Letter in a Bottle: a Tribute to Wynlynn

13th of Sehanine

Dearest Wynlynn,

I don’t know when you will read this letter, but I’ve used druidcraft to enchant the bottle holding it. As I’ve drawn strength from the rivers of Arklan when far from the ocean, so may this sparkling stream carry my thoughts and affection to you in good time. You shall recognize this emerald bottle, the color of your eyes, by the blue-green glow it emits when you (and only you) look upon it.  

We have begun traveling north in search of a mystical book that may hold the key to restoring Travis. While this journey is sure to be as perilous as our earlier adventures, I’m really glad for this opportunity to repair some of the damage for which we’re partly responsible. After all, Travis would not have suffered his untimely end had it not been for our party’s foolhardy wager in the Arena. Moreover, having a concrete goal to focus on at this point helps me to avoid dwelling on our recent losses: first, Agenar, then Travis—and now you.

Wyn, with your sharp, sensitive mind—as keen as any of your arrows—you probably don’t need this letter to know that I miss you very much. I am so sorry I wasn’t able to offer you more in the way of friendship and comfort while you were with us. I don’t pretend to understand fully why you had to leave so suddenly but our last conversation gave me some sense of your reasons for staying with the party as long as you did. Whatever happened in your past—whatever you felt you needed to atone for—as long as I’ve known you, your motives have been selfless and inspiring. How glad I am that you opened up to me in recent months—how proud and honored to call you my friend! If I am saddened by your absence, I take comfort in the certainty that your heroic heart will surely be a blessing to other friends in their time of need.

Your courage and composure throughout our adventures will not soon be forgotten: how often has your eagle eye and superb marksmanship thinned the ranks of our foes and turned the tide of battle in our favor! Whether we were fighting mummies or marsh bandits, orcs or ankhegs, you were a real asset to the party. As a novice combatant myself, I always admired your deadly efficiency—and perhaps even more so your mental discipline. I do not think I ever saw you flustered or nervous during one of our encounters.

Except perhaps one: the time when it seemed as if the succubus we encountered in the dwarven tunnels had vanished with Val. Only then did your cool demeanor break down, but even in your impassioned state your aim was true and your resolve as firm as ever. Indeed, far from revealing emotional weakness, your passionate bravery on that day made a deep impression on me. It helped me realize the true nature of my feelings for Caedmon and more importantly, convinced me of the importance of making these feelings known to him in spite of innumerable doubts.  

Indeed, my dear friend, it was moving to see that—even in your haste to slip stealthily away— your farewell note mentions how much Caedmon means to me. I want you to know that, in part because of you, I conquered my fears and spoke boldly to Caedmon about my feelings. He, too, shared the secrets of his heart with me, and neither of us was sorry that we had done so. Though he and I must follow separate paths for now, you will be happy to know that the love we bear each other burns bright, strengthened by the increased sense of honesty in our relationship. 

Likewise, the flame of our friendship shall not be extinguished though our paths diverge. No, I shall remember you fondly and look forward to the time when we will see each other again. Until then, I send you the blessings of a tranquil ocean, the gentlest, most refreshing rain, and the sweetest of spring waters. May your travels be smooth and your path as sure as the flight of one of your arrows. May you find the peace of mind—and, yes, happiness—that you so richly deserve.

Lastly (for now), don’t think that your bravery lives on only in my memory and those of our companions. Of course, Pantaghion, Tilia, Travis (when he recovers), Agenar (wherever he may be), Val, and I will never forget you, but Caedmon will ensure that your heroism will be widely remembered in the Glade and beyond. On the immortal wings of song, the tale of the silver-haired ranger with a heart as true as her aim shall make its way into the timeless stories that delight both young and old.

Good-bye for now, my friend! Till we meet again, I remain

Affectionately yours,

Teal

Agenar's journal, page 121

After encountering the dragon, I flew down the rest of the mountain pass, stopping only to take food from my pack – and since there was no food in my pack, I did not stop often. Whether my eye was blurred by lack of sleep, whirling snow, or tear of joy, I stumbled at last out of the foothills overlooking Sriss into the warmth of a late autumn afternoon sun.

It is not so big a town as I expected, nestled snug into the mountainside and well walled on the ocean-facing sides. My road comes out of the mountains north and west of the city, so I must cross the agricultural plains to approach. It is warmer, so I have bundled away my blanket and vestments. I am glad to escape the reach of Fortune’s Will; their Luckbringers rarely venture into other districts. I should be safe from them here.

Yet those vestments may also provide an income, for while the tankard may win me a drinking contest, challengers would soon dry up – and if I stay sober, I am more susceptible to the dreams. Most days, I would rather go hungry than face my dreams; ale both fills my belly and fortifies my sleep, so the images do not interfere. Luckbringer garb, though, will allow me to set out my almsbox. Many will pay for a touch of luck, and I am happy to provide it. Safe in Sriss, I have luck to spare.

But I need not advertise that now. First I must reach the gates, and then locate the Checkpoint Inn, where Gammon said I would be met. If that meeting is not soon, I can wait. Food and a fire will be a welcome change.

p. 122

“Nice.” A nattily dressed professorish-looking fellow set another tankard in front of me, slurped the head off his own ale, and sat across from me in the back booth where I was enjoying my first hot meal in weeks. He pointed at the Insignia, shining where it clasped together my dark woolen cloak. “Real subtle. You must not be from around here.”

Since taking my seat, I had overheard nothing but talk of monsters. Orcs gathering to the north. A white dragon over the Dagger Sea. A rogue giant, ravaging harvests. There may have been more, but after some time without ale, the drink went straight to my head. The stranger continued. “So what color are you?” This was a shorthand, asking my level within the dragon cult by reference to the color of Tiamat’s heads. Any white-belted novice would recognize the question, but outsiders inevitably respond by asking if we are blind.

Induction into Tiamat’s cult is easily arranged, requiring only a quorum and a candle to accept a new member. Regular initiations, however, take much more effort, for both new members and cultists, and only happen twice a year in Dranseri. In spite of my trusted role in planning and robberies, I had only earned a red belt when the ceremony last occurred. I would have taken a green belt, or possible even blue, privy to all but the cult’s blackest secrets and plans, had I not fled. I answered, “red,” and touched my glowing nose.

He nodded. “And how is Gammon,” he asked, then laughed at my surprise. “It’s a broad accent ye have there, lad,” he slipped from the Queen’s Common into a local dialect, “and pegs ye right quick from the city.”

I asked if he preferred Abyssal. He switched back and continued, “I assume you have news from Gammon?” The fellow has said all the right things, and Gammon did say I would be met – but why should I trust him? I said nothing. After a moment, he said, “you’re right, this isn’t the place. Tonight. You’ll find us if you try.” He finished his drink, then stood and took his leave.

At the moment, I am not much inclined to try finding anything but a bed. There will be time to explore Sriss and seek out my brothers tomorrow.

Agenar and the Dragon

excerpt from Agenar, Dragon Master of Sriss, ed. Travis Woodman. Dranseri: Pansophical Press, 1234 PC.

The valiant Agenar had been traveling for days, journeying from Dranseri to join his brothers in Sriss. He moved incognito and without incident, and soon came to the mountains forming a hilt for the Dagger Sea. Entering their narrow, snow-covered pass, Agenar felt a chill.

Though it was winter, this chill was not from the weather. Agenar nonetheless paused for a moment to pull the vestments of a Luckbringer, stolen from Fortune’s Will, from the bottom of his pack. The additional layer over his leather armor, he hoped, would help keep him warm.

Still, an uneasy feeling lingered, as though something, just out of range, was watching with bad intent. Agenar shuddered, but shouldered his pack to carry on.

While dragons long ago abandoned hospitable lands to other races, rumor persists of their presence. This is especially true of the white dragon, smallest of the chromatic breeds, which prefers a frigid environment and thus might choose to remain in closer proximity to industrious bipeds, secure in the elevation of frozen peaks. Stories generally place them in the Old Spine range, but the odd occasion tells of something great and terrible outlined against one of the moons above the Dagger’s water. One might, thought an apprehensive Agenar, live here.

For two days, Agenar walked with only rags protecting his feet and these fears for companionship. The days were overcast and filled with snow. He could see only so far ahead as his next few steps and his blanket, now draped over his pack and shoulders like a hunchbacked noble’s cape, was white as a northern bear. The nights, however, were clear and cold; the twin moons, reflecting off fresh snow, seemed brighter than day. Agenar, exhausted, dared not stop to rest lest his breath freeze, leaving him unable to wake again.

So it was that, on the third night, he saw it.

Agenar, foolishly confident of his step on the well-lit path, was admiring the sparkle of moonlight on southern mountaintops when a movement drew his eye. Though he searched the sky, he saw nothing – until a winged shadow appeared against the nearer moon. Agenar gasped, his foot slipped, and he tumbled off the road into the deep snow beside it.

And the shape came ever closer. Agenar took a moment to recover, and before climbing up again, realized what he saw. He made the immediate decision to stay where he was.

White dragons are mighty hunters, but they are finicky and will only eat that which is frozen by their own breath. By remaining still, Agenar hoped not to escape detection, but to seem already dead and thus not worth the dragon’s attention. But this was not to be.

As the dragon grew nearer, Agenar succumbed to its frightful presence –had he wanted to move, he was paralyzed by fear. The dragon circled several times, each round closing tighter on him; still Agenar could not cry out or even quietly quake. After an eternity of intimidation, the beast swooped and, driving its talons into the snow, grasped the terrified traveler more gently than he had imagined possible.

The dragon lifted its prize from the snow and, with a clap of its wings, broke the crust of ice that had begun forming on his clothes. Still paralyzed, Agenar could not control his legs, nor where he might land upon falling. The dragon barked a harsh laugh.

“You should watch your step,” Agenar heard before a flap of wings took the beast higher. “Fear not, little one, but continue to serve.” Agenar, shocked witless, heard no more. Yet upon waking, instead of bleeding, buried in snow, and four days from Sriss, Agenar found himself overlooking that city from a nearby foothill. The dragon had carried him through the night to his destination.

Agenar's journal, page 120

Most dragons long ago withdrew from civilization into the inhospitable far north or west, yet some white dragons are said to remain safe among the snowy peaks where bipeds do not go. Before beginning my trek across the hilt of the dagger, I had idly hoped I might see one.

For days, Tymora has guided my footsteps along these treacherous paths. Feet wrapped in rags, wearing my Luckbringer vestments over armor, blanket pulled around my shoulders and covered with snow so I look like a great northern bear, I travel on knowing that to stop in these temperatures more than briefly is to die.

Even so, I could feel him following, calling me to join him. And last night, my third among the high peaks, under the light of two moons which against the snow seemed bright as day, I saw him.

Only a shadow over the mountains, unidentifiable in the distance, I could not know it was a dragon – much less male – yet I knew it was him, calling, tempting me from the path Tymora cleared for my feet into the snowy depths of the unknown, across the valley and away from Sriss to my destiny. I took a step to follow and, sinking nearly to my neck in loose snow, heard his cackle carry across the miles.

The slip may have saved me, as white dragons will only eat what they have frozen. At this distance I felt only awe; as he approached, seeking prey, I succumbed to his frightful presence and could not move. Buried as I was, the dragon did not find me. He circled twice above me before leaving, and I thought I heard him speak: “Fear not, little one, but continue to serve.” Were I not already paralyzed, I surely would have lost my bladder.

Only long after he disappeared into the far reaches from which he came did I regain the wherewithal to struggle free of the ice forming around my fading warmth. Once on the path again, I sought a sheltering overhand and tried to warm myself over a candle in my cookpot while forcing down dry rations and recording these events. My candle now burns low, I feel able to continue, and yet have far to go. I wish I was in Dranseri, Nemeia’s tail curled warm around my legs.

Agenar's journal, page 117

Pockets weighted with Tymora’s blessing, I made my way out of the fourth ward, crossed the river, and followed it north out of the city. This route is much less trafficked than the Queen’s Road, but if Tymora smiles I should reach the Dagger’s Handle in less than two weeks. As I can already feel winter approach on the sharp breeze, I will make haste.

Getting past the Wardens was simple: I showed them my Luckbringer garb and told them that I needed the early start to reach a nearby village in time for a day of contests. Footraces. Put your money on a half-elf in the sixth.

The river is calm this time of year. Most of the harvest ha already come downstream to the docks, and most upriver goods go earlier in the season, to insure a return before freeze might trap them overwinter. Water is low after the hot summer, but still flows strong and deep in its center channel. The flood plain, though, should be easy to follow and dried enough to bypass detours thru the forest.

Best, though, the road to Jorkh has already split off, taking most travelers with it. Now, with luck, I will outpace any news from Songsteel that might call me back. Once in the mountain pass I can relax – no one goes thru the mountains in winter. Already, and it is only late autumn, I understand why and regret not having boots.

p. 118

I am within sight of the mountain pass, near enough to see that snow already shrouds the mountains. I am now over halfway the Sriss, but the remaining distance will not be so kind. I will rest by the river today and make ready.

The fish, which have fed me well so far, unfortunately stay with the river. I have set several lines, and will smoke my catch over my fire tonight to take with me. I also saw a grove of fruit trees, and will harvest from them as well. Perhaps, with what remains of my hardtack and rations, I can gather enough to survive the coming journey.

If not, well, I have been hungry before.

p. 119

It has been a week since I saw anything green – or brown, or yellow – and the only red is blood from my feet in the snow. The cold is not yet so bad as it might be; the season is yet early, with days warm enough for snow to fall. Great white flakes, like ash from a straw fire, fall softly, sometimes catching a light as exquisite as any jewel. In other circumstances it would be achingly beautiful, but in this circumstance, it is my stomach that aches. I eat only enough to continue, but my fishes and fruit are long gone and the remaining rations dwindle more quickly than I can cover the miles. If I had boots, I could boil them for a feast.

But novice Luckbringers are not allowed boots, nor even sandals until fifth level initiation. Songsteel believes that footwear removes an element of luck from one’s walking – it matters less where one steps when the sole is protected.

Yet callouses are no defense against frostbite, so I have wrapped my feet best I can in the rags of my spare tunic and stumble onward to Sriss.

Where the River Meets the Sea

Matt Hale & Paul Yeoh

From the young adult’s novel based on The Mysteries of Arklan

Caedmon sighed. “I know it is tough. I care for you too. I always have. But it isn’t possible. Our paths are not the same. You have your Aramentè and I have my songs and gigs. Both our paths are wayward lives of exploration, but we have to find our own ways forward. Your home is always with you. Don’t ever forget. Now, with my new message spell, I can be too. Well, at least I can check in with you.

I wrote a poem for you and wanted to share it with you today. Now it seems more relevant than ever. I’d like to call it the ‘Call of the Sea.’ 

Never far from sea. 

The water I carry with me.

The stars above guide my way

Light of day helps allay.

White clouds flying

Seagulls crying.

I yearn to take my ship to sea again

Find a star to steer her and begin.

The trick of land is over

Back to the boat, the way of the rover.

Afloat, my gypsy life will catch the wind

Like a whetted knife it will cut my path forward.”

The cobbled path they followed wound through the eateries and warehouses in the seaward quarter, and they were near the sea when they had paused for Caedmon to recite his poem. Between the buildings they could see the Bay of Steel flashing a metallic azure. Fitfully illuminated by the late autumnal sun, mauve- and cream-colored clouds dappled the sky, completing the picturesque scene. Ordinarily, Teal would have been charmed by the sight, but his eyes could no more focus on the view than his ears could appreciate the mellifluous syllables falling from Caedmon’s lips. The warmth and feeling in that beloved voice were like rain in the desert to Teal’s yearning heart, but he struggled to grasp the meaning of the words. At the same time, he was battling a rising sense of despair— a chilling sensation that had gripped his insides from the moment that Caedmon had pointed out the impossibility of their being together. Yet amidst the numbing disappointment, he found himself buoyed up by a sense of pure joy: Caedmon had expressed feelings for him, too— the passion that he had developed for his childhood friend and protector was not a baseless delusion!

Then there was the poem. Caedmon had, of course, sung for— even with— Teal on countless occasions. But he had never composed poetry dedicated specially to his young friend. Teal found it impossible to stifle a glow of elation and pride— in spite of his growing conviction that NO, their love was not to be.

Teal’s dark blue eyes glistened— with sadness but also gratitude. “It’s beautiful, Caedmon,” he said softly as he turned to his friend. 

Many gifted musicians who effortlessly channel nearly any shade of emotion during a performance are surprisingly reticent when it comes to expressing their own feelings; and Caedmon was one of these souls. He smiled shyly, but said nothing.

Teal took a deep breath. Time: that was what they needed to shape this conversation on which so much— everything, it seemed to Teal— depended. “Do you know a spot from which we can watch the sunset together?” he asked, trying to sound cheerful.

Caedmon’s shy smile turned to a grin as he recomposed himself, gaining the familiar swagger that had drained away in his moment of vulnerability. “Do I know a spot? Of course I do, this is my city!” He proceeded along the raised boardwalk to a fence that was marked “No trespassing.” Taking Teal to a small, inconspicuous ladder on the boardwalk, they descended a few feet to an unobtrusive portcullis that granted entry to the fenced-off area. Caedmon smiled again.“See, they always forget to lock it.” On the other side of the fence, Caedmon escorted Teal to another ladder, this time on the side of a warehouse building within the walls. “After you,” he said to Teal. Climbing a few stories to the rooftop of the warehouse revealed a dazzling view of the river’s entry point into the sea. “Land and Sea merging. Fresh and saltwater becoming one. What do you think Teal?”

As if on cue, the now-setting sun broke through the clouds, transforming the bay into a rippled mirror dotted by vessels of different shapes and sizes. Teal gasped at the breathtaking panorama: except for a series of white plumes, the stretch of water where the Queen’s River met the sea seemed preternaturally serene, almost perfectly reflecting the sky’s beguiling blend of burnt orange and magenta. Yet as someone who had grown up among fisherwomen, Teal did not need a primal connection with water to be aware of the swirling currents produced by the opposing fresh and saltwater streams beneath the placid surface. 

Such was the inward turmoil that Teal was experiencing. The intoxicating beauty of their surroundings and Caedmon’s words—those images of unification!— touched a chord in the deepest fibres of his being. He could barely speak—his heart was so full. Then he was intensely aware of his friend’s presence—Caedmon was standing so close to him that he could feel the warmth of his body, smell his familiar scent, reminiscent of the variety of juniper that grew prolifically on Talpin. 

Teal exhaled slowly. Perhaps there was no need for words. He took a few steps towards the edge of the rooftop and traced a parabola with his right hand. A watery sphere emerged from the surface of the river about 30 feet away from them—higher, higher into the air it rose until, with a swift gesture of his hand, Teal dispersed it into a fine mist of water droplets. Suspended in mid-air, this fine watery veil danced about momentarily in the rays of the setting sun, creating a glowing rainbow over the mouth of river. Turning to Caedmon, Teal looked him directly in the eyes and embraced him. “For you,” he murmured.  

After a few quiet moments—during which their heartbeats seemed loudly audible—Teal continued in solemn, earnest tones. “I know that we must follow different paths for now—who knows how long—but when the currents of our lives flow together, will you allow me to be more than a friend to you … your lover? Nay—even when we are apart, Caedmon, may I always think of you as the rightful keeper of my heart?” Blushing violently, he buried his face in his friend’s neck as he had done so often as a child. 

Caedmon looked out over the neatly ordered bands of color in the mist. A moment of tension and suspense as the question hung in the air. As the mist fell and the sun began dipping below the horizon, Caedmon answered contemplatively. “Teal, your heart doesn’t need a keeper. It doesn’t need to be locked away and held in reserve. It is a treasure, yes, but real treasures deserve to be experienced. It doesn’t belong in a museum. There is something sad in the notion of reservation.” He paused, not wanting to be misconstrued. He cared deeply for Teal and the last thing he wanted to do was to hurt him. 

“Think of the instruments you’ve heard. Imagine the finest instrument you’ve ever heard. The finest note that has ever sung its way to your ears. The pinnacle of art and enchantment wrapped into one, capturing and captivating your attention and imagination, not unlike the rainbow that just faded a moment ago. This is beautiful, yes?” He paused for rhetorical effect, and then continued. “This instrument deserves to be heard, yes? This moment deserves to be experienced?” Again, he paused. Like a philosopher, he crafted a logical trap where all the premises necessitated a conclusion. “Would it be right to lock away and reserve such an instrument? To place it in a museum to be bound and preserved, unheard, for some imagined future use?” 

Not waiting for Teal’s response, he continued, “I say no. We have but one life—well most of us anyway. Live it. I won’t have you reserve yourself for me. I welcome a time where the currents of our lives flow together. When and where that happens, we will find happiness in that moment, of that I am sure. But as you know, water has a mind of its own. It finds its own way forward. It resists its bindings and forges ahead unimpeded regardless of the intentions of those who build dams around it and attempt to levee it in place. Right now we find ourselves in the same place at the same time. Let’s enjoy it, but don’t talk of me as your keeper.” Reaching out, he squeezed Teal’s hand, leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. 

Agenar Feeds the Masses

excerpt from Agenar, Dragon Master of Sriss, ed. Travis Woodman. Dranseri: Pansophical Press, 1234 PC.

Stories tell of an ancient master who once fed five thousand followers with only five rolls and two fish. Yet this was nothing for Agenar, who fed the entire Dranseri Slums for a month with only a bottle of wine.

Agenar knew the people were hungry, for he was among them, and he was hungry too. Agenar collected what offering he could and went to pray with the Luckbringers.

He told others to follow later, with baskets, for he was certain his prayers would be answered. Agenar was always blessed with luck.

They met again at the tavern across from the temple, where Agenar ordered two bottles of wine. “To celebrate,” he said upon passing the first to his friends. “And to work,” he added while tucking the second into his bag. After a final drink, he instructed them to watch for his sign, and then crossed to the temple. He took out and presented the bottle before entering the guarded gate.

When Agenar flung wide the gates an hour later, his companions filed past an empty bottle and two unconscious guards – yet Agenar was more sober than when he had left them. He twirled a key on his finger and said, “it is good to have luck, but she can not be relied on. They,” he waved at the guards, “should not expect her protection. The should prepare to succeed without her, as we did.” Agenar then led his famished friends through the sleeping monastery to Tymora’s treasury, and with her blessing, left it empty for the hung-over guards to discover.

Agenar’s journal, page 115

Months of planning and secrecy, and for what? Nothing – worse than nothing. Our quest to claim the Book of Vile Darkness was not only thwarted, but anticipated. Gammon will, rightly, blame me for this failure.

Yet our plan proved sound, as my escape demonstrates. We arrived at the back of the Pansophical compound aboard a river skiff loaded for the docks in Seaward; our boat, as many do, anchored in the shallow waters that let into the Bay of Steel to await unloading the next day – or so it would appear.

Stark, Low, Blagson, and I were hardly ashore, though, when someone cast Light upon us. Thru the glare I could see ranks of soldiers closing upon us; my comrades stood frozen with fear. I could not see his face, but recognized the High Luckbringer Songsteel by his voice, calling “Stop, thief! Agenar, I knew such luck must be you!”

A warm glow above my heart stirred action. I turned and ran, diving back into the river as he shouted, “After them, you Spellforce fools!” I was aboard and the skiff moved off downstream before they could do more than pepper our stern with a few arrows, and I was dropped at the docks soon after, as arranged.

I am sure my mates are captured. They are each strong, but I fear they must, eventually, succumb to Spellforce ‘persuasion.’ The damage to Tiamat will be great – as will Gammon’s wrath, which I face at the end of this too-short ride.

p. 116

Tonight I leave Dranseri, and after what occurred at the Pansophical, I cannot expect to return. Gammon has given me papers for the brothers in Sriss, I have said goodbyes with Nemeia, and I now linger after a final meal with my father and mother at the Lucky Penny. Yet before I go, I should get a bit of traveling money.

I have filled a wineskin with distilled spirit that smells and tastes of grape but bites more deeply, and I know when the guard changes at Fortune’s Will. Believing Tymora spares them any greater threat, they only post one after midnight, to direct late-arriving pilgrims to our door. I will ply this former friend with entreaties to tell Songsteel that he has won, I am leaving the city, and join the fellow in libations using my Tankard. When he has had too much, I will relieve him of his keys. Then, pockets full of the Goddess’s gifts, I will be gone before Songsteel receives my message.

Agenar’s journal, page 113

Dreamt of a shop selling creamy cold custards in a variety of flavors. I must ask Nemeia if she knows such a place; this would be delightful on a hot day, although when I sampled the nogberry, I woke up with my mouth tasting like chalk.

The Arcana Pansophical was the first library I visited after exile from Fortune’s Will. It is in the heart of the Knowing Circle, occupying what was once a major market directly visible from Rae Dranser’s castle on the hill. The Wizarding Academy is its nearest neighbor, and it backs onto the river. Manor houses for minor nobles, while comprising the bulk of Oldtown’s population, are well-insulated from such disrepute by Vilnyce Academy and the student ghetto surrounding the schools; the ward is patrolled by both the Queen’s Wardens and private guards, but both maintain routes that protect their weathly clients while keeping a respectful distance from the Pansophical’s dark magics.

The Pansophical itself, from my observations, is not really guarded at all – but that was during daylight. Of course, an Archivist verified credentials before allowing entry, but I saw only scholars, not soldiers; no one wore weapons. It may be different at night.

Of course, given the magics they possess, the Pansophical really has no need of guards; they know spells and wardings that could turn men to mice. I have even heard rumor that they hold a dragon in some deep cellar, though Gammon says they probably just collect dragon’s teeth to keep that power out of other hands.

Gammon has yet to say what he hopes to gain from this adventure. Unlike the temples and shops we have raided, the Pansophical’s wealth is in knowledge – which is hard to carry away, unless something specific is sought. I am sure, though, he will make this known as preparations progress. For now, I must concentrate on gaining physical access to a site from which I am barred, and then must determine the location of what we seek, its defenses, and how to overcome them.

Then I must pray for luck.

Wynlynn's Letter to Teal

Wynlynn slips a letter in Teal’s bag just before he goes to meet Caedmon knowing he likely will not find it till much later. As the party finished up shopping Wynlynn slips away.

My Dearest Teal,

You have been such a good friend to me these last two years and I will not forget it. I had felt so lonely but found comfort in our group. I have grown and learned much in that time.Last night you spoke of forgiveness. I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately and have realized that the person I need forgiveness from is myself. I am finally ready to stop spending my life seeking redemption for past mistakes. I don’t know where I will go next but it is time that I go and figure out who I am. It is unlikely that we will meet again in this life but I want you to know how grateful I am for your friendship and I wish all the best for you. One word of advice, don’t let life get in the way of what is really important. I know how much you care for Caedmon, don’t wait till it is too late to do something about it.

Wynlynn

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