There might be some sort of metaphor to be made of that, Valonia mused. Something about punishment being easier to find than honor, and there being no set path to it… but she didn’t have much time to dwell on it, especially not during her journey. Enough goblins lurked nearby that they posed dangers to lone travelers, especially if said traveler went off the paths. Orcish mages lay in wait as well, protected by buildings of stone. There were also reapers in the forests, along with venomous spiders. (“If it bites you and you die, it is venomous,” she recalled. “If you bite it and you die, it is poisonous.”)
Yet of all the dangers along her way, what troubled her most was the sight of bandits and magi that had overtaken old outposts. These had not been the first groups she had seen throughout Britannia. Not the first others had seen either. Valonia should not have been surprised, as that was the reason she had come this way. She had been informed that there were dangers along this route, after all. But how had so many people found unity in a cause of ruin rather than of restoration? How were there enough people to outnumber any would-be guards?
These questions and others weighed on her mind until long after she had reached her destination: the city of Trinsic.
According to the stories Valonia had heard, the Avatar had restored Trinsic’s Honor by showing people that honor resided within themselves, not a cup or a symbol -- and that was all well and good. Such stories were meant to inspire. But the reality that Valonia struggled with was what to do when one had not measured up, when one had lost their honor. Her own past was difficult enough (the shame of which was keeping her from reestablishing connections with her family), but she had recently learned of some of the things that had happened in Yew during the recent dark times. The Courts had sentenced people to prison and death by fire? Hanging? Banishment to Wrong to likely die while awaiting further punishment? How could one come back from that?
Valonia had (perhaps naively) assumed other people had been above that sort of thing, and that the flaws of her past were an exception rather than the norm. But now that she knew… where was she supposed to go from here? Where was anyone supposed to go from here? Yew was not the only place that had been affected, so these questions applied to all the cities. But it weighed extra heavily on her mind because of her connections with Yew, and the city’s supposed dedication to Justice. She did not know whether the recompense would fall under the sphere of Justice or Honor, but it was clear to her that a debt was owed.
Though the columns had affected the behavior of people, the destruction of the columns did not mitigate the harms done during that time. Simply realizing a wrong didn’t negate or absolve it, and the supposed mind-control did not mean no harm had been done. The Avatar had “solved” matters, yes, but his actions did not change that other actions had happened. So how culpable were the people involved? Had they simply not possessed the fortitude to resist? Had those who perpetrated the wrongs been punished? Had actions even been taken? If not, would actions be taken?
But what punishment or payment or recompense could be paid to make up for what had been done? Valonia simply did not know. Not in regards to her own past, or that of Yew. She had thought on the matter a long time, and still had no answers.
It briefly occurred to her that since she was in Trinsic it would be a convenient time to go around speaking to the Trinsicians about their views about Honor. Why, if she were feeling particularly inquisitive, she might even ask the paladins what they felt was the best path to restoring it. But doing such things seemed a rather… novice adventurer thing to do, as far as she could see. And while she might have been curious on what others might have said, she believed that it was ultimately her own responsibility think through these matters, not depend on the advice of random strangers. If there was anything that could be done, she needed to earn it herself. Her moral development was not the burden of others. Besides, who was she to go around demanding answers from people on their possibly deeply held philosophical beliefs, just to supplement her own?
She shook her head to herself, driving those thoughts from her mind, to focus on the task at hand. She was not in Trinsic to bandy about the idea of the Quest of the Avatar. She was here to seek other answers.
Where were the bandits coming from anyway? From the Cities? From Buccaneer’s Den? For that matter, where had the magi come from? Even if they were all part of the Cult of Tyball, how had that Cult gathered so many to them? Surely these people could be tracked somehow, some evidence of their recruitment discovered. Within the cities, surely someone would have noticed friends and neighbors leaving. Though they might think nothing of it in the moment, they might recall it later if questioned. Or perhaps some local business may have noticed fewer customers?...
The reason Valonia had started in Trinsic specifically was not because she thought Trinsicians ran off to be pirates (though that was not outside the realm of possibility), but rather because the population resided within walls. That made entry and egress a little more trackable than in a city like Britain.
In short, it was an easy place to start, if only to rule it out.
If she could gauge starting numbers of the city’s population, she might be able to detect a trend of people migrating out of the city – or moving into it. It was no different than estimating numbers of herds, really. If she could get to a higher vantage point, perhaps from up on one of the walls, she might be able to keep track of the fluctuations in people over some period of time, perhaps? Find out what was ‘normal’, then gauge deviations from there. Coupled with questioning the locals, perhaps it could yield some answers?
So maybe the answers to her questions were inside herself all along? she thought to herself with a wry humor.
Valonia doubted population numbers and tracking them fell within the sphere of Honor. Still, while she might not be possessed of any great Honor (or even be trying to acquire it for some Quest of Avatarhood), she liked to think she possessed a semi-clever mind and sheer stubbornness.
In the meantime, perhaps she would send a message to the Mayor of the city so no one would be surprised by some green-cloaked weirdo creeping around the walls.
Then again, perhaps her request was tame considering all the things Sir Dupre had been involved with.
She wondered if she should be asking, rather than implementing it directly… but at the same time, she was just sitting and watching people from a high vantage point. If anyone had a problem with that, they would likely address it with her directly. They were paladins, after all. She couldn’t imagine they were intimidated by her in any way.Sir Dupre,
I understand that this may be an unconventional missive, but I am seeking an estimate of the population numbers of Trinsic. I hope to be able to track potential recruitment or movement of a band of bandits and dark magi.
Given the issues throughout the land, I am certain you have greater concerns and I do not wish to divert resources from more pressing goals. I simply wished to inform you that have ideas on how to estimate numbers, and may be implementing them while visiting the city.
If you have any questions about my motives or methods, please do not hesitate to ask.