Arrival at Calbeyn

Fictional vignette number three. These are all starting to follow a predictable structure, a point-of-view character who’s both an archetypal character for the setting and a viable PC, some elements of setting colour, and an something resembling an adventure seed.

The river barge eased through the archway cut into the massive defensive wall, and into the docks of Calbeyn. The harnessed creatures towing the boat thrashed at the water with their writhing mass of tentacles, as the boatman manoeuvred the vessel along the quayside.

Standing at the waterfront, Alnate d’n Larane felt her sixth sense tingle; somebody was using mental powers very close to her. It was a moment before she realised what it was she was sensing – it was the pilot of the river barge. He’s got a mental link to those bizarre aquatic creatures. He is one of us.

Not a member of the Academy of the Mind, though. At least, not anyone she recognised. Perhaps as a minor talent, he’s better off that way. He doesn’t have to deal with academy politics, for a start. And more importantly, he’s not going to be called up to perform the city rulers’ dirty work. With her strong talent for sensing, at least she’s out of the really unpleasant stuff. Forensic psychometry is one of the less objectionable things a wizard may be asked to perform. She doesn’t have the talent for mind-reading or mind-control. Psychic interrogation of the city’s enemies, or worse still, pre-emptive crowd screening. It’s the stuff that makes wizards enemies of the mundanes. They are many, and we are few. And they hate and fear us.

Do our bidding when needed, and we’ll protect you from the mob; that has always been the deal. Alnate wonders if they’ll keep their end of the bargain when push comes to shove.

A kandar man dressed in expensive robes stepped off the rivercraft.

“Welcome to Calbeyn, brother Urlath”, Alnate said to him, “I trust your journey from Valgar was pleasant?”.

“Next time”, he replied, “remind me not to share rooms with one who snores. At three out of five traveller’s inns he and I were assigned to the same room”. He glances at another disembarking passenger, an elderly guardianspeaker, now met by a delegation from his temple.

“You are in the city now, under the hospitality of my family. There will be an end to snoring, I assure you. Our family slave will collect your bags”

“Anyway, how is life in Calbeyn”, he asked.

“The centre holds for now. Humans agitate for more freedom, the more fearful of we kandar demand they be kept down. The city-lord Lenata Tyr tries to balance the two. I do not envy her in her position. Some say the fate of Kalyr depends on the fate of Calbeyn. There have been assassinations, rumours of Konaic plots. We live in interesting times, my brother”.

Alnate felt her senses tingling, a second time. This time it was far more powerful, not a mere boatman but a sensation far stronger. In her head was a feeling of foreboding, a terrible twisting of space and time, and a powerful premonition of imminent bloodshed and death. The sensation is so overwhelming she lost her balance and falls to the ground.

“Sister!”, said Urlath, as he moved to help her to her feet. Her face was as white as a sheet. “Are you all right? You look as though you have seen a ghost”.

“I have”, she replied, “Something terrible is happening”.

Again, some questions for anyone that cares to answer them:

  • What does this tell you about the setting?
  • How strong an impression of the setting does it give you?
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2 Responses to Arrival at Calbeyn

  1. Louis says:

    In addition to the allusions to politics of Kandar, the vignette reminds us that Kandar is not boxed up neatly. The Academy of the Mind page makes a mention that talented kids are assessed quietly, and it is easy to forget that this implies a threshold of power before entry into the Academy of the Mind, and that some people should fall below the threshold so have talent but are not in the Academy. So in all aspects of the world, there is room around the edges for people who are close to the various archetypes, but not enough to be part of the major organizations and still need to make a living.

  2. TimHall says:

    Yes, precisely. And even more powerful psionics can exist outside of the Academy of the Mind if you can come up with a good enough story to explain why.

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