TOTH III - YEAR 51051 WIND (PARENT: TOTH II, CHILD: TOTH IV)
After a long journey, the caravan of Tothians finally reached its destination. Its citizens sigh of relief, and they eagerly await further directions from the Mayor. After a brief deliberation between the Elders and the Mayor. Symon steps forward to speak:
“Brothers and sisters of Toth. It’s been an uncomfortable journey, but we have found what we were looking for - a new place to call home. Leora, Cyor, Mephos and myself will go inside to meet the Lady of the Valley. In the meantime, please make it yourself comfortable and have a look around. However, please don’t stray too far, as we are on unfamiliar ground!”
Leora and Cyor walk up to the Mayor.
“We’re ready”, they both say almost at the same time.
“Very well.”, Simon replies, “Mephos, any guidance for us before we go in?”
Mephos looks at the two eager youngsters. Cyor nervously plays with his bow.
“Please don’t forget that she is a powerful woman. Try not to anger her.”
They both nod.
“Oh, and Cyor.”, Mephos continues, “perhaps leave your bow outside?”
“Of course, of course.”, he responds.
The group walks to the door of the bright coloured mansion, which spontaneously opens. Inside they see a large hall with a deep brown marble floor, a row of chandeliers, and paintings of ancient legends on the walls. The hall has four doors, two on each side. The far one on the right is open. Then they hear a soft-spoken voice: “Please come in.”
With a little hesitation the group walks down the hallway, into the side room. This room is even more brightly lit, with a very large chandelier, and numerous shelves with gemstones reflecting and refracting the light. In the middle of the room is what appears to be a working table, where a lady covered in gemstones and gold sits, focusing intently on a beige stone which is mounted on a socket in the middle.
The gem workshop room.
The group pauses, and looks on as the concentration of the Lady changes the beige stone gradually into a deep blue one. Her eyes momentarily turn wrinkly, only for the wrinkles to fade away when she looks up to them, with a sharp gaze.
She looks at Leora, black-haired, clad in a basic metal armour with a white robe, slightly nervously shuffling with her feet.
She looks at Mephos, wearing his common blue garb, grey-haired and a strength in his face that defies his age.
She looks at Cymon, a middle-aged man clad in a white shirt with mayor’s adornments and with a determined look on his face.
And she looks at Cyor, a skinny young man clad in light leather armour and carrying a range of tools on his belt and back.
The Lady of the Valley looks at them for several long seconds, but then finally speaks.
“Welcome lady and gentlemen. It’s been very long since I have had visitors. It is an honour to meet you all here.”
She motions the group to sit down on several chairs in the corner of the workshop.
“Thank you mylady.”, Symon responds, “The honour is all ours.”
For several minutes, the group makes their introductions, and tells the Lady about what had happened: how after a period of peace they suddenly were attacked by a large army of militia and archers from the West, how their Keeper Tsandra defended the town heroically. Leora then shows the bronze spherical mesh pendant that she received from her.
“Thank you for bringing that back. I gave it to her for protection, but I fear it did not work out.”
“How did she come to pass?”
Leora momentarily hesitates, leaving Mephos to answer:
“Pestilence, Mylady. The invaders were infectious, and though she fought them off, she contracted it herself.”
The Lady’s eyes narrow,
“But you did not bring her here?”
Mephos is a little startled by the remark.
“No, it was not her will. The Pestilence has no cure after all, so she asked for her life to be ended.”
A brief silence fills the room, as the Lady of the Valley sheds a tear.
She then turns to Leora.
“We will need to talk separately after this. But first, what is it that you would like me to do here?”
Symon stands up and walks around nervously in the room. Something just doesn’t seem right, but the town community must endure.
“Mylady. Without our Keeper we are lost. We cannot protect ourselves. Not against the Plague, not against the armies from the West and not against the monsters from the East. We have no place to go. Our Keeper told us in her dying words that you would be able to protect us. We trusted her. But would you protect us? And at what cost?”
The group looks intently at the Lady.
“Yes, I will. Tsandra has always been stubborn, but her heart is in the right place and none of you have done anything wrong. But be aware: my powers are completely nullified beyond the confines of this Valley. So if you venture up the cliffs or into the passes, you will be on your own.”
Symon, Mephos and Cyor breathe a sigh of relief.
“That is a huge commitment to make. We are very grateful for it.”, Mephos adds, “I assume you would want us to do something in return?”
The Lady looks at Leora and Cyor.
“You are correct.”, she responds,”I will need your help. I can give you some protection but this Valley, too, is in danger. The Kazamer armies are massing in the North, and the Red Delta in the South has turned its gaze towards the Granite Mountains as well. And then there are more sinister threats afoot as well.”
“Do you want us to fight for you?”, Cyor asks.
“Not necessarily”, the Lady responds, “I do not know how to fight a war, and I do not want to fight a war.. But what I do know is that we cannot survive by ourselves for long. So I will need your help in finding new alliances.”
The group nods in agreement.
“Very well. We’ve reached a deal. Have a look around and find yourselves a place to settle. Just note that the Northeast corner is still a little risky, as there is a small settlement up the cliff. With your help, I hope we can resolve that in due course.”
“We are very grateful for your hospitality, mylady.”, Simon responds, “We will commence a survey immediately to find the right place for our new home.”
“Very well. Then you are dismissed for now. However, Leora, could you stay here for a little bit longer?”
Leora nodded, but she had a bad feeling about this.
The Lady of the Valley