Part 7: MONITOR - In Which Everyone Else In Monitor Is Introduced At The Exact Same Time
In Which Everyone Else In Monitor Is Introduced At The Exact Same Time
While we're waiting around for Lord Marsten (the Monitor lords gather at noon), we'll just drop by Monitor's treasury, which is adjacent to Spektor's office. The chests are locked, but you can pick them.
It couldn't be this easy, could it? Surely Spektor will notice.
"Nice vault, isn't it?"
"Used to be."
The "museum" is pretty sad. It's just a bunch of human-bone doodads captured from the goblins. Nothing worth stealing.
"Congratulations! Thou dost not even need to tell me. I can see that thou hast triumphed in the dungeon. Now thou must prepare for thy banquet, at which thou wilt become a Knight of Monitor."
"Sweet. So what do I need to do?"
"Thou wouldst be a poor Knight without the Mark. Seek out Lydia, for she will give thee the Tattoo of Knighthood. In the dungeon, thou didst slay the animal which the Ashes of Gurnordir did send to thee. Now bring the animal's body to Cellia the Furrier. From the carcass, she shall make thy Cloak of Knighthood. The traditional meal of the banquet is a stew made from the meat of the animal thou didst slay. Bring the meat to Lucilla in the pub, and she shall prepare the feast. When thou hast finished thy work, then thy knighting can occur."
"I am Cellia the Furrier. What may I do for thee?"
"You don't look like a sexual deviant."
"I am the furrier, tanner and tailor of Monitor. It is my duty to make cloaks from the animals slain by our valiant Knights. If one were to travel far north, it is exactly the sort of thing one should wear. I skin the carcasses myself. Other pelts I obtain from the northern trappers. They supply exotic furs which are rare here in Monitor -- especially Gwani pelts! Now that thou hast completed the Test of Knighthood, thou must bring me the body of the animal thou didst slay. I shall make a cloak from its skin for thee. This is the cloak which thou must wear to the Ceremony of Initiation."
"Well, at least I can dump this damn wolf corpse before it rots."
"What is a gwani pelt, milady?"
"Hast thou not heard stories of these creatures? They are terrible, ferocious, savage creatures! They live in the snowlands of the far north, where the Goblins sometimes go to war on them. It is exceedingly rare for the Goblins to slay a Gwani, but when they do, their chieftain immediately lays claim to the carcass. Only the toughest Goblin chiefs wear the Gwani cloak. And only the toughest Knights can slay such a fearsome Goblin!"
"And your trapper sources, apparently."
"Luther brings me leopard pelts now and again, but mostly I must rely on the trappers to bring me exotic furs. The trappers live in the Great Northern Forest, at the foot of the Impassable Mountains. A trapper named Hazard sells me snow leopard pelts. Unfortunately, his men only make it as far south as Monitor a few times a year. Sometimes he even sends Gwani pelts! He likes hunting Gwani because it is such a challenge... Hah! Actually, when Luther doth go on the hunt he rarely catches anything! Like all the other Bears, I think he prefers to hunt other warriors! He always bullies the strangers that come into town. He is a bully and someone should teach him a lesson! I have noticed that Luther doth completely relax his guard whenever he loses his temper. And nothing angers him so much as when he is taunted. Do with the information what thou wilt. I simply love to cause dissension."
"Well, much as I love this character assassination, I better let you get to work."
"Now that thou hast completed the Test, I must make a cloak for thee from the skin of the animal thou didst slay. Give to me the body. Oooh, 'tis a large one."
"The Avatar is quite skilled at killing large animals."
"Return in one day. I shall have thy cloak by then."
And thus it's off to do the other things, like get our tattoo and prepare the banquet stew.
"I am Lydia. What can I do for thee, milady?"
"I think I'm supposed to see you for... some reason. Who are you, again?"
"Look around thee! Dost thou see the needles, the vials of ink, and the sketches! Look closer. Dost thou see the patterns which adorn my body, the swirls of color? Each doth have its meaning... I am the artist who creates tattoos. Thou art new to this city, or thou wouldst have heard of me by now. Mine is the art of using needles and ink to create harmonious patterns."
"I should say so, Steve. Never my kind of art, but still."
"I learned the trade from my father. Counting myself, there have been twelve generations of tattooists in our family. As the tattooist, it is my privilege to grant the first tattoo to any warrior who completes the Test of Knighthood. Lord Marsten sometimes authorizes me to give additional tattoos, but only when the recipient hath earned them through Courage or Valor."
"What of these patterns, hmm?"
"These swirls and dots may seem random, but each has its meaning. A trained artist can read thy past by thy tattoos. Do not stare so closely at my tattoos! I wish my secrets to be mine own."
"Yes, of course."
"Artistry is something that one is born with -- it cannot be learned or imitated. As I was born with the talent, I could not deny my duty. As thou canst see, I have had much practice on myself. As the tattooist, I can have as many tattoos as I desire... My body is covered with tattoos! My mother tattooed my back and other spots I could not reach comfortably."
"Well, thou knowest... private places!"
"Milady, I would be very interested in seeing all of thy tattoos. Perhaps we could step into..."
"I am not on display, sir! Thou shouldst not think that any lout can see the entire gallery."
"Later, perhaps... handsome stranger."
"Nevermind that, tell me about your mother."
"She was a courageous Knight! I miss her very much... Others will tell thee that my mother died in a battle with road bandits, but I know better. She had lost the will to live! Her heart was broken, ever since that Warlock from Moonshade stole her oldest daughter!"
"That is the City of Mages, to the east on the Isle of Beyond. It is a depraved, indulgent, undisciplined place. No warrior could ever feel comfortable in such a setting. They care nothing for Duty and Courage -- only pleasure!"
"Sounds fun. So who was this warlock?"
"I do not know his name. The evil wizard travels throughout the Serpent Isle, in search of children to steal for the mage school. Any infant with potential is taken in the dead of night, and a white stone is left in its place. My sister Selene was a very beautiful girl. She was four years older than I, and I thought she was so mature! She was only twelve when she was taken, so she never had the chance to pass the Test of Knighthood... Selene doth have no tattoos. I have often wondered about her life among the Mages, learning spells and bewitching her enemies. I would give anything to see her again!"
"Rough break. So what are the extra tattoos for?"
"Only Lord Marsten can approve one for a Tattoo of Valor. They are won for great deeds done on the field of battle. Our bravest warriors have many tattoos. Caladin and Brendann, rivals in all things, have more tattoos than anyone else in Monitor! Caladin wears his on those brawny arms of his, while Brendann's are kept in more discreet locations... At any rate, thou hast earned the right to wear the Knight's Tattoo. Without it, one cannot be inducted into one's Knighthood. Since thou didst slay the Wolf in the Test, thou art slated to receive the Mark of the Wolf. Art thou ready to obtain thy tattoo?"
"We shall now begin the process. This will hurt, but as a warrior, thou art accustomed to suffering."
"Mostly with inflicting it, but it's not as funny without Iolo here."
"Nothing is, Shamino. Nothing is."
"Be seated... Whoops! Thou art doing well... Hold thy breath. There! Use a cloth to soak up the blood..."
"Thou dost look magnificent, Avatar!"
"Quite becoming, Steve."
"Are you guys making fun of me for this?"
Lucilla, the barmaid, won't talk to us about anything but the banquet until we're an official Knight. She's a bit stuck-up, like Brendann. And like Brendann, she's a... ahem, love interest, albeit for male Avatars.
"Very good! Now that I have the meat, thy stew will be ready for the banquet. Thy banquet will be held at the Knight's Banquet Hall. It is located south of the Pub. Thou shalt find it on Banquet Hall Road."
"Well, time to sleep for 22 hours waiting on my cloak."
"This is going to make it hard to work."
"Well you should have thought of that before you quoted me an estimate."
The next day...
"It is ready."
"'Tis beautiful, Steve!"
"What didst thou expect?"
On the way to the banquet, Steve comes down with something.
"You don't look well."
"Yeah, I know, it feels like... is there something on my face? Oh, right."
"Waiiiiiiiiiiit a minute."
"We should probably investigate Lydia over this whole poisoning affair."
"And miss my party? Get bent, dude."
"This must be the place!"
"We shall wait for thee here!"
"Please be seated, Avatar."
"Where is Harnna?"
"Our guest is here..."
"Welcome! Congratulations on successfully completing the Knight's Test. Thus thou hast proven thyself worthy of joining an elite band of warriors. In thine honor, all of the Commands of Monitor have sent their representatives to thy Knighthood Banquet. The Bears..."
"On behalf of the Bears -- which, by the way, are the mightiest warriors in the land -- I welcome thee to thy Knighthood Banquet."
"As the leader of the Wolves -- which, unlike the Bears, prefer to rely on our wits rather than brute strength -- I, too, welcome thee to the ranks of the Knights. And, if I might say so, thou art no doubt the most beautiful Knight in the city! Since thou art under my Command, I expect to know thee much better in the days to come."
"And I am here, both as the Lord of Monitor, and as the leader of the Leopards. Lucilla hath prepared this feast, the main dish of which includes meat from the wolf which thou didst slay in the Knight's Test. Now let us eat, and as we do so, let us extend our fellowship to this new Knight."
"This knife is dull..."
"Avatar... What didst thou think of the Knight's Test? Didst thou have any harrowing experiences?"
"Oh, it isn't that much of a challenge. After all, thou didst survive it, Flicken!"
"Never mind that lout. What part of the dungeon was the most difficult, Avatar?"
"Well, the gremlins were an odd way to start it off..."
"Gremlins? Thou art merely trying to impress us, Avatar. There aren't any gremlins in the Knight's Test! What else didst thou see in the Knight's Test?"
"It was right after the explosions-"
"But those are so easy to avoid..."
"Perhaps thou didst not walk fast enough. If thou dost lag, the explosions will catch thee."
"Well, they were capable of reaching outside the mountain..."
"Art thou certain of thy facts?"
"Didst thou fight a dragon as well? She is full of jests."
"And there was the cyclops."
"Didst thou hear what she didst say? There are magical beasts in the Knight's Test!"
"We must speak with Shmed about this. Our dungeon is strictly a test of fighting ability -- no magic allowed!"
"Knights, have you been listening? Our new warrior hath had a terrible experience..."
"I'm sure there is an explanation for everything."
"This time, I think thou art wrong, Spektor! What else didst thou see in the dungeon?"
"Well, there was a semi-invisible man too..."
"Oh, surely thou art mistaken!"
"Perhaps in the darkness, thou didst become disoriented and imagine such an enemy."
"Yes, and then in the darkness I imagined smashing his skull in with a rock and imagined finding an incriminating scroll signed anonymously on his corpse."
"There must be something wrong... I shall have a talk with Shmed tomorrow. If half of what this Knight says is true, then the dungeonkeeper hath been seriously delinquent in his duties. Avatar, I apologize for what hath been done to thee in the Knight's Test. 'Tis an outrage!"
"Such a story!"
"My friend, I am convinced thou hast been the victim of an evil scheme! Tomorrow, I shall speak with Shmed personally. An outrage!"
"Oh boy, I bet this is some terrible party-ruining revelation."
"Terrible news! My daughter Cantra is gone! I have looked everywhere for her. We need to send out a patrol!"
"The Goblins have struck again! I am sorry, Harnna, but if the Goblins have her, she is lost. There is not an ounce of mercy or remorse within them."
"But the Goblins did not take her!"
"Thou canst not know any such thing. It must have been the Goblins. Remember, they killed thine husband right outside this city, not even leaving a body!"
"We must find her!"
"Lord Marsten... Forgive me, lord, but I, too, have a serious matter to put before the leaders of Monitor."
"Dost thou not need to rest thyself, Templar? Thou hast had no time to heal from thy wounds."
"I am right enough, Shazzana. And I cannot rest until I have aired my concerns."
"Speak thy mind, then, warrior."
"As thou knowest, I am the sole survivor of the patrol which the Goblins ambushed -- when Astrid was taken. The Goblins were ready for us, milord! It could not have been by accident. Lord Marsten, there is a traitor in our midst."
"Templar is right!"
"What shall we do?"
"Now, now... I think this talk of a traitor in Monitor is all rather speculative. Surely, no one suspects anyone at this table of being a Goblin spy."
"Sit down, Luther!"
"Listen, Knights -- it doth not take a wizard to untangle this skein. Who among us acts strangely, doth do things in secret, and avoids his knightly duties?"
"Krayg! 'Tis him!"
"Curse thee, Luther! I am weary of thine insults! I am no more of a traitor than thou art!"
"I shall make him talk!"
"This is unseemly..."
"Leave me alone!"
"Leave him alone, Luther."
"Thou shouldst stay out of this, woman..."
"Thou shalt not tell me what to do!"
"Keep him away from me!"
"Strike for his eyes!"
"Tell them to stop."
"Stop this! Lay down thine arms, Knights! Such fighting belongs on the List Field, not in the banquet hall. Thy behavior hath disrupted this celebration. In the interest of calming all of our tempers, I declare this banquet to be over. Avatar, couldst thou please speak to Harnna about her daughter? Perhaps thou mightest have some new insights."
If you have no idea who half of these people are, don't worry. It's only right about now that we can get them to say anything at all. Which we'll start doing... next time. I think I should probably go to Harnna first, what with the poisoning (she's the town's healer) and Cantra matter and all that. Of course, knowing Steve, we could also just ignore it entirely for a while.
The banquet scene is an example of a chaotic scripted sequence, the sort that doesn't really exist in the plot of The Black Gate, or most RPGs at the time. There are almost a dozen people, all of them talking at once, with multiple plot threads introduced in a (mostly) believable manner.