Episode 5: The Edict in East Gate Prose in Gokrenxia | World Anvil

Episode 5: The Edict in East Gate

Previously, on Tales of the Inner Council

After King Gajam Ch'luun's final decree dissolved of the monarchy of the fledgling Kingdom of Vath'azen, the newly established "Ruling Council" became aware of a mob of young, Kynekin nobles roaming the streets of the capital city of Stoverj, burning down houses and businesses of the Elves, Dwarves, and humans, collectively known as the Myndikin. Councilmen and Lords Davu Pa'lakh, the fox-like Grand Marshall, and the raven-like Chief Diplomat, Yahri Negdahe, rushed to address the issue.   The Grand Marshall crashed through the window of a burning house, saving a young human girl and her mother, narrowly escaping the fire through a secret underground tunnel. Outside, the Chief Diplomat was unable to contain the mob’s wrath with words and sustained significant injuries as they laid hands upon him. Standing over his injured colleague in a fit of rage, Davu murdered a young lizard-man known as Aabinus, sending the angry youth fleeing.

Tower Rooftop, Stoverj Keep

From a guard tower rooftop surrounding Stoverj Keep, Lord Davu Pa'lakh had an exceptional view of the bustling harbor docks. The late afternoon sun cast the tall wooden ships in warm browns and rich yellows. A light breeze from the Southeast caressed his still-singed whiskers, carrying upon it the faint scent of salt and the sea. He coughed as he attempted to take it in, his lungs still protesting the smoke he'd inhaled earlier in the day saving the young girl Katrina, and her family. His burns were minor, his thoughts heavy.   Lord Yahri Negdahe, the raven-like Shar’elum Chief Diplomat of Vath’azen, was resting. The healer had said Yahri's encounter with the Kynekin mob had miraculously left him battered, but without any permanent harm. For that, Davu was glad. As much as he pretended not to like the young Lord, there was something endearing about his high-strung personality and quirkiness that left Davu feeling protective.   The Grand Marshall replayed the scene at the Spice Docks over and over in his mind. He had not hesitated; not given it a moment of thought. He'd murdered a young, unarmed Mahnkii noble, just a boy, for doing nothing more than running his mouth.   There was a part of him that knew he should feel remorse. After all, wasn't it "normal" for people to feel things like grief and shame, guilt and sadness when hurting others? And even moreso when taking a life?   There was another part of him that hated that he felt none of that. Nothing. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The feel of his blades balanced in his hands. The rush of adrenaline bringing absolute and perfect clarity of focus. The blood of his adversaries pooling on the ground around him, staining yet another pair of boots. These were the things he craved, the things that made the Grand Marshall feel alive.   He took a deep breath, placing a hand over the gold and purple-thistle medallion beneath his shirt, and allowing the sound of the wind in his ears to calm his heart. From far below, the distant sounds of the city streets ascended the tower walls.   "What were you thinking, my King?" He quietly asked to the wind. His eyes scanned the upscale district just South of the Keep, nestled in a comfortable triangle between it, the harbor, and the river offshoot tracing the West side of the city. “What was your plan here?”   The door to the rooftop unlatched loudly. He exhaled, knowing that his solace could only last so long. The tower door squealed slightly as it swung open. Davu stood perfectly still, hoping the intruder might just turn around and leave. After several moments of silence, a man cleared his voice and announced in a practiced, measured tone.   "The Lady Miahn for you Grand Marshall." Davu looked over his shoulder without fully turning and nodded in acquiescence.   Is nowhere safe, Davu wondered, continuing to look longingly at the tall ships of the harbor.   The tower door closed as the lioness' shoes slowly clack-clack-clacked across the square beige stones of the rooftop. She moved without haste. Her shadow crawled past him before she came alongside him, taking in the view. Even without looking, he could sense her perfect poise and folded hands standing just to his left. The overwhelming fragrance of wildflowers wafted over him in the wake of her movement, causing him to stifle a cough.   Her words came softly, her matronly voice carrying a hint of playfulness. "Planning your escape from the crown so soon, Lord Pa'lakh?"   He chuckled, turning to face her and was momentarily stunned by her visage. The Lady Miahn stood several hands taller than the Grand Marshall. Dressed in typical Arjeevian style, she wore a large-maned cloak that seemed to expand the overall volume of her natural hair. It was their way of projecting authority. The light golden fur framing her face and the underside of her lion’s muzzle were tipped with the white of age. A subtle golden trinket matching her eyes rested delicately on her forehead. Her dress was an exquisite layered black-and-white silk with golden piping, buttons, and accents that shimmered in the sunlight. Impossibly regal was the phrase that immediately came to Davu's mind. It was no wonder people naturally saw the Arjeev as leaders of the Kynekin peoples.   Recovering his thoughts, Davu spoke. "I assume you've come to chastise me for just how badly I screwed up in murdering that Mahnkii boy?"   The elder lioness smiled, shaking her head. "I assume you can do a far more effective job at that than I could, Grand Marshall. Besides dear, I find it terribly dull to state the obvious."   Davu chuckled again, unable to hide a smirk. He tipped his head slightly in deference. "Well played, my Lady." She acknowledged his gesture with a small, queenly nod of her own. "Tell me then, to what do I owe a visit from the revered Aunt of our late King?"   Lady Miahn stood a bit taller. "It occurred to me Grand Marshall, that your Inner Council has very abruptly been thrust into a position of making critical political decisions of national significance."   "There are many who will say the throne should have passed to your son," Davu interrupted. "You've come to make his case then?"   She sighed, shaking her head. "Please dear. Given your actions today in Musalyhaad," Davu noted her use of the old Imperial name for what most people referred to as the 'Spice Docks' these days. "Do you honestly believe if I wanted the throne for my son I would need your support at this juncture?"   "I suppose you're right," he responded, sufficiently admonished.   "As I was saying..." She turned to the Northeast, facing the East Gate district, giving her back mostly to Davu and began again with a hint of sarcasm. "I assume my chaotic nephew, our dearly departed King, applied his typical amount of planning to this decision to dissolve the monarchy? Has he adequately prepared you for this new role?“ She held up a hand without breaking stride.   ”Don’t answer dear. It was rhetorical. I know the answer. Consider this then: Historically your voices have merely served to inform and advise. Now, you are expected to weigh and decide the fate and future of our kingdom. All. On. Your. Own. It is a much heavier burden laid upon you. And while you each hail from families that are no strangers to the Court," she hesitated, looking over her shoulder to meet Davu's eyes. "Well, with one exception, of course."   "Of course," Davu acknowledged. It was no secret that Councilwoman Hua’zur came from a farming village in Eastern Vath’azen and her particular clandestine skills that made the pantheress such a fine candidate for her role leading Vath Intelligence were borne from firsthand experience suffering under Elvish enslavement. Having a "commoner" advise the King was a fact that chaffed many members of the broader Court, only slightly more than having an “untrustworthy” Vryian as their Grand Marshall (stereotypes being what they were). But King Ga’jam had never been one for rules and social norms.   "And so it occurred to me," the noble lioness continued, "the Ruling Council might want to consider enlisting advisors of their own."   Ah. There it is, Davu thought. "And you thought you would graciously offer yourself up to serve the council so altruistically?" He made no attempt to hide his skepticism.   She shook her head in disappointment. "Come now child," she chided. The deep orange fur on the nape of his neck bristled at the word. "Surely you cannot possibly believe the four of you can lead this Kingdom without the support of its nobles."   “Five,” Davu corrected.   “Ah yes, the scandalous ’Voice of the Myndikin’ seat,” the lioness conceded. "How silly of me to forget." She smiled knowingly behind wise eyes and pressed on. ”Assuming this mysterious Dwarf survives the trip to Stoverj, yes, the five of you,” she corrected, ”cannot hope to rule without the support of the nobility. You must realize that even my nephew saw the value in surrounding himself with voices and perspectives differing from his own. You offered him an alternative, or perhaps supportive, view that informed his ultimate decision-making process.” She watched him carefully through predatory eyes, remaining almost statuesque in her stillness save for the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed in the salt air.   Davu stood silently, meeting her gaze and letting her words sink in as the breeze gave motion to her mane-cloak, making it seem almost alive. He hadn’t considered the Dwarven stranger would be in imminent danger. Though the Great War was some sixty-years past, many Kynekin still harbored anger toward their Myndikin oppressors. There would be those with motivation to ensure this Dwarf never made it here to the capital, that the Myndikin would never again hold sway over the animal peoples of the Kynekin.   And from their current seat of power in Al’jymoor, Davu reasoned, in an attempt to take back the lands of Vath that had been theirs for hundreds upon hundreds of years, remnants of the Elven Empire would undoubtedly jump at the opportunity to stoke the fires of passion and rally behind the angered Dwarven Houses if one of their own were assassinated. Though he was loathe to admit it, there was a great deal of wisdom in Lady Miahn‘s words.   “Fine,” Davu grumbled. “Advise me how to deal with this noble boy’s murder.”   "The Mahnkii boy?" She questioned with a dismissive wave of her hand. "The Enebish family is positively dreadful. Honestly, I wouldn't worry myself too much about them at present. There will be a price to pay for your actions, of that you can be certain, but the Mahnkii tend to lack… imagination. I would expect when they come calling it will be overt, and it will be obvious. It's not like you've made an enemy of one of my kin." Her pride and predatory half-smile was almost unnerving. "Now, I have a request."   Of course there’s a catch, Davu thought.   Reading the look on his face, she huffed. “Really dear. You could at least pretend not to be judging me before hearing me out.“   “Go on,” he beckoned with a hand.   “Yes. Well then. Evening is rapidly approaching, and I have no intention on missing today’s aagrym blooms. Yet we have much to discuss. Let us depart from this sad and lonely tower.” She extended an elbow out to one side. "Escort me to the gardens of East Gate, and we shall continue our conversation there."   “Fine,” he replied through his clenched jaw.
Show spoiler
What follows is an Ironsworn RPG solo session. My notes will generally be captured in the form of: Character Initials: action
  • six-sider/ten-sider/ten-sider-result(Strong, Weak, Miss)
  • Effect
  • Show spoiler
    YN: Sojourn
  • Courtier 1
  • 3/3/10 - reroll!
  • 4/3/3-S Crit!
  • DP:
  • Heal +2H
  • Hearten +2Sp
  • YN:
  • Heal: +2H
  • Oracle: Mourn burden
    DP: Make a connection
  • Lady Miahn
  • 8/7/1-S+1M

  • East Gate Gardens, Stoverj

    The gardens of the East Gate district were the pride of Stoverj. Meticulously manicured hedges lined the streets approaching the Keep. Stretching both North and South of the main road, a vast array of wildly varied horticultural wonders were lovingly nurtured by those with a passion for such things. The streets and walkways of East Gate were packed with families, visitors, and young lovers alike taking in the sights and smells.   While he’d heard of the popular aagrym flowers in the gardens that only bloomed a few times per month, Davu had never seen them himself. When they opened in the early evening, they would glow with a slight iridescence. It was supposed to be quite the thing to behold, though Davu had previously had little interest. Lady Miahn seemed quite taken by the display, squeezing Davu’s arm and smiling as they walked in a rare display of youthful emotion.   "Aren't they simply magnificent Grand Marshall?" she asked, crouching to look closely at a cluster of the large, glowing white blooms. Her eyes raised to meet Davu's blank face. Her lips pursed. She sighed, gently plucking one of the white-petaled aagrym flowers, much to the dismay of one of the gardeners. She stood with it cupped in both hands, holding like a precious gem between the two of them.   "You know, when you get to be my age," she spoke softly, "you begin to realize that moments of beauty and serenity are a fleeting luxury that are few and far between. You really must learn to steal them wherever you find them. There is so much beauty in this world Lord Pa'lakh, often all around us, but we have to be willing to look for it lest it be lost to us." She stepped closer, speaking even more quietly. He gazed down at the aagrym bloom warmly lighting the insides of her soft beige hands. The light reflected slightly off the golden bangles clasped around her wrists.   "Beauty is a light in the darkness. It is hope that must be nurtured. It reminds us what we are fighting for." Her eyes, the color of sunrise, met his. "Do you know, Grand Marshall, what it is you're fighting for?" The light from the picked flower began to dim.   "You are no longer simply the leader of the armies of Vath'azen. You are the ruler of a nation. You cannot simply be who you have always been. You, and your peers on this Ruling Council must decide who we, as a nation, are going to be, before it's too late. If you do not, our enemies will decide for us. And do not think for a moment that because there are not armies at our gates, that there are not wars occurring inside our Court, in our streets, under our very noses. The Elves have a memory that far outlives their already long lifespan, my dear. They are patient. The are subtle. They are dangerous. The Council must be vigilant, for all of our sake."   The flower's light faded completely.   "This, is the counsel I would offer you."  
    * * * * *
      The two said their goodbyes and parted ways. For the next several hours Davu found himself aimlessly wandering East Gate's green pathways slipping amongst the masses. Accompanied by his own thoughts, he reflected on Lady Miahn's words.   A deep male voice broke his train of thought. "Lord Pa'lakh," it called in a loud, authoritative tone from a distance. The crowd of people parted, revealing a small cadre of five tall, broad, and heavily armored horse-like men. Even without seeing his towering charcoal-colored form, Davu knew the unmistakable voice at the head of the party. It was none-other than Haruchi, the Ja'nakh Captain of the King's Guard. Davu had trained him personally and knew his strength of both arms and character.   Davu began with a slight nod as he slowly closed the distance between them. Something felt off. That look in Haruchi's solid black eyes. Was he nervous? His men looked tense, muscles taut, twitchy – as if they were expecting a fight. Davu's pointed ears shifted forward.   "Captain? What's wrong?" Davu asked as he neared, his orange-furred brow furrowed.   Dozens of glowing aagrym blooms reflected off the silver-studded, gold-rimmed armor tracing the bridge of Captain Haruchi's long nose, from his lustrous night sky black mane to his smooth, deep grey-black nostrils. The Captain inhaled deeply, slowly, before responding. "Grand Marshall, know that I take no pleasure in this." He paused a moment. "You are to be stripped of your weapons and remanded to the dungeon."   "What!" Davu exclaimed angrily, taking a step back. Both hands instinctively went to the hilts of his two swords. Haruchi's men drew their weapons in anticipation.   "No!" Ordered the Captain, black clawed hands out in a "we come in peace" gesture. He followed with a series of hand gestures in Davu's direction – guard-speak, it was called - a part of the King's Guard training. It was limited in vocabulary but very useful when needing to silently communicate at a distance without interrupting sensitive proceedings.   Stop. Look around. Innocents. He gestured.   Davu's eyes scanned the surrounding crowd. The Captain was right. A fight here would likely result in innocents getting hurt. All eyes were on the Grand Marshall.   "Captain," Davu began in a low growl, baring teeth as he spoke. "I am now a member of the ruling council of Vath'azen. You overstep your authority."   "Respectfully, Grand Marshall," Captain Haruchi slowly withdrew a scroll from his belt and held it out. "We are following orders."   Davu stared at the offered scroll, confusion turning his mind upside down. With a cautious step forward, he took the scroll and unrolled it, keeping a wary eye on the very men he helped train to defend the elite of Stoverj.   As he read the edict, Davu could feel the rage building inside. Captain Haruchi could see the snarling lines of tension in Davu's face. He knew the Grand Marshall well enough to know how badly this could go.   "That ungrateful little..." Dave swore, crumpling the scroll and throwing it to the ground. "Who does he think he is?!" He yelled. The crowd collectively put a little more distance between themselves and Davu.   "Grand Marshall," the Captain began calmly. "Davu," he said, leaning closer. Seething with anger, the fox-like Lord had to step back to meet the towering Captain's gaze without craning his neck. "Please don't make this harder than it has to be."   Davu felt the weight and pull of the medallion hanging around his neck. It seemed to grow heavier. His devotion to the Lady Tembryan, the Purple Lady, his patron Celestial, pushed him to never back down from a fight, and to perfect his combat prowess. He could almost sense her voice calling from the dreamlands for him to glorify her name.   The wind shifted. The scent of the fragrant aagrym flowers assaulted his senses and another, conflicting voice rose in his mind. It was the King's Aunt, the lioness Lady Miahn's words that drove a wedge into his thoughts:   "Do you know what it is you're fighting for?"   While it was only moments to the onlookers, the war that raged in Davu's heart felt like an excruciating eternity. In a sudden flurry of movement, his snout lowered and eyes lifted toward the Captain of the King's Guard.   "No," Davu growled aloud, drawing both of his swords and dropping into a fighting stance. "I am the Grand Marshall of Vath'azen, a Lord of the Vyrian peoples. How dare you turn on me! You," he pointed a sword, the tip deadly inches from Captain Haruchi‘s face, "and your men will stand down NOW or these gardens will drink deeply of your treacherous blood."   Captain Haruchi straightened, towering over the shorter fox-man as he carefully contemplated his next move. Their eyes locked in a battle of will. Finally, Haruchi let out a snort of annoyance.   "Sheath your weapons," he ordered his men. "We will not be the ones to shed blood in the streets of Stoverj."   "A wise choice," Davu sneered, lowering his own swords. "It seems I need to have a word with a certain individual."   "And the King's Guard will escort you, Grand Marshall," Captain Haruchi countered. "For your own protection, of course."   Davu shot him a fierce glare before turning West toward the Keep and striding away. Captain Haruchi and four members of the King's Guard trailed close behind.  
    * * * * *
      The crowd dispersed and it was not long until the streets of East Gate returned to normal. A silent form, cloaked in white that seemed to mirror the faint glow of the blooms slipped through the throngs of aagrym-watchers largely ignored. The Library’s strange Hadymaar Elves seemed to have a way with such things - to walk unnoticed among the masses. Arriving at his destination, he crouched down and brushed his sandy brown hair from his eyes and tucked it behind his long-pointed ears. It only took him a moment to locate the item he sought - the now trampled edict that was the source of the confrontation between the Grand Marshall and the King’s Guard. He moved to the side of the path beneath a grand tree, flattened out the page, rubbed off some of the dirt, and began to read:  
    For the murder of Aabinus Enebish,
    son of Lord Tseren and Lady Bolor Enebish,
    Lord Davu Pa'lakh,
    Grand Marshall of Vath'azen,
    Member of the Ruling Council
    is to be confined to the dungeons
    until such a time
    as he can be called to account
    for his actions.
      Let it be known that no being,
    neither Kynekin nor Myndikin,
    are above the laws of Vath'azen,
    not even its Ruling Council.
      Ordered by my hand,
    Lord Yahri Negdahe
    Chief Diplomat and Arbiter
    Of the Ruling Council of Vath’azen
      The strange Elf looked up to the sky, contemplating the words with a distant look in his eyes. Rolling the page up neatly, he headed East, away from the Keep.  

    To Be Continued…

    Show spoiler
    DP: Gather information
  • 2/3/6-M
  • DP: Pay the Price
  • 98-Roll 2x
  • 24-Separated
  • 99-Roll 2x
  • 01-Trusted individual acts against you
  • 10-Create an enemy opportunity
  • DP: Make a connection
  • Captain Haruchi
  • 7/4/4-S-Crit! +1M
  • DP: Compel +iron
  • 6/6/9-M
  • DP: Pay the Price
  • 81: You face the consequences of an earlier choice
  • DP: Compel +heart
  • 3/8/10-M
  • DP: Pay the Price
  • Tembryan wins
  • DP: Compel +iron
  • 7/6/6-S-Crit!+1M
  • DP: Milestone
  • Vow: Protect the Vision of Vath'azen
  • Secured an advisor
  • 2/10

  • Cover image: Allies in the Aagrym by Koragath via dream by WOMBO


    Please Login in order to comment!
    Oct 24, 2023 12:07 by George Sanders

    I enjoy the experience of discovery and extra layers a ttrpg can add to storytelling. Here is Lavani's review:   "In this compelling recounting of an actual play fiction episode, the Grand Marshall discovers the challenges of governing and that no good deed goes unpunished. Now with the great war a memory, I hope he finds the vision and patience to grow beyond what he trained to do his entire life." ~Lavani

    A Wildlands collaboration is on the horizon with Gege. For a hint at what is coming check out her new Ko-fi!   Share your world, submit articles for Lavani to review by leaving a comment on her Reading List!
    Oct 27, 2023 07:43

    Thanks so much for the kind words and taking the the time to review.