Kaybal Ironskin strolled through the streets of South Qeynos, a big smile on his face, and a spring in his step. His brand-spanking new suit of Qeynos Guard armour fit perfectly, and it just felt right to wear it. He gave a polite nod to every fellow Qeynosian he met in the streets. Some smiled and nodded back, some shied away from him, being an Iksar and all. Oh, well. Kaybal didn't let it bug him. Soon, everyone would see that he has the city’s best interests at heart.
He had only been in Qeynos for a few weeks, but he already loved the city. It was everything his grandfather had said. Beautiful and complicated, a fantastic melting pot of so many cultures all moshed together in one place. It was always the people that made Qeynos special. Kaybal’s grandfather had protected it through trying times, and Kaybal vowed to do the same.
Being an Iksar, Kaybal knew he would likely never be as loved as his Half Elf grandfather was. He knew his rise through the ranks of the Guard wouldn't be nearly as meteoric. He knew he’d almost certainly never rise to become a sentinel, or likely even a royal guardsman, but he didn't care. Here was a place he could do some real good.
The voice which called to him was raspy and serpentine, but with a rather more aggressive sound than an Iksar’s voice. Kaybal turned to see who was calling for him.
Not many things tower over an adult Iksar male. Not many things, but an adult Sarnak male is certainly one of them. The red-scaled figure was adorned in highly ornate plate armour which gleamed with holy light, as did one of his hands. On his back was a massive sword covered in glowing orange runes. Kaybal knew instantly that he was a paladin, divine power practically radiated off of him. With everything he knew, there was only one person this Sarnak could be.
The Sarnak nodded, and they stood staring at one another for a moment. The air was a bit tense. It was Jaukoehai who eventually broke it.
“It is good to see you, Kaybal. I am glad to see you made it safely to the city.”
Kaybal nodded. “It was a rather harrowing journey, but I managed to make it with only minor scrapes and bruises. Listen, I’m not sure if you knew, but grandfather--”
“Yes, my brother was killed. I know. I felt his death.”
“Right. But he was killed by--”
“Your sister. I know.” Jaukoehai sighed. “It’s not new information. Everyone in Qeynos knows. Of course, they don't know the specifics, just that he was getting old, and an agent of Queen Cristanos managed to find and kill him.”
“Agent? More like puppet.”
“Yes.” There was another awkward silence. “Kaybal… would you perhaps like to come see the house my brother and I shared?”
Kaybal perked up a bit. “Oh, that would be amazing! I’d love to!”
Jaukoehai nodded and beckoned for the Iksar to follow. Kaybal had to walk faster than usual to keep up with the Sarnak’s long stride.
They journeyed down a few streets, until they came to an otherwise unassuming door in an otherwise unassuming street, which Jaukoehai unlocked with a key. Kaybal stepped inside, and Jaukoehai shut the door behind them.
The inside of the house was a bit dusty, and one would get the feeling that the owner tries to keep things preserved just as they are. It was a rather cozy place. There was a fireplace and a dining table, with a chair clearly suited to Sarnak physiology. There was also a cooking station, and some shelves with several ships in bottles. Kaybal walked over and started inspecting the ships.
“One of my brother’s hobbies.” Jaukoehai said, leaning against a wall.
“I know.” Kaybal replied, still inspecting the bottled ships. They were clearly built by an amateur.
Jaukoehai chuckled. “They aren't very good. But that’s part of what was nice about my brother. He didn't care if he was very good at it, he just enjoyed doing it. I can respect that.”
Kaybal nodded, still staring at the ships.
Jaukoehai cleared his throat. “Out back there’s a sort of backyard thing. It’s got a garden he used to tend, and a sort of sparring area for me. I tried to maintain his garden when he left, but it turns out I kind of suck at it, so I hired a Feir’dal to come in twice a week. Down those stairs is the study, would you like to see it?”
Kaybal pulled himself away from the display of ships. “Oh, yes please.”
Without another word, Jaukoehai walked down the stairs, and Kaybal followed close behind. The far wall of the room was lined with bookshelves, with books on a wide array of subjects. There was also a Kelethin style desk covered in scrolls, and a great number of small tinkered gadgets. The only other thing in the room was a Gorowyn chair.
“He did love to tinker.” Jaukoehai said, looking at the desk. “It’s funny, I don't know what half this stuff is. Frankly, I doubt he did either. He loved to tinker, but he was rubbish with maths. Whenever he had to perform anything but the most basic equation, he’d come to me for help.”
Kaybal reached for one of the gadgets, but Jaukoehai stopped him.
“Don't touch anything. I’m pretty sure a lot of those are sensitive, and a few might explode.”
Kaybal nodded and pulled his hand away. “Did he write songs here?”
“Yes, I think so. He would hum away incessantly at that desk, it drove me mad. His bedroom is upstairs, if you’d like to see that.”
Kaybal glanced over and nodded, a little too consumed in thought to say much. He ascended the stairs after Jaukoehai, and up a second flight, into a hall with two doors. Jaukoehai opened the one on the left, revealing a rather nice room. The bed was truly impressive. The frame was composed of ice, and the sheets looked like they had been woven from little strands of ice. There were icicles all over the room, and many frosty decorations.
“He liked it cold. I never really understood why.” Jaukoehai said.
Kaybal’s eyes were drawn toward two altars, one to Mithaniel Marr, the other to Erollisi Marr. The gods his grandfather served faithfully, and likely still does, up in the Plane of Valor.
Jaukoehai smiled and leaned against the doorway. “I used to tell him that his devotion to Marr was almost Froglok like.”
Kaybal glanced over. “You don't follow Marr, too?”
“I acknowledge him as the original source of the Paladin way, but no, I follow the Tribunal. I find their sense of true justice very appealing.”
Kaybal nodded, and started rifling through a few journals in the room.
“Why didn't you come to me, Kaybal?” Jaukoehai asked quietly. “You knew I was here, in Qeynos. I could have helped you get in, get to safety.”
Surprised, Kaybal turned. “I… I didn't think you liked me very much.”
“Well… Grandfather told me you disapproved of his choosing to love an Iksar woman, and really disapproved of him having children with one. I thought you’d want nothing to do with me.”
There was another silence between the two.
“I did disapprove.” Jaukoehai said softly. “I believed that love was simply a liability for people like him and me, and that choosing an Iksar was simply foolish. Over time… over time I realized that love, real love, can be a wonderful thing. It can be a blessing and a liability, and we don't always choose it. Sometimes it chooses us.”
“So, you don't disapprove of me? You don't disapprove of Grandfather training me?”
“My brother was a good man. The best to walk Norrath. The fact that he felt you worthy to pass on his experience to is all the endorsement you will ever need for me, Kaybal.”
Kaybal smiled at Jaukoehai. “Thank you.”
“Listen, Kaybal. The circumstances surrounding my creation are complicated. I know we’re not technically related, even though my brother was your grandfather. But if you, well, if you need anything at all--” Jaukoehai’s voice broke, and he took a moment to center himself. When he spoke again, his voice was still wavering. “Your mother is dead, your aunt has gone half feral and wanders the frozen wastes, and your sister has fallen. You’re all I have left of my brother, Kaybal.”
Kaybal felt a rush of sympathy, and walked over. The two armoured figures clasped each other in a long, tight hug. For the first time in a long while, a tear fell from Jaukoehai’s shockingly purple eyes.
A few days later…
Kaybal glanced down at the moonlight fields of the Commonlands from high atop a phoenix. He clung to Jaukoehai, the owner of said phoenix, for dear life.
“I changed my mind, I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Jaukoehai grinned, flashing rows of razor sharp teeth. “Oh, trust me, this is a great idea. I might not be a big damn hero, but I can tell you a few things about being one. Lesson one: a hero can’t be afraid of heights, falling off them, or jumping off them to smite evil. Lesson two: Only the strongest enemies ever look up. Their grunts never do. Now hang on tight, and don’t make noise until we hit the floor!”
Jaukoehai nudged the phoenix forward, and it went into a dive. Kaybal squeezed the armoured Sarnak tight, trying not to yell as they dove. Just as it seemed the phoenix was about to hit the ground, it pulled up and spun around. Jaukoehai grabbed Kaybal as they fell off the saddle and flipped, landing on his feet and depositing Kaybal gently on the ground.
The Freeport Militia patrol they landed in the middle of seemed quite shocked, and didn’t have much time to react as the Sarnak and Iksar pulled out their weapons and attacked.
Ongoing roleplay and fiction.
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