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[Kuramen] Chapter I: City of Steam

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Siren no Orakio:
To the Elder, Rages-Inward can only smile faintly. "Powers as great as the seven that dwell here must be acknowledged, Elder,  especially those who have power enough to command the attention of the other races. And I see that you yet give our brothers in spirit their due. For this, I cannot fault you." Drawing himself straighter, he yet loosens his body, in the manner of a Speaker delivering the message for the spirits.  "Indeed, I bring you word of other Small Gods. It is the Lord Perrin that asks me now to speak of you, for he feels that he may be needed in this place. It is Perrin who wears down the iron of the chains when we strive against them, and who blesses those who remain free of soul with freedom of body."

Asking of the others to bring him several of the things he would need, the orcish spirit speaker finds his way towards the hidden grove of the spirits, taking, as is customary, the walk of introduction through the shrines to the various Small Gods. Aroi, the Shaper of the Self. Holmas, the Seeker of Justice. Serieth, the Boring Speaker. Eritol, the Tinmeizer. To all of these, and others besides, Rages-Inward was taken. And when they had reached the appropriate place, and the materials brought to him, he stepped up to the empty space. With practiced ease, he made the icon of Perrin's face, and set it down. Beginning a low chant of empty syllables, Rages-Inward began to tie the feathers of the Aver to the manacles,  before reverentially placing them upon the stone beneath. "Lord Perrin! With this, I consecrate this shrine to you! Do with it what thou wilt!" The long rod, he set within the barrel of the lock, before bringing the hammer down to shatter it. For a moment, the faint feel of a divinity entering the area was upon him, and the laughter of an amused Man was there as well.

"Repeat this from time to time. Maybe some dancing girls too. Let them be free of their clothing." With that pronouncement, the orc jabs his finger in the general direction of the icon he just consecrated, with a broad smirk. At least it will be less boring to be there, eh, Perrin?

"I would commune with the others now, cousins." Letting his Vision return to the spirit world in full, he turned then, approaching the shrine of Aroi. Taking a deep breath, he considered that noble shrine, spending a moment in calm reflection and meditation, before falling not to his knees in the dirt before the icon, but rather entirely prone. As he stares into the eye of Aroi's icon, he states, "I have neglected many things, among them my body. Aroi, If thou wilt, aid me as I attend to the things I have neglected." With that, he places his palms down on the ground, and presses, his solid body rigid, only his arms flexing as he pushes himself to their full extension. "One." And down. And up. "Two." And down, and up. "Three." Ten push ups later, he rolls, and flexes now at the waist, simple sit ups, again ten.  And then he sits, slipping his hands into a pouch, only to cast his dice, and scribe the numbers there in the dirt, before adding, subtracting, and multiplying them.

The crowd readily moves away from the dwarf, wary of one threatening their legs, although a few Aver flying overhead stick their tongues out and make rude gestures in his direction before darting away. The marketplace is still a veritable riot, although it is surprisingly easy that he spots the halfling, apparently managing to avoid picking a fight with a kobold. As to the orc, and the demented elf, there is as yet no sign.

The tavern beckons beyond the halfling, and with it, the promise of some cool drink and warm food, a welcome change from the travel fare of the caravan.

The kobold eyes the halfling suspiciously, and plucks the coins from his hand with a deft gesture, examining them for a moment. "This... I'll cut you a quarter of the joint off. But, as a word of advice, friend," and the kobold puts a rather familiar stress on the word, one that Jolly recognizes from the way the stronger ones of his tribe spoke to threaten each other if they slipped up, "Ask a merchant before you try to sample the wares. It keeps you from being brought to the attention of the Templars."

"As for the meat... It's wyrm meat. They're the lesser cousins to the Dragons, according to some. Huge snake-things in the deep wilds." The kobold steps back, not taking his eyes off the halfling as he hefts the cleaver and cleaves a large chunk off the meat - Jolly notices that the blade cuts as smoothly through the bone in the middle as through the meat itself - and holds it out to him. "Here."

The Elder smiles, slightly at the purple orc's comment about seven great powers, and helps the younger orc in collecting the materials he needs for the new shrine, watching carefully as Rages-Inward performs his ritual. Finally, he claps the younger orc on the shoulder. "We thank you for bringing Lord Perrin to us, cousin. We will give this Man of the Free his due, as you say." His broad, wrinkly face splits into a grin. "And perhaps dancing girls will be a welcome change to some of these dusty shrines and the small gods who dwell within them."

The actions before the shrine stir a curious attention from the spirit within it, although little more than that - the orc gets the sense that there is another, mightier presence stirring slightly, directing the tiniest mote of attention his way, and that the lesser spirit does not wish to interfere with this mightier power. Perhaps later, he can try again with his communion...

Siren no Orakio:
Feeling the attention of the greater presence, Rages-Inward climbs to his feet once more, setting his feet upon the start of the pattern now, with a word of parting to the elder. Beginning at the temple of the Seeker of Justice, he begins to walk the path that meanders between them, every step infused with the purpose of communion as Rages-Inward focuses strongly upon that tiny mote of attention, chanting the ritual cant of blessing to the greater spirits.

As he reaches the end of the pattern, he turns his mind entirely to the greater spirit, filtered as it is by the pattern he had just walked. "Great One! I hear your call, and I respond! I am Rages-Inward, who seeks to temper the strength of the soul. Let us speak, oh Great Spirit, and see if our strengths can aid one another."

Jolly simpered a mumbled thanks at the kobold and slinked out of the store.  Cutting a small strip of meat from the wyrmflesh, he stashed the bulk of the joint in his pack for later.  "D**n", he cursed inwardly.  He'd left the tribe to start over with himself on top instead of being subservient to everyone and everything and the first hour out in the city he's been bested by a kobold.  It was time to stop and take stock of things and think through his next move.

The pub caught his eye and interrupted his chain of thought.  Jolly really had never been one for long and deep thought, and he brightly remembered some of the others from the caravan talking about going for some well-earned liquid refreshment.  Maybe there he could find the trigger he needed to start building the future he deserved.  Humming a short tune (an old halfling ditty about disembowelment and bloodsport) he made his way through the stalls, smiling and baring his teeth at the ungrateful people in the crowd when they jostled him.

Throwing open the door of the pub, Jolly paused to look around while absentmindedly chewing on the strip of wyrmflesh...


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