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To Keep The Balance

Posted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:40 pm
by moritheil
"You are kidding." The voice was a whisper, pitched to carry only to the ears intended to hear it, but the face that accompanied the voice was contorted in shock.

"Sit." The old man's voice was mild, but his eyes indicated that this was not a request.

Moritheil hesitated for a fraction of a second before sitting. The private chambers of the Hierophant of Waterdeep were not known to most visitors, or even most druids - only when there was a need for absolute secrecy did the aged druid allow another sentient creature within, and the location would almost certainly be moved afterward. Indeed, prior to this meeting, Moritheil himself had not known they existed. I suppose that's what I get for spending most of my time away from the grove, he mused.

The chambers were featureless, only a layer of rich moss serving to cover the bare dirt beneath. No sun shone upon them; arching above his head Moritheil knew he could see the roots of an ancient, hollow tree if he chose to look up. He kept his eyes fixed firmly on the old man.

"You are surprised."

Moritheil said nothing.

There came a chuckle. "Yes, yes, you are surprised that I would stoop to ordering you to help a city, of all things. But there are larger issues at stake. We must be willing to dirty our hands. Attend.

"How does one lead a rabbit?"

"With goodberries, or, if there are none, with baby carrots." Moritheil's answer was prompt. The novices learned the basics of animal husbandry in their first years in the grove. That way, if nothing else, they would be better equipped to understand and deal with nature even if they left before learning to control magic.

"Acceptable. How does one lead a horse?"

"By controlling its field of vision, and if necessary, by rewarding it with food and salt after a task."

The master nodded. "How does one lead a man?"

"With . . . money."

The master smiled. "Precisely so. Men are animals too, though they go to great lengths to deny it. You must understand how to treat animals with force, but more than that, you must understand how to treat animals with care. I have said it before - "

" - One who learns to use only force is unfit to learn the great mysteries of nature," Moritheil finished for him. "Still, I must honestly say I wonder about this . . . plan . . . "

"It is a simple matter of balance," replied the Hierophant. "Animals counterbalance one another in the wilds by competition. Cities, though unnatural, contain populations of men that counterbalance one another as they compete for resources and influence. Waterdeep and Bloodstone have always been in such competition, though not through open warfare."

"Will restoring Bloodstone help?" asked Moritheil. "Is Waterdeep not already the victor, in their struggle, due to the . . . reliance of Bloodstone on unnatural and foreign beings that never should have walked on Toril?"

"For now, yes." The old man leaned forward. "But we cannot allow the situation to remain thus. Too much power now rests in the hands of Waterdeep's lords. An era of dominance for Waterdeep will mean an era of development that would spell the end for the wilds."

"So, before this happens, I am to aid Lady Ashstone in rebuilding a city. A city that uses undead."

"Yes. Find some pretext. Open a store. Aid their commerce. Drive off any organized bandits." The Hierophant regarded his skeptical pupil. "You do not see it now . . . wait another twenty years. Then you will see. For now, obey."

There wasn't really much else to be said.

Posted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:49 am
by Gormal
I would've liked more options that just the three, so I threw it in the middle. Why average? Its not much of a story, as its more of a [well done] way to justify Moritheil to work on an Ashstone shop. It doesn't really end either, just cuts off once you get to your point of opening the store.

A short paragraph outlinging Mori's thoughts on the matter would've made a nice closer as he left the chambers.

I did really enjoy it though, you should write more stuff Mori.

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:20 pm
by moritheil
Thanks. Does anyone else have comments?

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:44 pm
by Lilira
Its a creative twist on a reason to play in Ashstone. :-) Balance is a necessity, and WD is a little full of itself atm. *grin* I liked the concept Mori.. just wish it had some more length.. perhaps internal questioning after the audience. Does Moritheil ALWAYS do what he's told?

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:00 pm
by moritheil
Hmm, this gets into stylistic issues. I tried to primarily show the thought process through the use of details rather than coming right out and saying it. I mean, it's no good if you're told what's what . . . IMHO.

As such, I think the reactions to the situation (and the details governing Moritheil's actions) are pretty clear, but do let me know if you find it too oblique.

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:44 pm
by Birile
I voted Average, was kinda hard to swallow the justification for aiding Bloodstone, even given the whole "balance of powers" thing.

As for your choice to not get into the inner machinations of Moritheil's mind BRAVO. Too often writers think the reader cares enough about the character to know what's going on inside his/her head. Not to mention, too often a writer thinks that whatever the character is thinking is profound when it's... full of high school (and self-centered) prose at the very best.

The end was a little abrupt. Perhaps finishing with:

"After a moment, Moritheil nodded. There wasn't really much else to be said."

I agree with you, Moritheil's intentions are very clear, the pause in the sentence that I added above gives the reader a transitional step.

But it's your story--congrats on putting it out there!

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:12 pm
by moritheil
Obviously Moritheil had some trouble swallowing it too, but I guess you're saying I'd have to put more details about that up to foster empathy between reader and character.