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  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Earthdawn-ish | Chapter 1 |



"Anybody find Mortimer?" Robin asked, but got only head shakes in reply, as Terzin enthusiastically recounted the tale of the toad's death.

"What's in the net?" Henry asked.

"A guy," Terzin replied

"We found him," Jared explained in his succinct fashion.

"You found a dead guy in the woods?"

"He was inside a tree. What's so unusual about that?" he asked blandly.

"Normally you find dead people in graveyards, Jared."

"We were figuring on going in to tell the reeves."

"Well, you'd better, and then I want you two back here, we've already got a backlog of work. Big shipment due up at the Tanners in a couple days."

"Yes, sir," Robin replied dutifully.

Terzin kept silent, but he was thinking I made six pennies all by myself yesterday!

"C'mon, Robin, you can't go back!" he muttered as they walked on into town. "Well, I mean, this afternoon, okay, but we got stuff to do, we gotta leave!"

"Let's take this one hour at a time," she sighed.

They found Emmett hanging around by the Toadstool, waiting for search parties to check in. Jenkins led the way, with the toad head on his shoulder.

"Darn big toad," Emmett noted. "I take it you found what's been eating our sheep, then?"

"Quite possibly," Robin agreed. "Five, five and a half years old."

"Whew." He pulled out a measuring string.

"We killed 'em both by ourselves, just the four of us," Terzin put in.

"Just the four of them," Jenkins testified. "It was dead by the time I got there." Emmett's glance seemed to suggest that Jenkins was being kind to the youngsters; they exchanged an indignant look.

"That could go up as a record toad," he said. "And what's in the net?"

"Dead guy," Jared said.

"We found him out in the woods," Terzin expanded.

"Clear some space here, put that down," the Reeve directed. "Unwrap him from the net." He grabbed his walking stick and poked through the remains. "One of those damn fools, went up the river ten years ago."

"Yep. He had this on him," Terzin piped up, handing over the Republic note.

Emmett examined it, frowned, tucked it inside his shirt. "Harrick, would you go get Kendrick for us, please? And be quick about it if you could."

The young orc nodded and left on his errand. He found Kendrick in the garden beside his house, where he tested some of his elemental magic. He was trying to speed up the growth of corn stalks when Harrick came through the gate.


"They want you in the center of town."

"I saw your flare. Well done, by the way."

"Thank you."

"Yellow carries a little better than the red does, but well done. What did you find?"

"A dead body."


"No. Somebody who had sealed himself up inside a tree."

Kendrick grabbed his cloak and strode out. Emmett greeted him at the Toadstool.

"Was he carrying anything?" Kendrick asked. "Harrick said they found him locked inside a tree? I'm assuming it was a Vine Twist," he added to his apprentice. "Did you see the spirit traces?"


"Does anyone know who he is?"

"I suspect he's one of the people who tried to make the trip upriver a decade ago," Emmett replied.

"What was he carrying?"

"Um, he had this, sir." The Reeve passed him the sealed note.

Kendrick studied it for a moment. "I'd like you to not discuss this with anyone," he directed the youngsters, and received a flurry of earnest nods in reply. "Whatever else you found, this wasn't there." He tucked it inside his own jacket. They handed over the prayer book, too. "Seems innocuous enough," he judged, flipping through it, until one of them pointed out the doubled pages. "Or perhaps not," he amended. "How did you carry this back?"

"In the net," Jared supplied.

"Could you please wrap this back up, then?"

They packaged the body back up. Before they left, Harrick asked Emmett, "Did anyone find Mortimer?"

"No, several groups spent the night out, too. They're still looking."

"Well, this toad didn't eat him," Robin asserted.

"Big toad, though," the Reeve approved.

"Trapper, you didn't see any of this," Kendrick told Jenkins, who looked confused.

"I didn't see them bring in the body?"

"Just don't talk to anybody about it."

"Oh." Still evidently failing to understand.

"Why don't you go back out in the woods for a little while." The suggestion had an order's force.

"But I still have a couple pennies left...."

"Look, I could definitely use some venison," Kendrick tried a less direct route, "for the, uh, party that we'll have when Mortimer gets back. Or for the funeral, depending."

"I can get a deer!"

"Why don't you go do that."

The center of operations moved to the Armiger's house, corpse, toad heads and all, where Kendrick spoke to the Initiates of Gabriel. The kids explained things briefly (again). Murphy and Ilea looked even more serious than Initiates of Gabriel usually look. They officially measured the toad heads and entered the kills in the town records with their usual thoroughness. It wasn't a record, much to the group's disappointment; an eight-year-old toad had been killed 22 years before. They, too, examined the Republic note, but they gave it back to Kendrick.

"Judging from what they're carrying—it's a pity that this wasn't their field commander," Murphy added. "If these people were part of the temple of Gabriel out in the theocracy, someone would have been keeping a very accurate journal. They're probably missionaries, and/or spies. It probably would have included detailed scouting reports, all couched in polite language. It was ten years ago, I doubt there will be any record as to who they talked to while they were in town, but I haven't seen any evidence of missionary activity here in the last decade. The odds that they have confederates is fairly slim."

"I was thinking much the same thing," Kendrick agreed. "Harrick, what would you do?" he asked suddenly, putting his apprentice on the spot.

"Enter everything in the records, wait and see," he responded.

"Sir, I think that after ten years there's nothing realistically we can do," Terzin put in. "Any effect this man would have had on our village is long gone."

"You're right in that. Murphy, bury him on the very outskirts. I want to make sure he receives proper funeral rites, although the odds of him arising as one of the disquiet dead now are slim in the extreme. We can only hope that their devotion to Gabriel was true and correct, and wasn't some vast falsehood. Do as Harrick suggests. Put it in the records, don't reveal it to anyone who doesn't need to know. Keep a close eye on anyone who comes in. Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention, and for turning this in," Kendrick told the kids, indicating the note. "If you remember anything else of importance, don't hesitate to come knocking. Harrick, we'll pass on your lessons for the rest of the day; I'm going to be occupied with my father. We'll resume tomorrow. I suggest some minor celebration, although I trust that you two are needed back at the ranch."

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