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


(I’m nervous writing such a long worldbuilding passage, but here goes!)

The Paladin Cult is comparatively new religion, and thus lacks the storied cultus of older, established ecclesiarchies. Pontiff Zohran, a former official of the Firewalkers (the Flamekeeper being one of the gods responsible for the Paladin’s ascendancy) and first Pontiff of the Paladin Cult set some ordinances down in his widely copied and distributed work ‘This New Era: The Ascendancy of Man.’ This human-centric interpretation of the Paladin’s godhood and war-ending displays of might was quickly rebutted by dozens of religious figures of the other divines, but the perception of the Paladin as a uniquely human deity has remained in public perception, if not in the Paladin’s actual deeds or words (though at least one human has ascended to godhood before, and the origins of many of the divines are not clear).
Worship this close to the Paladin is very different than might be found in a newly erected shrine to him, being more focused on venerating his deeds and words than sermonizing on what his deeds and words might mean. A number of artifacts from his life are housed in a large, but plainly decorated sanctum. Meditation begins at sunrise, and worshippers begin their journey with a solumn prayer to the divines while gazing upon the standard of the 3rd West Army. It is but a ragged blue cloth, but it symbolizes the thousands of men and women who perished before Chonchubar’s eyes on the day his cry of pain and righteous wroth and sorrow pierced the spirits of the gods.
Oh divines, hear our cry, turn away from our sorrow no more, breathe once more into your servant… The full prayer is about ten minutes long, but is typically repeated five times.
The middle of the day is Lessendrumea, a somewhat more lively ceremony that parallels the Paladin’s victories and especially his stunning defeat of the War Fury Lessendrum, who he put to a deep sleep with a soothing song, and saved many thousands of lives without any violence at all. A small number of sacred hymns are sung, and a short account of the encounter is spoken in a responsive reading. The story encourages his followers to be both brave and gracious, as well as calling upon his power to help them to become so.

Sundown is a time for the ringing of the White Bell, an extremely facinating artifact used in the Paladin’s most powerful cleansing rituals. It does not carry any particular power outside of his hands, but the sound is both painful and beautiful to hear, and many cannot stand to hear it without covering their ears. After it is rung, and the sound finally dies out, some excerpts of the Paladin’s most famous speeches against evil are read. The warning that followers of the good should be always vigilant, is the final word of the night.

Aulexis’ favorite time is the White Bell ceremony. She enjoys the searing pain of the bell, and likes hearing about fighting evil.


This is amazing!


Aulexis raises one fine eyebrow at the news. She had wondered for a moment if it was somehow related to her, as she could be charged with murder many times over, but besides the ragged orc from town there shouldn’t be anything for evidence or eyewitnesses outside her own former crew.

As it is, she’s quite pleased by her investment into Warran’s personal life. It is already paying dividends, but she realises that looking interested and pleased is probably unnatural. She gives a mechanical frown.
“Wasn’t Diana in theatre? It seems odd that such a person should be the target of violence…”
Why not wait until she dies naturally? Surely it couldn’t have been far off… A couple decades at maximum? She thinks privately.


Warran comments pensively, “Archibald did say one of Diana’s last projects did not perform well… Perhaps, she had debts which were not paid and paid the ultimate price… Who is to say, but one thing is for certain, it looks like we are going to be heading to Inchwick. It was a good thing you convinced those merchants to head to where we stashed the boat and have them tow it back here to the castle Aulexis!”

(That is if we came back on the ship… If we came back on land that last part would say, “It looks like we came back with the caravan!”)


Jarek is still unsettled by the news of Diana’s death. While Warran and Aulexis look to her work as possible motive, Jarek’s mind goes to the cube. His experience in theater is limited, but musicians talk. From what he had heard, kidnapping and ransom were usually the tactics used when a theatrical deal had gone sour or an intense rivalry escalated, not murder. At least back home…

When they were called together, Jarek was looking forward to a break in the routine and to spend time with his companions again. After hearing about Diana’s death, Jarek is uneasy about the trip to Inchwick, but his curiosity about her, the cube and her relationship with Warran ultimately gets the better of him. Why would she be sending something to Warran? What would she be sending to him? He notices the subtle shift in Aulexis’s expression and tries to adopt an appropriately somber attitude.

“When do we leave?”


(Both Kaelin and Simon stated that they went back with the caravan precisely for that reason)


(( By this stage, a second dinghy is about halfway complete and boatmen are being recruited from the mainland to run the ferry for those who need to leave the island, but you have a way across, as close to at will as a ferry service allows! ))

The bailiff squints at the letter before handing it back to Warran “Can’t see anything about it in here, can you? Guess you can go when you want, but probably sooner than later.”


Kaelin figures that there’s no point in delaying. “Unless anyone’s got sonething immediate to attend to, shall Simon and I get the boat ready whilst someone else sees the quartermaster to pick up a couple days of supplies?”


“I have nothing pressing at the moment. I currently do not have any irons in the fire…” Warran pauses briefly to see if anyone gets the joke and then continues, “I will go and see to the supplies.”


Jarek eagerly goes with Warran to help with supplies in hopes of swiping an extra roll from the kitchens.


Simon goes to triple check the improvements he has made to the boat…


The baker pretends to not notice as his bakers dozen is reduced to a simple dozen rolls.


Jarek brushes the crumbs off of his chest and takes the rations that he has gathered (and not eaten) to the boat.

“Simon, do you need help with anything?”


The boat skips across the bay - the boatman is a fine sailor and he delivers you safely to the quay built especially for you on the Southwestern outskirts of Kingsport, close to the marsh and in a quiet, village-like neighbourhood.

It is mid morning when you arrive and the walk to Inchwick is a few hours by road. “I’ll check the quay every odd hour” The boatman says, “Til it gets dark, but if you want me sooner, that’s my house there” he points to the closest house to the quay “My wife will light a bloody big fire if you ask and I’ll come straight over!”


“Not really, how are you feeling about the water?”


“Who supplies you with wood for the fires?”


“Whoever’s cheapest, but we can’t afford delivery, we bring it from the market”


“Whose normally cheapest?”


He shrugs “Don’t really go to the market to socialise, you know, don’t really ask names. Usually the cheaper they are, the louder they yell about it, so just pin your ears back and I bet you a groat, the first bugger you hear yelling about firewood is the cheapest that day”.


Aulexis seems to be sporting something new on the journey, a small wooden disk with a hole in the center, with words engraved around the edge, with a thick rough rope looping it around her elbow. Those who are familiar with the paladin’s religion would know that this is a prayer disc, a minor (powerless) talisman that devotees carve with a prayer for safety or success.

She’s in good spirits, in both the voyage and the arrival at Kingsport, though she isn’t particularily talkative until arrival on land.

“You’ve got a one track mind, Simon. What could possibly interest you about firewood-grade wood?”