Chronicler Norvus is a human, fiftyish, with a neatly trimmed moustache and a full head of short brown hair. He is tall and narrow, and dressed in expensive robes that look odd in this rustic setting. It looks even more odd because he’s waving a bread knife around, trying to look threatening.
Eomer is unfazed by the haphazard threat, “I read your book”, he says, matter-of-factly.
The look on Norvus’ face shifts from alarm to confusion, “You translated the book? Remarkable!”
He then lifts a loaf of bread out of Levim’s basket and cuts it with the knife he’s holding. One hand plunges into the robe and emerges with a few copper coins, which he deposits into the boy’s hand. Levim, thus paid, scurries out without a word.
Norvus is wearing a sly grin, “You know there’s a reward if you show them the book at the archives.”
Norvus is a bit more cautious now, “Good, good. I hope you enjoyed the… stories.”
Now Norvus is annoyed. Why has this man gone to so much trouble to track him down if he doesn’t have anything to say? He frowns, “So you’ve come here to make fun of me? Perhaps you want me to sign the book for you?”
Eomer shakes his head, “You made reference to the Mage’s Archives…”
“Ah! So that’s what you’re after. Well, come in here”, and with that he takes his bread and moves into the dinning room to enjoy his meal. “So you’re looking for the Mage’s Archives? You don’t look like a wizard. You a wizard hunter so something?”
Norvus looks dismayed, “Then what are you doing here young man?”
“Like I said, I’m looking for the Mage…”
“Yes. Well, I have no idea where it is. In my studies I tried to locate it, but I was unsuccessful. “
“What did you find?”
Norvus takes another bite of buttered bread, “Some interesting things, actually. While I was traveling in the north, gathering… folklore for my book, I was in Fort Bolland (this was before the war of couse) and they let me into the library. I was granted entry under the pretense of gathering folklore, but when I got the chance I snuck into their private library, which is closed to outsiders. I didn’t get a lot of time in there, just a glimpse. There were indeed references to the Mage’s Archives. I planned on going back at a later time, and seeing if I could learn more, but then the war came. It was a safe bet that the Lormanite army wouldn’t welcome a fussy old man visiting their capital city just so he can read their books. After the city fell, I returned to see that the building – the library I mean – had been burned to the ground. I can only assume those books are lost forever. Nevertheless, I believe the Lormanites may still know where the Archives can be found.”
He pauses to butter another slab of freshly-baked bread before he continues, “It may have been on their half of the island. Perhaps they still have access to it. Perhaps that is why their magic is so strong.” He reflects for a moment, “Although… it wasn’t very strong this time around. Perhaps it isn’t on their side of the island.”
Eomer asks, “Would the prince know?”
Norvus shrugs, “I suppose he might have. Of course, I’ve heard the entire Lorman family was wiped out when Fort Bolland fell.”
Eomer nods without commenting on the prince. “Would Sagemaster Teerin know where to find the Mage’s Archives?”
“Oooh. Interesting”, Norvus says thoughtfully.
In fact, a lot of this conversation was unexpected. I thought that Enoch, who translated the book, was the most likely party member to talk to Norvus if any of them did. I thought perhaps they would all come and see him. I never guessed Eomer would go alone.
Norvus continues, “It’s hard to say. His relationship with the guild has always been a bit strained. He’s never approved of their morality-neutral outlook. He’s certainly one of the world’s strongest users of magic, and he does deal with the guild from time to time. But would they tell him the location of their secret library on Mar Tesaro? Would he be able to divine the location on his own? I don’t know.”
Then Eomer changes the subject, “Why were you exiled?”
“Well, at the time I advocated the position that the folklore in my book is true.”
“Why didn’t they kill you?”
Norvus looks sly, “Because I’m a harmless old man and because I recanted.”
“That doesn’t sound like Queen Alidia, though”, Eomer observes.
Norvus sighs, “She’s not completely heartless, you know.”
“How many people get in to see her?”
“Oh, nobody. Nobody.”
“Was there anyone else that believed the way you do?”
“No. At least, nobody of any influence on Mar Tesaro. Which is why I wrote the book. I was hoping someone outside of the Alidians would see the story. I think the story speaks for itself for those not clouded by the curse.”
Eomer asks, “This curse… thing. With the mountain. Why do you believe it, when nobody else does?”
“It’s pure conjecture, but I would guess that it’s because I’ve never taken any of the riches of Khelberg. I’ve never profited from the mining here. So, I don’t think the curse is affecting my judgement.”
Eomer raises an eyebrow. This seems strange that Norvus could live here all these years and not take any money.
Norvus explains, “My family is quite wealthy. I have lived on my own reserves since arriving, so I’ve never taken part in the curse. Once someone takes the riches of the mountain, the curse is on them.”
Eomer ponders this, “Even second hand? Like if some farmer sells his food to someone who has gold or whatever from the mountain…”
Norvus looks grim, “I don’t know how it works. Some people – like the leaders, for example – are obsessed, greedy, and often paranoid. They become enraged if you even suggest that the legends are true. Others are annoyed at the stories. Others simply laugh. I don’t understand it myself.”
Eomer thinks about this for a moment, “So you’re saying that the people under the curse don’t believe it, but people not under the curse do?”
Norvus sighs, “I don’t know if I would think of it that way. Try this: People under the curse are driven to acquire more treasure from the mountain, right? We know this to be true. We also know that they hate and distrust others that try to do the same. This breeds conflict and war, which is the whole point of the curse.”
“Okay”, says Eomer, nodding carefully.
“So, their own actions seem perfectly reasonable to themselves, but an outsider can see they are being irrational, or at least taking their greed to an extreme. Someone under the curse won’t believe in it, because it doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t feel like they are being unreasonable. They don’t feel cursed.”
Eomer nods, “I think I get it.” Then he changes the subject again, “Have you seen the sky?”
“What? Yes. Why?”
It turns out that years of sitting in the dark writing books have taken their toll on Norvus’ eyesight. He can’t see the dark cloud to the north, so Eomer describes it. He tells Norvus that Mordan is free.
There is a long silence. Sun streams in through the small windows of the farmhouse. The moring is slipping away. It will be midday soon. The fire in Norvus’ hearth has gone out and the spent wood sits smouldering under his forgotten teakettle.
At last Norvus nods, as if coming to a decision, “I guess I’d better pack.”
Mass Effect Retrospective
A novel-sized analysis of the Mass Effect series that explains where it all went wrong. Spoiler: It was long before the ending.
A programming project where I set out to make a Minecraft-style world so I can experiment with Octree data.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
WAY back in 2005, I wrote about a D&D campaign I was running. The campaign is still there, in the bottom-most strata of the archives.