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In Pan Post 140 Sir Palamedes and his drow squire Newrias are still wandering around Outpost Finagle aimlessly as of Pan Post 139. Sir Palamedes then spies a wedding chapel and feels that they will find those of kindred faith inside. When they approach the door, however, they are stopped by a dorf that suspects the armour of Sir Palamedes may be supernatural and, therefore, banned from going within. When he tells the dorf that it is blessed by God the dorf is even more weary. A fight almost breaks out between them but Newrias settles the dorf down when he tells him he sat up polishing the armour all night and its safe. The dorf explains to Newrias that he is a Witch-Warden of the Myst Sector, which has banished all magic and deities due to an oppressive magocracy of the past. He has been hired to ensure no trouble happens inside between competing religions. Newrias can smell redthorn lintblossom on the warden, which he reveals to be a strength potion that the wardens will use. Newrias, who is going through a drow awakening, realises that he is, in fact, an alchemist, which is why he knows the plant and its uses. When the warden reveals his own name to be Egnarts, Newrias tells his own name as Dhae - which is his true-self name.

Post

Awakening

After stalking down the corridor - one of countless inside Outpost Finagle's megastructure - for what seems like forever, Sir Palamedes finally stops and levels a shiny armored finger at one of the alcoves off the main arcade leading into an outlet building.

Sir Palamedes: There, good squire. We shall find men of common faith here!

Newrias: I don't share your faith, what makes you think--

But Sir Palamedes is already marching towards the chapel. A bright neon sign hangs over the gothic-arched entrance, reading, "WEDDING CHAPEL,", and beneath that in smaller script, "Get married, under the auspices of your deity of choice!"

Newrias scrambles after him, and his nose twitches again, for the hundredth time that day. He keeps catching scents that seem to stir memories inside him, but nothing he can ever place.

Standing beside the arched doorway of the chapel is an alien of a variety that neither Palamedes nor Newrias has seen before. He is roughly humanoid, but short and stocky. Blue and brown whiskers cover the entirety of his face except for two bright eyes, and unkempt curls fall from his head down his shoulders. His skin - what little of it can be seen beneath the whiskers - is bright orange, almost the hue of a human with a bad sunburn.

He is wearing what seems to be a uniform of some sort. It is a matte black affair, including bandoliers strapped across his chest from both shoulders, and a ballistic cyberpunk revolver - a contraption unknown to Newrias as of yet - in a holster on his hip. A green HUD-monocle is in front of one eye, held in place from his hair-hidden ear.

Dorf: Hold.

Sir Palamedes: What manner of man are you? I've seen dwarfish men in Brittania, but never such as you. How did you get here? Did you find a spaceship under your homeland too?

Newrias: Er, Sir Palamedes, I don't think he's, ah, human.

Dorf: Indeed not! I don't even know what a 'human' is, and I've never heard of a 'Brittania'. I am a dorf.

Sir Palamedes: A dwarf? But I just said--

Dorf: Dorf, not dwarf. Now hold a moment. Your armor, by its manner of gleam, must be magical.

Sir Palamedes draws himself up indignantly.

Sir Palamedes: Indeed not! I do not truck with those heathen rituals that the faeries do.

The dorf appears to be placated and is nodding approvingly at Sir Palamedes's words.

Sir Palamedes: My armor gleams because it has been blessed by God Himself!

Newrias: Wow, I can actually hear that capital H.

The dorf's expression darkens at Palamedes's proud declaration.

Dorf: That's even WORSE to a witch-warden such as myself. And certainly against my job to let you in here. Only approved deific influences are allowed, so that there are no potential clashes of faith or heavens during the wedding ceremonies.

Sir Palamedes: What manner of heathen defiles His holy name with such crude words? Have at thee!

Dorf: I heard the capital H that time too.

Sir Palamedes begins to draws his sword, but the dorf moves with a blinding speed that belies his stocky size, and clamps his black-gloved hand around the knight's wrist, holding it in place so that he cannot draw the sword. The knight struggles to keep pulling his sword out of his sheath, but the dorf's strength is incredible.

Dorf: Stand down, or Outpost Security will be disposing of your corpse.

Newrias hastily intervenes.

Newrias: Please, Mister Dorf--

Dorf: Dorf is my species, not my NAME. If you must call me anything, address me by my rank, witch-warden.

Newrias: Mister Witch-warden, his armor isn't enchanted nor blessed. Its gleam comes from my having polished it last night...for several hours on end.

Sir Palamedes: Don't put on that disgruntled face, lad! Tis good work for a young squire!

The dorf considers the drow's words as he studies the knight. Then he lets go of the knight's wrist. Sir Palamedes has the grace to slide the blade fully back within the sheath.

Dorf: It is true that I detect no supernatural effects from your accoutrements. You may pass. But do not draw your sword within.

Sir Palamedes: See, young squire? None dare stand against a holy servant of God! Come along!

He strides into the chapel. The dorf looks at the drow and rolls his eyes.

Dorf: I don't hate magic and gods as a rule, unlike many of my witch-warden brethren - but nutjobs like him tempt me to change my stance.

He pauses, seeing the drow staring at the dorf with a slightly distant expression, his nostrils twitching.

Dorf: You alright, lad?

Newrias: Your scent...it is akin to redthorn lintblossom, a plant found on Caledonia. Highly useful for physical augmentation when mixed with certain catalysts.....how do I know that?

He shakes his head, and the dorf regards him curiously.

Dorf: 'Caledonia' is as foreign to me as 'Brittannia', but while I've never heard of redthorn lintleaf, it's possible you were smelling the alchemical extracts exuded through my sweat when I held your master's wrist. The strength-boosting capabilities kicked in then. Are you an alchemist then?

Newrias: No, I--

He pauses.

Newrias: Yes. I was once, I think. I'm starting to remember - that's why these smells all over that station trigger distant memories. Back home, all the alchemists can identify anything by scent alone.

Dorf: Useful indeed for potion chemistry. Witch-wardens only use sanctioned chemicals and herbs however. We stay away from any supernatural sources unless absolutely necessary in a crisis.

Newrias: No such strictures exist on Caledonia. Alchemists among the drow are more than mere potion-makers though. Alchemy is all about change. Chemistry changes...but so does the art of transfiguration.

The dorf witch-warden eyes the young drow.

Dorf: While I've not sensed any strong or overt mystical strength within you, I should warn you against attempting any sort of transfiguration spellwork while within the chapel. Outpost Security might not be too keen on you employing such magic anywhere on the station in fact.

Newrias: No, I don't remember how to do that. Not yet anyway. But I think I will. Eventually.

He shakes his head again and looks directly at the dorf.

Newrias: You called yourself a witch-warden? Why do you despise magic and deities? The idea is anathema to my kind, much less an established order of said despisers.

Dorf: Well, I don't despise them, though as I said many of my brethren back home do. But all witch-wardens are trained in the use of anti-supernatural techniques. It's a tradition handed down through generations ever since the ancient times of the Myst Sector - on the other end of the Milky Way galaxy.

Newrias: What happened in this Myst Sector's ancient past that would create such a tradition?

Dorf: Well, I'm not as steeped in the old histories as some witch-wardens. Dorfs aren't native to the Myst Sector, so I didn't grow up with that education, but only received it after signing on when I was an adult.

Newrias: But the highlights perhaps?

Dorf: Aye. Story goes that, in countless ages past, the Myst Sector was ruled by a magocracy, a star-spanning empire ruled by elite mages and psions, who worshipped a plethora of magic deities. They were cruel and whimsical, and possessed power sufficient to carry out any trifle they pleased. The first witch-wardens were rebels who secretly developed ways to counter the supernatural abilities of their overlords.

Newrias: And they overthrew their rulers?

The idea is strange to him. Sure, drow overthrow other drow all the time, but it is part of Caledonia's natural order: drow women rising to higiher rank on the bodies of their rivals. In the magocracy the dorf witch-warden describes, that might be analogous, Newrias reasons, to a mage overthrowing his rival to ascend to new rank.

But mage-haters overthrowing mages? That sounds like drow men overthrowing drow women. An idea that is completely unheard of on Caledonia, and totally anathema to Newrias...yet it oddly appeals to him. But then, that desire to be free of matriarchal control contributed to his decision to leave his home with the knights.

Dorf: Aye, lad.

Sir Palamedes: *from within the chapel* Squire! Attend me!

Newrias: Oops! I'd better go!

Dorf: A moment, lad. I am called Egnarts. What is your name?

Newrias replies without thinking.

Newrias: Dhae. My name is Dhae.

Without noticing that he used a name that he's never heard of before, yet which seems intrinsic to himself, the drow lad hurries into the chapel.

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"Here is the first time that the Witch-Wardens, along with some of their backstory, are introduced to NeS lore. This post also features the instance of 'awakening' for a drow who is coming of age and they remember their past self. This came about after a brief discussion between myself and Al Ciao the Writer on how the character of Newrias might feature again in the future and it was decided he could be Dhaeriend, another character originally designed by Al Ciao the Writer, who was just introduced into Clear and the Hopeless, in CatH Post 83. The whole process of awakening was therefore formed to accommodate the discrepancy between Newrias and Dhae as he later is." ~ Britt the Writer

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