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Atherton distances himself from the conversation briefly to flip through a handful of little note cards, then hops up
on the stage, setting one foot on the stool and leaning on his knee. 'Hello and welcome, all, thank you for your
gracious attention. Allow me to apologize in advance for the dreadful nature of the tale you are about to hear,
which, I hope, will not discolor the rest of your day.'.
Rannas tells Maribel, 'The soup and rice was something another trainee in the basement recommended me.' he stops
suddenly, looking to you.
Atherton pauses to let the conversation subside naturally.
Maribel nods towards Rannas, then she turns and gives all her attention to you.
Jessemine mumbles to herself in the back 'Oh he's nervous'.
Caylin nods at you.
Atherton nods. 'Without further ado, then. The Deep City of Uruz.'.
Atherton steeples his fingers, pointing them downwards, as he considers how to begin. 'The Deep City of Uruz is a
myth - or I pray that it is, for the alternative is terrible to imagine. I should note that a few scholars do not
share my belief, and the mad prophet Haruch for one was certain that it would return.' He shakes his head. 'When you
have heard my tale, you will pray to your gods that it does not.'.
Atherton closes his eyes for a moment, and then begins his tale. 'Luur was a prosperous town, built on a deep,
sheltered harbor, and blessed with good fishing and trade from kingdoms far and near. Children played in the streets
without fear, and the people were happy.'.
Atherton gestures vaguely off into the distance. 'One morning, a fisherman was out in his boat, throwing in his nets,
when a massive golden fish surfaced next to him and opened its mouth. Within stood a man, human by appearance, but as
beautiful and graceful as the elves, clad in cloth of purest white.'.
Atherton smiles, though the effect is not entirely pleasant. 'The man showed by gestures that he lived under the
waves. When he saw the fisherman's talisman, a necklace his wife had made to bring him luck at sea, he offered in
trade a huge pearl.' He makes a fist to demonstrate its size. 'Knowing this treasure would set his family up for a
lifetime, the fisherman took it without a second thought. The stranger disappeared back under the waves, and the
fisherman forgot his nets and sailed straight home.'.
Atherton nods. 'The fisherman's tale spread like wildfire through the town, and even the doubters were forced to
believe him when two of the giant fish appeared in the harbor, bearing four of the beautiful strangers. The town
watched in wonder as they wandered about.' He holds out a hand, as if offering something. 'From time to time they
would trade a fantastic treasure - a cluster of pearls like grapes, a beautiful golden shell encrusted with gems -
for a trinket of sentimental significance but no real value.'.
Atherton's expression becomes serious. 'But not everyone was enthusiastic. A wizard who lived in a tower outside of
Luur said that through his art he had seen their city, which had appeared at the bottom of the sea not far away.' He
shakes his head. 'The wizard claimed that the city was at the same time just off shore from several other coastal
ports in distant kingdoms, which is of course impossible. He gave dire warnings, and stirred up the populace against
Rannas remains quiet as he listens, shifting a bit more comfortably into the pillow.
Atherton looks down for a moment, then back up. 'Afterward the townsfolk admitted that there was something strange
about the visitors. They were too perfectly serene, showing neither joy nor displeasure - until one of the visitors
happened across a small child with a doll.' He hesitates, as if unsure he wants to finish the story.
Jessemine quietly as possible moves a few more rows closer to the front leaning forward in her seat.
Atherton makes up his mind and continues. 'As before, the stranger offered a priceless gemstone from the depths of
the ocean. But the child did something no one else had dared: she refused.' He closes his eyes for a moment. 'The
mysterious visitors, in one accord, turned and went back to the harbor. They stepped into the water and disappeared.'
Atherton shakes his head. 'The wizard said later that the city had disappeared from the sea floor - not only here,
but everywhere. There was no trace of it to be found. For a fortnight, the people looked for the mysterious visitors
to return, and finally gave up hope.' His face twists slightly. 'Too soon did they forget.'.
The smell of old books wafts through the halls.
Atherton slowly begins to pace. 'It was evening, and the fishermen were returning with their haul. The townsfolk
watched the boats come in, as they always did, so many eyes saw the black jaws reach up out of the sea and close over
one of the boats, dragging it whole beneath the waves.' He clasps his hands together like teeth dragging down a ship.
Maribel gasps in a suitably shocked tone at your story.
Atherton grimaces. 'It was the fisherman who had first met the visitors from Uruz. And, woe to his widow, he had
insisted on keeping the priceless pearl on his person. They were bereft and destitute.' He shook his head sadly. 'And
Luur still knew little of the horror that was about to befall.'.
Jessemine glances at Maribel.
Atherton's shoulders are bowed, as if under the weight of the burden he is about to reveal. 'The fishing boats were
grounded the next day, but there was no sign of the sea monster. As the townsfolk milled about the town uncertainly,
there was a tremor.' He jerks slightly, involuntarily. 'Shapeless -things- of some sort of black, tar-like substance,
smelling of dead fish, began to ooze from wells and pipes around the town.'.
Jessemine listens in on the tale intently.
Rannas shakes his head slowly, while picking off pieces of banana nut bread to snack on, listening attentively to
Caylin hangs on every word.
Atherton picks up the pace a little, narration becoming short and clipped. 'Terror spread as the foul sludge engulfed
one person after another. The wizard used every spell he knew, but none had any effect on the plague, and at last he
retreated, leaving the town to its fate.' His face is set in a grim expression. 'From his tower, he watched in his
scrying pool as the town sank into a roiling darkness.'.
Atherton takes a breath. 'Then he saw two survivors. It was a mother and child, the little girl, still clinging to
Atherton continues. 'The darkness swarmed over the two, tearing the mother away, and then retreated, leaving an open
space around the girl in the center of town. Through his glass the wizard could see her lips moving, and her
tear-stained face, but could not hear her words.'.
Atherton looks down at his hands, then back up. 'The putrid darkness split, opening a path to the sea, and the wizard
watched her disappear into the waves. The slurping ichor followed her down.' His voice lowers. 'She was never seen
Atherton pauses for a moment to let the words settle, then continues. 'Around the same time period, there are several
scattered records of port towns being wiped out in mysterious catastrophes, but so far distant it took three hundred
years for a historian to make the connections.'.
Caylin closes his mouth and wipes mist from his eyes.
Atherton shrugs, trying to make his tone more cheerful. 'But beyond that coincidence, the only witness to the tale I
have told you was the mad wizard Haruch, and his later dalliances with the Far Realms make his tale unreliable at
Atherton sits down on the stool, folding his hands and bowing his head, tale at an end.
Jessemine nods at you.
Jessemine peers intently about the area.
Caylin rises from his rest.
Caylin claps his hands together.
Caylin gives a round of applause.
Maribel hops up and claps for you, 'Oh, that WAS a chilling tale! And what became of the girl? Maybe she turned
into one of those creepy people, living in their city at the bottom of the sea. MAYBE it was a reward for her lack
of greed!' She considers thoughtfully, 'There's SO many possibilities! And what if the city returned? What if it
came in another form, too? I guess if a deal is 'too good to be true', you'd better watch out!'.
Jessemine leans back in her chair.
You have been rewarded by Maribel!
A stately and austere female human walks in from the west.
Rannas claps for you, 'That was a good story. Why did the girl walk into the water?'.
You have been rewarded by Rannas!
You have been rewarded by Jessemine!
A stately and austere female human pauses in the doorway in silence then tsk good-naturedly against her teeth, 'Ach,
I missed it, eh.'.
Maribel points her umbrella towards Rannas, 'That's the whole point of the story, you. It's supposed to be a mystery
why she walked into the water.'.
Jessemine nods at A stately and austere female human.
Atherton nods appreciatively. To Maribel, he adds, 'Some versions of the legend say that she became the child-queen
of the terrible city... others that she was a sacrifice for some black god. But I fear we cannot know for certain.'.
Jessemine waves to A stately and austere female human.
Rannas nods to Maribel, 'You're right.' he looks up to A stately and austere female human and lifts a hand to wave, '
Rannas looks at A stately and austere female human.
Maribel nods towards you, 'Right? Or maybe ... Both! She rules the city as an endless sacrificial offering from the
land above the waves, and woe betide us all should she falter in her duties. They would rise above the water and
seal our doom.'.
Caylin looks at A stately and austere female human.
Maribel puts just the right amount of mysterious warble on the word 'doom' .
Caylin says to A stately and austere female human 'Welcome, a shame you missed it.'
Atherton nods apologetically to A stately and austere female human. 'I'm terribly sorry, yes. But I'll see if I can
arrange for a printed copy, if you're interested, Lady...' he hesitates on the name.
A stately and austere female human snorts quietly and shakes her head to you, 'I'm no' a... well. I am, but dinnae
call me that. Aoife.'.
A stately and austere female human greets you.
Caylin smirks at the emphasis on the word doom.
Rannas sits up straight where he is, 'It was a good story.'.
Atherton dips his head. 'Aoife it is, then, good to make your acquaintance. I'll talk to the scribes here and be sure
to get you a copy.'.