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Adventures of Xavier: Part III - "The Grip of Stone" (IRC)
Xavier: I gather a bunch of foodstuffs and teleport back the next day...during the night in Tel Akbar, I check to see if my story has spread at all. Not letting on to who I am.
DM: As it has only been a day, Xavier can hardly expect people to know his story quite yet in any detectable volume.
Xavier: I go visit Aiulene.
DM: You arrive at his tower... tis the middle of the afternoon, though the streets are still crowded from yesterday's bazaar... About his tower, as expected, only the daring and desperate walk....
Xavier: I pick up a stone and throw it at his door...not hard.
DM: Your stone bounces at a right angle from the door, narrowly missing your forehead on its return.
Xavier: Thank the gods. I yell up to him. To see if he's home. I make sure I hold tightly to all of my things in case his "pets" are about.
DM: A clatter resembling the sound of pots and pans resounds from within... The upper shutter bangs open and the surly face of Aiulene appears leaning out to speak to you... "Eh, what's up boy?"
Xavier: "I have a request of you. I need you to help me find my brother. You know him."
DM: "Know him, why I practically MADE him who he is today... *mumbling* some youngins just don't get it...... Yes, I know where he is... soul searching, I am sure you can relate."
Xavier: "I can completely. Can you send me to him or send a message to him? I have compensatory funds."
DM: "'Compensatory'" he flashes you a grin, " As if you mean to say that it is a great expense and effort on my part to do such things... have more confidence in my skills boy..."
Xavier: "Not that. I just know that you are a busy man."
DM: "Ah, well yes, there is time, funny how I sometimes forget that it is valuable too.... well in any case.... what did you want again?"
Xavier: "Not too valuable...I hope," I mumble under my breath. "I need to be sent to him or to send a message. Preferably the former."
DM: Instantly you are transported into some dark woods, 500 gold is missing from your pocket.... before you can even finish your sentence or thank him.... The forest about you is dark and apparently uninhabited... not a foot away from you stands a young doe of a deer. At sight of you, the deer bolts into the woods, disappearing into the underbrush... A curse is vocalized clearly from the brush nearby.... standing up from the brush appears the figure of a prow hunter, wrapped in leather garb that is stained green and black, face painted you regard your brother in surprise... he has gotten much better at hiding....
Xavier: I expect to be chewed out for this. I'm sure I'll see I was right.
DM: He grins laconically, "Does your god have something against me that he should teleport you into my presence in the middle of a perfect hunt?"
Xavier: "It would appear so. Greetings, brother. I apologize for interrupting your hunt. My god has nothing to do with me anymore."
DM: Another voice speaks out, "Greetings young Xavier." The voice is one you have not heard in a long time...." You turn around to the voice and almost don't believe your eyes, before you stands the powerful enchanter Severwind. Cloaked in green he regards you with calm eyes of ageless wisdom.
Xavier: "Greetings, Court Mage. I had thought you dead."
DM: Severwind nods, turning to Gamiliel he speaks," I shall be at the redoubt, Lord, doubtless you have much to speak of in ... private." He vanishes into the shadows.
Xavier: To Gamaliel, "As I was saying, brother...my god has nothing to do with me any longer. The gods are fickle and not always flawless. The only thing that is constant is one's wits, one's heart and one's blade. I think you told me that once...years ago."
DM: "Indeed, then by how did you come here?"
Xavier: "Aiulene sent me to find you...upon my request."
DM: "A request... fine that such mages should have the time to do your bidding. And how has life treated you thus far?"
Xavier: "I don't know if you have been told of my dark time, but that is in my past and will stay there until we have time to speak of such things. I have come to again ask your aid in the reconstruction of our nation. I have commissioned rangers from Lord Garben to search for survivors and have enlisted a few others in our quest."
DM: Your brother steps around an old log and sits to listen to you. "I am surprised that you of your name and fortune can find trust within a man so fickle, nor he within yourself..."
Xavier: "You do know of my misdeeds then." I don't say it like a question.
DM: "We have watched very closely the evolution of what Greentree has become... not that you have had any small part in that."
Xavier: "I fought for my mortal lord and did my duty. Upon the time of war, I did my part. I had no alliances to this nation."
DM: He nods and waves his hand to cut you short... "You sought me out with a question to the good of our nation?"
Xavier: "As I have spoken of before, we must rebuild a nation for the good of the people that live there. You have the key to the vault of our ancestors...I cannot fund the entire reconstruction by myself. Also, I...the people too...need the two brothers of Elestinlor to be as one to unite them in this time. You must see that. I know that you are not a fool and that...if I can trust the rumors...have been in the company of Kith Tal. He would...should have...given you advice on what there is to be done...in regards to retaking Greentree, but that is also applicable to Elestinlor."
DM: "He and I have spoken much, on many matters including those. He is a great man."
Xavier: "I agree. I only wish that one day I will be able to look him in the eyes without shame."
DM: "You would do well to avoid him... he has very little respect for you at the moment...."
Xavier: I sit on a log before talking more. "That I can believe. I was chosen by the One to be a teacher, but I was the one who had much to learn. My calling was as yours is. One that is strong, but filled with changes."
DM: He grins at you and speaks softly, "Sometimes I am led to wonder whether either of us is worthy to lead a nation or fit to be king."
Xavier: "Apart, we are not. Together, we are. I thought--"
DM: "I'll not share the crown with you, brother."
Xavier: "I don't expect you to. But, you are not the only one that loves Elestinlor and not the only one that the people will be lead by. I don't want the bloody crown. I had thought you had abandoned hope of rebuilding Elestinlor. I am sorry, brother. I will be your hands if you allow it. I have nothing...NOTHING...else."
DM: He speaks quietly, "I want to ..." then softer still, "There is a trouble of duty that weighs my heart. I am bound by oath here, to rid a nation of a tyrant and traitor, bound by my own honor of what is right and bound to those here I call friend, but I long for the pines of the forests of OUR homeland and know the needs of the people there are growing as the summer's heat begins to fade.... I have duty to the companions I have met here and duty to my nation, neither of which my honor will let me resign from." He pauses, "There is much to consider, is there not?"
Xavier: "A great deal. I have wondered if we could strengthen the nation by bargaining with the stone giants of the north. Also, a druid of Baast has claimed the lands of our home."
DM: "The same stone giants who refused to intercede at our request against the hordes of evil which assaulted their lowlands and our homes?"
Xavier: "They were afraid. WE were afraid."
DM: "Sometimes I find them as much traitors to the land as Kith-Tal finds you a traitor to his, 'God'."
Xavier: "I was confused, brother. I was powerful with the might of Life and he disappeared. I thought that Duty would shield me forever and he too was cut from the realm. What was I to think?" I ask, near tears.
DM: "Aye, you and I... we have both have had our share of conflict in duty."
Xavier: "I will be your hands if you will let me. When I get the first of the people together, you must come with me to greet them. It will only take a day and it is important."
DM: "I know... but I should present myself to the people... There can be no confusion to the ruling hand of the country, not for your sake or mine, but in the hearts of the people it is all the difference."
Xavier: "If you do not show yourself in the beginning, they will think me the king. Regardless of how much I tell them to the contrary. You know that as well as I."
DM: "That is why I say what I have and why I am torn by my honor at the moment.... there is no simple answer to these tasks I have set before myself."
Xavier: "You needn't be there all the time, Gamiliel. You only need to show yourself at the times most important to them."
DM: "But it is so far. To fulfil such duties needs that I must be informed of the goings here and there."
Xavier: "I will know what is going on down there. I can get you when things require you to be there. Severwind must be able to help in that somehow. Right?"
DM: "I had not considered such... I'll have to ask him... perhaps he could fashion something for my use to assist in keeping me informed of the goings on of both places."
Xavier: "Perhaps something that would link us telepathically or some such so that I could find you wherever you were or you me."
DM: "I will speak to him on the matter."
Xavier: "I apologize for what I did a few months ago. That matter between you and Varana meeting. I was worried for you."
DM: "Never the less... he will meet his maker," he says with vengence in his voice.
Xavier: "Remember in your honor though that martyrdom is only good if the people have reason to take you as a martyr. You can do better alive...for both places...than you can dead."
DM: "Varana, the traitorous bastard, will not have a happy life upon the throne, I may not cross his sword personally, but I'll have my hand in everything that brings him despair and brings him down."
Xavier: "Garben would help if you asked. He has... talents. For that matter, so do I. I may not be a cleric anymore, but I have the knowledge. The battle training and the understanding of placement. I am still a priest...though only in the name. I will handle those problems myself."
DM: "How can you continue to deceive yourself of being a priest? Bring the people faith, but you can teach them honor without homage to a god who you have abandoned and who has abandoned you in turn."
Xavier: "As you are bound to two duties, so am I. I do not deceive myself. I know that I will never have the favor that other do, but I can still teach the word and teach of the ways that power can corrupt."
DM: "You don't need to teach it in the context of your former religious views.... nor practice it or... for that matter why encourage people to consider a god worthy of worship who had abandoned you. Even if you do so with pure heart in your belief, people will call you a fake, a heretic, a hypocrite for preaching such in a god's name from whom you garner no support."
Xavier: "He abandoned me, brother. That's how I saw it until I was shown that Shaitan had his hand in that."
DM: "But in doing so you jeopardize yourself and become into a place of possible conflict between yourself and that god's followers who do have his support."
Xavier: "Why do I need to show the tricks if I can get the people to understand without them. This has nothing to do with Elestinlor, this has to do with MY honor. You speak of yours, but now, I speak of mine. I hold in my possession one of Daer Koch's most powerful tomes. I would return it to him myself if I could."
DM: "You should do him honor by placing it into the hands of an accepted believer such as Kith-Tal, one to whom the people can listen to with out being deceived as to the nature of the one who speaks to them. And rightly so, perhaps such an act could keep his blade from your throat as it would symbolize to him an acceptance of your wrongdoing and an attempt on your part to remedy what is right."
Xavier: "The One walks the earth himself. He gave me my title himself, so shall I give him back his word... myself."
DM: "I think that Kith-Tal is in a better position to determine what Daer-Koch's 'word' really is and that if anyone is to present the book into the 'gods' hands that it should be one who represents that god."
Xavier: I speak a bit angerily, "Do you not see the crest on my plate? Have you not heard what I have said?"
DM: "Yes brother, but that crest, which you insist is your right to wear, is no longer your crest, nor your right. If you truly hold respect for your god then you should respect his dismissal of you from his ranks and resign his symbols back to him and those who are fit in his eyes to hold or present such."
Xavier: "I accepted what I did from whom I did because I wanted more people to follow Him. Where is Kith-Tal?"
DM: "He is at the redoubt, in the company of the others."
Xavier: "Take me to him," I say with complete conviction and no-back-talk intentions.
DM: "He'll kill you if you have made no penance for Him!"
Xavier: "Penance? Such as?"
DM: "For him to see you wearing a standard of Daer-Koch is profanity in his eyes, to deny him his right to possess the book upon your first visit to him is to say that he is unfit, more so then yourself."
Xavier: I begin to remove my plate. "I have all that he needs. I have the book."
DM: "You should at least remove your sigil from your armor, clean your mind of its thoughts of duty to Daer-Koch, much in the manner that a general who has retired from an army no longer bears its standard."
Xavier: "You forget which of us is schooled in the cleansing of the mind, brother. I would see Kith-Tal." Utter determination burns in my eyes. "Take me to him."
DM: "Let me at least go before you, brother, so I may speak to him before you place your life at his hands."
Xavier: "Perhaps he would respect my deed if I did put myself at his mercy. He'll not attack me if I am unarmed or unarmored. That would be a transgression on his behalf. I still know the rules." I say with a melancholy smile.
DM: "He would respect you perhaps more if you were to refrain from profaning what is blessed to him as well... don't take up the standard of that god, brother, it is for your sake and good."
Xavier: "We'll need him for Elestinlor, Gamiliel. If he can't respect me for myself and understand what has happened, we'll lose him."
DM: "Kith-Tal and I are not upon even grounds as to the recognition of Elestinlor's sovereignty. It is a subject that we do not speak of in respect for each others loyalties."
Xavier: "I knew that Greentree's lords wanted Elestinlor! Remember, I still hold title in Greentree. No lands, but title."
DM: "Under what name," he asks, appalled, "Do they know who YOU really are?"
Xavier: "Granted to me after the war by Varana and the Council. I hold no loyalties to Greentree, but still possess the title. A grudging respect is afforded me in the capital. Varana, Nicodemus, Garben...enough of them do."
DM: "Brother, if they have not rescinded your title yet, then I would be very careful indeed about where you bring up your claim in fear of the results that you may acquire in the process."
Xavier: "They undoubtedly mean to use me as a lever against you. Won't they be surprised. Remember that the last time they saw us together, we were at each other's throats."
DM: "There are people on that council more worldly then you or I brother, don't believe that you can predict their uses quite so easily, you'll be caught the fool if you do."
Xavier: "Not everyone can know everything all of the time. Do you think you have spies here? We waste time. Let us be off to Kith-Tal."
DM: "Just because it has not been proven does not eliminate that possibility, despite our precautions. There are those here who would call you such even... mind you..."
Xavier: "Let them. Fools often brand that which they are too blind to see. I will let you lead as you have suggested to Kith-Tal."
DM: "Let me bring Kith Tal to you... it would make it easier since you are not accepted as reliable in our camp by all who are there... and to bring him to you will give me time to speak with him before you two meet as well as time for you to decide what you wish to say."
Xavier: "So be it."
DM: "There is a grove of stones atop that nearby hill, you can see their tops from here.... meet me there. I will arrive before nightfall."
Xavier: "Take care."
DM: "Be well brother." With that, the dark painted face of your brother disappears into the forest, his travels taking him away from your view.
Xavier: I wait until he is out of my view and earshot before heading to the grove. When I get there (assuming I am not assaulted by some terrible creature) I find a stone that I can use as a table upon which to place the book and the armor. I wait behind the stone so as to be seen as they enter the grove.
DM: The afternoon passes. The grove is a tall circular barrier of ancient granite shoved from the ground. At one end there is a small pass into the grove and scattered about within there are many smaller stones, some large as a table, most small enough as to be uncomfortable to sit upon, nothing grows in here except for a couple weeds here and there. As evening approaches you hear the familiar sound of chain mail and steel, the approach of Kith-Tal and your brother, a more silent hunter now, as they climb the hill to where you rest within the grove. From around the rocks entrance arrives the form of your brother, dressed in his older battle garb, a favorite set of his many, his golden sword rests at his side. After he has stepped in, a moment passes like a heartbeat and then before you you find the dauntingly powerful figure of Kith-Tal Thasoon, in the full garb of a warrior and paladin of Daer-Koch. His dark eyes survey the ruins of the glade and find you presenting yourself to his mercy, without escape. "Xavier, I see you."
Xavier: "Kith-Tal, I see you." I bow my head slightly.
DM: "Why do you present yourself to my justice, Xavier La'Kithsoon?"
Xavier: "I present myself with an honor that for a time I had forgotten. I have come to remedy what I can knowing full-well that I will never heal the scars. I put myself at your mercy to judge as you will in the name of...Duty." I go to my knees in front of him, head bowed, silver sword upraised to him in supplication.
DM: "I have spoken with your brother, a man who understands the honor I profess and that you seem to seek. My justice is this, you, once friend, I cannot hold in regard other than that of my worst enemy. It is a sad thing sp have to say so, but there is a greater purpose here. Do you understand this?"
Xavier: "I understand all that you have said and feel regret for more than you can imagine."
DM: He gravely speaks, but with sureness that you envy, conviction you once might have had for Daer-Koch, "My justice is this then. Before me, I will grant you death by the honorable hand of Daer-Koch, if your profession of faith is indeed sincere. If not, you must leave His side and finish what you started. Separate yourself from His possessions and become no more then a godless man."
Xavier: "My life or my honor? They are as one, but I have those that would need me to guide them. I vow not to preach the word as I did as Teacher, but I WILL guide one to the One if he seeks enlightenment. This I vow, on the souls of my ancestors."
DM: "I'll not hold you to your vow before you know this, Xavier, I will hunt you and kill you should you seek to appoint yourself worthy to lead ANYONE to the steps of Daer-Koch, for any purpose. Do you still want me to accept your vow?"
Xavier: "You would rather I turn away one who would believe because you think I cannot love Him?"
DM: "Daer-Koch will choose others more fitting to lead people to him. This is no longer your duty, no longer your right!"
Xavier: "I have already denounced my role as Teacher, Kith-Tal! I have the right...as does anyone... to send him to the steps of Daer-Koch. I will not try to teach anyone myself, but will let them know where they can find the word." My eyes nearly brim with tears.
DM: "Then send them to me or another who has Daer-Koch's word within them, but I warn you to not give more counsel than this."
Xavier: "I have already vowed not to. You have my word. I hope that one day, we can speak together as we once did. Things will never be the same, but I know that you can tell what I feel for what I have done. For the justice you have given me, I will owe you forever. For the justice Daer-Koch has given me, I will pledge to hold His truth and justice and never break the vow I have given to you."
DM: "I hear your vow. Be warned Xavier," he solemnly speaks, with rancor in his voice, "you are as a worm to me, and I will not stay my hand from your demise should it interfere in my path to the justice of the One." He stops, and then sadly says, "It is not with pride that I say these words, but I am mortal as yourself, take care Xavier, I ask you not to force me to the lengths I must fulfill. I do not forget the righteous service you once fulfilled yourself, and part of my mortal soul would be saddened despite the affront you present to everything I hold dear."
Xavier: I stand to face, "Kith-Tal, may your blade always be as keen as your heart and may you guide the world to the heavens in the name of the One. You were always better than I in the Word and I always felt a fraud to be called Lord of the North under His name. You are the true Lord of the North and will always be. I would consider you friend if you would have me. I will never speak of Him again to you or in your presence. I hope that you might see me as who I was when first we met and not as one who served or desecrated what we both have loved. I still hold you as my brother and see in you what I would be if I could ever find such heart as you possess." I extend my arm to him, I hope he'll take it.
DM: "Alas, friendship was not meant for us two in this life. I cannot entirely forget our past, but it is no longer fitting," the shield of impassiveness returns to his face, "for you and I to embrace as brothers. I must leave you. Good-bye."
Xavier: "Good bye, Kith-Tal Thasoon."
DM: Kith-Tal takes your book and armor, then turns away to leave, upon his back you can sense the weight of duty which must consume him. He nods his head to whatever is before him, begins to walk out, and disappears from sight. From outside of the rocks you hear his voice raise in a mighty cry, "TO THE ONE! HONOR IN THIS LAND I WILL SOW! TO THE ONE!
Xavier: I turn to Gamaliel, "That was the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn't feel as much grief when I built the monument to the death of our homeland. Oh, gods, what did I do?" I weep heavily on his shoulder.
DM: "He's let you start anew brother... you should take care and fill your soul with other things before it is led astray to lesser deeds, now that you see clearly."
Xavier: "Then, I shall fill it with the Rebirth. We must speak on this more Gamiliel. Have you had a chance to talk to Severwind?"
DM: "No, I had not the time. I'll return these to Kith-Tal.... though I don't know what he will do with them, and find some armor for you to replace it. I'll leave you here brother. You have things to think upon and, sadly, are not welcome in our camp."
Xavier: Once he answers, we trail off into discussion of smaller points and then I become lost in my own thoughts.
DM: With a cautious turn of his lips, almost a smile, he nods. "We will see what can be done, but it is honorable that you earn your garb and not receive it from my hand. I'll give to you no more then you had under the protection of these older garments."
Xavier: "I will wait until the morrow, brother. I can stay from the Lands no longer."
DM: "You will return to the forest of Elestinlor?"
Xavier: "On the morrow? Tonight, I will stay under the stars of this land, in this Grip of Stone."
DM: He nods. "I'll seek you out soon. Take care in the interim. Beware not to fall to hopelessness brother."
Xavier: "I will see you in the morning, my Lord of Elestinlor. To the days to come and the new-born glory of our homeland." Conviction swells in my heart.
DM: "To the glory of Elestinlor!" he pronounces. He smiles at you then gathers the things laying about. "Goodnight brother."
Xavier: "Good night. See to Kith-Tal for me."
DM: He leaves you in peace, nodding in ascent to your request, surrounded by the walls of granite and beneath the clear deep blue of the late summer sky.