Friday, July 16, 2021

Durest: Bait

Durest walked away from the road and into the field. The giant's body lay where it had fallen, stripped of anything that might be valuable but too large to move. Four skeletons followed in his wake, the red gems of their eyes gleaming faintly in the late afternoon light. 

It took a while to find the blind, but once he threw back the cover it was unmistakable: a hole in the ground, covered with a wooden trapdoor which had soil and grass atop it. A patient dwarf could wait there, even sleeping as needed, and raise the trap to emerge into the grasses when the time finally came. It had to have been prepared in advance, and Durest wondered just how long his kin had been following him. He'd thought they'd given him up as lost, but clearly he'd been wrong. Oh, he supposed this might be some other Delve making war on the Order of Secrets in their own way, but he didn't really believe that. This attack seemed too weirdly specific, too much of a tipping of their hand, to be random. Sure an' it's a message, he thought, for probably the fourth time that afternoon. 

He stepped further out into the grass, well aware that there might be other blinds all around him that he wasn't seeing; but the skeletons followed him and the Hierophant's escort was close enough to give aid if he called for it. And that was leaving aside his companions, who waited back at the road.

So he walked another dozen strides out before he stopped and pulled out his pipe. He withdrew a bit of sweetweed from a pouch on his belt, packed it into place, and lit it with a single, soft word. He drew the smoke in, then breathed it back out. Then he raised his voice. 

"Well? Yeh wanted me, I think. Ah've come. Step up, or take yerselves back tae the clan."

"Actually," said the dwarf in the silver armor, rising up from the grass, "we've come to take you back to the clan."

 "Have ye, then?" asked Durest, turning to face him. "Ye should've declared me dead and had done with it, and saved yourselves the trouble." 

"Little brother, you have no idea the scope of this trouble. These forces you serve, they annihilated the Northern Delve. Ye're commanding skeletons made from the bones of our people."

Durest nodded. "Did ye think I did nae know this? I can trace the shape of the bones as well as any." He turned away, and found his other brother creeping up behind him. "Balos. Hold yer ground."

"Little brother," acknowledged Balos. 

Durest stepped to the side, positioning himself where he could see them both. "I serve Indra," he said. "Surely, by now, ye've given up any hope o' dissuadin' me frae that."

Morthros frowned, and Durest knew that his oldest brother had not given up on any such thing. Balos, at least, looked resigned. "You've a duty to your wife and children," Morthros said.

Durest scowled. "The ones my clan chose for me? We'd both hae been better off wi'out the marriage. It's done and I will no' renounce it, but dinnae hand me a quartz and call it a diamond."

"Then come back and serve your duty to your clan," said Morthros, and Balos nodded. "With the humans gathering their forces, we need all our resources. For all that you've turned aside from the Council of Stone, we could use your help. And the Stone Cabal will not censure you; the Marble Bishop himself declares it to me."

Durest shook his head. "No. My place is here; my god declares it so. Give my apologies to our mother, and tell Aviarra... tell her that the fault is not in her."

Morthros rolled his eyes in disgust, but Balos studied him and nodded slowly. Durest turned back towards the road, and his brothers turned back into the grasslands. 

So there's a bit more insight into Durest. He left his clan -- and his wife-by-arranged-marriage, and their children -- to become a priest of Indra, or because he was a priest of Indra already; I'm not sure which. He has at least two brothers: Morthros, the oldest, who's a pure fighter, and Balos, who's either a ranger or a rogue. They haven't given up on taking him back, either...

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