So a priest and a paladin go to a bar…

Late at night finds Adrian sitting in one of the booths in the Stoic Swordsman next to a crackling fire. An unfinished mug of ale keeps him company while he peruses a tome, waiting for his meeting to start.

The door to the tavern opens slowly, framing a white robed figure who casts a few nervous glances around the tavern before noticing Adrian. Lysander slowly approaches the table, pleasant, if practiced, smile on his face. The young paladin raps his knuckles on the table a few times before sitting down, “Good evening, Adrian.”

“Ahh, Welcome to my office good sir. I’m glad you’ve come. Can I order you a drink while we wait for Brother Ansel?” he says with a cheery smile on his face as he slowly closes his book.

“That would be lovely, thank you.” Lysander replies, leaning his sword on the table, “I’ve not been here before, how is the ale?”

“Safer then the water, probably.” Adrian catches the waitress’ attention with a quick wave and soon enough there is another full mug at the table. “I was hoping we could figure out a way to deal with the maelific when she shows. I know at last forum I was somewhat incorrigible on the topic. Im hoping we can have a semblance of a plan for when she returns, because based on how she spoke to me during our meeting with Percival, I believe shes going to come back, and is going to probably be angered by something and start spreading fire around.”

“Start setting fires?” Lysander thinks for a moment, “She did have those burns last time we saw her…” He glances over at his sword, in particular silver chain hanging just below the pommel, “I’d hoped to find some people willing to marry before she returned. An eager engaged couple to symbolically resolve the malefic,” Lysander looks back at Adrian, “unfortunately, given recent events not many people are feeling festive enough for a wedding.”

“So the one thing that was different is that last forum she actually spoke to me. The first time we encountered her, she was completely nonverbal. Im wondering if it might be possible to find out who killed her if she’s willing to speak of it. Im sure doing so would enrage her, but it might be possible to actually give her justice?” He finishes his ale in a deep gulp. “Downside, i’m pretty sure anyone else nearby would quite crispy as she became emotional.”

Lysander takes a small sip of his drink, “Her willingness to talk to you is good. I am not sure how comfortable I am with you risking your safety to engage with her, but we may not have a choice.” He sets his mug down, gently tapping his fingers along the side, “Did she appear before you last forum? Or was it more of a voice? If you’re able to choose where you have your conversation it would allow us to minimize risk of collateral harm.”

“She spoke to me without appearing. She mentioned wanting to have our ‘wedding night’ and how happy she was going to make me. I’m not worried about her. I don’t think she can actually harm me. And as for others, I have this.” He slides across a sealed bottle filled with an opaque red liquid.

Lysander sighs heavily, pinching the bridge of his nose, “Adrian what is that?”

“Something to insure whoever drinks it doesnt feel the heat. I managed to purchase it from a, how shall we call it, a disreputable source.” Adrian smiles coyly, motioning for the waitress to refill his drink.

“So it’s Mortal Gluttony, gotcha.” Lysander looks back up at Adrian, “I must insist that you not use that.”

“Ohh it’s not for me. It sort of dropped in my lap and I figured it would be good for anyone else to have in case things get a little.. Out of control.” He pauses for a sip from his mug. “Ideally we won’t need it, but I would rather someone use it to survive the encounter rather then die because of a maelific we are trying to help.” Adrian reaches out across the table and grabs the potion, pocketing it.

Ansel emerges from the back room of the tavern, his robe and tabard stained with dirt and blood. Most of the patrons don’t seem to be put off by his appearance, but a table of Capacionnes breaks into a mix of snickers and looks of either pity or disgust. The priest makes his way over to his friends, while setting out his mug in anticipation of the server. “Thank you for waiting for me, I had some business to attend to…” he trails off. “Have you come up with a solution for your lost bride yet?”

Lysander raps his knuckles on the table again at Ansels approach, “It’s good to see you, Ansel. Not yet,” he nods towards Adrian, “We were just discussing what we currently know and can expect.”

Adrian nods and smiles as Ansel sits down with them. ”I’m glad you could join us. As I was telling Lysander here earlier at last forum she didn’t appear to me but she did speak to me. She spoke to me about having our “wedding night.” The fact that she actually spoke to me when previously she was completely nonverbal has me wondering if I could gently ask her about what happened to her. Maybe find out enough to take revenge on the one who took her life.” He pauses briefly before continuing. “Lysander, do you still have the ring from last time? I may need it again.”

The templar furrows his brow. “How did she speak to you? As if in a dream? Or just a voice in your head? You say she was killed. How do you know that? Do we know who her betrothed was or what fate befell him? Do we know if she was buried? What would you do with the ring? What did it do for you before?”

Lysander gestures to his sword, “The ring is hanging from the chain. I’m afraid that I can’t remove it, otherwise the ritual will be undone. Currently, we don’t know anything about her other than her relation to fire. But even that may just be symbolic. We’d need to ask her more questions first. Or maybe do some research on her, but we don’t have a name.”

Adrian pipes back in, “Not having any information at all makes it really difficult to start anywhere. I may be able to get some basics figured out, but it’s not a sure thing that I would be able to do so this next forum. As for the ring, I was thinking of just giving it back to her. Proposing to her with it was what actually calmed her down in our initial encounter. To answer your question, she spoke directly into my mind, as if by magic. I know its probably your least favorite option, Lysander,” he gestures to the paladin, “But im not entirely unopposed to actually marrying her if it’ll help the poor soul find rest. I’d like to pursue some form of revenge on her behalf first, but as a method of resolving her, I would do it.”

The paladin shakes his head, “Marriage is more than just a ceremony. It binds souls together. You would be tying yourself to her on a deeper level than I can possibly convey.” He clasps his hands together in front of him, “It’s not an option I can allow. You’d be sacrificing your soul. I’m sure there’s another way.”

Ansel chimes in, “Last season you waited for her, hoping she would be drawn toward the flame you were tending ceremonially. I think this next forum you should seek her out. Find a couple that is willing to be wed… I’m sure Adrian knows half the city and should be able to find someone who is ready… and take them to the Atopos. Marry them using the ring. That’s my idea. Or… Lysander… have you sworn an Oath of Chastity? It is a vow of love that is often taken in lieu of a wedding. I wonder… if you were willing… to swear one to her?”

“I haven’t, no,” Lysander replies, “It’s an option. But I don’t think it would be enough. And besides, my heart wouldn’t be in it.” He wraps his hands back round his mug, “I think finding couples willing to be wed would be best. Taking them back to Atopos wouldn’t be difficult, I’m sure I could find it again.” Lysander looks up at Adrian, “Would you be willing to put the word out? Find us a couple who wants to be wed of their own volition, and who’d be willing to use their union to lay a spirit to rest?”

“Im sure I can probably rustle up a few people willing to tie the knot,” Adrian replies quickly. “The issue becomes timing. If she shows up in the forum im not sure ill be able to break away from her long enough to get our perspective lovers to us quickly enough. Plus I worry for their safety, if things go wrong she gets angry quickly, and it’s a little bit unpleasant to experience.”

“I’m not sure you’re listening, Adrian,” Ansel begins. “We’re talking about taking the couple to the center of her haunting, the Atopos. The nuptual couple won’t be around or at risk until then. But… you do make a good point that we need a way to protect them. She shoots flame? What kind of protection are you using, Adrian? I don’t generally advocate the use of magic, but this seems like a supernatural problem that warrants supernatural solutions.” The eparch looks pointedly at the new Nightwarden as he says the last.

“I think that, so long as we are careful, she will not attack us. It seemed that she generally wasn’t aggressive so long as we didn’t outright antagonize her.” Lysander hesitates, “But… I am also worried for anyone we bring along. She didn’t outright throw fire, she just made it feel like we were surrounded by it. It starts with a feeling of dread, and if the course of action is continued, you start to burn.” The paladin absently rubs the leonem around his neck, “I’d partaken in the daily bread just before we left. I think that the blessing is what kept me safe. We could offer it to the couple as well.”

Adrian nods. “Ill see if I can drum up a few interested individuals for this. Do you have any idea when you would want to go out and try to marry them?”

Lysander takes a moment, sipping from his mug before responding, “Next forum, preferably. I’ll have to think on it more, but I’ll let the two of you know when I figure it out.”

“Cheers than!” Adrian stands up grabbing his cloak and the tome. “I better get this back to university before Azzam realizes its missing. You two have a wonderful evening!” He slams the remainder of his ale, winks, and turns to leave.

“I’d best be off as well. It was good to see the two of you again. I’ll get in contact once I’ve figured out a time.” Lysander finishes his drink and reaches out his hands to pat the other two, “Stay safe!”