From the Ashes: The Future of Arda

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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Valdis: Midsummer

Written a few days after the Midsummer Festival in Maidenpool thirteen years after the Reckoning

The events of the last few weeks have been extremely interesting to say the least. Not only was I back home but I was actually having fun in the process. It was also a really weird experience having Walgrim and I switch our usual demeanor and roles. I’m interested to see if we continue to rub off on each other.

While I had planned to go to the Midsummer Festival to support Walgrim, I was not anticipating the letter I received almost a month before telling me that Walgrim had been robbed of some potentially dangerous alchemical materials to a very beautiful woman (the oldest thief trick in the book). After a few laughs I made my way to Maidenpool and spent the next few weeks helping Walgrim track down his goods and then get revenge against the people that stole from him. By the time I left, the thief had been tracked down, the Mayor was charged with stealing Walgrim’s fireworks and attempting to destroy the city with them, and all of Maidenpool came to see Walgrim as a hero.

The scariest and most interesting part of the journey came about when we were interrogating Callista. Up until this point there has been relatively little tension between the three of us other than minute concern for social protocol. This was the first time we actually had a life that was in our hands and we needed that life to give us information. Working for Illyrio, I’m quite accustomed to various techniques of interrogation that can help make someone’s thoughts easier to penetrate. For obvious reasons, Sylvani was concerned given how brutal my methods appeared, but when I explained my rationale she became more open to my idea. Walgrim on the other hand didn’t question my direction and started to tie Callista up before I had finished telling them to do it. He seemed so bent on getting his equipment back at whatever the cost I actually feared for the woman that he was going to kill her. In the interest of friendship I have been trying to cut back on reading Sylvani and Walgrim’s minds so I can’t say with any certainty what was motivating Walgrim during this period. All I know is that I was scared that I had left a negative impact on the man which hopefully is just me being overly dramatic.

I have no regrets letting Callista go after she gave us the information we needed. She was simply a tool of the mayor; nothing more. As I watched her leave all I could feel was intrigue by her skills. She was too good to be around the Maidenpool area. While Walgrim may absolutely hate it, I hope to see Callista again either on our side or opposite us.

Proving that the Mayor stole Walgrim’s equipment was rather comical and fun. I think that’s the first time in over a decade that the people of Maidenpool have made me laugh. Walgrim’s routine was flawless and I enjoyed the bit of theatricality that I brought to the performance (I still can’t believe that no one has seemed to call me out as the Demon-child of Maidenpool). I’m glad that all the wining and dining with the City Guard payed off in the end. The mayor was a good man, but he feared Walgrim because he was different and to him uncontrollable. I won’t deny that such circumstances flare my anger. Yet for the first time I wasn’t driven to darkness or a loss of control this time. I faced hatred with humor while utilizing my skills to remove the source of hatred (I wonder if this is how Walgrim feels all the time). Thankfully now Walgrim can be given the reputation and credit he deserves as he begins a new chapter in his life both personally and professionally.

Randal’s appearance was also difficult to express. A year ago I’m pretty sure if I saw him I would have killed him or gotten so angry I’d lose control. Instead, I was able to walk away before he could say something stupid enough to drive me into a rage and then laugh it off. Seeing him didn’t bring up pain or darkness, only questions of intrigue into why he was approaching me now and what kind of person he is since I last saw him seven years ago in Crescent Square. He must either be at the end of his time as a squire or a full paladin of Kira now. Whatever the reason, it was clear to me that he is going to try and become a part of my life. I look forward to his efforts.

Overall, the trip was well worth it! I continue to develop and learn about my friends and have started to see how the two of them are helping me become a better person. It definitely makes it more and more difficult to concentrate on my studies. I can’t give up though; my ambition will not allow it. Ever since my first journey with Walgrim, an idea has been planted in both my mind and my soul that I have been unable to pry loose. The academy will not be able to help me make that idea come to fruition, but it can serve as the foundation I can use to set off on the path I need to take in order to become truly one with magic, in order to become as the first practitioners of magic were in the Elder Days, in order to become not a mage … a Magi.

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Walgrim: A Thief in The Night

Written over the course of 3 weeks in June, 13 years after the Reckoning

Today was the day of the Summer Solstice, which means the Midsummer festival is just a few weeks away. I’ve sent in me petitions for me pavilions. The majority of the festival will be set up outside the city walls between the North and East gates, but there will be plenty of booths and games along the two Main Streets and Crescent Square. I’ve got a petition for a booth for the shop, and for a couple of sets on the main pavilion stage. some friends and I wish to play some music, and I’d love to put on a good magic show for the children. But this isn’t why I’m writing. Something much more important happened today.

It all started when that woman walked into the shop

I was working on orders in the back when I heard the shop door open. When I came into the front there was a gorgeous woman with black hair and tawny skin standing at the counter, examining a few display items. She said her name was Callista Hadel and that she was a fan of me work. I seemed to recall having done some work for the Hadel family so I saw no reason to pry further. She spoke at length how she considered me an inspiration since I came to town, her coming from a family who thought her choice of career (painting) was a poor one, and wished for her to enter a more lucrative business. I could only sympathize too well with that. She said she wanted to thank me for the inspiration to do as she pleased, and with that began removing strings from her bodice. I quickly assured her such ‘thanks’ were flattering, but not necessary, and offered her to stick around and watch me work if she so pleased, which she quickly jumped at. I worked in the forge a good few hours, making a few replacements for tools I had sold earlier in the week. The girl seemed enthralled by the work, studying every facet of the place and asking question after difficult question; specifically me theories on Constructs and the repercussions they could have on the average working stiff. The secret trader in me thought quietly that it was a good thing I had placed all me special orders, including the three bars of Paragon Steel I had managed to synthesize, were placed away in me secret cupboard. When she asked if she could by chance see my research concerning Constructs, I attempted to balk at doing so. The plans aren’t ready and frankly could be dangerous to any over-eager person wishing to try their hand at such devices. It’s paranoid, I know, but when you’ve had as many devil dances as I’ve had you start to think in terms of safety for others. I asked her instead if she’d prefer to help me tend to the forge for a bit, which seemed to quell her curiosity. I say seemed, for as she picked up the coal shovel, I felt a splitting pain in the back of my head before blacking out. When I awoke several hours later the forge, the shop, and my house were in shambles. Me research notes, me tools, me alchemical supplies, and worst of all the fireworks were gone.

A fool though I knew I had been, I needed to rectify these grievous circumstances as quickly as possible. I had no need to get the supplies back, she hadn’t taken anything I couldn’t replace, including me research designs, but the danger they and the materials posed was something the authorities needed to be aware of. After attempting and failing to scry for the theif, I stumbled out of the shop and made me shaky way to the city guard compound. On the way I asked a nearby crow to take a message to Sylvani. The lad keeping watch at the front desk seemed unconcerned as he took down me information, which had me head not still been pounding would have led me to understand exactly what was going on. As it was however it wasn’t until I made me way back home and started repairing the damage to me home that I was made aware of how bad the situation was. Mrs. Lancaster, the wife of the local baker and me neighbor, walked past on her evening walk, and asked why I was replacing the lock on my door. When I told her what had happened, she showed concern and worry, saying that it was likely I would not see any support from the city guard thanks to the various close calls I’ve had over the course of the year, and the distrust of the city’s general population. I hadn’t realized my reputation had spread that poorly, but thinking on it, it suddenly made sense. I thanked Mrs. Lancaster for her dooming report, and went inside to wait for Sylvi and draft a letter to Valdis.

Sylvani arrived soon enough and patched me up while listening to my story. She immediately wanted to help, which I was heavily grateful for. We set out the next morning first to track the thief Callista, and then the guard compound again, to hopefully get a report filed. With Sylvani using her shapeshifting to trace the scent of the woman and I using me bardic chants to strengthen her senses, we followed the scent literally around town, going through almost every district until finally ending up at, of all places, the Unkempt Virgin; the local brothel. I disguised myself to see if I could earn a session with the thief, but the mistress in the front room claimed to not have a girl of Callista’s description. I had a feeling she was full of shit, but didn’t argue the matter, but rather left again for the station. We were fortunate to see officer Darr there at the station on watch. Darr’s usual beat is on my street and he therefore has a better report with me than apparently the other local guards do. He was quick to help where he could and promised to speak with his captain about the situation as soon as he could. He didn’t even seem to mind our slight vigilantism in searching for Callista. In the meantime all Sylvi and I could do was continue to search for that woman. The next day, Sylvi became distraught when her raven friend, Ekari, was snatched from the roof of the shop. When I attempted to skry for him, the attempt was blocked just as it had when I initially tried to find that thieving witch. We returned to the Unkempt Virgin, this time Sylvani became a cat and trounced around the place trying to spy the culprit, while I went with a sack of silver to weasel some more info out of the charming mistress. She proved useful as she told us the woman I wanted had left and headed up North Street. I waited for Sylvi to return and we made our way quickly up North Street. We’d walked no more than a few blocks when I felt a pang in my side, and saw there protruding from my chain shirt an arrow. Sylvi immediately took off after the shooter, who when I caught up proved to be Callista. We chased her down an alley, but she deftly climbed one of the walls, escaping the reach of Sylvani’s spells and my own arrows, and we lost her. After reporting the attempt on my life to a nearby guard, we returned home. I didn’t sleep very well, nor had I the previous night. I was too worried about why someone would want such dangerous materials. Surely they meant for some dastardly plot, wishing to lay blame on the eccentric old kook. I was imagining the worst, and it would all be my fault if these nightmares came to be. I only hoped that Valdis would get here soon. He’d know what to do about this whole mess.

My prayers were answered the next day. Valdis came to the shop early in the morning and by afternoon, there were two well-armed guards taking post outside the shop, and Valdis had managed to find Ekari and my stolen goods through skrying. As a result we headed towards the bluffs a few miles out of the city limits where Valdis had seen Ekari trapped in a bag. There we found Callista, and with a pounce from a Tiger-Sylvi, we had her pinned. However, she surprised all of us when she refused to break. Valdis could not read her mind, nor did any of mine or Sylvi’s threatening seem to affect her. As a way to buy time, Valdis knocked her out and we carried her into the woods. Valdis suggested we use the forest to our advantage, and create a scenario to undo the theif’s training. We strung her up, covered her feet in honey, and left her hanging just in reach of the bears we roused and led back to the clearing where Callista hung. When she awoke, she was rightly startled, and upon calling us crazy and demanding to be let go, she told us that she knew nothing. I insisted she stop her lies and tell me where she had hidden my materials. I grew so angry I fear I would have killed her had Valdis not intervened at that right moment. With more coaxing Valdis seemed to think she would break, and so we left her with him. I had nothing left to offer to the interrogation so I left with Sylvi. He arrived some hours later claiming that she had told the truth after all. She didn’t know where the stolen goods where or who hired her to steal them, and now it was too late and they were with their buyer.

We deduced the buyer from what we knew of the case. The culprit must have been local and known of me and my reputation and wished to see me ruined and likely run out of town, for the fireworks would have my signature all over them, and would also be able to afford the 3,000 dragons that Callista told us she had been paid. This meant only several people in the city: The richest trader in town, the captain of the guard, or the Mayor. Since I am likely the richest merchant at the current, it couldn’t be me, and the captain would not have easy access to that kind of gold without pinching from the city treasury, it could only be the Mayor. It made sense though I didn’t wish to believe it. I wanted to put the whole thing aside. I’d rather have my reputation ruined and run out of town again rather than disgrace the leader of the city that had flourished under his leadership. Valdis convinced me otherwise, and we set about a plan, to be enacted at the Midsummer festival when everyone would be able to witness the explosion that would doubtlessly come. I predicted the explosion would come from the north eastern wall, as that would cause massive damage to the city and the festival grounds, and would be a terrible blow to the city’s safety. We planned, we concocted, and we waited. Valdis had me wine and dine practically all of the city guard in order to build their confidence and allegiance in me. Before we knew it, the festival was upon us.

I performed as I had hoped, and was well received by the people, and was pleasantly surprised to hear Sylvani and Valdis compliment me music. As we left the pavilion we were met by a tall knight who claimed to be Valdis’s brother. Valdis had spoken of his family but not specific members and it surprised me to see a member of his family in Maidenpool. We chatted for a bit, he’s a kind fellow, and according to Valdis a paladin of Kira for what that’s worth, before he left to see other sites of the festival. As dusk settled around the horizon, it happened. The explosion was heard and soon purple and green smoke was rising from the exact opposite spot that I had predicted. The north wall was intact. The boom had come from the mayor’s mansion. The bastard had blown up his own house to get me out. I wasted no time in rushing in to save the historic structure before it burned to the ground. I used an acid neutralizer I had concocted in the weeks between, and saved the majority of the structure, though the innards of the grand house were beyond saving. Looking inside we found the remains of my research and tools; mostly charred but some still legible, and wasted no time in making our way back out into the courtyard, where a massive crowd had gathered to finger the man himself.

He tried of course to put the blame on me, but having run in to stop the fire, it was a moot case that I could have set off the explosion to begin with. Valdis reaching the ghost of the city guardsman who did set it off helped matters as well. No guardsmen moved to arrest me as I blatantly walked the crowd through the whole story; my shop being ransacked, the mayor’s connection to the searches, the lack of effort put into the search itself again perpetuated by the good mayor, and finally how my research had found its way into the man’s cellar. All the mayor could do was attempt talking over me. He should have known better than to try and beat out a bard pleasing a crowd. The mayor was arrested, and as a treat and surprise to all except Valdis, who I’m sure had read my mind long before, I brought out of the shop an entirely new series of fireworks for the end of the festival. The crowd went wild, as we had predicted they would, and the festival ended proper and well.

As we returned home, I thought about the past year. I had had more than my fair share of minor scrapes and bumps along the way, and was worrying that more of this more serious trouble might soon come, and perhaps it was best that I be moving on from Maidenpool and head a way where trouble couldn’t find me, or at least be slowed down by me chosen trail. However Valdis put it best. One year in the city with only one robbery and one attempt on my life was not a bad record, and the city had grown to love me more than hate me after all. I’ll be sticking around, at least for a little while.

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Valdis: Full Disclosure

This entry was written at some point during the month of June during the thirteenth year of Arda after the Reckoning

These last few weeks have been very taxing on my spirit. Nevertheless, I am stronger from the experience and have walked away freer and in the company of two wonderful friends who I hope will be everything that I want and need.

After a long and exciting year in Deistrum, I took a few weeks to travel back to Maidenpool. The truth of my journey was to confront my past and to share it with Sylvani and Walgrim. With Walgrim working so closely to where I once lived and Sylvani starting to make hints about it in her letters, I felt that they needed to hear the story from me given that it’s not a fanciful tale. The closer I got to Maidenpool though the more my fear and reservations about the entire endeavor came to the forefront of my mind. What if they didn’t want to hear it? What if their entire perspective about me was changed for the worse? At the time I was concerned more with the prospect of losing these two individuals than having to come to terms with my past.

To make sure I didn’t completely lose it before the time came I walked through my past and prepared myself for what would come. Oddly enough seeing my home or the public square was what caused me the greatest pain; I’ve had almost a decade to accept that part of my life. The hardest place to go to was the Temple of Hennet that had tried to turn my tragedy into a profit-seeking opportunity. The wounds that they brought to me are still too close to begin healing yet. Hopefully someday I can accept that temple as one of many temples to Hennet, but for now I still am at a point where I see the Lord of Knowledge as a fickle deity encouraging his clergy to be the same. Eventually I walked down a block and was found by Walgrim outside the entrance to Desmond’s temple. To think, I almost didn’t take that meeting with Illyrio. I’m so thankful that I did.

Before I shared my story, the three of us had dinner. I continue to find myself absolutely intrigued and irritated with Walgrim and Sylvani. Perhaps this is just an innate caveat to friendship? I have to give credit to Sylvani; I’m probably not seeing her at her best given that she is out of her element. It still bothers me though that she socializes with prim and proper manners when her mind screams intrigue and interest in asking me about my past. Of course my struggle with Sylvani might be more due to my peering into her head than her lack of boldness. I hope for an opportunity to see her in her full element one of these days. I continue to envy Walgrim simply because of how joyful he is when I can only see the darkness that Arda has to offer. No matter what the situation, he seems to have a smile on his face and in his heart. It pisses me off to no end, yet secretly I know it’s the primary reason I have been so drawn to him; he is everything that I want from myself. I chose to tell him about the dream that led me to him. I can’t for the life of me remember his reaction, but I didn’t want our friendship to grow based on a shadow of the truth. While an odd beginning, I continue to thank the gods for leading me to Walgrim.

At one point in the mealtime conversations the Reckoning came up. Knowing that both Walgrim and Sylvani were alive during it, I had to ask what it was like to experience everything. Both spoke very positively about the Reckoning and what great impact it had on Arda. I know that everything they said held truth, and who am I to judge two people who lived through and can remember the event (I was too young to fully comprehend). However, for most of my conscious life I have only seen the darkness and when there is light, it is being used by the darkness for its own purposes. I told them as much. Looking back I hate the fact that I’m constantly so negative in comparison to them, but after everything I’ve been through and with what I continue to dream I am certain that something is using this lull in the world’s mind to plant seeds of evil. This doesn’t excuse me from allowing myself to be consumed by negativity.

Finally the moment arrived. I walked the both of them through the key events that have defined my life. Sylvani just stood and watched the entire time, taking in everything I said. Walgrim was stoic and solemn, occasionally piping in about how the community views the events. Neither of them were judgmental. I think more than anything they were shocked that I wanted to show this to them. I closed by telling them that I wanted them to see the whole me because I see them as my friends and any kind of relationship shouldn’t be founded on half-truths. I’m tired of fake and superficial business partners and no genuine friends in my life. Unfortunately in my previous work and being in Essembra, friends don’t just happen. They’re something that you have to try and establish yourself. Both Sylvani and Walgrim have accepted me for who I am and with the gods as my witness I will do whatever is needed to be a good friend to them.

I left after a few days of merriment and peace. As I returned home I felt free for the first time in my entire life. I’m free from all constraints, have a relatively comfortable amount of money to let me devote myself wholly to my magical studies, a father-figure who has helped support me for the last 4 years. Finally, I have friends, the beginning of my new family. Life is fantastic!

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