1999-03-16: The Visions are Subsiding...

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The Visions are Subsiding...

Author: Unknown author Published: March 16, 1999

Lord British stood with his eyes closed and listened intently to the many sounds of the Royal Garden. Not the busy sounds of the city, which rode softly in the background, but the sounds that, the garden itself made. A gentle spring wind whispering though the full, out-stretched arms of the trees. Birds quietly sang and talked with each other. It was very tranquil. He waited patiently for one of these sounds to tell him what to do, and smiled inwardly at his own foolishness. He couldn’t explain the visions that he had seen, but only that he had seen them. The one that showed this garden as dying seemed particularly absurd at the moment.

It was much easier, he thought, to think you were going mad, then it was to actually go mad. He grinned outwardly this time at his own joking nature. The past few weeks had been a torment for him, but the visions’ violence had slowly begun to subside. As it had been so many times in the past, the Royal garden…his garden was the lone refuge for a mind in turmoil. He opened his eyes and stared at the blue sky. A small group of adolescent clouds drifted by on a lazy breeze. A bright sun gentle bathed the scene in its warmth.

“M’ lord! Might I have a moment of your time?” a voice boomed from somewhere beyond the tallest of the orfleur flowers. He knew it was Geoffrey, but waited to respond. Geoffrey appeared through the branches of a low hanging willow. This scene seemed less real than the many of the visions he’d had of late.

“Lord British!”

Slowly he emerged from thought.

“Yes, Geoffrey, what is it?” he said, looking up from his moment of solitude.

“M’Lord,” Geoffrey said, briefly bowing to one knee. “I must talk to you about sending men to Buc’s Den.”

Anger flared in Lord British’s face, and his eyes, suddenly enraged, turned towards Geoffrey as his moment of peace quickly evaporated. “Has this not yet been done? I ordered it so several days ago,” he said, trying to rein in his frustration.

“Aye sire, and for that I do apologize. Thou hast not been thyself as of late, and so I did not have the opportunity to discuss this with you further. I beg thy pardon, but I feel that we must proceed with caution in this venture. I have ordered Halston to have the ships ready, and to stand by for my command, but Buc’s Den is not a friendly place, and I fear that sending men there without being prepared might jeopardize the lives of all involved.”

“Did I not impress upon thee the urgency of this?” Lord British asked angrily. “I must know what is going on there. Now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. NOW!”

“I understand that sire, but if the soldiers that I send don’t survive the landing, then they could not possibly return to deliver information unto us. I won’t give up three of my best soldiers without giving them a fighting chance.” The last sentence came out louder than Geoffrey had intended. Surprised by his own insubordinate tone, he averted his eyes from Lord British and took a comfortable step backwards.

His words struck home to Lord British causing him to sigh and rub his eyes. Geoffrey was fearful that his outburst would draw the wrath of his lord, but he also felt the weight of the past few days lift from his shoulders. For better or worse, he’d at least voiced his concerns.

“Considering your visions of evil, “ Geoffrey continued, in a more even tone, “I thought it best to be careful.”

“Thou speakest true, my friend,” Lord British said, clapping his hand upon Geoffrey’s shoulder. “These last few weeks have been quite a strain on me. We should not rush into that vile place ill-prepared. Is there no way to garner some information and then send in our people when we are ready?”

“Aye, sire. I will discuss this with my informants. But let me explain what we shall do to prepare…” Geoffrey said, and they continued to walk through the gardens.

Cool lamplight filtered down onto the gray cobblestone street in the middle of the capital city of Britannia. The soft yellowish glow wasn’t necessary on this clear night however as the two full moons hung high in the clear night sky. Pale light drifted down upon the city chasing shadows and thieves out of the streets and into their own dark places of refuge. Broken reflections of the canopy of stars and moonlight rippled in a multitude of tiny pools that had settled in-between the rectangular stones that made up the city street.

Suddenly, the slam of a door broke the serenity of the darkness as a laughing couple burst from the Blue Boar tavern. A path of bright light fell from the door, and a cacophony of music and conversation filled the street. The door closed, clearing the street of the boisterous tavern noises and the couple continued home arm-in-arm safe from harm, as the pair of moons smiled upon them.

Inside the Blue Boar, a bear of a man cloaked in fine leathers and silks boisterously added his voice to the symphony of chatter in the drinking room. “Another round of drinks for me and the ladies my good man,” he bellowed as he clapped the back of the tavern’s waiter. “You should join us my friend, there is plenty to drink and tales for all!”

“Sure, sure Dupre.” The smallish waiter agreed smiling. “When the tavern keep will allow, but for now I have my hands full.” The young man gathered wet, empty goblets, and wiped the splatters and spills which surrounded the happy figure of Dupre. Laughter, outrageous tales of drinking and adventure, and general joviality filled the table, as they always did when Dupre was present.

“BAH! Just give me a moment with the tyrant and you’ll be here at my table for the remainder of the evening,” the big man snorted, and he began to rise. He was huge in terms of both build and stature, and blunt when it came to dealing with the likes of stingy tavernkeepers. The waiter’s hand settled on his shoulder and guided him back to his seat.

“No, no, no, Dupre, good friend. I’ll join you in a moment, but I would like to leave here with my job,” Marcus laughed. Dupre was not easily outmaneuvered, but the young waiter did manage to guide him back to his captivated audience.

“Well, if you say so,” Dupre agreed, dejectedly. “But I expect you to share a pint with me before the night is through,“ he said with a playful wag of his finger. He returned his attention to the two, beautiful ladies sitting with him, as well as a small crowd of listeners who had gathered to hear his tales.

“Oh yes, now where were we?”

“You were telling us about when you were confronted a daemon that stole your appearance,” a voice answered from the crowd.

“Ahhh… yes. Well, we were in search of the Codex, and I was leading the party to the depths of Deceit…or no, wait, it was Hythloth.” He furrowed his brow, and nodded, agreeing with himself, then continued on into the tale. “Something changed. Something wicked. More evil than the Lich’s lair, or the Daemon’s altar. The moans and monstrous laughing had stopped, and we realized that we were in a room shrouded with a slightly metallic mist…”

He paused again and slowly lifted his goblet. After taking a large gulp of Abbey wine he glanced down at his goblet. Dupre was a regular and as such had his own special, silver goblet encrusted with the silver serpent.

“Just then…we could make out through the mist…five different shadowy figures. Each one standing still. I moved to the front and one of these unidentifiable creatures matched my move! Fear settled upon my heart. Strangely, I found these monsters vaguely familiar.”

He paused again. This time he looked around at his captivated crowd. A particular young man was leaning a bit too close for Dupre’s comfort.

“Son, could you check on that wine? I find myself rather parched,” he said to the youth. The boy only nodded and ran off towards the bar, returning to Dupre the comfortable space he needed.

“It dawned on me that the ROOM was the evil. It had recreated each of us in a malformed copy. I immediately dove into the fray with my Viking Sword of Vanquishing…” A single roar of hearty laughter rang out from the silent group, and Dupre stopped in mid-sentence.

“By the virtues Dupre, do you never tire of telling that story?” a graceful and elderly man laughed. “Further more do you not tire of failing to do it justice?”

“IOLO!” Dupre exclaimed jumping to his feet as he saw his friend emerge from the crowd. The aging bard was very proper and handsome and wore only the finest clothing. In his hands he held an intricately carved lute. A wide grin brightened his face, as it always did when he saw friends enjoying themselves. After exchanging a strong handshake, they fell into a more powerful hug.

“Come now, Dupre. You know that Geoffrey led that expedition. If I remember correctly, you were bringing up the rear with Jaana,” Iolo smiled and his grin grew even further till it broke into laughter.

“Damn thee Iolo! Why do you always interrupt that story when I begin to dispatch the daemons?” Dupre said, disappointed. “Come now, lets fill that mouth with wine while I finish my tale.”

Dupre turned back to the crowd to begin anew, but his listeners had dissipated.

“DAMN! I should thrash thee for this!” He sounded angry, but the smile belied his tone.

“Dupre, you will have them captured once again once I leave,” Iolo said in a more serious tone. “I have grave news, or what I feel is grave.”

“What is it friend?” asked Dupre, his eyes narrowing and his face growing worried. He took the wine from the young boy who’d just returned to the table. Dupre dropped of a couple of gold coins into the youth’s hand. A push in the young man’s chest sealed the deal for the bottles of wine and started the youth on his way.

“I do not know, exactly,” Iolo continued, ignoring the exchange with the boy. “There are strange things afoot. Lord British refuses audience with everyone, including me. I fear for him. I managed to corner him in his quarters, and he seems quite upset. I cannot locate Nystul, and Xavia is of no help.”

“Aye, it sounds strange, but nothing GRAVE old friend. I mean Nystul has always been a strange sort anyway…” Durpre said frowning, as he took a long drink directly from the wine bottle.

“Dupre, listen to me. Something is wrong. Geoffrey is particularly serious about this. Our liege is looking to send people into Buc’s Den.”

Dupre laughed aloud and turned to face Iolo. “HAHAHA! Geoffrey was being serious? Iolo, when have you ever known that man to not be serious? This sounds suspiciously like something you’ve twisted farther than it was meant to be twisted. Why in the name of the virtues would they want to send anyone to Buc’s den? Tis a rat infested hole of a place, and their beer is always stale.”

“Dupre, PLEASE!” Iolo said, becoming more frustrated with his old friend. “I come to you as a fellow adventurer, and as a friend. On my honor as a bard, Dupre, we need to find out what’s going on. We must talk to Nystul or perhaps travel to Moonglow to speak with Erethian. I know, I know, you do not like him, but he does see and understand things that are beyond what you or I can.”

“Ok, ok…” Dupre said, resigned to following Iolo off on a fool’s errand. “At least help me finish my wine. MARCUS! Come finish this wine with me, Iolo and I have business to attend to,” he called, winning him the glare of the tavern keep. “All I ask is that we try Nystul first. You know how I feel about magic, which means Moonglow is NOT my favorite city, and I am even less inclined to go there since it means we’ll have to travel.”

“All right, all right, Dupre, we can try Nystul first. I just hope that everything is ok,” Iolo said as he drained his glass.