A Visitor at the Bathhouse

In another life, maybe Typhon Ne would have enjoyed this place. Today, it was debauchery. Not evil, per se, but inducement to evil for certain. The fact that the ‘assistants’ were enslaved made it that much worse. So many evils, but the greater one still lay ahead. One wrong move and that could be lost.

A knock came on Typhon Ne’s door. A slave appeared saying, “Fraulein, you have been contacted by one of the Vala, a priestess of the three-headed god, she asks for you to visit her at the Shrine of Bähr, the spirit of strength.

Curious about why this priestess wished to speak with her, considering that their group was trying to slip by without being noticed.

“Very well,” Typhon replied, “Could you please lead the way there, or if not, could you give me directions on where to find the shirne?”

The slave led Typhon Ne through the labrythine cobblestone streets of the city. It was wet and cold, with a light dusting of snow coming down. The shrine was in the southern part of the city, some 400 yards from the bathhouse. It was a small grove, almost a tiny park, with several ancient columns on a dais. A fire burned in a brazer that sat surrounded by a small pool on the dais. Passers by, some unusually large and strong, tossed coin into the pool. Other left burnt offerings of raw meat in the fire, the smell of which was familiar and brought to mind Typhon Ne’s old religious practices as a child. As she approached, Typhon Ne noticed a beautiful young woman, dressed in white, partially veiled, with a hooded white cloak fringed in animal fur. Her blonde hair was obviously on the Norivck or Carian people. Covered in silver and platinum jewelry, she walked toward Typhon Ne. As she approached, Typhon Ne noticed her right hand was gloved with an animal clawed hand, or perhaps it was her true hand.

“You are Fraulein Sava, a visitor from the west, ja?” she asked as she approached the edge of the dais.

“I am,” Typhon responded. “Since I just arrived into town, I’m curious as to why you have asked to see me Vala.”

Typhon looked around the shrine cautious of any possible ambush, then returned her gaze to the young woman.

Noticing her caution, the vala said, “there is nothing to be concerned about, there are only the columns. We don’t wall in our gods here.” She walked closer, “I noticed you entering town. Your aura is a nimbus of light and darkness, a cacophony and anger and peace. It intrigued me. Also, under all of that, I noticed that a bear spirit walked with you, pacing your every move. You are no humble stranger, but a warrior-born of the bear.”

Intrigued, Typhon replied with, “How very perceptive of you. Is there something you wished to know about me? Is that why you asked to have me come visit you? I am curious as to what you’d like to know, though I may not tell you everything.” She said that last with a smile.

Typhon noticed people smiling when they saw the Vala, bowing slightly as they passed. Mothers stepped up and she touched their hands as they passed, “I want to know your story. The spirit walks with you, but so do two others, one inherently good, and one inherently evil, yet they do not fight, they co-exist, ebbing and flowing. It is as if you are cursed, but…not.”

“Well my story is a long one, and isn’t finished yet,” Typhon said. “Is there somewhere you would like me to start at?”

“At the beginning of course.” she said with a smile and a voice that was almost etherial, “You are kin of kind, both spiritually and tribally. I sense you are Snomorian like myself, by your look and bearing, but with elven blood running through you, probably the Talvikë or the Harmalehti.” The last name seemed familiar to Typhon, perhaps the tribe the Silverleaf clan was part of. “But to be fair, one should not interrogate. I asked you for a gift of knowledge, so let us exchange knowledge equally. You ask me anything whatsoever after you tell me about the beginning – then we exchange questions from there. We can walk the city while we converse. There is a wonderful place near the east gate which serves hot kahvi, a local drink – and a popular elven name if I remember correctly. No relation of course.” she smiled. “Oh, how rude of me, I am Vala Matildë, slave of the Dreigeist and servant of the servant of the people.”

“Well like I said, my tale is a long one,” Typhon said with a smile. “It began back in my village in Snowmor…”, Typhon began as Vala Matildë and her started walking toward the east gate.

“… and now here I am with my group of friends in Storuvan,” Typhon finished her tale, and then smiled as she took a drink of the hot kahvi.

The Vala listened carefully, never interrupting but completely in the moment. Taking sip of the kahvi, she said, “you have come a long way in a short time. I feel that you have many conflicts. This is good. We only learn through conflict of some kind. You are:

female, but yet male
primal, but yet civilized
just, but yet vengeful
kind, but yet ruthless
supportive, but yet impatient
cursed, but yet blessed, and
of the old gods, but also the new.

Oh, yes. You are in love. There is no conflict there…just complications.” She leaned in and touched Typhon’s face with her human-looking left hand – it was quite warm, and almost motherly but with a touch of sensual mystery. Withdrawing it, she sipped her kahvi and said, “you did not have to lie to the city guards with an alias, but given your circumstances with the Tyaans, it is understandable. I forgive you. I believe the Tyaans in question may be either the Myrskyvaar or the Tyvaarus Varjo, or possibly the Tarkkailija, but I doubt it.”

Typhon sat back and sipped her drink and said, “I see that you are taking my story very well. But say that I am not familiar with any of those groups. What can you tell me of them?”

The Vala replied, “it is a fascinating story, and one that seems to fit the facts. You and yours have journeyed far from home and the place you wish to go it quite dangerous. The Gates can be seen from here, Vouri Etalä is the southern one and sacred to us. Vouri Kauhuul is the northern one and represents the shadow lurking behind.” She sipped her drink. A mother came up silently an kneeled, offering her baby. The Vala said, “excuse me one moment,” she turned, took the baby. The mother stepped back, bowed and kneeled. Turning back to Typhon with the baby cradled in her arms the Vala said, “The Tyaans are believers in the chaos of nature. The Myrskyvaar are priests of the old gods, Tyaa in particular. They are wandering protectors of nature. We have a cordial, if testy relationship with them as they cannot abide any law but that of nature. The Tyvaarus Varjo on the other hand are a mystery. It is said they believe in using strife as a way toward enlightenment. They are said to be both troublemakers and bringers of power. The last one, the Takkailija, I have only heard of. It is the remnant of the old Eterian, and before them Traskine cult of Tyaa. My foremother met one, long, long ago, who advised her on some matter. They are the only ones with an organized temple that I know of, in the Eterian ruins in Castigoth.”

“I think that the group that is after us is the Tyvaarus Varjo,” Typhon said. “Though I can’t say for sure, but whichever group is after us, they are gathering items of power. Items from the old Eterian empire it seems.”

Sipping more of her drink, watching the Vala with the infant child in her arms. “Why is it that they bring their children to you?”, Typhon asked.

“I am their mother in a way. This child was blessed by me when his parents conceived and upon their birth I delivered them. But in truth, I bless all children, and the touch of a Vala is considered a blessing, time with them more so. It is my duty and privilege.” she replied.

“I can respect that,” Typhon said. “Do you know any details of the area we are planning to journey too?”

She handed the baby back to her mother, the said, “The Heights? We call it Karkea, a place of terrors. The Eterians never successfully conquered it, and they were the last to try with force, and that was some 600 years ago. Beyond the holy mountain, you will encounter wildmen tribes, goblin tribes, orcs, and others. Bandits hide in the foothills as well. Our Temple has a redoubt up on the mountain, and pilgrims are tested by the dangers. Only the strong should enter such a place. Beyond that it is a broken land, littered with Hattani ruins (and older), rocks, caves, twisted forests, and a redoubt for monsters. It is said even a dragon or two. It is said deep within the plateau an old god of the Hattani lies dead, waiting for worshipers who will never come. It is also said that ghosts of the kaijukainen people haunt the deep places, fighting an everlasting war with their dread enemy the kaijukahrrith, forever in lock-step combat.”

She drank some kahvi and added, “I’ve been up there. It is dangerous, but not as bad as ‘they say’, one need only be careful and not draw attention to ones self. In some of the ruins, you can feel the spirits that once walked halls of marble. You, Typhon, scream and howl in the world of spirit. Some may notice, as I did.”

“Is that what drew your attention to me, my connection to the spirit world?”, Typhon asked. “I’m also curious as to how you came to be here, seeing that you are Snowmorian the same as me.”

“Yes, the conflict surrounding you gained the attention of one of us.” she replied.

“Did the Vala perceive that conflict as a threat?,” Typhon asked. “Is that why you wished to see me. I do believe that I am on a path to remove some of that conflict within myself.”

Typhon was thoughtful for a moment before asking, “Is there a way for me to suppress or quiet the howling spirit conflict while I travel the Karkea?”

“Perhaps. I…” There was a sound of trumpets and the noise of many people moving in the streets, “something is going on to the south.” Her eyes suddenly grew bright, emanating a holy light, and then faded. “The refugees are rioting, they are beginning to attack the wall. They fear an orc horde seen south of here.”

Typhon sat up more alert, “I should see to my friends,” Typhon said, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

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