Riverstone slab

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Located in the East Exhibit Room of the River's Rest Museum, the loresong of a riverstone slab shows you do not need physical strength to be strong .

Description

The small tag attached to this slab of dark grey riverstone identifies it as the doorstep of Predcop Manor, the residence of the last official Warder of River's Rest.

Derep Predcop, the Torren Warder of River's Rest between 4493-97 M.E., is better known as "Mad Derep."  One of the most corrupt of the Torren Warders, Predcop amassed a sizable fortune during the Turamzzyrian resettlement program by accepting bribes to evict squatters (known as "river rats") from their small parcels of land and selling that land to the new immigrants.  He is said to have gone insane after being cursed by an old widow.  After losing his wits, Mad Derep became a figure of scorn and pity in Western Elanthia.  He was last seen outside an inn in Tamzyrr, dressed in rags, jabbering incoherently and begging for crusts.  His eventual fate is unknown.

Loresong

The noise of a party gradually builds around you as you sing.  You become aware of brightly-appareled people gathered in a sumptuously appointed room.  The door is open, showing the convivial crowd has spilled out onto a sunlit lawn.

Despite the festive atmosphere, an argument has erupted by the doorway.  A chubby-cheeked halfling of middle years dressed in simple garb stands glaring up at a portly human arrayed in his finest party apparel.  As the argument grows louder, conversation ceases among the party-goers.  Heads turn toward the pair in the doorway.

"You steal our homes," the halfling says.  "You make beggars of our wives and children.  You tax our bread and our fish.  And you grow fat off the profits.  I say to you, Derep Predcop, I will not stir from your doorstep until we receive justice.  I will take no food until you restore our homes.  I swear by all the gods and by my body you will not be immune from the anguish you have wreaked on River's Rest."


The murmur of muted conversation surrounds you, a hushed but peaceful sound as comforting as the susurration of gentle waves on small stones.  A group of common folk...fishermen, alewives, coopers, weavers...are gathered around the doorstep of the Warder's manor.  Reclining on the doorstep is the once-chubby halfling, now grown quite thin.  His sallow flesh hangs from his small frame, but the gleam of stroppy determination in his eye is unabated.

One of the fishermen approaches him.  "Give it up, Billum," he says to the halfling.  "Give it up.  Predcop, he don't care if you be dead...but your wife does.  Aye, and your chilrens too.  Ye proved yer point, and that's a fact.  Now give it up."

Unseen by the crowd in his yard, Derep Predcop, still dressed in the uniform of the Warder of River's Rest, listens through a window.  A smile passes over his jowly face.  That smile disappears when he hears the tremulous voice of the halfling say, "I will not!  The gods will give me justice.  More important, the gods will give Predcop justice.  I will not give up."


All the small sounds of life fade away, replaced with a funereal hush.  You become aware of a crowd, respectfully still, assembled around the Warder's doorstep.  The common folk have been joined by tradesmen and artisans, by monks and bar doxies, by soldiers in Torren uniform and mendicants with their begging bowls turned upside down.  In the midst of the multitude the halfling lies half on the doorstep.  He is skeletally thin, his small bones visible even through his soft linen robe.  His eyes flutter chaotically, his lips are parted and cracked, and his spider-thin hands twitch spasmodically.  A female halfling sits beside him, laving his brow with a cool, wet rag.

The manor door opens.  Servants emerge, bearing platters of cool, ripe fruit and bowls of savory broth.  They set the platters on the doorstep and silently re-enter the manor house.  Predcop's bulky body fills the doorway.  He stares at the halfling, his eyes frantic and pleading.  "Eat, Billum," he says.  "Why won't you eat?"  He turns to the halfling woman.  "Make your husband eat," he pleads.  "Put an end to this foolishness.  I will give you back your home.  Just make him eat."

The halfling woman pauses a moment, then reaches for a cup of golden broth.  As she moves it toward her husband's lips, he attempts to speak.  She leans forward, listening.  Looking up at Warder Predcop in the doorway she says, "My husband asks about the homes of the others.  Will you return them as well?"  She endures Predcop's anguished silence for a long moment, then tears well up in her eyes as she replaces the broth on the platter.


Soft weeping fills your ears, the sound of muted mourning.  Women of all races bend over the bony body of the halfling lying dead on the doorstep.  They reverently wash his small body with soft handcloths of white linen.  The crowd of onlookers opens to allow a human in a white butcher's apron and an elf dressed in hunter's gear to pass through.  They carry a simple catafalque, which they set down beside the women cleaning Billum's wasted body.

As Warder Predcop watches from the doorway, the women set the halfling's body on the catafalque and cover it with a sheet of white silk.  Predcop steps forward, his hand outstretched, his face a mask of stunned anguish.  He moves toward the catafalque as if drawn by an unseen force.  The halfling's wife steps in his way, her face calm and her tear-filled eyes steadfast.  Her voice, though barely more than a whisper, reaches everybody in the crowd.

"I pray the gods give you poverty, Derep Predcop.
 I pray they give you winter without a fire, a homeless old age.
 I pray they give you a barn without wheat at the end of the season, and a cellar without wine all summer long.
 I pray to the gods of men, dwarves, giantkin, elves and halflings that you will feebly wander begging for your bread, alone, unknown in strange lands, understood neither by signs or words.
 I pray this in the name of Billum, a tradesman of River's Rest."