Paradigm Concepts

Small Tales
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Author:  Dante [ Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:09 am ]
Post subject:  Small Tales

"Vale! I'm Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan, but you can call me Comma."

Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan is a short, very friendly val. He introduces himself to everyone and shakes hands. Comma is a short (5'2"), barrel-chested, scrawny val with short black hair, silvery eyes, and a big personality. Comma dresses in nice clothes: a gold-trimmed toga with an armillus and white gloves in the city or a fancy tunic over a fine leather cuirass and gauntlets when expecting trouble. For weaponry, comma has a fine gladius (Sarishan steel), two exceptional pugios (fervidite & glass-steel), a fine pugio (steel), and an adorned flintlock pistol; also at his belt but more subtle is a wand.

His tutor, Khamat, is a polite, quiet middle-aged Myrantian man. He also has two black panthers, Menes and Maftet (though both also seem to have Infernal names). Sometimes, Ovidius val'Mehan is accompanied by one or two summoned, bound infernal devils.

Author:  Dante [ Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

"My father didn't want me to go off to the Crusade, despite our blood being that of the Valinor best able to control and destroy Infernals. He said I was being an impetuous, romantic child who wanted to throw his life away. As the youngest child, though, I knew that the best way to succeed in life and in impressing my father was to take bold initiative and make my own way. Our family may be of patrician imperialis, but we lost so much in the last Myrantian rebellion that too little awaited me in life if I were to follow the path my father set forth for me. When I received the unmarked package sealed with a single drop of still-soft wax and saw that it contained a rune of Sorcery, I felt in my heart that it was a gift from Losknek, prime servant of my Lord Sarish, and I knew that a great destiny lay ahead of me.
"And so despite my father's threats to stop his love for me and cut me out of my inheritance, I left our villa. My loyal tutor and trusted friend Khamat came with me. We headed north from Sulpecci through Cafela and Almeric to the town of Lienz in Milandir, where I enlisted for this glorious Crusade of Light. After being assigned to Count Felix's Irregulars, I came here to Mil Takara; and now the Irregulars are my brothers in fighting the Hordes of Hell and their allies even while we garner new allies of our own against the Devil-King and his Infernal plans.
"I offer my martial skills with blades, the diplomatic training of my tongue, and my talents with the Arcanum in making this Crusade more successful than the previous one."

Author:  Dante [ Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

In the tavern one evening, the gathering of travelers included a few adventurers. They took turns sharing stories, some of which were about pilgrimages to the Blessed Lands, the aftermath of the Sixth Crusade of Light, Senatorial politics in Grand Coryan, and holidays in the Western Lands.

One especially gregarious fellow told war stories from the Sixth Crusade when it was his turn. Comma, as he called himself, came across as a rather friendly val--of Coryani stock from the look of him. His bright smile and grey eyes balanced his jet-black hair, and he had a stout frame despite a short height. Comma, as he called himself, was fairly well dressed, and he seemed comfortable talking with anyone and rather at home in telling a story. In the tavern, Comma wore no armor but had a well-tailored purple tunic with a hint of gold trim in what seemed a tasteful mix of Milandisian and Coryani styles. He had white gloves and a sword-belt that had a pugio plus an empty frog with space for a larger weapon. The adorned flintlock at his side was no doubt unloaded, and anyone examining it closely might notice emblems of Sarish and depictions of infernals.

Comma offered suggestions during his story on how to tell whether someone is possessed by a demon. The val sipped some wine and kept the audience enraptured by his tone’s mix of intensity with occasional frivolity.

Occasionally, the black panther curled at his feet would look over at Comma, who stroked the cat’s fur in return.

When a new patron entered the tavern sat at a table not far away, everyone noticed the man. The newcomer’s dress and mask made him stand out: he was dressed in plain brown clerical robes--but not the robes of the Mother Church nor the Milandric Church--and he wore a painted porcelain mask that marked him as a val’Mordane--and a val’Mordane from Canceri no less. Other customers tried not to be rude, but there were glares and a few people tensed up as the man settled in at his table.

Looking back to his friends, Comma started a new conversation to break the awkward silence, “Did I ever tell you about the one and only time I went to Canceri? I needed to retrieve the body of a late relative. If you think the infernals were bad near the Wall, you should try going to Nishanpur sometime. We val’Mehan have the attitude of binding and using those infernals we can and destroying the others, but some of those Sarishans actually chose to bargain with the unbound. At least they treat all their favored vals like nobility and priests there--as long as you follow local customs and laws and can stomach the vile torture and inhumanity of the place.”

A Myrantian man who had been sitting nearby, silently reading a scroll and occasionally glancing over, spoke up. “Master, we had to swear . . .”

The val waved the human off and continued, “Well, some of the worst memories I could live without, like the torture chamber, but I did learn a few new tricks and managed to pick up a couple nifty souvenirs in the Trade Quarter. Did you hear that their Grand Library was . . .”

“Your hands!!!” The Cancerese val’Mordane had been gradually listening in on the conversation about his homeland, and now he approached in an aggressive manner.

The panther sat up and started to growl softly. The val’Mehan gestured toward the cat and spoke a few words in Infernal, and the great cat lay back down yet kept his eyes on the Cancereseman, whose head tilted and body leaned back upon watching that little exchange.

“Oh, there is blood on my hands from the Crusade, my friend, but I swear to Sarish that I obeyed the local laws of Canceri by striking no priest and by striking no one except in self-defense. Those Devils of the Mark help limit bloodshed anyway.”

“That is not what I meant,” the Canceseman responded in a thick accent as his body tensed a bit, “and you know it. Where did you get . . . those?” His masked aimed his vision at the val’s hands.

“I swear to Sarish that I also obeyed the local laws by not stealing from a priest.” Comma’s tone was shifting a tad to be a little more serious and less jovial. After a moment’s pause, he elaborated, “All items I took with me from Nishanpur either I brought there with me, or I purchased there legally, or a binding contract transferred them into my possession. I so swear by the Oathmaker.” Having had his say, his demeanor shifted back towards a serious smile.

The Cancereseman seemed dubious, “So you say, but . . .” His unfamiliarity with Low Coryani and hesitancy to make a scene in Milandir seemed to make the val’Mordane speak slowly.

Comma’s tone shifted to genuine friendliness. “Oh, I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” he said, standing up and revealing the full extent of his short stature. Someone who’d never seen a dwarf before might mistake him for a beardless dwarf. He smiled broadly and shook the stranger’s hand. “I’m Sestius Ovidius val’Mehan, though you can call me Comma. And this is my tutor, Khamat.” He gestured at the Myrantian.

As he instinctively took Comma’s hand, the Cancereseman looked down and seemed hesitant, and he almost started to pull back—but then he almost immediately perked up. “My name is Jerich. It is a true pleasure to meet you. I am certain we can be friends.” Comma gestured for Jerich to take a seat nearby, and the two new friends spoke about Nishanpur and the latest news from there.

Author:  Dante [ Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

Cafelan Deals Built on the Backs of Myrantia
Family Business
by David Thomas Chappell
Fan Fiction by DTC after the Savonan experience in the main event at ArcaniCon 2015 (March 2015) “Merriment and Chaos”

Sestius was heading home. His slight detour to Savona for the twin festivals of Sollemne Saeva Tempestus and Festum Serena (the Celebration of the Savage Storm and the Festival of the Calm Skies) had led to more excitement than he’d expected, but just being in the beautiful Cafelan countryside and feeling the gentle breeze on his face was a welcome sensation. It was not so cold as the Hinterlands nor Canceri here; the land was much lusher than the Hinterlands; Canceri, and the “Blessed” (truly Blasted) Lands; and the people were so much more cordial than the Cancerese. As much as he enjoyed traveling and seeing the world, Sestius acknowledged that he was blessed to have grown up in one of the most beautiful lands on Arcanis.

Yet it was not his ancestral home. His mother Rosia was from the Papiria val’Mehans of Grand Coryan. His father, Primus Ovidius val’Mehan, and his paternal grandparents had fled here during the Toranestan revolt that started in Abessios in 1027 IC. Sestius had never been to Toranesta—the new independent nation of the Abession Dominion—himself of course, but his relatives, his tutor, and the other Myrantian slaves had told him about the old homeland. The Ovidia val’Mehans [FN1] had been in Toranesta for generations, and they were one of the oldest, most influential, and wealthiest families of the province—former province. His father was always striving to regain some of the wealth that he had grown up with, yet he was also thankful merely to be alive. When the revolt was spreading to the city of Pelusium (also called Negath by the Myrantians), Servius Ovidius (Sestius’ great uncle) was at the domus (townhouse) in Pelusium, and he reached out through the Arcanum to warn the family at the main villa outside the city. Servius Ovidius and the other family members, slaves, and other possessions at the domus were soon thereafter lost forever to the revolt. Titus Ovidius val’Mehan, the family patriarch (pater familias) who was later grandfather of Sestius, rushed to gather all the family he could and what few possessions they could carry with them along with well-trusted slaves, and they fled [FN2]. Numerius Ovidius insisted on volunteering to work with the Legion of Radiant Glory in trying to stop the rebellion, but he was never heard from again.

As the rest of the family fled the rebellion for safer lands, Sarish’s blood blessings were instrumental in helping them cover their tracks, distract the horde of angry Myrantians, and summon bound Infernals to scout the way and defend the family from attack—though scaring the revolutionaries turned out to be sufficient for the rapid flight. Also valuable was that the family had treated their Myrantian slaves well enough that none of them had joined in the rebellion. Maybe it was the distance to the family’s grand estate outside the city that had kept them from being involved in the revolt, but the Ovidia val’Mehans would like to think it was their kindness to the Myrantians that kept their slaves loyal.

Now Sestius Ovidius was returning to the estate outside Sulpecci where he had grown up, and he traveled with a small entourage. Most important was his Myrantian tutor—Sestius rarely used the word “slave” to describe his friend—Khamat. Also traveling with them were Sestius’ pet black panther Menes, his pony, and his mule. Although he’d learned to command a magic spell for summoning infernals and his family was accustomed to their presence, the family and servants were not accustomed to Sestius’ summoning them, and thus he chose not to have any present at the moment. Besides, he didn’t see the need for further guards in this safe territory, though he’d later ask his family for advice on summoning and commanding them. For the last stretch of this journey home, Sestius had chosen to walk and enjoy the countryside beneath his feet rather than ride his pony.

Sestius and Khamat reminisced about the old days as they approached the villa.

“Isn’t that the hill where we would talk about geography?” the short val asked the taller, older Myrantian.

“Yes, Master.” Sestius did not like for Khamat to call him “Master” except when they needed a show of status for others, but Khamat wanted to get back in the habit for being around the rest of the family, who were more formal in that regard. “Under that tree we held the lessons where I spoke to you of the lands east and west, north and south. Do you still remember the distance to Negath?”

“Ninety miles as the falcon flies to the mouth of the Nekhty.”

“The direct distance has been measured as closer to eighty miles, Master.” Khamat corrected politely.

“And now we’ve been to so many of the distant lands you described to me long ago. Being there versus imaging are so very different.”

“I am honored that you have chosen to take me with you to see so many foreign lands and see so many notable people, and I think I am also still very happy you chose not to take me to the devilish land of Canceri with you!”

The current Ovidia val’Mehan estate was not nearly so grand nor extensive as the family’s lost holdings in Toranesta. Khamat had been born there but barely remembered the place. For some, a familial drop from upper upper class to lower upper class would be devastating, but his own social standing was all that Sestius had known. No longer having a family member in the Coryani Senate as representative of Toranesta cost some political power, but being Patrician Imperialis carried weight that goes beyond money and votes. Regardless, the land here was greener year-round, and despite Sulpecci’s having once been a Myrantian city, there was in Cafela no constant threat of revolt from the populace.

The two old friends continued the rest of the way to the villa. A little ways out, other family slaves met the two. They exchanged greetings, and Sestius gave orders on what should be done with the items the mounts were carrying. The slaves took the pony and mule off to the stables.

At the villa’s vestibulum, Sestius and Khamat were greeted by Sestius’ mother, who’d been given notice by the slaves of her youngest son’s imminent arrival. Khamat asked to be excused, and he went off with the slaves to the slave quarters. Mother proffered hugs, kisses, stories, and concerns. Slaves brought snacks and wine, and the two began to talk further in the atrium of the villa. Sestius had a slave bring forth the souvenirs he had bought on his journeys, and he described them to his loving mother.

After a little rest, Akhom, a Myrantian house slave, stopped by to say that Master Primus would be ready to see Master Sestius soon. Rosia stood up with a smile, “It’s so good to see you again. I’m always so worried about your crazy travels all over the continent, but it warms a mother’s heart to see her child safe at home.” Her heartfelt smile radiated the truth of her words. “We’ll talk more later? Now I’ll leave you and your father to discuss business.”

“Sestius, my little man!” his father called out with a big smile as he walked into the atrium, “What kind of trouble have you gotten us into now? I received a letter from the Governor and can’t determine whether it’s a good deal or a bad one you’ve made.” His tone was friendly, but Sestius knew that there was a subtly implied threat if Sestius had gone too far in an undesirable destination. A lesser man would have swallowed, sweated, or otherwise given away his inner nervousness, but Sestius was a val’Mehan, and a val’Mehan emissary at that, and he’d been well-trained to hide his emotions. Still, his father knew him well and was skilled in the diplomatic arts himself.

“Yes, Father, the Governor of Cafela is just one of several important diplomatic and business contacts I’ve made in recent months. I have much to tell you of my travels since last I was home, the adventures I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the deals I’ve brokered. For some of this, we should go to the discussion chamber.”

“Of course.” His father smiled, nodded, and seemed pleased. The family had a “discussion chamber” as a sort of safe room protected from eavesdropping, scrying, prying, and outside intervention. As diplomats and scions of the God of Magic, they knew all too well the importance of secure conversations even when in their own villa.

The two vals first walked farther back into the villa through the peristylium to the shrine of Sarish and the family’s saints, where Sestius gave thanks to the family’s patron god for his safe travel and asked for wisdom in the conversation to come. As per the Ovidia val’Mehans’ devotions, the shrine was dedicated to Sarish’s aspects as the Binder, the Oathmaker, and the Negotiator.

In the brief walk there, Primus Ovidius gave a hand gesture to a slave as a command to prepare the discussion chamber. “At first, I admit I was concerned upon reading Governor val’Sheem’s letter, but then I remembered how you proved me wrong when I questioned your insistence on joining the Crusade and again how you performed so well when you insisted on venturing on the family quest to Nishanpur. I did not approve of your choices yet did not stop my love for you, and you proved yourself. Now I see you making more choices of dubious quality, and I look forward to hearing what happened to judge whether it’s in our family’s best interest or is still foolhardy.” Primus had always been strict and concerned for the family.

They reached the safe room and each gave a secret personal hand gesture to the Coryani slave standing outside. Only the fact that the single word each spoke was in Infernal gave the subtlest clue that the man was actually an Infernal guardsman disguised in human form by an illusion spell. The “Coryaniman” opened the door for the two patricians. Before going in, Sestius spoke a further order to the guard, who nodded in response. Sestius then wove the typical spells to scan for unexpected magic on the room, its wards, or its guards; but all seemed as safe as standard.

“I’ve made quite a few valuable contacts and had a good number of adventures since I saw you last. They’ve ranged from the Empire to Milandir and the Blessed Lands. I’ve I’m sure you received my letters?”

Primus Ovidius knew his son well enough to realize that he had probably rehearsed at least this initial bit of conversation sufficiently to perfect his delivery yet seem natural. “Of course, but I also know you couldn’t tell me all the details in writing. Only two of the letters used our secret code for extra depth. But why don’t you start back at the beginning.”

“There is so much to tell it seems that’s the only place to start. All the details would take a while, Father, so I recommend I give you an overview now, and later we can discuss each topic further after you’ve had time to absorb the generalities.”

“Very well.”

“My first major contact was a trip to the Blessed Lands. In addition to fulfilling pilgrimage duties for the Church and signing up for a tour of the First City, I had the honor of meeting the Tomal Khan, ruler of the First City. His official position is regent of the Imperium, but I’m sure you know that, and I’ve come to understand a good deal more about the power structure in the First City and its multiple khans. I’m honestly not certain whether it was a positive or a negative impression I left upon the Tomal Khan, but I’d value your opinion on the matter. You see, he [SPOILERS OMITTED…].”

His Father was interested by this news, and after further questioning his reaction was mixed.

“In some of my other travels in the Blessed Lands, Khamat’s presence was invaluable. It was on a business deal with [SPOILERS OMITTED…]. Khamat warned us of what he knew about the ancient evil of the old religion of the Myrantian Hegemony. Not only did he demonstrate that his loyalty is to the Pantheon of Men rather than the Hegemony’s eldritch horrors, but he also helped us recognize and [SPOILERS OMITTED…].”

His Father was interested by this news, and after further questioning his reaction was concerned but pleased in Sestius and Khamat. “It’s time I told you the truth, son, of why the val’Mehans were sent to Toranesta. With our knowledge of magic and death, the val’Mehans and val’Mordanes of the early Empire convinced the Emperor and Senate as well as the Mother Church’s Inquisition that it was in everyone’s best interest that we become watchguards over the Myrantian worship of their old deities and ensure that the old ways were pushed aside as the True Gods of Men took the place of their false Old Ones. Thus it was that we were sworn to protect all Men from the return of the Old Myrantian Pantheon. This is our heritage, and I shudder to consider the religious activities of the Myrantians now in the Abessian Dominion. Keep our secret, Son, and beware that one day we may yet be called to fulfill that sword duty.” [FN3]

There was a knock at the door in the secret pattern indicating it was a house slave. He presented a sword in its scabbard. Sestius took the sword and thanked the slave, who turned and left. “I have a gift for you, Father. This sword itself,” Sestius drew the high-quality weapon as he began to describe it, “is not as important as the unusual rune inscribed upon it. In short, I obtained it when [SPOILERS OMITTED], and what I know if the rune’s origin is [SPOILERS OMITTED]. I believe it can [SPOILERS OMITTED]. I present this to you, Father, so that our family members who are Sorcerer-Priests and bear Sarish’s Gift can study it in attempts to further understand and perhaps even replicate it. I also met a couple dwarven rune-smiths who might be able to assist, and one even trained under the famed Elebac of Solanos Mor.”

After Primus analyzed it for a moment, he sheathed the sword and put it down. “Good job, son. Who else knows about this and what do they know?”

The two discussed it further for a minute [SPOILERS OMITTED] before moving on to the next topic of conversation.

“As I was saying, on my way back home from the Blessed Lands, I decided to stop by Savona to join in their annual festivals of Sollemne Saeva Tempestus and Festum Serena. There things became even more interesting. It turned out that [SPOILERS OMITTED] and [SPOILERS OMITTED]. In the long term, one result has been my establishing good relations with the leaders of both the Domitovi and val’Sheem families in Savona.”

“That is all well and good, Sestius Ovidius, but it still does not explain the largest portion of the governor’s letter.”

“While we were in Savona, I saw how the Myrantians live in squalor in the ghetto there and aren’t accepted by the ethnic Cafelans in the city. I had not experienced that in Toranesta since I was not born there, and I’ve rarely had cause to enter the Myrantian ghetto in Sulpecci, but Mother and others have told me stories. Khamat was accepted as an equal and even respected by the Myrantians, but they were noticeably less respectful to me, and for what I see are good reasons. The rest of the city was given filled with festivities and food as part of the holiday, but the Myrantians were intentionally left out. Their makeshift homes were falling apart, and it was clear that they were thought of as little better than homeless mongrel dogs. Khamat can attest that our own slaves have a higher standard of living than those provincials in the ghetto.”

“Son, I know you love Khamat as much as a friend as your tutor, and as ‘Comma’ you’re the first in our family to ever be nicknamed after a slave [FN4]. But helping one’s neighbor does not mean personally helping everyone in the world, even if we can sympathize with them as being similar to a beloved friend.” His look was stern yet caring.

“Wait, Father, and judge my actions only after you hear the benefits to our family that I have sown.”

“Very well. I shall reserve judgment. Continue.”

And so Sestius Ovidius described to his father the deal he had made with the Medja whereby the Ovidia val’Mehan clan of southern Cafela would provide business and financial assistance to the Myrantians of Savona. At first, Primus Ovidius assumed his son had made a foolhardy deal with the Myrantians because of his love for Khamat. When Comma elaborated on the benefits to the Ovidius val’Mehans, though, the patriarch started to change his mind. Sestius made the following points:

1. We can prevent the rebellion from spreading further beyond Abessios. We do not want the Myrantians in Sulpecci and Savona (and other cities) to revolt and join the Abessian Dominion. We also do not want our own slaves to revolt or run away or attack or sabotage us. The leaders of Abessios could appeal to the Myrantians who reside in Cafela by reminding them that Sulpecci is built on the old Myrantian city of Tigare. But if we support the Myrantians and take actions that improve their standard of living, we help ourselves at less cost than having to escape a rebellion again or suffer another revolt. The investment will pay off.

2. We can expand our business. This deal gives us an excuse to expand any family businesses to Savona. Or we can extend the favor to help others extend their businesses to Savona. Even while it looks like we are helping the Myrantians of Savona and the Governor of Cafela, we are really helping ourselves.

3. By helping the Governor of Cafela deal with the Myrantian “problem,” we can further our alliance with him. The Governor does not degrade his position in the eyes of the anti-Mryantian Savonans and yet he alleviates his issues. He will owe us. Even if the val’Sheem do not outwardly recognize this debt, we can potentially use the extra influence and power as leverage in the future.

4. We can continue our ongoing family investigation into lost Myrantian magic by having even more contacts within the Myrantian population and religion. [FN5]

5. By being involved ourselves and our trusted Myrantian slaves, we can ensure that the religion practiced is worship of the Pantheon of Man in their guises under Myrantian names. Khamat has explained to me that ancient worship of the original Myrantian pantheon was evil (perhaps more vile than the Cancerese perversions). In Savona, the radical priestess of Shu who was instigating the revolt within the Medja seemed to favor the old ways. Also, one thing the Myrantians of Savona wanted was their own temple for worship, and they already had a shrine that Khamat entered where they had idols of Myrantian gods that they could easily hide from the Mother Church [FN6]. We can make certain they worship the true God of Magic and rest of the Pantheon of Man even if they use their preferred names – as permitted by the Mother Church. This is valuable for stomping out evil religion and can help the careers of our family members (cousins) who are in the Inquisition, and it further helps reduce the chance of rebellion. Sarish taught us our ancestors to keep a wary eye out for the Forbidden Old Ones from distant planes best forgotten and eliminate worship of them when possible.

6. I made the offer to the Medja a promise of our family’s assistance in return for the release of a Milandisian noblewoman whom the Medja had kidnapped as part of their protests. I did it not explicitly for her sake but for the sake of quelling the troubles in the city and, more importantly, being able to take advantage of the excuse for our family to become involved in Savona for the reasons I have outlined. Nonetheless, Lady Tessa Von Harlock knows only that I aided in her safe release and promised our family’s involvement in return. She and her family are thus in our debt.

Primus became more pleased upon hearing these business and pragmatic reasons as being legitimate. He said he would consider what is in family’s best interest and congratulated his son for thinking carefully about the business and influence to be gained from such a deal. In the next few days, Primus came to concur with his son’s points and gave him kudos before his youngest son left again.

“There is more, Father.” Primus raised an eyebrow, and Sestius continued. “The Milandisian Von Harlock lady is a Larissan, and her ire was raised by her kidnapping by the Myrantians. Though they did not harm her, she burned with rage at the mere experience of having been their captive. She had asked me to assist in finding an assassin to go after the Medja leaders in revenge, and she even gave me a writ showing I was working for her. An ally and I convinced her that we had arranged for such an assassin, but in truth we did no such thing lest it make the city’s interracial troubles worse. I later sent her a letter indicating that those responsible for her unjust treatment had been found and dealt with and trying to convince her not to make war against all Myrantians. This was true because I personally fought and defeated several radical conservative Myrantian religious leaders who had been responsible for inciting the rioting and unrest.

“In the negotiations, I also met an eloran Lifewarden, an Ardakene, who demonstrated the traits of peace and cooperation as per the ways that Kahamat has taught me. Several Kiomen whom I met in Savona were not merely skilled duelists but also good and just people, and they earned my respect. It was only by working together that the many troubles simultaneously assaulting Savona were thwarted.

“When all was said and done with quelling the Myrantian riots and stopping the Cleansing Wave, I sent another letter to Governor Arghametto val’Sheem and his sister, High Priestess Comitessa, outlining what I’d witnessed and done. Though they were too busy with the aftermath of the troubles to see me personally right away, they have apparently read my reports, as indicated by the governor’s letter to you, Father. Now it is up to you to take the next steps on our family’s behalf, if you agree, to pursue the opportunities I have made for us. I pray that our Lord Sarish will bless these deals and negotiations that they may endure and enhance our family business.”



FootNote1: When a Roman family name is used as a nomen, it is in the masculine form; but when a Roman family name is used to describe the family, the feminine form is used. Thus, Sestius Ovidius val’Mehan is of the Ovidia family, though I presume that vals also include the val name when describing their families, such as the Ovidia val’Mehan family. More on Coryani naming traditions is given in Arcanis: Roleplaying Game, p. 29, and the Player’s Guide to Arcanis, 2nd ed., p. 17.
Roman references:;

FootNote2: This story of the flight from the Myrantian rebellion in Toranesta is loosely based in part on the story of Pedro Barrenechea’s grandparents’ flight from the Cuban revolution. His real-world story is fascinating, and you should ask to hear it sometime.

FootNote3: This whole concept of val’Mehans and val’Mordanes watchguarding the return of the Old Myrantian Pantheon is a concept by the author of this story [D. T. Chappell]. Although he thinks it’s rational given the history, it is NOT official and may be wrong.

FootNote4: This relationship between Sestius “Comma” and Khamat is based on my own real-life ancestor. Young white Josh was given his nickname after Josh the adult black slave whom he followed around and befriended. Our family history reports that at the end of the American Civil War upon learning of his freedom, Josh the (former) slave jumped for joy and hit his head on the roof of the porch. Josh nonetheless eventually decided to stay on with the family as a hired worker when he had the choice of being able to move elsewhere as a free man. This story is not meant to in any way condone slavery, but it is meant to encourage friendship across ethnic and social groups.

FootNote5: I presume that the val’Mehans formerly of Toranesta have had long-running projects looking into the magic of old Myrantia.

FootNote6: The GM/Chronicler (Heather) made this up, so it may not be official but sure seems reasonable.

Author:  Dante [ Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

A letter from Primus Ovidius val'Mehan, pater familias of the Ovidia val'Mehans of Sulpecci, to his son Sestius Ovidius:

Primus Ovidius Sestio Ovidio salutem magnam dicit.

I have received a letter from the office of General Hector Tensen-Balin of the Legion of Honorable Accord stating in unclear terms that my youngest son had performed some extraordinary services for him and for our empire. I soon thereafter received a letter from the court of our Emperor Scipio proferring gratitude for the service that my youngest son has done for His Imperial Majesty and giving congratulations for his awarded decoration. Finally, my in-laws in Coryan have passed along word that Senator Tensen-Balin is considering recommending that my same son be appointed by the senate as a diplomatic legate.

I extend to you my love. Your mother, as always, wishes you would visit us again soon. The cool breezes come off the ocean to flow over the hills surrounding our villa.


Author:  Dante [ Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

Motto of House Ovidia val'Mehan:

"That evil which cannot be made to die
We bind for aeons to eternal lie.

Author:  Dante [ Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

"A Scrawny Fate"

Circa 1047, in a Coryani suburban villa in the Cafelan countryside outside Sulpecci. A child was born to Papiria and Primus Ovidius val'Mehan. Unlike Papiria's four previous babies, this child was born a few weeks early.

The nursemaid presented the tiny baby boy to his father, Primus Ovidius. "Both mother and child seem healthy, m'lord."

The father looked at the little wrapped child. He seemed hesitant, "He is so small and scrawny. Is he deformed in any way?" Then with further urgency, "Is he val?"

"He is a val, m'lord. I opened his eyelids to check. And he bears no deformities," the Coryaniwoman slave explained. "He seems small but is intact. He is beautiful despite his size. Would you like me to show you, Master?"

An elder man, Titus Ovidius, was watching and smiling at the babe. "Son, do not be too quick to judge. A child this small may not survive, but he may still become a useful part of our family. Yet we must also be careful that nothing about him will serve dishonor to our family and our reputation."

"Leave it to his father to decide his beauty," Primus said. "Show me."

The nursemaid put the tiny child on a table and unwrapped the blanket to show both the father and the master of the household.

The two men looked at the child but did not touch him. Titus looked on with a hesitant smile, while Primus kept a stern look. "Well, he does have all his parts, and in the correct numbers," Titus commented

Primus inquired of the maid, "But this is an abnormal size, is it not?"

"Yes, m'lord."

"Will he survive?" Primus asked.

"Will he even make make it through the week?" Titus asked.

The experienced nursemaid answered as best she could: "With proper care, it is likely but uncertain that he shall live."

"Even if he does survive, if he does not outgrow this size, he may be a disgrace on our family," Titus thought aloud. "But let us also see his eyes." At that moment, the child happened to open its small eyes to stare right into his grandfather's eyes and gave a smile.

Primus smiled in return, "Maybe it will all work out as he grows."

But Titus looked back at the babe sternly. "I will not accept him yet till we see whether he seems likely to survive. Send no word yet outside the house. I shall check on him tomorrow." And with that he walked away. Primus lingered a minute longer before going to check on his wife.

The nursemaid silently prayed to Saluwé for health for the little boy, to Illiir that Titus would honor his progeny with acceptance of the child, and to the family's patron God Sarish that an omen would guide the father. She did not want to have to pray to Anshar if the father chose exposure rather than acceptance of the weak little baby.

A few minutes later, a Myrantian slave ran in to deliver news to Titus Ovidius as the paterfamlias walked through the villa. "My lord, there is a special package delivered. Ahmose found it at the front door of the villa. It is addressed to . . . *Sestius* Ovidius, my lord. We thought you should know immediately."

As paterfamilias ever since the flight from Abessios during the rebellion of 1027, Titus Ovidius had established a fresh naming convention for his progeny to match the family's new start in southern Cafela. His three sons were named Primus, Secundus, and Tertius. He had more children than most patricians because he realized the need to grow his family again after their decimation in the rebellion. Primus, his heir, had two prior sons, Quartus and Quintus. If accepted into the family, the new baby would be given the praenomen Sestius.

Titus went with Senmet to see the note, and he sent another slave to find Priumus to join them. After a brief walk through the villa, Titus asked the slaves what happened. They explained in brief that Ahmose had found a scroll at the main entry door to the villa with name Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan. No one had opened it yet. No one saw anything, and no wards were triggered. This seemed odd and suspicious to the two val'Mehan men. Titus asked Ahmose and Senmet to swear to Sarish that what they said was true, that they knew nothing else, and that they had no serious reason to believe anything else about the source of the scroll; and the Myrantians complied.

Then Titus had an idea that led them to the door where the scroll was found. There, the val'Mehan men interrogated the two infernals who were standing watch. Both devils refused orders to reveal to them what they saw, however, but said they were not allowed to tell, which both confused and infuriated the val'Mehans.

Putting anger aside, they returned inside the villa. The val'Mehans looked at the scroll without touching it. Titus opened his mind to the arcanum to attempt to detect scrying but sensed nothing. He had Senmet carry the scroll with them to the villa's chapel, where they found the house sorcerer-priest. After a brief explanation, the sorcerer-priest cast a spell to discern magical residue, which revealed one low-power magic item inside but no magical spells. Titus asked the sorcerer-priest to invoke the arcanum to remove any potential curses just to be safe.

Eventually, Titus and Primus decided that it should be Primus who would open the scroll. Silently, he read a message and looked at the rune inside. He paused and re-read the letter then showed it to his father. The look on his often stoic face seemed introspective, then hesitant, then accepting. "Could this be?" he showed the sorcerer-priest, who took and read the scroll.

"It seems legitimate and matches the strange evidence," the sorcerer-priest said. "May the Keeper of the Scroll of True Names bless this household and guide all its members." He made the sign of the Rubrik and bowed his head while holding his Sarishan holy symbol.

"Very well," Titus said. Let us accept the evidence but remain forever cautious in case it is anything other than what it seems. Primus agreed.

The two vals returned to the maid. "I have decided to accept the child," Titus said. The maid handed over the boy to Titus, who held him and addressed him.

"Continuing with the tradition I began of naming your father Primus, first of our family born in our new homeland, and continuing through your older brothers Quartus and Quintus, I hereby name you Sestius. Welcome to the Ovidia val'Mehans, young man. May Sarish teach you the secrets of his ways that you may make your family proud."

Then the paterfamlias turned to the nursemaid. "Give us a moment alone." The maid complied and stepped out of the room.

Titus spoke again to the baby. "It seems our Lord's right-hand man believes that Larissa holds a special destiny for you, my grandson. And who am I to argue with Losknek. We will not speak of this to you again until you are old enough to understand." Titus turned for a brief aside to his grown son, "Though you and I will discuss this further at great length." Then again to the babe: "I am not certain that I understand it myself at the moment, but it seems you are special." Titus Ovidius smiled and embraced his newborn grandson, then passed him to Primus, who held his newest son closely.

Author:  Dante [ Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Small Tales

The following letter was sent from my PC’s father before the battle interactive at Origins 2016 but was received by Comma only afterwards:

Primus Ovidius Sestio Ovidio salutem magnam dicit.

There are a few pieces of news to share from Sulpecci and the Ovidia clan. [news of Sulpecci and family members omitted] Your mother sends her love, as always.

I am both pleased and concerned of the news from your travels to the Western Lands and the Far West have gone well. [Module spoilers omitted.] Khamat and Statius seem to continue to be useful to you.

I thank you with sincerity and concern over your letter warning of your expedition to [module spoilers omitted] as well as the circumstances surrounding the trip, but your reading this implies that you have survived, for which I shall send prayers of gratitude to the Mistress of Fate, the Lord of Fire, and our own patron, the Master of Mysteries.

Your concern over the long-lost relic is well-noted, and your reasoning seems sound albeit circumstantial. In following with our clan's dedication to keeping dangers bound, I took steps to contact my brother Tertius. Although the Mother Church does not have the level of control over the Emerald Society that it did in the early days of our Empire, being an auxiliary prelate still affords Tertius ease of communication to their leadership. You may rest assured that the good prelate will do what he can to ensure that the Emerald Society does not use that relic.
[OOC: I mentioned to Henry and a couple players my concern about the potentially dangerous use of a certain artifact as being a trap.]

I have received separate letters from Prelate Korvus val'Ossan and Satrap Pontus val'Assanté of the aid you gave them in Liveh, Bhiharn. Both the Mother Church and the Empire seem to have benefited from your involvement, however distant you were from the Empire's heartland. On behalf of myself and your uncles, I invite you to send us word of details on the proceedings there, either by letter or in person.

The Tomal Khan and Imperial Regency also seem pleased with your services rendered thereto.

Your brother Quintus is heading on a pilgrimage into the Blessed Lands while on leave from his legion. He is aware that you have often been in the First City lately yet also take many expeditions around and near the Blessed Lands. It is my wish that the two of you can meet so that you can introduce him to some of the important people you have met. If you are unable to meet Quintus before your imminent return to Coryan, perhaps you can leave a letter of introduction for him with key people as a respected military tribune.
[OOC: Quintus Ovidius val'Mehan is Comma's older brother and thus is also a patrician imperialis. He is currently serving as military tribune of the Legio Anguis Reptatus. He's also my new Arcanis 5e PC.]

You may have already received a letter from the Imperial Senate or directly from Senator Secundus Ovidius, but I am so very pleased to receive this word that I am delivering you news as soon as my brother Secundus has told me. Although your uncle is a nonvoting member of the senate, he has been able to call in a couple favors alongside good word about you from various sources in the imperial government and, most importantly, personal recommendation from our glorious Emperor Scipio. Senator Tensen-Balin made the official nomination, and you are to be initiated as a diplomatic legate for the Coryani Empire. As it was explained to me, there is no permanent station, but you will serve as a diplomat and envoy representing the Empire on various missions. Official word from the Senate will no doubt elaborate, but my brother recommends that you check in with the Coryani embassy in the First City and then return to Coryan City at once. I am confident you will inform me as soon as you know your first assignment. As paterfamilias, I have already sent a letter via Secundus to Senator Tensen-Balin in gratitude for his support.
[OOC: Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan "Comma" just took the first level of the Legate path from Codex of Heroes, which from context is clearly a diplomatic legate rather than a military legate.]

I continue to extend you my love and am glad you are in our family as my son. It would be very nice if we can meet in Grand Coryan upon your imminent return, but I'm certain you'll at minimum visit with Secundus.


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