Friday, July 10, 2020

Tavros: Clerical Issues

"There you go!" Tavros nodded approvingly as Aesa avoided his cut, then stepped in behind the blade. "Out and in, out and in. It's the only way to go up against a larger opponent. You can't win on strength."

She stepped back, keeping her shield forward but resting her mace on her shoulder. "Do you ever have to do that?"

"Not so far," he said, "but I'm unusual. I train for it, though, because sooner or later I'll run into something bigger and stronger and then I will." He stepped forward with a straight overhead cut, and she slid to the side — but her shield was angled wrong for the soft deflection she was attempting, and his blade slammed her arm down, throwing her balance off.

"Hold," Tavros said. "You have the right idea, you just didn't get it to work. Let's practice that one, say, ten times. Line back up; I'll swing, you sidestep and deflect... let's say half-speed. You work on getting the angle right, but don't forget to swing your mace out, too. Ideally, you'd want to shatter my forearm."

They switched from soft sparring into the drill, and by the end of it Aesa was panting and covered in sweat. "You're so good at this," she said, despairingly. "I'm never going to be that good."

"You won't need to," Tavros replied. "I'm a paladin. Fighting like this is kind of our thing. But you'll be a priestess. You have other ways of balancing the odds and getting things done. And as much as I enjoy this, there's more to life — and far more to serving Amun — than battle."

Later, as they were racking the heavy wooden practice blades and toweling off, Aesa asked: "You think I'll actually become a priestess?"

Tavros shrugged. "I don't pretend to know the mind of Amun," he said. "Did you feel called to become an acolyte?"

Aesa looked away. "No," she said after a moment. "After my father was... driven out... my mother decided that I might be safer here. We cried a lot, but she sent me off and here I am."

Tavros was silent for a long moment. "I'm sorry," he said. "The elves are evil, a threat to Sol Povos and the King himself. That's what I'm told. But that's not true of the ones I know, and it's not true of you. I don't know if it's true of anyone, much. But I know that Amun is a protector of people, and not a jealous god; and if you ask Him for help, He'll hear you -- even if you also offer worship to Corellan or the gods of your mother."

Aesa looked suddenly tired. "You believe that?"

Tavros nodded. "The Abbess herself suggested that I should offer praise to Demeter, in her aspect as a silver dragon, when I first began my studies. And there are other options: not all of the servants of the temple are priests and paladins. We have our warriors, even the savage ones like Akkora; we even have our scouts and spies. I think you have the makings of a priestess — and beyond that, I believe we need more priests who come to service from more than a single heritage — but I also think you're young, and still finding your way."

"You know that's true."

Tavros nodded. "So try things out. Experiment. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe you should be a paladin, or a warrior, or even one of our handful of wizards. Did you know that the Temple of Amun investigates magical crimes?"

"I'd heard that, but..." Aesa shook her head. "We use wizards?"

"A few. Most are wizard-priests, and even then they're rare. But you and I should be used to not fitting into a single category, shouldn't we?"

Aesa was very still. Then she chuckled. Then she laughed. "No," she said. "No, I suppose we shouldn't."

"I'll show you what I can," Tavros said, "but ultimately it has to be your decision. And the only way to know the right course for yourself is to know yourself, and that takes time; it takes trial and error. There was a point in my life when I was determined to be a wizard, and I was... offended... to realize that I didn't really have the aptitude for it. I'm too physical; I like running and jumping and hitting things too much to settle in for that much study." He shrugged. "So I found my way here."

"I..." Aesa shook her head. "I'm sorry. I need to go think." She stood and walked away.

Tavros watched her go, hoping he had helped.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tavros: The New Priestess

"Um...?"

Tavros glanced back from where he'd been sharpening his sword and watching the sun set. "Yes?"

She wore white robes, trimmed with runes that spelled out the words of kindness and law in the orange-gold color of brass, and looked to be barely out of girlhood... but her ears were easily visible against the close-cut hair, and the hint of points at their tips suggested that she might have some elvish blood. "May I... may I ask you some questions?"

Tavros sighted down the length of his blade, put the polishing stone away, and then wiped the blade with an oiled cloth. "Certainly," he said.

She cleared her throat. "Will you promise not to be offended?"

Tavros considered that as he sheathed his sword and slung it across his back. "No," he said after a moment, "but I promise not to leap to conclusions or assume ill-will. Will that do?"

She looked taken aback, then thoughtful. After a moment, she said: "I suppose it'll have to. It's just that I don't know how to ask, 'What are you?' in a way that doesn't sound offensive."

Tavros couldn't help it: he laughed, holding up a hand when the girl flushed. No, elvish blood or not, she was every bit as young as she looked. "I think you just found a way," he said, and started laughing again.

"I thought you were one of the lizard-folk," she said, "but they're supposed to like water and we're pretty far up in the mountains, and then I thought you might be under a curse but you don't seem bothered, and so I thought that since nobody was talking about it maybe I should just go and ask."

Tavros got himself back under control and straightened. "My mother is a human, a wizard of some renown. My father was a silver dragon, though she didn't realize it until I was born and by then he was gone. I'm a paladin of the temple, and my name is Tavros."

"Aesa," she replied. Then she added, "And I thought I was odd having an elf for a father," and clapped both hands over her mouth while she turned bright red.

Tavros pursed his lips and managed not to burst into laughter again; he didn't want to embarrass the poor girl further. "It's no insult," he said. "I am odd, but I don't feel it as much here, where regardless of our backgrounds we're all in service to Amun. Here, it sometimes feels stranger that I also offer prayers to Demeter than that half my blood is draconic. And I've found that many times, things are only as strange as you make them."

Aesa stopped to consider that, then came forward and stood beside him, watching the sunset. "I wasn't sure I'd find a place here. Elves, even thinbloods like myself, aren't always welcome in human lands."

"Have you met Akkora yet?" he asked. "The arms-mistress? Her mother was an orc. She once held me to a draw in a contest of strength; we had to call it when the table broke beneath our arms. If she and I can find a place here, you can." He scrunched up the scales behind his snout, thoughtfully. "Though learning enough woodworking to repair a broken table might help."

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Music: Wolf Totem

Courtesy of the Mongolian folk metal group The Hu:




(I was going to publish this earlier and I put the wrong song in, so here it is now - hopefully with the correct link.)

Challenge: Book-Based Project or Hobby

This is part of the weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. If you'd like to participate, you can find the prompts here. They also put up a post every Wednesday where you go and link your response -- and see everyone else's. Check out their homepage to find it.

Today's challenge is "a project or hobby of mine inspired by a book", and... I don't really have much of an answer for that. I mean, when my parents made me learn an instrument in fifth grade, I chose the harmonica because of Escape To Witch Mountain, but I'm not sure that counts:
A. It was because of the movie; I only read the book later. (The book is actually really good, though.)
B. I only practiced Harmonica for a year; sixth grade was guitar, and eighth grade was piano.

However, there was a recent project inspired by a book. It just... wasn't entirely mine. It was a school project that I helped Firstborn with. And if you really want the full details on that - along with advice and guidance on how to build a 3D cardboard map - you can find it under the School Projects Will Be The Death Of Me tag.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

RoH: The lake-town

"Did you find anything?"

Remant wiped the water from his hair, then reached for the towel that he'd left beside his things. "You could have come with me, you know."

Izra shook her head, looking past him over the surface of the cold mountain lake to the circular, tiered town that rose from its center. "Not into that. Not without a boat, at the very least. Anything could be in that water." She was dark of hair and skin, neatly trim in build and clothing and hairstyle alike, standing a little ways back from the lakeshore in a buff leather coat and trousers. He knew, because he'd looked over all his fellow guards, that the spear she stood with was ensorceled to be more precise in its use and more damaging when it connected, and that her longbow carried a stronger version of both those magics.

Remant toweled himself dry, then said: "Maybe." There were plenty of things that shouldn't be where they were, lost artifacts or unexpected dangers: traps and beasts left behind by the dark god, or his armies, or his worshippers. "I didn't see anything, but maybe."

"So why do you do it?" she asked. "Anywhere we stop, if there's anything unusual around, you immediately head off to explore it."

Remant picked up the waxed leather tube that he'd set aside when he walked out of the lake and opened the cap to remove his pants and the simple cotton shirt within. He put a leg into the pants, then said: "Why not?" Then he added: "Curiosity and caution. I'm curious about anything that's left after the war, and what is says about what was there before. And strange dangers come from strange places."

Izra studied him as he drew on his shirt, then picked up his own jacket and his gloves. She wasn't looking at his body; her expression was too distant for that. After a moment, she nodded. "So what did this floating city tell you?"

"Not much," he admitted. "I'd like to come back here sometime and look more closely. Mostly, it told me that some people thought they might be safe if they were floating in the middle of the lake — and that they were wrong."

"Were they attacked?"

"I don't think so. It looks abandoned, not destroyed, though I didn't have time to walk through all of it. There are fish in the lake, but I doubt they're enough to support a town of that size by themselves... and the soil up here won't grow much in the way of crops. If I had to guess, I'd say they probably couldn't feed everybody they tried to shelter, and by the time people started to leave they'd stripped most of what they could find." He shrugged as he tugged his gloves on. "I'd love to know how they built the thing, though."

"Sorcery, most like." Izra's voice was even; unlike some, she didn't disdain the art.

Remant smiled. "Yes. I was more wondering what kind of sorcery, and how it was done."

Izra looked out at the city again. "Not easily, I suspect." She turned to look at Remant. "Come on. It's well past dark, and you're on the deep night watch. You won't get much sleep before that even now."

Remant half-shrugged, but it was a fair point. He knew how to get by on less sleep than most, but there was no point in pushing it. "Thank you for coming out to look for me."

"It's nothing," said Izra. "I was curious; that's all."

He considered that. He didn't really want anything from Izra, but there was no point in not repaying a kindness offered. "If you're still curious tomorrow, I'll you what I found once we're on the road."

Monday, July 6, 2020

Music for 2020

Honestly not sure who made this, it's TikTok thing, but Low Key Fuck 2020:

Tom McGovern:
Shut The Fuck Up And Put On Your Mask:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

An abridged version of the speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 4, 1852 in Rochester, New York, can be found here on the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities website. It seems particularly salient for Independence Day here in 2020; give it a read. Frankly, at this point, I'm inclined to think that Frederick Douglass was kinder and more charitable towards the Founders than they probably deserved.