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(RP) Trammel and Felucca

Jepeth

Journeyman
Governor
letter.png Jepeth crumbled the parchment scroll he just finished reading and tossed it angrily at the door across from his desk. His repeated requests to make use of the Moonglow telescope had earned him an official letter of reprimand from the Council of Mages. The mage who signed the letter did not even have the courtesy to hand deliver it to Jepeth as would have been customary. Instead, they simply opened a moongate into Jepeth’s office, tossed the scroll through, and snapped the gate shut with a dull pop.

“Arrogant mages,” cursed Jepeth.

Like most in the Paladin Order Jepeth had a complicated relationship with magic. For that matter, so did much of Britannia, but there was something galling to him about the letter and the mage who signed it. To say nothing of how it was delivered, the tone of the speech implying that Jepeth served “his” King and not that they both serve the same Regent infuriated him. He also noted the ridiculous amount of titles for a man who is clearly a low-level functionary for the Council. Mages did seem to enjoy a fair amount of bravado, Jepeth thought. Even the capable mage administrator of Skara Brae Jepeth relied on styled himself as “... the Marvelous!” a title Jepeth vowed never, ever to call him.

Jepeth left his one-room Governor’s office leaving the crumbled parchment on the floor behind him and exited into the night air of Skara Brae. It was still early evening and the stars had only just begun to come out. Like anywhere on the island, he could hear the waves crashing onto the shore and smell the sea air. After a difficult day at work capped off by an embarrassing reprimand to the young, new Governor these familiar sounds and smells comforted him greatly. Oil burning lanterns hung on outer shop walls were lit and merchants and tradespeople left for home. Like most Skara Braens they lived on the mainland and worked on the island. These days only the very richest or poorest citizens lived on the island. The rich above their shops and the poorest in basement and cellar quarters. Even Jepeth wasn’t rich enough to live in the city, nor was a domicile provided to the Governor like in Britain or Trinsic.

Despite the winter chill in the air the island seemed as lively as ever. He saw people head towards The Shattered Skull Tavern for their pint of bread-for-the-head and maybe a bit of cards. Skara Brae was a healthy, prosperous city in the realm. The people who grew up on or around the island had a deep respect for each other and for the bounty of wealth the waters around the island provided. The roads were well managed by he and previous Governors, crime was low, and the citizenry content. He loved his little island. But he, like many others, knew what this tranquility had cost.

As Jepeth approached the public moongate, he hesitated for a moment before closing his eyes and stepping into the magical portal. In a moment he appeared at the Shrine of Spirituality in Ilshenar and stepped out breathing a sigh of relief. But as he opened his eyes staring at him in the face only a foot or so away perched on a rock was, of all things, a parrot. It had colorful wings and red feathers, all which shone with an eerie cast in the light of the glowing moongate. Its head turned towards Jepeth with one giant, beady black-eye watching him.

“You are so predictable, cousin.”

The parrot squawked, left its perch, and flew to the shoulder of a man behind Jepeth, sitting off to the side of the Moongate on a large boulder in the grass.

“Really, a bad day doing whatever it is you stuffed-shirts do and you come here to feel sorry for yourself? Tsk,” said the man.

Jepeth groaned audibly. “Cousin Threepwood,” monotoned Jepeth as he turned to face the man with a parrot on his shoulder.

“Cousin Lord Governor Lord Higness Jepeth!” mocked Threepwood. “Defender of the faith and little fishies all around Skarrda Braae!

Jepeth scowled at his cousin. Even as children he had mocked him with fake titles and pomp.

“I was just reading about the warrant for your arrest in Papua,” said Jepeth. “Apparently you sank a Ter Mur vessel and then fled through the portal at the Serpent Pillar?

“Lies,” said Threepwood. “Filthy lost-lander lies. They’ just jealous they live in some cross deem-en-shawn.”

“I’m sure,” said Jepeth. He sized his cousin up in the light of the moongate. His mess of blonde hair was tucked under the customary tricorn hat. He wore a shining blue coat of chainmail the color of the sea, and dark black leather waders. The parrot completed the look Threepwood was so comfortable in: a pirate.

“Don’t worry about me and the Papuans,” said Threepwood. “I hear you’ve got an eyeball threatening you?”

Jepeth raised an eyebrow at his cousin. He was not one to think or care about matters of the Court. He looked at his smiling, mocking face and found something strange. Was it a hint of concern?

“I..” began Jepeth, “well, ‘we’ on Skara Brae have heard a prophecy. A comet that I can’t confirm exists, bringing doom that no one will explain the nature of.” Jepeth let a little of his guard down and sighed in open frustration.

“So what? You came here to pray about it?” said Threepwood. The hint of concern was gone, washed away in a broad grin of amusement.

“This shrine,” began Jepeth indignantly, “is important because the Virtue of Spirituality guides... “

“Oh spare us the sermon, cousin!” Threepwood waved his hands back and forth at Jepeth. “If I wanted to hear you blather on about the ‘Virtues!’ I’d come speak to you any old time. I want to hear about this comet that’s going to plop down on all of your big, important heads in the Court.”

Jepeth pointed up at the sky. “I don’t even know if it is up there, I’ve been told it’s not. And if..”

“It is,” said Threepwood seriously. “It is, cousin.”

Jepeth was startled at the sudden seriousness of his normally irresponsible and mocking cousin’s face and voice. From his pocket the pirate produced a small spyglass.

“You’ve been on the mainland too long,” Threepwood said. “Me mates and I know something’s wrong in the sky.”

“Can it be seen with that?” said Jepeth pointing out the small spyglass.

“Nae, nae. We need the big one,” said Threepwood. He shook the small telescope at Jepeth.

“I’ve tried that, cousin,” sighed Jepeth. “The Moonglow Telescope is operated by the Council of Mages and it’s in use. Their astronomer said there was no comet, and I couldn’t get permission to check myself.”

“Pssh, ‘permission!’” hissed Threepwood. “Besides, I’m not talking about that one. I meant the other big one.”

Threepwood grinned broadly at Jepeth and stretched an invitational arm towards the glowing blue moongate. Jepeth looked at his cousin for a moment and detected that slight hint of concern from before. He knew exactly what he meant by the other telescope.

***

Jepeth had read Nystul’s account of the creation of Trammel and Felucca many, many times. It had never added up. There was one land, and suddenly there was another almost exact copy. Some people existed in both. Some did not. Some buildings existed in both, others did not. When the split happened the original land wilted and decayed instantly. The “new” land is green and effervescent unendingly. It was as if the new leached the blood of the old. The concept of “facets” explained much of the broken reality all Britannians lived in. Britannia existed on a facet, as did the Lost Lands, and Ilshenar, Malas, Ter Mur, Tokuno. Each a part severed from the whole when the Stranger shattered the Gem of Immortality.

But Trammel and Felucca were different. Their creation was the desperate act of mages. The land in which he was born (now referred to as ‘the old lands’) sat withered and quiet. Its strength and vigor robbed. Jepeth had never trusted mages.

They arrived in the Moonglow of Felucca and smelled decay on the air. Trees twisted and scorched earth surrounded them. Threepwood hastened him down the path towards the telescope on the eastern arm of the island. As they walked Jepeth looked off into the distance and saw lights burning in the city. People still lived in the old lands. As Governor he knew he had citizens in the Felucca version of Skara Brae. Whether they recognized him as their Governor or the Crown’s authority in general was an open question.

“What are you up to, cousin?” asked Jepeth. “This seems far more of an investment than you’re normally willing to make on things that don’t concern your boat.”

“Ship,” scoffed Threepwood. “I know you mainlanders don’t know any better but they’re called ships,” returned Threepwood in the customary mocking voice he reserved for his cousin. “Besides, can’t I be worried for my little cousin and the job he’s going to drown in?”

“Please. My first week in office you tried to use my name to raid the Skara Brae port authority,” said Jepeth. “This isn’t out of concern for my position.”

“You’re right,” said Threepwood. He stopped and looked at Jepeth in the eye. “But, cousin, it’s my island too.”

They continued on the path and before them rose the Telescope of Moonglow. When Trammel was created (or split?) the telescope was one of the structures that was duplicated. This was most likely due to its enchanted nature working in concert with the designs of the late court mage Nystul. Everything on Verity Island hummed with magic. Unlike the telescope in Trammel, this one was abandoned. No tents temporarily housing the junior mages and astronomers carefully recording the movements of the heavens. No one to tell them they couldn’t be there. The telescope was rusted with vines growing along its great base and up the structure.

Jepeth approached the dias allowing access to the eyepiece and brass handles which moved the massive construction. He turned one handle back and forth a few degrees making the scope pan left and right with a loud, grinding noise. He looked at his cousin with the slight hope that he knew how this machine worked. Astronomy was not a required subject of the Paladins.

“Move, mainlander,” said Threepwood as he pushed his cousin off the dias.

Threepwood took out his small brass telescope which appeared even daintier in comparison to the large version, scanned the sky west with it for a moment, and then cranked the brass handles of the large telescope: three full turns on the right brass handle, two and a quarter turns on the left. The telescope made an alarmingly large amount of noise as it reacted to the handle turns. The sound broke the still of the night and Jepeth felt every ear on the Verity Island of Felucca listening.

“Hah,” said Threepwood looking into the eyepiece. His face looked grim. “Come here, cousin.”

Jepeth returned to the small dias as Threepwood stepped out of the way and pointed at the eyepiece. Jepeth approached it, leaned down, and squinted into the metal, rusted opening.

In the western sky he saw a blue, white, and purple smear. It was a mass of color at the top with a white streak trailing behind. It was beautiful. Jepeth rose from the telescope and looked at his cousin.

“It’s really there,” said Jepeth. “The Gazer was telling the truth.”

“Aye, cousin, “ said Threepwood. “It was.”

“They lied to me,” said Jepeth. “The mage at the other telescope. Their council. They lied.”

“Aye, cousin,” said Threepwood. “They did.”

“Our island is under threat,” said Jepeth.

“Aye, cousin,” said Threepwood. “It is.”

In the darkness surrounding the rusted, abandoned telescope Jepeth’s face darkened. Threepwood would later comment to others that at that moment he saw his cousin the Governor vanish. The pretenses and pomp washed away like sand in the tide. What was left was who Jepeth really was: his cousin that had once put a dagger through Threepwood’s hand for mocking a poor man on the street. His cousin who he watched behead a harpy with a single swing of a sword when it came at the two of them as children. The cousin that always struggled to put aside violence for virtue.

“They lied to me,” repeated Jepeth.
 
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