The Days of Autumn

  • Evil Amongst Us

    I had heard some rather unsettling rumors surrounding my commanding officer, Scott Grimm. I had dismissed them as mostly gossip.

    Scott Grimm is a mercenary sort, always pushing and testing himself against better, and better opponents. While very bloodthirsty, I had respect for him as a man of accomplishment. There are few better warriors in this city.

    I also met a paladin of Arvoreen by the name of Warziver. A gnome who had been orphaned and raised by Hin, he had received a calling and devoted himself as a righteous protector of the faith. He is a paladin, a man of unswerving principles, and one of the best shield men I have ever traveled with.

    Warziver and I went on a raid to the gnolls to push back their number and their evil a little bit further. Together, we accomplished incredible things. Miss Robyn would have been proud.

    A few days later, Scott, Warziver, Vick and I were standing in the commons. It was then that Warziver brought up the subject of the evil amongst us, and remarked with no uncertainty that one of the greatest evils in the city was standing right next to me.

    Paladins don’t lie.

    It was then I realized, like a hammer to the chest that all the rumors I had heard of Scott were likely true. When I confronted him, he didn’t deny them. He merely dismissed them as effective methods for getting things done.

    I remember standing there for a moment, not knowing what to say. I glanced across the commons at Vick, the Lieutenant of the Farscouts, and by the look on his face he knew, and was with dark humor gauging my reaction to its discovery.

    I immediately went to Defender command to explain the situation. I will not take orders from someone who think summoning undead is an appropriate and effective tactic. My gut reaction was a transfer to Sally’s division, but Captain Gom’s solution was to promote me, so regardless of the situation I would never have to take orders from Scott again.

    I baulked at that. I have been such a short time as a Defender, and hardly ready to lead men to do what they need to do in battle. I will be seen as an interloper, one who has garnered favor by … inappropriate means, and will have no respect from my men.

    Unbeknownst to us, General Del’Rosa overheard the entire conversation. He let the promotion stand. I know he’s testing me to see whether I’ll rise to the occasion. I can’t fail him. Not when this kind of responsibility is being put upon me.

    I’ve been assigned three sergeants. One veteran, one standing, and one corporal promoted as part of the reorganization. The four of us will be used to create a new archery company in the Defenders. I have a meeting with them soon, and will review the troops shortly after.

    I wonder what command will do with Scott. Likely nothing, but one can hope.

  • Terrible Choices

    There are moments in life where every decision leads to terrible consequences. Such a moment passed before me recently.

    We were on a Far Scout mission led by this man called “Smoke”. As a Defender unit, we were transferred to the Far Scouts to aid in its completion. Our objectives were to kill or capture Vere, and rescue Treys.

    Captain Gom was to aid the Silver Host in defending the villages that were being assaulted by “Fire Genies”, essentially extra planar elementals. While this was happening, we were to move in quickly, accomplish our mission, and leave.

    As I write this, I’m still puzzled how it all unraveled. As we approached a ridge, we could see Vere on one side and Captain Gom and his forces on the other. Captain Gom and his men were dying. Horribly. We were ordered by Smoke to prepare to complete our objective. Vere was right there.

    …but our captain and his men were dying…


    We saw Captain Gom try desperately to defend himself and the men of his unit. He took a spear to the chest. His armor and limbs burned and withered under the creatures’ assaults. It was demoralizing and agonizing to watch.

    Much to Smoke’s dismay, several of our members moved to help the captain and the villagers he was defending. I stood there, paralyzed in indecision before deciding that I would be a good soldier and serve the greater good, and defeat the creature that was Vere who commandeered the faith of Robert Holmsmead. If we helped our captain and the villagers, Vere would never be defeated. It was our only chance.

    To this day, I will never know which decision was right. Vere was defeated. Captain Gom was saved miraculously by a potion of regeneration. Treys was rescued. Robert Holmsmead repented.

    We won, right?

    I’m not convinced we did. Our efforts to free the Silver Host cost the lives of too many knights and too many citizens. Too many good people died. I don’t think the greater good was served at all. We were duped, misled, and achieved what we set out to do, but as far as I am concerned, we lost.

    One thing is certain. I will never view Captain Gom the same way again. Ever.

    I watched a man belittled by many, ridiculed by some, put his life before those under his command. It was inspiring. He may act quirky and may not be the model of what one would expect in a man of his station, but he will always have my respect.

    I have written an after action report and placed it on General Del’Rosa’s desk. Hopefully my captain will receive the recognition he deserves.

  • My life set to music

    Every season in the village I grew up, an entertainment troupe would arrive for a few days and put on a spectacle. Often times there were plays of heroism and villainy, love and tragedy, and musicians would play in the background to set the mood. In the college here in Peltarch, sometimes there are entire orchestras, and the music swells to the hero’s triumphant victory, or with somber notes with unrequited love.

    My entire life now, has “mood music”

    The “Wailing Blade”, as Aruhan called it when she put it to auction, seems to have a mind of its own. It creates music, unbidden sometimes to my own mood, the situation around me, or whatever it damn well feels like. If I sing, whistle or dance, the accompaniment is quite enthusiastic and joyous.
    The longer I own it, the more prevalent this has become. There are times I want to embrace it, and other times I pray to Aerdrie for a spell of silence.

    I did my own reading and contacted several lore masters about it. No one seemed to know anything about this peculiar weapon. However, with the aid of a spell of Lore, Syltria the Magistrate was able to find out it’s immediate history. The following is her report –


    This blade’s story begins when it came out from Undermoutain with Mirt the Merciless, one of the Lords of Waterdeep.

    Given to him by Halaster Blackcloak whilst under the guise of a gnome whom Mirt and Durnan freed, the Old Walrus thought it a powerful but otherwise unremarkable relic. As a result, he kept it with him rather than selling it as he did with much of what he recovered.

    His first clue that it was more than it seemed came roughly one year after he ad received it, when what sounded like a harmony line played on the harp came from its sheathe while he hummed a tune.
    Upon further investigation, he discovered that the longer it is with an owner, the more its innate abilities became obvious, and the clearer its desires become.

    Eventually Mirt found the blade more of a distraction than an aid, especially considering the covert nature of much of what he did, and he passed it on to a promising young bard named Arugan Endover, who wielded it for many years before meeting his end in the Yuirwood helping to defend the half-elves of that place from a threat raised by their dark cousins, the Drow.

    From there, it was carried into the Underdark and eventually made its way to the Narfell region where it was recovered from the Drow by Aruhan Aersdottir, a daughter of the Nars Barbarians, one of the last of her people, before it made its way to Yavie, an elven archer.

    The truth is that Drannor’dharasha has had tales and stories for centuries before Mirt ever received it, and only it knows all that there is to be told.

    An intelligence lies within it, but not one that can communicate telepathically or through words with its wielder or anyone else, instead using the gift of music to do its work. It is cheeky, as well as given to moods and is just as likely to be disruptive as it is to be helpful.

    Only after it has bonded with its wielder for a year does it begin to “sing”, allowing the activation of its innate abilities, all of which are designed to further heroic tales and adventures.

    These innate abilities include:

    • Harmonizing with its wielder’s artistic performances, no matter how mundane.
    • Playing “theme music” when it is interested in doing so, such as a battle song during a particularly dangerous combat, or ominous music when receiving a prophecy or omen.
    • Warning of incoming danger to help further a story or legend with a discordant note, or staying silent for the same reason.
    • Humming loudly to indicate the way to a desired object, or the way into or out of a location, when it is inclined to do so
    • The capacity to find the harmonic frequency where a glass or crystal item would shatter, and then create a sound at the required frequency, when it so chooses.

    A silence spell suppresses these abilities, and will leave it sulking for a tenday.

    So there you have it. My entire life is now a bardic play in the making! I dread the day I run into Captain Gom though. I’m sure the sword will no doubt do something … inappropriate.

  • The People in My Life

    Since I’ve come to this city, I have encountered all manner of people, which delights me. Even the people whose affiliations disgust me (That means you, priests and priestesses of Velsharoon!) have been a learning experience and have opened windows of view into the greater world than was possible living in a little village on the coast of the Moonsea.

    I have developed many acquaintances but few friends. I expect that’s normal even amongst humans. Growing up in Bywater, I had only a handful I would have called friends. These are the people who help you with buckets of frogs, late night ghost stories, and know intimate, embarrassing and terrifying details about you because they’ve lived them … with you.

    Here in this city, that one person is named Blue. Although she borders on the outskirts of what I would call friendship, she’s the only person who’s crossed that line. She’s human, so I understand that this friendship will be limited in years.

    I think our friendship developed because we are both fish out of water. I from a small village with little outside contact, and her from a reclusive monastery. We both view the world from fresh eyes, and it’s wonderous to see the world open new experiences for the both of us. She is kind and humble, fierce and dedicated, and has a good view of the world that I can share.

    My mentor is a woman named Robyn. A sad reclusive sort who is terrifyingly good with a rapier. She pushes people away at every opportunity, yet has graced me with instruction in archery, swordsmanship and life in general. In her last meeting with me we walked the breadth and depth of the city. She never had children of her own and asked if I would be her legacy. She spent her life fighting for the common good, and it was an honor that I would never turn down. I hope that can continue her life’s work as she would see it. In turn I’ve written home and asked if she could find a place in our village to spend her remaining years.

    There is of course, my Defender unit. I spent far too much time with this people in professional capacity. Most I barely know. We all fight for different reasons but for the same cause. My immediate commander is Lieutenant Scott Grimm, an extremely competent but rather bloodthirsty sort with rumors surrounding them I’d rather not speak of. Yet, if my life were at risk there few better choices to protect it. Captain Gom is my unit commander. While he frets about his hair and misremembers names, I always get the impression I’m dealing with a very wise and intelligent person. Having him as a commander is endearing.

    Finally, there is a person named Tyrus. I haven’t quite got a handle on him yet. He’s a warrior who professes an allegiance to Helm and Tyr. He seems to fail a lot in his tasks and is full of self-doubt. Yet oddly, things just seem to go his way, almost as if divine providence were at hand. It will be fascinating to see his life unfold and find out if truly, the gods have plans for him.

  • The Silver Host

    The Paladins and Knights of Torm came to this land with pomp and ceremony. Their bright shiny armor glistened in the sun, and the warhorses they rode were well bred and sturdy. It was a story book setting with story book heroes, and I watched it all with awe.

    They are led by a Sir Robert Holmsmead, a man of near divine favor. Together he gathered his troops, and led an assault on the demonic forces that destroyed Jiyyd. I was blessed to be a part of that, and his mere presence inspired courage and confidence. Together we rid Jiyyd of the demon menace, in a manner befitting tales of legend. I was even rewarded with a pendant bearing the marking of the Silver Host, that’s enchanted with blessings of protection and resolve.

    But things are not always what they seem.

    In their desire to set the land right and punish the wicked, they have forcibly gathered folks, some of which have already paid for their crimes. They charge that these people were not duly punished, and that only Divine Justice will set things right.

    This is terribly analogous to the Bane led purges that I read about in school. Divine right has no bearing here, and if laws are broken and people freedoms taken away, how are they any better?

    Granted, they have brought to justice many wicked people. But they go too far, pulling people from duty and homes. Lieutenant Rey was the first casualty that tipped the scales of Peltarch’s neutrality. She is a Defender. One of the city’s great warriors. She did some horrible things in her past, but was put on trial and now pays restitution by caring for the city’s lost children. She has no business for paying for her crimes twice.

    Now it seems that Sir Robert may is the one being played by his seer, one named “Vere”. I don’t know the details, but I suspect she’s not what she seems.

    I hope this is sorted out without direct conflict. There are many good people in the Silver Host, people that want to do good and save the world from evil. I would hate to see it come to bloodshed. So many good people will die on both sides.

  • My Tour of Duty

    Torm is the human god of duty and loyalty. I have met a few priests of him here in Narfell. In particular, Galin in the Temple of the Triad. He is a stern yet fatherly sort of whom I have much respect.

    The concept of duty has weighed on my mind recently. While at home, this would be a simple chore like feeding the chickens. Here in the city, particularly for these humans it means much more. Duty is implied as service to a greater whole. Usually, there is honor and sacrifice that goes into it.

    I’ve decided to embrace service and duty to the City of Peltarch and join the Defenders. I must admit, that part of this decision was the curiosity of what drove the human soldiers to serve. The other was that I thought I might make good use of my skills to protect those that can’t protect themselves. By the standards of my people I’m but a teenager, barely into adulthood. Yet here, I have already lived a full lifetime. Though time passes differently for Tel’Quessir and the people here, I’ve acquired more general knowledge than many. My archery skills surpass all but their best soldiers. Why not put that to use and serve the greater good?

    I was a recruit for a few months, and quickly earned the rank of the most basic soldier, a private. Unless I show leadership though, I’ll probably remain in this rank for some time.

    My direct report is a man named Scott Grimm. A lieutenant in the Defenders, Scott is an extremely seasoned swordsman. He’s an abrupt no-nonsense sort, who says what he feels and doesn’t take crap from people unless he has to. He’s a bit cold and bloodthirsty for my liking, but there are few others whose skill and resolve I respect as much.

    My captain is a man named Gom. I’ve heard reports that he’s a brilliant tactician, but he’s obsessed with his appearance, particularly his lack of hair. Personally, I find his lack of hair adorable. I’m sure other woman do too. If he stopped obsessing about it, he might come to realize that. Beyond that Gom has a dark and quirky sense of humor I find endearing. I can’t speak for his soldiering though, as I’ve not traveled with him.

    One thing I’ve learned about being a soldier is that it provides a sense of belonging that I’ve not had before. I don’t just dwell in the city. Now, I’m a part of it.

  • Rapier

    Aruhan somehow managed to get ahold of a singing blade. It was a rapier, the finest blade I have ever seen, something born of story and legend. She was holding an auction for it, and I assumed it would also command a legendary price. I made it a point to show up, just to see which wealthy person was going to acquire it and how much it would go for.

    I was the only one there who was even remotely interested.

    I was flabbergasted. I didn’t have close to the coin that Aruhan was asking, yet I had a great number of goods to trade. These included two exquisite blades, one bearing Corellon’s holy symbol, along with gold, rings, and other items. I put in a bid on a lark, just in case I was the only one interested…

    …and lost, only because Lieutenant Vick Blake showed up at the last minute. He placed a bid, and it was accepted. I wasn’t completely heartbroken, but I certainly went on an emotional ride thinking for a moment that I might get it….

    …and that’s when Vick offered it to me, for what I was originally bidding, plus my first pick of some substantial item later.

    I didn’t know what to say. I thought he wanted something of me, perhaps something I was unwilling to give. But no, he was just being capricious and kind. I asked him why he even bid on it only to give to me, and he just shrugged. The only thing I can think of is maybe he gets great joy out of helping others, but he never struck me as the type. Perhaps I’ve misjudged him.

    Now I had this legendary rapier. A sword I never expected to own. A sword I haven’t been truly trained with. So somehow, I needed to take advantage of the situation and learn to use it.

    There’s a woman named Robyn who spends most of her time in the Mermaid. She sits quietly by the fire doing puzzles. I’ve seen her practice on the College stage though, and for someone who is innocuous and blends in with the crowd she seemed terrifyingly good with it. Rumor has it she killed someone famous in a duel in the marketplace.

    She eventually agreed to teach me. I offered to pay her but she refused. Her only stipulation was that she would teach me only what I needed to learn. Nothing more. Nothing less, and that I would listen to what she had to say. When I asked her why should wouldn’t accept payment, like Vick she just shrugged.

    There was a part of me that feels like I owed these people something. It eventually struck me that what I owed them was to make the best use of this gift that was given, and do right by the kindness they have shown me.

  • Treasures

    Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with flight. I’m completely jealous of the wizards and nature priests who can affect a shape change, and become something that flies. Bat, bird, it wouldn’t matter to me. To be free up in the sky even for a day is something I would like to accomplish.

    That and my wanderlust turned my prayers to Aerdrie Faenya. Such was my passion at one point that I even learned the language of the Avariel. Unless I meet one, it’s an utterly useless skill. No one speaks it but a handful of people these days. The Avariel are all but gone. I had thought, perhaps foolishly, that learning the language would grant me her favor, but Aerdrie is fickle in such regards, and rarely concerns herself with us. Nonetheless I say my prayers and hope that one day, she’ll listen.

    I thought that day had arrived. A resourceful Hin named Derek Underhill often grabs folks in the city circle for all manner of adventure. One of the known treasures was an Angel Wing Cloak … that allowed one to fly.

    Yet, when it came time to draw lots for treasure I drew the next to shortest straw. Someone else grabbed it and I was left standing in the frustration and randomness of it all. Perhaps she had indeed heard my prayer, and decided if my luck and ambition will good enough, that I would have a chance to wear it.

    It’s odd, because otherwise my luck has been spectacular. I found a pair of boots crafted by an Tel’Quessir woodsman, and they allow for swift and quiet footing. The blade I found has the symbol of The Father on it, and was also made by Tel’Quessir hands. Were I a swordswoman of some skill, I could make better use of it, but my heart and life are in my bow. Nonetheless, I will wear it with pride.

    My skills with my bow have grown and been remarked upon since I’ve been here. The head of the Far Scouts suggested that I join the city’s “Defenders”, and that they’d be glad to have another archer. I shall have to dwell on that. I wholly doubt I am soldier material, but it would be a new experience for me. My mentor, rest his soul said I should fill my life with new experiences, so perhaps I will.

  • The Letter

    When the letter from The Court finally reached me, I was beyond excited. It arrived by courier from Spellweaver, and I tipped him well for his troubles. Then I opened the seal and read it.

    It started off well enough. It was written in my native tongue, and thanked me for telling them of Gaeleron’s downfall, and marking the location where he was buried. Being an Elder, they’re considering relocating him to a proper spot for his final resting place. A shallow rocky grave on the side of the Long Road does not befit a man of his life and service to his people.

    When I read the next section though, a cold knife slowly twisted in my stomach. The bottom line is that no, I would not be assigned another mentor. Whatever agreement and arrangements I and my family had with Gaeleron died with him. I was welcome to return home, apply for service to The Court, and perhaps when I’m older and have proved myself, future considerations may be forth coming. I was duly reminded that service as a Warden was only given to those of exceptional skill and ability, and few even out of the elite were chosen.

    I threw the letter into the fire. I’ll make my own destiny here in this cold land without them.

  • Pride and Prejudice

    The Orcs and Tel’Quessir have been warring since before recorded history. The Orcs are a brutish race, bent on conquest and destruction. They raid towns and villages, destroying everything in their path, often leaving behind unwanted offspring when women are violated. Most of them are evil personified.

    In our village, raids were always a threat. All able bodied men and women were required to take part in training, even if it was just to heal injured or carry them from the field. Those events were often both somber and joyous occasions, and villages banded together for training and feast. In my youth I won an archery tournament at one of them, the day I met Gaeleron.

    My grandfather died in the West Forest Orc wars before I was born. My mentor Gaeleron was killed just a few months ago when Orcs ambushed us on the long road between Damara and Narfell. I have no love for them. My first kill was an Orc who pointed a crossbow at me in the forests west of Peltarch. Every time I see one, a little bit of rage rises within me.

    I shouldn’t be surprised that there are half breeds in the city of Peltarch. I’m sure they are the product of raids. Unwanted souls left on doorsteps. I know it’s not their fault, but their visage brings out unreasoning hatred, and I haven’t figured out how to quell it.

    I categorize these half breeds as two type. Those that have embraced their Orcish nature, and those that try to fit in. There are two I’ve met in Peltarch that fall into the latter category. One is Tiffany, and the other is Tim.

    Tiffany is aware of the effect she has on other folks. Tim does not, or chooses not to acknowledge it. Both are intelligent and good people. I have traveled with both, and despite my unreasoning instinct to shoot them and leave them in the swamps, I trust them. I applaud them both for trying to make something good of their lives.

    I know this hatred I have is born of decades of upbringing, lore, and training. My heart tells me one thing, and my head tells me another. Here in this city I’m going to have to learn to put the hatred aside and give these people a chance to become better than their heritage.

    It’s the right thing to do.

  • Enchantment

    I had my Grandfather’s bow enchanted!

    I was cautioned many times that the coin was simply not worth it. That it would take too much coin and too much of myself for such a meager benefit.

    They just don’t understand.

    The enchantment was a simple one. By tuning my essence with the bow, and putting a little of me into it, it has become an extension of who I am. Although I will always call it “Grandfather’s Bow” out of habit, it’s now truly “Yavie’s Bow”. This process required a dragon’s eye gem to allow the bow to “see”. It also required an enchanter with some artificer skill to mount it and tune me to it. The process took a lot out of me and I have yet to feel myself, but the small subtleties this tuning provided are extraordinary. Arrows are easier to place. Knowing where to aim is easier and faster.

    Archery is all about the little differences. While I was still in Bywater, Gaeleron once asked me what the most important part of archery was. When I hesitated, he poked me on the forehead and replied, “Yavie”.

    Now that the bow and I are closer to being one, I finally understand.

    Sadly, he’s not around to see it

  • Recognition

    There is a man in this city that goes by the name of Cecil. He is one of the larger than life heroes that dwells in this city, and I mean that in quite the literal sense. For he is indeed, very large.

    So large in fact that I hear the benches creak dangerously when he sits on them. You could stay cool in the shade he provides. Were he and Aruhan be wed, their progeny would make Faerun tremble. In combat, he uses his great size to wield a large sword with leverage and terrible effect, sweeping through smaller opponents like grain being harvested.

    But he is also large in heart too. When traveling, he is instructive and caring. He protects those that accompany him with his skill and tactics. He’s one of these people you meet in life that 100 years down the road, I fully expect that this city’s children will hear the embellished stories of this great man.

    So when he turned to me, after a foray into the swamp to seek out some vicious hag witches and said, “Autumn, your great! You can travel with me any time!”, I just about gushed with pride.

    I floated on a sea of good feelings for the remainder of the day after that remark, but I must caution myself that I don’t think that he has seen a truly great archer. There are those of The Court that have put hundreds of years to the craft, and easily put my meager skills to shame. Some day perhaps, I will be one of them, but that someday is a long time away.

    So while I enjoy Cecil’s perceptions of my skills, I must ground myself in the fact that my journey ahead has just begun.

  • Twinkle, twinkle little coin

    We are all connected to the weave in some manner. Some more than others. There are those with unrealized talents. People with towering intellects that manipulate the weave through study. And some who are touched in minor innocuous ways that hold promise to something deeper. In our village there were two.

    When I was very young, at the age when boys were icky and catching frogs in a bucket was fun, there was a kid in our group named Dane who could do something remarkable. He could make light.

    It required no cantrip. No spell or hand gestures. It was merely an effort of will and an attachment to the weave. The only thing he really used it for was impressing his friends and late night ghost stories. That was until an Elder from The Court showed up, and he and his family moved closer to a school near Elventree. I never saw him since, and often times my thoughts turn to his lopsided smile and wonder what ever became of him.

    I was the other.

    My mother tells me that it was discovered when I was just learning to count. My father gave me 20 coins to practice. I would put them in piles of 5 and 10, and then touch the bottom coin. It would twinkle, vibrate and jump, scattering the others. Apparently, I found this more amusing than counting them because to this day, I am still bad at math.

    An Elder from The Court came to visit the house. While my parents undoubtably had high hopes that I would be extraordinarily gifted and perform grand magics at the college under the tutelage of masters, the Elder told them that no, the best I would be performing is a few cantrips, an odd healing spell or two, and perhaps….just perhaps something to do with sound.

    To this day it’s just a curious trick that just once, I managed to use to cheat in a contest. Oddly, Gaeleron made me practice now and then. There was one memorable time when we were crossing the border into Damara, that a farmer let us stay in the barn for the night. Then, under the relaxing influence of some curious smelling pipe weed that Gaeleron offered, I was able to make the little twinkling coin hit the roof of the barn.

    It was a grand night, full of reflection and broken down barriers, one that made me see a side of my mentor I never otherwise saw. We laughed and giggled as coins with the curious twinkle would hit the roof of the barn, and told stories of loves, buckets of frogs and adventures.

    I wish he had lived long enough to tell me why. Perhaps someday, another mentor from The Court will answer my letter.

  • Archer’s Paradox

    Most people don’t know this, but an arrow actually wobbles in flight. It does this for several reasons, but one is that when launched, it curves around the bow handle. How much it does this depends largely on the stiffness and flexibility of the arrow. As an archer, we call this the spine. The reason this occurs is called the Archer’s Paradox.

    For a powerful bow, you want arrows with a heavy spine. For a lighter tournament bow, arrows with a lighter spine are desired. Too heavy or too light a spine, and the arrow will veer to the left or right of the target as it won’t flex properly around the bow. This is mitigated to some degree by my grandfather’s bow which brings the arrow closer to the center.

    It is in an archer’s best interest to not only have the right arrows, but make sure that they are all the same. Repetition leads to consistency. Consistency leads to accuracy. Gaeleron taught me this

    Failure to account for this may have cost a dear friend his life.

    We had received word in the commons from a Quessir caravan master of a robbery. The gnolls had ambushed the caravan, slaughtered the guards and stolen the coins. The caravan master looked at our group and scoffed. Surely if his guards were slaughtered, we would stand little chance.

    He was right.

    I had heard of gnolls before, but never seen one. I had heard that they were formidable foes, and used by some houses as guards in Thay. The group of us went to retrieve the coin, and came out bruised, bloodied, and in the cases of Astolfo, dead.

    I saw the large rune scarred gnoll bear down on him with the heavy axe. He was heavily wounded. I had time for two shots to drop him.

    I missed both.

    The arrows I had been using were different. They were heavily enchanted with magical lightning. I never practiced with them. At 10 gold a piece, how could I? When it came time to fire them, both shots veered to the left. Why? Because their spine was too light, and I was too cheap and too lazy to practice with them.

    I carried Astolfo back to the city. There, a Quessir priestess of Sharess prayed for his return. Due to his return and the powerful prayer, Astolfo was dazed and disoriented. I accompanied him to the fireplace at the Mermaid, brought him some wine and sat with him. We weren’t there but ten minutes when Vera showed up. I excused myself, regarded Vera for a moment, and left.

    By all rights, Vera is better for Astolfo than I. I think she’s a broken person, but that’s not for me to judge. They are both human. They could live out their lives together.

    Why is it, that this bothers me?

    My mother once taught me that “wanting” is more powerful than “having”. Particularly if it’s something you shouldn’t have. He could never be the deep love of my life. Only a bright spark.

    Yet, I want him.

    That’s my paradox.

  • My Grandfather’s Bow

    I never knew my grandfather, Althar. He died in one of the wars against the orcs when my father was young. I don’t know the circumstances. The only thing that remained was the bow that hung in my father’s workshop.

    By all accounts, my grandfather was a bear of a man. It is said that he could crack a walnut between his thumb and forefinger. There were stories told by neighbors of a larger than life fellow who wielded an axe, drank too much meade, had two humans for friends. My neighbors say that they see much of him in me. Though it makes me proud, there is sadness in not knowing him.

    There was a great ceremony in the village when Gaeleron announced that he would mentor me. Being mentored by an Elder from The Court was an honor, and a notable event in our village of 223 people. During that ceremony, my father presented me with my grandfather’s bow. That single moment will stand with me all the years of my life.

    It was an antique, but he had one of The Circle reinvigorate the wood, and had painstakingly refinished it. I knew I would never be able to draw it. It was as long as I am tall and possessed a draw that would drive an arrow completely through a target. But the honor of the gift brought me to tears, and I wept embarrassingly during the ceremony.

    Gaeleron came to me after the ceremony and showed me how to string it, using another string with two leather cups at the end and my feet. I never would have been able to otherwise. I held it in my hands then, knowing countless years ago that my grandfather held this very same bow.

    It was then that I noticed it was left handed

    Most longbows can be used by either hand. The arrow rests on a leather archery gauntlet regardless of which side it’s shot from. But my grandfather’s bow was a long composite recurve. The handle was stylized, and there was a leather bound shelf on the right side. My grandfather held it in his right hand and pulled with his left, opposite of what I did.

    It was in interesting quirk I never knew of him, and it made me smile. It was then Gaeleron told me that this was the bow I would be using, and that he had asked my father for all my other bows. This was the only one that I would lay hands on in the coming years.

    I remember laughing. I couldn’t even draw it! Not only that, it was for the wrong hand and that I would have to learn to shoot all over again. When I made that statement, a cold uneasy feeling came over me, because Gaeleron just smiled and said that yes, I would.

    It was then with sternness born of centuries of teaching that he held his finger to his nose. “Look at my nose he said, and don’t take your eyes from it.” Then he took his finger and moved it from his nose to mine. “Which eye does the ghost finger move to?”, he asked. “My left”, I replied. He simply nodded and said, “You are left eyed, and will be shooting left handed”

    What followed was the first year I can remember of never firing an arrow. Every session Gaeleron brought the bow, but never let me touch it. Instructed using proper form, I pulled a bucket of rocks on a rope over a branch. I picked that same bucket up while bent over a log. I held it until by shoulder and back burned and I could no longer move it.

    I learned to hate that bucket.

    As the months and seasons went by, Gaeleron added more rocks. I grew taller and filled out. Boys became more interesting. Gaeleron added other seemingly unrelated exercises, until one day, he handed me the bow.

    I still remember that morning. It was cool and clear, and I could faintly see my breath. It was three days before my birthday. The bow was already strung.

    Had had me hold it in my right hand, which felt completely wrong. “Now pull”, he said. “Use your back. Remember the rocks”. To my astonishment, the string came back to my face. It took great effort, but it did. He gave me a smile then, one with a hint of pride. He also gave me a set of archery gauntlets. “The bow is still too strong for you. That part will take more time than we have. Ten years or more I imagine” he said. “In the mean time, these gauntlets will help to overcome the difference”

    Relearning to shoot was not as hard as I had imagined. The bow tired me out. A dozen or two arrows and I was spent. But Gaeleron was right. Now that I was sighting down my dominant eye, my accuracy improved dramatically. The bows power astonished me. This was no bow for tournaments. This bow was designed to kill.

    It’s been over 10 years now, and I still use this bow today. It’s my prized possession and I plan to have it enchanted soon here in this land of Narfell. I hope that where ever my grandfather and Gaeleron are now, that someday they will look upon me and be proud. I will carry on their legacy as best I can.

  • The Ruby Rose

    Sir Astolfo Furioso is a knight of the Ruby Rose. He is human, born of wealth and privilege and one of the first people that I traveled with after arriving from Damara. He is handsome, educated, and well-spoken.

    When I first met him, I had just come from the college. There were two people performing and singing in the commons, and he was one of them. I was delighted to meet a man of culture, and though his station implied a sense of arrogance, I found him to be very friendly and down to earth.

    I wasn’t initially sure what to think of him. Many of the local women, human, Tel-quessir or otherwise seemed drawn to his charm. Aruhan however, the tall native woman that I have come to admire and respect, had harsh words for him. I thought to judge for myself as mother taught me to do, and bear witness with my own eyes of his deeds and action.

    Since then, we have traveled together or met in the city center many times. In the course of a few short weeks, I came to look forward to his company. We’ve even fought together, and as often happens with those whose lives depend on each other, have gotten close.

    I knew something was different between us when he mentioned an underground city nearby. He said it was a terrible place, where slavery was legalized and evil ruled, but that only heightened my desire to see yet another new place in this land. Soon I was accompanying him on business there. He hated going, but he had obligations to deliver food and spare goods from the city of Peltarch. I could tell though that one of the reasons, one unspoken, is that he didn’t want me going there alone.

    We took a boat over the Icelace, to a cave mouth that served as one of the entrances to it. Once there he showed me many vendors and shops. There was a quaint tavern there, and three Knights of Cormyr were there resting from their travels. He bought me a far too expensive gift, and after delivering food and supplies to a priest of Ilmater, we left.

    It’s difficult to explain why that short trip to the underground city was the turning point. It shouldn’t have been. But it was. I knew it in my heart when we left.

    Perhaps it was his generosity to people that had little meaning to him other than their suffering. Perhaps it was the story he told of the arranged marriage back home, the one he used to settle a dispute, to woman he didn’t love. Perhaps it was the goodness in his soul that I rarely see in others.

    Several days and a harrowing adventurer later, I found myself with him in an enchanted grove outside the city. I could feel the yearning between us. We talked, we laughed, we were silly. And when there came a moment where I knew he was going to kiss me, I did something remarkably stupid and kissed him first.

    I can be such an impulsive idiot. I’m here a few short weeks, and I forget everything I was taught.

    My father sat down with me the day before I left. He knew I would meet people of many races. The humans he said, lived short lives. As a result, they fill them with urgency of purpose and accomplishment. For them, the world is on fire. For the Tel-quessir, the world is a lake, quiet and serene. The union between the two he said, rarely ends well. To grow old together, is one of life’s greatest joys, but it’s something that humans and Tel-quessir can never share. Remember that when you see the fire in their hearts he said.

    Regardless of what I happens, I know this will not end well.

  • Friends and Adventure

    I have been on more adventure after arriving into this northern city of Narfell than I ever would have dreamed. I have helped defend the city against Orcs, three times no less. I have hunted kobolds stealing vegetables from a garden, raided a cave full of large lizards, run screaming from hobgoblins in the woods, participated in a game created by an insane and lonely wizard, and defeated this cursed knot of roots and tentacles which was cursing the old Romani lands.

    I have been cut, shot, beaten, bespelled, conscripted, sickened and frozen. I have shot arrows until my fingers bled, and last night I soothed it all away with a bottle of wine and a nice bath. I have seen more of the fantastic than I ever would have dreamed possible. It’s incredible. Truly incredible.

    Through all of this, I have met numerous people. Some I call friends. Others, I pass by and acknowledge the contributions they provide to the city. Others, I want nothing to do with. I have seen wizards cast great spells, and priests pray for divine gifts which are brought to this earth in fantastic color, light and sound. I’ve seen warriors whose caliber I’ve only dreamed of stories fight their enemies with blade and magic.

    Even though I’m just the girl with a catchy whistle and a good bow, it’s nice to be able participate and help these people on their quests. Keth, a rather odd Tel-quessir from a monastery gave me an honest and forthright compliment regarding my archery skills, and his kind words stuck with me. Amongst the presence of these many heroes, it fills my heart that my contributions matter. I don’t know if I will ever be the stuff of legends that some of these folks are, but if I can help them do some good in this world then I already have accomplished much.

  • Peltarch

    This human city continues to surprise me.

    When I arrived, my heart heavy with grief, I had expected a large backwards fishing town with little tolerance for outsiders. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    The cultural diversity I have experienced here is astounding. There are people from all walks of life, and for a town with more than 90% of its population human, it seems quite accepting of Tel-quessir, Hin, Dwarves, and yes, even a Dragon Touched. The latter found me embarrassed of my initial shock, but he seemed quite proud of the fact that the city has not only accepted him, but was employed as a city guard. He had grown up on the docks no less.

    One of the largest buildings that sits off the Commerce District is a college. I took a brief tour of the public areas, and there are books for sale, a stage, and classrooms. I had only seen another building like this in Damara, and the one in Peltarch is likely even grander in function and scale.

    I have met traveling merchants, mercenaries, adventurers and wizard or two, one of whom really needs to practice her aim. One of the merchants sold me a very exquisitely enchanted ring, which I sadly used most of my funds for purchase, but if I am to thrive here such items will no doubt be necessary for survival.

    …for this place does indeed have problems with Orcs. It seems that Orcs are not just relegated to ambushes on the Long Road.

    The forests and hills west of the city are inundated with their breed. I traveled with a group after reports that a contingent of them were hold up in a cave just outside the farming areas. It seems that skilled locals often take matters into their own hands, which truth be told is not much different than many of the villages we traveled through. There we slew many of them, and aside from a little Hin wizard upsetting a very tall native warrior, the experience was sobering but uneventful.

    Up to that point, I had never killed a sentient creature before. I had expected to be ill, but I found a certain relish in slaying one of the race that took my mentor’s life. It’s not a very good thing to feel, but nonetheless was true.

    Later, the orcs rallied, and drove another group of adventurers back to the city walls. I stood in safety behind the crenulations and offered my bow as best I could. Some of the city folks are very experienced warriors. Someday I hope to learn from them.

    In particular, I would like to learn from Thau’Lira. She is a disciple of The Father, and sacrificed two days of her time just to help me send a message to The Court. She escorted me south to the village of Norwick and a place called “Spellweaver”, a wizards’ enclave of sorts. Such kindness to a complete stranger was unexpected. She seemed grounded and wise as one would considering her profession. It would delight me to one day call her friend.

  • Death

    I had never truly experienced death until recently. Loss at such a scale sickened and angered me, and there was naught I could do.

    Gaeleron was killed. Brutally I might add.

    Gaeleron was my instructor. He was the one who saw promise in me and vouched to my parents that I would remain safe. He took me from the small village of Bywater, across the sea to Thesk, through the Forest of Lethyr north to Dunwood. There Damara and the long road to Narfell.

    He was a good man. A harsh but fair instructor, he made me see thing around and inside of me I probably never would under anyone else’s tutelage. He wanted me to see the world and what it offered. Part of training he said, was cultivating different experiences. We were even going as far as Thay, if the wind blew us that direction.

    …only he never made it.

    A group of well trained orcs ambushed the caravan at close quarters. Gaeleron died three feet in front of me before he even drew a weapon. The orcs were fast and deadly and they outnumbered the soldiers on the caravan two to one. Two others died in the first thirty seconds. The orcs had chosen their target well. Fortunately for us, the Orcs didn’t count on the wizard who was riding in the back.

    After the first set of screams, a small man riding in the trailing wagon unleashed a litany of spells of which I had never seen. The orcs died in vast numbers, many choking and falling to the ground. Even the earth rose up at one point and swatted away the remainder.

    I held on to Gaeleron for the longest time. I remember through the shock and tears one of the guards whispering to me that he was already gone. We buried him on the side of the road.

    Now I find myself in a largely human city named Peltarch. It sits north by the Ice Lace. I will do my due diligence by writing a letter to the court informing them of Gaeleron’s death, but beyond that I don’t know. I am poorly a poorly trained Elvish woman stranded in a human city. I have considerable coin and could make the journey back, but I know Gaeleron would be disappointed if I did.

    I will see what the humans offer here and make a go of it. Gaeleron would have liked that.