We continued downstream from Frentel, via Wirrin and Lindor to Rendel. Almost at Pont’s Cove now. (note: not “Ponce Cove”, mea culpa.) Along the way we picked up Marshall, another businessman, and parted with Roald.
There was a storm brewing, and by the time we reached Rendel it was getting quite ominous. Rendel is a town of two parts: the old centre is built on solid rock, but much of it is on soft ground. Every so often the river changes its course and those buildings need to be relocated, so they’re built to be dismantled and moved.
I must write to Father about that – the implications for property law must be fascinating!
The storm came on, bringing days of heavy rain and—surprise!—a shift in the river’s course. Our pilots were unwilling to chance the waters so we were stranded in Rendel for a couple of weeks.
We decided to stay in the Adventurers’ Guild… well, why not? They have a laundry service, who had some success in de-inking my things.
They have an orb, of course, and Faye poked it out of curiosity. It glowed much brighter than the one at home did. Evidently our powers have increased.
(blah blah blah only few weeks ago feels like lifetime blah blah)
Of course the local youths were eager to test themselves on the orb. One of them has the spark! She is fourteen years old, Alisandre by name. She has a pet? weasel; she may be some sort of druid.
The Guild has a decent library, and I took advantage of our extended stay to do some research. What I discovered was fascinating but deeply disquieting.
Among other things, they have a register of adventurers, recording both those who visited Rendel and those who started out here. The records go back a long way (guild hall first founded around AT 173, it being now AT 1003 – or 4571 PD, in the older reckoning. BTW, what does PD stand for?)
Going by the records, these heroic awakenings are becoming gradually less frequent: fifty years from ours to the previous one, fifty years to the one before that, then forty-five, forty, thirty-five…
Along with this, magic is becoming steadily more limited. Some of the earlier heroes are recorded as using magic clearly of the seventh order, but as time passes these spells are no longer observed in use. Over time the limit has become so low that even bards began to notice it.
Related, we have a better understanding of the “exploding caster” phenomenon. It is a rare but not unique phenomenon, and not restricted to wizards; I also found instances involving clerics and sorcerers. My best guess, consistent with available records, is that it happens when a caster has already mastered the highest-level magic currently available… and then the limit drops, so that their magic no longer fits within the limits of the world. The recent case, who I read about in Frentel, had complained of headaches for several weeks and was returning home when she finally exploded.
At present the limit prevents spells above the second order – i.e. my current stage of mastery, and Chrysta’s. If historical rates may be extrapolated, the next drop is due in about a hundred years. Perhaps not a pressing issue for me, but from what I know of dwarven lifespans, it’s quite possible that Chrysta will still be alive when that happens.
But, perhaps, not for very long afterwards.
I quite like Chrysta, and I do not want her to explode, even if I’m no longer around. Let us see what we can do about this issue, hmm?
(Also, while I am delighted by the magicks that I have already learned, I refuse to stop here. I would sooner risk exploding myself.)
We visited the temple of Nethys and spoke to their high priest, who confirmed much of my interpretation. He mentioned that magical items already created can surpass these limits, but cannot be recharged. They don’t know what the cause is, or how to deal with it, and their prayers to Nethys go unanswered, as if the god himself was distracted.
(Faye suggests that perhaps the god of magic is dying. If that’s the case, perhaps the universe will need a new one? I’m not sure what a god’s duties are but I might polish my curriculum vitae just in case.)
The stones in towns used to be teleportation ports; quite likely the decline in magic also explains why they no longer work. I expect that must have been quite a shock when it happened.
We may be able to find more information in the capital, perhaps from the court wizard or Lord Andine (some sort of priest?)
Meanwhile, Rendel’s nether parts were sodden, the locals were scurrying to move their houses, and Chrysta was writing to her relatives to bring in some engineers to arrange a better, more permanent solution to the town’s hydrographical issues. I must confess I was a little preoccupied with my own studies and didn’t catch the details (perhaps Chrysta will record the proceedings?) but it seemed to involve a lot of gruff dwarves shouting and exploding things. It kept them happy, anyway, and the new dock looked very nice. Maybe it won’t fall into the river next time it rains?
The rain stopped after a week, leaving the town smelling rather like…
…actually, I’m not sure I have a word for it. Perhaps it’s better undescribed.
The water was still high, and the town’s pilots were unwilling to go further downstream until things had settled and they had time to test the waters. But Alisandre told us she could steer us through safely, and we’re going to take her at her word. We could hardly get much damper than we already are.
She has an older brother, Gerard, just under age. Both their parents have died, but they have two very decrepit grandparents. In the end, the easiest way to handle things was for me to take on legal guardianship of all four of them before giving the grandparents into the care of the local temple of Sarenrae. (I was quite embarrassed by how little it cost to ensure that they are well cared for. This adventuring lark pays well.)
So, uh, I suppose that means I now have two children, one year and two years younger than myself. This will be… interesting.
Next stop (hopefully): Pont’s Cove. And the sea! I am curious as to whether the water tastes of salt yet, but not quite curious enough to discover what else it tastes of.
Shiny points: 12 carried over, 1 earned for summary, 1 spent on reroll = 12.