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* Plot Information for Rihland

A Black Jewel has obliterated the longstanding Eyrien rulership of the Territory. As the Rihlanders begin to reclaim their homeland they do so under the stern gaze of their "savior". Three separate peoples struggle to both claim their own identities and become a unified nation, but old hatreds are difficult to shed.
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Author Topic: The Old Man and the Mountain  (Read 96 times)

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Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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The Old Man and the Mountain
« on: Oct 08, 17, 02:07:27 PM »
To many Rihlanders, an Eyrien flying over their home was a traumatic phantom of worse times. In these times, it was a rarer but more severe event.

Kalvar's Jewel was not immediately known from the distance in which he'd first be seen heading toward the mountain cabin. Indeed, his unique features and frame was harder to discern from afar. The Rihlanders just knew that winged man was a warning for dangerous times. Perhaps it would have been more prudent, cautious, or kinder to approach Tyr Madsen's home on foot.

But Kalvar was the Prince of Rihland, the bearer of the Black. He had no need to spare feelings or to be afraid. If others feared, he had no concerns -- for he knew that he meant the one-handed Skald no harm, and thus there was nothing to be worried about.

Tyr was a name he knew well, because the love of his life had adored the man. She had sung in their home of Tyr's stories, had repeated them with her own fervor, had whispered into the cribs of their children of ancient Rihland stories. They were some of the same stories that Kalvar had known when he'd first come to Rihland. Indeed, the slight differences in the thousand years since had made him smile quietly in his study as he sipped his tea and listened in to his exuberant wife share some of the richness of her culture with their children.

Children that would, forever, be set apart from the Rihlanders. She, too, for marrying an Eyrien, no matter how kind he seemed to be.

He landed on the path that lead up to Tyr's home, a few hundred feet away. His wings, as they landed, spread wide and sent out dust and stray grass from the path. Wearing a simple homespun robe he let his wings fold behind him like an elegant cloak of leathery flesh. His golden eyes looked straight ahead on the slowly darkening day -- clouds were covering much of the mountain and drowned out the sunlight in a gloomy fog.

His steps were slow, calm, and graceful. He did not rush to Tyr's door, but he swept the area with his Black to discern if there were others present. He did not wish to be surprised. He approached the door, his voice heralding his arrival before he stepped onto Tyr's porch.

"Master Skald. May I have a word?"

Offline Tyr Madsen

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #1 on: Oct 08, 17, 02:28:54 PM »
Kalvar would find that the home was empty, save for Tyr, who hardly ever left it. The man himself was not within the house proper, but certainly close enough. He had seen the silhouette of the Eyrien flying alone, above, and paused in his evening constitutional of cutting firewood against the coming winter. If an Eyrien came to see him dead, there was nothing to find. The memory crystals were stored in a place only Tyr knew, but that place was not beneath his floorboards. Nevertheless, he put the axe down and headed in, followed by two of his dogs. By the time Kalvar reached the door, Tyr was already opening it.

He didn't have to ask the name of the Eyrien. There was only one with this particular combination of features: the decidedly un-Rihlander robe, the direct look with no sneer. The Black Jewel Kalvar wore was almost an afterthought. All Tyr could sense was the Dark. "Prince Elbremov," said Tyr, and he bowed as far as his back would allow. "I fear I don't have provisions laid by for guests, particularly not any of your depth, but there is bread which will be done baking soon. And ale, if you'll have it. Water, too." He led the winged Prince into his home, each step feeling like a betrayal of his daughter and his friends. Thank the All-Mother that Kibeth had her rank now, and lived in Arkona, where she needn't fear the arrival of a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince from the clear skies she despised.

The old man kept his back straight and busily peered into the low stone oven. "Alyona told me you kept old Rihlander traditions," he said, reaching back and back and back. The Priestess had been a good woman, a strong candidate for training in the skald's art, if only she'd not been so close to an Eyrien. He'd regretted falling out of contact with her, regretted it more when she'd died. "Please do me the honor of partaking of my bread and water, that you know I mean you no harm." And that I know you mean me no harm.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #2 on: Oct 08, 17, 02:47:47 PM »
Tyr was right to know that he likely lacked the supplies to feed Kalvar's deep appetite. As reserved as the Black Prince was, he still bore the darkest of Jewels and the deepest of primal wants. But while Kalvar would have quickly refused such an offer out of hand, he was mindful of Rihlander tradition. Guest right was very, very important, and to consume a host's food and drink was a sign of trust between both parties. It was the surest way to impress on both parties how honest they could assume the other to be, and that no harm was meant from either side.

"She insisted." Kalvar offered the smallest smile, a pang of deep sorrow at the memory of his wife that was taken from him, too soon. Alyona was in her early fifties when she had been murdered. While her life would have naturally ended far, far earlier than Kalvar's, she still had another three or four decades of life in store for her that he would have jealously enjoyed at her side.

"I will gladly do so, Skald. Though, I would take only a small ration. I have already eaten this morning, and would not seek to exhaust your stores before the coming winter. You do not have others who live here, do you?" The question may have set off alarms from old habits of Eyriens asking questions of residence and supplies. Yet Kalvar's question was more conversational than inquiring.

He smiled gently down at the dogs, for they were an animal that Kalvar loved deeply himself. He followed Tyr's guidance and his lead as he moved into the younger man's home. "She sang your stories to our children. Andrei, especially, is taken with them. He had always told her that he wanted to be a Skald."

Kalvar paused, his smile fading slowly from his golden-hued face. "But he likely won't be allowed to be one. At least, not for a generation or two, I think. Do you, Master Skald?"

Offline Tyr Madsen

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #3 on: Oct 08, 17, 03:40:39 PM »
The question did set off alarms in Tyr's mind. But Kibeth's parentage was a matter of public record, and Kalvar couldn't touch her without the Queens uniting against him. Was Kalvar attempting to trick something out of him? Tyr hadn't lived his sixty-six years without learning where to cut his losses. "My daughter lived here for a time," he said, finally, setting down two glasses of water. He turned to the oven and removed the bread, using White-Jeweled Craft to lift it; the crisp loaf steamed from atop its stone as Tyr set it on top of the towel waiting for it. "But it's only this old man who lives here now. A boy brings groceries from the village once a week, what I don't get from the hounds."

He patted one of the sighthounds on the head. Its ears perked and it regarded Kalvar thoughtfully. "That's a high compliment for a skald," said Tyr. "I think that, given the fullness of time, your Andrei will be able to become a skald before he is much older, as the Eyriens measure things. But it is not possible now, no. The wounds of Draekar Eventide and the Svetlana Queen still run deep." Tyr would not teach a half-Eyrien, and the boy would have to be quite talented to draw Magdolna's eye. The rest of the skalds... they were well and truly Melany's thralls.

It occurred to him that he could warn the Prince of Rihland about the Reclaimers. He looked over his shoulder as he began to slice thick sheaves of bread, releasing yeasty good smells to hang in the kitchen. "Not for you," said Tyr to one of the dogs as it begged at his feet. "You've already eaten, Hrodr."

He set out salted butter and one of the thick slices for each of them, and then gestured for Kalvar to take a seat. "Don't mind the dogs," he said. "They're incorrigible beggars. Sometimes they forget they're hunting dogs, and decide to be lapdogs." The mental image was amusing; the smallest of the dogs still stood thirty-six inches tall at the shoulder. "The one eyeing your bread is Rann." Both of the dogs he'd named bore names from Rihlander myth and legend. There was no point in pretending that Tyr wasn't what he was in front of Kalvar, so he didn't.

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #4 on: Oct 08, 17, 04:01:44 PM »
Kalvar found a seat at a wooden table in Tyr's home at his urging and lifted up the glass of water, a bow of head toward him in respect. "My thanks." He smiled down at the hounds, for he himself was a great lover of animals and dogs in particular. The puppy he had been given was a special gift, and his life had been made better for it. "They seem like excellent companions, Hrodr and Rann. They do look like giants, do they not?" He looked up at Tyr then, the slightest tip of indicating that he was aware of some Rihlander stories, himself. But Alyona had been an avid fan of Tyr's and their culture, had she not?

"That I know, about Draekar and Kirian. They should not have been allowed to rule. For that, I apologize." For was it not his burden that the hardships of the Rihlanders had come forth, by his inaction? His idyllic life had been at the cost of those like Tyr who had lost limb and love and family.

"Your daughter is Kibeth, yes? The new Queen of Scylla. Under Gudrun." He continued, knowing the answer, but sharing it with Tyr nonetheless. "I've not met her yet. I leave the District Queens to Gudrun, Mia, and Katrien. Rihland should be ruled by Rihlanders. Though.." He offered a small smile, perhaps in recognition of the irony of it. "I have shifted that some by giving the Glacians a place to live here, too."

Kalvar reached for the butter and began to spread it over the bread. "I have recently been given a puppy. A young hunting hound. I've not yet decided on a name for him. I thought to come to you for it -- in the times before, it was a Skald's role to name the companions of  warriors, was it not? The right of the talekeeper, to ensure that those who stepped into battle would be surrounded by the past?" He looked up with golden eyes to the sage, biting into the bread.

He let out a sound of appreciation, finding that even though he had eaten recently, the taste of bread was welcome.

Offline Tyr Madsen

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #5 on: Oct 08, 17, 05:58:12 PM »
"They're old men, like me," said Tyr, "Though I suppose you must not think of me that way." He chivvied the dogs away with a sharp gesture. Hrodr and Rann looked rebellious for a moment, before rising to their long, delicate paws and loping away. Tyr watched them shoulder their way back out to the other hounds, and then returned his gaze to Kalvar. What had the Prince of Rihland been doing when he was sixty-six, still a youth so green he would've been better served plowed and planted? "The breed is known for its height, and their speed. Their preferred prey is wolves." He smiled at that. "For this, some call them Vidarr." He sipped his water, took a bite of his bread.

Tyr could not offer forgiveness to Kalvar, and so he didn't try. The man would expiate his sins as he felt was best; Tyr couldn't speak for others who had lost what Tyr had. Ranni and Adelhild and Gust, the girl Melany could have been, Ditte, Cenhelm. Tyr's old eyes filled those Rihlanders in about the table, and then his gaze fell to the scarred wood. "Yes," he said, "Kibeth Tyrsdottir. Though, when you do meet her, perhaps send a note ahead of time. She is afraid of Eyriens."

There was no reason for Tyr to be afraid anymore. He was such an old man.

"That is so," he agreed, and he cast another look out the window to the backyard, where far more dogs than just Hrodr and Rann cavorted, chasing each other. He never named the dogs he intended to sell; the beasts commanded a high price among Rihlanders, who used them to hunt and to race. "I would have to meet the animal, that I might know its temperament. Tales have been made of cowardly dogs given the name of a brave hero, and brave dogs named for fools. I could tell you one, but I am sure that you already know it."

He wondered what sort of familiar a Black-Jeweled Prince would lay claim to. "My daughter has two bitches," he said, "Vasilisa, she named one, and Vasilisa she named the other. But when she is alone, she calls the white one Wisdom and the black one Beauty. But her true familiar is an owl. That one, she calls Beloved. Like an old wise-woman, from before the Purge." He sighed, and looked back to his guest. "Forgive me. I wander, at times."

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #6 on: Oct 09, 17, 12:26:28 PM »
"I do." Kalvar admitted that he shared Tyr's view of himself. "Age is not merely a number, it is the weariness of the years. The way the body aches, how it pains you upon the morning or in the evening. Age is watching those you love die before your time is done. It does not matter the number of years, just what has happened in them." Kalvar watched the Vidarr leave and held a soft, thoughtful appreciation in his gaze as he watched them return to the field.

"Now is not the time for fear." He said slowly in remark to Kibeth's trepidation for Eyriens. Kalvar had no space for it, and the Queens of Rihland could no longer afford it. "She will have Eyrien subjects. She must learn to handle their presence with grace."

At that, Kalvar was quiet for a moment as he drank and considered the man across from him. The topic of the pup and the hounds was a distraction, but not an unneeded one. "I will bring him to you, so that you may judge his character and suggest a proper name."

He set his cup down, then, steepled his fingers and turned the full weight of his gaze to Tyr. He leaned forward and pressed his hands to his chin, using his fingers to act as a pillar to hold his face. His lips brushed against his knuckles and he thought of the matter before him.

"You are an old man." Kalvar said slowly. "And so am I. We have a stubborn view of the world. You have always known your people, Master Skald.

Can there be peace between Eyrien and Rihlander? Or will that, like my son becoming a Skald, need to wait for generations?"



Offline Tyr Madsen

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #7 on: Oct 15, 17, 03:02:47 PM »
"Fear doesn't ask that time be made for it," said Tyr. His tone was infinitely patient, the sort that belied his age. "It simply is. If I thought she would do wrong by her Eyrien subjects I would have brought my objection to the Queen of Vyrkov myself." Tyr didn't like Eyriens, it was true, but he did love his daughter. She was a bright and bold girl, or could have been, if her childhood hadn't been so brutally ripped away. "She will handle herself, because she is Rihlander down to her core. It was only a thought, Prince."

Kalvar asked a question then that Tyr didn't know how to answer. Again, the easiest path, the one that seemed most ethically correct, would be to warn him of Melany and her intentions. The Dark-Jeweled witch didn't intend to allow peace between the peoples, had turned upon Signe Drachlan in the course of one conversation. She would drive the people of Rihland, all of them, to war if she thought it would topple Kalvar. The moots where no Eyriens were allowed, save one or two half-Eyriens that had proved their faith by mutilating themselves as no Eyrien with hope to return to their people might, were hotbeds of anti-Elbremov sentiment. He knew of no less than six members of the Reclaimers who stood in high positions in the Territory. Tyr could tell Kalvar of them, and let what came to pass come...

But Melany was his foster-daughter, and Ryder his second-son, Erwin as close to a son of his soul as Tyr could imagine having. His daughter and the Healer were women of good character, who had happened to fall in with an ideologue. Tyr could not, in good conscience, give their fates over to Kalvar Elbremov to judge. Tyr longed for peace, but if Melany died, the Reclaimers would not lay down and accept it. For the greater good, Tyr kept his peace.

"I think that if it comes in my lifetime, it will be a miracle," he said. "And it will come from the elders bridging the gaps despite our animosity, and those elders causing the youth growing together. If the youth are integrated, encouraged to bond and form friendships, we may see a unified and peaceful Rihland in some twenty or thirty years. It would mean change to the Eyrien way of doing things, change to the Rihlander ways as well, but if the children grow together as two vines in the garden, I think it will come. I fear that those among my people who, today, are in their twenties and thirties and forties... I fear that they are lost.

"I do not often go among my people anymore. I am too heart-worn for that. But I hear things, still. Rumors of a group that call themselves Reclaimers. They are angry--at you, at those in your Court who could have acted sooner and did not, at the continuing Prohibitions." Tyr paused then, looking at Kalvar, for all the Realm like the old warlord was perfectly candid, as if he were keeping nothing back. "I do not want there to be war between our peoples. There are too many children I love too fondly to hope for that."

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

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Re: The Old Man and the Mountain
« Reply #8 on: Oct 15, 17, 05:42:42 PM »
"Being a Rihlander does not predispose one toward good; same that being an Eyrien does not make one evil." Kalvar said slowly, his manner heavy in the way that the words felt like they were weighted with stone and set upon Tyr's table. Kalvar's eyes focused on the bread and the saucer that held his water and something in his mien shifted to a manner most somber and grave. "The innocent died with the guilty when I destroyed Ebon Rih. The blood of the good mixed with the evil and fed the earth.

I have heard of the Reclaimers and know their blame rests upon my shoulders. I spurned my duty to Mother Night for too long and resisted the call to action."
The Black Prince gave a slow nod of agreement. "I was content to live a life away from war, in obscurity. I had wanted nothing more than to stand next to Alyona and watch our children grow and to have children of their own once."

The immigrant to Rihland, the former soldier, the ruler of the Territory exhaled slowly as he lowered his eyes. "But there is no serenity without war. There is no peace without death. There is no future for a Territory without ending the futures of those who would stand in the way of harmony."

Kalvar lifted his eyes toward Tyr then and focused on the man before him; the Skald that his wife had told stories of and loved as a young woman, the man that he sat within and ate of his bread and drank of his water.

"Your daughter must help me bring about this peace, Skald. The Prohibitions exist for a reason -- they are not punishment, they are guidance. And when the right Queen stands ready to rule Rihland and all of its people, I will step aside.

But not before."


Kalvar slowly rose to his feet. As he did so his wings spread around him for a moment before returning to their shape as a leather cloak on his back. "I have only one people now, Skald. Rihland's. And there are either those who still stand with me or stand against me." The Black Prince did not speak on what would happen to those who were his foes; Ebon Rih and Avorla were the graveyards that contained those that had.

"Thank you for your hospitality. Impress my message upon your daughter. Perhaps I shall see you again for your guidance for my pup." He bowed his head in respect to the old man, and unless stopped would turn to leave his home behind.

 

 

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