armed militia of titans, a cyclops, elves and humans!

His band consisted of 17 people, why do I know this because there is only a canvas wall separating us and Titans, Cyclops, and one extremely excited Minotaur aren’t quiet!

He’s playing at that fancy hotel everyone has been visiting but you knew that. It would seem the Druid and he have a deep professional respect for each other as tale spinners and arrangements were made to allow her to stay in the one room we kept so she could go to his performances.

We got schedules of the Games somewhere between the 17th & 20th as items Xerx’ses had ordered at Alchemists had begun to arrive, even my fire gem he had mounted into a ring for him. Of course, on the 18th I managed to turn myself into a marsh bird. That experience is actually one I might not mind repeating, provided I could do it under more controlled circumstances.

On the 21st I actually made the mistake of thinking I was getting the hang of this whole ‘Scroll Scribing,’ thing. Hubris will have it’s due and I turned myself into a 300 plus pound blob. Then as Xerx’ses was trying to help me keep working an Aquatic Dyval was summoned. I wasn’t worried though, as CrIsis is quite competent. Indaris, Overkill, and I dispatched it quickly. It’s nice that Xerx’ses saves the Word of Death spell for these creatures but his power is terrible to behold in one so young. My hubris wasn’t done with me yet as I summoned a Couril Fae on the 24th. The four of us again dispatched it before it even knew it was going to see the faerie afterlife. Indaris seems an expert in these creatures. I wonder how one of them would fare were it to be thrust into this group. I’m sure I’ll never know since I doubt even the gods could long stand the antics of such a creature.

Since dinner with Hopner, our young Xerx’ses has been staying in his human shape as much as possible though he is not as good at hiding his depression regarding it as he thinks. You’d think someone stole his food when he had to get a chair to reach a lantern he had hung too high. His tribe may be minotaurs of the light but even among them I believe Xerx’ses may be very, very, unique in his outlook.

Overkill and Xerx’ses got dinner this night and Xerx’ses came back carrying everything as Overkill was drunk and with some lady not his wife on his arm. If you make a pact with someone, especially when you take those steps to make that pact official, it is important to stick to that pack. Marriage is one of those things that should be held almost sacred by the members of this group, but that is the Raelite in me speaking. I could understand Xerx’ses anger upon seeing Overkill so casual in how he regarded his vows, but the task given me by Apis seemed to call to me in this moment, preventing me from taking action. Indaris muttered something at breakfast on the 25th about it being Boduri’s, his murdered daughter’s, birthday. Xerx’ses ripped into his normal form and flung the canvas wall back as his “former” robe was in tatters around him on the floor. Roaring and cursing he slammed his fist into the waking and very startled Dwarf’s crotch!

Thank goodness the good priest had waited till the lady of the night had left before telling us that explosive bit of news. As though someone had doused his flame of anger with water Xerx’ses dropped to his knees and cried, mentioning the date and pointing at the priest then him. When Overkill could gasp air once more, when he finally grasped the enormity of what he’d done, he went into mourning all over again. He took the next five days to mourn as penance for his act. While I understood the nature of the atmosphere, and have trouble finding joy in it, I was happy for the quiet, since I could finally finish my work.

Yesterday, since I am sending this missive on the day of the opening of the games, we headed out to the Tower of Angels to deliver the True Torch. Xerx’ses took a different human disguise and even Cammy took a different appearance as a lap dog which Xerx’ses carried. She growled at the Indaris when she saw him drawing the event while walking. It would seem she is a bit vain, something to keep in mind.

The guard that tried to shake down the priest, whose name I don’t know but should already be familiar with you, let us in which put us on guard. We met your imposter and handed over the torch. It went south when our minotaur, who had set the lap dog down so Cammy could become herself, I mean a wolf, rudely, although perfectly justified, asking your imposter to prove she could activate the torch. When our rings did not react Overkill drew swords. I tried to increase her weight but failed. Xerx’ses launched a binding carpet across her and the floor, walls, and ceiling behind her, but she dispelled it. She then summoned her cronies to help. Knowing that it was one of those moments where I would need to control the situation as opposed to contributing to the chaos I pulled a large, messy, sticky mass of spider webs into existence around her. She was not only bound by the clinging strands but terrified by their sight. It would seem she was an arachnophobe. Cammy knocked the torch out of her hand and Nosse retrieved it for us. Xerx’ses had been focusing, preparing to send his ‘Word of Death’ into the world. He released it at this moment and his free hand became engulf in the black energy shooting its life desiccating tendrils into your imposter. I saw him flinch when he saw his second changeling. I think that it bothered him more that she was working for our enemies than that she was a changeling.

The remaining henchmen surrendered after Cammy got a few with a Faerie Dance and Indaris used a blessed spell that retrieved Overkill’s rune sword, which he’d dropped. His jewels being still sore must have thrown off his balance. We found out all we explained to you and I offered the wergeld of 6 Dragon Coins for each of the children of the wife of the guard that bretrayed you. We will come see you when you asked much later for whatever blessing you wish to bestow upon us at that time.

P.S.: I am writing this right after the close of the opening ceremonies where Terramore Gleba, accompanied by Romeo Addison sung and played for the throngs of fans. Introduced on the Grand Balcony by yourself, with the Pontiff U’Selekma standing next to you.

Picture from The Quillcards Blog

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