Wynlynn’s Reflections 4

After the group got up for the morning and prepared for the day, Teal, concerned about the disasters that befell us the day before, asked that we discuss some ideas for how to prevent this kind of thing in the future. His first thought is a leader for the group. To work as a cohesive unit in battle under a leader such as I imagine he is talking about would take a lot of training. Not only can I not imagine Agenar taking place in such exercises, but I can only imagine that Travis and Val would grow and tired and frustrated by the repetition involved. I asked the group if they would follow a leader, and, as I predicted, Agenar scoffs and says no immediately. After a bit more discussion we all agree to discuss plans and allow for input before taking individual actions that would affect the whole group. Well, most of us agree, since Agenar wandered off without telling anyone or getting any input, as usual. One of these days his wandering off is going to cause the group to have to make a difficult decision. (And, yes I know the irony of my judgment after my own actions yesterday, which in some ways were worse than his since I put us in more danger before we had even recovered from our last battle.)

Travis was determined to go back down the stairs to see for himself the place that he came from. The group was very wary after the peril we faced only yesterday in that place but down we went. We decided to head to green room first, because we knew that the skeleton Bob would at least talk to us. Maybe we could get some more information to help us figure this place out, and hopefully get each of the colored liquids so I could complete the task given to me yesterday by the voice in the red room. As we headed up the short green hallway and into the room at the end, the skeleton Bob greeted Travis, saying how long it has been since last they had seen each other. Travis asked about this place and his role there. He was starting to get some of the answers he is looking for as they went back and forth. After a while Travis finally asked the question I was interested in, which is whether he was allowed to take the green liquid. Bob, despite being informed of Travis’s loss of memory, seemed puzzled by the question assuring Travis that of course he could take the liquid, as if it was a ridiculous question to ask. True to his word, Bob did not stop Travis as he retrieved a vial of the green liquid, or stop us as we left the room heading back to the center room. Pouring it into the strange apparatus at the center of the room, the liquid went down the pipes and more then Travis could possibly have had in that vial filled up a portion of the center of the device. 

We then headed to the red room, which, as yesterday, didn’t seem to have any guards. The voice spoke to me as it had yesterday, pleased that I had returned to finish the task assigned to me. With our success in the green room with Bob, I felt that perhaps this time I may actually succeed. 

In the blue room, though, things were not so easy. A water and fire elemental guarded the liquid in this room. The water elemental did not seem to be a big fan of Travis. Instead of allowing him to get the liquid as Bob had, they attacked. As I moved forward to slice through the water elemental with my blades, I feared that such an attack would have no effect on a being made out of water, but as I sliced threw, I felt the water give way and the element lurch as if hurt. We worked as a group, fighting the guards, slowly wearing them down. Teal, who is always resourceful in battle, used his affinity for water to do massive damage to the water elemental, making large volumes of its body disperse. Agenar shouted to retreat a few times, and while the battle was tough, we were holding our own. Seeing that the party was not responding to his calls for withdraw, he joined in the attack and finished off the water elemental with an Eldrich Blast, water bursting out and putting out the fire that was starting to consume Travis whom the fire elemental had turned his attention to, stepping into the wood man and setting him ablaze. With one enemy down and one to go the entire party turned their focus to defeating the fire elemental and made short work of what was left of him. We gathered the blue liquid as our victory prize, though we were feeling more on guard knowing that not all this place’s guards were so willing to help Travis.

After resting for a bit after our difficult battle, we ventured to the last two rooms, more cautious than before. Our concerns were unfounded, though, because, much like Bob, the other guards greeted Travis as an old friend and showed no interest in stopping him from obtaining the last of the colored liquids. Travis talked to each one and asked more questions, slowly putting together more of the pieces about this place, though each answer seemed to lead to more and more questions. These beings must be very old indeed and continually referred to all of us except Travis as slaves. Everytime they used the word I felt Val tense up beside me. I put my hand on her shoulder and squeezed to reassure and relax her before her temper could get the better of her, but I didn’t need to worry, she kept her thoughts to herself. 

With all of the colored liquids obtained and put in the colored apparatus, a tunnel of light leading downward opened up as was described by guards. There was one thing I had to do before going down. I head to red room to contact the voice once more (first informing the party of my intentions as we agreed to do). I let the voice know that the task had been completed and asked if there was more I must do. With a pain so deep, far beyond anything I could imagine, the kind of pain that can only come from imprisonment so long that one no longer remembers what came before, the voice asks me to bring this house of cards down. I want so much to help, to release those trapped here so long, but when I asked how the voice did not know. The only thing we could do was go down the tunnel of light and see for ourselves.

Wynlynn’s Reflections 3

As weary as I am of staying so close to the place where I had only recently been so near death, I was glad we decide to camp by the fountain. The thought of traveling out of this place and finding somewhere suitable to camp exhausts me even more than I already am. It is strange how peaceful this place is compared to the horrors we faced below. As I settled down, I listen to the murmur of the fountatian and am quickly deep in a restful meditative state.

***

I came out of my meditation several hours later feeling much better after a much needed rest. Val immediately went to sleep as second watch got up but Tilia told us about the room they had discovered. After Pantaghion got a chance to see it, I went for myself. A winding tunnel opens up into a small room with a large flower in the middle and hundreds of floating lights. Again, it strikes me how calm this place is as I watch the flower slowly flow back and forth as if it were drifting with the movement of waves underwater. I sit in this place for a few moments, enjoying the quiet. So rarely on our ventures do we find such tranquility. The last time I had been in such a peaceful place was several years back when I first found Lia again…

I was with a squad within The Rovers at the time. My father would have preferred I had joined The Home Guard like himself but as long as I was in The Verdant Guard he couldn’t complain. I had loved being in the forest since I was young. Me and Lia had often snuck off and spent our days in wilderness just outside the city, exploring, climbing trees, foraging for berries and other tasty treats. Those are some of my fondest memories, and are the reason why I chose The Rovers over The Home Guard.

Our squad’s assignment was to go patrol a village a ways from the city which had been repeatedly attacked by bandits. Our commander briefed us on the assignment, informing us that we would be staying in the village until the problem was dealt with. We would take turns patrolling the village day and night while scouts were sent to look for the bandits’ camp. I was to be on a patrol shift of course, with only the more senior Rovers scouting the woods, so I would be spending my time in the village. 

When we first arrived I was not to be on patrol for several hours so I took the opportunity to explore. In wandering around I talked with several villagers I met and perused the wares of some of the traders in the village. As I looked up from wares of a particularly skilled blacksmith I saw her. 

I didn’t believe what I was seeing, as if I could imagine such a thing, but there was Lia, walking down the other side of street. I watched her for a moment stund. When I finally shook myself out of my shock, she was rounding a corner down the street. I quickly raced after her and caught up to her halfway down the next block practically running to catch up to my friend who, as always, set a fast and determined pace. She seemed as shocked to see me as I was to see her but also as happy. It was a relief to see that she was glad to see me. I wasn’t sure after all these years if I would still mean much to her. After surprised and joyful greetings we quickly decided to go the tavern and catch up over a drink and a bite to eat. Though it had been decades since we had seen each other, it felt like no time at all as we spoke with the comfort and easy of old friends. 

I tried at some point to ask why her and her mother had left the city all those years ago with only rumors left behind but she kept deferring the questions and distracting me with nostalgic stories of sneaking off or driving our teachers crazy with her constant interruptions and outbursts. She had always been so different from all the other elven children with her messy wild dark hair and her strong emotions that you could always read clearly on her face and often spilled over, coming out in loud burst of laughter or shouts of frustration. It had always set everyone else on edge, but I had always been intrigued and attracted to this wild classmate who was so unlike anyone else I knew. You always knew what she was thinking, she never hid behind fake niceties. We could have sat and talked forever about the past but the present wouldn’t allow for it. Before I knew it, it was time for me to head back and start my patrol. I hated to leave but I had to. Lia gave me directions to a house a little outside the village and told me to meet her there when I was free again.

***

I should have been focused for my patrol, even if I didn’t expect any trouble while I was on duty for the late afternoon hours into the early evening. But I couldn’t wait till it was over so I could go find my friend again. It was hard to concentrate and stay alert. This should have been concerning, but I suddenly couldn’t seem to care much. All I could think about was seeing Lia again. She has always been my weakness.

After what seemed like a lifetime, the next patrol finally came to relieve us. I am practically running skipping out of the village in the direction of the place Lia told me to meet her. The place I arrive at is a small picture perfect house tucked away in the forest, surrounded by trees. There is a small garden in front with a mixture of flowers and plants that are good for eating. There is an inviting bench just a short ways from the house looking over a small flowing creek. The last of the day’s sunlight reflects off the flowing water. As I walk towards the house Lia comes out the front door to greet me, walking over to me with open arms. We embrace and I feel… it’s hard to describe, whole? I want to just stand there in her arms and never move again. We do stand there for a while, neither speaking, just hold one another. Eventually Lia pulls away. I want to grab tighter so she can’t, but instead I release her. 

She invites me inside and brings me to the kitchen where her mother, Valanthe, is cooking. She too comes over to embrace me, a wide smile on her face, telling me how surprised she was when Lia told her I was there, and happy she was to have me in her home. She poured us all something to drink and we settled around a small table placed in the corner of the kitchen as Lia goes to gather a third chair from another room. The three of us talk, mostly about what has happened in the years since we last saw one another. I tell them about my training, how I am with The Rovers now. Valanthe and Lia tell me about the small village and their day to day lives there. Why they left the city to come here is carefully avoided, topics changing the few times it starts to come up. I don’t push it. 

Eventually late evening gives way to night and Lia’s mother excuses herself, heading off to her room for the night. Me and Lia are left alone. She looks at me with a look I can’t quite place, hunger? No that can’t be. She invites me to walk in the woods. She waves away my concerns of bandits and gets up and heads for the door saying we won’t wander far. What can I do but follow?

We slowly meander through the trees towards the creek and stand there for a while quietly listening to the babbling of the water. Then Lia turns to me, gently putting her hand behind my head she pulls me to her lips and kisses me. It would have taken me weeks to build up the courage to do that, but Lia, who has always had the courage to do what she wants, doesn’t hesitate. I sink into her kiss as the rest of the world fades away from all thought. If you had asked my name right then I wouldn’t have known. The moment lasts forever and is over way too soon. She pulls away and looks into my eyes, her hand still holding my head. She says nothing, just looks at me. I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be and that everything in the world is right and good.

I haven’t felt peace like that in the three years since that week I spent with Lia in the small house tucked away in the forest.

Agenar’s journal, page 235

I woke from a sleep uninterrupted either by dreams or by standing watch to the sound of grating stone on stone and Travis announcing that he intended to see the chamber of horrors below. No entreaties would persuade him from discovering some news of his origin. I wandered into a chamber from which glowing sprites emerged, discovered a giant, iridescent flower that pulsed with a heartbeat rhythm, and relieved myself against its stalk before returning to follow the group down those spiral stairs toward danger again.

A quick swig of ale helped calm my nerves, so I took another, until my flask was empty and I saw the alter. Beyond it, Travis was leading our group down the green hall to meet Bob. I hurried to catch up.

Bob greeted Travis as an old friend, pointing out casually that Travis had lately been remiss in his duties as Thalnoth facility maintenance and custodian. Travis was welcome to the green liquid, which he would need for creating an access stone if visiting the temple.

After pouring this over the green-glowing alter stone, Travis turned down the red hallway. Here, in addition to an unguarded pool of red liquid, we found a fine library, with books in many languages. I was able to read several titles, including one in Infernal, ‘On the Negative Planes,’ before returning to the alter. Next Travis opened the yellow doors, where the ghasts also greeted him as a comrade, pointing out another library after he had filled a vial with yellow liquid for his access stone. In this second library we found an even greater number of volumes, and at Travis’ suggestion I added ‘On the Origin of Titans,’ in Primordial, and ‘The Beast Lands,’ in Celestial, to my bag. The marginalia in the books I examined showed several hands, while their questions and notes suggest they were studied by many and understood by few. Once the yellow liquid had been added to the alter, Travis progressed to the blue room.

Here, however, he was not welcomed by the Fire and Water elementals standing guard. When the Fire attacked Travis, Wynlynn and Val turned on the water – and Val was immediately injured. I cast a shield of faith over Wynlynn and urged the others to flee, but Tilia blocked my escape. With no alternative, I aimed an Eldrich blast from Dagon’s Reach at the Water elemental, who had already been greatly weakened by Teal’s conjuring parts of it away toward the Fire elemental and the now-smoldering woodman. My blast dispersed the water beast in a great splash. After bringing Val back to consciousness, I gave aid to her, Travis, and Pantaghion. Before I could do more, Tilia conjured water from the floor to douse the Fire elemental and we saw the still-steaming Travis calmly collect his unnaturally-blue prize. We are now resting by the alter to recover from the encounter, but I can see that Travis, with only one more color to collect, is anxious to continue.

Agenar’s journal, page 233

As the sun rose I stretched for a moment, shaking leaves from my blanket, then retreated behind a tree to prepare for the day. Our trek to Selu’tar passed unnoticed as I considered what I had seen behind closed eyes: a rainbow, ending in a pot of molten silver around which danced an invisible voice. This image had started me awake before third watch began, and despite the comforting glow of Dagon’s Reach, slumber did not return.

And lo! we came out of the woods onto an ancient battlefield. Our historians know not what occurred to the high elves here, but pilgrims frequent this holy ground during more hospitable seasons. Now, though, it is covered by a viscous silver liquid, which somehow also clings to the foliage. Travis, spotting a mausoleum, muttered something about home.

We followed him inside, and found ourselves drawn downward. The building was only an entrance to a great cave – though a cave nearly as bright as the sun left outside, with light emanating both from veins of rock lacing the walls and from large mushrooms that, I thought, seemed to move from place to place.

I did not sample these mushrooms.

At the center of the space was a statue labeled ‘Thalnoth: He Did Amazing Deeds,’ surrounded by a shallow pool. At sight of it, Travis shuddered. But he climbed into the water as our party scattered, then called me to join him in pushing on the pedestal. It moved, revealing a stair spiraling deeper.

The minutes of descent felt like hours, until it emptied into a garishly multi-hued chamber dominated by an alter, inscribed with runes none of us could decipher, glowing in five segments of solid color, each connected to a similar path leading down hallways of indeterminable length. Travis immediately turned back, and Val followed. I turned down the green path.

This continued through a set of double doors and led past other, closed doors before terminating in a small room at a basin of green glowing liquid. As I approached, six skeletons stepped away from the walls. The nearest of these spoke. Bob, as he called himself, had many questions – when he was enchanted, there were only seven hells, and he did not have many visitors. Nonetheless, when I filled a vial with the mysterious green glow, he and his crew attacked. I must have screamed with pain, for I was dead and warm in Tymora’s embrace until starting awake to find Tillia’s green face hovering above mine. Pantaghion was busy scattering bones while Bob’s skull whined from the floor, and Wynlynn slipped past to retrieve her own bottle of green. As she corked the vial, bones began reassembling into skeletons, and we began to run.

Wynlynn’s elfin strides raced ahead, so she was already down the yellow corridor when Tilia closed the double doors to green against Bob. Still wobbly from my experience with the skeleton, I struggled to follow Teal and Pantaghion – arriving only in time to see an unconscious Wynlynn washed past six fanged monsters with great snaking tongues and hands like hayforks. The paladin hoisted elf over one shoulder, tugged the concentrating druid behind, and raced back past me to the alter. I had barely followed when Tiulia slammed doors against the impact of a monster, and found myself stumbling into Val. “Lucky you got out”, Travis said with as much excitement as a block of wood. “Those looked like ghasts. Nasty things.”

Tilia grunted for him to help hold the door. A moment later, a comforting silver glow shone under it, and then we heard a howl from the ghasts. “Hurry,” Teal urged, “I can’t hold them with moonbeams for long.” Pantaghion wedged his shovel under the door, then again lifted Wynlynn and started up the stairs.

Val guided me to the surface. After a few moments to catch our breath, Tilia identified a pilgrim’s campsite and we settled down, still within site of the fountain, to try sleeping in the cavern’s strange light.

Agenar’s Journal, page 12

As I approached the festival stage this evening to deliver my remarks before the feast, a bright light flashed thru my head. There was no pain, but afterward, neither was there memory of my address. Yet I was compelled to speak, and speak I did.

I told my audience of how their champions, victors in the races just run, had been purchased in advance by silver seducing Songsteel, who sold our reputation, and Tymora’s, for a fleeting sense of power. I told them just how much Fortune’s Will takes in, through their offerings, gratuities for judging events, almsboxes, and bribes; I told them of the debauchery upon which their offerings are spent.

I know not from whence the words came, a divine flood of things I should not know, but it could not have been the Goddess. Or so said Songsteel, who called me to his office when he heard what I had done.

As I could not support her whose will is known through him, Songsteel declared me a heretic, excommunicated me from the Church of Tymora, and stood, turning his back dismissively. As he did, the coin on his desk began to glow, and when he had me escorted from Fortune’s Will with only time to fill my pack, it was warm in my pocket.

I write this from my old room above the tavern. The people below have recovered from their shock and cheered when I stumbled into the bar. They buy me drinks and cry, “Hero!”, praising my fearless revelations, but without my Goddess, what is that worth?

page 14

I cannot stay here.

The Luckbringers have been in the tavern twice already today – as soon as mother unlocked the door, and during the height of our luncheon rush – to threaten, and have stationed a novice outside to warn away customers. Unless appeased, they will bankrupt us.

So my hopes of remaining at home, making beer, and eventually becoming proprietor, the life my father, if not my mother, wanted, lie in pieces. What now shall I do?

I may no longer be under Tymora’s care, but Songsteel cannot strip away the thirst for knowledge or the skills that he awakened. I am in the greatest city of the land, surrounded by temples of both gods and knowledge. Though I do not have funds or references to matriculate at the Pansophical, I can read Common, some Celestial, and a bit of Infernal – and the Knowing Circle libraries are open to all. If I am blest with divine magic, I must learn how to use it. But I must also cover my face, for I fear that Songsteel will not rest until I am driven beyond his reach in exile. Yet there are places in Dranseri that not even Luckbringers dare enter – places brewing a good stout might make one welcome. So I will stay, as long as I can, to learn what I can about magics.

page 15

The Pansophical Reading Room is magnificent, greater even than the quire and nave of Fortune’s Will, though not so large. Clerestory windows in a monitor on the roof ridge allow abundant indirect sun; the ceiling around this opening is gilded in gold and glows with the light of knowledge.

Each inch of wall is covered by bookcases, save the space beyond the Librarian’s desk, where a portrait of the Queen hangs next to the image of this school’s founder. The room, while open, is two stories high; a stair at the front leads to a narrow walk around the perimeter allowing access to yet more volumes. Next to each of these shelves is a lectern, where books may be quickly consulted; the middle of the room is filled by two rows of tables, not abutting lengthwise as for dining, but ranged as islands, each surrounded by four stools where one might study at length. I have yet to find more than three seats unoccupied.

Even this astounding number of tomes, though, is not the entire collection. Scrolls and papyri are secure in a separate vault; many items are held by individual scholars; rarely-requested materials are housed in another building entirely. The Librarian is most helpful. Materials are catalogued in a set of codex; with this, any item on a given subject can be located and retrieved, with notes then appended marking date of access and, if borrowed by a lecturer or principal, to whom it is entrusted.

It is rumored that any scholar, upon joining the faculty, must allow the Librarian to incorporate his holdings into the codex. Thus does it contain all known recorded learning.

But enough awe-struck gawping. The Librarian approaches with a rare volume of arcane lore.

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