Black Mask & Pale Rider: A new dawn rises
This is the new write up introduction for the adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, and sets the scene as Pania and Shani get ready for their guests so they can continue their story which leads into the first part of the actual book. Scales and Verit are the primary focus of this bit, which means that Scales and Verit will be added to the scenes of the original book.
The Town of Brockton, Brytolonia
First day of the month of the bloom
Like most dwellings in the small town of Brockton, there was a certain bard’s home that was nestled in a small grove of trees. A two storey dwelling, with burnt brown painted walls and a white trim and large windows to let the light stream into the many rooms of the home. The front yard was kept neat and clean with a simple stone pathway that lead to the front door from the front gate. On the gate there was a sign, painted in rich browns and reds and blues that simply read “The Abode of Pania Alow”. In the back of the house was a neatly planted flower garden that surrounded a well organized sitting area. Beyond the small garden there was a small pathway that lead through the trees to a clearing. Along the pathway were a few flower boxes placed perfectly where they would get the most light, even in the shade of the trees. In the clearing there was a small barn and paddock where three horses grazed quietly. One of the horses was a white mare, a strong horse, a good horse for riding. She happened to be the faithful steed called Triumph, which the bard Pania Alow would saddle up when she needed to travel any great distance. One of the other horses was still very young, and much smaller than Triumph. The small one always kept close to the white mare; as that one was only a few weeks. This was one of Triumph’s offspring. Like the bard who would ride her, Triumph was very protective of the small colt that stayed by her side.
The other horse was a chestnut stallion. Stallion might be stretching it a bit. But he also stayed close to Triumph and the young colt, because he happened to be the father of the weeks old colt. His name was Gippsum, and he was very familiar with Triumph and Pania, because he was owned by another elf named Shani Wennemein.
The inside of the house was much like its exterior; simply when it needed to be, but rather ornate when one would look in a particular nook and cranny. The main floor had five rooms; a living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and a washing room. Upstairs there were also five rooms; the master bedroom, a small library, a guest bedroom, a sitting room, and a tailoring room. The owner of this house was known for her mending and creating of clothing just as she was known for her ability to write books.
Throughout the house there was a feeling of comfort and calm, as the interior was given a decoration of soft solours and rich wood. The walls were painted with a muted floral design, similar to the designs on the furniture cushions. It was a perfect home for someone who wanted to while away the hours writing, tailoring or even relaxing. This was the home of an elven songstress.
Pania Alow wasn’t the only one who lived here. Upstairs in library sat a small violin. But this wasn’t an ordinary violin, as it had small windows, balconies and a tiny front door, about three inches tall. The perfect size for a pixie to walk through. For indeed, a pixie did live in the transformed violin. Verit, a pixie who bonded with Pania when the Arcane Academy tried to recruit the bard. Fortunately, Verit wasn’t like other magical familiars, as she was more adventurous and often let her curiosity get the better of her. Which was just fine for a bard. Pania didn’t need a small helper to craft spells or read incantations. Her magic came naturally to her, not like that of a wizard who needed to read volumes of tomes in order to grasp the finer qualities of a spell. And Verit liked that just fine, just as she liked the small house that Pania had made for her. It was her home, after all, and she decorated it as she saw fit.
Verit herself was not an extraordinary pixie, for she had all of the qualities found in the most common of creatures. Her pale green skin, her bright green hair that looked like small branches that ended with small leaves, and even her gossamer wings. Her choice of clothing, however, was very different; she wore what appeared to be pixie versions of denims, riding chaps, a corset and a poet’s shirt. An odd combination but not so odd when one consider the elf she was bonded to, and Pania’s partner. A more rugged elf named Shani Wennemein.
Not far from the violin house, resting comfortably on a small pile of gems and coins and bobbles and trinkets, was another creature that was familiar with Verit. But this creature was not a pixie. This creature was a pseudo dragon. The small variety of dragon, measuring three feet from the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail. On this particular day, he was curled up, resting quietly, his wings tucked close to his body as he breathed evenly. This was Scales, a small version of the grand copper dragons that roamed the northern deserts in the lands near Dawn’s Rise.
At one time, Scales was a companion of a very powerful, but somewhat eccentric mage. Through a rather unfortunate series of events, the mage was killed by bandits while he was traveling from the great city of Stonebridge through the Messewan forest, to the equally great city of Long Bridge. Scales was taken as a prize of the bandits’ plunder. It seemed as though Scales would live out his life as a trained pet by some ignorant elven bandit who knew nothing of magic.
Through a series of rather fortunate events, the bandits’ trail was picked up by Shani Wennemein. To make a long story short, suffice it to say that Shani dispatched the bandits, helped avenge the mage, and freed Scales. Because Scales was what Scales was, he felt he would stay with Shani, and when she traveled he would be found perched on her shoulder, often resting comfortably. You see, Scales was particularly lazy, though, when he needed to be he could be rather formidable. And he quite liked the elven maid who freed him.
On this day, Scales knew that there would be company coming over to this humble abode of Pania Alow’s. The first clue was that Shani agreed to stay in the guest bedroom, after she and Pania had told their friends and relatives a few days before about where they both were for the past year. Shani often would sneak off to her little cottage in the woods, a humble home that looked out over a small lake on the northern shore from the town of Brockton. Scales liked the peaceful area, combined with the fact there weren’t many visitors. Not that he didn’t like it when Shani entertained, but it was their home, and unless someone came invited, it felt like an invasion. Today, however, would be different. He knew for a fact that Verit would have company. Other than himself that is. Another pixie, who was the familiar to an odd elf.
Scales thoughts on this elf and this pixie were suddenly interrupted as the owner of the home he was currently in came into the room. Pania Alow, a rather soft and curvy looking elf, dressed in the finest of clothing, from the bright white poet’s shirt to the leather corset and right down to the soft cotton slacks and thigh high boots she wore. Scales knew that Pania was an elven woman of fashion and taste. To many others, that might be all they saw; even with her curly blond hair, done in a stylish fashion that allowed her ears to show. People would see them decorated with earrings and chains, seven piercings per ear. They’d think that Pania was a women built for the stage, a pretty thing to rest on the arm of some noble gentleman.
But Scales knew better. First, Pania wasn’t just a bard. She knew how to use a rapier, and how to fire a pistol. The latter of which she owned two, and often wore one at her waist so her left hand could draw it, while the other sat neatly at her hip. She was also a practiced sorceress, able to cast powerful magic should the need arise. Second, Scales knew that Pania was far more attracted to ladies than to men, and while she may have been on the arm of men at one time or another, it was always the women she had her eyes on.
As Pania entered the room, she was carrying a small try. On the tray was a pixie sized breakfast arrangement, including chairs and a small table. There was tea, and small biscuits, as well as a normal sized dish with an arrangement of meats and fruit all cut up and laid out with care. Scales lifted his head, his long neck craning to inspect the plate much closer. He had an idea what that plate was made for. Pania saw his look and smiled brightly.
“Cannu fool one like you, Scales,” she said as she gingerly placed the plate in front of him. “It’s a wee bit early in the mornin’, but I thought I’d get things ready for our guests comin’ ’round today.” Scales bowed his head in thanks, fully understanding what Pania said. He picked up a piece of apple and sniffed it, then stopped as he watched Pania gently wrap a finger on the front door of the violin house. Both Scales and Pania waited a moment, then the elven bard wrapped gently on the door once again. Finally, the doors to a small balcony, on what would be the second floor of the violin opened up, and a tiny pixie stepped out stretching her arms above her head and letting out a large yawn. “Good mornin’, Verit,” Pania said quietly as she set out the pixie sized breakfast items. “It’s much earlier fer ye than normal, but I thought it best ta get yerself started. Ye’ve got company comin’, after all.”
Verit looked about, saw Scales and waved, then thought about Pania’s words a moment. She jumped up and squeaked with glee as she realized who was coming around. A small pixie named Aasia, the familiar to a wizard known as Waien Argith. She dashed into her house and quickly dressed, then bounded down the stairs and came out the front door. It was all very fast, which is rather normal for a pixie.
As Verit sat herself down to her morning breakfast, and as Scales munched away on a piece of apple, in the hallway there was a loud stumbling sound. Everyone, Pania, Verit and Scales, all stopped what they were doing and looked to the doorway. The disheveled elf that was Shani Wennemein appeared. Her raven black hair was all strings this way and that, she shirt was slightly crooked and she still wore her denims. Something she’d picked up over the last year. Pania sighed and thought at least she didn’t go to bed in her boots as well.
“Best ta get washed an’ dressed,” Pania said as she moved over to the doorway. Shani was leaning heavily against it, a sign that she still wasn’t used to the feather bed that Pania owned in the guest bedroom. “We’ve got ta get the horses tended to an’ prepare ‘em in the way they know that company’s comin’.”
“Right,” Shani said with a nod of her head and ran her slender fingers through her hair. “Right after a belt.”
“No!” Pania said quickly. “No whiskey. ‘Specially no’ this early in the mornin’. No’ with Waien comin’ over.”
Shani was about to whine a complaint, but thought for a moment. While she could handle her alcohol, Waien was often less able to. It was known quite well, from Brockton to Stonebridge, the carousing that Waien would do. It gave him a rather infamous reputation, which did nothing for his standing within the circle of the druidic elves who were the wilders. The elves who tended to the needs of the natural world, of which Waien’s father was the chief of Brytolonia. “Right, I’ll wager thet I can abstain fer t’day,” she finally drawled. “But I will need a good, strong cup o’ coffee.”
Pania rolled her eyes and chuckled slightly. “You an’ yer coffee.”
“Is Villith comin’, too?”
“Aye,” Pania said with a nod as she moved into the hallway, ushering Shani downstairs. “Waien said he’d bring her ’round.”
“Waien’s bringin’ her medicine, ain’t he.”
“If there’s one thing I know ’bout Waien, it’s how he has never done his wee sister wrong,” Pania replied as she gave Shani a small push toward the washing room. “Now go, get yerself washed up an’ I’ll make coffee. Ye can have a drink, an’ then we need ta tend ta the horses.”
Upstairs, Verit and Scales continued with their morning meal. Verit happily squeaking in pixie to Scales, excited that Aasia was coming and how he’d like her very much. Scales wasn’t sure, as most pixies he found annoying. Verit wasn’t, but he’d grown used to her ways and she’d actually become a friend. He gently pushed his plate a bit, so it sat beside Verit, then moved so he wrapped his body around Verit’s breakfast table and continued eating. There wouldn’t be mage fire or gun shots, but at least today would be exciting in another sort of way.