Our first adventure
3rd Day of the Rule of Rings, in the State of Freedom, 121 H.R.
(Session 1. Saturday, March 17, 2007)

We didn’t know it then, but this was our first adventure together.

It started like pretty much any other rain-sodden, stir-crazy, please-Marm-can-I-go-outside type day. Eki’s family had it worse than mine (so many big kids, such a small space), but Eleni managed somehow to divide the boys from the girls and set both teams to work. It had been a dreary week in Crossguard. The rain was said to wash the sins of the world away; it certainly deadened the stink for a while. But it also meant that Yourgos was home, as most of his work relied on good weather.

Tlao’s return destroyed all of Eleni’s work and we heard the din from upstairs. I begged Marm to let me go see what was going on and somehow she agreed, so Euge and I snuck downstairs. Eki was already bouncing. The version of the chant I heard was that somehow Tlao managed to get into the Civic Festhall and hear a public reading by Jeena Ealy of her latest book titled ‘History of the Blood War’. He was to recount some of the tales he’d heard at the Keg & Cask that night.

The chant had set Eki and his siblings to using the sheets hung up inside to dry as bat-wings, and pretending to be the various races known to them, engaged in the “Blood War”. In this case – it really meant just declaring who they were and chasing after one another. It was the most bloodless of wars ever fought, and other than a lot of noise, there were no signs of battle.
At the time I knew nothing of the Blood War or really understood what a demon or the Hells were, other than people and a place that wasn’t the Cage. I ran upstairs to tell Marm about it and Da was back. Marm didn’t like the idea that I had heard of this “Blood War” and she liked it even less that Eki and his siblings were playing out their own rendition downstairs. But Da managed to convince her that it would be a good way to gather with the neighbors, a rather civic-minded thing to do in Marm’s view; and so they made plans to go to the Keg & Cask later that night.

Euge and I were given over to Medea’s care.

Ludvik and Svana played their own version of the Blood War at their house. Svana had “discovered” a portal to the Nine Hells, and so armed with smithing-tongs and a candle they stepped into the upstairs fireplace. Svana made a whooshing sound and their game of pretend was off. They joined us at Eki’s after dinner.

Now Svana always had a tale, and once Medea was out of earshot, she began telling us she knew a way to find treasure. Naturally Eki’s was the one that figured out how to exclude Kalliope and Euge. They weren’t happy about it, but they did go and try to distract Medea. Kalliope completely forgot that Euge was supposed to have a hurt paw, and instead told Medea she wanted to sing. She used the hanging sheets as a set of curtains and performed for her older sister and Euge, the rest of us snuck off.

We made our way through the house and out into the back shed. The rain was coming down in sheets and it was pretty hard to see. Once inside Eki and Aella couldn’t see – so Ludvik went off to get a coal from the forge. He returned and lit an old broken lamp that Svana had found. As the lamp was lit, the ember tumbled away from the lamp and danced across Ludvik’s thigh. It then fell into an old trough where a red-rimmed portal opened. The portal closed as soon as the ember had gone out.

Svana declared that she had discovered the portal, and brought the light closer to the edge to see. The portal opened again, and then closed as she withdrew the light. Eki and the others armed themselves with sticks or rods, or whatever they could find. Ludvik took off across the street back to the forge. There Nestor was working the bellows, he commented that he wouldn’t protect Ludvik when his father returned, but Ludvik was determined. He took the keys to the back room and dug out one of his father’s short swords before returning to us.

One by one we stepped through. We stepped out sideways and had to crawl out into a hearth to get into a clear space where we could reassemble and take stock.