The False Monarch September 23, 2007Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , add a comment
The old man entered the massive new temple, shuffling along with the rest of the crowd of petitioners who had come to see the Scarlet Empress. It was Empire Day, the first of Ascending Wood, and the Empress was to bless Mela’s temple, the Commencement of the Purifying Storm, in celebration of the Realm’s presumably victorious war against the deathlords of the Underworld. On his back, the old man carried a bundle, and one of the black helmed Guardians of the Realm watching the crowd moved as though to stop him. For a moment the old man lifted his head, and ordered the guardian away with a single word, filled with the presence of a man who has led thousands on the battlefield. The confused man obeyed, even as he tried to recall where he had seen the old man before.
The old man took his place in the crowd and waited. A handful of young allied Exalts were hidden in the crowd as well, and he hoped that they would be enough. Soon, three sleek First Age vessels streaked across the sky, and two of them broke away to land in the courtyard of the temple. Their long manta-like shapes pointed opposite directions, as much to fit within the space as to ensure that their gleaming firelances covered different targets. The gangplanks of the Mantas smoothly lowered to the ground, and the Scarlet Empress descended to the earth, clad in red silk edged with gold. As the old man peeked up at her a little, his heart was moved again by her beauty, just as he remembered it. The sigil-marked eunuchs of the Silent Legion moved with her, on guard, as did two Dragon-Blooded soldiers. The Dragon-Blooded wore the mons of no House, and surely were lost eggs brought up with loyalty only to the Empress. The old man took in the scene quickly.
Resignedly, the old man shuffled forward, as though to petition the Empress. He raised his head and looked her directly in the face, feeling his breath catch for a moment. “Your Royal Highness, I am Arada. Do you remember the years of service I have given to you?” His conspirators had proven to him that she was not real – merely a Fair Folk interloper posing as the Empress. He had seen the evidence with his own eyes, even watched her recoil from the iron weapon of the fallen assassin Desan. Yet, he needed to know for sure. If this was some trick. If the other conspirators were merely trying to use him to kill the Empress, he knew he could still turn back now. He would kill all of them in front of her and lay their bodies at her feet.
The Scarlet Empress regarded him without the faintest hint of recognition, however. The woman who had personally presided over his promotion over the Tepet legions looked upon him as though he were unknown to her. The old man felt the anger release inside of him, like a terrible storm. The wind whipped up around him, as that storm flooded out of him in a surge of Essence. He cast off the burlap over his bundle and drew forth the blade of House Tepet in a lightning quick movement. Memories of the blood of his family on the fields of the East, and their cries of agony as they were destroyed by the spells of the Anathema, crowded his senses for a moment. He had walked away from it all, and drank to make the pain go away. It hadn’t worked. Things just got worse. It was true. This creature was not the Scarlet Empress, and it was trying to lead his people to their deaths.
The Kingfisher Cafe September 16, 2007Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment
Tonight was a fairly pleasant evening, despite my current circumstances. The temperature here in Stone Mountain was only 69 degrees (according to AccuWeather), and I decided to go out for the evening. I went to a local eatery called The Kingfisher Cafe, which I had driven past numerous times with growing curiosity, but never visited. Actually, I did visit the place once, with my estranged wife and the kids, when it was called Geegaws Eatery and was a very different place. I still have a picture somewhere of Deva playing with this giant blowup microphone thing they had there, which was literally as tall as she was. I’ll try to post it here at some point. Anyway, we only ate at Geegaws once, and it is gone. I think I like the new place better.
The Kingfisher Cafe serves beer and wine, and they have a menu with offerings for every time of the day. I chose the roasted red pepper hummus “appetizer” and it was really good. One of the other patrons, at another table (a woman who I overheard ran a local flower shop, and whose dinner partner was a tall, athletic man who looked like he had to be a basketball player), even suggested to the waitress that management should package up the hummus in containers for takeout. I heartily agree!
Anyway, it was a pleasant evening on the restaurant’s front deck, drinking a couple of Peronis and eating a hummus plate, complete with pepperoncinis, red pepper, pita and some sort of greens. I was overwhelmed by a powerful sense of nostalgia as I recalled little Deva playing around on the stage in the corner of the previous place, while I ate some sort of deli-style sandwich with my wife Rachel and her other daughter Kira. Though my wife is gone, I was transported back to a happier time, and that combined with good food and the cool night air was nice. All things considered, it was a little bit of peaceful reminiscence among strangers whose lives seemed happier than mine.