Writings under the Moonlight
[The pictures are not my artwork, simply fit the scenes I have in my mind as I write and they have been slightly edited. I take no credit for them.]
As the moonlight shines down brightly from above and the stars twinkle as if thousands of watching eyes are peering down, Asha sits under the tree of the cliff side. An owl hoots, the waves crash against the cliffs below as the winds pick up, sending a soft spray of icy water up to coat her. A shiver spreads quickly through her body as the clouds begin to roll in over the Icelace, brought on by the chilling winds of the north as winter begins to take hold over the land. Asha looks down at her simple leather bound journal and curls sideways against the tree to hug her cloak closer for warmth before she begins to write.
Everyone seems to ask that and I admit, I have a hard time answering them.
Why does one follow a god?
I used to be afraid of the dark and the only time I found comfort was sleeping under the stars and Selune bright in the sky. It could be as simple as one childhood fear defining my path in life.
Many in my family have been faithful of the Moonmaiden. My mother, who took me to such far off and wondrous places. Many who wander the lands give thanks to Our Lady of Silver, navigators who guide ships by the stars and those upon quests who look to Her for guidance. My grandfather is not only a priest in her church - I might add that is an oddity, as most are female within the church clergy. He also has been blessed by her in the form of control over a more bestial nature within, brought on by the bite of lycanthropy. A fate shared with my grandmother on my mothers side, who also has such a blessing given to her by Selune.
I am no preacher, I do not hold sermons to spread the words of the Moonmaiden. I am there when someone is hurt, to offer a soft touch that may heal what ails them. I am there to let someone know that they are not alone when the end has come and they take their last breath. When the world seems to be falling apart, I am there to offer a smile and tell them not all is lost. I am there to tell them that even when the darkness seems to cover everything, the light can shine through and bring with it a better day.
I am just there. Is that not enough?'
Written at the bottom of the first page is a poem, the ink seeming less vibrant and more aged than the rest of the writings in the journal. A small note is written beside it:
'I found this in the Temple of the Silver Stars and enjoyed it.'
Oh friend across the ever distant shore
And strangers well met on the merry ways.
What dreams compel our slumbered souls to soar?
What spectacles are chanced upon to gaze?
The starry night majestic in its scope
Connects the fates of all on land and sea,
So hold your stride and never give up hope
For Maiden’s Moon will guide us where to be.
Asha leans back against the wall in the docks, the altar to the Moonmaiden sitting only thirty feet off. She smiles as the moonlight seems to direct itself down in a focused beam to the altar - the bright light seeming to bring the whole section of the Docks District to life in the darkest hour of night. A trick of the mind perhaps, she thinks to herself. Selunites are known to see things that would make others think they were less than sane of mind. She shrugs the thought off and looks down to the simple journal, opening it up she begins to write.
'Dwarves and Courage
The Temple orphans wanted more stories tonight. Jumping on their beds in youthful protest when I told them they could not have them. Instead I ushered them to sleep and blew out the lanterns. I know I can't tell them about Bunus and his battlerager ways.
Is it courage to race headlong into every situation, weapon swinging wildly as you do? Or is it foolishness? It could be a bit of both - I am guilty of both at times myself. Bunus is brave, foolish and stalwart. He stands firm each and every time we go out exploring. He is the shield that Selune heals through me. He would lay his life down for me, I know this inside. He is my friend and despite his stinky balor cloak, I love him dearly.
I knew of the cave that he went to before. The large red X was said to be a warning - stay out! Beholders!
Checking the 'GPS' and seeing his little dot not moving on the parchment made me nervous. I sat there for a time and watched to see if the little dot would begin to change location. Bunus, why did you have to go there, of all places? I gathered up who I could find, which was only Salin, the father of Six. Off we went to rescue my dwarven friend from the clutches of one of the worst nightmares to live on Faerun, if the stories are to be believed.
The cave was dark and damp, but you could see them floating about in the darkness beyond, eyestalks slowly swaying to find more intruders. Every step you take, every scuffing sound of your boot on the stone floor sounds like an alarm going off. Your heart beat drumming in your ears. You swear they heard you as one eye seems to turn in your direction. The sanctuary should protect me from their sight or at least from most actions they might take against me. Salin is close by and invisible - he wouldn't leave me, my father would never forgive him he said.
There is my poor Bunus, dead on the cavern floor, his body burnt and melted away from the horrible eye attacks of the beholders. I could see many of them hovering deeper in, so I quickly snatched up Bunus' horribly heavy body and sprinted out of the cave as fast as I could. I could hear Salin's footsteps behind me, and we didn't stop until we hit Norwick. The thought of those horrible creatures following us made my legs move faster than they ever have!
It seemed.. easy. I expected them to find us right away and try to zap us into ash or whatever else they do! I should watch what I say. I still think there are floating eyes behind me at night. I have back my dwarven protector to keep me safe once again.
Stay alive Bunus.
Do NOT tell the children about beholders.'
As Asha slides the door open, she notices the lithe figure shackled to the floor, his chest rising and falling slowly with each breath as he curls up against the cold stone wall. She smiles softy and her light steps take her across the dusty stone floor quickly. Asha sets the tray of food down - the meal consisting of a broth with vegetables mixed in, a slice of bread, several small but fresh tomatoes and a mug of clarry wine. Offering a quiet prayer to the Moonmaiden brings the soft glow of moonlight to the room, Asha retreating to the doorway to write as she watches the elf.
'The Elven Werewolf
Many have told me that nothing is ever simple in Narfell. It seems each day I wake brings a new threat, a new adventure, and a new challenge. Each day also brings with it a new experience, a new smile at those experiences, new locations to see all over the lands, and new herbs and plants to find. Each day is a blessing!
The particular day we met my guest, we were hired by the Cartographers Guild in Peltarch. A nice gnome fella who had accidentally turned Isolde into a cat with a magical rune discarded on the road, in turn offered us a paying job. Our task was simple, to head south and then east and map out a forested area. Bugbears were the enemies to be expected but it was goblins that were most troublesome. How could we refuse?
A pile of goblins with grenades, a large net, a dwarf with a pilfered grenade, and an acid spitting insect chewing on goblin bones in a dark ravine. The makings of a REAL adventure.
The night was perfect as our group kept up our mapping efforts. The moon came out so bright and beautiful, the crisp cool wind - so refreshing as it touched your exposed flesh, goosebumps forming as it did. We talked and laughed as we mapped. Then you get the feeling, you are being watched, you are being stalked. Your heart begins to pound and it echoes in your ears. The moon hid for a moment behind the clouds above and then they appeared, larger than horses. Dire wolves.
If that was the end, our group would have likely been happy. He appeared shortly after, large, hairy and looking for his next meal. The red burning eyes of the werewolf, each breath causing a cloud that made him look almost ghostly, the low growling sounding like a hiss accompanying each breath. I tried to talk, I tried to do what Selune would want me to do. That could have easily of been my grandfather or grandmother out of control. I had to try something. He wanted nothing to do with it at first, instead lunging at our group. The battle was hard, he was SO strong, but we managed to make him flee. I was so HAPPY that the group gave me the chance.
We cornered him later in his small glade, his soiled clothes and the remains of his meals littered the ground. Selune had tucked herself behind the clouds again and this seemed to calm him enough that we could all approach. Maybe we could talk reason into him. He wanted to rip our flesh, he wanted to feast on us. Selune disappeared into the new day and as she did he began his change back. We waited a time so we could get some rest and we were met by more elven figures upon waking. They searched for the beast and they wanted him dead - the groups negotiations paid off in the end and we were allowed to leave with our 'beast' hidden away under a blanket as we departed.
A final meeting with an elven bardess in the woods was where we got some idea of his identity. The story she told while playing her lyre softly:
There is a Sun Elf city in the woods to the west of where we were. There was a Lord with three children. One of those children has a habit of taking monthly walks, at night. She does not know if they seek to slay him because he is possibly the Lord's son. She believes they only seek to slay a beast that roams the forest, that they believe is an elven lycanthrope. Her advice was to take him far away. The name and location of this city is not for us to know.
So he stays here for now. He rests. He says nothing but at least he seems to eat. I watch him curiously and wait for him to speak to me so we can begin looking into a possible cure for him, or at least control over his affliction.'
Autumn Crocus - is a toxic autumn blooming flowering plant that resembles the true crocuses. It has a pink color. The species is cultivated as an ornamental in temperate areas, in spite of its toxicity. This herbaceous perennial has leaves up to 25 cm long. The flowers are solitary, 4–7 cm across, with six tepals and six stamens with orange anthers and three white styles. At the time of fertilisation, the ovary is below ground. Plant is deadly poisonous and there is no known antidote. This plant is a particular threat to felines.
'One must have magical means for removing the effects of this poison. LBL has a garden in the earth which is tended by her 'farmers' and their guardians. Was this the one who dropped the platinum pieces? I should find out.
Must not panic when vegetation gets close.'