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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1808 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2017 :  07:01:37  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
A glimpse came to me today, of a re-envisioned Thay... Ashthay, presumably some time after the Sundering but who can know? It's far from polished, but it was an interesting daydream.

Ashthay is a somewhat dystopian place, rife with treachery and conspiracy... much like Thay. There are still eight Zulkirs, corresponding to the schools of magic, but (as far as we know) none of them remain from before the Sundering. The Red Wizards are gone - many dead, some deep in hiding, and the remainder subsumed into the Blood Wizards. Twelve Tharchions manage delineated regions and some cities are governed by Autarchs. As in Thay, the robed wizards hold most of the power - subject to the Zulkirs, of course, but the Zulkirs are even more withdrawn from the public than they were in times past.

There's a passive sort of surveillance over the entire landscape of Ashthay. Loud noises attract the attention of a Blood Wizard, or in rare and deadly cases a Zulkir; weapons clashing and concussive spells are noticed quickly, but even heavy objects falling over can draw a scrying eye. The common folk are unaware of this, though there is a widespread uneasy feeling that "someone is watching." The Autarchs and Tharchions are aware that the wizards can watch and listen wherever/whenever they please, and the Blood Wizards themselves are naturally knowledgable of the details and extent of the "program."

It's not just noise, though. This scrying can be activated by words or even thoughts, driven by strong feelings. This is the unspeakable truth behind Goust's harsh response to Roela: when she brags about her father, there's a chance (increasing with the resolve and duration of her outburst) that a wizard may be listening, and use her physically or mentally to manipulate her father... a dangerous result, considering his access to a Tharchion. Goust can't explain this to the younger kids explicitly, because if a wizard heard *that* they would all be killed for sure. So he has to train them to contain their pride, in a kinda Pavlovian way. Lath has an advantage over Roela in this training, since he spends more time with Goust.

Xephus is an aberration among the Blood Wizards: he's more interested in Ashthay and the wellbeing of its people than in the acquisition of personal power. This makes him an oddball to most of the wizards, and a target for some. He's also peering into a long-abandoned field of research: chronomancy. So far, he hasn't had much success; he gets flashes of insight about possible futures but he doesn't know what events will/may lead to which consequences, or which visions might coexist in the same timeline. He certainly can't "time-travel" to verify anything. So his work is frustrating, as his lawful mind attempts to find/build order in nigh-absolute chaos. But he means well. And therein lies the danger of being Xephus Ishumn, in Ashthay.


"Be silent, Lath."

The older boy's voice was low and even, barely more than a murmur, but the target of his order obediently fell silent. Chastened, he looked down at his feet. For a moment there was a heavy, awkward silence. It was a higher, louder voice that spoke next.

"My father is underminister to a Tharchion. He's far more powerful than any secretary to a mere Autarch."

The boy called Lath puffed up again, but again the older boy's sibilant voice quelled all opposition.

"Your father is a bumbling fool. He tripped over an ambassador's robe and soiled himself, in front of an entire dwarven delegation."

The girl flushed and deflated a bit.

"Tharchion Thoul Dmaum has been too busy repairing our diplomatic status to separate your father's head from his shoulders. Yet."

The girl's eyes widened in fear at the last word, and she blinked back tears.

"Further, Gauros is not a very important Tharch. Even if he were the Tharchion himself, your father would only have lordship over a canyon, and responsibility for containing a bunch of homeless Rashemi vermin. It's baffling that you're proud of him."

The girl lost her brief battle with her tears, turned away quickly, and ran toward her parents' modest home. Lath burst into laughter, yelling a taunt after her.

"Vermin-watcher!"

The grimfaced older boy watched the girl race up the steps and disappear into the courtyard, and then put his hand on the exuberant younger boy's shoulder.

Lath suddenly turned to look curiously up at his older friend's face.

"What does your father do?"

"Nothing. You know he does nothing important, Lath." Goust spoke softly and stared intently into the younger boy's eyes.

Comprehension dawned on Lath's face.

"I'm sorry, Goust. I know I shouldn't have bragged. She…" He trailed off, and scowled darkly.

"She's just so…" He finished with a growl and fell silent, still scowling. A hint of a smile tugged at Goust's mouth, unseen by the glowering younger boy. He carefully kept his voice even.

"I know she is. She's probably treated like a princess at home, but she's just like the rest of us out here. She wants to feel respected and important. Just like you do."

The younger boy chewed his lip, pondering, still frowning at the door through which the girl vanished.

Goust took a long breath.

"You'd best get inside too. Darkness falls quickly."

Lath looked mutinous for a moment, glancing up at the sky - not a tinge of sunset anywhere - but then nodded silently as Goust's words sank in. He sobered, and turned toward his parents' house. After a few steps he turned and waved.

"Another dawn, Goust."

His voice was low and calm, devoid of his earlier bluster and mockery. Goust returned the wave and smiled thinly.

"Another dawn, Lath."

Goust watched in silence until Lath had disappeared, then turned toward his own destination.

*****

Darkness had indeed fallen by the time Goust became aware of the subtle sounds of his father emerging from his library into the common room of their home. He rose silently and left his bedchamber to say hello.

"Safe even, father."

"Safe even, Goust."

Xephus Ishumn was an unremarkable man. In fact, someone seeing him for the first time would find it impossible to remember a single notable feature of his face. That bit of magic had preserved his health and wealth and family through countless assassinations - some aimed at him, some at colleagues, some blindly launched at any Blood Wizard an aggrieved foreigner could find.

"You've been inside for a time?"

"Yes. Several songs."

Goust gestured at the enchanted cello playing itself in the common room. Xephus nodded approval.

"You watched the younger ones today?"

"Yes."

"Good. This was an auspicious day for fell deeds. Did they do or say anything important?"

"No. It's difficult to keep them in order. Lath is learning, but he is far from mastering his temper and he becomes reckless when provoked. Roela is… well, she's a girl. I suspect she recognizes Lath's weakness and enjoys goading him into making a fool of himself."

Goust spread his hands in an indication of helplessness, and Xephus nodded understanding.

"Keep trying. Her mother…"

Xephus paused, and sighed heavily.

"She won't consent to being alone with me again, but she wouldn't listen to me where it concerns her husband anyway. She can't divest herself of the foolish notion that I'm jealous and petty. Still, against my better judgment, I care about her. She's no fool… she's smart enough to hide her devotion to her daughter, but as her daughter becomes a young woman her concern grows more and more difficult to contain. She becomes increasingly vulnerable."

Goust nodded slowly, putting the pieces together in his mind.

"So that's why it's important to teach Roela to restrain her feelings."

Xephus frowned.

"I meant only that I can't rely on her mother to be adequately vigilant by herself. She occupies herself, and Roela is free to roam. No, Roela is important for what she will do, not because of her mother."

Goust knew better than to ask direct questions, which irritated his father more often than yielding satisfactory answers, but he allowed his curiosity to show on his face. Xephus quickly shook his head.

"I know not, son. I don't know what it will be, but it is better for Ashthay that they live…"

He trailed off, momentarily at a loss for words.

"…as long as possible. Long enough."

Goust nodded amiably, knowing that his father would reveal what he could, and no more, when it suited him, and no sooner. He chuckled suddenly.

"Neither of them would believe us if we told them they would one day work together. They would insist they'd rather destroy each other."

Xephus stared blankly at his son's face, apparently not perceiving the humor.

"Regardless of how they feel now, I'm certain that one day they will wish to spend every moment together."

Goust snorted.

"Truly?"

"Oh, yes. She will stop someone from ending his life, and later he will likewise protect her… or perhaps in the other order."

As Goust chuckled in disbelief, Xephus searched his thoughts for a few moments, then shrugged helplessly.

"I don't know. The future is foggy about the most important things… some things are far more important than this, but we don't yet have the means to influence those. So we must do what we can, when we can."

(fade to black)



(edited for dialog clarity, and to add background)

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 05 Apr 2017 23:43:17

sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
6097 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2017 :  13:01:30  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dream indeed goodsir... dream on, for that is where the good stories come.

Curious... in the above, it almost looks like you're trying to convey telepathic thought, because you don't do the typical "blah blah blah," Goust said... format. Is that the intent?

I'm always intrigued to see other's takes on Thay. That is why I was enjoying the stuff from Kismet. This inspires me to get off my duff and work on my side project more.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1808 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2017 :  22:24:32  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I uh... kinda forgot about quotation marks until after I posted. "Oh yea, there are marks for talky bits, huh."

Nope, no telepathy... just the author brainfarting. I shall change the post appropriately.

I'm sure there are also points where meaning is unclear. That's a problem with writing down thoughts; brains (usually) move faster than fingers so steps can be skipped. I want to get better at this, so feedback is appreciated!
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
6097 Posts

Posted - 06 Apr 2017 :  12:30:23  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by xaeyruudh



I'm sure there are also points where meaning is unclear. That's a problem with writing down thoughts; brains (usually) move faster than fingers so steps can be skipped. I want to get better at this, so feedback is appreciated!



Yep, been there... I could get so much done if I could just export my thoughts

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Cyrinishad
Learned Scribe

257 Posts

Posted - 06 Apr 2017 :  15:39:09  Show Profile Send Cyrinishad a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you for the read Xaeyruudh... Keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge. -Socrates

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. -Dr. Seuss
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