“Leave it all alone, I say. Be and let be, pay no mind to what any of ‘em say.”

“I’ll tell ya what the’ say, now. The end is what it is. Turn yer nose as ya will.”

“Seers about. An’ far too many fer my likin’. Ever’ time one mutters a word, kings listen and dwarf and men die.”

“Harlin, you give the wild abouts far too much to stand on when they’re about blatherin’ the futcha. No man worth his wits listens to the snipin’ and alley speak they preach to any of small mind who’ll listen.”

“Trinkets and artifacts. Got no uses for any of it. I stand on the old ways. Wily magic brings about strife we’re not accustomed t’deal with.”

“If it’s an artifact that brings about the rains, then a’ wulcome it. Rains mean crops. Fine harvests.”

“Muershaden knows rains, Master Duk, and thrives well. But shud the southlands flood then whar do w’stand? Famine and more. Make us ripe for the plunderin’ from the narth.”

“Aye. You speak as if our harvests remain strong. The yield falls short each year. And don’t think fat kings are anxious to share their stores.”



“Yeh know what ah think. Kraymorden knows well where this artifact exists. I’s the fukin heart, the Darquland Heart. They unleash it a bit each year to agitate the balance. Soon, them fukin monsters from Tansieria will be crossin’ the chasm, I tell ya. Comin’ fer us.”

“Wishin’ don’ make it true. I’d give up fishin’ The Salt to take up arms against the Tans. I’d walk ‘em across the chasm myself just to start somethin’.”

“Walk ‘em across Handaris? Even for a Stump, wouldn’t be wise.”

“Yah wull, Fuk Handaris.”

“……”

“Easy lad. To speak ill of the Temple, is to speak ill of the All Gods.”

“Not wise. The Marquis has ears everywhere. Ya don’ care ta be fingered, now does ya?”

“Eh, fuk the Marquis and the holy arses they ride.”

“I’s not the holy arses ya need to be wary of, but the blades on either side of their holy arses.”



They say to catch the lay of the land in Muershaden, one has only to find themselves a warm and sturdy pine in most any cozy tavern. While waiting to administer a small lesson in history and events unfolding to be told, a pint or three will hold off the demon buzz of gossip and patrons fraught with their own tales, but before the day’s end none in any quaint fish town are able to share quite like the Sephers.

Quite recently I sated my thirst at such an inn, awaiting a bed with a mug of brown ale, a serving of oxtail soup and some tasty oaten bread. The Bull & Butcher was of standard fare for a tavern, on the road just north of Anstag, but not unclean like many fishing taverns I’ve found through my travels in West Muershaden. 

And it was a late summer day, unseasonably warm, heading into the days of the Harvest Moons of Hextor. T’was the time of the Marquis who were known well to extract penny and penance from such travelers as myself, though never too much to discourage me or my kin. We traveled Muershaden here and about, sharing the fate and state of affairs like few others were able, sharing tales that delivered both hope and warning, as well as merriment and trepidation. On this day it brought me to the Bull & Butcher and afforded me a fine meal before I stood and dusted off my cloak, making my way up to the tavern bar. I cannot say I did not enjoy the notice of the fishing dwarves deep-rooted in their cups as they tried to recount just how long I had sat among them.

“Hush with ya, now. We got company amongst us.”

“One o’ them seers.”

“Not a seer a’tall. I hear they wear the white in their hair…an’ they’re pretty much not men, regardless of how sweet they may look.”

“Don’ speak at him an’ he’ll be on his way quick ‘nough.”

“Not a seer, but perhaps a singer, lads,” I recounted, hoping to ease my presence. “Play for a drink and share a tale. The land changes beneath our feet as I walk and witness the histories taking shape about us from Tansieria down to the Southlands. I am a Sepher, like my father, his, and the cousins and kin we call our own. To some we spin knowledge, to others but a pleasant rhyme.”

“Ah don’ need a singer in my tavern, sir. M’ sister’s daughter offers up all the tunes we c’n suffer and we’ve grown to be glad about our times of less merriment.”

“I understand your pain, friend. I’ve suffered a fortnight in the Troll-skins where I was to endure the drone of orc and ogre as they played the skulls of goblins each night and then cackled like wash-women through the days. If not for a hollow sentinel tree on the Bone Ridge to offer me refuge, I’d well have jumped to my death and embraced the silence that awaited me. So I’ll not sing tonight but will pluck my lute and share with you some things you may have heard but I’m to wager some things you have not. Serve it up, sir. I’ll pay you thrice when I’m done if my value does not exceed a small ransom.”

“Yer not a singer, sir, but a Sepher?”

“A Sepher I am. Far from a seer, but it is the seers we speak of in many taverns today, yes. Popping about all through the king cities. The blinds, some with no eyes, some with thin wrappings about their heads, but they are truly the most soft spoken of the lot. They surrender their sight for true sight into the future and my how they gain an audience. Any that think themselves enlightened stop and take notice when they speak. And they speak openly of the stones. Corner stones, earth stones, gem stones, sorcery stones or heart stones, they speak of their importance and they’ve got the ears of nobles rushing to appease them in their efforts to preserve this world.”

“The one I saw wasn’t blind, Sepher. Ah felt as if I might be after I seen her.”

“Ah, Master Dwarf. The Sirens, you speak of. Rare in these parts, so far from The Chasm. Of magical beauty and sight so perfect they can see not only the woman you’re to marry but her ugly sister you’re to bed just to get that chance introduction. They don’t need kings to listen to them as there’s not a man alive that won’t drop his house shield to follow what she bids. And the Sirens speak of the Heart.”

“Then they speak of fables, Mr. Bard. This is nothing new, pretty women and their songs of temptation. One of you…Sephers, when through here last summer spoke old legends tied to an elfs age, an elf that aged well too long. Said they claimed it was all connected to artifacts and trinkets and weather and seasons of the gods. I called it then, like I calls it now. I’s all horsecock. There to keep us sacrificin’ our labor to kings and their gods.”

“Horsecock it is, sir. Yet this is one horse’s cock that has brought kings together to discuss at length. The Hall of Thorns just yesterday in Lokistan. Tor Harland brought them together, from King Morley’s Bride from Tansieria to Queen Marlinda from Estrawlia. Even King Jasmine from Brakenstone made the “journey” to the meeting. Never have you seen so many openly discount the existence of the Darquland Heart yet all in the same leave the rest to believe that should it exist, only they know where. They concede that until the Empire turns over the stones, the Heart will continue to grow more damaging. Storms, quakes, flood and famine as you say my good fisher folk. But how can they all come together when one side will not acknowledge the existence of the other. One side of the chasm knows the heart, the other the stones to control it. In the middle we have Handaris.”

“Ever time a seer opens her pretty mouth, we should stuff it, I say. Stuff it with my—“

“With fervor, Master Dwarf. With fervor. But kings listen to their advisors, especially those that can tell them should their picnic be rained upon or who will kill them in their sleep. What to do? The Sirens see the way of the Heart. The Blinds the way of the Empire and these scattered stones. A check upon us all, but one they both agree is bringing us closer to an impending destruction. And now, now a new seer emerges. Small in number but crosses The Chasm. They are of no loyalty, but they have gained the ear of many in power, or at least those that share the beds of those in power.”

“Let those unnatural beasts accept their fate. Heart or no heart, they’ll get their deserves.”

“But a second council takes place on this side of The Chasm. Early this morning. The Ladies Layla and Cynthia are both readying themselves to take measures with Handaris. Those who share power from Kraymorden wish to do the same.”

“We’ve nothin’ ta council about. Listenin’ to those like yerself, these stones don’t exist. Held by heroes from long ago, says the story. Held in pairs like stones are ta be held. Like mah stones. But no mattah, they’ve long since passed and even longer since tossed them. Mah bet, even if they did exist, they at the bottom of the Still Sea. Long gone to this world.”

“And your sources are clear and clean, sir. Mine are just those of Sephers made privy to king’s speak.”

“You mock me, singer? Ah’ll ‘ave yer tongue!”

“I don’t mock you, sir. For in a day where none seem to be the wiser, your wisdom is superiorly unburdened with neither insight nor substance.”

“Hrmph…’pology accepted.”

“I leave you this, good fishermen. The world is not as we see it. Kings and clergy agree only that there is little to agree upon. Rare is the instance that Kings will bow to their adversaries to preserve a world. Even more rare would be their clerics doing the same.

“I’ve listened to seers. Many as I’ve been able. So I tell you well, should you be given the opportunity, listen yourself and listen well. But realize, as I have, that not every future they see is our future. And not every future they see is a true future, regardless of how we may wish for it. 

“Now good sir, should you wish for me to encourage your young niece to sing, charge me for the pint and do not serve me another.”

  1. Merchant of Lokistan Said,

    Okay, hopefully this post sticks. Seventh time a charm!

  2. Merchant of Lokistan Said,

    clearly i'm posting above my pay grade.

     

    Publsihed in forums.

    No longer as enamored with this as I once was.

  3. Immolate Said,

    Articles are a bit more involved than forum posts. Check with Greg and make sure you have the necessary permissions, then if you need a walk-through, I can assist.

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