From the Ashes: The Future of Arda

Sylvani: Unmapped

So much has happened; I don’t know where to start. I have so many thoughts on things, I—I only want to get them on parchment so I don’t forget. Perhaps it will help me organize them.

The Spirits are manifestations of nature, while the gods manifest aspects of mortality and occasionally nature as well. There’s no reason they can’t co-exist, when they are all aspects of creation itself.

(Maybe I’ll be branded a heretic for thinking that.)

(I hope not.)

I think mortals and maybe even nature alike have forgotten that there is no such thing as “unnatural”. Even undead, while no doubt harmful, are “natural”—they are made by mortals using magic that flows in all things. Being part of creation, that is all one needs to be “natural”.

All things are natural, it’s only whether they hurt or harm. Death itself is natural, but not all deaths are good or aid the balance of creation. The same might be said of birth, such as when a population grows too great.

I was able to raise the dead, before my time according to Kynthos. That’s why she couldn’t guide me. I slipped into the realms of the Spirits and guided each soul back to their body; they hadn’t strayed too far. I hope I will be able to continue doing this, when it’s needed. Perhaps I’ll even be able to stir the life back into the Bloodlands, and convince the spirits of the land there that fled to return and re-grow.

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Valdis: So It Begins...

I take a great risk by resuming my journal entries. While I witnessed the Cult Leader die at the hands of my family, it is unclear if the death was genuine or merely another attempt to exert control over my actions. I refuse to let paranoia get the better of me or dictate how I live my life. I have to write, especially now that we have returned to the Empire with wealth and ancient powers that many will covet and attempt to control. I am tired of control; my actions in the coming months and years shall prove that true enough. These entries are not for myself but for those who come after me. No doubt the Empire will distort my coming actions to make themselves appear justified. I offer you my voice so that you can hear both sides. Take what you will and form your own opinions of me, the Empire, and the family that you will know as the Mithrill Eight. All I ask is that you return the same courtesy to those you meet and speak to about such matters.

I am Valdis Hydwen, the First Magi in over 2,000 years. In all my life I never expected that such a statement would ever become truth, but so it is that with the persuasion of the Magi spirit Levith, I was inducted into an ancient order of magical practitioners that harnessed the power of magic in its purest form. I am overwhelmed and honored that my life has led me down this path. I hope I’ll be able to honor Alamar, Elminster, and all the great practitioners of the past who strove to achieve where I am now. The power is incredible. On more that one occasion I have feared losing control and seeing what would become of myself and the area surrounding me. But the power is a gift that I must use wisely and to benefit the people of Arda. Obscurity is no longer my realm. I have transcended into the public forum and shall speak as a guardian of magic, neither arcane or divine alone but the totality of both.

By the time I conclude writing this journal, I am fairly confident that I will be sought after by Arch-Magistress Mialee, the Magisterium, the Churches of Xaneak and Hennet at least, and probably the Imperial Master of Magic. Already I know what they wish to speak about. They will want me to turn over all the research I collected from Mulhoránd and provide them with it’s location so that they can come in and make the knowledge and power there openly available to the wealthy and important nobility of the Empire under the guise of giving it to the people of the Empire as a whole. I refuse to do so, not only because I have yet to fully understand what we discovered in the ruins, but eventually Mulhoránd will become the epicenter for a massive war to acquire both the Nether Scrolls and the Nexus. Whoever wins that for themselves or the Empire will most likely then go to war against Anrok and anyone else they fear and deem to be different. I cannot allow that to happen and so I must protect the Netheríl Empire from plunder.

The efforts to resurrect my brother were successful. He is currently resting within the walls of Valárim City until his energy has returned. From there, he will return to the Knights of the Golden Shield and continue to fight against planar evil and those who seek to bring such darkness upon Arda. I still feel guilt over his death. He is my younger brother and I put him at risk for my own selfish desires. He had every right to be mad at me, but his joking response caught me completely off guard. He is a better man than I will ever be in ten lifetimes. I thank all the gods that we have found one another and we are doing all within our power to make our family name one of power and pride.

Following Randall’s resurrection I spent several days in the ruins studying and reflecting on the next step. My time in Harrenhal exposed me to a single truth that to this day I still cannot fully accept; that the Empire believes the best thing for it’s growth and prosperity is the destruction and assimilation of Anrok into the Empire. So powerful was this truth, that the generals of the Imperial Military were seeking out opportunities to convince the Emperor that a war against Anrok was in the best interest of the Empire. What was worse was that the generals were succeeding. I may not know much about the Orcs of Anrok, but I do know that a war with them was stupid, frivolous, and solely based on the divisive notion that they are lesser than Imperial citizens.

The truth is that the Empire wants to go against Anrok because they are fearful of going up against two constant reminders of their inferiority: the Bloodlands and the North. The Empire will never go up against the North because the Syndicate is too powerful that it has unspoken fathoms of influence over the Imperial agenda. The Bloodlands have a climate similar to Anrok but it’s people are “civilized” and more attune to Imperial tactics and culture than the Orcs. Going up against them means going against brothers and sisters; a harder feat to accomplish than going against savage beasts. It was in my fury over the masculine bravado of the generals and the green Emperor that an idea was posed that will protect the Orcs from yet another Empire coming to exterminate them while allowing me an opportunity to make my family a source of power and influence within the Empire.

The Empire can’t touch the North because the Syndicate has it locked up tight. The Bloodlands won’t be engaged because a war with the various tribes will yield massive losses to the Imperial Military. My plan is to take command of both the North and the Bloodlands and then engage the Empire to turn their attention to the forgotten regions of Vanyar. By doing this Anrok is spared and I get to set an agenda of Imperial unity that will potentially yield me and the other members of the Mithrill Eight with vast amount of power and influence. My plan will begin with the North since Terari and Eryth both have personal grudges against the Syndicate that I can use to motivate the family. By helping the two of them get vengeance on the Syndicate, I can learn more about any resistance movements operating in the North that I could support and tag onto. The Kingpin gets taken down and the Syndicate is publicly viewed as defeated while I take control of the Syndicate’s information network and either facilitate it’s contents by myself or with Jenelle’s assistance. The band then travels south to the Bloodlands where we support a single tribe and assist in their rise to prominence and unification of the realm under their authority. With both realms new freedom and stability attributed to the Mithrill Eight, we send them out to engage the Empire under our banner. After several hopefully successful campaigns, we’ll negotiate a peace treaty with the Empire that ends the racism against Anrok and ensures power and prestige for the family.

I just returned from beginning the first part of my plan. Terari was ready and willing to travel north to find her mother and didn’t require much persuasion to want to go up against the Syndicate. Markos came with us while the rest of the family tended to personal projects. I must admit it was fun to work so closely with the two of them. I have not had much of an opportunity to work with the newer members of the family so I relished the opportunity to get to know them. It was nice for Terari to open up to us. I can’t imagine what she experienced as a child. While I was able to move beyond it when I left Maidenpool, as a Dark Elf post-Reckoning she can never fully be free of the racism that the Empire will keep no doubt for a long time. Hearing her mother’s story and struggle makes me want to find her even more. It will give me great joy to see Terari reunited with her mother. Markos is very funny and quite sociable. He made a fantastic partner when dealing with Olegg. He is a very gifted musician (he has been studying how to play music he found from Mulhoránd) and he is struggling to find an opportunity to give his life a purpose. Hopefully he can come into his own as we fight a revolution and a unification.

Learning about Councilor Kelrob and that he is one of several factions attempting to free the North from Syndicate control gave me peace. I’m thankful that there is an already created system of resistance so I don’t have to make it myself. Our venture with Kelrob and his faction, in addition to learning more information about Terari’s mother, gave us the opportunity to prove our loyalty to the resistance and establish ourselves as valued assets. We proved this by taking out the Red Skull Mercenary Band by ourselves with the aid of their commander Tormund Giantsbane. Each of us appeared to enjoy completely obliterating such a violent and brutal group. More entertaining was taking their equipment and teleporting it all to Kelrob’s faction. Needless to say we earned the respect of Kelrob and Tormund.

By the end of the venture, Kelrob had informed us that Terari’s mother was safe and with a resistance movement in the eastern region of the North. While Terari wanted to go collect her and take her back to Maidenpool, I exercised caution. It won’t be long before the Syndicate finds out about our involvement with the Red Skulls, and before we can lead the North to freedom there are additional issues that need to be addressed with the family. Bringing Terari’s mother south puts her in more danger than leaving her up in the North. I did encourage Terari to write to her mother. Ensuring a safe delivery won’t take much. I also offered Illyrio’s company and resources over to Kelrob for the resistance. Illyrio will be pissed off for a while, but as owner I don’t particularly care.

Markos and Terari know of my plan to support the resistance and destroy the Syndicate. I didn’t tell them about the rest of it. I reserve Sylvani and Walgrim the right to hear the full plan first. I plan to inform my two closest friends when I return from the North. I also plan to put Walgrim to work crafting artificial soldiers for both Mulhoránd and the North while I and a few other family members assist Jenelle with her issues involving the Faceless Lady. The first move has been played. It’s time to see what’s the family’s next move.

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Sylvani and Kynthos: Vivacity

I want to do what Valdis was able to do for Terrari.

Only the gods grant such spells.

I still want to try and learn… And I want to learn how to bring back the dead.

The Spirits may choose to grant you such a gift in time, to raise one freshly killed.

I want to be able to raise one who has died days ago… Or even truly resurrect them, if it’s been years.

What would you do with such an ability?

Atone.

His death was not your fault.

Mother’s always told me that.

You won’t be able to bring back someone one who was never fully born.

I know. But—I want to be able help others live, at least, since I came into this world at the cost of another. And we’re all bound to aid creation itself, simply in return for living. I think this will help me do both.

How so?

If I could bring back the dead, those who threaten others with death wouldn’t have leverage. And if a provider of a family was killed, or other important mortal, I could help by resurrecting them. I could also return whole species that have been hunted to extinction back to life. Or even restore life to the land itself, if that’s possible…

That will give you weighty responsibilities.

…I know.

Why is it only now you want to try this?

I never thought to try and pursue new blessings, only cultivate the ones I had.

What changed?

I saw Valdis do what many considered impossible. And before that, I was tempted…

You considered taking what the lich-magi offered.

If he had not been a lich, I might have.

How will you pursue this goal?

I don’t know yet.

To what ends will you go to pursue it?

I won’t harm anyone that interferes, unless they directly threaten my life or my companions’ lives. And I won’t resort to anything impure.

And what of your faith?

I will remain a worshipper of the Spirits.

Why, if you might simply plead with Kira or D’vainor as one of their clergy?

The Spirits propagate and are in all aspects of all of creation, not only parts of it. The gods are not, even Elros. The Spirits are the totality of nature and creation, which I serve more than I would any god. But I will still respect and try to learn from the gods, even if I will not worship them.

Hahahahahahaha!

Wh-what’s so funny? Why are you laughing?

You’ve grown quickly: from a timid, reclusive whelp to a pup laying plans that may offend the gods themselves in less than two years.

I don’t want to offend anyone. …I only want to heal and serve.

Perhaps you will, in time. First, fan your spark of ambition into a flame of passion.

I will.

I know.

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Sylvani and Kynthos: Liminality

I was so angry. I haven’t been that angry since Sir—since Sir Blaise burned the Crownlands.

They threatened your friend.

My brother.

You’re learning quickly.

I felt bloodlust.

Would you deny the touch of Malar?

N-No, but—

All the Spirits have gifts in their own time, with their own use. Embrace them.

They called me a monster.

Do you believe it?

…No.

—you resent them.

They despise compassion.

The birch does not berate the yew.

But it will tell the yew when it’s sick.

Are they? You and yours were let free, and with gifts.

…I don’t understand what they call honor…

You still have much to learn.

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Sylvani and Kynthos: The First Meeting

What’s your name?

Kynthos.

If I may ask—

You may always ask.

—if I may ask, did you choose to come to me, or were you sent?

Both.

How is that? And… why?

When a new Shaman comes to exist, a call is sent for willing Guides. Among them, one of us chooses to accompany and teach the Shaman.

Why did you choose me?

Because I can teach the lessons you most need to know.

…What are those?

Interdependence, and loyalty.

You look surprised.

I’ve never thought of myself as disloyal…

Never in the short term. But you shirk your own species, and when you outlive your friends you will not seek others.

Is that wrong?

You think of mortals as separate from nature. You forget that the land feeds off them as much as they feed off it.

Aren’t they separate, though?

What makes it so?

Mortals… have rational thought.

Does a bear have wings?

No.

But a bird does. The presence or absence of an inherent feature or characteristic does not make one unnatural.

Then… The mortals worship gods, but other things in nature do not.

Do the flowers and grasses not worship their creators and sustainers with each bloom and movement?

Mortals build things.

As do ants, and beavers, and bees, and badgers…

…Why is it bad to shirk my own kind?

Because you must serve all of creation compassionately and without fear.

I have a lot to learn, then.

You do.

Will I be able to?

I think so.

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Sylvani: A Calling

A man came to me and asked
“Why do you follow the Spirits?”
I answered honestly
and
Haltingly

They are the framework of creation
In all things
As all things are of them

They are old things
Young things
Fire and water and earth and air
Death
Life
And all the shades between

He said I had a gift
And called me to deepen it
To walk with mortals
As a bastion of the Spirits

And now like the lilies
My heart is blooming
Full to bursting with bright colors as saturated
As any one of nature’s hues

They are
Unexplained
Foreign
Frightening, but still beautiful

My soul sings poetry as it rains
And with the wolf
I cry rejoicing to the moon


I traveled East with my
Friend

We walked on traveled trails
And visited temples of his gods
I saw cities with buildings
Tall as trees

Strange arcane beauty
Flowing in mortals and mortar alike
Speaking ancient languages
With wagging tongues

I wandered in solitude
But not alone
Seeking
More of this world
And the one beyond


Return is a funny thing
We come back
Changed
And
Often stronger

We come back
With stories
Half-truths
And joy


Departure is also strange
Especially
When it leads to other journeys

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Walgrim: What is the difference between an adventuring team and a firestorm?

This entry comes over two months after the previous one

I am not going to discuss this mission. I am not going to speak of the issues we had, or the mistakes we made. Suffice it to say many of both were had, and the mission ended in failure. We met Illyrio, a jolly man if anything, and his guard Captain Went. He told us basically what was explained to us by Valdis and in the letter I received. I am not going to say what he wanted us to retrieve, as we did not retrieve it. I am not going to say what damage we caused because news of it will likely reach every trader long before this entry ever see’s mortal eyes. I will say that the team, my team, performed better than I had expected them to, using the modicum of trust we had forged during both the weeks leading up to meeting our now ex-employer, and the weeks of travel, to keep each other safe and on the job. Despite the fact that we were going up against one of the largest tribes of bugbears I have ever heard of, we held our own, and that is nothing to snub ones nose at. I speak especially highly of Allanon and Jenelle. Allanon showed up midway through our mission, having run into Valdis at some point and learned of our mission. Though his mistakes were as many as my own, he stepped up. He is already well on his way to being the great man that both Valdis and I see the potential for in him. Jenelle too, despite my continuing suspicions of her (she has still not openly shared much despite being around me and the rest of the team for a long time now) she followed orders, saved lives, and acted above and beyond what I had hoped for from her. The rest of the team, including Eryth, a swordswoman from the sea who came with Allanon, performed amicably despite many injuries and unexpected developments.

I will not speak of Illyrio, who was disappointed and not a little bit maddened by our failure. That is all I can say as he did not give me time to properly explain or apologize. His anger was placed largely on Valdis, and it is him whom I will speak.

After returning to Maidenpool and giving the sad news of our failure to Illyrio, Valdis went mad. There is no other word for it, and I place his distress solely on myself. I found him, after practically tearing the information from Sylvi’s tongue, in the temple of Kira. He had the Mother held in the air above the sacred eternal flame, screaming about just punishments and martyrdom as the poor woman screamed for mercy. I called out to him. Begged him to turn his anger on me, the one who rightly deserved it. He had put his trust in me and had lost the respect of the man he considered his father because of it. He turned on me, not letting the Mother down from her lofty height, and swore vengeance on everyone who had so often shown him love and kindness only to snatch it away from under him as a fool would pull a rug from under his master. He swore to make them all pay, and only then would he find me. He let the Mother drop into the flames. Sylvi ran into the fire and caught her, and immediately began to heal her injuries. I ran after Valdis, but he was nowhere to be seen. I went home.

I’ll admit it. I sulked. We set out in June, and it is now July, and we have not a thing to show for nearly getting ourselves killed. We have no grand scheming employer to earn glory for and from, the shop has been closed for almost 2 full months, and my best friend considers me a worthless burden fit only to be swept away when he sees fit. It occurred to me then, however, that sitting with my head down would do nothing for myself or my team-mates, and so as Sylvi came in to give me a talking to, I started thinking and pulling myself together. I told her that I was going to make things right. I was going to liquidate all my assets to repair what damages we had wrought to Illyrio’s business and the trade route, I was going to hunt down Valdis and either earn his forgiveness or die for betraying his trust, and I was going to prove to that fat sated bastard Illyrio that this team has more potential for greatness than he’d have if he had his own private army of adventurers! All that of course changed when I realized we were not alone in my study. There was a well dressed Orc gentleman standing in the corner, who rather than explaining his presence in my abode decided to read me a short riot act that I was running from the problem rather than facing, and would hear none of my arguments to the contrary. He suggested I listen to Sylvi when it comes to decisions meant to heal others. He also made some aside that he couldn’t understand why “they” were wasting time on us (I assume us to be the team). Why is it that regardless of what I do, there is someone standing over my head dictating what I should do? First it was Valdis, it was going to be Illyrio, and now it appears to be this mysterious “Them” represented by this Orc. IT pisses me off, to be frank, and I’ve had enough of it. Fine. If Maidenpool refuses to get rid of me for whatever reason the gods have planned in their clearly addled brains, I’ll stick around, but by gods I’m keeping to MY plan this time. The rest of the group stumbled into the shop, having drank themselves into a shameful stupor, and were not necessarily in the mood or condition to hear a pep talk, but I gave them one regardless. I told them that they all now work for me, and that this failure is only a minor setback. The time for sulking is done. We are going to re-forge ourselves into a team worthy of the glory Valdis had planned and seen in us. We are going to earn that glory ourselves and we are going to track down Valdis and Illyrio and shove it right in their faces as we pass them.

That was going to be it. I sent them to bed saying that there would be no more toleration of sorry-feeling unless and until there was another failure worth commiserating over, and that tomorrow the work begins, and that was going to be it… until Eryth found a scroll on Valdis’s bed. The scroll is written in a language no one seems to be able to read. It is too archaic. Sylvani managed to recognize some symbols and said she would take it to her mother, who may be more familiar. If Valdis left it, then it is one of two warnings; either against Valdis himself, or some other threat to me or this new family. Either way, I must find out what it is, before whatever it warns against comes knocking on the shop door

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Sylvani: A Complicated Creation

Packs of Wolves
and
Murders of Crows
and
Streaks of Tigers

I know and understand these
Well

But regarding

Clans of Wood Elves
and
Families of Knights
and
Towns of Mortals

My understanding falters

Easier to burrow with badgers
Fish with bears
Sing with sparrows

Than traverse and
converse
with these complicated creatures

But lack of understanding
Is no excuse for
Fear

(And worse, inaction)

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Walgrim: What do you get when you put a Dark Elf in a crowd of Kira Zealots?

Today I was alone in the shop. I sent my new shopkeeper on a journey to the Rosewood to find Purple Moon Moss for a series of potions I’m making. I neglected to tell him of course that there is no such thing as Purple Moon Moss, and that the journey was purely for him to get some worldly experience of a more dangerous nature. I’ve also neglected to tell Sylvi this, as it is likely she would tan my hide if she found out. I was working in the back while Sylvi watched the front, mostly writing notes for the book Father Carhold gave me, when someone walked into the shop. It was a beautiful young woman dressed in travelers clothing and looking around at the various wares I keep in the front. She didn’t give her name but knew mine and wished to know more than just that. Naturally I am suspicious of any stranger who knows my name and wishes to know about meself and my business, and so I skirted over her wishes and attempted to interest her into a dagger. When she claimed that my showroom daggers were lackluster, I brought out my set of masterworks. These are what I usually use, but am always willing to sell for the right price. She deigned to take one of the ruby ones (fortunately not my favorite) and again insulted the craftsmanship. At this point I attempted to take a leaf from Valdis’s book and read her thoughts. Strange thing was I couldn’t. On a good day I can readily read just about everyone in Maidenpool, but I couldn’t read her, just like I can’t read Sylvi. At this point I was well past worrying that she was some kind of spy such as that woman (he methods were far too course), and suggested that she follow me to the forge and show me how a real professional did it. She accepted, surprisingly, and more surprisingly produced a decent dagger, though she completely skipped several essential steps in the process, which I corrected for her, and asked at last what exactly she wanted at my shop. In my experience such inquisitors are either thieves or looking for work, and I’d given her ample opportunity to steal. She said she was neither, paid me forty for the piece, and didn’t even take it with her. Odd. Too odd to be coincidental. It seems that my shop is a haven for such oddities, as immediately following the young woman’s departure, a minstrel came into the shop bearing a letter for me. He said he had gotten it from a messenger who appeared jittery and slightly singed: no doubt Logan, my usual mail carrier, has deigned to forego bringing my letters directly after his mishap with an unfinished tanglefoot bag variant I had left lying on the counter last week.

The bard wandered the shop as I read the letter, playing idly on his lute. The letter was from the man Valdis had told me to expect contact from; Illyrio. It said that he would be in town at the end of the year, roughly four weeks away, and would at that time meet with me and my team (which I am to gather between then and now) to discuss our trial run in his employ. I thanked the young bard for his delivery and paid him a few silver for the job. The lad seemed impressed by my wares and asked if it’d be ok for him to set outside a bit and play, which I was more than agreeable to. I didn’t share the letter with Sylvi, who I thought wasn’t ready for such a proposition and seemed more so when I asked her to go find the young woman who had just left. She’s still incredibly uncomfortable in social situations, preferring whenever she can to remain in animal form when visiting the city. Regardless, I have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the young lass was and is meant to be a member of this team, just as Sylvi is. Anyone who walks into an artificiary and proceeds to attempt to show up the resident artificer has, if nothing else, gumption. We need gumption on this team.

The rest of the day passed quietly and smoothly until around evening, when I noticed a large commotion making its way down the main street. I poked outside to see many of the townsfolk running away from the direction of Crescent Square. I then remembered what day it was. Today was the day of remembrance for the victims of the demon-child of Maidenpool. I grabbed my sword and a flare scroll out of the back and made my way to the square. I don’t know what I expected to find; maybe Valdis had returned and was making a scene, or maybe Sylvi had caused a commotion when she found the lass. Whatever the case, I was not prepared for what was in the square.

Sylvi, the lass, the bard, and a dark elf who could only have just wandered into town were standing in the now practically vacant square; vacant save for them, the Mother of the local temple to Kira, and around 10 unconscious civilians all lying at the feet of the dark elf. I let loose a flare and demanded to know what the fuck was going on, and began to see to the injured men at the dark elf’s feet. None were seriously injured, but such a public disturbance and injury would likely bring guards and an inquiry to which I think no one wanted to be privy to. Those of us still in the square left for Sylvani’s place in the woods. There we discussed what had happened. Apparently in her search for the young lass, who goes by the name Jenelle Gristla, Sylvani happened across the ceremony taking place in the square, and across the dark elf, who is named simply Terari. In a “misunderstanding” Terari was taken for an unclean soul by one of the worshippers, who deigned it necessary to have her cleansed. This did not suit Terari’s demeanor, and before Sylvani could explain or calm anyone down, Terari decked the zealots around her until everyone fled the scene screaming of abominations and unclean ones. Needless to say I felt bad for the poor lass. I’ve seen through Valdis what the church of Kira can do to those its patrons deem as unsavory. Despite that, leaving as we did left a sour taste in my mouth, and given my report with the city guard, I thought I could smooth the situation over by explaining both sides from a neutral point. I took Terari with me and asked Sylvi to take everyone else back to the shop for some food, and to discuss a potential partnership for the team. On our way to the precinct we were intercepted by none other than Valdis, who seemed furious at me for taking Terari to the precinct in the first place. He thought I was going to make her apologize for the attack. Far from it of course I spat back that I’d never dream of such a thing, when Terari’s actions had clearly been in self-defense, and how could Valdis possibly think, after knowing what he went through with the church, and him knowing my views on organized religion in general, that I would do anything so heinously unfair. He promised that he would sort things out with the city guard, and he said so with a tone that told me that it was not up for discussion.

At the shop, the 5 of us waited and dined until Valdis returned. He said the situation was taken care of, and left it at that. He and I then began to explain Illyrio’s deal to my guests. It didn’t go as well as I had hoped at first. Sylvani was shocked that she was a candidate, and seemed scared to accept, and Valdis couldn’t understand why I hadn’t told her before now. The bard, Markos, seemed to like the idea, as did Terari after it the proposition was explained in full. Jenelle seemed distracted though she accepted the bargain, and Valdis seemed distracted as well by the young lass. Later in confidence, when everyone else had gone to sleep, he told me to watch out for her, that she was not whom she appeared to be. I said I’d keep an eye out, but that she seemed trustworthy enough to have on the team. Time will tell if my choice is right. We’ve got 3 weeks to Illyrio’s visit. I’m sure in that time we’ll find out anything we need to.

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Walgrim: A Wizard, A Priest, and a Knight walk into a Artificiary and...

Written over the course of two days in late December 13 years after the Reckoning

Today I received an interesting caller. It seems all manner of people are coming from near and far after the events of last summer reached around the surrounding provinces, though the first of me visitors was not one such.

Business has been slow lately, which is just fine by me, I’ve certainly made enough on the commission to rebuild the Mayor’s mansion to last me well into spring, but there is still the occasional order, and scrollwork is still in fair demand. I’ve begun lately dabbling in more unique items such as enchanted clothing and charmed accessories and baubles, and these have become great additions to me catalog, though none have ordered any yet. These are more for meself than anything, for when I finally manage to get back out into the world and start looking for the keys to unlock me research’s undiscovered completion. Anywho I’ve gotten away from the point, and the point is I was working in the back on some locks when I heard the shop bell chime. When I came into the front I found meself facing what I took to be a traveler from the Free Cities, so wrapped up was he in scarves and cloak despite the only modest snow that sprinkled down from on high. When he unwrapped himself and cleared the confusion, he proved to be a boy not yet twenty in a simple robe, a large satchel, and a bemused and uncertain look on his face. He handed me a letter addressed to me which I recognized as the slanted scrawl of Valdis.

The letter said that, as promised, Hydwen had found for me a “book pusher” and sent him my way to get some good worldly experience, as well as serve as a decent shopkeeper. The boy seemed confused when I told him he’d got the job and started showing him around the shop and the house. Along with the Mayor’s mansion I’ve been able to upgrade me own abode up to a full two floors, with a sitting room, dining room and kitchen on the shop level, and four bedrooms upstairs. None of this seemed to phase the lad however as he still seemed unsure as to why he was now working for me without anything more than an informal contract and me learning his name, Allanon Sephora.

As it turns out Valdis had neglected to mention anything more than me having a shop and some good advice to give on life to the lad, so I explained in a little more detail what I do and why I do it and why it’ll be good for him to hang around for a bit, not only to put a little money away but to get some drive in his life. I showed him the shop and brushed him up on what his duties would be, mostly tending the front and keeping stock of the catalog, and finished up shop hours before heading out to dinner and the Lamb and Lion. Dinner was quiet, as the young wizard doesn’t have much to say save for books he has read and his love of learning – a fine thing in its own right, but useless without proper action to go with it – though we did converse shortly about me dabbling in construct design. There is a possibility that the ruins of Netheril may reveal something as to how to breathe the life into the creations once I finally manage to assemble one of them. It should have occurred to me that the empire responsible for the creation of the entire Orc race should have some knowledge in how to animate the previously inanimate. Time will tell of course but the fact that the lad knew something like that off-hand proves beyond a doubt he has both talent and use both to me and to others, if he’d only get some damned self-confidence. We finished our meal and I left Allanon to wander the city for a while, while I went to send a message to Sylvi about the new “toy” Valdis had sent me: the Book-Pusher from the Dales.

Today I received yet more interesting callers. Sylvi came to see me and meet the lad, though she was confused by me message’s metaphor and thus had to be explained to that as a friend and asset to our work he could prove useful as a future travelling companion. She called me rude but otherwise left it at that. As Allonon kept to the store front, I worked in the back finishing an order from one of the local farmers for a new set of tools. When he called me to the front I thought someone had come to collect, but it was no one seeking an order exactly. It was a Keeper from the church of Hennet by the name of Carhold. He had an interesting proposition for me, one which I agreed to with some conditions. He told me that the church, having learned of me work and me self-taught methods, in its infinite search for knowledge, wished me to make a contribution in the form of ey ideas and processes for me work. I agreed on the condition that it be purely for knowledge’s sake and that I stick mainly to processes rather than me actual inventions, though I’m certain now that I’ve refined certain alchemical properties and work otherwise previously unfit for mortal eyes, I can place at least some of me ideas in this first addition, which Carhold gave me upon my acceptance. A 500 page tome to fill, and for every page, a crown from the church. How could I resist? To be offered so much is both a compliment and a means with which to truly start funding my and Sylvani’s expeditions. Both of us left rather pleased with the situation, and the time passed rather smoothly for the rest of day. That is until Sir Randall walked in, scaring Sylvani for some reason. The young red-knight wished to know where he could contact his brother since I seemed to know best where he went when not visiting Maidenpool. Sylvi was, I thought, quite rude and attempted to avoid an answer altogether, but I told him what I knew, which I only just then realized was not very much, having usually sent my correspondence through magical means and therefore having no idea exactly where Valdis was besides Deistrun. Randall thanked me as was, and left without another word.

Sylvi took the interim between this guest and another showing up to give me a royal ear-chewing, saying that the knight had been lying when he said he wanted to know where Valdis was. She seemed to think that two grown men, both of considerable power and temper albeit, brothers no less, could not act civil towards each other in a public or private setting. Sylvi seemed to think that a crusade may be sent against the “Demon Child of Maidenpool” if they learned of Valdis from his brother. This is what I don’t like about churches. There is far too much fighting amongst good people of all walks of life purely because one person has a different idea of what Good is than the other. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Why can the faithful not simply be that; faithful and nothing else? At the very least I have faith that Valdis, my friend and a good man, can handle himself regardless of what fears Sylvani may have. I said as much to Sylvi, and no sooner did I than did Valdis himself walk in. He said he’d come by to make sure Allonon had gotten here, but I knew the moment he walked in that there can be no such coincidence, two brothers and a priest showing up to my door in the same day, with two wanting something and the other wanting nothing. I was proven correct when Valdis, after calming Sylvani down (we had begun shouting) and asked to talk to me when I had a moment. By now the shop had closed and I set dinner on the table with the customary wave of the hand, and went upstairs to speak with Valdis.

He had a proposition for me. He had talked in the past somewhat of his previous employer whom he worked for on the side to the church of Hennet gig, a merchant by the name of Illyrio. This man was apparently trying to make a larger name for himself by searching for brands and people to endorse and bring under his wing and protection, so to speak, in order to curry more favor on the continent in general; a lofty goal but one I can appreciate, given I’m more or less of the same mindset. Valdis said he had given Illyrio my name as well as Sylvani’s, saying we’d be good candidates for a team of explorers and adventurer’s provided that Valdis manage the team. He can’t be around constantly with school, but I think he wishes to act as a buffer between our growing group and the potential dangers he may perceive from these kinds of endeavors. I defer to his judgment entirely in this case, as I have as much experience in adventuring as a dog does writing Gimble. Valdis, like the keeper before him, mentioned good pay and prestige as part of the bargain, which had me seeing rods in my eyes. It appears that Maidenpool may be losing some of its favorite citizens to the call to adventure. I’m in for certain, and we’ll break the news to Sylvani and Allonon in the morning. This could either be the start of something great, or the start of the biggest joke in history. Either way I’m excited to begin.

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