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(RP) A conversation in Minoc

John Knighthawke

Journeyman
Stratics Veteran
In Sosaria, evil was never far away. But, during those times when it was especially close, it was difficult to avoid seeing it everywhere – even in the weather. Take this storm, for example. There’d been worse storms but, somehow, this one seemed all-the-more-ominous to Duncan as he rode through Minoc, to meet John at the Barnacle tavern. That the distinct mountain chill made Duncan really feel the rain in his bones, even though in reality it didn’t, couldn’t, get through his cloak and hat, didn’t help. Neither did the fact that Minoc’s streets were nearly deserted tonight. Mostly he saw the Guards. The city was tense, preparing for Jack to, at any moment, follow through on his threats against it.


And neither did the fact that, earlier in the week, the head of the Fellowship had stood in King Blackthorn's stead at the Royal Council meeting.


Duncan arrived at the The Barnacle, tethered his horse, and entered. Normally he would have stood outside for a bit and smoked a pipe or two, just in case someone in there objected to the pipe, before going in – but not tonight. The chilly mountain rain, and the tension of the city, were simply too much for Duncan tonight.


Inside the tavern Minoc’s tension was a little less. Tonight, a little less was enough. There were few customers there but Duncan knew them. They pointed him toward John, who sat in the corner, his eyes surveying the sparsely-populated tavern, a half-empty mug of water and full glass of wine in front of him. Duncan walked over to John. Duncan knew John wouldn't be sleeping much, and would be leaving Minoc even less, until the threat had passed. In between warm but wary glances throughout the tavern, John greeted him.


“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” said John, “especially since, now that I think upon it, I am not quite sure what it was I wanted to talk to you about.”


“That’s alright,” responded Duncan, as he lit his pipe. He knew tonight's patrons – none of them would mind the pipe. “Do the best you can and I’ll charge you extra for this month. You probably just wanted my expert advice on defendin’ this city anyway.”


John nodded but then didn’t reply for a few minutes. Duncan waited. John had always paid him well and would deserve a little patience even if they weren’t friends too.


“Would you like some haggis?” John blurted out.


“No.”


“Are you certain?”


“Aye, I am actually. I’ve probably eaten more of that foul cancer then you’ve. And I'm having no more.”


John smiled and chuckled. “The White Shroud has fallen at last,” he spoke, his voice suddenly somber, the laugh erased.


Duncan nodded. He smoked, and he waited. What John had said required no response and more was coming anyway.


“The Destroyer, I suspect, cannot be far behind.”


“Oh, you'd be surprised.....Some evils are ready to come and lead their troops into battle but some will just.....wait. Not everything's Mors Gotha or Virtuebane, you know. Some things....Like to wait.”


“Wait for what?”


“Dunno....It all depends. The right moment. The right combination of circumstances. You've heard of the elder god Cthulhu?”


“Aye, I have.”


“Well, 'cording to what I've read, he can only appear at exactly the right alignment of the stars, when the right ritual is performed, in exactly the right place. But he's got no reason to care because, until his time comes, he can just.....Wait. Wait and dream.”


John took a sip of wine. That made Duncan worry. Though often seen holding wine or being around it, John was simply not a man who drank. “You suggested at one point you might...I was going to say might know who the Destroyer was. But that would be, I think, exaggerating….”


“Aye, it would, seeing as how I don’t know anything of the sort…..”


“…..but you seem as though you might understand this a little more than I do.”


“I’ve read some books you haven’t I guess.”


“Well, what do they say?”


“I can’t say as I understand this kind of stuff well. And it’s really easy to be wrong.”


“Aye, I know. But, at present, you have a much better idea of what we may be in for than I do.”


“And even more important, John….What we have to do, you realize, don’t change one bit if I’m right or not.”


“Oddly comforting, that….” John patted the hilt of the sword hanging from his back. “To know that, no matter what we face, we fight it with sword, and spell, and mind, all the same. But tell me your idea anyway.”


Duncan took a deep puff of his pipe. “Honestly, John, it feels like some kind of elder god. Something like, well, something like Cthulhu. Something….other-wordly. From a different….I don’t know the right term. I want to say ‘plane’ but that don’t feel right….”


John took another sip of wine as he listened, then blurted out: “Reality.”

“Aye, that’s a good word.”


“And what makes you think that. What makes you think The Destroyer is not something as familiar as a lich, demon lord, or even Mondain or Zog or Khal Ankur reborn?”


“Not sure exactly. Somethin’ about how the Fellowship talks about it. The way it manifests only as a voice. The way it gets into your mind like something gettin’ under your skin. The way the Fellowship’s minds seem to just…..break….. more and more the more they hear their voice. Like they’ve seen or heard something that’s not just bad or monstrous but…..But they’ve seen something, or heard something, that is, but shouldn’t be.”


“All that could happen with demon cultists. Did happen, in a sense, with the cultists of the Elemental Titans, or Mondain.”


“Could. Has, like you said.”


“But, were this something like that, some more conventional foe, we would have seen it by now.”


“Not certain but, aye, I think so…..” Duncan paused. He wasn’t quite sure why he wanted to abruptly change the subject he just felt compelled to do so. “’Course, we got a more immediate threat. While The Destroyer waits…..it’s got a minion we need to deal with. Let’s go patrol a bit before we find a place for Minoc’s first knight to rest a bit.”


“Will the patrol cost me anything more?”


“Nah. I’ll put it in my account book as a simple walk. No charge. The storm’s lettin' up anyway."


“For now.”

“Aye, my friend. For now.”
 
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