(attached are various entries from Sebrienne's journal)
Sebrienne stood on some nameless mountain in the Giant Spires. A pillar, centuries old, left abandoned without name or purpose stood on a pedestal some 30 paces to the north.
The cold wind whipped the blue and white gown about her, her hair flung sideways. She had stopped feeling the cold a few years ago, the lack of sensation creeping so slowly it almost went unnoticed. She stood there, and gazed out across the expanse of the mountain range, haunted by the words of the old seer
“Your future is marred by the ash and cinder of what you have done. Ghosts howl, and grasp at your heels as you move forward. Vanquish them, or be consumed by them, and have no future at all”
The scorched and half melted symbol of Lathander, once owned by a small boy rested in her grasp, worn smooth by the incessant rubbing of sweaty hands. The deaths in the market were forgivable. She was barely five years old and wasn’t even aware of her power. The brigands in the monastery? They had deserved it. But the caravan…
The ghosts of the caravan still haunted her. The faces, what was left of them burned indelibly into her mind stared back. Peasants, merchants and their children just traveling to Calimport. At 14 years of age, Sebrienne was most assuredly aware of her power. But she had used it carelessly as the guards had approached to detain her. She had let her fear consume her, that and anger being the lens of her sorcery.
She once had the opportunity to have her powers stripped in restitution, but what purpose would it have served? She had consoled herself at the time with the knowledge that the past was immutable, and the only direction was forward.
But now she wasn’t sure. Had justice been served? Tears came unbidden, freezing quickly on her face and scattering downwind. How could she reconcile the innocent lives that were in essence, the stepping stones to her climb to power?
Was she, Sebrienne, the wicked one?
The rage that bubbled up inside at that thought could have been quelled. She possessed the discipline to control it. This time she chose not to.
The air split as Sebrienne shrieked, sending snow and ice hurling outwards around her. In her mind, the faces of the dead lined themselves up on the pillar like some grotesque totem, and the subsequent lightning strike blotted out their visages.
She let the rage consume her. Hands worked unconsciously in arcane harmony as lightning cascaded outward. The pillar began to darken, and as the lightning continued it began to glow a soft red. Power that was usually measured and restrained leapt outward in continuous fury. The white hot lightning eclipsed her vision, her judgement, and most of all the faces of the dead. She barely even noticed when the pillar sundered, and the lightning was directed towards the heavens.
As lightning rippled along the mountain top, far above and behind her the clouds roiled in symphony.
Professor Riggles watched with amusement as the students, full of cupcakes and cider, took target practice on the wooden orc some 30 paces away in the field. It was festooned with various bits of armor, a broken axe, an old helm, and a stout tower shield.
The students were taking pot shots with an old crossbow, various spells, and even a small cart sized catapult young Dana had made. Dana was quite clever, and had the makings of a grand artificer if he put his mind to it.
Professor Riggles smiled when Gareth, one of the older students launched a flame arrow that impacted the helm, sending it spinning on the post, blackening the wood underneath. He had struggled for months to learn that spell and it had eluded him for some time. It looked like he finally got it right.
“Come on Seb! Knock the shield off!”
“Yeah birthday girl! Show us what you can do!”
Sebrienne came to the firing line, next to the little catapult. From Professor Riggles position, he could see reluctance on her face. He rested his chin on his fist, and watched with concern. The students patted her back, encouraged her and shouted her name over and over again. It was all in good fun, but…
There was a blinding arc of light, and wooden orc disappeared. Lightning rippled across the ground, playing amongst the bushes and grass nearby. What remained of the helm, a few glowing metal straps soared through the air into the forest. The retort that followed was deafening. When the smoke cleared, naught was left but a charred glowing stump where the post had been planted into the ground. The shield was nowhere to be seen.
The students were silent, as the retort’s echoes rippled throughout Spellweaver and the farmlands surrounding Norwick.
There was a pause when the students looked at each other, and then Dana shouted, “holy fuck!”
There was much hooting and hollering. The students laughed, declaring that it looked like target practice was over and it was time to get more cupcakes. The students rushed inside, all except Sebrienne who stood there just looking at the spot where the target at been. Professor Riggles grabbed his cane and wandered over.
Sebrienne turned to professor Riggles. “It’s all a game to them professor. They think it’s funny, but it’s not”, she said quietly, turning back to stare at the spot in the field.
Professor Riggles took a deep breath, then paused for a moment before replying. “I never adventured you know”, he said. “I’ve spent my life studying, learning hundreds of spells. Locks and wards mostly. I’m quite good at it actually. But I’ve never taken a life. Not that I’m aware of anyway. Perhaps someone ran afoul of one of my wards. If so, I wasn’t there to see it”
“I’ve heard about some of your adventures Sebrienne”, he continued. “You’ve managed to tame most of your power, and used it for great good. You’ve made important friends”
Professor Wriggles cleared his throat before continuing. “While I’ve not adventured, I’ve spent a lot of time with the wealthy and powerful. They have secrets you know, and want them warded and locked away. Many of these people who will seek the power you have. It’s very rare, and they’ll want it, through you. They will promise you things, lie, pretend and tell you what you want to hear to get it.”
Sebrienne turned to face him, and the professor paused for a moment, struggling with the right words. “I can’t tell you what to do, but I encourage you to stay the remaining two years. Learn the limits of your power. Let us help you gain more control before…”, he paused again, “…you go elsewhere.”
Today was my birthday! I’m no longer a teenager I guess, now that I’ve turned 20. But the fun and celebration, all of that pales to what we learned yesterday. That Rey is not the real princess. This was confirmed through divine ritual in Peltarch’s Royal Court. The whereabouts of the real Elizabeth Fisher are unknown, probably dead.
I could tell the news was a complete shock to her. Her life was upended. She believed it with her whole heart, and I saw her deflate before my very eyes as the news hit her.
When court was dismissed, I waited outside for her, but she never came. I had thought to lend an ear. To be a friend. But perhaps I’m not the friend I thought I was.
I’m certain the age difference between us doesn’t help matters any. She and others have been through so much together. So many shared experiences. That’s something I’ll never really have with them. I’m not bitter about it. Just disappointed. I had hoped things were different
As I write this, professor Riggles words with me in the courtyard play over and over in my head. I’m going to have to be careful who I lend my power to, and who I don’t.
Sebrienne sits on the hill just west of the Grapevine Inn, legs folded beneath her. The air is still but cool, the morning frost barely melted a few hours ago. Below, the villagers go about bundled up at the hint of snow. Despite the cold, she sits with her arms and legs bare.
She opens her diary and thumbs through it. There are scores of personal thoughts, revelations and class notes sprinkled throughout the pages. It’s well organized, perhaps a legacy of the years in the monastery of Oghma. She turns to the last page and taps the charcoal stick to her lips before writing.
I witnessed something last week that I wanted to write about before the memory of it grew foggy. It was a near rebellion in the Royal Estate after the surprising discovery that the princess is not of royal blood.
The crowd grew angry, and between my stunning the crowd to silence, Isolde’s soothing words and a demonstration of destruction by magistrate D’Arneau, it was dispersed. But not before some ugly things happened in between. Bottles were thrown. Prince Adrian lost his composure and threatened the crowd. The soldiers pulled out weapons.
There was a moment in there, after I split the air and stunned the crowd, that a couple of bystanders looked at me in fear. “Please don’t kill us!”, they said. It made me sick to my stomach thinking about how a few short years ago I did just that, out of fear for my own safety. Here Adrian was about to do the same.
I could have wiped the courtyard clean. The citizens, the soldiers…all of them. It makes me ill thinking about it. What scares me more is the next day when I thought about it, that people like Prince Adrian, Prince Kasimir, and King Thalaman have even more power than I. They have the power to uplift or destroy the lives of thousands of people. They can wage war, negotiate treaties and change borders. All of it through a few simple commands.
I can’t do that.
I started thinking about it more over breakfast this morning, and I realized that I don’t think any of them are fit to rule. King Adrian acts goofy and is hardly “kingly”. Adrian is too bitter and resentful, and his willingness to hurt his own people was upsetting. It’s really a shame because he did something so noble and heroic they could write stories about it. Kasimir would probably rule well, but he lacks the love of his people. A shame really. A good ruler really needs the love and respect of his people, and I don’t know of any of them have that.
I was in Peltarch the day before yesterday, and what surprised me is that my role in that whole affair seems largely forgotten. I suppose I’m happy about that. I really don’t want to go to the marketplace and have everyone shy away from me out of fear. That would suck.
My Journey – The End
The ferry ride south was rather awkward after the incident. Two thirds of the travelers continued to head east, and the remainder, including myself, took the ferry south. Most of them sat on the other side of the barge. Never have I been surrounded by people and felt so alone.
The weather became warmer as we headed down Lake Ashane. The sun beat down on us relentlessly, and the only shade was the canopy that had been erected to keep passengers dry. I kept to the edge of it, conscious of the stares I received from the others.
The only bright spot of the journey was a fearless little boy named Aster and his two parents, Ardon and Mae. I was sucking on a small icicle I had made out of the moisture in the air, and Aster aske if he, his mom and dad could have one too. I happily made more and passed them around, simply pleased at the cordial interaction.
Ardon was a silver smith, and had heard from soldiers in one of the many villages north of N’Jast that several weaponsmiths in Immilmar were looking for gold and silver smiths to fillagree and scroll high quality weapons. The promise of good paying work was enough to uproot the family, and they had sold their small home to take this chance. A job like this he said, could change fortunes for his family.
Their brief friendship made the journey enjoyable. With them, I was able to show off my magic without fear. Making little ball sized lightning clouds delighted them, and Aster howled with laughter when I froze a portion of the lake right before a flock of geese landed. I have to admit, watching the bewildered geese slipping and sliding across the ice was pretty funny.
A week later, we arrived in Immilmar.
Immilmar was bigger than Peltarch. By how much I couldn’t say, but it was noticeable. Low smoke hung over the city from the many smithies I had been told about, and with a smile I waved to Ardon’s family as they descended the gang plank. I followed, confident that if I was going to find someone to teach me, it would be here in the Rashemi capital.
No sooner had a descended onto the dock and started making my way to the streets, when suddenly the crowd thinned. People scattered and dispersed. Suddenly, I all alone.
Before me were six soldiers, all of them reminding me of Cormac. Their equipment was of the highest quality. Most had talismans and charms of various sorts. All of them had their weapons out, looking at the crowd. Their eyes heralded death for anyone who would dare approach. In their midst was an older woman. She seemed to regard me with surprise and amusement.
“You”, she said in a quiet yet clear tone raising her hand and crooking her finger, “Come here”.
I looked around at the crowd. Most were looking at me, eyes averted from the older woman. Many were fearful. I clamped down on my power has hard as I could, but bubbling fear inside was making it difficult. If I realized my power here, scores of innocent people would die. I hesitated, swallowed hard, and approached.
She continued to smile as I approached, the look of amusement still in her eyes. How old she was I couldn’t say, but the years lined her face like an old wrinkled map. She was short, and dressed in overlapping robes festooned with rings and talismans. She was slightly hunched, but moved with deft and purpose.
“So you’re the witch of wind and weather”, she said with a voice bordering on mockery. She moved slightly closer and smirked, “The Tuigan riders got here long before you did. I wanted to see who they feared, and all I see is … a child”
I started to speak in protest, but she interrupted. Her nose wrinkled and her eyes narrowed and she nodded, “…a child with too much power”
“I can’t control it!”, I blurted out.
She laughed, her eyes twinkling with mirth, “Child, power like yours isn’t controlled, it’s tamed. Who told you to control it? Do you control the beast you ride into battle? No child, you bond with it. You ask, and hopefully, it complies. Control it?”, she scoffed. “You’ll be dead in two years. Three at the outside”. She turned to her guards and ordered, “Put her back on the boat. She’s a menace to this city and everyone around her”
As her guards moved forward, I retreated. “TEACH ME THEN!”, I cried out desperately.
She turned and raised her hand, the guards halting as if stricken. “Now why would I do that?”
“Because no one else can or will…”, I said, blinking back the tears. I looked around at the crowd. I saw fear in most every face. In others I saw dark anticipation. At my feet, frost began to form again spreading out across the dock. The grip I had on my power was loosening. Finally, I looked back at the old woman, and stifled a sob.
She regarded me intently for a moment. Save for the gulls everything was quiet. Her eyes flicked over me. Her lips pursed in thought. Then she turned and said, “Follow me”
My Journey – Part 2
I spent the better part of a month in N’Jast with little to show for it. The only promising person I met was an older man named Jasper who was making his way on foot to Heliogabalus in Damara to visit a shrine. To me it seemed like a ridiculous journey alone and on foot, but as an Ilmateri priest he said he was rarely bothered. Ilmater he said, would often grant him sanctuary through prayer. Since he had taken a vow of poverty, even the bandits left him alone, sometimes taking him into camp for dinner in exchange for Ilmater’s blessings for the sick and injured.
He had this way about him. A sense of assuredness and total freedom I couldn’t help but admire. I wanted to learn from him but he declined, and insisted that he make this journey alone. I told him of my plight, and he offered prayer on my behalf. He said that perseverance was the key to my salvation and control. For a time after the prayer I felt uplifted and hopeful. I slept better than I had in weeks. Two days later, I took the caravan east to the ferry.
There was a singular incident on the caravan that I want to relate while it is still fresh in my mind. We were close to the ferry when we encountered a very large group of Tuigan riders. Almost three dozen, far outnumbering the guards walking or riding along the wagons. The wagons stopped, the Tuigans circled, and tension filled the air. If the Tuigan’s wanted to take the caravan they could with ease.
The heated discussion between the caravan master and one of the riders didn’t help. I could hear them clearly, but couldn’t understand a single word that was said. When the rider partially drew his weapon and spit on the ground, I nearly lost it. The spells came unbidden. I drew power to myself unconsciously. Frost began to cover the wagon. This of course caused me along with the other passengers to panic, which made the situation worse. I had barely used any of my power in a month, and it was itching to get out.
…and that’s when the Tuigans noticed me.
Bows were raised. Weapons were drawn. There were shouts of alarm. One of them cautiously came over within ten feet of me, the second in command I think. By now I was a mess. Lightning rippled down my arms and legs, and it took every fiber of my being to not release it … anywhere. He looked me up and down, and his caution turned into a smirk. My heart sank.
“Child”, he said, “Your little display here fools no one. Perhaps you will be the price of passage, no?”
…and that’s when a miracle occurred.
The dark clouds that had been chasing us the entire journey eastward decided that then, and right then to release a bolt of lightning in the distance. I glanced over and upward as the sheets of lightning rippled throughout the clouds, then turned to the rider and front of me. I screwed up every ounce of courage I had, stood up straight…
I think Ros, Isolde and the princess would have been proud. I told them that I was the witch of wind and weather. That I was royally pissed at my journey’s interruption, and if they all didn’t back the fuck off (yes, I actually said that!), that I would unleash the wrath of the storm, and obliterate them all.
The lightning rippled again in the clouds, and in that moment, I saw doubt in his eyes. So I fired a shot across his bow, so to speak. I let loose a bolt of chain lightning across the rocks, cacti and bushes around their group. Everything lit up and crackled. Horses reared and scattered. There was confusion in their ranks. The doubt in his eyes solidified.
“MOVE!”, I screamed. The sky behind me lit up and backed my bluff.
…and they left. In quite the hurry I might add.
Two days later I found myself on the ferry writing this journal entry. If Akadi ever came through for me, it was right then. What terrifies me to the core and reinforces my need for this journey is that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t a bluff.
…that I really could have killed all of them.
My Journey – Part 1
N’Jast isn’t what I expected. I read accounts of the war with N’Jast, and somehow I expected this huge city state bordering the wastes. I looked at a map, and it sits at crossroads for trade, and lies at the northern end of a waterway. It had all the hallmarks of being the center of well, everything. Yet it isn’t.
N’Jast is destitute.
It almost looks like it didn’t recover from the war. The cost of waging a war is staggering, and N’Jast has nothing to show for the vast sums of coin spent on its defeated military. I can see where at one time the streets could have been lined with merchants, colorful silks, trade and flowing gold, but if it did those days are gone. I suddenly felt very self conscious of the gold I carried on me as beggars and old jobless soldiers surrounded the wagons looking for handouts. I doubt I’ll find anyone here to teach me, but I must try.
My friends comment how well I control my power. They see the undead, giants and hordes obliterated by the power I have over wind and weather as proof, but when your lens is fear and anger, it’s easy to direct it to something that’s trying to hurt you and the people you care about. What they fail to see is how hard it is NOT to use it when someone mocks you with a smug expression and carefully chosen words that cut you to the core.
It's a good thing Salin came along when he did.
I’ve lost him
There’s nothing I can do for someone so bent on self destruction. Now, he’s become possessed by something wicked because of it. I reach out, but the man I knew is no longer there. It depresses me to no end. I care for him, love him even, but I can’t bear to watch it any more.
I’m not much help with the whole fractal glass thing either. If I were smarter, like my opposite, maybe I could figure something out, but that’s a problem my raw, uncontrolled power isn’t going to solve.
I’ve thanked mister and missus Stone for allowing me to stay in the little room while I attended class at Spellweaver. But I still need to find answers on how to manage my power, so I will look elsewhere. East sounds good. Perhaps there’s someone in N’Jast.
I have seen wickedness in my life. I have fought it alongside great warriors, in the guise of orcs, giants, goblins and undead. But never in my life have I faced such evil as I did in a man named Victor.
The evil was so vile, so pure, that it turned my stomach. The void and malice behind his eyes made me shiver with fear. Never in all my life have I wanted to “erase” someone, like tearing his page out of my story in Narfell.
I went to pull all of his lightning away. All of it. Act I consider vile yet somehow, necessary for one such as him. Nate, Isolde’s husband interrupted it, and my power only partially hit him. Nate explained to me that it was necessary to let him live so that his coconspirators could be caught. Sacrificing the little fish for the big fish I guess.
I think that letting him live is a mistake. A small chance that he could escape, however tiny or remote, is too high.
My memory of “home” is sketchy at best. I remember my older brother was good with boats, but the only thing I can recall is a bright smile. I hardly remember my little brother at all. My father’s face is gone, but sometimes I still have memories of strong arms a comforting voice when I smell the sea.
My mom had a little shop on the island, where she made jewelry from shells. She would drill holes in them, paint them with a shiny lacquer, and string them together to make jewelry. Sometimes, she would build funny animals by gluing them together. Her face is what I remember the most.
When I was rescued, a necklace she had made me was the only thing of my past I took with me to the monastery. In a fit of anger in my room at the monastery I had once broken the necklace by dashing it against the wall. I had regretfully picked up the shells, and put them in a little pouch that I have kept with me until now.
Yesterday, I weaved them into Cormac’s hair. I made two braids, and divided the shells between each. The necklace of shells, like me, somehow miraculously survived the storm which had swept my village out to sea. I’d like to think that they’re powerful magic, and that the gods and goddesses of this world will impart that magic to him.
It’s silly, but one never knows.
I took the caravan to from Peltarch to Blackbridge, and from there wandered west. My goal was the shrine to Shaundakul, or perhaps even Akadi. It was foolish I know, to take this journey alone, but I was prepared. I was cloaked in invisibility, and had drawn power to myself just in case I needed to unleash it to those that would harm me.
The journey uphill in the snow was arduous. The climb was steep and trying. I made it to the top with little fanfare, sneaking past the barbarians, ice mephits and spirits of the mountain. I began to think how silly this was, until I sat in the chair and watched the sun set over the mountain. The air was clear and still that day, despite the altitude.
Sitting there gazing at the sky, I felt unfettered. Truly free for the first time in my life. Emotion overcame me, and I sobbed briefly at the joyousness of it all. In the distance, something flew, and for a moment I was there with it, dancing amongst the clouds in the sky. It’s hard to describe that feeling of utter peace.
I promised my friends a poem because sometimes, it’s better to express big things in fewer words. I am calling this poem...
I sat so high
On ancient throne
Watched the sunset
From old carved stone
The mephits danced
Air spirits played
All around me
Snow sculptures made
Cold air glittered
With snowy frost
The winds were still
My mind was lost
It soared the sky
Through clouds like fleece
And for a time
I was at peace
The storm inside
Had stilled its rage
No longer bound
By mortal cage
Where I belong
is here up high
Not bound to earth
But in the sky
Classes have ended for now. I had my exams and passed … barely. It frustrates me to no end that I have to study twice as hard to do half as well. I have more power than any two students combined, but my knowledge of all things arcane is pitiful. Even the first year students who can barely master second circle spells know more than I. It’s embarrassing.
For a project, Salin had me make a chart of how often my “slips” were occurring, and for each one rate the severity. The slips occur when I lose my temper, experience fear or anger, even if I’m not conscious and dreaming. I did this for three months.
We went over the results together in private. He said it was a good exercise for “extra credit”, to help me pass when I probably shouldn’t. While I was grateful for his kindness and the opportunity, the results were somewhat upsetting.
We figured that at the rate my power is growing, and how often the slips occurred that I have a year, perhaps two … three at the outside where there will be a tipping point, and I will probably lose control entirely. The “events” will come stronger as time progresses, making me a danger to everyone around me. I came within a hair’s breadth today of killing Raazi, for some imagined sleight. It was like I was riding a dragon that wanted to eat her, and all I had to do was let go of the reins for a split second and let it.
I’ve read a lot of books about my condition in Spellweaver. Sorcerers who acquire power before the age of 10 usually experience some kind of hardship. Those before the age of 7 usually never live to puberty, often killing themselves by accident. I had power at the age of 4. The lightning I released in the market was third circle. The only reason I survived thus far is for some inexplicable reason, I was largely immune to my own power.
Brother John told me I had been tested for dragon, infernal and outsider heritage, and assured me that I had none, and that I was just an unfortunate person gifted too young.
Is it possible he lied? Why would he do that? What purpose would it serve?
I’ll probably never live long enough to find out.
Control over my power is slipping, like a greased rope through fingers. The weight of what I can do now is difficult for me to grasp. A slip of fear or anger is all it takes.
I’ve spent the last week practicing as I was taught, but it only makes matters worse. The more I practice, the more power I draw to myself, which in turn makes it more difficult. If I don’t practice, slipping up becomes easier. The other day I got annoyed at knocking this journal onto the wet ground, and somehow ended up freezing my tea solid.
Speaking of that…
I’ve learned to harness that to some degree. I can’t aim it. I can only blast it in front of me, but if I focus it's powerful enough to freeze a gnoll or any lesser creature solid. Not very useful really. (note in the margin here – Fire Giants?).
The real problem I’m having right now is that taking ALL of someone’s lightning away has become … easier. I never wanted it to be. After the chicken died it made me ill. But when Cormac and Kethro were fighting that Orc Mage … it just seemed like the simplest way to end the fight. Yet somehow, it felt SO wrong.
I talked with my friends about it. No one seemed to think anything of it. The Orc Mage was dead, just as if Cormac had beheaded him. But it feels like a slippery slope into darker, more wicked things. How am I the only one that feels this way?
Speaking of Cormac…
He and I made up. It was a misunderstanding. Probably all my fault. I’m slow on the uptake most of the time.
I read about a barbarian custom of a woman giving one of her braids to a man before a great battle. It was to let him know the she was with him, and praying to the spirits and ancestors for him. I don’t have any braids, so I cut off a lock of my hair and tied it in a cord, and gave it to him. Cormac is going to be fighting the fire giants for High Hold soon, and I wanted to let him know that I would be there in spirit and pray for him.
I care about him more than I willing to admit sometimes. I hope his gods keep him safe in battle.
So now I’m crazy. At least Cormac thinks so. I told him about the caravan. I relived it, the horrible images of dead men, women and children flashing before me. I left myself completely vulnerable because I care about him, and trust him.
…and he called me crazy.
I’m not sure what to think about that. His words hurt and cut deeply. There was enough anger within me, that I could feel control slipping, that tenuous grasp I have on the reins of my power slipping away. I knew immediately that I had to leave and get it under control.
I’m not crazy. I was thirteen when it happened. Normal thirteen year old girls throw pottery when they get angry and lose control. Somehow, the gods saw it fit to give me the power to kill swaths of people when I did.
I’ve tried to lead a good life to make up for what I’ve done. Perhaps that’s not enough.
It was exhilarating. To be able to unleash all my power at once in without the necessity to hold back. I felt my perception expand in ways I haven’t considered, and in one singular way which fills me with dread.
Horgrim had gathered his forces to face the creatures from the Far Realms. But they weren’t enough. It was up to us to stem the tide. To do that, I unleashed everything I had at the multitudes of gibbering insanities that attacked us. Aoth, the Princess, Isolde and Jonni stood vanguard, and I brought forth lightning in swaths I not thought possible. In the end we stood victorious, spent … and happy.
Before this all started, Horgrim said something that resonated with me. He was doing this, knowing it would probably cost him his life. “I’ve done some terrible things”, he said, “and this might provide balance”.
At that moment, I saw him in a different light. A creature with a very dark past, but now repentant. I don’t know if the gods will see it that way, but it gives me hope. Perhaps someday, I can be forgiven for the innocent lives I’ve taken.
I had a dream the other night. I was in a dark stone lined corridor with Cormac, Isolde, Reemul, and George. We were near one of the runes, and something went terribly wrong. Out of the multitude of sickening runes this great creature appeared. Huge, round with a slobbering mouth full of teeth, and long spiny tentacles. It grabbed George straight away and stuffed poor George into its mouth.
I tried to take it’s lightning away, but it was no use. It hit Reemul with one of its spikey tentacles and he was paralyzed, and like George was thrust into its gaping maw. Cormac started singing this strange poem and wounded it with his axe, but the axe stuck into its blubbery hide. With a quick swipe of its tentacles it swiped Cormac off of his feet, then trampled him under its great bulk as it charged us.
Isolde and I ran down the corridor, fleeing for our lives
Occasionally, I would turn and throw lightning at it. Anything really. It was wounded but so large it didn’t care. Maneuvering its great bulk down the corridor, it slowly gained on me and Isolde. Then suddenly, it was just me.
Isolde had vanished somehow. Slipped through a secret door perhaps or been trampled too. Then a door appeared ahead of me. It was rune locked. I remember the runes because they were on a test Salin had given me. But somehow they were all jumbled up, and I was screaming at Salin to tell me the answer, but he wasn’t there.
I turned and screamed. I threw everything I had at it. My most powerful blast of lightning barely slowed it.
It reached me….
I screamed again…
I woke up…
For moment, I thought I was still dreaming. What greeted me in the room was both marvelous and frightening.
The entire room was covered in a thick layer of frost. I sat up, and the blankets crinkled. I looked down, and the chamber pot and its entire contents were sickeningly, frozen solid. Sun streamed in through a myriad of frost designs on the window, painting a kaleidoscope of rainbows and colors across the room. I could see my breath, as one can on a cold northern day. I felt my face, and even the tears on my cheek were frozen solid.
What is happening to me? Did the monks know something they weren’t telling me? Maybe they had a good reason to want to kill me. Why in the nine hells did they keep me alive after all the horrible things I’d done? Why didn’t they send me away to get properly trained?!
I’ll probably never know, but I shudder to think what would happen if I really lost control again.
We were traveling west to Blackbridge. We faced giants and orcs, the usual fare of wicked creatures that roam the mountains between Peltarch and High Hold. We had slain many, and the group was in good spirits.
As we got deeper into the mountains, about half way or more to High Hold, we came across a group of travelers. A well-dressed elf, a hin whose clothing had many belts and several others. Delighted to see other travelers on our journey, I smiled and waved, hoping to have a respite to perhaps build a fire and share stories.
They attacked us.
I stood there stupefied. I couldn’t believe what was happening and did nothing for several critical moments. I saw the elf cast a spell, and Kethro scoot up the hillside with great agility to engage him. Others rushed forward out of my line of sight, and I heard the clang of steel and the cries of the dying.
The elf, seeing Kethro approach immediately turned himself invisible. I unconsciously hasted myself, and allowed myself to see invisible. Kethro managed to get a feel for where the elf might be, and struck rapidly. What Kethro didn’t know is that while invisible, the elf had put a wall of acid around himself.
Kethro reeled back, his clothes and skin hissing. I hit the elf with a bolt of lightning, but while invisible he had also put a mantle up, and shielded himself. Kethro was now in full retreat, Rauvica had collapsed, and I heard Reemul cry out for help. Some dark angry cloud formed on the hillside, and I saw Kethro collapse in it.
I stripped the elf of all his defenses. In a magical sense, it’s like pulling the loose end of a knitted blanket. His mantle and acid wall collapsed, and as he rounded the corner I put every effort into the largest lightning strike I could possibly make. With a scream and a grunt I threw it towards him.
There was this moment between us, where we stared at each other across the field of battle. The noise faded into the background, as the overcharged, glistening ball of electricity arced its way lazily towards him. It lasted less than two seconds, but for me, that two seconds was an eternity.
I saw resignation in his eyes. His face fell, as if remembering something sad. He stood there, staring death in the face, and at that moment, death’s name was Sebrienne.
I’ve slain hundreds of wicked creatures. Giants, gnolls and orcs. All faceless minions of a larger evil. But for some reason the elf’s face haunts my dreams and waking moments. Death comes too easily these days. It shouldn’t, and I think the elf is a reminder.
Although I’ve done some bad things, I like to think I’m a good person at heart. When presented with options, I try to pick righteous one. But what would you do if there weren’t any good ones?
There is someplace called The Far Realm, which is full of unspeakable horrors. This is where beholders and illithids and other nightmarish things come from. Someone, or something is trying to build a bridge between The Far Realm and ours. Who is helping us stop them?
Horgrim the Necromancer
Horgrim is a large ogre, who has contracted with very wicked magics which animate the dead and turn bodies into mindless soldiers. Isolde, who I also consider a good person at heart showed kindness, sympathy and trust to him, which I honestly don’t understand. Horgrim is diabolically wicked. The only thing that matters to him is the end result. All the measures taken to achieve it are consequential only if they further success to the goal.
I thought we were all better than this. A paladin, a holy knight, would turn down his help and try to find another way. But I’m not smart enough, and apparently neither are my friends. We are going to let the necromancer help us because it’s the only road we see in front of us, and the stakes are really, really high.
The thing is, the road we take in life matters. We are judged by the gods for our deeds and actions, not for our intentions. I know this, for the gods have judged me for the things I’ve done, even though I lacked intention to do any of it.
So I stood there shaking and terrified, trying to follow along, and listening to the plan to understand what needs to be done. I said nothing in protest.
I hope I can help. Every day my power grows, but it’s growing faster than I can control it. I study and attend the lessons, but the only thing they accomplish is to let me see what’s happening to me more clearly without any way to fix it.
I was blessed to be able to attend the coronation of Prince (now king!) Thalaman. It was a grand ceremony, and both the princess and the new king gave great speeches. I must admit that I was beside myself and overjoyed to witness it.
Both King Thalaman and his brother, prince Kasimir are very handsome young men, a year or two younger than I. It was the first time I had seen them, and I must admit to being over awed at being in their presence. After the ceremony, the new king opened the coffers and had a feast for everyone in attendance.
Most everyone of importance was there. I was shocked to see both Cormac and Reemul in attendance, having seem them both leave with Eric’s troops, but no one said anything about it. That gave me some hope that perhaps, the new king will see the value in peace and friendship.
This was followed up by two embarrassing moments of my own doing.
Prince Kasimir was talking to Prince Adrian off to the side, and I had gone up to the table to speak with the princess and others. Unbeknownst to me, Prince Kasimir approached on my left and introduced himself. I was so beside myself and taken aback at the moment, that I stood there in silence, completely at a loss for words. I blurted out my name, and the prince commented that I looked like a faun, and I totally didn’t know how to respond to that.
Ugh! Sometimes I can be such a complete idiot! I had such hopes of making a genuine first impression. I had gone over countless scenarios in my mind. What I would say, what the prince would say, how I’d bow and present myself … and I went ahead and blew it.
So I made the dumb mistake of drowning my embarrassment with wine. Let’s just say I made a mess outside the west wall and leave at that. Nothing that some juice and willow bark tea won’t cure.
I grew up in one of the worlds greatest libraries. Almost everything I learned about the outside world and other lands was from books, tomes and manuscripts. My favorite were the diaries and first person accounts of historical events. People’s perceptions made the events seem real to me. But I recall nothing about this land I am in, save for an old empire and wizards that bound demons. But I’ve seen little to none of that here.
What I did see a few days ago left me very sad though. There is a town called Blackbridge and a castle called High Hold many leagues west of Peltarch. I am told that generations ago, they belonged to Peltarch. A province that swore allegiance. But through rebellion they’ve become independent.
The princess is trying to get these lands back. She even made a declaration and gave a title to a great balding general named Gom, naming him Lord of High Hold, even though High Hold doesn’t agree. I didn’t understand this at first, but after thinking on it a for a few days, it kind of made me sad. The general is being used as a political message. I suppose it would be okay if he agreed to it, but he seemed pretty surprised in court.
What made me even sadder was watching my friends choose sides. Mako closed her market and stood with the troops from High Hold. Fred the Paladin was already with them and stood beside Eric. Reemul followed them when they left.
I’m not going to fight in any stupid war, particularly when my friends are on both sides. If a war starts, I’m going to sit my ass in Norwick until it’s all over.
Why can’t High Hold and Peltarch be friends? Together, they could fight the giants and clear the lands between. They could trade with each other. Instead of having this stupid war they could have tournaments, and the soldiers, knights and adventurers could laugh about victory and defeat over ale and stew and say “I’ll get you next year!”. Why can’t it be like that?
I think the best way to settle this is to just have the princess marry Eric, Lord of Highhold and make an alliance. I read a lot of stories about marriages sealing relationships between kingdoms. I think I’ll suggest it to the new king once he gets crowned in a few days.