Bog's World

Altogether elsewhere

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Arriving in Immoren - Tūd

Tūd found himself alone. He peered into the darkness out of the leaded glass windows and noted the position of the stars above the rooftops. They were not one’s he recognised. Still a little disorientated from the teleport spiral, he sat down where he was. He was in another study or office of some kind, but it didn’t appear to have been used for a long time, being thick with dust. He waits for the nausea to pass, waits for the others to show up. An hour passes. Nothing happens and nobody comes and so he moves off, pausing to note the changes in position of the stars in relation to the chimneys when he was stood on the same spot. So, he knew which way the sky revolved, even if he didn’t yet know morning from evening.

He descended the stairs to find himself in study with two arguing wizards. They weren’t actually wearing black robes but he knew a wizard when he saw one. The younger one uses Tūd’s appearance as an excuse to leave. To his delight the are actually speaking Cygnarian. So the plan, in part at least, is working so far. The older man, eyes blazing from under his regulation bushy eyebrows addressed Tūd with a tirade against the younger man (who looked like a competent sort of fellow and appeared to be trying to conduct a reasoned argument) whom Tūd soon guessed was a former student. The remaining curmudgeon, Tynwald Decklan has actually mistaken Tūd for someone who has come for an interview. He asks Tūd some magic lore questions which Tūd, forearmed by his tenure in The Temple in Hisra, answers correctly. Tynwald then explains that there will be lot of study and that entry into the Fraternal Order of Wizardry[1] is still not guaranteed and won’t be for years.

Tūd looks blank and considers options. The FOW was something that had appeared more than once in Kelkess’ journals. Free board and lodgings and something to occupy himself until the others turn up, or he could find them. And then there was his innate curiosity about magic itself. After twenty seconds deliberation he agreed, committing third obedience to Tynwald Decklan, not exactly his new Lyio, more a sort of landlord/caretaker/mentor. (Fraternal Order of Wizardry)

Putting aside his adventuring gear, he begins apprenticeship. Tūd’s lodgings are in the loft space of Tynwald’s mansion in the city of Orven in central Cygnar. Orven, he discovered, is a religious centre for the Church of Morrow, home to a substantial Dwarven minority and birthplace of the railway network. Tūd had early morning views over the other houses to Rimmocksdale Lake, which was nice. And also the spoil heaps of from the nearby mining industry.

When Cygnar isn't horse drawn, its coal fired and steam driven. For much of the time, the great cities of the Iron Kingdoms are shadowed by a pall of smog from the mills, turning even bright days dim. Outside the front door of most houses is a man-hole opening into a coal cellar. The coalman carried, on one distorted shoulder, a hundredweight sack that he drops, mouth down, directly over the coal hole with a single flick of the body.

In the more well to do areas of major cities, side streets are gas-lit, if lit is not too strong a word for the faint pools of light around each lamp post. At dusk a lamp lighter runs from post to post carrying a long pole with a flame and a hook on top; the hook opened the tap, the flame lit the jet. Pretty grim it is, too, on the cobblestones by a Cygnaran-built gasworks on a wet winter night in the choking smell of gas. Gasometers, where gas was stored, are great steel cylinders that rise and sink in and out of holes in the ground as they fill and empty.

Over the months, in his spare time, Tūd visited Magic Lantern shows, enjoyed the occasional visit to the burlesque parlours and socialised with the other student wizards of Orven, of whom there were about a dozen[2] . This involved visiting pubs which are bright and glittering and therefore perhaps all the more inviting. They are made brighter by big mirrors, etched with the names of ales or gin or whiskey, covering the walls so that reflected gaslight filled the place. Although this too in turn is dimmed as the evening wears on, by the tobacco smoke which stained the ceilings first yellow, then brown. A sharp smell of beer seeped into the street. So did noise: Pubs are loud. People seem to sing quite readily (the whistling delivery boy or trades-man is commonplace) to entertain themselves and many pubs employ itinerant musicians to entertain their clientele.

He also enjoyed visiting the various premises of the Steam and Ironworker’s Union, to watch steamjacks at work and indeed, being made. Although he never found out how they worked. Not that he cared, he was too busy himself.

Tūd’s lessons rarely began before lunchtime, giving him ample time to practice his martial skills in the Decklan mansion’s grounds. Tynwald would summon Tūd and their lessons would begin using a seemingly random syllabus, apparently based on what Tynwald felt like when he got up in the morning. Sometimes he would simply set Tūd reading and dismiss him. Occasionally there would seem to be a week of structured lessons with a provable gain in skill or knowledge at the end. Far too often a lesson would begin one afternoon and only conclude a day or two later when both student and master were too tired to continue.

Tūd learned of alteration, evocation and transmutation. The spells were set rituals or formulae with distinct and very particular required components. Casting his first spell after only four months was a bit of a shock to Tūd. He could see, however, that despite the ease with which he was able to master individual incantations, these were quite different to the more subtle and complete mastery of a particular realm or theme, which is what blackrobes in the empire excelled at. He also learned of the Illuminated Order, the Order of the Golden Crucible (and all of their woes) as well as a certain amount about vile Cyrx. And of course, warcasters, like the unfortunate Capt Lafe Marlow.

Tūd engaged a local blacksmith to install smoke hoods in the laboratories (and his own room, which lacked a proper fireplace) to connect to the mansion’s chimneys. This made the lessons a lot less hazardous and more bearable as well as ingratiating himself with his master.

After almost a year with no word or sign from his friends Tūd was starting to worry. There appeared to be no concept of plane shifting magic in Cygnar or any other nation in Western Immorian. It was starting look like he was stuck forever. And then Tynwald sent him to Corvis (by train and then boat) to collect copies of works from the University there for his mentor’s library.

Packing his travelling spell books and taking his adventuring gear, Tūd took the train to Ironhead Station and then Steelwater Flats. Change for Bainsmarket and then leave the railway behind to take a boat down the Dragonstongue River to Corvis.

This was his best chance yet to see something of Immorian and try to find news of his companions and/or Kelkess Raccoba.

Arriving in Corvis, Tūd noted the shanties growing in the quieter areas of the city where the population had been swollen by refugees from occupied Lleal to the north. He noted that the Cygnarian military presence was transient, always moving through to forts on the Khadorian and Lleal borders. Corvis is a city in a swamp. Earlier parts of the city had sunk into the swamp and for the past thousand years, those who had chosen to make this place their home had simply built on top of the ruins of past generations. The modern city was essentially sat on a pile of rubble, the prevailing water table still very close to street level.

Corivs owed its existence to Black River, the major through route from Occupied Lleal to Caspia in the South. It was also the east-west nexus at this latitude, owing to mountains and impassable woods, forbidden Ios and Iron Kingdoms power politics.

He’d collected what Tynwald required but what he sought was not here. Taking a chance he struck out northwards into the areas of wetlands that lie along the sides of the Black River between Corvis and the northern border with Lleal.

He travelled north for half a day and found himself at a tax post, staffed by a Sergeant and six men of the Cynaran Royal Army. It also boasted an inn, with a stable, resident farrier and large transient population of traders. He paid his farthing to the tax collectors and his two shields (one for him, one for his horse, who is named Albou) and settled in for the night, watching the traffic and listening carefully.

Unusual travellers usually generated a little gossip. Apparently an Iosian knight had travelled through the day before. Never having seen any elf from Western Immorean, Tūd supposed that it could have Thranduil, although he didn’t hold out too much hope as the elf had been travelling alone. But it was the only lead he had.

He’d made a camp the next night when something told him that he should keep on going. Unsure, he readied as many spells as he could muster and, with his mind swimming with so much arcana that he felt drunk and could hardly sit straight in the saddle, he pushed on. It started raining almost straight away. After a few hours he came across a horse tied ilin fashion to a tree near the trackway. There were prints leading off in the obvious direction, up the only piece of dry land in the vicinity.

Listening he heard nothing. He froze as he heard a gunshot, muffled by the trees and the rain. He crept forward, nearly falling over a freshly upset ancient stone trough. More swiftly now, he followed forwards, heart in mouth as he heard a second retort. Nearly slipping in the mud he ran forwards towards a circle of partially obscured dim lights.

[1] Tūd’s arrival was in the lodge of the Orven covenant of the FOoW.
[2] All at various stages of their apprenticeships, all apprenticed to different masters within the Orven area. All their masters had different specialisation’s and most of the students hoped to eventually be allowed to apply for a place at the universities with good reputations for their magical faculties. Caspia (Cygnar’s capital) Cyerl (in the west coast) or Corvis (in the east). One or two were older than Tūd, most were in their late teens and one or two were younger yet. The whole thing was like a manic homework club with all of them pooling resources to aid each other. They may have been boring swots but they got Tūd through his first six months. He instituted a fortnightly night out without any study, as a sort of release valve for them. And he also made a point of trying to bed the female students, sleeping with two of the three of the female students who came up to his image of what a lover should be like (age, looks, conversation). When he makes a pass at the third they all find out and all hell breaks loose, fortunately that’s only two days before he leaves town…

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