Ilvia Episode 8: Schism

6 June 498

The party awoke the next morning after a quiet night on the second floor of the Ilvar Inn (despite their misgivings about being on the second floor, the days of travel had left them exhausted). The next morning they ate breakfast downstairs in the common room and discussed what they were going to do now that they were in Kirvin.

Nigel suggested that for the time being they table the issue of the magical underground Brondon had told them about and instead concentrate on other objectives. Foremost was the question of what had really happened to the church in Kirvin; in addition to that, Tagart and Lamara had some shopping to do, and Orbin had merchandise to sell.

Eventually they decided to split up into several groups. Nigel, Janis, and Trelain headed out to see what they could discover about the church, while Jalafin and Autumn accompanied Orbin on his exploration of the local marketplace and business opportunities. Tagart took Lamara in search of materials from which to construct a spell book, and Katra (as always) decided to explore on her own and see what she could discover.

Walking through the marketplace, Orbin came across a booth operated by a dwarf named Korba, a seller of baskets. Korba was friendly but was not encouraging; he told Orbin that business had not been very good. In talking with Korba, Orbin also discovered that in order to sell his goods in Kirvin, he would have to register with the local merchants' guild. Orbin thanked Korba for his help, invited him for a drink that evening, and headed for the guild office near the center of the marketplace.

At the office, Orbin was told that guild registration for a dwarf was 25 gold pieces, plus a penalty of 50 for not having registered the same day he arrived in town. In addition, the guild would take 25% of each sale he made. Stunned, Orbin declined to register, figuring he would not be doing business in Kirvin after all. He returned to the inn in time for lunch.

Nigel and his group found out that the church had been located at the opposite end of the marketplace from the Inn, so they spent the morning crossing the town along the waterfront. Eventually they reached the site of the church, and as they'd expected, they found the site of a burned building. Nigel tried to ask a few nearby merchants what had become of the church and where its members could be found now, but he was surprised to find that no one was willing to talk about it. Instead, they all seemed eager to emphasize that they had had no connection to the church and knew nothing about it. Unsure what to make of this, Nigel, Trelain, and Janis also returned to the inn by midday.

Tagart and Lamara had better luck. Without much difficulty, Tagart located a small, unassuming shop advertising "specialty stationery supplies." Looking inside, he was surprised to find exactly the right kinds of paper, pens, and inks one needed for a spell book. Although everything was discreet, it was evident the proprietor of the shop knew exactly what he was selling and who his customers were; he helpfully directed Tagart toward the right kinds of supplies, and assured Tagart that he respected the special needs of his customers. Lamara purchased what she needed for a small spell book, and she and Tagart returned to the inn.

Since everyone else had made it back to the inn by lunchtime, Nigel decide to see if he could find Katra as well so they could compare notes. He looked in several nearby taverns, eventually finding her sitting unobtrusively in one crowded establishment trying to see what she could overhear from nearby conversations. The two of them returned to the Ilvar Inn to discuss what they'd learned and to decide what to do next. Katra reported that she had not learned much, but she had noticed a few people in town wearing unfamiliar holy symbols -- symbols that looked like modified versions of the Ilvian Church symbol. This suggested that there was another church of some sort in town.

They spent the rest of the day exploring Kirvin to see what else they could learn unobtrusively. Korba joined Orbin for dinner, and Orbin was disturbed by what his new friend told him: for months now, sentiment against dwarves had been growing in Kirvin. Orbin was certainly familiar with the mistrust dwarves often encountered, but in Kirvin it seemed that this mistrust had been institutionalized; dwarven merchants were being systematically persecuted and subjected to rules (such as the guild fees) that made it virtually impossible for a dwarf to make a profit. Orbin was now sure he had been right to decide not to attempt to sell his goods in town.

That night, exploring on their own after everyone else had returned to the inn, Autumn and Jalafin were ambushed by a group of brigands in a blind alley. The group consisted of dwarves, humans, and a large dog, and it soon became evident that these were survivors from the group they had fought in the countryside west of Durant a few days earlier. Outnumbered, Autumn and Jalafin were fighting a losing battle when Tagart and Lamara (who were also out exploring) happened by and were able to surprise the brigands from behind. Soon all of the brigands were dead, and all of the adventurers returned to the inn -- except for Katra, who decided to spend the night outside of town.

7 June 498

The next morning, Katra returned and joined the others for breakfast at the inn. She reported that she had made contact with a local ranger, whom she had found catching fish in a stream not far from town. Katra relates what the ranger told her: that he had been concerned for some time about events in Kirvin. For some time he had been hearing about growing anti-Church sentiment, although he had never been able to find out exactly what the issues were. Some of the stories told about some sort of split within the Church itself, while others told of violence against Church members. When Katra told him about the magical boxes, he replied that he had also heard stories about such boxes being found in Kirvin.

Nigel, who appeared to have slept very badly, seemed particularly grave this morning. He raised a new concern that had occurred to him: given the attacks on the Church, he wondered, did the beliefs of the Elves put them at risk as well? At any rate, it seemed that the next task was to try to get in touch with the Church faithful, if they could find them.

Tagart had an idea about that. During his explorations with Lamara the previous evening, at one point he had spotted something that caught his eye. Through the window whose curtains were not completely drawn, he saw an Ilvian Church holy symbol on the wall inside a house not far away. Even if people were unwilling to talk about the Church openly, it seemed that some, at least, continued to practice the faith in private.

They decided that Nigel and Janis should pay a visit to the house where Tagart had seen the holy symbol, hoping that the residents would be willing to help. Tagart led the two of them to the house, accompanied by Katra.

The old man who answered the door was unsure at first, but soon decided to invite them inside. He told them what he knew: that beginning several months ago, there had been a lot of inexplicable attacks against Church members. Eventually it got to the point that people were unwilling to publicly show their affiliation with the Church, and attendance at the Kirvin church dropped off. On one occasion, Father Gomery and Father Cyril had even been attacked by a group of sailors from out of town, but fortunately some other church members had been nearby and had fought off the attackers.

However, during the night of April 23, someone had thrown a lit oil lamp through the window of the church. The wooden building had burned quickly, and no one had tried to extinguish the fire.

Furthermore, this was not the only turmoil he had heard about. There had also been a theological dispute of some time, culminating in some members of the congregation leaving to form their own church. The old man did not know any details about that, however, because he had stopped going to church himself.

Nigel and Janis thanked the old man, who did not want to give them his name, and asked him for directions to Father Gomery's house. They then traveled northward through town and found the house, but no one was home. They headed back for the inn.

Meanwhile, Orbin, Jalafin, and Autumn had gone shopping, looking for a shop where they could find supplies for Autumn to make some arrows with. A few blocks away from the main marketplace, they found such a shop -- and only a few doors away, Orbin spotted another shop with a familiar symbol on its sign. It was the "double-T" logo he had seen on the broken cart they'd found on the road west of Durant -- the cart that had been carrying a load of empty boxes. Going inside, he found a small woodworking shop, and the man who came out from the work room to greet him introduced himself as Tepworth. During the course of the conversation, Tepworth revealed that he had been overworked ever since his partner, Thomas, had gone missing not long ago. Thomas had taken a delivery east but had never returned, and Tepworth was now starting to worry.

Back out on the street, Orbin noticed another interesting building: it appeared to be a church, but the inscription above the door was not familiar. It read "BEFORE THE LIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE ALL SHADOWS FLEE." It was just about noon, and people were streaming out of the door; it appeared that services had just ended. Realizing that this was perhaps the "second church" they had speculated about, he approached the man at the door who appeared to be the priest and introduced himself. The priest's name was Reswith, and he invited Orbin inside to talk. After hearing Orbin's (heavily edited) story, Reswith said that he was very interested in meeting Nigel, so Orbin headed back to the inn.

Later that afternoon, the entire party returned to the church so Nigel could speak with Reswith and with Father Gomery, who was also there. From them, he learned the full story of what had been happening in Kirvin.

Early in the year, a young priestess named Liella, just graduated from the Darian Monastery, joined the Kirvin church. She was very bright and energetic, but Gomery soon learned that she was also full of unusual ideas. She enjoyed arguments and questioning long-held beliefs, and she engaged Gomery in many lengthy debates over points of Ilvian theology. She subscribed to the beliefs of Trevall, a priest whose writings she had discovered at the monastery; he believed that the Church of Ilvia had nothing to do with the worship of Arva, and that true enlightenment came from experiencing the world directly rather than from books.

Gomery found Liella frustrating to deal with, but she was very capable and quite popular with the congregation, so he did his best to work with her. Eventually, however, she went too far: during one of their theological arguments, she had told him that she did not think there was anything wrong with magic. Unwilling to tolerate such heresy, Gomery had asked her to leave the church, and she did so; but to his surprise, quite a few of his parishioners -- and one of the other priests -- went with her. Priestess Liella began holding services in her own church, establishing what she called the Order of Trevall (named after a priest whose writings she had discovered while studying at the monastery).

Gomery had been horrified by all of this, and he had considered the Trevallians to be heretics. Then the attacks on the church began, and the church was burned down -- and something unexpected happened. When it seemed that no one else would help, the Trevallians invited Gomery to hold services at their church. They welcomed the few remaining Ilvian Church faithful who were willing to openly attend worship services, and had willingly put themselves at risk by allowing them to worship in their building. Now Gomery wasn't sure what to believe: he'd written them off as heretics, but now they had come to his aid when he most needed it.

Priestess Liella, meanwhile, had disappeared. Father Reswith, the Trevallian priest, told what little he knew: that she had apparently met someone near the waterfront who was putting together some kind of expedition and needed a healer. Eager for this opportunity to learn something new, Liella had signed on, and she had not been heard from since. When they heard his description of Liella, they knew at once that the amnesiac priest who had ended up at Cullan Abbey was none other than Liella, and they told Reswith what they knew. He was relieved to hear that she was alive, but horrified to know that her memory had been wiped clean. Knowledge was the most important thing in the world to Liella.

After talking with the priests, the party discussed what to do next. They realized that their best lead at the moment was the woodworking shop: they knew that whoever was buying the boxes would probably be back for more. Orbin also realized that Tepworth needed to be told that his partner was dead. They returned to the shop, where Orbin told Tepworth what he knew (omitting certain details); Tepworth was naturally stunned and unsure how he would be able to continue.

Seeing the opportunity to get more information, Orbin offered to help. He had no business prospects in Kirvin anyway, so he volunteered to help run the shop until Tepworth was able to find someone to replace Thomas. He knew little about woodworking, but he could certainly man the front counter and deal with customers. And, Orbin suggested, he could even make deliveries if necessary. Tepworth agreed, and Orbin told him he would be there the next morning to start work.