[B With Tweedy]
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Alaric was roused by the gruff announcement that there was someone here 'for the necromancy and such'. The elf frowned softly, confused, and felt a trickle of fear run down his shoulders. Who was seeking them? He hoped it wasn't a desperate woman who was begging for their husband or son back. The last time he had managed that one, they were hardly pleased with the results of him resurrecting the fellow. Certainly, with control, it could do the work, but the emotional stress was a lot for most people.
He closed his book. Moving towards the entrance, the priest had been left outside, the high elf poked his head out, glancing over the man. A human. Alaric stepped out a little and asked the man his business. Those in the lower city were never allowed to go up to the citadel except for special circumstances and it seemed... that that time was now.
His brows drew together as he received the breadth of the explanation, frowning and staying where he was in the doorway.
"[#23279a Are you- how did you find us?]" It was mostly only word of mouth to those willing, or desperate, and most of all poor who still clung to the aged ways.
Apparently "she has her ways" was all the explanation he was going to get. It meant they needed to go above the falls.
He looked down at the summons, staring at it for a time. But who- what would he do about this? If necromancy was the length they were going to go for the oracle, what condition was she in?
He dismissed the man, since he wasn't answering any more questions in this location, and brought the summons back inside. And so he waited for others to come back for their evening meal, if they even would show up, but he had to tell someone else. One of the necromancers, at least. Plenty of the highwaymen guild were bustling about, as most of their activities were during the evening and night.
Any map will name the river the [i Ur,] though few remember it has been named at all. Some parts of it are as deep as the oldest pine is high, perhaps deeper The water appears black, and moves quickly in areas; in others it flattens, widens, glides smoothly over the grass, silent as time, undulating like a swimming leech.
It reaches a city with crumbling walls, and slips into an ancient channel which curls through the high-city on its impressive cliff. Then, the Ur plummets a great distance and falls down the cliff-face to the low-city beneath, where the common folk draw their water, and the boats of the floating market with their colorful awnings dock while the sun is high.
The commoners are only allowed to ascend from the low-city to the high city during festival times, or times of hardship, so that they may hear, from a distance, the words of the Oracle. The books say she’s lived for a thousand years—long enough to remember the times when the first rains fell and the first grass grew on the hills. In any case she is old enough that not even the parents of the eldest remember her birth. It is said that she can read bones, that her good word promises victory for the even most unlikely of victors, that she can even perform miracles; that she herself is a miracle, and speaks in a tongue so ancient that only the gods know its origin.
The river spills outward, into the sea. Some ways down the silent beach, where only pirates and highwaymen set up their camp, and travelers are ambushed by the desperate, the ruin of an old tower rises from the water. It is made of white limestone blocks. It sits half underwater with the waves lapping gently against the stone. A bridge, connected once to something, extended out into the sea and crumbled into the waves. The priest stands here, noting the signs of banditry, the elk-skulls and sharpened pikes driven before the doorway, the smell of the tide and of rotten life within, like the living corpse of the leper. He’d been told about the highwaymen, and warned that to enter the citadel and gain access to those he needs, desperately, to find, he would need to appease those who protected it.
The necromancers, he was told, live in symbiosis with the highwaymen: the highwaymen occupy and protect the citadel; the necromancers do their work within, protected by a fear of banditry which drives all but the largest forces away, the highwaymen get their tribute.
The priest has been told to dress inconspicuously. Any sign that he has been sent by the oracle is one which could bring slander to her name. So he enters, exchanging some quick, terrified words with the brutes at the door, and is allowed to enter.
He bears only a summons, and the knowledge that, this time, something is different, something is wrong: the oracle fades rapidly, and the magic binding her life within her body becomes less and less potent.