Tell Tale Lore (IV): The Story of the Painter

The story of the painter

When the moon was high in the sky the inn was full.
The inn of the black cat, in the city of Dale, was open to anyone. From the noble who wanted to enjoy the things he was unable to do while surrounded by others of his rank, to the merchant who didn't need to fear from thieving while enjoying a cup of ale. It was a safe haven. There was un-spoken truce between two rival gangs battling in the street or between bandits and the imperial guard.
There the assassins could drink and meet their sponsors without fear. There the travellers could sip a cup of ale while telling a tale. That was the main reason for the popularity. It wasn't the safe haven or the ale. It was the tales.
There were tales about the ancient history, about the elves and dwarves, about foreign lands and ancient treasuries.

Tonight the inn was full, as always. There were four imperial guards sitting in a table drinking some ale. By the crest in his helmet one of the imperial guards was a sergeant. The other three were already too drunk and they were just bursting into laugh by some previous anecdote. Soon the three imperial guards fell on the table and went to sleep. The sergeant got up and took the bottle of whiskey that was half empty (or was it half full?) and ask an un-spoken question to a group who were playing cards. With a kick in a chair the question and permission was granted and the guard sat.

In this group there was one dwarf with a greyish beard and an axe (?) back on the chair. He had a small purse which hung in his belt. If the dwarf were in other part of the city of Dale that purse would now hug in a pocket of a cutthroat and the dwarf dead in a alley. There was one human with a scar in his left eye and a famous hat with an emblem which had an opaque eagle grabbing a long spear with his extremity drenched in blood. That was the hat wore by a regiment of horse-riders of Niask, who were conquered by the imperial army thirty years before. The use of such emblem was seen as treason to the empire and consequently punished by dead by hanging. In the opposite end sat a beautiful woman who wore some foreign brownish leather armour and with two curve swords cross over on her back. She had some runic words written on her forehead which continue with tattoos in her face and were lost beneath her clothes. That display of mysticism and warrior-like made her more beautiful than any other women in the inn. Not the waitress nor the whores working for the inn, and even not the noblewomen, dressed in the finest clothes of silk and painted with the most exotic make-ups who came to the inn seeking debauched lusts which were denied to them ‘cause of the role of husband’s ranks, were more beautiful than her.

The bottle was now empty with a twin sister near it also empty. The sounds of coins tinkle and jingle on the table and the human with the hat burst into laugh. The dwarf roared something in his native language, which made the female smirk. The sergeant drop his head and muttered something to the table and tried to get up which he found impossible since he didn’t controlled his legs in perfect conditions and fell again supporting himself in the back of the his chair making it crack.
Some outsiders moved instantly to the back of the human and congratulated him tapping him and smiling too.
“And what will it buy you, friend? A few friends for the evening? They’ll soon forget your name once the money is lost?”
The human turn around to face the person who had spoken. Dress in a robe which resemble a mage or a priest, was a person. The robes were of a greyish colour with no ornaments. It had it’s face was hidden in the blackness of the hood of his robes.
“-If you’re jealous of my winnings, why don’t you join us for a game? Ask the human without stopping smiling and playing with his new golden friends.
The covered creature in the robes give a faint chuckle.
“-Oh, I have more money than I can count, friend, for what is worth, but it cannot buy back all that I have lost.” At the sound of its last words, the voice cracked and the gamble partners knew he was a she. The human stiffened in its chair. The dwarf and the female turn around to meet the stranger. They were attracted by the words and the voice of the strange woman. “Let me tell you a tale of wealth, my friend… and its true cost.”

“My name is Svetlana Kolinsky, and once I could have been the greatest artist in all empire.” All around the bar, the conversations stop and stare at the female. Even the bartender stop serving drinks and look at her. “My works were in the homes of the city’s great and good, but I had eyes on an even more influential patron…I wanted to serve the Arch Lector Von Wasmeier. The count of my home city, Cram Nud.
Cram Nud was a city in the far east of the empire and with more than four hundred and fifty thousand souls. It was a rich city by any empire standard. It had some of the most beautiful churches and chapels to Prakiea, the patron god of the Empire. There it was said that Prakiea had been born over three thousand years ago and joined every barbarian tribes to the greatest that was the Empire. There, too, had the most pious and zealous priests and servants of god.
Cram Nud was the centre of the art world. All the ones who wanted to be known throughout the empire had to join the Empire Art University. All famous and most rich artists had come from that university. Who didn’t know the famous painter of the cathedral of Prakiea, Hans Hubbel? Or the most notorious comedian Karl Johan Kurst and its Empire Theatre?
Von Wasmeier was known throughout the region as one of Prakiea most pious servants. His zealous punishment of the faithless was legendary. In fact, his love of a vengeful god was matched only by his love of artworks depicting that god. That love he had came from the very foundation of the city and of course the famous ancestors who were known to be one of Cram Nud’s most talent families.
The castle where it laid the sword of Prakiea and where was the home of the Von Wasmeier family had two thirds of all art that came from it.
And as work neared completion on his new chapel on the outskirts of Cram Nud, I saw my chance to impress him with my skills

To the artists of Cram Nud...

Arch Lector Von Wasmeier requires a work of the utmost holiness to be displayed as the crowning glory of his new chapel. All entries are to depict Lord Prakiea, and by created in the spirit of utmost piety befitting such a subject. The arch lector himself will choose the piece, and the chosen artist will receive the sum of 5000 crowns.Three months ago as I walked past the main street of Cram Nud I saw a poster that said:

It was wealth beyond my most fevered imaginings. It was the opportunity I had to be famous throughout the land.
I set work immediately.
I started working frantically. I work by night and day. I ignored my husband-to-be. I lost some of my weight from bad nutrition and got sick. But still I didn’t stop. I gave everything I had. As the weeks went by, however I realised to my horror that my muse had deserted me utterly. As I felt the prize slipping through my fingers I began to despair.
I began to cry and enter depression.
But fate plays strange tricks and when I was least expecting it, I stumbled across an old friend and lover – the artist Johann Sparsam.
At that time I was in a tavern called Death’s Serenade, a strong name but it was as far from true. It was a place where every artist who wanted to get famous went. It was a refugee. Many of the young artists who wanted to secure a name for them were founded by patrons there. And there I was trying to get so drunk that I wanted only to wake up after the end of the contest when to my dismay I learnt that only had Johann also entered the competition, but he felt that his new piece was the best work he had ever committed to canvas.
Dazed with alcohol and jealousy I stumbled back to his studio to see his masterpiece. Well I didn’t stumble, He stumbled, and I seduced him. I wanted to see it.
It was magnified. And then something strange happened to me.
Rage took me and by Prakiea I committed something that I didn’t knew I could do it. I took Johann out of the balcony and he fell to the his death.
Then as he lay bleeding, another kind of madness came over me.. I look once again at his beautiful painting of Prakiea, and I had another wonderful ideia.

The day came when all the artists came into the Arch Lector Von Wasmeier and he said:
“It’s divine in its perfection! I can only t hink that the spirit of our father Prakiea himself must have guided you when you created such a masterpiece.
Johann’s painting was brilliant and no-one could contest it.

“So what is your problem stranger?” – Asked the dwarf “You won the gold and the patronage of a powerful priest. I fail to see your point.
“Avarice is a trap waiting to be sprung. I won the prize but lost the one thing I truly needed.” Said Svetlana Kolinsky.
After I’ve received the prize money and seen the general appreciation of the nobles, Von Wasmeier approached me and took me at side into a small room and said:
“Your skills are such magnificence, that it troubles me to think of them being used on any less worthy subjects. The results could be nothing less than heretical.” Is voice was calm and he added “I feel duty-bound to ensure you work for no one else.”
Svetlana unveiled her hood and the companions at the table were taken aback. For the first time they seen her face. Her lips twisted in a wicked smile.
“My sight.”
Her eyes were gone from their sockets.

This story was began at XVII/I/MMVI by the fullmoon blessed by Felicitas, the roman goddess of good fortune.It was then finished at XXI/V/MMVI.
This story was inspired in Darius Hink story/BD. Printed in the Warhammer - Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat.
Dedicated to my girlfriend Mina.

17/January in celtic traditions, on this day the rite of Wassailing apple trees is performed. Cider is poured over the roots of the trees, and a chant is offered to drive off evil influences and make the trees fertile (but I won't tell you).
The word wassail is from the archaic/old english for "be of good health".
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