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The Paladin’s Secret - A Play By Forum game of The Burning Wheel



Tell us a bit more about Geldard, who is he, how do you know his name?


Jarek walks around inspecting the the theaters, taking in the crowds and discreetly looking for the crest from Diana’s wagon or anything that resembles the cube. He casts a sideways glance at Aulexis to see how comfortable she seems in this very different crowd.

Middle of the day. This isn’t where the real action is. I wonder how she would handle ducking into the back alleys.

Jarek starts looking around for the entrance to the alleys behind the theaters were performers and stage hands would be preparing for the afternoon performances.


Geldard, also known as Geldard Grey on account of his impressive grey beard, is a sorcerer who on random occasions briefly taught at the school Warran studied at. His primary areas of academic interest was the study of enchantments and magical artefacts with a high interest in meaning and symbology in relation to specific usages. The talk among the students was he always seemed to appear when he seemed to be needed; and over time, appeared to show up on somewhat of a regular schedule. Though he was keen to share knowledge with the students, he was a very private person, and many speculated on who he was and where he went when he was not teaching at the school. Some theories were: he was a personal consultant to the Paladin in regards to all things magical and so had to leave when summoned; others thought he was a talent scout for the Sorcerer’s Association; a small faction thought he was really an elf disguised as a human, or possibly the child of a human and elf, who went to live with elves when not at the school; but there were those, especially among the other faculty, who thought of him as a flaky, eccentric, vagabond who, like a stray cat, showed up for some free room and board when he needed it. Not once in his time at school had Warran ever hear anyone speculate he was part of the Explorers Guild. His age and exact origins were never really specified, but he was an older man who would be found walking about the school starting at the physical building itself on many occasions.

Warran first encountered Geldard a few years after he began his studies at the sorcery school and true to form Geldard was only around for a few years before leaving abruptly. Warran remembered him as a very intelligent and capable sorcerer but always seemed to have his mind pre-occupied with something. Warran sat in on a series of lectures presented by Geldard on ‘The Enchantment of Everyday Items Through Symbolic Embedment’ which he found interesting and had personally asked the sorcerer some questions on the subject.

At this moment, Warran is curious with Geldard Grey’s connection with the guild, and if they know he is a sorcerer. He would not want to accidentally reveal any information which might be private. Perhaps, Geldard lead different lives, or maybe was absent-minded enough that he thought the notion of mentioning the Explorers Guild was a trivial fact.


“Oh, Geldard, well he doesn’t have residence here, but he’s in from time to time to listen to talks from our members. I can take a message for him if you wish. If you can get a letter of recommendation from a member, then you can probably bypass the entire waiting to acquire a mentor stage because presumably that member would mentor you.”


The larger theatres charge for admission to their back yards to watch rehearsals, and there are often a group of urchins hanging around peering through holes in the fences. Sadly, there is absolutely no sign of any insignias that look familiar to you, or refer to the cube, but plenty of back allys to explore if you wish.


Warran looks to Kaelin with an assuring smile and then says to the receptionist, “Well, I think I will fill out that application and write a quick note for Geldard… Then I believe we probably should like to see the Library. Could you provide us with the admission forms? Also, I know some organizations prefer notes and memorandums to be written on their standard stationery, but if that is not the case for the Guild, I have my own I can use…”


The elderly man shrugs and just motions for the door to the library, a large brass door that looks heavy.

“I’m not one for paperwork, do what you want for your admission, if you think fancy paper’ll make your application stand out, then who am I to try to persuade you otherwise. Just behave yourself in there if you want to return fully functional.”


Warran looks to his companion(companions? I am not sure where Simon is at…) and says to the receptionist, “Thank you very kindly for your help. After we are done in the library I will turn in my application and the note for Geldard.”

He then will head to the heavy looking, large brass door of the library…


Simon is hanging around the harbour. (I believe this is a Shenmue reference?)


Kaelin follows in Warran’s wake. Getting the scholar access to a trove of books and knowledge was the main point of the exercise, but he is curious as to what Warran does next and the odd remarks made by the receptionist with regards to the library.


The door is extremely heavy, but opens easily at a light touch. It is mounted to what can only be described as the frame of the library.

Inside, you can see that the entire library fits inside a relatively small cube, and almost all the space is taken up by ten large bookshelves. There are no tables, no seats, just the bookshelves and the aisles between them. Each bookshelf is made from the same brass as the door, as are the walls and floor and everywhere you look, you see the signs of mechanisms, channels for things to slide down, hatches for things to pop out of the walls, and so on. The ceiling is bathed in shadow as the lanterns, which flicker a warm white light quite unlike a flame, reflect it all downwards and the room thrums with energy that you can feel and hear at the far ranges of your hearing, a low throbbing that charges the air.

A youngish man is browsing one of the shelves, he pulls at a book and it is delivered held firmly in it’s own bronze and copper frame, but still attached to the shelves. As the man pulls at the book, the frame tilts it to a perfect reading angle, and the man unfolds it like a butterfly to access the pages of the book.

(( Do let me know if you are following what I am trying to describe, I’ve got a touch of tachycardia and it’s uncomfortable to say the least, and definitely affecting my writing today! ))

The man proceeds to read his book, standing in front of the shelf.


(I certainly have a picture of what that looks like, and it seems reasonable in a marvellous steampunk inspired way. But with less steam of course, as that would damage the books)


Steam engines do exist and are strange, noisy, marvellous inventions that have revolutionised mining on the continent of Veil. Their construction is a closely guarded secret. This is not one of them, but you are absolutely correct, that was the feeling I was going for!


(Yeah, I think I am understanding what you are getting at. I am getting an image of a steampunk type library, very bright with a “mystery” upper area, with books housed in a display stand which is attached to the bookcase.)

Warran whispers over his shoulder very quietly, “This library appears small… Surely, they have more books than this. Keep a lookout, there could be bookshelves coming from any direction at any moment by my guess… Also, it appears the books are connected to the bookshelves to prevent them from leaving the library… I could be wrong about all of this though…”

Warran casually observes the man reading for about 5 minutes, to seek information on how the library works before approaching the closest bookshelf, paying attention to his surroundings all the while…


Aulexis is looking around curiously as she follows Jarek. Her father rarely shared his personal opinions, but he once said “The theater… Is not an efficient use of time.” Which was about as damning a condemnation as she ever heard from him. What made this especially suspicious was that this was offered as a suitable response to ‘who is my mother?’ No other information, naturally, was forthcoming.

She tries to catch the sounds of practicing instruments and singers. She’s always loved music, so she’s as keen as Jarek to get closer to the action.

“Do you want to see inside?” Aulexis looks at the fence. “Perhaps there’s another way in down one of these alleys.”


While there are ten bookshelves in this library, not all of them are filled, there are six with every space taken up and the seventh is nearing half full, but this is it. You also notice that the books are all members personal writings, and most are heavily censored. This is the public facing library of the guild and it seems that while they share some knowledge freely to the outside world, they only share what they themselves have written and even then, keep their secrets carefully.


Warran regards the bright brass fixtures and approaches the bookshelf closest to him. He will start scanning the titles of the books and look for any with regards to: magic, effects of magic on humans, magical artifacts, the silent forest, Castle Fyrestpool, Fynnon Island, written in elvish script, and marsh elves. He also keeps an eye out for any works written by Geldard or any other of the great master sorcerers…


Jarek contemplates the choice. He is curious about the workings of the theaters here in general, but is unsure which one he wants to investigate more. Jarek knows the pre performance habits of musicians and that the chaotic hubbub that precedes any performance might give them cover to sneak in.

“Let’s go into the alleys and see if either theater has a stage door that isn’t closely watched. Keep an eye out. I heard of theaters at home with secret doors that blend into the walls so that dignitaries in the audience could come and go without being seen or bothered by the crowds.”


Warran doesn’t find any books ostensibly about magic at all, and there is nothing about Fynnon or Castle Fyrestpool or the Marsh Elves. Nor are there any books here by any sorcerers, at least none that you know by name. There are plenty written in Elvish and one on the Silent Forest.


Jarek, go ahead and give me an inconspicuous roll, let’s leave it open - no target Ob, so that we get a sense of which he might consider unguarded.