The Twin Kingdoms

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We spent the night at the Fox and Flower, apparently the best inn in Pont’s Cove, and then next morning boarded the ship to sail north to the capital.

Although I had had no trouble on the way down the river, the ocean waves were rougher and I was horribly seasick for most of the four-day trip. Faye occasionally popped downstairs to pester me, whereas Chrysta (after recovering from her own seasickness) offered me some sort of tea, which helped my mood if not my stomach.

Faye suggested tying me up and dangling me from the mast or something or the sort. I told her NO. I will remember her behaviour next time she wants something.

Have made up my mind to look into the possibility of acquiring a dragon, for riding purposes. Surely that would be less nauseous?

I eventually found my sea-legs (more to the point, my sea-stomach) on the fourth day, just as we came in sight of the capital. Val and Faye got very excited about some sighting of “dragons” but it turned out to be just statues on the harbour wall.

The capital is really big! Great big docks, big ships, rich districts, slums, all sorts of nifty stuff. Some time later, I’d love to explore it further, but given the delays in our trip we agreed to go straight to the palace rather than keep the King waiting any further. Captain Bastian arranged an escort for us, leading us through a district of fancy shops. There is even a university here!

After speaking to one of the palace functionaries, we were shown into a big throne room. It was very cosmopolitan; I noticed elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, and even a half-orc.

King Melinar was easy to spot: a youngish man on a very ornate throne on a large dais. Next to him stood an odd-looking man—a half-elf, I think, but with grayish-brown skin. He looked young but it’s hard to tell with that kind, and as it turned out, much more so in this particular case. He was very finely dressed and I think Faye was getting a little jealous. Or possibly amorous. Hard to tell.

We were introduced to the King, and he introduced us to the man next to him: Zakaroth, who comes from the Forest of the Elves far to the south. Then the six of us went to a side room to talk in comfort. The King seems quite pleasant, and dressed with tasteful restraint. I noticed some interesting rings on his fingers but forebore from scanning them for magic; it would have been gauche, and I felt safe assuming that if anybody has magic rings, the King would. (Confirmed later: they allow him to use magical scrolls of all kinds, although the scrolls themselves are in limited supply.)

There was an older gentleman present, wearing robes and religious symbols, and I correctly guessed him to be Duke Andine. I introduced myself and was startled when he told me I was the spitting image of my grandmother. It turns out the man is her brother, my great-uncle! (I must confess to getting a little weepy at this point, although I think I hid it well.) It seems he and she were both adventurers, in the wave of fifty years ago. After the magic died down, she went up to Callech to settle, while Duke Andine remained in court. He directed me to what seems to be her own record of her adventures, which I will read as soon as I’m done writing this journal.

(And so many other books here! I must see what else I can learn.)

We spoke of our travels, and Andine mentioned the limiting issue that Chrysta and I have encountered; it seems he and Grandmother also met the same difficulty.

The good news is, the records explain how to surpass this problem. The bad news is, the method doesn’t seem to work. They say that before the war, to develop further, wizards and suchlike had only to present themselves before their god. But since the war, the gods seem to be preoccupied, and it does nothing.

Zakaroth asked “Have you visited the City of the Divine?” and at this point, a very interesting conversation was had, during which it became apparent that his understanding of the land’s geography was very different from everybody else’s. After some confusion, we came to understand that he has been asleep for a very long time—since before the war!—and was referring to the old capital, before the kingdoms were divided. It seems that may be the place we ought to go.

(Zakaroth tells us he fell asleep after being touched by his god, and woke in a frozen ruin. During this conversation we also discovered that the “PD” date stands for “post Dawn of the World”.)

Another extremely curious discrepancy: Zakaroth only remembers there being twenty gods, with no recollection of Sivanah. (And as I recall, Vallaise had temples to all the others but not Sivanah. HMMMM.) But Andine understands her to be one of the original gods of creation.

Zakaroth told us about a place called Mastere, in the shadow of the Divine City, which Andine understood to be a blessing of the gods rather than a real place.

So it sounds as if we may need to go up the Majestic River to investigate the Divine City. Chrysta tells us that it’s rumoured to be infested by…things (I am not sure if that’s the same ellipsis as in “legitimate…businessmen”?) and the laws of reality are mutable there, so the dwarves avoid it.

Another interesting discrepancy: in Zakaroth’s memory, the city has a mountain that rises cleanly to a peak. But according to others, the peak has blown off.

Andine has agreed to sponsor a trip up the Majestic River to investigate the City, although the King will need to discuss this with his northern cousin since that river marks the border between their realms.

In the meantime, we’re staying at the Cat and Fiddle, an exceptionally large inn built in the same mortarless interlocking style we’ve seen elsewhere. Andine warned us “if you want to avoid crowds, avoid the Adventurers’ Guild” so of course Faye went there.

And now to renew my acquaintance with Grandmother.
Shiny points: 13 carried over, +1 earned for summary = 14.

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GeoffreyBrent

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