"Then...the cave was empty? Nothing was alive within?" Dmitri breathed. "Thank God...please excuse me. Please, avail yourselves of our services. Welcome to Mordavia." He turned around and headed into a house next to the general store, slamming the door behind him.
The town stretched before them. It was not particularly large, no more than a few hundred people and many of the buildings appeared to be abandoned. Notable buildings included the Burgomeister's office, the general store next door, the Hotel Mordavia. Further from the wall a building marked 'Guild of Travelers' could be seen. It looked dusty and abandoned. The door was locked, but it could likely be opened with a little force. Near the Guild was a building with a plaque on the door, identifying it as being 'Doctor Parietus' Office'. Immediately adjacent was a large library, dusty but not entirely abandoned.
Here and there were various other shops - a tailor, a small smithy.
At the very back of the town were two notable things. The first was a blocked-off mine shaft, gated off and guarded by sword-bearing men. The other was a massive cathedral overlooking the town. Immediately over the cathedral's door was a bas relief of a huge squid-like creature that looked much like the sigil now in Gomik's possession.
Rob walked to the general store, jotting something down in his notebook. "He seemed to be scared of the cave we came out of..." He didn't have much money, but there wasn't much he wanted. He went and bought a couple packets and cans of food, and a flask to carry water in.
After he paid for the things, he tried to put the flask in his other pocket, but noticed it had a hole in it. "Dammit... guess I'll stop at the tailor..." he started heading there, taking the time to try and observe the town. "I wonder where I can find today's newspaper. The general store didn't have one..."
The woman running the general store was a sturdy middle-aged woman wearing a shawl. A lot of cats swarmed in the general store, and she seemed to always have one or two on her lap, stroking them at all times.
"So, you're one of the strangers. I heard about you." Looking at her, one got the impression she heard about -everything-. "I have to tell you, most of the people around here won't trust you, strangers bring nothing but trouble. All the same, it's good to see new faces here. It's been so quiet for so long." She gave him a faint smile. "Now what can I do for you? You want some food? You'll be wanting my garlic and avocado sandwiches. My husband, bless his soul, loved them so. They keep for weeks and are extremely filling."
She gave him what he requested, then gave his money a look. "Caledonian money? Well...here we use crowns and kopeks, but alright. That'll be $30."
Gomik peered around, wondering where to go, but also wondering if he had any money on him, as he could not remember. He searched his person and found an assortment of bills, equaling up to 100 dollars in value. He smiled and walked on his way, because now he could get something to eat. He followed Rob to the general store and waited behind him patiently, and he heard the woman say something about a sandwich. When he got up to the counter he had a little trouble seeing over it fully, but said "Can I get one of those sandwiches you were talking about? I would eat anything at this point." He said, as he put a dollar up on the counter, and the lady produced two sandwiches. He thanked her, and as he was walking out he chuckled. When he made it outside he glanced down the street, after shoving one of the sandwiches into his shorts pocket. He saw the Guild of travelers sign, and decided to see what was up with that. He made it to the door and it was locked. He frowned for a second before looking around to see if anyone was watching, and pushed at the door, hoping the lock was not too strong.
Kane listened as the dwarf Gomik talked to this Dmitri fellow. As the man gave them answers Kane became more confused. "Hell this doesn't make any sense." he thought.
He then noticed a red-haired elven woman nearby. Kane walked over to her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me." he said "But if I understand properly, you folks don't remember anything either?" he asked.
As Gomik presses on the door, the hinges snap off and the door falls to the ground, with him faceplanting. As he picks himself up, he sees the inside of the Guild. Heads of various creatures are mounted on the wall - moose, deer, a head that looks like a cross between a wolf and a bear with bony growths coming out of it. A bookshelf is on one wall next to a coatrack. Other notable things in the room include a glass case with a sword and a pair of daggers in it, an inscription underneath reading 'Erana's Sword and the Daggers of Janus'.
The whole place was dilapidated, the flooring crumbling in many places and the whole building smelling faintly of mold. However, a few books caught Gomik's eye - a book on swordplay, a book on the basics of magic. As he examined them, another book caught his eye, a diary. Flipping it open, he saw that it was the property of Piotyr, Paladin-Guardian of Mordavia.
Iris jumped a little when Kane touched her. "Ah! Oh, excuse me. I haven't met everyone that was in the cave yet. I'm Iris." She quickly examined him, noting his scars. "It's true that none of us remember much other than our names in most cases, it seems..."
Albert heard the large man speak with the rest of the group and walked away from them towards the hotel so that he could get some sleep. He entered the small lobby and sat down on a wooden chair, looking at the clerk sitting behind a desk. Albert took out all of his possessions from his rucksack and put them on the small round table in the lobby.
A large notebook, some wooden sticks and a strange deck of playing cards. He pocketed the deck of playing cards and opened the notebook. What he saw amazed him. Beautiful drawings of majestic landscapes of nature sharing the same space as drawings of a filth filled city hub, the abysmal conditions of the factory workers and the squalor they live in showcased in such a realistic and emotional way. He turned a page and examined detailed drawings of animals and layers after layers of their anatomies with notes on the margins. Another page and more drawings of the city Hub and a red light district. In the corner of the drawing Albert could spot a signature bearing the name "Alberto ".
"Beautiful" Albert said out loud.
He nodded at Iris. "I'm Kane. Pleasure to meet you." The man then remembered something; the crafted elvish bracer with writing that was on him.
"Hey, you know elvish right?" he asked. Maybe the words on the bracer had a clue to his identity.
Rob had reached the tailor and waited there for service, giving them his coat once he had emptied his pockets. It had cost him another $5 for the service, seeing how it was just a quick stitch. He looked around at a couple shoes on display to see if there was anything he might consider more useful for the journey ahead.
Albert walked into a small but nicely furnished country inn. Immediately to his right as he enters are stairs leading up to the rooms. As he walks, crunching sounds come from peanut shells underfoot, the floor is covered with them along with a healthy coating of sawdust. Directly ahead is a heavyset older man wearing a red shirt and a blue jacket over it. He stares at Albert with an expression of fear and astonishment, and it is several seconds before he speaks.
"This is...the Hotel Mordavia. Rooms are a crown for one week, that includes room and board." Upon seeing the Caledonian currency, he nods. "Five dollars for a week then." He seems to be more or less reciting from reflex.
There are three other men that can be seen, seated at a table arguing over something and drinking the local ale, chowing down on peanuts. They briefly turn to stare at Albert, then continue their arguing even more intensely than before.
The tailor shop was run by an old, wrinkled woman and her assistant, a red-haired hunchback with more deformities than you could shake a stick at. She worked in near silence, occasionally asking for measurements or other minutiae. The hunchback, meanwhile, chattered incessantly.
"Hello! I am Igor! I am the shoemaker here, and the gravedigger, and occasionally the Doctor's assistant. You're new in town, are you? Not get many new people here, no, all's quiet here."
Gomik smiled when he saw the case full of weapons, saying "Dont mind if I do..." under his breath until he found the diary. It seemed rather important, at least from a historians standpoint. He decided to hang on to it, looking for a bag around the room to put some stuff in. Cmon there has to be a bag around here somewhere... this is the Guild of Travelers He thought as he looked under some furniture, and found a rather old, and very empty satchel in a drawer. Perfect He thought as he placed the book inside, along with the one about sword fighting for some light reading of his own, and the magic one, because he always found magic interesting.
Gomik walked to the sword case, looking at the three weapons inside and wondering if they were artifacts from some age long ago, but he always got his hopes up. He carefully slid the case open and began pulling the daggers, tucking them carefully into his bag where they would not hurt the books. Now the sword was the tricky part, it was a bit long for the bag, but he decided to try for it. He stuck it in there, almost cramming it in until the point stuck through one side of the bag. Gomik slapped his forehead as he tried to make it not noticeable, and he walked out to find some of his traveling companions.
Taken aback by the sudden request she shook her head. "Uh... I'm only half elf but... I can give it a try?" She took the bracelet. "It says... Bhelest... Prison... #35351" She pursed her lips. "At least that's what I think. I'm not 100% sure but... I think that's pretty accurate." She handed the bracelet back to him. "Listen, I need to go to the tailor's over there. Sorry, but I don't know much more about this than you do." With a small nod she turned around and went to the tailor's shop.
Inside, she was impressed. The woman clearly had some skill, and Iris was plenty excited to see what her dress would look like. On the outside, she shuddered. The hunchback was repulsive, to say the least, but she was trying to remain civil. "Ehem. Excuse me, I would like to get fitted for a dress..."
"Of course, dear! Just tell me how you would like it to look." She began taking measurements while Igor chattered away.
The town was a bit rustic for Akivasha's tastes, but the Spider couldn't complain. She was glad to see any civilization, even as isolated as this place.
While the others spread along in what she saw as frivolities, the Spider instead made her way toward the library. As dusty as it was, it might be a source of some information.
Doubtlessly few in the town would know of her, but perhaps the tomes held there might shed some light on the markings adorning her skin. Or, failing that, perhaps there's an archivist at the library who might recognize them.
It was a chance, but one that she would have to take.
Albert closed his notebook and put it along with the wooden sticks in his rucksack. He smiled for the first time since he woke up in that cave, "My name is Alberto" he said. He stood up and grabbed his rucksack, walking towards the large man in the centre of the room.
"Where can I get a bottle and dried food?" Albert asked the man.
"As you might notice from your measurements I have no waist or bust, so I'd like a corset that amends that, front lacing not back because I obviously have no one to help lace it; the dress itself should be strapless, the skirt stopping at the knees made of alternating... cloth and lace..." She made a face as she continued to rattle off the details. It was almost automatic, she didn't even totally recognize some of the details she gave, but apparently it wasn't gibberish. "I'm sorry... am I being impossible?"
Rob looked up and saw Iris ordering a dress, but then looked back. He noticed a nice pair of shoes that seemed to be very cheap. "My shoes seem very worn out... but between this and everything else, I'll only have $20 left after I buy it..." He picked up the pair. "Hmm... they seem sturdy enough." He went and purchased them from the hunchback and sat back down, skimming over the notes he had.
"Still no idea on a date, the current happenings in the world... still, at least I can remember how the world functions... how long was I gone? Why was I gone in the first place? There has to be something, anything that could work as a clue. And if nothing else is there, I can check the library or something. That Travelers's Guild seems somewhat useless..." He kept formulating a plan, occasionally taking a glance at Iris. "And why did I wake up with all these people?"
The innkeeper pointed at the door. "General store. Next door."
The tailor smiled and nodded. "It'll be pricey, but it shouldn't be a problem, dear!" She finished taking Iris' measurements. "Check back in two days. I don't have much work to do anymore, so it won't take me very long!"
Akivasha stepped into the library and immediately had to suppress the need to sneeze as a puff of dust rose. The building was quite dusty, but the books were immaculately sorted and ordered. No librarian was waiting, but she could hear someone moving around in the layers of bookshelves. After a few moments, he stepped out. "Yes, yes, Bella, I am coming to eat." An older, pale-skinned man with thinning gray hair and stubble stepped out of the stacks. He was dressed in a gray wool jacket and a cotton tunic, with brown woolen trousers. "Oh, hello. Excuse me, I don't get many visitors." He didn't have the accent of the other locals, she noticed. "Wait a minute, you're not a local. Pardon me." He stepped forward and held out his hand. "My name is Jacques. Welcome to Mordavia. I'm sure the locals have been...less than welcoming. They were the same way with me."
Gomik was walking when the sword started sliding out of the bag, and he quickly realized he needed something better to hold everything he was picking up now. He trotted over to the general store again, greeting the lady warmly. "Your sandwich was delicious Ma'am, but do you have any large bags? Mine seems to be falling apart now. I need something nice and sturdy, to stand up to the traveling I do." He said kindly for once. "Also throw in another two sandwiches, I think I will take some for the road.
After buying his bag and transferring his new found loot, he felt a lot better about it. Ditching the nasty old bag outside he walked onward, still biting on his first sandwich. He decided to stroll around the town for a little, inspecting the daggers he had lifted everytime he had a stop on the path. He looked up after observing them once more and noticed he was at the "Doctors" House. He decided to stroll in, and see if the doc could do anything for memories.
Kane was surprised after Iris translated the bracer. Could it really be that he was a prisoner? "It certainly would explain these scars and my missing parts." he reflected. If that was so, maybe the golden cog and quality pouch were stolen items?
The thought was a sobering one. Feeling the urge to reverse that condition, Kane headed over to the town's tavern. He walked inside and grabbed a seat by the bar. "Can I get a pint please?" he asked.
Rob had finished looking through his notes when he realized something I might not have enough money to afford a room tonight! He looked at Iris and realized If she can afford a dress like that, she must have a good amount of money. I suppose there's no harm in asking her for some help. But I can't just go and ask her for money. I'll think of something... He got up and walked up to Iris. "Excuse me, ma'am..."
Albert entered the general store and looked at its patrons. His head held high, for some reason Albert felt secure. He walked towards the clerk, "I need a leather canteen. Do you have anything to eat here?" Albert asked the old woman.
"You... I never think I got your name." Iris turned to him after she was done with the seamstress. I need to find some way of... -replenishing- my earnings... She knew that a nice dress would probably help her get enough food and drink, but everything else would require some thinking.
The innkeeper nodded and poured him a tankard of some kind of very dark beer. "I should introduce myself. I am Yuri Markarov, proprietor of the hotel Mordavia."
"Yes, that shouldn't be a problem." The general store owner nodded. "What's your name, dear? I'm Olga. Olga Stovich."
The Doctor's office was bewildering. The outside looked almost entirely normal, while the inside appeared to be a riot of lines and angles, arrayed in no way that made sense. The effect was dizzying. The entryway was a corridor with locked doors to either side and an open door at the end of the corridor. Within he could see a pale man with a shock of white hair and white sideburns in a white labcoat casting something into a vat of something else, the vat changing color from green to stark white to orange as he watched. Hearing his footsteps, the man shouted.
"THE FLUID, IGOR! Quickly, I MUST have the fluid!" He turned his head and stopped, turning away from the vat. "Oh, excuse me, I thought you were Igor. Welcome to my laboratory, my name is Doctor Parietus. Are you new in town? Most people do not step into my laboratory. Have you come seeking knowledge of SCIENCE!?" As Doctor Parietus spoke, the fluid in the vat began bubbling and turning a vibrant, almost sickly yellow-green.
The dusty old library, though most would find it run-down, felt more homey than anything else in this town to Akivasha. As she peered about, one hand running down the side of a bookcase, she had to pause and reflect: something about the decay, disuse, was comforting. Even the faint rustling of the library's keeper didn't bother her.
Then he arrived and made his introduction. She stepped from the shelving, reaching to take his hand, rasping out a "I suppose.. It is a pleasure, Jacques." Her grip is light, but firm, even through the gloves. Notably, she says no name. "You are not from around here either, then? I suppose there must be a story behind that."
"Ah yes, where are my manners? I'm Rob." he extended his hand and shook hers. "I was wondering... what exactly are you planning to do once you're done here?" He wanted to get a little info first.
Albert looked at the old woman, "Alberto... Albert" He said. Somehow he felt safer when he called himself Albert. "I need a canteen, and-" Albert pointed at a stack of wrapped bread, "Six of those" He said.
"Yes. Three years ago, my...colleague Johnathan Parietus and I were on an expedition from Caladon. While passing over the mountains we were struck by some kind of projectile. Our airship crashed, and we were forced to take refuge here. Unfortunately, Parietus was the technician of the two of us and he has gone...completely nuts." Jacques faintly smiled. "What can I do for you?"
Olga handed Albert the bread. "That'll be three dollars. Plus five for the canteen."
"My name is Kane. Don't know anything else." he said, grabbing the tankard. Kane lifted the pint to his mouth and took a sip from it. Not feeling a strong aftertaste, he took another larger gulp.
"So Mister Markarov, what's with that cave with the skeleton walls near here?" he asked. Kane then remembered the words on the bracer. "Also, do you know anything about a Bhelest prison?"
"I don't know. I'm a little hungry, and some tired. Maybe find a place to gather my wits. Calm my nerves. What does it matter?"
Albert nodded and reached for his pocket. He gave her three separate bills that had a '1' written on them, not knowing what the hell they were. He handed her another '5' bill. He grabbed the canteen and connect its chain to his belt, took the wrapped bread and put them in his rucksack.
"Thank you" Albert said, turned around and left the general store. He took out his remaining bills and counted them. "I have about twelve of these left." He said, walking towards the well near the cathedral.
Gomik was confused until he saw the doctor, and the man just looked insane. He quickly stepped forward and got to him, and said "Uhh my name is Gomik, I think, it's good to meet you too. Your right, I am from a different place, bit that is why I came. I can't remember anything about my past, ever since tht cave. Can your science fix that?" Gomik asked sincerely, wanting to remember where he was from. He looked at the liquid and his stomache turned, but he stood strong.
He reached into his bag and pulled out a sandwich for her. "I'm just concerned. We both have been through a lot these past couple hours. Here. You can have this. I have plenty more. Still, there is an inn nearby. That seems like a good place to rest, don't you think?" Hopefully she'll accept that...
Olga nodded and handed him the canteen. "Five dollars."
"Amnesia! Most intriguing!" Parietus grabbed a needle and jammed it into Gomik's wrist, drawing a bit of blood. "I'll begin testing at once! Of course, I may need you to return to take samples of your cerebral-spinal fluid. Do you mind a spinal tap?" He set the syringe of blood aside. "The cave, you say? Fascinating! The cave is surrounded by a substance unlike anything I have ever seen before. While initial examination suggests it is a mix of water and mud, my analysis has indicated that it is actually the secretions of some kind of creature. The toxicity of it is extreme! A fascinating mystery, wouldn't you agree?"