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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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Whitewall - Tarkalor's Gate - a Tale  

Greetings to my liege Tarkalor,

Since you tasked me with overseeing the construction of the improvements to the fortress of Whitewall I am impelled to send you this formal report.  Enclosed you will also find some passages from my construction diary.  I believe that you will find them very interesting indeed.

Water Day, Stasis Week

Construction proceeds apace and we are making good time.  I attribute our speed to two factors, firstly the great love and affection the workers feel towards you, so richly deserved of course.  The second factor is the labour saving devices I have created based on my research in the Great Library of Nochet.  The skilled overseers are doing wonderful work with the enthusiastic, yet unexperienced workers.  Their hire was necessary since the Mostali would not travel this far south to do the necessary stonework.   Unfortunately our native Heortlings are not known for their skills in masonry so outside supervision at the very least was required.  The stonemasons from Esrolia are very knowledgeable and after a shall we say somewhat rocky start the workers are keen to obey orders from women.  If they had been Heortling women the workers wouldn't have had any problems working under them.  Hmm, unfortunate choice of phrase there.   Anyway since they were from the Goddess' country the workers unfortunately assumed for some off reason that they would be licentious. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.  They have been very efficient and professional.  Naturally everyone in the crew is far too tired after a long day's work to do anything other than collapse into sleep.  Rest days however have seen somewhat more fraternisation as it were.   Interestingly the overseers had some trouble getting used to the fact that they were dealing with men who were much more independent than the ones they are used to.   They in particular seemed to have problems deferring to me!  I reminded them most forcefully that I was the one in charge and that I held the pursestrings.  Since that unfortunate episode when the chief stonemason pulled on my beard, most forcefully I must admit, relations have been much more cordial.

Clay Day, Stasis

Today there was a mishap that honesty forces me to admit is partially my own fault.   The workers were raising the mighty keystone, carved with the symbols of the Goddess, for the great gate you had requested using a rope and tackle I had devised when the keystone slipped and fell.  Unfortunately a worker was directly below and his body was crushed beyond healing's ability to mend. This was a partially skilled and terribly devoted worker who had been nicknamed "Ox".  His real name was Koschei Parzelsson and apparently he had the distinct honor of being the sometime bed partner as well as apprentice of the chief stonemason, Sjijin Karsasdaughter.  A most formidable woman.  Not of great stature but impressive breadth due to her incredible musculature.  She has eyes that Humakt would envy and short grey hair.  The accident was most odd.  I was there to witness the raising since I was so proud of my hoist.  I saw the moment when the keystone fell and I could of sworn that instead of cowering in terror Ox had raised his hands as if to embrace the stone.  Most strange. I agreed that we could take the rest of the day off and that we would move the stone and uncover poor Ox the next morning.  Everyone seemed glad to hear this. I tried to inspect the hoist but the Esrolians shooed me away saying that they would check it out.   I was most offended but when I saw them eyeing my beard I must shamefully admit that I fled.

Windsday, Stasis Week

Well I said that I was partially responsible for poor Ox's death but recent events seem to have put the lie to that.  Last night I could not sleep, bloody Sestarto's citadel makes me grind my teeth in envy, so I decided to inspect the day's work.  I headed down to the gate to see what had been done since Ox's death.  I was most surprised as I neared to hear some low chanting and the sound of drums.  I decided stealth was to be my byword and I crept as stealthily as I could to get to a vantage point.  This I managed to do. I would have seen nothing but for the fact that there was a large bonfire burning before the gate.  What did I discover there?  Why my workcrew and the Esrolian stonemasons wearing nothing but loinclothes, paint and ashes!  They were gathered around the keystone which still lay where it had fallen. Sjijin was leading the ceremony and she was most impressive in her state of undress.  She herself has a most impressive, shall we say structure.  I watched the goings on which seemed to involve much chanting and twirling.  Finally after a lot of this everyone, led by Sjijin rushed towards the keystone.  The women all chanted something in Esrolian, which I fear I don't understand and lay their left hands on the keystone.  They stood like this for a moment and all became suddenly still.  After a timeless moment the mighty keystone stone itself began to glow!  It raised itself slowly off the ground and lifted itself up to it's resting place!  I was shocked to say the least.  Why hadn't they used this magic before?  It would have sped things up immensely.   But I digress.  I looked with horror at the cavity where the stone had rested to see poor Ox's body.  But what did I see there?  Nothing.  No body.   I sat where I was stunned until I realized that the exhausted workers and stonemasons where trooping back up to the citadel past my vantage point!  I only realized this when Sjijin stopped to lay her big hand on my shoulder.  "Come old man there are other ceremonies to be done this night."  What could I do?  I followed her.

I have made the arrangements for the bloodgeld to be paid to Ox's family.  It's the least I can do after his sacrifice.

Yours faithfully,

Enent Quickquill, Sage and Architect 

Last updated February 20, 2017

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