OUR HEROES: Tira Wolfsdaughter Hank Woodman Haiku Odsdottir Gilead Persia


13. Interlude: Paladin Play

Note: only the players for Tira and Gilead were available for this adventure

Gilead and Tira discover that they have a class together. The History of Tallon is taught by Teacher Cho. The two hit it off reasonably well, and when the class is assigned to pair off for an assignment, they agree to work together. Their task is to watch a play being performed at the theater, which purports to deal with historical events. They must research the play and find at least five historical inaccuracies with it. They convince Farralon to go along, since he is reasonably well versed in the classics.

  The play is Orion: Paladin of Skerrit. It tells the story of the General Skerrit in the time of the Archon Samuel the Brave. Skerrit was general while the city was new and besieged by the wilds. The play is particularly interesting to Tira, since if features Basarin's first major performance as a dancer.

Act One shows a military campaign against the Barbarians of Mundaba. The General is victorious and orders a celebration on the fields. The barbarian is defeated and Tallon is safe. He toasts Captains Nixon and Benjamin for their loyalty, making promises to them of glory upon their return to Tallon. He makes Orion into a Paladin for having shown great bravery on the field.

Act Two shows the general betrayed by Captain Nixon who is seduced by the Mundaban princess Calliope (played by Basarin, who has no speaking lines). Nixon stabs the General, hoping to take his place. The plot is quickly discovered. There is a battle and Nixon is forced to flee from the camp with his seducer, who promises to show him a place of great power.

Act Three Orion follows Nixon into the wilds, where he must fight terrible chimeras while growing steadily weaker. He succeeds, but is wounded.

Act Four Orion finds the Demon King Court of Wendigo. Here he encounters terrible creatures and inexplicable wonders. Also here is Nixon, who is going to use the secrets of the Demon-Kings against Tallon, where he will set himself up as Archon. Orion is entirely normal at this point and only wins by taking the Demonblade Annihilator from Nixon's newly discovered animate servant and killing the treacherous captain and his seducer Calliope. Leaving with the blade causes Wendigo's Court to fall. Nixon and Calliope are buried forever.

Act Five, Orion returns to Tallon bearing the blade. He presents it to the Archon Samuel who in turn gives it to Benjamin, the Captain from Act One who is elevated to General. Benjamin offers to make Orion his Paladin, but Orion refuses and goes to guard the body of Skerrit on its journey into Cosmos. (He suicides, but this is not expressed openly)

The two spend the remainder of the week investigating. By searching his father's journal, Gilead finds that the Mundabans are not beasts, as the play claims. Tira interviews the author of the play who is old as the hills but still living. He tells her that the ending of the play was changed by order of then-Archon Kanukka, in order to solidify her claim on the sword Annihilator. Most disturbing is a long forgotten memory of Tira's, stimulated by the events of the play. She remembers from her childhood in the Jungles of dark and steaming Nunavut a legend told to her by Garlok and a visit to a strange shrine.

Before they are to deliver their report, both attend the Vestiture ceremony for Jerrick, the newest paladin of Hannon. Tira stands with the adepts, but Gilead is a member of the ceremony itself. Since Jerrick has no family other than an uncle, Gilead is standing for Jerrick's family. He and the uncle are ritually shackled to Jerrick. As a drum beats and music plays, Jerrick flexes his newly enhanced muscles and breaks the chains that tie him to family. As he walks along the promenade to the Standing Stones, he passes three beautiful young women. From each he takes a precious object or coin, throwing it into the assemblage. He then veils each girl and moves on, simultaneously rejecting both worldy possessions and worldly pleasure.

When he reaches the Dancers of Dawn, he stands before General Hannon. A line of soldiers deals a series of twelve punishing blows with wooden swords. Jerrick bears each blow for his new master without flinching or crying out. When he has done so, Hannon kisses him atop the head, sealing the bond between master and paladin.

The cheer that rises at this point is quickly subdued, for it becomes apparent that the Archon has collapsed. He is obviously ill and weak. It takes some time for him to rise, and during this time a curious thing happens to the crowd. It begins to polarize around General Hannon and Mistress Novya. The soldiers gravitate towards the General, while the merchants likewise draw close to Novya. By the time Ningan recovers and feebly waves to the crowd, everyone has had a chance to declare allegiances and see the face of their opposition. Gilead studiously avoids his grandfather's insistent gestures to join him and sneaks out with the adepts through the small north gate. Throughout the confusion, Bishop Thane makes certain the clergy shows no favoritism.

Gilead goes to Jerrick's vestiture party, but has no heart for celebration. Later, Elias discusses with his grandson once again the importance of declaring devotion to Mistress Novya. Hannon, he explains, is no friend of the Guilds.

On Moonday morning, Tira and Gilead receive full marks for their work and cause a bit of a sensation with Tira's claim that the lost Court of Wendigo still stands. The class discuss this for a while but it becomes apparent that Teacher Cho is a strong Hannonist, who has used the assignment to recall the question of the ownership of Annihilator.