Mr. Corlaine Goes To Jaress

by Tysen Blodgett

One would not call Mr. Corlaine middle aged, he still felt the fiery grip of youth in his spirit. However, he did feelthe need to crack his fingers from time to time as they began to stiffen. Dexterous fingers were essential to his profession, that is to say, wizardry.

Mr. Corlaine was a seasoned spellcaster, employed by the prestigious Compass Society of World Knowledge and found himself in a carriage entering the Northgate of Jaress on Compass business.

The day was sweltering. The wizard slid off his cap and dabbed a handkerchief on his sweaty brow. It was hard to know what to despise more; the heat coming in from the desert yo the north, or the humidity rolling in from the southern bay on which parts of the Strong City sat.

A bump in the cobblestone caused the carriage to jump, almost sending Mr. Corlaine out of his seat. The quick and halfhearted apology from the driver that wafted in through the window did little to appease the grimace on the wizard's clean shaven face. He sighed and brushed his groomed brown hair before slipping his cap back on and dared a look out the side window.

The Northgate district of Jaress was always busy no matter the time of day or night. Merchants both load and unload caravans which cross the desert daily carrying food and goods gained from the sea away, and bringing back items crafted from wood and metal. Furnishings for the nobles and their estates, weapons for the city watch and navy, and lockboxes carrying gil and gems given in exchange for pearls, carved shells, ivory from vicious seatigers and exotic spices from far-away halfling islands.

As they worked, a dozen different songs collided with each other as the carriage passed inns with open doors and windows to keep the heat from building, showing drunken travelers reveling. Also, songs of dragonborn caravan servants sung in their strange holy wharbles as well as popular halfling sea chants, bawdy and lewd, sung sometimes by the ara who knew the meaning of the words and often by local fisherman who don't.

The sights, sounds, and smells of Northgate sat uneasily with Mr. Corlaine. He slumped back into his seat and closed his eyes, hoping to finish his work promptly and return to the fields and hinterlands where he was able to hear the birds sing.

A sudden chilled wind caused him to open his eyes and he furrowed his brow when a curious sight came in front of him. A snowflake wafted into his carriage and rested on the lapel of his coat before it quickly melted into the fabric.

Before he could make a thought about such a strange occurrence, a second snowflake came, and a third, followed by two more. Looking past the snow, Mr. Corlaine's eyes met the strange location that would be serving as his destination.

On the south-eastern end of the University of Jaress's campus sat a building as high as a four story pavilion and wide as any ancient temple dedicated to the old gods, completely encased in unmelting ice.

The d'Blanc Building of the university, embraced by an icy tomb served as both destination and purpose for Corlaine's carriage. It seemed to the middle aged wizard that the entrances of the building have completely frozen over, allowing no egress to any students or professors caught within.

The carriage came to a stop with a lurch and Corlaine heard the driver step down and unfold the metal steps under the cariage door. The door opened and a strange cold wind shot inside. Corlaine held his hat and stepped out onto the university grounds and surveyed the scene.

The icy tomb holding the building stood on the south end of the open university square. Two other buildings sat to the west and north, respectively. Inside the square stood a small audience of students and civilians scattered around, all gawking at the building.

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