Friday, August 7, 2009

Chapter 10, Part 1

The sun peeked over the distant mountains that formed the natural border between Celydon and Korindim, spilling light across a walled city whose most prominent feature was a huge cathedral whose towers and spires loomed above the city walls. Vurp sighed with relief upon seeing that the distant city was no more than a few hours' walk away. Porphyria had decided to travel from Sanctuary to Camille the hard way -- by boat across the vast Southern and Surdassic seas from Sanctuary to Halfmoon Bay, and then on foot the rest of the way, over the jagged and mountainous landscape of Korindim to the lowland forests and rolling plains that characterized much of Celydon's landscape.

Vurp grumbled under his breath. Porphyria had the ability to travel to nearly any place in just a handful of seconds through her powers as an ELF guerilla, or she could at least fly, which would be much faster, and yet she insisted upon walking. There wasn't much Vurp disliked more than walking around. The ability to fly was half the reason he had become a mage. To be honest, Vurp thought, blowing stuff up was pretty much the other half. The thought caused Vurp to chuckle slightly, distracting him somewhat from the foul mood his hurting feet had put him into. Even Vurp's robe was stashed away at Porphyria's insistence, and Vurp was dressed in a simple, ill-fitting pair of trousers and a white tunic in order to avoid attracting attention. Certainly, walking into a stronghold of the Pantarchic Church openly as an agent of chaos might not be the best idea, but Vurp still missed the comfort of his robe.

It was nearly midday when Porphyria and Vurp made their way through the gates of Camille, Porphyria posing as a religious pilgrim in a simple brown robe, and Vurp posing as her porter. Vurp was not able to pass as a pilgrim because goblinoids of any kind were barred from seeking salvation within the Pantarchic Church, while Porphyria could pass as an aviar without too much trouble. Vurp didn't mind much, anyhow. The Yehovists had always struck Vurp as a singularly stuffy and fun-fearing lot. Besides, the robes pilgrims wore looked as if they chafed horribly.

Camille was an attractive town, in its own way. The Cathedral of Cianna seemed to dominate the city, giving one the impression that the city was almost an afterthought to the Cathedral. Most of the other buildings in the town had a bit of class to them, though. The city held many of the stately manor homes of the officials of the Pantarchic Church alongside a number of other buildings that mirrored the stonework and stained-glass architecture of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral of Cianna itself was a popular place for pilgrimages, and the pilgrims brought a great deal of money into the city. As a result, many of the buildings closest to the Cathedral housed businesses that catered to the pilgrims -- inns, public houses, religious curio shops, and so on. Further away from the Cathedral were the various other districts of the city -- the warehouses, seedy bars, and dens of iniquity that could be found in just about any city, a stronghold of the Church of Yehovah notwithstanding.

"Right middle finger of the Angel Tyristael, ma'am? Only 500 gold pieces." The call came from one of the many street vendors who sold relics of dubious provenance - in this case, the vendor was a middle-aged human man who was holding up what appeared to be a finger bone, but could just have easily been from a chicken. Porphyria waved the man away, but he followed undeterred, "No? Well, how about a vial of holy water? Blessed by the Archistator himself! 50 gold pieces!" The man produced a small vial of water from a pouch on his belt and held it up for inspection. Vurp peered at the somewhat cloudy water inside with some curiosity, but was quickly dragged away by Porphyria, who was intent on ignoring the vendor.

"Just ignore them and they'll go away, Vurp," Porphyria whispered in Vurp's ear, bending down to do so, "these shysters are looking for an easy mark. And even if any of what they sold was holy, what would you want with it?"

Vurp sniffed, somewhat offended, "I'm just curious. I'm not planning on buying anything. Besides, the stuff over there in that shop looks much more interesting." Vurp pointed to one of the curio stands that lined the street around the Cathedral. The shop displayed a good number of items of silver jewelry bearing the holy symbol of Yehovah, and several of the pieces gleamed with an obvious aura of enchantment.

Porphyria noted a hungry look in Vurp's eye, and quickly remembered the circumstances of their meeting. "I'd leave those alone if I were you, Vurp. The Pantarchic Church is not especially known for their mercy towards thieves, especially when those thieves come from the ranks of the 'benighted races'. Besides, we're not hurting for money at the moment. Let's go find a place to stay for the night, and then we can go browse in shops if you're really that interested in Yehovist tchotchkes."

Vurp took one last look at the item shops and followed Porphyria down a small side street that looked to be lined mostly with hostelries and eating-houses. The smells of cuisines of various cultures wafted through the air of the street, making Vurp's stomach growl as he remembered that he had not had lunch yet. Porphyria headed towards an establishment with a faded sign depicting a white-robed figure hanging from a tree. The Anglic letters underneath dubbed the establishment the "Hanging Adonaist Inn and Public House".

"The Hanging Adonaist?" Vurp wondered aloud.

Porphyria looked up at the sign, and explained, "Yeah. The Adonaist schism split the Church awhile back. It originated from some argument over whether or not the divine nature of Yehovah pre-existed the universe, or some silliness like that. The Adonaists were for the most part driven out of Almeria by the Yehovists, and a good number of the Adonaists were executed, although historically speaking, hanging was generally considered too merciful a fate for them."

Vurp shuddered slightly at the morbid sign, and followed Porphyria inside. Once inside, Vurp's eyes quickly adjusted to the relative darkness, and the scents of good Filialtri cooking overwhelmed his nose.

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