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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Mark's Journal #6: Arrival at Aristaal

Mark’s Journal 10/30/09

Shortly before our arrival at Aristaal, we were awakened by a commotion coming from Avaron’s tent. Ever at the ready, we leapt to action to see what was wrong. Oddly enough, what woke her up was the appearance of an ooze of some kind. It was small; roughly a hand in size, in a cubed form, and red in colour. Carefully touching it with a stick, we learned that it was also acidic in nature, but that it did not seem to be malevolent. Avaron wanted to keep some distance from it, but it seemed to not only follow her, but obey her instructions. Al, and the other Geomancers seemed unbothered by its presence, calling it a ‘familiar’. Remembering the gelatinous ooze that we fought in Central City, I was all too familiar with its kind. Seeing as though it was under Avaron’s care, I choose to observe the little thing and learn all that I could. Avaron named it Jello, and when we rode out, it followed us, displaying teleportation abilities.

At long last, we arrived at Aristaal. I had been looking forward to this arrival with much anticipation. Aristaal! The White City, the jewel of Ori, the peak of civilization in the New World, and we were going there. I thought that we would not run into the same sort of filth, corruption, and chaos as we had seen in Portsmouth and even Central City. I have to stop making assumptions.

Arriving at the White City, the first thing we noticed was that it was not white at all. While the walls were magnificent and made of a sturdy stone, it was also beige and grungy looking. From what we could see of the city, it was obvious that it started as a defensive fortification. Long, tall, strong walls, with large circular towers at the corners, with an energy field of some kind in the middle. Al, and the other Geomancers with their fiery earthen steeds simply rode through the field. Seeing as though it didn’t hurt them, we rode through as well, with no apparent effect.

Immediately after entering, I noticed a Temple of Ioun that I thought I would have to check out later. A short search yielded an inn at the south-western end of town called the Warmhearth Inn. The innkeeper seemed like a fast-talking business man, easy to deal with once he was paid. Stabling our horses, we went to the nearest tower. It turned out to be the Bard Tower, the centre for Bard-like activities in Aristaal. We weren’t allowed to go too far before we were informed that we needed to go to the centre of enrolment for a guest pass.

The head of this noocracy was the Archmage. An elderly gentleman, he presented himself as a man of great knowledge, and great power. Seeming interested in Avaron, he agreed to help her in controlling her powers, and asked her to consider enrolling in the Aristaal curriculum. Agreeing to give it a shot, Avaron signed up. One thing that I did not notice at the time was that she seemed to not even be set back by the financial burden of enrolling in school. Apparently, Alan left her in good standing.

After getting this pass, we decided to go to the library to get some more information on this city. Even if it weren’t already obvious, this city seemed to be a place of learning, as seen by the fact that the library encompassed almost the entire northern wall of the city. On our journeys I have been keeping a rough map, for record purposes, but also so that we wouldn’t get lost. I had already begun doing so here, but was fortunate in that I obtained a map of the area from the library.

As you can see from the attached map, there are 7 towers placed around the walls of the city, including the tower of Geomancy, Alchemy, Summoning, Illusion, Ethereal Locational and Teleportation Studies, General Wizardry, and of course, the Bard Tower. The system of government was a noochracy, one run by the most knowledgeable. Recalling the Temple, this made sense as above all things, Ioun worshippers care for knowledge. Splitting the group, I found out later that Leviss met a human Illusionist named Jim while looking for books to improve his bard skills. Tori went to the bestiary and learned a lot about the local animals. Avaron attempted to find some information on sorcery, but her search was unsuccessful. First of all, it seems that sorcery is rare, and for good reason. A wizard, it seems has the innate ability but must train and develop their discipline in order to maintain full control and use of their powers, while a sorcerer or sorceress has more ambient energy and at times forgo the discipline in search of greater power. This makes them very dangerous and unpredictable. I hoped, for all of our sakes, that Avaron maintains some control.

Another thing that I noticed was a sense of distance among this place. There seems some animosity among the different classes of wizard, as well as a general disdain for sorcery. I smelled trouble, but I’ve been told that I worry too much.

That night at our inn, Gailan the Brave, a dwarf bard, entertained us with songs of courage, adventure, and even one about the Keepers. Avaron left with the Archmage, presumably in order to show off her skills and for him to evaluate her potential.

Everyone seems entertained by this city so far, except for me. I haven’t really had a chance to investigate this city, and I find my lack of knowledge disturbing. Also, something that I had only acknowledged when I was angry, or fighting off some aberrant, was that I have less faith in magic than my companions. If I cannot feel it, hold it, or bend it to my will with sword and shield, I place less trust in it. The only exception is my religious background. Growing up with the teachings of Erathis, and influenced by our journey, I have a stronger faith in the goodness of civilization, the will of the gods, and faith in the righteousness of my actions. Magic is something I do not really understand, and without understanding comes danger.

Anxious for something to do, something to set right, I checked out the Ethereal Job Board to find that there were two jobs available, one involving goblins. Tired, and overwhelmed by our adventures, we decided to turn in for the night and seek out work tomorrow.

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