Burning Scrolls - The Writings of Diadne
A dagger turned lazily in Diadne’s dainty hand, the flame shaped blade glistening in the candlelight. The runes glowed a brilliant red, and Kossuth’s symbol of the flame sparkled in the handle with ruby brilliance. Truly this was a holy artifact.
Ibli looked on with concern. “Madam, what will you do with it? Servants are not allowed to own such things”
Diadne furrowed her brow, clutching it tighter. “I cleansed a staff of Auril, and helped save a troubled boy. I earned it. Kossuth teaches us to have ambition, and to seek power. I seek power”
Ibli’s frown deepened, “Madam, if the Eternal Flame sees you with it, he will be angry. He will take it, and you will be … punished.”
“Well what am I to do with it Mister Sizzles? The Eternal Flame is not here. In the mean time, it belongs to me.”
I have been on several “adventures” with peoples of various sorts. It seems to be a way of life around here. I spoke with a mercenary named Thomas who lamented the fact that people preferred to gamble for the prize at the end, than pay a mercenary up front. Everyone wants “a piece of the action”, a share in the loot, and the prize at the end. I must admit that it’s all rather infectious, and certainly more exciting than creating small talk with a deserving priest, and catering to his predilections in the bed chamber.
Kossuth continues to reward me well for my ambitions and efforts.
I had a rather disturbing discussion with one of the locals by the fire. He was somewhat surprised that I was a servant, a slave owned by the Temple in Surthay. He asked what would happen, if someone locally purchased me.
I cannot fathom being owned by anyone other than the Eternal Flame, but he did raise an interesting point, in that my sacred vows and religious views certainly wouldn’t change. I suppose my new owner could forbid it. If he was smart however, he would make use of it instead. But the thought was troubling, and an eventuality I hadn’t considered._
Diadne focused, and spoke the incantation. Two eyes peered within the flames of the hearth, their form wavering unsteadily.
“Come on! Just step out…a little more….that’s it. Come on!”, Diadne cooed, making kissy noises.
“Brabble xnik spla!”, came a voice from the fire, and a fiery hand reach out suddenly from the flames. Diadne shrieked and giggled, jumping back. With the incantation broken, the eyes disappeared, and the flames returned to normal.
Perhaps summoning an elemental, was not quite so easy.
I am so happy! The headmaster of Spellweaver has given me my first task and allowed me access to the library! Although my membership is not entirely finalized, I am certain it will be done. The Eternal Flame would be so proud of me. For a servant to get this far in a new land without help or direction is truly an accomplishment. I hope that I will see him soon, so that I might see the pride in his eyes for what this servant has accomplished.
A knight of Sune named Rico defended my honor the other day. Why he defended the honor of a servant escapes me, but I was most grateful. Perhaps they do not see me as a servant, since slavery is against the laws of two cities in this land. Many seemed to hold resentment towards the city that still traffics in slaves, an underground city by the name of Oscura. I have been there, and while it’s a dreary place I saw nothing wrong with it. The pit in the center gives me the creeps though.
I participated in the Norwick games a few days ago. Needless to say, I did terrible, but I had a grand time. My crossbow bolts found mostly trees and grass, and I was quickly brought down in their little melee. I still have a few bruises from it, but I have always been of good health, and I am certain they will heal quickly._
Diadne sat on the stones near the fire. It comforted her. It wasn’t raining, and hadn’t for almost two hours, so the stones were dry and warm to the touch. She leaned back and kicked her shoes off, watching the world pass by.
Two farm boys walked on the road. One going north, the other south to the Temple of Chauntea. Their eyes were fixed upon her, and she smiled prettily, waving at the two. One of them grinned sheepishly, right before he collided into the other. Diadne giggled as the boys fell into a heap.
Diadne knew she was pretty, and sometimes had that effect on men. It was empowering for a servant to control people like that. In her life back home, it was her only real method of exerting any control at all. Her life was full of ritual, going to class, and providing conversation and companionship to those judged worthy by the Ethernal Flame. All of her time was dictated by the priests of the temple. The wistful glance, the playful pout, and accidentally exposed skin were all she had.
Now however, a new kind of power was growing within her. Diadne wondered absently what she would do with it.
I’m not sure how to act around these people. It’s infuriating to be ignored. I sit quietly and listen as a proper servant should, but then no one pays any attention to me. I introduce myself, and people continue on with their conversations.
This land is full of brash and outgoing people. Some of them are just plain rude, while others act that way, but hide civility and grace behind a façade of outgoing boorishness. How completely ridiculous!
I have met a man named Admiral Drelan Ashire. He claims to lead a merchant group known as the Black Sails. He is an older, experienced man, with a worn and tired expression. I keep thinking when I look at him that he is in the wrong place, as if his current existence were thrust upon him. He’s been marked by Kossuth in some manner which he won’t disclose, and I am certainly in no position to ask.
He seemed annoyed that I acted properly subservient. Kossuth teaches us to respect those with successful ambition with a higher station in life. He is my better. I walked two paces behind him, and to the left, and behaved as I should. What else should I have done?
It appears these lands are full of people who behave like snarling wolves, with the biggest and strongest standing on the top. Little respect is shown for those that don’t snarl and gnash their teeth. Ergo, little respect is shown to me.
Perhaps I need to be more aggressive with my manner and words, or perhaps even start an argument!
Oh Kossuth forgive me!_
“…weakens the bonds between this plane and the next. To summon one of Kossuth’s servants, one need to only…”, Ibli said, and then paused irritatedly. “Madam, are you paying attention?”
Diadne stared out the window upon the scene below. People scurried about with various mundane tasks. Children played with hoops. Two people were bringing logs into the crafting hall. Three folks spoke animatedly around the fire. A wagon full of hay went east.
Diadne sighed and turned to Ibli, “Mister Sizzles, what is to become of me? The temple probably thinks I’m dead! Will I be forgotten? Will I be another misplaced artifact, a lost treasure of Kossuth?”
Ibli’s voice softened, and he ambled over and put his hand on her shoulder, “Madam, I am sure you are not forgotten, but it is a very long way. I’m sure whoever they sent out looking for you will eventually get here.”
Diadne sighed again, and continued looking out the window. What if this truly was to be her new home?
I have gone on several other “missions” with the people around here. I swear if one of them were any less intelligent, someone would have to water him twice a week. Some folks just don’t pay attention, and shouldn’t be staring at the foliage or searching through pockets with danger around every corner.
I had a chance to speak with the hin Benji that sells crossbows. He’s a captain in the Legion! A captain! I was beside myself that someone like him would share wine with me, and carry on conversation. He is unmarried with no children, but has someone very special in his life. He appeared to be very nervous though, and my efforts to reassure him that our conversation would be entirely confidential did nothing to ease his manner. I thought perhaps this special someone might be the jealous sort, and to be seen with a servant of Kossuth, particularly one trained as a courtesan might bring hard feelings. After I finished my wine I excused myself, even if it was not my place to do so.
Still, he is very cute, and full of intelligence. If he so chose and the Eternal Flame permitted, I would be honored to be his mistress._
“Yes! Yes!”, Ibli clapped as the sphere of flame whooshed into the hearth, exploding up through the chimney. Diade grinned in delight as a low rumble shook the stones.
“Wow, Mister Sizzles! I did it!”
“Yes madam, you did! And now we must teach to you contract with … “, Ibli was interrupted by a knocking at the door. An angry voice shouted in Orcish outside it.
“Oh dear…”, Ibli sighed and folded in on himself, plane shifting, and leaving Diadne alone to answer the door.
I have become much bolder, and gone on several “missions” to various places, and for various people. It still terrifies me, but at least my terror is under control. Many of these missions involve me staying at the rear of a group, and throwing Kossuth’s power at our enemies. It’s hardly glorious, certainly less so than many of the knights that dash into combat with steel flying everywhere, but it helps me practice.
One such mission had us retrieve a book that were stolen by “Fishmen” from an underground city in Oscura. It was horribly dangerous, and when one of the fishmen snuck up on me to drive his sword home, I nearly wet myself, and thought for certain I would be seeing the Fire Lord very soon. Despite some dissention in our group, we recovered the book, along with a chest of trinkets and items of power.
One of these items was a staff, blessed almost certainly by Auril.
I took possession of it, but could not bring myself to use it. I tried selling it a couple of times, but no one wanted it. I found this odd, as the staff was very powerful, and drew its connection to the weave from the land itself. I took this as a sign that Kossuth wished me to cleanse it, so in ritual I did, and now its ashes lie ignominiously in a trash barrel in Norwick…as they should!
I attended two festivals, one at the little Hin town southwest of Norwick, and had the most marvelous time. Though I still feel like an outsider, the headmaster of Spellweaver was kind enough to show attention to me and carry on conversation. Kossuth bless him for this, to show attention to a servant and attend to my happiness and well being._
“No madam no. You must “throw” the fire! Throw it thusly!”, the mephit gestured in exaggerated motions at the hearth. Diadne tried again, but the flames stuck to her hand, spraying in all directions. The mephit groaned and smacked his hand to his head as Diadne rushed forward to put the fire out on the curtain.
“Madam, you must let go of the fire!”
Diadne turned and put her hands on hips. “Mister Sizzles! I am trying! Truly I am!”
The mephit gave Diadne an exasperated expression. “Madam, my name is “Ibli”. You called me “Mister Sizzles when you were what….ten?”
“Mister Sizzles, I think we are done for the evening. I’m tired and I still have my scrolls for the temple to finish.”
The mephit just sighed and bowed. “Yes Madam, oh glorious blessed of Kossuth, righteous wielder of …”
Diadne made a motion, and the mephit’s speech was cut short as it was forcibly plane shifted.
“Irritating little snot”, Diadne retorted at the empty space in the air.
I accompanied a great many of these people south into the forest. They had spoke of meeting a burning man, a Druid of Kossuth. I had hoped to meet with him, but instead met with creatures all manner most foul. Bugbear Shamans and their summoned spirits.
The group fought valiantly but were forced to retreat, carrying one of their fallen. Never have I felt so terrified and useless. I vainly threw my power at them, and only managed to set one of them on fire briefly. How am I to help these people and show them Kossuth’s might? I have had my servant help me, but my practice bears little fruit.
I have pinned my hopes on the headmaster of this wizards’ enclave known as “Spellweaver”. The headmaster was a cheery sort, and wielded great power when fighting these spirits. Only, if only I could wield such power someday! Surely Kossuth would be pleased. The headmaster said he would take my application to Spellweaver for review, but that it might take some time.
I must become accustomed to the attitudes of these people. While some people bring manners with them, others shove them under the bed, or leave them to be trampled underfoot. People of great strength threaten others playfully, without thought or compassion. Because they are strong they are right, and to hells with everyone else. “If you don’t like what you see, turn away, get out of my face, and shut up”, appears to be the attitude of some. In particular this applied to a shifter who goes by Aelthas. He frightened me half to death, and seemed to care little about the feelings of others. The adage “Tis wondrous to have the strength of the giant, but tyrannous to use it like one”, fits him most appropriately. Honestly, it would not surprise me if he prayed to Bane.
I only pray that someday, Kossuth sees fit that I have the confidence in myself, and the power to not be afraid. Every time I leave the walls of this little town, I am gripped with fear._
As the sun dropped below the hills, the light faded in the little room at the Grapevine Inn. A slender hand gestured, creating a small flicker of flame that was cupped by delicate skin. With a practiced movement she rolled it onto the wick of a lantern, and covered it with thick glass. Light sprang into the room creating shadows along the walls.
Diadne of Kossuth looked around the room and sighed. She was used to far better. Blessed property of the Ethernal Flame wanted for little. Even while traveling, the opulence of the temple was felt. Though technically a slave, she had stayed in the finest of rooms, and ate the finest of foods. At this point however, she was simply glad to be alive.
She sat in a chair by the lamp, and pulled out rolls of parchment, recently purchased in Norwick. Pen and quill the same. She thought for a moment, then touched quill to parchment. The penmanship was exquisite from years of practice, and flowery in its design.
I have decided to mark my journey in pen, should the unfortunate happen, and I am slain in these strange and dark lands. Perhaps a record of this journey will prove useful to the Ethernal Flame, Kossuth protect him.
I am Diadne of Kossuth. I was traveling with seven others, members of the Burning Braziers of Surthay. We had nearly completed a two year expedition, which would have put us in these lands. We were set upon by orcs three days outside the river. All seven were slain, except for me. I alone survived through his blessing and made to this land in one piece.
I sold my jewelry to a vendor in town, so that I might have some coin to live. Sooner or later I will have to take up employment if I wish to eat, and by the looks of things, I will learn to kill. This worries me. While the fire of Kossuth burns in my breast, I do not like to release it to harm others. This town of Norwick is under siege at all times it appears, by the lesser races, and to be a valued member of this community, I must help defend it.
I’ve run into a few individuals most kind and understanding. The first was Jerrick the Druid, who showed me great politeness and grace. He invited me along a short journey out into the forest to recover a man’s belongings that were stolen by goblins. He and his group were most comfortable out in the forest, and most skilled with sword and bow. He told me a great tale, about how his circle has a Shaman who is dedicated to the Fire Lord. I must meet him soon!
The second was Benji. He was a little crossbow merchant, whose quirky mannerisms made me smile with amusement and delight. He appears to be a member of some “Legion”. I saw several saluting each other near the south gate. Intelligence lit his eyes behind gnomish spectacles. I’m sure he would be good for great conversation.
The third was the leader of Norwick, and Dwarf named Dwin Dolvak. Despite warnings by some other members of this town, he was not the gruff and boorish fellow I was told to expect. He was polite and deferent, and took it upon himself to show me his Dwarvish home, and the temple there. He has great respect for Kossuth, and I have no doubt he will be an important ally were I permitted the honor of creating a temple here.
It is late now, and I must sleep. I may have to help defend this town soon, and the thought terrifies me._
Diadne blew out the lantern, the shadows disappearing into the darkness. With ceremonious care she undressed and got into bed. Unconsciously, she began to clutch the pillow tightly, her legs curling up against her into a fetal position. There were no guards outside her room, and no other slaves to attend her. No one shared her bed. For the first night in all her life, she was alone.