Ziedon left through the door of the tower, and watched, without much surprise, as the tower collapsed into itself until it was once again a small hill. He made sure the orb his master gave him was secure in its well-padded belt pouch, and began to follow the map.
Ziedon sat down to rest after a few hours. His heavily-ladden pack was difficult to carry, but it held a prize he had worked hard to earn. He removed the smoothest and roundest of the three stones and brought his dagger close to it. Its dim glow reflected gently off Ziedon's hand.
Ziedon sat in in a grassy, lightly wooded area. He looked up to the tops of the thin sugar-maples and saw the bright autumn colors. The trees had more leaves than they should have had this time of year, but that was of little consequence.
He continued on what was to be a brief journey into thicker woods. His companions, according to the map, should be only a day and a half away. He rounded a few more tall birches and pines, and then saw a sight that almost made him laugh. In front of him, twenty feet distant and facing away from him, were what appeared to be a group of wild cats wearing tiny hooded robes. One of them saw him and they all scampered away. Ziedon looked about and saw several more robed and unrobed cats sitting on branches above his head.
Ziedon examined the cats briefly and determined that they had no weapons or nets. “I believe that I have seen everything now,” Ziedon thought to himself, “What next? Dogs riding in a carriage?” Shaking his head to clear out the ludicrous thought which popped into it, Ziedon decided to initiate contact with these creatures, not thinking for a moment, after his recent experiences, that they could be normal cats. “How could I explain to the Master that I was delayed by a kin of cats?” he thought.
Stopping, he looked up at the cats. “I am Ziedon and I am a friend,” he said to one that was a bit greyer than the rest, wondering if they could even understand his tongue, and, perhaps more importantly, whether they shared his friendly intentions.
The cats all stopped what they were doing and looked at the hooded figure below. They seemed ready to flee at a moment's notice. One of them hissed at him. At first they seemed like normal hisses a cat might make in anger or fear, but slowly, Ziedon noticed words forming out of the sounds. “Go away, you who enslave us.”
Ziedon kept his hands at his sides and looked at the cat who spoke. “I know not what you speak of; I am friendly. Who enslaved you?” Ziedon tried to estimate the number of cats in the area, but every time he decided on a number, he caught the glimpse of another couple cats out of the corner of his eye. There must have been at least a few score.
“The Men who capture us and tempt us with food and keep us until we die,” the cat hissed. “We understand now what you have done, man- creature.”
“If you are enslaved then free yourselves. It is not my burden.” Ziedon began walking, following his map. “I am just passing through. I am not one of the men who captured you. Let me pass.”
“All man-creatures capture us. You are but another one of them. Killing you would be useless. We will make our attack on a place with many man-creatures. You may pass.”
Ziedon stopped and thought about what the cat just said to him. He could not condone an attack against an established community of people. Such an attack would disrupt the social order; this could not be permitted. He wondered briefly if now was a good time to bring up such arguements, and decided that such was his duty.
“That is not wise,” Ziedon said. “Talk and understanding will solve this problem, not violence.” He paused and pointed his finger at the cat he had been speaking with. “As the great man, Fiplizum, said…” Ziedon spoke the words of the incantation that would, if successful, bring the cat under his control. Little did the cat know the trick that was being played on him. “Which translates to mean, 'It takes Individuals to fight Wars or to make Peace.'
“I volunteer to bring your complaints to others of my kind. There should not be war. Peace between you and Man can be had. Will you allow me to help?”
“We do not look for peace,” said the cat, unaffected by Ziedon's spell. “We seek revenge.”
“Revenge against a specific person or against Man in general?”
“Against that race that imprisoned us for so many hundreds of years!”
Ziedon snorted and waved a hand. “How can you say that a race imprisoned you? I have never seen one of your kind before. If you are to attack anyone, attack those who specifically made you bow your head! Not innocents! There are others such as I who have never seen the likes of you before. How would they know what you were attacking them for? It would be a pointless exercise which would only result in dead on both sides for no purpose.” Ziedon paused and drank some water from his waterskin to cool his parched throat and continued. “I have offered you a chance to address your claims peacefully. My responsibility is at an end. I will take my leave.”
“You will tell me,” said the cat as Ziedon began to leave, “that you have never seen a cat? You have never seen one trapped and held as a pet or kept to aid in a hunt or to frighten away rodents? I find that notion preposterous, and your denial offensive. The most respected of your race hold us captive, depending on our ignorance to keep us with them, but no longer.”
Ziedon thought briefly and retorted, "I have seen a different species
of cat before. A species which provided love and caring to the people who housed them and who were loved in return. Everyone knows that house cats are not pets. They are independent minds who remain with the humans at their leisure.”
“Different species indeed. What do I look like to you? There is only one Cat. The only difference between us and the rest of our race is that the others have not had the fortune to happen upon intelligence.”
Ziedon scoffed and continued walking. “I can tell you now. If you travel down this road, you will be dooming all cats.”
'Talking cats?' he thought, 'Captives? Preposterous. How am I to warn anyone? They will think that I am mad.' Looking at his map, he was disappointed to see that no human habitations were mentioned on it. The map was simple, and included only Ziedon's direct route. There were no towns or villages between him and his destination, so none were on the map. The closest town Ziedon knew of was Grenzig, but that was three days out of his way, and he would have to return to Rakbaven to find the landmarks he needed as a guide. For all he knew, the cats could be headed to a different town. The best course of action, Ziedon decided, was to return to his group, as he had planned to before coming upon these creatures that seemed too intelligent to be what they claimed to be.
Ziedon walked for another half hour before noticing the scurrying of feet behind him. He turned around to see at least four cats, two with robes, run behind trees, apparently to avoid being noticed.
Ziedon sighed and, with a scowl on his face, spoke out loudly. “You can come out from behind the tree. I know you are there. Why are you following me? Don't you have some settlements to conquer?”
He heard a hissing voice from behind the tree. “We are following you,” it said, “because we do not aggree with our leader's decision. We should not have let you pass.” At that, one of the cats dashed out from behind the tree, swiped a sharp claw accross Ziedon's shins, and ran behind another tree.
Ziedon's temper, strained already, snapped. He recited an incantation, feeling the anger swell in him as his fingers froze and strengthened. A cat rushed out from behind a tree, and Ziedon grabbed at it, shocking it with the impact of his magical power. It shrieked in pain as the magical energies swelled out from Ziedon's stiffened fingers, jumped high into the air, and fell down on the ground, dead.
“I was only trying to help you and this is what I get? You will all pay!”
Another cat ran away in fear as fast as it could. A third rushed at Ziedon. He swung his new quarterstaff to block it, but missed. It slashed twice at his injured leg, which began to bleed profusely. A fourth cat rushed past him, swiping with its claws but missing entirely. Ziedon thrashed at the next cat that jumped at him, slamming it to the ground. It cried in pain, but stood fast enough to run off. As Ziedon recovered from his swing, another cat fell from a tree above him, barely missing his head. Ziedon lifted his quarterstaff above the fallen cat, and jabbed it in the neck, splitting its spine. He quickly looked from side to side, ready for another attack, but there was none.
Breathing heavily, Ziedon calmed himself down, realizing that he was, again, severely wounded. He quickly resumed his trek to rejoin his companions, leaving the cats where they lay. He figured that he had best get out of the area before the cats that ran off could return with reinforcements. He leaned on his staff for support and moved quickly along the route specified by his map, occasionally stopping to catch his breath and check to see if he was being followed.
After several hours, Ziedon, wounded and exhausted, sat on a rock and prepared to make camp. The air was chilly, so Ziedon was thankful for the warm robe his master had given him. He slept comfortably until dawn.
The next morning, after spending several hours studying from his prized Book of Magic, he set off again. Every few hours, he removed the fragile orb from its pouch and looked at it. It was to 'sound a warning,' his master had said, when Ziedon was needed, but what kind of warning would it make?
Thinking deeply about the recent events that had added all too much excitement to the necromancer's life, Ziedon followed the map to its end.
You have 1HP, and got 70xp for that battle, plus 30 for advancing your magic ability by using it to kill one of the cats.
Well, that's the end. Hope you enjoyed playing this little sub- adventure, and I hope everyone else enjoyed reading it.
To all readers: Please feel free to incorporate thoughts on this story into your turn (you can assume Ziedon told you about it), and to ask Ziedon any questions you might have (preferably over email, so all of them can be put into the next turn).
To all non-Zioth players: Did you like this turn? If so, consider joining the game. I'm looking mainly for male human characters. email me at [removed] or reply to this message for more information.
Edit 1/8/2013: Not sure what day exactly this turn was played until, so I'm pretending it was the first of the month.