[RP Episode][CANON] Sand and Ice


#1

Laszlo looked out at the dark, shimmering surface. The sun’s rays were playing joyfully across the waves as their sender climbed higher and higher into the morning sky. The only thing which broke the monotone, dirty blue plain surrounding them was the distant contours of red mountains, presenting a shade of moroon darker than anything they’d witnessed across the Calledian Sea, which set the horizon on fire.

Half a week had gone since their fellow vessels, the Red Dawn and the First Mate, had left them alone and continues their voyage north east. Now they were completely alone, and their absence bothered him for a reason he just couldn’t put his finger on.

As the sun approached zenit the red was replaced by a sandy brown, and the opening of a river appeared, leading further in towards land. This was what they’d been searching for, the river the arakki smugglers had mentioned. The river to the town of Kurshid.

A man in a worn leather tunic with red markings approached Laszlo from behind as he once again stood and looked towards the distant shadows on the horizon. ”You’ve sprouted roots, have you sailor?” captain Sandor Kerek asked bruskly. Coming to his senses, Laszlo quickly grasped the bundle of ropes he’d been rolling up firmer and began to work it once again. ”Um… no sir! Not at all sir!
he replied, trying to sound unanashed, while remaining painfully aware of that the rope looked more like a ball than a roll.
We’ll arriving within the hour!” the captain continued, ”so I need every last man and woman on this vessel on high alert, don’t I? I won’t hide my discomfort at walking in on sand people without knowing the difference between sail and cloth about them, so should things turn ugly, you’ll need to be ready!

The words had one effect on Laszlo at least, for not until a wall appeared in the ever-widening outlet. Above the stone he could glimpse two large buildings towering high above the rest of the presumed city beyond. He gasped. This level of wealth had been something he hadn’t encountered since he’d smuggled his family out of the roklavian capitol along with his younger brother, Isti, who was the coxswain of The Cheap Carpenter, wjere he also worked.

As the wall grew in sight a harbor came into view outside the gates. Isti steered them towards an empty pier and Kerek summoned them, splitting the dozen crewmen into two groups, one following him onto the docks, where their arrival seemed to have caused some stirs, the other half to stay behind and keep the Carpenter ready, should they need to depart hastily. Laszlo was picked to leave the boat, so he fastened his axe and his father’s dagger to his belt and stood in earnest behind his captain, along with his mates, as a land bridge was hoisted down onto the deck.


Maruba Full List
#2

Down at the dock stood a party of Kavehan diplomates, all very official-looking. The one at the front, wearing an elaborately embroidered deep blue robe over jeweled slippers of bleached leather, stepped forward. He had a short beard, wrinked eyes, and a piercing in his nose. The man bowed his balding head, the sun reflecting glaringly on his shiny dome, and with a gesture ushered the ship’s captain forward.

Greetings, noble guests! spoke the diplomat. I am the Lord Bahram Ihuicatl, Chancellor of the Shah’s court. It is my pleasure and my privilege to welcome you to our nation. He took the captain by the shoulders before kissing the air besides his cheek in a traditional gesture of welcome. I have brought with me horses for you and yours. We will take you to the guest wing of the Royal Palace, he pointed to the great building on its hill, its spires and domes reflecting the afternoon sun brilliantly, “as I am sure you will welcome some rest after your long journey. If you prefer, we can take a short detour through the city first to get an impression of our people and our nation.” Having said that, Bahram paused, clearly waiting for a reply.


#3

I thank you, milord!” Kerek said in a deep, official voice that made Laszlo raise an eyebrow beneath his metal helm. Never had the captain spoken to him like that. Then again, he thought, his boots hadn’t got jewels on them. “We thank you most truly for your hospitaliy,” the captain continued, nodding in courtesy at the small party of absurd looking men, subsequently sending his huge greying mustache aquiver. “and we would most gladly appreciate a tour! My name is Sandor Kerek, I am captain of this vessel and I come here, in peace, in the name of Jarl Valdemar Kovac of Maruba. We can talk on the way shall we?”.

The kavehan nodded and led the way through a pair of large gates, leading the party through the wall, and into the lively town of Kurshid…


#4

Wonderful, master Kerek! the diplomat boomed, while the party rode underneath the arch of the Salt Gate. It was a wonder to behold, the towers flanking it inlaid with azure tiles in an elaborate pattern that belied their function as strong defensive fortifications. Once inside, the party ended up in the noisy bustle of daily life. People walked the streets, townspeople in ones or twos, nobles usually with small entourages. Merchants prized their wares, children played their games - usually without getting underfoot. The air was thick with sound and the smells of sand, salt and spice. Bahram gestured to the captain of the squadron of ceremonial guards that accompanied the consular party. “Argbed, if you will?”. The captain nodded and had his men dismount to clear a way for the party.

They came up the main road to the great plaza. On the left side the road overlooked the city and the towering edifice of the Arcane College. The right side was dominated by the Mountain of the Sun, crowned by the great Temple of Ahrmazed. At the square they made a left turn and crossed the Azar on their way to the palace. Underway, the Chancellor lavished his guests with tales of the city and its people. He pointed out the major sights - the arcane college, the bazaar, the mercantile district, and the great fortress to the north that was the headquarters of the Aswaran royal army.


#5

As they crossed the river which wound itself through the city, Laszlo spotted the gargantuan palace upon the cliff ahead. Such a sight was rare for him. He’d been to Lavande once, but that had been a long time ago, back when he was just fresh off shore. That had been a sight to remember as well, but this was different. The yellow stone blended so well with the terrain that the town seemed to rise straigt out of the surrounding desert, yet there was an unmistakable sign of might over the whole thing. Approaching the palace, Kerek asked the question Laszlo had wondered since their arrival, “will we be permitted to thank the Shah himself for his hospitality?


#6

Why of course! the diplomat replied. His Radiance will meet you in the throne room.


#7

Fifteen minutes later the party stood and gazed upon the smooth doors with intricate patterns that lead into the palace. The Kavehan shouted something, a sigbal clearly anticipated in advance, for almost immideately the wings began to open. Inside was a large hall, more beautiful than any room Laszlo had ever entered. It really spoke for the need to move tge Jarl residences away from the docks! The servannts who’d let them in searched them for weapons, which the marubans, especially catain Kerek, gave away most reluctantly. It was common knowledge aboard the Carpenter, that he slept with his dagger under his pillow. After some quick duscussion it was decided that Laszlo and the captain alone should continue, while the others stayed to carry the gift after them when time came. The second pair of doors swung open. Laszlo held his breath.


#8

And behold, in front of them the full splendour of the Shahdom was made manifest.

The doors opened into the throne room of the palace. It was lined with pillars of carved cedar, richly detailed and depicting scenes of the Shahdom’s founding, reaching up to a ceiling painted with an image of the night’s sky and its most important constellations. Scented smoke drifted from metal braziers, spreading a pleasant smell. The walls were hung with banners and woven carpets, and the floor on which they walked was polished to a shine and inlaid with many hues of wood. It was a subdued majesty, not the gaudy kind born of overuse of precious metals and jewels, but more solid by virtue of the materials chosen. It seemed more lasting. Here was a palace that did not just display the wealth of the kingdom, but also its strength and ability to stand against invaders.

As the Maruban travellers walked forward, Immortals presented their spears in a quiet salute. It wa s said that these men and women had taken vows to never speak while on duty, and they radiated a stern watchfulness. The Shah himself, wearing many-layered robes, sat on his throne. It was made of carved wood, inlaid with gold and jewels. It sat on a platform, and from it, the Shah looked down on his subjects and all the world. Towards the side, a number of smaller, less impressive thrones were set - thrones for the mightiest rulers of the world, for when they came to pledge their submission to the Shah.

The party stopped a few meters from the lowest step, where the Chancellor presented the traditional greeting of proskynesis - blowing the Shah a kiss before kneeling on the floor. It was clear the Maruban party was likewise expected to pay homage.


#9

Kerek frowned. Laszlo understood. Ought he copy the kavehan? Would that be a mistake? After a few seconds of hesitation, he raised his hand to his mouth, blew a kiss, and then kneeled. The Shah didn’t speak. He sat and watched them with a look of mild interest in his dark eyes. Kerek inhaled hard and spoke: "Oh Shah ardashir, mighiest of the south! I have been sent to your excellence by Jarl Valdemar Kovac of Maruba, who sends his greetings! We have brought a gift, which we dare hope your excellence will find most useful!

Laszlo took the cylindrical container from his back, and took out the roll of parchment. Unrolling it to its full extent, he carefully edged closer to the throne before him, placing it before the rulers feet. Now once again, silence fell…


#10

After a successful meeting with the Shah the group attended multiple more meetings and eventually turned home as it became clear the kavehans and the marubans had little to gain economically by direct trade. Knowledge of the proper way in which capt. Kerek and his men had been greeted was duly noted, and The Cheap Carpenter arrived without much difficulty, back in the Red Harbor a few months later.

Little did they know that they would never meet a Kavehan again…

THE END

@staff Close please!


#11