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(RP) The Court of Truth

Jepeth

Journeyman
Governor
As the Wisp vanished, the woods were plunged into a deep darkness. Above Jepeth and Tejnik the stars shone brightly, but not as brilliantly as the comet.

“Ye will breathe not a word of this to anyone,” said Jepeth in the pitch black.

“But, Governor, are you..?” replied Tejnik.

“Not a single word, Tejnik.”

***

The next day Jepeth sat at his desk in the tiny, one-room office the citizens of Skara Brae provided their Governor. It featured a desk, two chairs for visitors, and a bookshelf. Behind him hung a banner of Skara Brae with its device of a bucking blue steed on a white field, and a banner of the red iron cross of Blackthorn. He turned away from his papers and beheld both banners for a moment.

Jepeth had always secretly hated both designs. As it was the color of spirituality the white field was appropriate, but that was about it. The blue steed made little sense in context to Skara Brae. The city of Spirituality, rangers, and fishmongers really had little to do with horses of any kind. Other cities had designs which were more appropriate, if a little obvious. Yew’s featured a tree. Moonglow, a crystal ball. Minoc, the hammer and anvil. Perhaps the only banner with a sillier design than Skara Brae was Britain’s banner. It featured a checkerboard pattern and a castle, which Jepeth had always thought was a little too on the nose.

The cross of Blackthorn, however, Jepeth had always believed was more distasteful than obvious or silly like the city banners. It was the device worn first by the soldiers of the Chaos Guard. An organization solely devoted to stymying the spread of Order and virtue in Britannia. While it is said King Blackthorn has put those days, and those ideas, firmly to rest and has embraced virtue, Jepeth always looked upon the iron cross device with skepticism. When Blackthorn was crowned he quickly moved to having his device installed all over Britannia, in addition to having a new castle built. Castle British remains empty, waiting.

Jepeth turned away from the back wall and returned to the pile of parchments on his desk with a sigh. The comet situation had inflamed his island. Reports of hoarding. Arguments over supplies between neighbors had escalated into near hostility. There was also the mystery of a break-in, theft, and death in a Vesper archive. The missing item apparently originated from Skara Brae but Jepeth had thus far had no luck in finding out what the item could be. He checked the yearly log but found it woefully incomplete past the previous ten years. He examined the declarations by previous Governors and mayors (Skara Brae had only had an office of Governor for around eight or nine years) but again found them incomplete or damaged.

He resolved at that moment to both not let his island home be destroyed by whatever the comet brings AND reform the island’s system of filing information. Two noble goals that were likely beyond his skill alone.

He attempted to work. He really did. He was trying to do what an entire adulthood in the service of the Paladins had taught him about grim news and prophecy. Put it aside, they would say. Put it away and do the job. His job had certainly grown more complex in the past months. But he couldn’t help but think about what the Wisp had told him and Tejnik. “Ye will sacrifice,” it said. Sacrifice what? Himself? His city? His citizens? And what of the others the Wisp said would come forth. Who would be the compassionate, the humble, and the valorous? Had he already met them? What part in this would they play?

As he scratched at a piece of parchment he heard a familiar woosh and pop sound from outside his office. Under the door jam he saw a familiar blue glow and sighed, wondering what fresh hell this moongate and its passenger would bring.

He stood, approached the door, and opened it just as the gate closed. Standing there was a woman in chainmail armor, carrying a halberd.

Jepeth blinked in surprise.

“Hail, guard of the realm!” said Jepeth bowing his head.

The woman nodded in return. “Governor Jepeth of Skara Brae?” she asked.

“Aye,” replied Jepeth, “do ye bring news from the King?”

“Nae, sire,” said the guard. “I am from the Court of Truth in Yew.”

Jepeth remained silent for a moment as he fought the urge to curse loudly and kick something. Instead, he kept his composure and professional attitude in front of the Guard.

He sighed, “what has my Cousin done now?”

***

After a ferry ride to the mainland and a horse ride up the coast Jepeth had reached the great northern woods of Yew. The Spiritwood had long endured in this part of the world and the great trees around Empath Abbey and the Court of Truth were a truly magnificent sight. The Abbey was one of the great structures in Britannia, one of the three fortresses devoted to Truth, Love, and Courage which power the soul with virtue. It, and the monks who tend and inhabit the Abbey, devote themselves to the study and discipline of Love.

The Monks also produce the lion’s share of Britannian wine. A never ending source of mirth for the rest of the realm.

It was, however, love for his frustrating, scoundrel relative that brought Jepeth to Yew. The Guard informed Jepeth that his cousin Threepwood had been caught smuggling goods and spirits into Yew. He was arrested and promptly thrown into a cell in the great and terrible Court of Truth to await trial.

While Jepeth had been a guest of the monk’s of the Abbey many times (Skara Brae and Yew shared the same coastline and were connected by many customs) he had never visited the Court. It was a long, formidable building of roughly hewn stone. It spread out, north to south, across a great swath of land connecting an island immediately off the coast to the mainland by way of an elevated, enclosed bridge. The court occupied the southern end of the structure and the cells occupied the north.

Jepeth did not travel alone. The guard who was dispatched to bring him to the Court rode with him the short journey north to Yew, and the two dismounted their horses and approached the building’s great facade. Her name was Maggie, was not much for conversation, and hailed from Britain originally.
“This way, lord,” she said as they approached the building.

“Please wait a moment,” said Jepeth. “I told my aide to meet us here. I believe he’ll be able to help.”

The Guard nodded, and slung her great halberd across her back.

“Oh, you may wish to use that to support yourself,” said Jepeth.

“Support myself?” replied the Guard.

Just then a powerful burst of air and light erupted a foot away from them. The guard lost her balance and fell backwards while Jepeth’s customary white cloak identifying him as a paladin nearly ripped itself off his shoulders. The Guard returned to her feet and before them Tejnik had appeared.

“Governor, hullo again!” he exclaimed. “I believe I see you more during this crisis than I have ever before combined.”

“Hail Tejnik,” said Jepeth as he rearranged his cloak.

Tejnik nodded at Jepeth and turned to the Guard.

“Oh, ma’am!” said Tejnik bowing from the middle at Maggie the Guard, his great height making him look like a tree snapping at the middle.

“Sir,” she replied curtly dusting herself off.

“Ma’am, by chance art thou feeling particularly compassionate, humble, or valorous as of late?” said Tejnik, smiling wide.

Jepeth felt beside himself and gave his administrator an exasperated look.

“Erm, aye? Nae?” replied the Guard.

“Ignore the daft mage, please,” said Jepeth. “Lead on, Guard.”

The Guard gave Tejnik a strange look, repeated it towards Jepeth, and led them into the jail. As they walked through the facility they passed cells full of ragged men and women. Jepeth felt a pang of guilt in his heart at the sight. While he was certainly a follower of the virtues, he knew enough about humanity to know that not all these people could possibly be guilty. This was a hard won lesson, however. As a child he earned more than a smack across his knuckles from a teacher for not showing enough compassion. Intellectually he knew they were condemned. In his gut he worried if in the end everyone was.

The Guard stopped at an empty cell.

“He was in here,” she said, gesturing to the empty cell. It featured a ratty roll of cloth on the floor, a wash basin, and a bucket.

“And how did he get out?” said Jepeth.

“This way,” replied the Guard.

They wormed their way back through the jail, out its great iron door, and into the grounds surrounding the jail.

“He paid another Guard to let him out, who led him to the roof up there,” said Maggie the Guard. “From there he attempted to get high enough up to use a spell and recall out.”

“How did he do that?” said Tejnik.

“The fool jumped,” said Maggie.

Jepeth sighed and shook his head.

“Alright Tejnik,” said Jepeth. “Please find him if you can.”

Tejnik nodded and outstretched his arms as if he was gropping his way through a dark room. He closed his eyes and began to whisper. Jepeth distinctly heard Tejnik say that pernicious of all spells, that first brick on the path to unnatural magicks.

“Ah Mi Ko La So Lo Va..” whispered Tejnik. “Ah Mi Ko La So Lo Vaa...”

Tejnik walked around in this fashion for a moment. He kept his arms spread ahead of him as if trying to find the wall in a dark room.

“Ah,” Tejnik said finally. “Yes. He’s here.”

The Guard unslung her halberd and held it in her right hand at the ready.

“He’s angry,” said Tejnik with his eyes closed. “Angry you brought the guard.”

“Spare me,” said Jepeth out loud to neither Tejnik or Maggie.

“He wishes to return,” said Tejnik smiling.

“Do it,” replied Jepeth.

“Are you sure you want me to do it, Governor?” asked Tejnik.

“Aye,” replied Jepeth.

Tejnik’s right hand enclosed on something invisible. His tall frame breathed in deeply taking as much air into his lungs as he could. His eyes opened and rolled up into his head and in a deep voice he cried “AN CORP!”

Starting from Tejnik’s heart a glow spread down his right arm into his hand. What he was holding on to finally began to become opaque. First as a grey mist, and then quickly into the shape of a man. The grey remained semi-transparent and under it Jepeth saw glowing shapes form into bones. Arteries spread across them quickly, soon followed by muscle. For a brief moment it was a horrible sight: a freshly skinned body screaming from under a grey vale. Skin finally grew across the body just as the grey vale became solid into cloth. Maggie the Guard and Jepeth both grimaced at the sight.

Tejnik let go and the newly resurrected body of Threepwood fell to the ground.

The Guard swung her great halberd out and held it towards Threepwood threateningly.

“Remain still, pirate!” she cried.

Threepwood paid her no attention as he was currently throwing up glowing ectoplasm onto the grass.

Jepeth shook his head.

“Cousin,” he said disapprovingly.

“Lord-Governor-Highness,” said Threepwood wiping the slime from his face.

Jepeth sighed.

“How many times have ye been resurrected now?” asked Jepeth.

“Ye concerned for me soul?” asked Threepwood.

“Aye,” replied Jepeth. “I don’t wish to have a necromancer’s horror in the family.”

Threepwood snorted and attempted to stand, but fell back to his knees.

“Take a moment, scallywag,” said Tejnik.

Threepwood felt his chest for a moment.

“This feels.. different?” said Threepwood slightly worried. “What have ye done, flunky?”

“I cursed you!” said Tejnik happily. “Wanted to make sure ye wouldn’t try and escape.”

“Curse ye self next time ye villainous dog,” grumbled Threepwood.

“It was my order,” said Jepeth.

“Villainous dogs travel in packs,” said Threepwood pointing at the three people standing over him.

“Enough scoundrel,” said the Guard. “On your feet!”

She thrust the halberd closer to him as he stumbled to his feet.

“What, ye going to kill me?” said Threepwood smiling.

“You would be surprised what can be left behind on the journey back to life,” she said.

Threepwood rolled his eyes and held his hands aloft as she shackled his wrists.

“She seems yer type, cousin,” said Threepwood. “I hear in her that Britain accent ye have always wanted.”

“I have many things to deal with right now, Cousin!” said Jepeth more angrily than he probably intended in an effort to ignore Threepwood’s barb about his accent. “Why must ye complicate things? Could ye not have kept out of trouble until this crisis was passed?”

Threepwood scoffed again.

“To me cell, villainous dog” said Threepwood to Maggie the Guard.

Threepwood made a show of parading back towards the jail with the other three following behind him closely.

“Oh, scallywag,” said Tejnik happily, “by chance are you feeling particularly compassionate, humble, or valourous lately?”

“Shut up, flunky,” said Threepwood.

***

Later that day Threepwood was returned to his cell in the great jail facility. He now shared his block with the treacherous guard who let him out to begin with.

At the guard’s station Jepeth scratched a quill across a parchment. Maggie the Guard provided the scrolls to him and then returned them to a wooden box for filing.

“Has he always been like that?” she asked him.

“Aye,” said Jepeth. “Since we were wee bairns.”

The Guard smiled. “You do have a Brae accent, Governor.”

Jepeth shrugged and continued to sign his name. She handed him a form describing how and why a prisoner was returned to life from death.

“The Resurrection Spell is more horrible every time I see it,” she said as she placed the form before him.

“Aye,” said Jepeth. “We Paladins don’t perform or partake in it.”

“Too close to necromancy?” she asked.

Jepeth nodded: “We have a different method, ‘the Noble Sacrifice.’”

“And is it as horrible?” said the Guard.

“Nae,” replied Jepeth. “Well, it’s far more painful for the person performing it. Not as much for the recipient.”

“Oh,” said Maggie, “that sounds more compassionate.”

Jepeth stopped signing his name and blinked in surprise.

“Aye,” he said, “it is.”
 
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