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St. Troya's Temple 
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The sun begins to set and darkness begins to envelop the world. The figure before you lights a torch so that your caravan can continue to travel toward the next village. It illuminates the winding forest path ahead, but does nothing more for you.

Yewad... Yewad...

Due to one reason or another, you found yourself on Whiteash, a land that may or may not be your own, and have fallen in with this group of cloaked individuals sporting wreaths lined with lit candles on their heads. You can't really find the gender ratio as every member never takes their heavy hooded robes off and, to make matters worse, they also never take breaks to rest on their pilgrimage with the exception of sleep at night. There are about thirteen of them walking two by two with you standing in the direct middle of the caravan. Leading at the front is a figure carrying a massive cross. It never changes hands, that person always carries it and never lets it touch the ground. The group continues chanting in plainsong.

Yewad... Yewad...

It all sounds like gibberish to you at least. Most of it is in the common tongue, but sections like this sound more like a fake language than anything else.
---
After a night of walking and chanting, the caravan arrive at a small village. This was the first time the group did not stop for the night, if only because there was nowhere to rest on the trail. The village is small, it exists as a staging point and outpost. It contains a few small shops carrying supplies for travelers as well as an inn for those who wish to rest. This outpost, named Springside, is the last staging point in the northern edge of the continent, it lies alongside Lake Kirvin, the largest body of water on the continent, which, combined with its sister body, The Great Black Swamp, takes up 1/4th of the continent. Springside lies on the very northern edge of the lake, where the Endiea Forest still covers most of the land. A three day trip down the eastern edge of the lake leads to St. Ilanz, and a two day trip leads to Langenfeld, both of which can be be seen over the lake's horizon if one struggles to focus. There are a few islets in the lake that are property of Langenfeld, and one could see their tiny silhouettes from Springside.

The caravan, the figure before you explained on the walk over, originated in St. Ilanz. This pilgrimage is an important ritual for the religious who see Ilanz St. Troya as a saint and a man who fused with God when he went on the same pilgrimage. The journey starts in the city and arrives at the Temple of the Father to pray for luck as they then head north into the mountains. The final goal is the top of the 48 Steps, where it is said that God comes down to bless those who survive the journey up. The figure did not explain much more than that, unwilling to give out any more information.

With the caravan in the outpost, the lead figure, still carrying the cross, signals that the group may rest for a short time. The various cloaked members disperse: some going into the stores, some entering the inn, and some breaking off to walk by the lake. The only members still standing in the central square are the leader holding the cross and the figure who walked before you.

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Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:19 pm
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Madame Bouchard was quite relieved once their caravan came to a rest. Perhaps in her youth she would have fared better, but alas the years of the aristocratic scholar were never kind to those who sought knowledge's sweet embrace. That is not to say that she regretted her choice, no quite on the contrary, everything she was witnessing was quite thrilling. She was living the very words of the books she had read, she was the anthropologist, rather than the scholar.

It was quite scandalous, taking matter into her own hands, daring to write a book. She would need a pseudonym, something unassuming, or perhaps an anagram of her own name. She collected her thoughts. Remembering, that before she reached her goal she had to survive this perilous journey. The mountains would be no easy task.

Walking up to their stoic leader, she offered her flask filled with water to the man, looking up at the man who had walked before them with a quick question gaze wondering if it was prohibited.

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Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:34 pm
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It seemed as if Bryson O'Grady had woken up from a long dream, or perhaps a nightmare. They had been traveling for so long now he was beginning to think they wouldn't stop at all. Once it did stop, however, his eyes immediately scanned over their resting place. The pilgrimage was admittedly starting to take a toll on the arrogant youth. This would be his first major event thus far.

His life had been rather boring and uneventful, but it was rather naive of him to judge based on his short time living. Walking into town he decided to stop by some of the stores.


Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:33 pm
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Adan had fallen into a trance as he walked for hours, winding through the forest, following the hooded figure carrying the cross for hours. The sounds of the forest stopped concerning him days ago, and the only thing he perceived was the torch's beacon, the constant chanting, and, of course, the giant cross. His feet grew tired, but he kept walking, until the pain in his legs melded with everything else and became a rhythmic, dull sensation only his subconscious took note of. His mace was strapped across his back and he'd forgotten it was there.

His business on this trip was a mere pilgrimage, rather than his usual business of tracking and detaining heretics. His companions were suspicious but they had simply walked by his side for the duration of the journey, showing no real signs of heretical behavior. Still, he watched them closely during the first parts of the trip. The hooded figures were clearly highly religious and he trusted them.

Finally, they came across a small town, and it broke him out of his trance. It was a quiet place with few shops or amenities. The travelers split up to take advantage of what the place had available. With a hearty sigh he headed for the tavern, hoping to sit down and have a drink before moving on.

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Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:53 pm
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Seven. Hewett ticked another digit on his mental counter of how many times he had nearly passed out from boredom. He had undertaken this pilgrimage hoping it would be a chance to learn new things and meet interesting people, but so far all anyone had done was walk and chant. To his credit, one of the cloaked figures had given a brief explanation of the journey's purpose and origin. He refused to divulge anything else when prodded for more information, though, much to Hewett's dismay.

Finally, after days of trudging through the forest, the caravan came to a small town. This was the first time they had stopped to do anything but rest. It would be a prime opportunity, Hewett determined, to learn more about the others. He then immediately abandoned any thought of that and made for the nearest shop.


Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:15 pm
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Traveling con artist Wido Kirsch was beginning to regret his decision to take part in this pilgrimage. He had hoped it would provide him with a crowd of generically religious people eager to trade their coinage for his spiritual experience-enhancing wares, but any form of conversation on the road had been prevented by the constant chanting. Nights were no better, as the exhausted devotees were in no mood to heed his attempts at commerce. The situation had showed no sign of improving, as day after day they marched on relentlessly. Wido was used to being on the road, there was no problem there. He enjoyed the sense of freedom brought on by fresh air and clear skies. The pace, however, was problematic. As a chronic loafer, the constant marching was killing him.

Hope dawned as they reached a small village. Wido’s traveling companions were evidently eager to find relief from the monotony of the journey, and each went his own way to seek rest or pleasure. Considering his own course of action, Wido opted for a trip to the tavern, where the money flowed more freely and lies were more easily believed. “Not a particularly religious group, I imagine”, he smirked quietly, “but they do spend a fair bit on talismans of power.” With the prospect of easy money foremost in his mind, Wido headed towards the bar.

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:57 pm
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The leader of the caravan, balancing the cross carefully with both hands, glanced down at the flask being offered then back up at Madame Bouchard, after which it shook its head. The hood concealed the individual's face, as it did for the rest of the group, but the robes the leader wore were different up close. The black robes were covered in scripture and prayers written in bright, fantastic hues of green, blue, yellow and red. All were written in the common tongue, but the subject matter of the colors differed: Green was the color of stories of birth; blue. those of growth; yellow, those of aging; red, those of sacrifice and death.

The figure from before came up from behind to elaborate.
"Those who lead the pilgrimage are the ones who volunteer to suffer famine and pain so that they might draw it away from the others in the group. They act as a shield and take the brunt of disease and weakness so that it does not fell the rest of us on the journey," he explained in a hushed tone.

The sound of coughing echoed from beside the river, but it did not shake either the figure or the leader.
____
The inn and pub was rather small on the inside, though it seemed large due to the lack of customers. The manager sat at a counter across from the doorway, beside which there were stairs leading to the chambers above. The rest of the room contained a few tables, at which three of the pilgrims were sitting at, speaking in hushed tones interspersed with muffled coughs. The manager ignored them, he was used to their type traveling through the town and thought nothing of it; however, when Adan and Wido entered he raised his head to welcome them.

"What might I do for you travelers. Hopefully something other than loitering like the religious folk," he called out pointedly.

The manager was around 40 and his features were rough at best. He was missing two fingers from his left hand and a thumb from the other. His face is was deeply scarred and he only possessed half of his ear.
____
The two stores in the outpost were connected on the inside. One sold various dried meats and fish whereas the one next door sold miscellaneous equipment for the mountain trails ahead. The vendor in the food store was a woman in her early 30s who appeared bored to death and the vendor in the equipment shop was an elderly man who seemed to be more interested in fumbling with what look liked an woodblock print than his job.

The four pilgrims were looking at the food as a group, mumbling over what they could afford to purchase.

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The excited smile on Wido’s face gradually faded to a scowl of disappointment as he took in the ale house’s interior. It was small, to be expected for a village of this size. That by itself was not terrible. The bar was, however, irritatingly devoid of patrons. The crowds that usually stocked such places were all but absent; only three figures sat around a single table. Under regular circumstances, he likely would have waited for a more opportune time to attempt a sale. Yet the road had been long and Wido was, quite simply, bored out of his skull. There was no guarantee that he would get another chance anytime soon. “Let’s gamble, then,” he thought to himself.

The bartender greeted him as he stepped into the hall. Flashing a wide grin, Wido responded jovially, “an ale, man, and three for my friends here,” pointing to the group of pilgrims. “And one for him,” he added, noticing the large man that had entered behind him. It was a tried and true strategy; free drink was as likely as anything to loosen a man’s purse. Wido set his mallet down next to an empty chair and pulled up to the travellers' table. "Good evening!", he spoke in as inviting a tone as he could manage. "How fare these three on such a fine night?"

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:22 pm
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Adan greeted the man behind the counter and sat down behind the bar. "I suppose the first round is free," he said, pointing with his thumb to Wido. "He must be on this journey to make friends. If you have anything to eat, I have coin. Anything but dried meats. I've lived off the stuff for days." While waiting for his drink and meal he decided to strike up a conversation. "How did you find yourself in this miniscule village? Don't you have any family?"

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:59 pm
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Madame Boucharde resisted the urge to cluck her tongue, nevertheless this information would be quite valuable as she conducted her research. Quickly, she took out a piece of parchment and scribbled down what she could see, without overstaying her welcome. She was never sure what to make of the pilgrims on this travel. Whether they were as fanatical as their leader appeared to be. The devotion of man was fascinating.

It was then that she heard coughing coming from the riverside. She looked up at the leaders, yet the two remained stoic, untroubled by the poor creature. Without any further words, she slipped away from the group and made her way towards the riverside. Raising her hand to her mouth, as she did not want to get too close to the water's edge she called out:

"Excuse me, are you alright?"

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Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:59 pm
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Bryson debated which store he should visit first. He wasn't too eager to go to the meat store. Plus he wasn't that hungry. The equipment store seemed the better of the choice anyway. In addition it would aid in the rather monotonous walking and chanting. Approaching the elderly man, Bryson spoke, trying his best to be as polite as could. "Excuse me sir? May I see what you have in stock?"


Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:32 pm
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Naturally, Hewett's first stop was the equipment shop, and that would be unlikely to change even if he were on the verge of starvation. After all, odds and ends were his bread and butter. Like a kid in a candy store, he was so enraptured by the intriguing - albeit modest - selection of articles that he neglected to register the presence of Bryson or the shopkeeper.

There were quite a few practical items such as rope and a small hatchet strewn about the place. It certainly wouldn't hurt to append a few of these to his inventory. Still, the curious tinker found himself drawn to the more exotic fixtures instead. He found one in particular that he didn't recognize and, hoisting it above his head, called out to the vendor,

"Begging your pardon, sir, but might you enlighten me about the function of this device?"


Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:13 pm
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The figure watched Madame Boucharde run off to the riverside and turned back to discuss something with the leader.

There were four pilgrims by the riverside. One was crouched over and coughing heavily, being watched over by the other three. She called out and caught the attention of the three pilgrims, who all glanced over for a second to see who called. Upon noticing Madame Boucharde, one motioned to the other two to keep watch over the coughing figure. The one who took charge walked up toward the woman and stood in her way.

"Please, don't step any further. We have this under control," the pilgrim told her with a gruff, but feminine voice.
____
The bartender got to pouring out Wido's order as the man sat down with the pilgrims. All three looked at Wido then back at one another. They discussed something quietly with one another before focusing their attention to him again.

"Thank you for the offer, but only one round," one of them told Wido. The voice was male.
The one next to him, also male, followed up almost immediately to add, "We should not be drinking on this holy occasion, but we cannot refuse hospitality. We're all exhausted, but the journey is almost through. On journeys like these it's best to keep the mind sharp, because the body often falters."

The owner of the inn glanced back at Adan as he prepared the ale.
"I've got fresh fish, caught early this morning just before you arrived," he added, grabbing a few and throwing them in a pan over a fire behind the counter. He walked out and served the four at the table. The pilgrims immediately took to drinking it, thirsty from the journey over. The owner returned to the counter and handed Adan the ale paid for by Wido.

"I was born here," he began, his voice rough like gravel. "My wife and my father work the supply stores across the way. It doesn't seem like the most exciting life, but we have our fair share of vagabonds who wander through who I end up having to deal with. You learn to be tough when you live near the mountains. Vagrants like to pick on the pilgrims, and though they're an annoying bunch sometimes, this is meant to be a safe place for them before the shrine. Everywhere after, especially the mountains is a huge struggle, so I feel like I should support them as they go on their way to die."

By the time he was finished, the fish was cooked through. He skewered them and handed the skewers over to Adan.
"It'll be 5 coins."
____
The old man turned around, nearly jumping, surprised by Bryson. He shook his arms in annoyance as he answered the question.
"What we have is what we got!"

He turned around again and continued carving the wood block, muttering to himself.
"People come in and they need to me to hold their hand. You got here on your own, didn't you? That means you can find things on your own. People these days-"
He was about to continue rambling when Hewett came in and grabbed an item and called him to answer a question. The old man jumped again, turning around to view what Hewett held in his hands. He grabbed the tool and looked over it for a few minutes before taking his eyeglasses off and glancing at Hewett like he was an idiot.

"You've never seen an Archimedes' screw?" He questioned. "Well, looking over you I would never have taken you for a farmer—though I supposed you would have been smarter than a farmer because you weren't wasting your time irrigating crops. And don't even ask me about the name, because I feel like that's the next thing an inquisitive, witty young man would do."

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Hewett furrowed his brow. He had actually been planning to ask what it did next. In fact, that's what he had just asked. The older man seemed irritable, though, so he wasn't keen on the idea of making any more inquiries. At least he knew what it was called. An Archimedes' screw, huh? From what the shopkeeper had said, it was obviously used by farmers, possibly for irrigation. It didn't really matter, though, as the young man would surely be able to find some manner of use for it regardless. Digging cylindrical holes, perhaps.

Unfortunately, Hewett was on a smaller budget than he would've liked. A tight wallet wasn't healthy for a man of his profession -- or any other profession for that matter -- but it couldn't be helped. For now, frugality was a necessary evil. A hatchet would be good to have for chopping and working with wood. Rope was versatile and had good general utility, not to mention that it would be indispensable for travel in the mountains. Come to think of it, a knapsack would come in handy as well. The inventor had been forced to pack lightly thus far, but to go much further without proper equipment, and a reliable way to carry it, would be dangerous. There was more gear to choose from, but the rest of it was either not as useful or already in his possession.

After much deliberation, the young man settled on a few lengths of rope, a leather bag, and, practicality be damned, the Archimedes' screw. He gathered up his selections and brought them to the counter for purchase. It was then that he noticed the wooden block the shopkeeper was busily chipping away at. The man clearly didn't like to be disturbed, but Hewett's curiosity got the better of him.

"If I might ask, what is it you're carving there?" He inquired as he fished through his wallet.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:18 pm
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Bryson took a sack and started filling it up with various items. He didn't snap back at the old man like he would've normally done. He didn't want the give him the satisfaction. He fetched the necessary amount of money for the stuff and handed it over to the man. He couldn't help himself, before leaving he said, "Keep up the work old man. With that attitude you'll be storekeeper of the year." And left for the inn.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:25 pm
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