The Goldrise Monastery, Vintara
Late afternoon sunshine spilled through the open window, stealing the attention of the library’s sole inhabitant from the tattered scrolls and ancient texts that littered the table before him. The tall and lanky Lucidian monk, Brother Brandos stretched his cramped muscles and gazed out the window towards the city of Arncourt and the azure sea beyond it.
In the fields workers were busy harvesting olives and grapes beneath the warm rays of the autumn sun. In the broad bay beyond fishing boats bobbed next to Cyonian galleys and caravels from the distant Northern Kingdoms carrying pilgrims and trade goods across the busy sea lanes. Banners snapped in the salty breeze atop the tall grey walls of the city and the gates were busy as farmers headed home with wagons empty after selling their wares in town.
At the centre of Arncourt, couched amongst the spires and terra cotta-roofed buildings stood the shining Cathedral of Saint Lucius. It’s soaring walls appeared seamless at this distance and the bronze-clad domes and stain-glass windows flamed in the afternoon light.
Across a broad plaza from the Cathedral rose the equally elegant Helion Palace, the residence of His Grace, the Patrician of Vintara, and Holy Father of the Lucidian Church of Pelor.
Brother Brandos’ was abruptly brought back to the dank confines of the library by the sound of a door creaking its way open. He turned his gaze towards the stacks to watch, to his dismay, as the figure of Brother Haden entered the library, his tonsured head swivelling on a thin neck until he spotted Brandos’ seated form. “Ah, Brother Brandos,” he wheezed, “I hoped to find you here.”
“What do you want,” snapped Brandos, never one to hold much patience with the older monk.
Brother Haden ignored the tone in Brandos’ voice and instead proffered him a sheet of paper. “It concerns your old teacher, Brother Rydan,” he said. “It seems that he has had something of a misadventure in Cyonia.”
“You’ve been reading my mail!” Brandos said angrily, snatching the letter from Haden’s withered hand.
“The letter was addressed to me,” he retorted, his patience with the younger monk already being stretched.
Brandos scanned the neat handwriting on the page, noting immediately that it was not that of Brother Rydan himself. Instead the letter read as follows:
“Dear Brother Haden,
My name is Sister Leena of the House of the Healing Hand, a hospital of our blessed Saint Margo in Ran Adin. I am writing you at the request of one of our patients, a brother of your order by the name of Rydan Garibaldi.
Brother Garibaldi has come to our care some weeks ago and all effort is being made to repair him to good health.
In the mean time, the good brother has sent for your consideration the enclosed item.
May the grace of Pelor and His Saints be with you.
Sister Leena of Saint Margo."
“This was included with the letter,” Haden said, his voice betraying his excitement. In his hand he held a clay jar approximately six inches across at its widest and nearly fourteen inches tall. The jar was covered in ancient markings and symbols and the lid was sealed with lead solder. The jar was obviously a funerary urn and Brandos found his hands reaching out to hold it. Haden surrendered the jar and Brandos quickly scanned it.
“It’s late Myvolin,” he muttered while Haden nodded, “from the period of Nemocasus III.”
Brandos turned the jar, interpreting the thousand-year old writing. “Harjaani!” he exclaimed while Haden nodded excitedly. “Has Brother Rydan found the tomb of the Vizier Harjaani?”
“So you do recognize the name,” Haden said proudly.
“Of course,” Brandos sniffed, “he was the regent to the boy-emperor Nemocasus when he took the throne in the year 782 of the Myvolin Era. Vizier Harjaani was a cruel leader, manipulative and power hungry. He was a skilled sorcerer who used his considerable power to keep Nemocasus weak and under his thumb. During a palace coup, forces loyal to the emperor managed to free him from the Vizier and disposed of him in a hidden tomb. Harjaani’s power was such that he was unable to be killed outright, however, so Nemocasus’ supporters were able to use their own magic to bind his body to his prison. Nemocasus’ reign continued for another forty years and oversaw a period of expansion and large-scale building projects. His middle name was Phillip and he enjoyed boccee and chariot racing.”
“Exactly,” Haden said. “I believe that Brother Rydan sent this to me as an invitation to join him in Cyonia. I want you to come with me. I’ve already made arrangements for the two of us to travel to Ran Adin and see Brother Rydan at the House of the Healing Hand.”
“WHAT!” Brandos bellowed, “You arranged this without even asking me!”
The smile quickly fell from Haden’s face to be replaced with a look of surprise, “I, I thought that you would be pleased,” he stammered.
“Well, I’m not,” Brandos stated, “I have too much work to do here.”
“You would rather spend time with your books here than out in the field?” Haden asked, puzzled. “No, no. I need your help on this, Brother Brandos.”
Brandos considered the matter for a long moment. Finally he responded, “Alright, but I’m going to need to bring all of my books.”
“Whatever,” Haden sighed, “just be ready to leave at first light. We travel to the Port of Valsina by road. From there we leave for Cyonia.”