Marielda 02: The City of Light Pt. 2

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After the arrival of the pala-din, tensions rise and factions fight, both within the city and without. The mysteries surrounding the dark forest grow stranger; smoke pours across the sky as factories appear overnight; marauders wearing Samot's symbol are spotted, and soon after, so is an army. The ensuing battle lasts for weeks, but eventually, Marielda is victorious.

Episode description[edit | edit source]

For a while, everything was going just fine in Marielda. Sure, there was some dissent among the citizens—but what city is free of that? In general, people were coming together, rebuilding, taking care of each other. Canopy Row wasn't thriving, but it was definitely surviving. Knowledge was spreading throughout the city. Even them Cobbins had begun to find their place. And then, sometime in the middle of the year, everything seemed to turn. First, the marble-faced pala-din came marching from the sea, half-alive extensions of Samothes' personal brand of justice. Then... well, as we'd soon learn, the pala-din weren't even the half of it.

This week on Marielda: The City of Light Pt. 2

I wonder what ever happened to her...

Contents[edit | edit source]

Opening[edit | edit source]

Pala-din. I heard somewhere that, in the old tongue, it meant "to serve". But those things, those men of living marble, they didn't serve Marielda. They severed it. Before they'd arrived, the different districts blended one to the next. You'd spend a morning under the canopies, slide noontime to a lunch near Christopher's humble parish, and move in the eve towards a balmy get-together on the black sand beaches of Slow Point. But once the pala-din arrived, those vague border lines became distinct, drawn in bold by patrol routes, etched in by the hard stone glares of our new voiceless overseers. Now, that didn't stop some folks from movin' when they needed to. But for most of us, we learned our place. Kept quiet. Went about our business. The pala-din didn't need to touch us direct. They disciplined us by presence alone.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Summer[edit | edit source]

With the presence of the pala-din, security is now in abundance, but privacy is scarce. People notice a small bridge built by the elves to the northwest, connecting Marielda to the outside world. A dozen elves are seen on the island, and silently exchange nods with a person carrying water to Canopy Row.

Two men emerge, naked and wet, on the beach. Their hands are fused to the strange orb that was thrown into the lava water after the beast's rampage. The men are Thaddeus and Rodmund Mung, who were stranded on the obsidian berg when the boat was destroyed, but kept alive by the orb. Thinking that the wealthy had abandoned them, the Mung brothers go to Canopy Row.

The pala-din start blocking entry to the library and surround the University's tower. Magic is scarce and forbidden. Some people begin setting up a new school in secret. The pala-din discover a pamphlet for Samot, of unknown origin.

The body that turned up previously is identified as Winsley Cartwright and an investigation begins.

Autumn[edit | edit source]

A whirlwind surrounds the tower and breaks apart any pala-din who approach it. The tower doors open, revealing an old human man and an old elf woman. They go to the Golden District and Canopy Row, respectively, inviting people to enter the tower and learn magic.

Dead bodies of those who disappeared start turning up in the forest, including, one day, the perfectly normal body of Hedy Braum, casting doubt on the strange 'Hedy'. Others in the city begin developing a disease where their extremities begin to be stretched in a similar way to hers. The boarding school near Christopher's church is converted into a sanatorium to quarantine them. In the middle of a discussion about what to do about Hedy, an elf drops a bucket on the ground and says, "Give her to us, we are where she belongs." The elf leaves the bucket, which is full of lava water but has not been destroyed. Eventually, Hedy, seeing the fear in the humans' eyes, decides herself to go.

The refugees and exiles, whose numbers have grown into a full-fledged community, start expanding the crumbling watchtower into a full-fledged settlement, with the help of the cobbins. This settlement eventually becomes an area known as Emberboro.

The man from the mage tower, Bolster Valentine, turns up dead in the Golden District, doused in lava water. In its wake, people become obsessed with investigating the previous murder, and Christopher confesses to killing Cartwright as an act of penance. After Valentine's death, the university's effort to recruit students fails spectacularly, with a full-fledged mage duel in the streets between them and the underground school of magic. The battle ends when members of the original school formed in the library arrive with the pala-din and, led by Maelgwyn, a handsome man who carries the air of Samothes, side with the underground school, killing the elf woman. Maelgwyn gives the members of the underground school a look of contempt.

One night, the ground shakes and swells, and the university tower is swallowed into a deep pit. Some people swear they can see twinkling stars of red in there at night. A similar hole arrives out in the ocean, sucking down the lava water. The next morning, there is a strange sight and smell, as odd buildings have appeared and smoke pours across the sky. Samothes' newest creation is a series of factory plants where people can configure metal stamps to manufacture useful things. Quickly, the cobbins take to the factories, seeing what they can build.

The exiles of Emberboro report an army gathering to the northwest, on the other side of the flaming waters.

Almost immediately afterward, Samothes reveals his next project, as the city begins to fold in upon itself, rearranging the architecture and layout. Emberboro moves from the northwest to the middle of the Golden District in the east. The people of Canopy Row, who have taken to logging the forest with new fervor, learn that its wood cannot be rearranged by Samothes. His other gift, the factories, grow increasingly grim as the children who were taken out of the boarding school start being put to work in manufacturing, and even increased supervision cannot prevent accidents.

Christopher's murder trial is launched and almost immediately scrapped, as a new suspect, Snitch Nightly, and takes credit for killing both Cartwright and Valentine. Following a brief second investigation, people decide that Christopher probably killed Cartwright but can't be convicted, while Valentine's death ends up being blamed on the pala-din, as they're the ones who most commonly use the bucket that carries the lava water. Meanwhile, a small gang of marauders bearing Samot's symbol have arrived and begun attacking people.

'Other Hedy' returns to Canopy Row as a small featureless creature in elf children's clothes, exhibiting the ability to stretch her limbs to great length. She says she wants to help and begins fixing the holes in the net that have formed since she left.

The chill wind returns and a storm gathers above Samot's encampment to the north. The snows reach out towards Marielda and the water freezes in the northwest, forming a natural bridge. One night, the volcano erupts again, causing the water to get hotter and glow brighter. The cold remains in the northwest, but never makes it to the island. Nights are hotter than ever. Maelgwyn begins amassing an army, calling all able-bodied adults to take part in training exercises where the exiles used to live.

Tamsyn doesn't like Hedy's presence, saying people should not accept it. They have grown fond of Hedy, though, and Tamsyn leaves to join Maelgwyn's army. Hedy leaves too, going into the forest saying she's doing something to help.

Winter[edit | edit source]

The community begins to feel the pressure of Samot's encroaching forces and starts building towers on the wall. An elf arrives with a second bucket at a discussion about the factories, saying, "Destroy those buildings, or there will not be enough time to prepare for what's next."

Maelgwyn disappears during training exercises, but he had so impressed upon the soldiers that training should take priority over everything that no one looks for him.

Other Hedy returns from the woods with a lot of other 'others'. For every person whose body had been found, there is another; for some of them, there are a couple instead, and they're smaller, more like shrubs. They aren't an army, but they're a reasonably sized force, and look ready to take up arms.

Some scouts are sent to get information on Samot's army.

Closing[edit | edit source]

"The scouts you sent out, they see them first. The chariots don't pick up dust this time, but snow and ice and sleet and as it pours out from behind them, it does not fall softly back to the ground, and instead it rises up to the sky, a whirlwind that turns into a wintry hurricane. It builds in speed and strength and it moves out in front of Samot's forces, covering the barren ground in ice and then reaching the river of fire, a collision that seems to tear nature itself apart.

The bells ring and the horns call, and all of Marielda moves into action, but what follows is the story of the projects that went unfinished. You know, if the scouts had made it back in time, then maybe they could've hurried preparations, or told you what exactly it was you were preparing for. But instead, the scouts were run down, trampled, left to freeze in the snow. If the towers had been finished, the watchtowers, then maybe you would've seen that the traitor Samot's forces were arriving not to the north, but to the south first. But you didn't know that until the elves arrived, their stoicism finally broken, fleeing into Canopy Row begging for refuge from the vanguard forces that used their bridge to cross while the river was still cooling. If Tamsyn had been able to fully prepare her troops, then the fighting may have started out on the field, instead of inside the city itself, where so much damage was done.

The siege lasted weeks, but while much of the city suffered, Canopy Row survived. Samot's forces could not have predicted Hedy and her group of long-armed weavers which moved through the cracks and swung from the netting, driving Samot's most decorated phalanx out of Canopy Row. The strange glowing orb that the Brothers Mung brought back from the obsidian glaciers, the one that was supposedly imbued with the healing fire of Samothes himself, it brought back hundreds from the brink of death, until finally, they lost track of it. And there was something else, too. While Samot's forces freely devastated the buildings of northern Marielda, they seemed unwilling to torch the wooden structures of the Canopy. One man swears he saw a superior officer chiding a subordinate for even bringing up the possibility. No one knows why.

But, while Canopy Row survived, things were grim for the rest of the city. It seemed like it was only a matter of time. And then, sometime in the fifth week, at the break of day, a second sun rose on the western horizon, cutting through the snow and clouds and offering a vision of a bright blue sky. It rallied the troops, who joined from basements and attics, who rearmed themselves with old weapons, long forgotten, and who unified as a new front. The remainders, who were dedicated to saving Marielda, no matter the cost. And that afternoon, they were joined by a surprise set of allies, a second batch of pala-din who walked out of the sea, a statuary in motion, a violent monument to the power of Samothes himself. Except, instead of holding spears, they carried long arms, wood and metal and fire. They held these weapons tight to their shoulders and flung the sun's own light, made material, at the occupying army. The rays of fire burst through Samot's men, and in their indiscriminate dedication to victory, the pala-din harmed nearly as many of Tamsyn's remaining soldiers as it did the invaders.

Thousands were killed. A population decimated. But Marielda was free. Free to grow and change and reconfigure itself into something new. The smoke and iron of industry went to work, as did the dreams and prejudices of mortal folk. And then, some fifteen years later…"

Cast[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]