Prelude – A Mystery
Knight of the White Erich Wolfe, Servant of Iomedae
Aiori Baynes, Disciple of Sarenrae
Knight of the Red Marta Severin, Disciple of Iomedae
Two years ago
Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
- From the journals of Ameiko Kaijitsu,
The city of Magnimar was a massive urban sprawl along the massive western ocean, framed with the verdant forests of Varisia. From the crisp scents of fresh spices and cut fruit in the market to the stagnant clouds resting out over the port, one did not have to go far in the city to encounter something new and alien. Not even Korvosa, for all of its scope and scale could measure up to Magnimar, from its massive ruins to the scale of the churches, where even blessed Iomedae managed to keep quite a Regimentary staffed and ready for action. The Tetragrammaton of Abadar kept the peace in Korvosa, but the scale of Magnimar precluded one church from such domination.
The Church of Iomedae shared a massive complex with the Church of Sarenrae, if you could call the Church of Iomedae much of a Church. It was a barracks, really, and boot camp. The quarters were spartan, with focus split between spending time training with their weapons and armor, studying the Book of Iomedae and her 11 stories, and spending time “serving the people”.
By contrast, the Church and Chancel House was the domain of the priests and Sarenrae. The massive stone edifice, with its white marble and flying buttresses soared into the sky toward her glory. Inside, the faint scent of frankincense could always be detected, the faint white smoke of its burning a small sacrifice to the sky.
Knight of the White Erich Wolfe knew these grounds better than most. He had grown over the decades within this place. As an assimar, he grew more slowly than his human mother, and as a bastard child, he had no place in her world. Added to that, the angel wing birthmarks that stretched across his back had been taken as an omen by the Clerics of Abadar. Recognizing his Celestial bloodline, he was brought as a foundling and raised in the church. Because of his heritage, he often had a run of the place. The Paladins of Iomedae had recognized his appearance and had taken his admission as a sign of good fortune for the order.
Leaning back against the one of the mighty oaks that overlooked Belvedere Garden, Erich continued his reading, preparing himself for his upcoming class. The spring weather in Magnimar was bright, clear, albeit a bit cool as the westerly wind blew in off of the ocean. Already, the fog on the bay was burning away – another gorgeous day.
Assigned as a Knight of the White, Ser Erich Wolfe reported directly to his direct superior, in this case, a Knight of the Red who was in charge of the 2nd Regiment, who then reported up the chain of command to the Knight Commander.
“There you are,” he heard a familiar voice call out. Looking up from the book he could see a young priest of Sarenrae, her silky robes flowing in the morning breeze. Her brown hair was pulled into a tight french braid, and her elven complexion belied as unique a history as his own at some point in her family tree.
“Sister Baynes,” Erich said quickly as he rose quickly, suppressing a smile and standing at attention smartly.
“As you were, Ser Knight,” Aiori said, adjusting his tunic jacket. “Looking smart, as usual.”
“Thank you, Sister,” Erich replied, lowering his voice. “I missed you last night.”
Smoothing down his tunic, she left her hands placed on his chest. “I did, too, but it couldn’t be helped. We have our duties to attend to, particularly as we both are finishing up our studies and prepared to bring the good word to the world.”
“We need to consider where we plan on taking up our mission,” he began, his face softening a bit as she fussed over him, “We are ready…” his words faded away as he caught sight of someone, or something, just standing in the colonnade surrounding the church gardens.
“Erich?” Aiori asked, looking up, an eyebrow cocked. “What is it?”
“I, uh,” he stammered, looking down at her for a moment, then back at the colonnade, the figure regarded him. It was indistinct, sheathed in black robes, seeming to both meld and stand out from the shadows projected by the morning sunlight. The figure nodded once and then turned, walking down the colonnade, deeper into the complex.
She searched his face. “Now would be a good time to speak up, you know,” she said, still looking in his direction.
“I’m sorry,” he managed, shaking his head with a small chuckle, “something…never mind, My thoughts escaped me there for a moment. I was just saying that…”
Aiori eyed him suspiciously. “An escape?. Anything missing aside from your sense of cool?” she said, gently jibing.
“I must be seeing things, because I swear that I saw someone standing over there,” he motioned in the direction of the building colonnade, “and they weren’t a member of the Cloister or order”
“Are they still there?” she said as she turned and examined the colonnade.
“No,” Erich said, “but I swear, they were standing right there.” Stepping around Aiori, he took a few steps toward the building before glancing back, “and they were looking at me. Whoever it was walked deeper into the building.”
Erich jogged over to the colonnade and looked – the long stretch was filled with the usual mingling of clerics, knights and servants.
“Someone you recognized? Erich? Wait!” Aiori called after him, eyebrows furrowed in concern as she gave chase.
Trying to peer through the small crowds, Erich caught sight of the figure. A slender man, dressed in flowing, black robes and swathed in equally black hair, flowing as if affected by some unseen breeze. Even from the fifty feet of distance between the two of them, he could tell he possessed an otherworldly beauty. He glanced back over her shoulder at Erich, then continued walking away.
“You there!” Erich shouted, everyone in the colonnade suddenly looking toward him. “Halt!”
“Everything alright here, Ser?” Knight of the Red Marta Severin, gave Erich a questioning look.
“Sorry, Lady Severin, I just,” Erich shook his head, then stopping and taking a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I saw someone, and as crazy as it sounds, walked right down this corridor and into the promenade, right past all of you. She didn’t look like a member of the order; they definitely weren’t in uniform or armor.”
Marta and the other assembled holy men and women looked back where Erich was motioning. “We didn’t see anyone that wasn’t supposed…”
“Look, Lady Severin, I’m not seeing things,” Erich said, both defensive and sure.
Lady Severin regarded Erich for a moment, her eyes narrowing. Their service together in the Order gave her a unique insight into her junior. Erich could be brash, cocky at times, quick to fly off the handle in action, but never in word – frightening composed under high stress situations – the kind of believer and servant of Iomadae that the order hopes to build and rarely achieves.
“Mind your tone, Ser Wolfe,” she said finally, “but you aren’t one to make something like this up. Alright, we’ve got a couple of minutes before class, everyone spread out and see if we can find this mystery person”
Aiori came up close behind on his heels and nodded civilly to Lady Severin. “M’Lady,” she said, a small smile pulling at the corners of her lips.
Lady Severin spared a nod and a quick grimace in acknowledgment, then turned back to the search. “Did you see whatever it is Ser Wolfe was chasing?” she threw over her shoulder as she searched the crowds.
Aiori shook her head as she reached out through Sarenrae to find anyone who didn’t belong in the milieu of students and faculty. “No, he was looking behind me and I’m guessing I didn’t turn around in time,” she said, pausing where she was to concentrate.
Marta drew up close to her side. “You’re going to want to watch that, Sister,” she said quietly. “You know that fraternization is permitted, but in a command structure it can be suspect.”
“Yes, I’m aware of the necessary professional boundaries. We do at least attempt to be discreet and it does not enter in on duty,” she said in a quiet but somewhat prickled tone. “I’m not sensing anything out of the ordinary, m’Lady. There’s no one who shouldn’t be here,” she said a little louder, as if to indicate that the subject was closed.
Erich stopped at the end of the colonnade, looking into the cloistered promenade, empty save for the few students and junior knights who had responded to Ser Severin’s orders. Standing there, defeated and embarrassed, he didn’t need be an empath to sense the confusion and sniggering among his friends. Hearing Aiori step up beside him, he spared a slight glance.
“I saw her, here,” he said quietly, his voice a low rumble. “I’m not crazy.”
“Alright cadets,” Lady Severin began, raising her voice, walking toward Erich and Aiori, “we’ve had enough nosing around, return to your studies.”
“M’Lady, we’ll be right there,” Aiori said. After Severin hurried away in the direction of class, she fell easily into step with Erich. “You sure you’re okay?” she asked softly, trying to keep her question out of the general buzz of busy students.
“I’m going to have to be,” Erich said with a bit of confidence as he quickly compartmentalized the experience, the somewhat frazzled look on his face disappearing in the blink of an eye.