Feeling a longing to be home again once more before leaving for a potentially long while, Ertryd leaves the chamber and heads toward the main stead. She ponders the events of the day, as she walks the dimly lit tunnels of the Duegar settlement. She feels as though she has gained some maturity after the choices and small adventures of the past few hours, and she is more confidant and has taken away some lessons on diplomacy.
Her father would be proud of what she has accomplished this day. Ertryd craves to hear praise from his mouth more than any other in the settlement, as she has always taken after him, at least where she didn't take after her grandmother. Coming to the well-lit tunnels of the main stead, she feels great joy with a tinge of bittersweet sorrow. She is ready to pass from childhood into adulthood, and she will be away from her family and the comfort of home for longer than she ever has been before. Yet her journey is all-important, not only for the good of the stead, but also to allow her to grow and mature. She can never fully achieve the greatness of her grandmother if she doesn’t come into her own. Thinking on that, she subconsciously strikes upon a greater truth: that she must become her own dwarf, independent of even her grandmother’s image. Her conscious mind does not wrap around this truth yet, but the idea sits and grows within her.
As she comes to the set of rooms that her family lives in, she hasn’t yet resolved the tangle of her thoughts. She puts them aside, however, as she wants her farewell to her family to be meaningful and memorable. It strikes her that her family knows nothing of the events after the council, and the events are almost unbelievable, even to her, as she considers this. She will be leaving home for the first time in her life. That alone is hard to believe.
She once again shakes off the tangled thoughts before entering her home.
Your home and hearth had always been comfortable, but it was onlt after seeing the Duergar’s clanhold to you begin to realize just how nice they were. Your families nobility and position had gauranteed you such.
As you open the wooden door and pass the polished stone walls and floor covered in hand woven rugs you hear the sound of a shawmey from somewhere further within. It must be your brother practicing, as you can hear the piny notes and off time melody. You smile in realization that no matter how much he would treasure being a chanter, he would likely be more pleased with simply performing in the various bars and taverns across the stead. That of course would be unacceptable by societal standards due his lineage, but it would certainly make him happy regardless.
The lanterns are lit and as you enter the main living area you can see your father sitting with a pair of spectacles going over some writing he had been doing. He never allowed you to read it, but you had always assumed it to be some great poem or dirge. He glances up at your arrival, his spectacles nearly falling from his nose, “There you are my dear, I was worried after the meeting that something had happened.” He puts down his writing equipment and comes over to you. “That was quite a performance earlier, though I think a few of the Thanes were a bit upset,” in a tone that suggested he did not fully approve. He disliked surprises and what you had done earlier had shaken him more then he liked to admit. He knew he held little sway at court and hated seeing his protege’ garner any disapproval from the council.
"You look upset?" he says as if sensing something was amiss. "Please sit and we'll talk, I'm sure it will be fine," in a reassuring manner as if he would fix whatever was wrong.
The sound of her brother’s playing makes Ertryd smile. Her love for her brother, and her admiration of his determination to play, regardless of talent, has always allowed her to see past his sub-par performances. Further, she loves the sound of the particular instrument he is playing.
Ertryd feels a warm feeling of comfort as she enters the living area and sees her father. She almost feels the desire to stay here, but she knows that it is more important for her to go. Besides that, she feels proud of what she has accomplished this day.
At the hint of disapproval in her father’s voice, Ertryd suddenly feels like a child again. She feels vulnerable and guilty like a child disobeying her parent. It makes her wonder how he’ll receive the full report of her activities. As he speaks to her more comfortingly, she just as quickly calms down and realizes that it was a little childish to expect her father to receive her antics as if nothing was amiss.
She sits down with him and straightens her posture in cool determination and poise. “Da, I have something to tell you. After the council meeting, I went to speak with the king. I told him my fears about the council decision, and then I volunteered to go initiate trade with the nearby settlement, without the knowledge of the council. I have to do this. We need to trade or we could face catastrophe in the stead. I won’t be travelling alone, so you won’t have to worry about my safety.” The last part comes out fast and strained, as she fears that her father will object and forbid her to leave. She falls quiet, hoping that her father will understand her decision.
"What?" a bit louder then he had meant to say. "No my daul, you need to stay here at the stead, let those others rush off to danger. Your a noble and we don't go rushing off to some foreign city. Who knows what they are like?" as he tries desperately to convince his daughter to stay. He had seen a streak growing in her and this was just where it lead. Of course he had wanted to go off and do things in his youth, but he had never done it. Perhaps it was his own fears, but his only daughter charging off to some vagrant lawless settlement filled with a race he had only heard of in legend? No, he was going to have to draw the line here and now.
"King Beldas asked you to go?" as his mind raced hoping for some way out of this disastrous situation. His raised and agitated voice had muffled the fact that no longer did sound come from the back of the home.
"Good luck dear sister, I know you'll make us proud," said her brother from the doorway. "I'd say I would go as well, but I'm pretty bad with blades and I stumble in here," as he comes over to give her a hug.
"Don't encourage her, she'll be staying right here," your father fumes as he tries to find some way out of this mess.
"King Beldas didn't ask me. I volunteered. I have to go, Da. The stead needs me to go. I can negotiate with them, open up trade." She pauses, searching for the words to convince her father. "I went to the duegar settlement today. They live in squallor, and the conditions could get worse for them if we can't trade for the goods we need. We are facing famine, and those at the bottom of society will be hit hardest. Just because we sit on top of society doesn't mean we should condemn our poorer brethern to die." She is getting choked up as she speaks, but she holds her head up and refuses to break down in the face of opposition.
She draws a deep breath and speaks more clearly, "I am going, Da. I would hope that you give me your blessing, but I will go without it if I must."
"She's right father, she is following what she knows is right and I agree. I only worry about her safety, but if we hold onto everything and never risk then it gets us nothing but the same," as her brother joins at her side.
Her father holds up his hand, as he composes himself. "Look my daul, I am just worried. You need more training, more time. To be honest, I remember little of what was taught to me and I still have not mastered our craft. If your grandparents were here then they could teach you, but I fear I have failed you both," as he begins to sob. "I will grant you my blessing, but I have something you must do. It will tell me if you are ready..." as he looks in his daughter's fierce eyes and knows he will never change her mind.
"I have something to tell you both and it is not easy for me," as he continues to look quite upset. "I fear that I have done you an injustice my dear. Long ago, before I had completed my training my parents took everything I would need to master the craft and sealed it away. They told me that I had to perform a true magnus and that only after would I be able to be a true master," as he steadies himself and sits. "I tried, soo hard I tried. When you were both young I would lock myself in the room and spend days attempting it. I can not express how long and how badly I wanted to finally know they were impressed even after their deaths."
He breaths deeply, "I never did though. It still lies locked and worse because I know the key. They said that that whomever should open it is the rightful heir of our legacy. Sadly it was not me, but I believe it to be you Ertryd. You must try...." in a voice of acceptance that he finally had acknowledged his own failures and bore his heart to his greatest gifts, his two children.
She believed it to be fair for her abilities to be tested before leaving, at least to show her father that she was ready for this. Placing her hand sympathetically on her father's, Ertryd says, "I will do as you ask, Da. I am glad that you trust me enough to give me this chance. I will no' let ye down." Her voice falls into a hint of the typical dwarven accent, though still a rather elegant and soft variation, as her mind is distracted by the intense emotion of the moment.
"I will succeed for the glory of our family name," she reassures her father.
He stands slowly and begins leading them into through his own bedroom. He opens a door that they had never seen before and into their father’s musical room. Various dusty intsruments hang from the wall in disrepair. The floor has a light coating of dust upon it as though it had not been entered into in quite some time. One wall stands out with a corner jutting into the room. One one side is an iron bound hard wood door with no handle, nor any easilt discernable manner of opening it. You can see slight indentations along its edge as if someone had tried forcing in the past. Lust before the door there lies a rise in the stones.
Your father nods toward the door and the small rise, “Compose yourself and think through your verses before you begin my Daul.”
Your brother offers a slight smile, but you notice him chewing upon his inner lip in anticipation. He was well aware of his own shortcomings and knew their only hope of opening the portal lay with his gifted sister.
“Take your time my dear, you can step upon the rise and begin whenever you are ready”
Hugging her brother in appreciation of his support, Ertryd composes herself and swallows to moisten her throat before stepping onto the rise.
She takes a moment to call to mind the first words of the magnus, the following verses coming into her memory one by one after the initial verse. Ertryd begins the chant.
The chant speaks of the glory of her people, from the culture of Shanatar, to the riches of Delzoun. It stretches on into the evening, as she recites the deeds of the dwarven heroes committed to history.
The magnus is physically and mentally taxing. Her attention must be unwavering, always focused on the words and nuances of the next verse. Her mind is engulfed in the history of her people, for nothing else has room to surface during the all-important magnus. Yet, at the same time, her mind is distant, and slightly unfocused. She does not comprehend her surroundings, and the chant comes almost unbidden to her mind, each verse so inexorably following the last, as it can be no other way; it is only a shadow of the true magnus if it isn’t perfect. Ertryd finds herself wanting water within the first few hours. Her legs are slightly bent at the knee, to increase circulation as she stands for hours, but her legs are sore and cramped from standing in one position for far too long. She retains vocal control, despite the dryness of her throat, but she fears that her vocal power will fade. The magnus must be perfect, though, so she projects her voice even more to compensate.
As the chant extends into late evening, it is finally nearing the end. Her legs are trembling, her throat parched, and her mind exhausted, but Ertryd is so close that she cannot stop it now. Her protesting body and mind will not let her stop as the words pour forth automatically.
Finally, she comes to the end. She is ready to pass out and she can barely register her surroundings, but she remains standing, hoping to look upon the fruit of her labor.
Her father knew she had surpassed his command of the tale after listening for nut a few minutes. After that point he had become enthralled with her telling, her sense of time and rhythm. The cadence and oratory being the focus was captivating to the listener, ensnaring the orderly dwarven mind fully. He was not even aware when her voice suddenly came to a halt, he too wondered what would occur.
Her brother had also become enthralled and he immediately knew he would never have done anything close to her rendition. He might be able to butcher his way through some musical pieces should no one pay too close attention, but never could he control his vocals and set his time as did his sister. He stood near his father as she finished, the look of fascination painted upon his face.
At her last stanza an energy could be felt within the room, its power radiating from her words. She felt the flow and ebb of power in her voice as it drove her onward. As she finished her Magnus a soft hiss emanated from the door as the energy that had filled her only moments earlier dissipated. The iron bound hardwood door that had for so long been unreachable to her father slowly swung open, allowing the small space to once again breathe.
Ertryd stands before the opening and looks in as the door slowly creaks with disuse. Just inside it is a small collection of things covered in dust from ages ago. There appears to be a small set of bagpipes which lie upon a pair of books.
She approaches reverently as she reaches in and gently picks up the obscured pipes. She carefully brushes off the dust and only then can see what they truly are.
They appear to be a set of wooden bagpipes , constructed of Ironoak and a supple leather that you have never seen before. Located upon the chanter is a delicate and very elaborate script which you do not recognize. You gently set them down upon a table.
The first book is covered in dust and after wiping it carefully off, you can now see it appears to be a leather bound collection of parchment crafted into a book. The leather cover is aged and well handled from years of use. As you slowly untie the knot that closes the cover and gaze upon the first page you can see its title given in the runes of Dethek. It reads 'The Tale of Kanik' and appears to have functioned as a diary or collection of memoirs.
The second book is larger and much more ornately crafted. It is a highly tooled leather cover and is encrusted with various gems and stones that sparkle, even after these many years. It is hardbound and you can only guess at its worth. Emblazoned upon its cover are runes that state, 'The Tome of the Deepened Dirge'. The book's weight is heavy and very noticeable as you lift it. Glancing inside it reveals illuminations and stylized dwarven songs. Its age seems hard to calculate and you doubt that it was crafted in Uerythtar itself.
--- Merged from Double Post ---
The Tome of the Deepened Dirge
The Tale of Kanik (minus modern adornments and likely much older looking)