A Most Divine Task
I managed to hurry up donning my garb, weapons, and plate mail for the sake of courtly appearances. Me and Stonehands walked and talked, catching up, him filling me in on our potential comrades to be. “So yea, I saw your name, mine, a Cisarovna person and Inquisitor Adra. I was told that this Adra is also of Silver Flame. I tried to see her earlier but couldn’t find her at the church” On the walk to the grand meeting in the hall of the Sword Lords, he explained a bit that he recently took to joining the Church Of The Silver Flame and in turn would get a reward. He didn’t want to discuss the matter much but promised later when there was ample time, he would do so.
“Wow so there is a Cisarovna to join us? That is good to know.” I said to him as he told me of the names. “Yea, says right here Sir Boris Cisarovna. So you know the name eh? He famous or somethin?” he said. “Well I have not heard of him specifically. His family name definitely. Great family of hunters. They have a penchant for the undead. Also high nobility as well. I believe they are directly married into family of the Sword Lords. Oh and their house is devoted to the pantheon of the Sovereign Host” I tell him. “ Yea well nice then eh? You get another Host buddy to tag along with and I get someone from my order as well. I jus hope this Inquisitor Adra lass is swell. Ill say this, the little time I have spent with the church though, seem a whole lota tham hava a stick firmly placed up thar arse” he remarked. I chuckled at his accent changing midway through. I will never not find that funny.
We finally get to the place, with a crowd of nobles flooding in, a slight mix of odd assortment of folk that looked like they could be tradesmen and mercenaries. This is a different scene. While we were making our way up the steps to the central hall, which was essentially a waiting room, Stonehands started to giggle a bit. “Oh crap, something just hit meh. There is a whole lotta nobles present and such. Does that mean I have to address ye as Sir Cedric?” I looked to see Stonehands smiling. He knows I partially dislike being called that. “I take it your going to be condescending when you say that aren’t you?” I glance at him, while I search the crowd of people arriving into the central hall.
“Now whatever would ya mean Sir Cedric Fellstorm. Aye couldn’t eva speak to a mon of your reach, noble blud in such a tone” he said condescendingly in his changing accent. I jabbed my elbow lightly against the side of his head in jest as we were then greeted by an approaching figure. I could tell just by his walk, the way he carried himself, he had a certain air of confidence about him. To an extent that some might mistake it for cockiness. He had a fixed sly grin on his face, like he knew something that others did not.
“Hail friend! I notice by your coat of arms that you are from Garress, of the Fellstorm line? You wouldn’t happen to be Sir Cedric would you?” said the man. “Aye this is Sir Cedric Fellstorm!” Stonehands said quickly, giving me a mocking grin. Ooh I know he is going to be annoying me with that all day, I just know it. I held out my hand to the man, “Yes, I am Cedric, by your crest I only assume you are a Cisarovna?” The man, who had a medium build, stark blue eyes, short jet black hair, wooden cross worn around his neck, complete mithral armor, a decorated cape of the Sovereign Host, with sword and shield .“Boris Cisarovna, cleric extraordinaire, hunter of undead and foul beasts by trade, at your service” as he shook my hand. “Well you already know who I am apparently, Cedric Fellstorm, paladin of Dol Arrah. Well met Sir Boris. Oh and this is my friend and our other companion. Stonehands Bloodbeard, armor smith, poor monkey trainer by craft and professional drinker of anything that could blind a man in a pint of consumption” while I pat Stonehands on the back. He looks up at me to glower while holding his hand out to Boris. “Oh Sir Cedric, you honor me with your kind words, that you give such a lowly dwarf as I, a stunning, if I dare not say, an epic introduction” once again in a dry tone with his eyes squinted. I chuckle a tad shaking my head at his response.
Boris looked at both of us with a bit of a puzzled expression. He just remained smiling, shook Stonehands well…hand. “So now that I have found you both, were is this Inquisitor?” said Boris. “I dunno but I was by the Church Of Silver Flame earlier but they said that she stormed off in a fury around morning time. She might just show up out of no where, I dunno.” Stonehands said with a shrug. “So this Inquisitor Adra is of the Silver Flame? I am to take you are part of the order as well Mr. Bloodbeard?” Stonehands gave the cleric a bit of a sour look. He disliked being addressed as “Mister” as much as I disliked being addressed as “Sir”. What can I say, him and I are weird like that.
“Yea I am of the order. They told me that they were sending another one of us to this summon of thee Sword Lords. So I went to go find her and it turned up bupkis” Boris looked back at the gathering crowd. “Well I do hope she shows up. We are to be summoned soon by the Sword Lords” he said.
Boris went back to a group of people nearby decorated with the same coat of arms as his while me and Stonehands waited patiently. “Kid called me mister. I don’t like him” he finally said. “Oh calm down, he was just being polite” I reply back. “Oh and I am not a poor monkey trainer, I will have you know I trained dozens of fine helper monkeys!” as his voice started to raise.
“If I remember, when I visited you years ago to have my armor made, a monkey of yours actually fell into forge while handing you vials. There is a reason you had to train dozens, they keep dying.” Stonehands shook his head. “Not my fault the damn things are clumsy. I train them fine though. I will show you the new Morgan when we go back to your place later.” Ah my friend and his penchant for primates. “This one better not throw poop and start fires. I also remember that being a personality quirk of another one your monkeys when I was a child” I said.
A house speaker told everyone that the Sword Lords would be holding attendance and anyone who had anything to do with them were to prepare themselves. Me, Stonehands, and Boris handed our letter of summon to the speaker and he said it would only take a moment. Not long after that, we were to enter The Sword Lord’s chambers when introduced. The speaker came to the front entrance of the chamber and bellowed “Sir Cedric Fellstorm of House Garress” as I approached. “Sir Boris Cisarovna, of House Cisarovna” the speaker continued as Boris followed closely behind me. “Stonehands Bloodbeard, Order of the Silver Flame” with Stoney shuffling along keeping up with Boris and I. All three of us looked back and there was nobody else. After a few seconds, which at the time and place felt like a drawn out hour, the speaker yelled out again. “Inquisitor Adra Kellen, Order of the Silver Flame.
The female who appeared before us was decently tall for a woman, just a bit under six feet. I could tell, even underneath her pristine leather riding jacket and loose silk clothing, that she had a lithe and surely well toned build. She had blond hair that stopped just at a little above chin length, in a style that accentuated the well formed bone structure of her face. Her eyes, green as malachite, were piercing and the most apparent feature about her in general. This though is were all the lovely female pleasantries ended. Though she had a body that could easily have a swagger to her walk that would make men stare, she did not. She walked with a serious, militant purpose. One of which showed she meant business and business only. Her eyes, though lovely, had a fixed, far gaze. It looked very similar to how some soldiers develop the “thousand yard stare” after a long and fierce battle. Though it was the look on her face that sealed it. Upon her face she wore an expression that was so cold, so hard, that by comparison, made steel seem brittle. She walked up beside us, fixated on the Sword Lords, not even once looking at or acknowledging anyone else.
The Sword Lords appeared before us, in all their regal glory. Leaders that attain rank by prominence in battle, they were surely an order that I had the utmost respect for. To take on a quest from them is an honor and a privilege. I could tell by Boris’s face he felt the same. Stonehands seemed partially indifferent. This Inquisitor though, I…could not pick up anything however. The Sword Lords ran down want they wanted us to do. With hostility rising within the kingdom, there needed to be a safeguard. We were to go to the Greenbelt out in the Stolen Lands, apply order and see what there would be to settle, and how conditions fared. This would be done in an effort so if the country to the southwest of Rhestilor were to attack in the event of a civil war, there would be a buffer there. We were scheduled to depart in a months time and all traveling needs paid for in full. All four of us bowed, nodded, and left the chambers.
Outside all of us gathered and discussed what we had just told to us. “Well, a whole month till we depart. Gives us time to relax and prepare ourselves. You and I have more time than I thought to catch up” I say to Stonehands. “Yup, yup. Ya know what that means. Got got a lot of drinking to catch up on” beamed Stonehands. “I did not hear of our reward for this task though. I understand the importance but what of payment? Or is there to be some when its complete? My family rarely ever handle tasks like this for free” said Boris lost in thought. “It’s your duty within your house and your country to do your job and not expect coin!” snapped Adra. All three of us turn towards Adra in a bit of shock that she finally even spoke.
All of us noticed Inquisitor Adra turned away from the group and went to marking down notes in a journal of sorts that she pulled out of I know not where. She was heavily invested into the book and not all into the conversation. I walked toward her and than began to hear that she was muttering under her breath “Damn nobles. Get everything handed to them and yet they expect more. Pompous fool.” “Hello there miss, pleasure to meet you. Cedric Fellstorm, at your service” I said nicely with my hand extended for a handshake. She stopped writing in her journal and briskly put it away into one of her many pockets inside her coat. She eyed me up and down, still with little to no expression on her face, stared at my hand and then back at me. “Sir Cedric” she said with a nod, while finally shaking my hand. Stonehands and Boris stepped up to introduce themselves in the same manner as I. She looked at them in the same way she looked at me, in a harsh judging manner. Though unlike me, she simply stepped away from their outstretched hands, and walked away from the group. “Man what a frosty bitch. See what I mean about the others in the church being like that. Stick. Firmly. Up. Ass” Stonehands growled. “Now whatever did I do to upset her? I dare say that is not the proper way for a woman to act, let alone someone within our group” said Boris.
“Well I have no clue but it appears that I did not pose an issue to her” I said to the two while watching Adra disappear down the street. “That must mean she likes me. At least definitely more than both of you.”
“Which is an issue I want to talk about pretty boy. I know how you are with the female types so let’s get one thing straight. Whatever you do, please, don’t fuck her” Stonehands said to me with a serious look on his face. “Whatever do you mean? Did you see how she acted in general. Modest respect towards me maybe, interest though? I think not.” I reply back. “Ya right, I seen a sour bitch all the sudden melt like butter in front of you. Don’t do anything. We have to work with her, we don’t need any drama or conflict within this group” with Stonehands firmly poking my chest with his finger. “No, trust me, I would not. She is simply a member of the group and nothing more. Besides I am not at all attracted. Woman has the warmth of a winter breeze.” I assured him. Stonehands sighed at me and nodded his head reassuringly. “Well good, just don’t go poking your manhood in anyone that could stand to cause trouble while we are doing this task”
Boris was looking at us with a slightly appalled face while we were talking. “You two should stop talking about things like this in public. Especially you, Sir Fellstorm, a paladin of all people. Where is your vow of chastity? I would have expected such talk from the dwarf but you?” Boris said with an authoritative tone. “Ooh cause all dwarves are sleazy eh?” Stonehands barked. “My vows say nothing of chastity Sir Boris, besides I am sure your family has had more than many of the similar encounters than I have” I also reply.
I made sure to step in front of Stonehands for Boris’s safety. “I mean you are a family of hunters. Constantly travel out to hunt into other lands and reaches. Be honest, its not so farfetched that while traveling abroad that you and your brothers share a night with, well….a broad?” I say with a chuckle. “No such thing, I assure you” Boris said with a straight face. Stonehands stepped out from behind me, smiling at my previous remark. “Oh I dunno Cedric, I can totally see that. Them going out to hunt down a mythical beast that is making trouble for a small town. During their time in the town, they end up finding a nice lass. Before they know it, they are messing with a different kind of beast. The beast with two backs”
Me and Stonehands crack up laughing, we tried to get Boris in on it but he just shook his head. “Look, we are a proud and noble family. We do no such thing. If we could put this matter behind us I would ask if you wanted to come visit and stay at our family’s grounds for the month.” Boris said as he calmed down. “I appreciate your hospitality, though I will stay at my family grounds. I have much catching up to do with some family and my dear friend here” I motion towards Stonehands. “Maybe later though you can catch up with us for a drink at The Broken Stilt”. Boris nodded, with that all knowing smile returning to his face. “It would be a pleasure. What of you Mr. Bloodbeard? Do you require any lodgings?” Once again Stonehands had that looked that being called mister would bring. “Naw, I well be wit Cedric and ’is famileh for da time bein” he replied with his accent becoming mixed yet again.
Me and Stonehands parted ways with Boris and set off to my family residence. The first night he finally told me of everything that has happened to him. About becoming horribly scarred from an accident, no longer being able to work the forge properly. For his ailment, the dwarves of Hammerfist Hold did not seek to aid him but instead exile him. They had him leave almost all of his possessions, his family and his home. Watching my friend tell me this story while a few tears of his streamed into his cup of mead, a realization hit me. I could comfort my friend all I wanted. I could say anything and everything, though as bad as I felt, I would never understand his plight. I left home 13 years ago and never stood in one place for more than two months. Though even as a child, I was traveling a lot with my father and siblings. So I never felt like I had a true home. As for family, as much as I love them, I truly do, it was different. I had not spent much time with them over the years and missed out on a lot of important moments in their lives. Stonehands however is much older. Over a hundred to be sure. In all this time he even had a family of his own. To be forced from your parents, your wife of about 70 odd years, and even your own children. This was something I could never understand. In that moment my world felt very empty. Maybe…just maybe after all of this is settled, after our task with the Sword Lords is complete, I might settle down. Try to establish and do good in some other form. Leave it to another person to show you just how much you are missing out on.
For a whole month, I partied, relaxed, had fun. Stonehands loosened up a bit too. Boris even visited a few times on occasion to The Broken Stilt and had a few rounds with us. It was good. After a few pints any tension or questions that were there, melted away. Then we were all singing and having a good time and found common ground with each other. In all the time, we never once saw or heard from Adra. One night me and Stonehands got drunk then decided to find her at the church and ask her if there was a Silver Flame store. Yes, I know. Alcohol skews the thinking process. Much to our dismay, she was not at the church. Nor obviously was there a Silver Flame store heh.
The month sped by in a drunken blur of which I can only assume most of which was a good time. Stonehands and I packed up and were dropped off by the stables near the town gate, who was waiting there sitting and writing in her book, our Inquisitor Adra. “You are both late” she said sternly. Stonehands gave me that certain disgruntled look of his which I quickly waved off. “Our apologies, for which we will make up for immediately. She pointed to a wagon, horse, a few stable-hands, and a royal officer nearby. The officer gave up the letter of edict to show to anyone, if need be, the nature of our business should it need to come up. He then discussed that there was a trading post about a three days ride out that they have not heard from for about a month or so. So if there was anything to establish first, it would be that. Sir Boris then rode in on a horse of his own with a small carriage behind with a small trunk of his. “I cannot wait to leave. Behind city walls for more than a month makes a man grow claustrophobic. Plus I need a good hunt soon..” I greeted Boris upon his horse and told him of the Oleg trading post which was mentioned to us prior to his arrival. We all didn’t notice but Adra had apparently went into the stable and appeared with a horse of her own, all saddled and prepared. She looked Boris dead in the eye “You are even later” to which she followed with a sigh. “Plus your inclination that you think you are to go off on a hunt would be poor judgment on your part. We have a job. Let’s stick to it.”
Boris shot back the response “My god demands hunt soon. I wish to appease. I am sure we can find some agreement to come to on the matter soon.” It was then she finally showed a different expression. A harsh sneer. “Oh right, your god Balinor…how…quaint “ she remarked. “Ok now one thing first, lets find this trading post, then we shall put on a list of things to do” I said trying to ease the tension. Everyone quickly made sure to verify that their belongings were loaded onto the wagon and everything was set into order. Adra immediately rode out ahead on her horse with Boris slowly following. Stonehands took up the reins of the wagon as I settled next to him in the drivers seat. He cracked the reins against the horse to get the wagon moving and we began a steady pace with our other companions out of the city, into the awaiting wilds.
Stonehands sighed dejectedly while looking at our other comrades. “Vhy iz it that I feel they vill become most annoying. “Well Boris’s isn’t so bad. A bit battle hungry for a cleric but overall a nice fellow. He was fine when we all drank together” I said. “Vell anyone is fine when zey got booze in zem” he said in his mixed accent. “Adra though, I don’t know. Even if she isn’t loquacious, she is of your order. Regardless, knowing her type, she will do a lot of good on this quest” as I smile. “It will be fine Stoney. I am sure of it.” Stonehands forced a smile at me. “I am sure your right. Two members of The Silver Flame, two members of The Sovereign Host. Looks like we got ourselves here a most divine task” he said. I smiled back at him and then stared out to the road that would take us onward to our journey. The short silence was cut by the sound of a screaming monkey in the back of the wagon, apparently locked in a trunk. “Awww dammit. Cedric can you go back there and help Morgan out. Forgot I locked the little guy in there”. I closed my eyes and sighed. Now there is the one thing on this quest that I know will annoy me.