Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful new story from Olthadir, entitled
The Pilgrimage of Virtue
Background music by Smartsound
Chapter 1, “Prologue and Introductions”
When we left Owl’s Head the sun was already high enough overhead to start descending. I doubt we would make it very far today. The plan was to go to Brittany. We only got to Kingsport.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. There are nine of us and a good majority of us are not used to travelling. We ended up leaving Owl’s Head much later than I expected. I was at the Fire Lotus Tavern at sun up.
Hours of slow walking later and we arrive in Kingsport just after nightfall. And I am foolishly staying up, writing down the first days journey by candlelight in the inn.
Truly, I should begin with what the journey is about other than the ravings of a tired and impatient traveller.
This entire endeavour – called a ‘pilgrimage’ by some – really began about a week ago in Fire Lotus Tavern. The talk going around was about the large quantity of Outlanders entering our lands. We discussed who they were, where they came from and why they were here. Some of us were pleased, thankful even. Businesses were booming, we had more coin coming in than usual. Work was good. For some, business was too good, they couldn’t keep up with the new demand. Others were driven out of business by powerful Outworlders who seemingly could work through the night.
As we spoke and drank more the conversation became more and more heated. These Outlanders were called Outlanders because they don’t really belong here. They don’t understand Novia like a Novian. If they are here to help, why are they causing so much trouble for a lot of us?
Don’t get me wrong, we do need help. The world is in trouble. Whatever madness caused the moon to shatter and end the Obsidian Empire hasn’t just disappeared and left. We all know that. Lord British knows that – Outlander that he is. He supposedly saved other worlds before coming here. If you believe that, that is your own problem.
The reality is he is here and he has a very large following and there are hundreds if not thousands of Outlanders in Novia. So, what are we going to do?
A few drinks later, we considered our situation.
First, Lord British’s plan to help isn’t all that bad. We all agreed that the virtues he was describing were all well and good. We could not find immediate fault in them.
The major issue, however, is the huge amount of Outlanders rushing into Novia ‘helping’ us.
Lord British’s virtues are easy enough to understand. They would take long to really enact and follow. But the fact that Outlanders have been brought, or called, whatever you believe, is downright insulting. Why can’t we figure them out ourselves and save our own land?
That was the beginning of this pilgrimage. Nine Novians decided to travel our home land, learning all we can about Lord British’s virtues. We intend to show that we Novians can care for ourselves and do not need Outlanders to save us.
We intend to become Avatars.
For posterity sake, I suppose I should describe out ragtag group.
We were organized by the individuals who solidified our intent and brought us together: the Smith, the Cook and the Elder.
The Elder is the reason we took nearly more than a day to get from Owl’s Head to Kingsport. He will be the reason for a good deal of delays, I’m sure. As much as I cursed him today I would wager that we wouldn’t be a group of pilgrims actually going on this pilgrimage if it wasn’t for him. He was the main voice in going out into Novia and exploring the Virtues.
I’d guess the Elder is nearing a hundred. He is nearly toothless and has hair only on the back of his head. He walks with a cane and has a very pronounced limp.
The Smith is a tall muscular woman with blonde hair. She is quite a powerful looking person and has an equally powerful voice. She is determined to learn what she can about the virtues – especially to learn if the Virtues are an Outlander plan to subjugate Novians. She is so determined to learn the truth that she left her business to do so.
The Cook is a short, thin man who used to work at the Fire Lotus Tavern. He has short brown hair and a plain, forgettable face. He would often leave the kitchen and listen to the conversation we were having. He quit his job shortly after talk of this pilgrimage began to materialize. I’m sure the tavern doesn’t miss him, he spent more time with us than at his post.
He is a wonderful listener who intently listened to all of us speak. That said, he was the first of us to agree to come along. Maybe he just really wanted out of Owl’s Head.
The rest of us agreed over the next few days – some more reluctantly than others. When the Cook quit we all figured he did so only to sit and listen to us, but when the Smith sold her forge we knew this was serious. The Elder then started calling our trip a pilgrimage.
The Tailor agreed the next day. It wasn’t all that surprising that he agreed. He was a rich man who owned a large business. He wasn’t originally from Owl’s Head, or the Hidden Vale like most of us. He never said where he was from. He only told us that his clothes would sell for quite the amount of coin. We all just nodded. He didn’t look rich, he could be making it all up. He wore the same clothes as everyone else. He didn’t even act rich. But considering he was at the Tavern every time I came in he must have had a lot of coin to spend – or be seriously in debt.
The Soldier was the next to agree. He is a medium sized man of little words. He has a black moustache he carefully grooms and a mop of black hair. I feel like he joined for no other reason than just to protect us. After the Tailor agreed to come along all the Soldier did was say he was coming, drank some more ale, crossed his arms and that was that. He hasn’t said much since. Honestly, I am very surprised he came along.
The next day, I figured we would see the same people in the tavern, maybe less the Tailor or the Elder and never speak again of this pilgrimage. But as soon as the Farmer came in, she said she was coming along. She sold all her land and livestock that morning. I since asked her why she should do such a thing. Her reply was simply that the pilgrimage sounded interesting. I asked her what she thought would happen to her lands and she shrugged and smiled. She is a young woman, red haired and red cheeked. She is plain, homely, as if she was born of the earth itself.
As we discussed the weather over some soup the Scholar – who always sat near to us with an open book and pen – said she was coming along as well. I was especially shocked at this slight, nondescript woman wanting to join. I suppose it was her chance to fill out a book or something. A way to find fame or something. Not that I am one to talk.
The last one to join was the Sailor. He joined a full day later, before we even realized we would need such a companion. We were all discussing our routes, sitting around a map of Novia when the Sailor placed his mug on the table and said he would come along, free of charge – as if money had anything to do with our fools errand. He was a round man, devoid of any hair, save his eyebrows and a long braid coming from his chin.
I asked him why he wanted to come along and he simply said that he had been all over Novia – seen many ports, talked to various kinds of people, but never had heard of such a good reason to go anywhere as he did these past few days.
Sitting here and writing this now I do realize how silly we all were, the nine of us at the Fire Lotus Tavern. Our grand plan to go to Novia proper and learn of the Virtues. But, this is us, the Pilgrims of Virtue who left Owl’s Head, and are about to leave the Hidden Vale, to explore an Outlander’s plan to save us Novians from ourselves and our past.
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