Taking a Toll
The guttering torch created more shadow than light in the chamber The Strangers had barricaded themselves into. Nevertheless, Cobus used what little light there was to write down his thoughts amidst the eerie quiet of the party as each assessed their situations in their own way.

"The entire party seemed very surprised to see a group of armed toll takers down here in this bizarre underground realm. I give the nature priestess credit for using her guile to begin immediately negotiating the price. Some however are quicker to anger than others. When that damnable dwarf pulled his weapon, I knew our toll was going to be paid in blood."

The Traveller pressed tenderly at the wounds he had sustained in the fight before scratching at the skin beneath his blood-clotted beard. He smeared some of the rust-brown blood on his journal as he continued his entry.

"It raises an important theological conundrum for the travelling sect of Fharlanghn: the issue of tolls. Does anyone own the road but the one who walks it. Why does someone have the right to demand payment from others following in his footsteps merely because he has gotten there second? This runs counter in fundamental ways to the philosophy of the road where knowledge and commerce and social exchange are brought to all only through the transformative power of travel.

"However, Zaret often chastised me for failing to recognize the differences in individual roads and seeing only one metaphorical Road. He insisted one need only travel a poorly maintained road and count the number of twisted ankles, ruined wagon wheels, stone-bruises not to mention the chances of being lost compared to the ease of travel on an imperial road. Surely the safety for the traveller and the ease of the journey is worth paying the person responsible for that maintenance and guardianship.

"Surely these bizarre folk requiring a toll for the use of this bridge fall into that category. Looking down into darkness of the abyss below convinces me of the value of paying someone to maintain this structure. No longer a young journeyman walker, I now see that no road worthy of calling itself a road is truly free. You either pay in coin or pay in blisters and injury. Sadly, in this instance, we have paid with the lives of our comrades and might still have a bill coming due. May Fharlanghn help clear our path."

Cobus dribbled sand over the wet ink, quietly praying that he'll be lucky enough to write another entry tomorrow.
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5 comments

5 Comments

Another good post, Andy!

Xylia is also troubled by this last battle, but I am hoping that we can heal up and finish this up without losing any more members.

I really like Cobus' scrutiny of tolls.
Thanks for another outstanding post, Andy. I love the character concept that you are creating with Cobus. The idea of a priest of the roads lends itself to so many possibilities and great posts such as this one. As far as the wisdom of the most recent combat is concerned, I'll that you others to decide.
Excellent post, Andy. It's nice to see both sides of the theological argument for free or paid roads from Cobus' perspective. I think we're all quietly praying to be lucky enough to write more journal entries!
There was a lot he could've written about--a walking evil tree would've been the most obvious--but I wondered how a god of the roads would feel about the concept of tolls. Glad he's making sense to everyone.
I love these glimpses into the mind of Cobus. Well done!