Ordim absent mindedly turned the card over in his hand, revealing a colorful rendition of a fearsome sea beast.
A small tanik box, once painted a vivid red, sat open on the desk filled with a stack of similar looking cards. Beside it an open book was left, on one page a simple ring of stars was drawn with a bright dot in the center and the other a sea beast matching the card, the colors slightly off but easily identified as the same. Beneath both drawings was a short passage of elegant common script, identifying and explaining the meanings behind them.
NEVER WRONG, LISTEN TO US
Ordim gave an exhausted look at the box, "I know... I sent the letter already." A strange look crossed over his face as he turned slightly and glanced out the window of his room. The town of Solhaven was always up and awake long before he was. Scents of the North market snuck in through his window; Sohlmon was baking his muffins for day. He heard the excited voices, some breaking into sobs, of a family of refugees reunited. So many people displaced the world over, lost, hurting, and searching for answers. We could provide them the answer, for a price of course.
“We’ll wait to see if he responds, he is a busy man after all. Until then there is plenty of work to do.
Ordim gave a confident nod to the box and stood up.
“I have more scrolls to find and I am sure they will not come cheap. Perhaps a bit of fund raising is in order.”
Making his way towards the door, Ordim stopped and gave another look at the card still in his hand. He casually tossed it in onto the desk before continuing on into the streets of Solhaven.
The Dachre landed face down on the book, covering the replica sea beast on the page with its original version. Of the passage written below, only the last few lines were left exposed. In a most artistic common they read:
“In divination the Leviathan can be taken at face value, representing the power of the sea and the mighty beasts of legend that dwell within it. It can also be interpreted in a less physical sense, representing a dark or evil problem or idea that dwells just below the surface of public knowledge.”
The dark figure sat down at the table motioning for Ordim to join him.
“You wanted to speak to me?” The voice was welcoming, causal and familiar.
Ordim sat down and jumped right to his point, bypassing any small talk. “What do you know about soulstones?”He shifted his weight slightly, feeling he had exposed too much too soon.
The figure ponder for a second and began to describe his knowledge of elemental soulstones, their use to enter the confluence and their creation. He went on and described also how the soulstones seemed to power the soul golems of Teras Isle. Ordim’s eyebrow raised and his mind raced “This sounds promising.” He kept his thoughts to himself as he discussed what was known about the stones and spiritual energy. The figure offered up the suggestion of checking with the cleric guild, as his own knowledge was limited to only what was known about the elemental focus of the stones.
Ordim asked if anyone had ever tried to contain a nonelemental soul inside a soulstone. The idea seemed to spark interest in the figure’s eyes. He reached into his pouch and pulled out a most strange doll. “Not to my knowledge, but this might interest you.” He set the doll on the table. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but Ordim could have sworn the doll had given him a wink and a grin.
“Is that alive?” Ordim furrowed his brow and inspected the doll presented before him.
“Not as such.” The figure began to explain how the Toy Maker he had run into recently had somehow managed to find a way to capture a soul, either full or partially, into a strange core, which could be placed inside the doll. The concept was almost exactly what Ordim was looking for. Perhaps it could be modified to house part of the spirit of multiple people? He would have to track down the toy maker to learn more as the entire process was a mystery to all but him, the figure explained.
Ordim and the figure exchanged good byes and went their separate ways. Faced with two possible option he looked to what he trusted most to show him the way. Opening his satchel, he retrieved a small red tanik box. Gripping the box in both hands, Ordim whispered a few words to the box before he pulled a card from the top of the pile and turned it over. A pair of brightly colored, tadpole shaped, lights danced together in the image on the card. “Spirit lights.” Ordim spoke outloud to himself, pondering the Dachre in his hand.
“I think we’ll look into getting ahold of some soulstones first.”
The empty supply wagon bounced along the fresh, roughly cut, trail heading back towards Solhaven. “Home” Thought Ordim, “Home, and lots of work.”
Low tones danced around the supply wagon as the group sat spread out, enjoying the luxury of room on the return voyage after being packed so tightly on the previous ride. They talked about what they planned to do. Defensive patrols and fixtures, arms and armor for the camp being built. Others discussed foraging herbs, cooking hot meals, gathering clothing, collecting coins and other things that would be needed by the ever growing number of refugees. Boots, heavy strong boots, that’s what Ordim could make those with ease, but he needed more time.
“Rhubarb pie!” A soft voice rung out, directed at Ordim. He nodded reflexively, only partially listening. “I’ve got that and all these others written here!” A Crimson bound manual of yellowed pages was fanned in front of Ordim’s face, snapping him out of his daydream.
“Perfectly planned pies produce popular products!” The words forced themselves from Ordim’s body, the more he fought it the more it hurt as he finally gave up and let the last word spill out. The wagon was silent for a brief moment before a soft giggle broke the silence and the conversations resumed.
As the road underneath the wagon became well-traveled, so too did the bouncing and rocking settle. “Almost like being back out to sea.” Ordim had turned inward again, thinking about what he still needed. “I need more time, I need to get a hold of some of those stones and see if they will fit my needs. Then I must get to work… so much to do and not even a proper place to start.” Ordim’s face scrunched up in frustration as he stared out the back of the wagon. “If those stones will fit my needs, I could easily work them into the boots to be handed out.”
Turning to face the owner of the manual, Ordim let out a long sigh before stating, “I think we need to do a lot of baking.”
"I shall update you on progress, as it hopefully occurs"
The subtle series of hand gestures might as well have been a shout to Ordim. He had long ago mastered the silent and secretive communication method and appreciated its discretion in public. Ordim responded with a shorter sequence of otherwise imperceptible movements, signaling back to the dark Aelotoi figure “For the greatness of the Council.”
The conversation had gone well. He had assumed correctly that the fellow Brother would be interested. Even more, he admitted to having thought of something similar at one point. Their discussion had danced around several ideas before settling on a small handful of goals that needed to be accomplished. Ordim would continue to build a relationship of trust with the refugee camps by supplying sturdy boots and gathering other donations along the way. The Aelotoi would start his experiments and request supplies as needed. They had two possible means of collection to work in tandem with some form of centralized storage to test.
Two different methods allowed more room for errors.The idea that if one failed surely the other would succeed comforted his mind. Walking with more of a bounce in his step than usual, Ordiom made his way home to Solhaven. His thoughts focusing on how the Poohbah would reward him for his initiative, for strengthening the council and bringing more into the fold. He daydreamed of how this would position him right where he wanted for the next step of his plan. As he approached the outskirts of town he slowed his pace and scolded himself, “You are getting too far ahead, we must take this slow and ensure that nothing is missed.”
A bright silver triangle pointed upwards, its perfect angles took up most of the top left corner of the card. The bottom right was taken over by a deep black triangle that pointed down. Connecting the two was a shimmering ribbon of silver and black.
Ordim’s eyes narrowed on the Dahcre. They taunted him. He knew that’s what the goal was, but how to do it? How could he take but a small piece spirit, preferably without the host knowing, and gather it up? The storage part was being worked on, he was confident that a solution could and would be found. But the collection method was the most important! He had to find a way.
TRANSFERENCE. WHAT IS YOURS IS MINE
Unsorted and piled haphazardly, a collection of scrolls sat on the edge of his desk. Setting the Dahcre down, he wiggled his fingers slightly at the mess of parchment before pulling one randomly from the stack. Unrolling the scroll presented Ordim with the scent of old paper and a description of a spiritual magic used by many clerics of moderate power. The scroll went into detail about how a cleric could, if they were favored by their Arkati, connect with the dead to return their spirit and restore them to the living.
TRANSFERENCE. WHAT IS MINE WILL REMAIN MINE
Ordim was about to roll the scroll back up when his eyes drifted further down and something caught his attention. The same magic could be used on the living, transferring the spirit of the cleric into the target of the spell, revitalizing them. “This… this is it, just needs a few adjustments, perhaps a bit of corruption to reverse it and imbed it into the target stones.” A wicked grin crossed over the Halfling’s face as the thoughts raced through his mind. “Yes, yes this MUST be it! I just need to find a few who are familiar with the spell, perhaps even dedicated to the cause to assist me. Perhaps trick a few who aren’t into it as well… though that might be tougher. Either way, this is the answer.”
A strange chant droned out into the darkness. Sharp words were spoken as power crackled in the air. In the center of a strange symbol drawn on the ground was a small bowl of various bits of stone and wood. With a thunderous finish, a crack of thunder rung out and the bowl’s contents glowed brightly for a moment. Ordim approached the bowl cautiously, kneeling down to pick up a small bit of lore shaped to hold laces. The setting glowed dim in response, tiny, nearly unseen tentacles of energy stretched out to grasp at his fingers. He could feel them searching, grasping and straining to latch to his soul and perform their secretive duty.
“The arms of the Kraken can now reach as far as they need without being noticed.”
The sewing needle danced between the materials of the boot smoothly and with purpose. In and out, in and out, securing a fine set of carved stone decorations to the equally well made boots. As the last thread was secured and the boots rubbed clean of any working marks, Ordim smiled to himself. If only he was selling such fine boots instead of donating them. Though silvers weren’t as interesting as what these boots would fetch for him. He set the boots delicately into a large sack, next to numerous other pairs of equal quality and design. He hefted the sack over his shoulder and glanced down at his watch.
“I'd better hurry if I’m going to catch that first wagon!”