Since we need this background for the Hazard Fort game. I don't promise that this is complete, and I'm sticking to the one "thread", ignoring all other happenings.
And as far as we know, the question was never answered - or rather, not until it was far, far too late. The player claims that Tallison wasn't there. Yeah, right.
While looking around the stead Starhawk spots, leaning against the wall of the stead what looks to be a troll warclub.
Petronax clambers down of the rampart and opens the gate, allowing the horseman to enter, then bars it carefully behind him. Waiting for him to dismount, Petronax continues "thank you for your offer Starhawk, we are sore beset by chaos occasionally but our real foe is hunger, we are seeking strong workers to become steadsmen and increase the bounty of our tula. We would gladly grant you the hospitality of our rooftree" says Petronax, although it's obvious that the stead is rather poor ...
"However for a bed and seat at the table I will gladly hunt for the stead and bring meat to the table. I do not plough the earth I am sorry. However I note that you have a forge, perhaps I can help in another capacity, for the working of bellows and the making of metal is not beneath my often rather lofty dignity."
It is quite apparent that Starhawk is gently mocking his own prejudices, for he grins broadly.
"Aside from that I can teach the bow, spear and horsemanship for those occasional," the smile disappears, being replaced by something much harder in his eyes, "all too deadly chaos forays. I should tell you that I am here for the Gorge also, not only Draco. However if I rest here, you may find the trade off advantageous."
With an almost visible effort he shakes off the hard aspect he is presenting, returning to his usual affability.
"If the stead finds itself in need you'll find me a resourceful member, for I have already made many friends in Risklands. A bowmaster is everyone's good friend hereabouts."
Listens to the many words that flow like a honey river from the strangly dressed stranger with the funny looking horse.....Tallison ponders ...
"I am a Sundomer....and follower of yelmalio......" he says quietly...." you are a follower of The bright one?" he adds in firespeech...
Before the stranger can answer , he motions to Tabiti and Petronax to walk a little away with him....
"You may talk with orlfinn here while we discuss where you will sleep" Tallison explains.....He walks away a little and motions the two others to join him out of earshot.....
Starhawk smiles, though there is fair amount of wonder and amazement in it... "Amazing, that's the rudest thing I've seen in Dorastor so far, mind you I haven't met broo around here yet." Starhawk says tongue lodged in his cheek.
"Well Petronax is the Steadholder, but he Tallison and Tabiti all discuss things before a decision is made. Then there is Strazzen he turned up the same day I did, my wife Sigurd and children Orlkall and Thyra are here as well. There is supposed to be an Uz and an Enlo living nearby but as yet I haven't seen them. Then there is Hanil's old apprentice Jan as well not sure if he is staying or leaving though."
"It must be growing fast though, this place still smells of new wood. Never thought to find a stead that looks like this here though."
"Surprised me too, it's just like the lowlander steads back in Aggar. Course most of them pay lip service to the red bitch. Damn fools."
Starhawk shrugs then, obviously storing it all away till later. Picking up a pole he twirls it in his hand like a spear.. "So what brings a man, a farmer, a one time mercenary to Dorastor with his wife and children?"
"Well back home there was a fierce drought in the hills and it was a choice of joining the gagarthi or moving on. Well then the Lunars took the family stead for one of their lickspittles and threw us all out because we could see through their lies. Well rather than stay we thought we could like up here, away from them bastards and live in peace."
"A black demon and one of their hell-midgets sharing roof with a Pentan and a Yelmalion. I never thought I'd see the sun rise on such a thing." Starhawk looks scandalised, but then clams up completely, his mouth closing with an almost audible click.
Turning back to Starhawk, Petronax salutes and says "Our hospitality is yours, should you accept it, come and meet everyone."
"This is Strazzen, soldier and merchant, I have hardly had time to talk to him since his rescue from broo, but he is a guest here as you are."
"Orlfinn you have met, he is presently a guest but has applied to join our steading family, we are overjoyed as he will soon be bringing his family here from Hazard Fort."
"This is Tallison, sturdy hoplite and defender of our stead, he has proven himself in battle to us against chaos spawn and his abilities have given us a great respect for the Dawn Soldier's abilities."
"Here is Tabiti, a woman of Pent and a blooded soldier, sworn sister of mine. I have known her longest of all here, and I can vouch with my own eyes that she was ready to attack the Crimson Bat."
"You have spoken of Hanil, my brother, who passed on whilst struggling against a chaos spectre. That is his tomb outside the wall and you may have read the inscription."
"Lastly, I am Kaeso Sextius Petronax, I served as an Optio Fabri for the Draco Auxillia, we who pay our taxes in blood. I am an Imperial citizen, as are my family," he gestures to Tabiti and Tallison. "We welcome you, and we renew our welcome to our guests, and ask that our wyter, Reykyard, protect you all and the laws of hospitality while you are under our rooftree. May your ancestors be assured that you shall be guarded by us."
Starhawk nods as Petronax calls him over for introductions. Putting his helmet under his arm he follows in archetypal military fashion.. "Thank you for your hospitality. I accept."
Turning to address Petronax directly.. "I saw the monument. Fighting to save the soul of another is a brave ending worthy of monument. It is something you see far too often on the frontier."
Once again addressing everyone "It is a pleasure to meet you all,' he says, though there is suggestion of a wry grin as he looks at Tallison. "I am Starhawk of the line of Sunwolf, lately of Sun County, Prax; Pavis and Pavis outside the walls. Sun Dome templar and horse soldier, nomad patrol. One time messenger for Solanthus Ironpike. If you'll excuse me, I must address my brother.."
"No that I can see or hear Brother ..but a foul odour has assailed my nose recently" answers Tallison coldly..if not stiffly.....He waits. Looks discomforted at the other sundomer "If you know what I mean ...Cough..hospitality is not just mine to give ..nor was it given by I" Tallison says hastily to Starhawk
Starhawk nods, appreciating his brother's predicament all too well, he seems about to continue, but pauses and switches back to trade tongue.. "I am sorry for speaking in my cult tongue to my brother, but matters of cult business must be discussed so. I beg your understanding and hope you will realise that I am not disrespecting any here by doing so."
If they are ejected from the 'tula', well they can no longer hide beneath the protection of the law. What happens then is God's will."
Starhawk's expression is fairly passive the whole time, almost as of he is discussing matters of a fairly boring religious nature.
"I am a fair orator also, perhaps I can win any undecided over. We are merely asking that the stead make a choice between darkness and light after all.."
In fire speech" yes starhawg.....yes maybe we should do something about this problem..."T allison glances about at the others " but not now..we will discuss it later in private"......he turns to the waiting others..
"Maybe?" echoes Starhawk. He cannot conceal his shock and amazement.
"Oh fiery father, what kind of Yelmalion have we here?" thinks Starhawk.
"what troll?" ..tallison has developed a troll blind spot ..he simply can' t see them ..........
"Creature of darkness." he says ignoring the trollkin. "Wait.." Starhawk waits until the Troll turns round before continuing..
Belchar regards the human with indifference. Presumably it is speaking Tradetalk (which is a tongue that Belchar has at least been exposed to).
"When you leave tonight do not come back. There is no future for you here. This is a human stead in human lands, with human gods. If you leave now you will leave in peace. If not...." Starhawk leaves that thought unfinished. "If you do not I will ask for a vote for sun and shadow cannot co-exist." Starhawk's voice is like iron, hard. However there is no anger in it. This is between warriors..
Starhawk has seen angry trolls before. "Weigh yourself against Tallison and myself in the reckoning. You are unknowns, a different race even. I think you know how that will end. Do the smart thing and never return. Before Yelm I swear that you will go unharmed if you leave now and do not return."
Once Kvarct finishes translating Belchar will have to fight to restrain himself. Assuming he successfully avoids exploding on the spot he will stride away to go hunting as planned - dragging Kvarct with him forcibly.
Starhawk backs off very carefully, not wishing blood to be spilled on the stead (his specifically). Once he is a safe distance away he helps Strazzen with his nutcase of a brother.
He sighs. "Oh well Reykyard, you can't say I didn't try. Sun and shadow cannot co-exist." Glancing up at Tallison he meets the other warrior's eyes with a sad smile. "Some things in life cannot be changed. Let's hope it ends without spear and armour becoming necessary."
Assuming she's around to see this, Tabiti rushes over to see what's wrong with him. Finds no injury.
"Fall over, no hurt...." (brain cells chug into action....)
"Be hit by spirit? Hanil make me stand by Reykard-rock when spirit come". She tries to drag/lift him to Reykard's rock, then sees a big strong troll about to leave.
Starhawk waves the troll away. "We'll manage."
Starhawk looks at Tabiti, over Tallison. He looks worried. "No, if it was a spirit then Reykyard would know of it." he says emphatically.
"We not know how speak Reykyard, it no good him know, not tell us! Take to Reykyard rock, he stop spirit."
"No, this is the strain of not seeing trolls. He asked me why I was talking to the air. Then he collapsed. I'll have to take him away from this. I have never seen such cruelty dealt out to a steadmate."
Tabiti looks in incredulity at Tallison, then at Little'n'Large as they head out the gate.
"He stupid? That troll. He big enough for see, yes? Big enough for scare if is weak, stupid. Tallison scare? Not think he that weak, even if is rabbit-person."
Starhawk bites back a cutting retort on the 'he stupid remark', he feels an explanation is in order. "He is a Yelmalion, Yelmalions kill trolls. You were raised with Yu-Kargzant, weren't you? Do you like darkness?"
Starhawk's eyes are hard as flint.. "It is his duty before Yelmalio to treat Trolls the same way you would treat a warrior of the Red Moons's horse killer goddess. He bound himself to you and the stead, then you offered hospitality to his worst enemy."
Starhawk's eyes soften as he looks down at his unconscious cult brother, before he meets Tabiti's eyes again.. "What is he supposed to do, kill himself for you?"
"Why can you not see that all who breathe air and are free from the taint of chaos are our brothers and sisters in freedom, Starhawk?" Strazzen asks. "Why must you and Tallison throw insults and stress each other out over something so silly? Can't you see Light-boy? Without light there would be no Dark and without shadow there would be no flame. It is all here to maintain a balance. Just like there would be no wind if there was no rain and vice-versa. All this is doing is working on poor Tallison's head and heart."
Starhawk's eyebrows come up in amazement at this.. "Well thank you Strazzen for your outspoken venting of your opinions. I will respond to each of them in turn."
"Firstly my title is Starhawk, or templar, not 'Light Boy. I will ask you to refrain from addressing me thus again, as wind boy or fart breath would doubtless cause offence."
"Secondly to balance your argument of light and darkness I will invite the Yanafil Tarnil's man from Hazard Fort to discuss the merits of it with him. I am sure you will appreciate having an enemy within the stead as much as I. You will doubtless say that he is tainted with chaos, but the Uroxi touch him not I say."
"Thirdly it is not silly, it is 'religion'. Mocking another's faith is a very poor way to begin a conversation. Where did you learn your diplomatic skills?"
The lean sundomer stirs on the ground.....His eyes flicker open and slowly move around; his eyes are completely black ...he groans a sentence out..... "Yelmalio has spoken to me ..I am cursed..cur." he slumps back unmoving again...........
Starhawk wails at this, a loud, long sound not high enough to be scream. He reels backwards from Tallison, falling over as he does so, apparently in shock. He looks completely and utterly horrified. It's not everyday you see a curse handed down by your god.
Seeing everyone clustered around Tallison lying on the ground, Petronax jogs over and lays his shield on the ground and kneels "Are you all right brother?" He asks Tallison, "what has happened?"
Starhawk stays silent, letting others talk in his place. He is starting to wonder what he has set in motion and wondering if this is some dark omen, set before 'him'. "Amazing how a conversation I wanted to be private now has the whole stead out." he thinks.
Scratching behind his ear "Then Tabiti rushes over to get Tallison to Reykard and Strazzen wanders over and has som'ink to say. That upset Sunshine who had a word or two back. If this keeps up I'll be leaving afore the kinstrife starts. I reckon you have all too much time on yer hands and need to be put back to work." with that Orlfinn wanders out of the stead yard and into the fields whistling.
Assuming his no-nonsense-NCO voice, Petronax says thoughtfully:
"Orlfinn, don't go yet. I want you all to hear this. No one has any right except steadsmen to say who is a guest here, it is our decision who we extend hospitality to and no one else's. Also, I don't know if any of you have met Darra Happans before, but I've served under them in my time. You cannot treat a noble Pelorian with disrespect, it is sacrilege to them and you insult their whole family, not just them. You can push them to violence without realising it, if they stand by and allow others to mock them and their heritage they are committing the same sin as if they had broken a cult vow. We are all foreigners here, we must try not to breach each others codes, but I will not have strife amongst my guests or I shall call on the chief to sort out the problem."
Having said his say, Petronax lets it sink in, and then asks in his most reasonable voice "If anyone has a grievance, out with it! Put it before Tabiti, Tallison and myself, and we shall try and adjudicate things so they fall out equitably. Now, will someone help me take Tallison back into the hall?"
Starhawk nods at this. Some will doubtless note that he is wearing his full armour. His hoplite shield on his back, spear on the ground at his feet. His is the coming guard duty though. Nevertheless it will doubtless not escape the notice of some that Starhawk picked a good time to speak with a dark troll.
"Thank you Petronax for that. I hope it will be the last time I am the source of difficulty. I have said all that I wish to say to the troll."
"I apologise to the steadholders as I admit it was a breach of custom and etiquette, however I felt I had no choice if the matter was to be resolved without bloodshed. If I approached the troll outside the stead I think only one of us would have walked away from the meeting. Duels are not outlawed in Orlanthi lands."
Starhawk helps carry Tallison inside, laying the domer gently down inside the hall. "I am on watch now. I will watch alone, for Tallison..." Starhawk leaves the words unsaid, merely turns and heads out to the battlements.
Walking up the steps Starhawk calms his mind, with each step he breathes deeply, focussing on the task before him, to keep watch, to maintain discipline.
In truth the quiet of dusk, with which he hoped to catch the troll unawares, was less quiet than he hoped. He wondered how his subtle tactical move had been seen by so many. Oh well, done now...
In the watchtower, Starhawk calms his mind and breathes, his eyes scanning the area for signs of any activity, his ears peeled for any sound..
With a song running in his head he convinces himself that falling asleep would be fatal for everyone..
'The sun dome templar still watches the line...' (Based on the Wichita Linesman by Glen Campbell
"Good to see you awake sleepy brother." calls Starhawk, in Trade across the stead, as he walks towards the Yelmalion. Starhawk is carrying his weapons, armour and what appears to be a harp as well as assorted makeshift exercise equipment. Closer to and looking weary from a dawn watch, Starhawk continues in subdued Firespeech. "I think our problems are over brother. Time for us begin anew on the other side of the shadow, what do you say?" Starhawk looks both relieved and elated at seeing Tallison on his feet. "Anyway, we'll talk more after I've had a nap eh?" With that Starhawk places a comradely hand on Tallison's shoulders as he moves past him into the stead building and a welcome bed.
Tallison nods uncomprehendingly and heads over to the bucket of water to wash his face a little and to make his late prayers to Yelm..............He totters over to the bucket.....
Mounted on Polaris, Starhawk drops his bow into its case. He pulls his shield onto his left arm, and draws his long spear from its loop. He does this with practised ease.
He then rides out preparing to cast bladesharp on his spear. He just wants to see what the hell is happening first.
Starhawk's face darkens at the sight of this. His nose flares and his jaw drops. Then the line of his jaw hardens. Drawing a deep breath he bellows at the prostrate Yelmalion,in true light-son fashion, though he has no right to do so. "On your feet NOW templar!"
Starhawk wheels Polaris, it high steps around the crying man, Starhawk looking down at the Domer before him. Long spear in hand, shield firm. "Get your armour, spear and shield! You have till I count a hundred".
Starhawk's tone is as firm as the shield he holds and about as liable to bend. Starhawk waits at the stead gates on horseback, watching the Domer before him carefully..
Starhawk looks down at Tallison. The man 'was' a royal pain but he was of the Dome. He'd be damned if he'd let a brother grovel in the mud. Even if it came to a fight, it'd be worth it to get him off his bloody knees. "Now."
Tallison isn't fast enough for Starhawk.. "Well what you waiting for, the sacred time? You heard me soldier, now move your behind!"
"This is a warning nothing more." Starhawk adds emphatically, the tone full of noble certitude. "What has been done can be undone. You will need to follow the path more rigidly to prove your faith." he says almost amiably.
His voice turns harsher again.. "Now cease wailing like a girl and stand like the man you are. Yelmalio is watching you and I'm still waiting for the armour."
"I'm still counting."
Stops sobbing ..."this is your fault !!!!!" Tallison yells. "You caused This !!"..He stands and storms off to his weapons........... He yells back "I'll deal you ...........This happened when you arrived!!!"........He dashs off.........
"don't believe me ?? "he says suddenly to Orlfinn "look at my eyes!!! black as night !! the change has begun!!" He wheels with his bow and advances out into the yard area " I must appease My God!!!"
He raises the bow and points it at starbuck. "Get down !! What ever you are!! "he screams at starbuck ..his hand trembling on the taunt bow string
Polaris is now between Starhawk and Tallison, this matters little though, for Starhawk merely changes shields before emerging in full view once again. "If you wish to fight me, come outside the stead with spear and armour, or fire at me like a coward and hope you get lucky with the first shot."
"For one shot is all you will have from me."
Starhawk drops to one knee, standard anti-missile technique, his head peeks above the rim of his hoplite shield.
"As to this madman," Starhawk indicates Tallison, "he has insulted me and my line; called me a creature of chaos. What ever curse is upon him he brought upon himself by sleeping with trolls and doing nothing. Indeed choosing not to see them."
"I apologise to the stead but unless he apologises now, prostrates himself on the ground and asks for my pardon and the pardon of my ancestors every one..."
Starhawk pauses for a moment... "I will kill him."
However his words when he speaks are more reasonable than this attitude would lead you to expect...
"If he is mad you must help him." he says slowly, showing considerable restraint.
"You must take him to Hazard Fort where healing can be sought from the Chalana Arroy priestess. If the tender mercies of Lhankhor Mhy are also needed for his mind then I will pay for it if need be."
He pauses then, the pause audible in his voice.. "If however it turns out that he was sane when he uttered these lies then he is a dead man. Either that or I am."
Starhawk turns and attaching his shield back on his horse, rides off to hunt, doubtless ready to take out his anger on anything that is so unfortunate to get in his way.
Tabiti is still looking completely bewildered by all this. "Yes, bad spirit make crazy. We take him Rekyard-stone?"
Driving his gladius back into its sheath, he looks grimly at Starhawk's back as he walks away and then back at the prone Tallison. "This is getting out of hand."
"This El-Mal-Eo is bad spirit. Make crazy. Ellarhan say, he good for guard, but bad for think."
He straightens up and looks at the ruined bow, shaking his head, "damn, that's had it too." "Okay, let's get to work. Strazzen, can you help me with Tallison again? We'll move him into the stead and send a messenger to the temple at Hazard Fort. We'll ask the council if we can have a godi visit, we desperately need a shaman here in The Haunted Land, and a priest is needed too." Petronax calls out to Orlfinn in the fields. "O-O-ORLFIN-N-N ! COME BACK TO THE STEAD!"