Shadow and Sunlight

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm

Simon's Beginning-

“It’s time I introduced you to some friends of mine…”

The streets of Gammel shimmer tonight as a light rain taps down on everything you can see. Joshua’s steps seem quickened by the dingy conditions, but he still exhibits a rare, deliberate swiftness in both physicality and demeanor. He stays close to your side as you walk, slipping around peasants and through the rare crowds.

“You’ll want to keep quiet for the most part,” Joshua directs you quietly, “ ’less Namu asks ya something specific.” Joshua previously mentioned this Namu man, pronounced “Nawwmoo”, when regarding his trips to the north. Namu apparently lives in a village to the north called Cahnzu, where he runs a small general store.

“He wants you for something mundane, at first. He needs you to prove your patience, and your commitment to helping people. It’ll take days, and you’ll do little more than sleep, eat and do as he asks. Then, he’ll have one more test for you. That one will be more fun, I reckon.”

He does it in a way that not many in Silveria or any nation would notice, but you know your old friend well, and you notice him checking his surroundings before speaking again. This time, he mutters his words in one hurried breath. His serious tone falls so far from his usual demeanor your mouth falls agape in shock.

“A strange kind of war is coming that nobody has witnessed before, and you need to be ready for it.” This is the first of you hearing anything about a strange war, from Joshua or anyone else. Without missing a beat, he falls victim to a fake-ish coughing fit, though his quickened pace never falters. You look up as Joshua slows to a stop, and you see in front of you the town’s stone gatehouse.

Again, he checks all around him for listeners-in, then turns to you with a sobering look of serious business.

“Namu knows another man who may know a thing or two about what happened when you were younger….what happened with your family. He said he can’t guarantee us anything, but he’s the best connection I’ve found in years of asking around. He may ask you to do some dangerous things, though. The horses are ready and so am I, but now’s the time to be a pussy if you feel so inclined. What’s your decision?”

By the end of his explanation, Joshua’s face has adopted its much more common wry smile.

Comments

Simon kept the look of surprise from his eyes at mention of his family, but subconsciously rubbed a gloved hand over the burn scars hidden under his sleeves. He turned to look Joshua in the eye at the implied insult, “I ain’t no sissy boy from the nobility. Growing up on the streets here’s been dangerous.” He puffed out his chest and finished, “I’ll do what it takes to make sure I’m ready for this war you’re talking about.”
Simon began checking his gear, ensuring that the straps that held his armor on were tight, that the daggers he carried were still secured in his sleeves, and that his few meager possessions were all in his backpack. His curiosity got the better of him as he began checking the horse over.
“So what sort of war are you talking about,” he mumbled, quiet enough to be missed by anyone but Joshua. “Some nobles not getting along? A two a copper warlord trying to carve out some land? Or something more…” He hesitated, trying to find the word, “… Righteous?”

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
 

[Roll Sleight of Hand for hiding your knives, but take 10 if your actual base roll is anything lower. You already took your time tucking the daggers away discreetly, so you’re just double-checking them before you continue.]

“Well, it isn’t the usual fight over land or coin. This will be a war of ideas, a war of ways of thinking. My words do little to explain it. You’ll understand soon enough, and Namu will help you. He plans to meet the two of us at the bellsberry tree outside this gate.” Without wasting a moment, Joshua nods in the direction of the gate, then bounds off with you directly behind him.

It doesn’t take five minutes to reach the large tree outside the gate- a proud, old tree with red berries that taste like fresh mint. You remember weaving yourself through the limbs of the old tree in your youth, munching on bellsberries while you thoroughly dominated the other children in games like hide and seek. A tinge of sadness stings at you as you remember this. You miss using your skills to your advantage, and you quietly but desperately hope this new journey allows you to pull out your tricks again.

Under the tree stands two old hens squawking on about town gossip in the shade, but as you get within twenty feet or so, a dark-skinned bald man emerges from behind the tree’s broad trunk. His smile is bright in comparison to his dark cloak and even darker skin tone, and his teeth are almost abnormally white and well-aligned for living in such a place and time as this. His voice seems rich and friendly, and his thick Islander accent* is impossible to miss when he greets you and Joshua.

“Well if it isn’t the Scourge of Salamanca!”

Joshua raises a finger to his grinning mouth and shushes the bald man as he approaches him with open arms. Your old friend laughs hardily as he hugs Namu in a bizarrely loving manner, almost like a brother. He’s so happy to see this guy, it’s actually gross. Only Namu’s steady torrent of light-hearted derision quells your nausea and fends off awkwardness.

“You smell like rotted grapes, my friend. Good to know that some things never change.”

“Ha, yes. Better than the scented oils your skank lizard* mother wears. Are you well, brother?”

“Never better. How have you been holding up, you ugly old man? I think the gods each night for not making me white.”

Joshua contains his laughter only enough to respond by holding out one hand and giving the universal sign for “so-so”.

“You know how it goes. Things change, but they really stay the same. I brought the young lad I wanted you to meet.” Joshua then nods in your direction. With a mostly sarcastic stateliness, the bald man reaches a long, slender hand out to you.

“Pleased to meet you, young man. I am Namu Navrani of the Sonoran Plain.”

  • #1- Imagine a mix of Punjab Indian and Jamaican.
  • #2- You aren’t sure of the origin of the word “lizard”, but in this context, you’re pretty sure it’s a vulgar racial slur for Islanders.
Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
 

[Rolled a 17 for a total of 24 on slight of hand for daggers]
Simon makes a movement somewhere between a nod and a bow towards the islander as he shakes his hand.
“Pleased to meet you too Mr. Navrani. I am Simon Mertens. I have heard you might have some information I would like, and a task I could help you with.”
After shaking Namu’s hand Simon steps back slightly behind Joshua and conceals his hands and arms in his cloak.

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
 

To say Namu’s laugh is odd would be grossly underestimating the matter. The way he rolls his large eyes into the back of his head and takes time to almost gasp between loud, high-pitched, guttural guffaws emphasized how tightly his ashy skin was wrapped around his small, round head. He was a lively old man, dark but once darker, brimming with energy but once, you for some unknown reason assume, much more fleet of foot and demeanor in general.

Although his boyish cackle is unique, it is equally genuine. He laughs accordingly for a long moment as you inspect the odd sound, then he pounds his chest and clears his throat while smiling widely.

“I hope he isn’t this shy when those things with red wings come flying down,” he says while pointing and nodding condescendingly at Joshua, “I hope you didn’t get me a bum bodyguard, old man.” The wrinkled Islander turns his smiling gaze to you.

“Tell me, Simon, what kind of information do you speak of?”

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
 

Simon quietly slips off his gloves under his cloak as he begins speaking to Namu. “I’m speaking of information about a certain man. A man whom is responsible for a great many evil deeds.”
Simon reveals the scars on his hands to Namu, “He took something and left these in return, I intend to trade them back.”
A boyish grin creeps across Simon’s face as his hands dart back into his cloak and into his gloves.
“I’m afraid I’m more bum than bodyguard though sir, but, well, HE’s still alive ain’t he?” He finishes with a shrug in the direction of Joshua.

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
 

Namu’s thin lips crack open into a smile, but he shakes his head. “Ah boy, if only know knew what that old man’s been through. He’s probably still too soft to tell ya all the nasty bits.” He looks to your mentor and smiles warmly.

Joshua is looking at the ground with a growing grin on his wrinkled face, then nods his head in your direction. “He’s morbid enough already.”

Namu lets loose a brief burst of those odd laughs before sighing and returning his attention to you. “It is not I who holds the knowledge you seek, but an associate of mine. More like a friend, really. I’ll tell you more about this friend as we get on toward home. Are you ready to go?”

Chapter 0.1- Before the Storm
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