Was I ever young?
Those memories have long since faded from me.
I have no visual memories of my family. My parents, my siblings, my mate, my children... all lost to the insatiable void of time. I had a brief moment of hope, when we met the Maker, that he might be able to give me some answers; but all he left me with was more questions. The block to my memory is still puzzling and troubling to me. I can not remember beyond the desert, and it's almost a physical pain for me.
The Maker says I have forgotten to sing... and that makes me wonder what else I have forgotten, and if those memories will ever be restored to me.
This is part of why I am so intent on doing what I can for the sylvan sapling - if possible. My connection to the Sacred has returned, I can hold out some hope that in restoring the tree might allow me a glimpse behind the block in my memories. Having a direct physical connection, not only to the Sacred, but to the wellspring itself might allow me to see behind that veil that perplexes me so.
It is the propensity of the very young, I suppose, to be insistent that the universe centers on them. It's an illusion that is, quite often, a hard lesson to learn.
We waited at the warding walls there at the edge of the Old Woman's forest for a time. We were waiting to see if the knights would pursue us, taking the time to rest, and using the opportunity to hunt and gather provisions. While we waited and rested, Lan worked with KelLyn to bring her out of the depression spiral she was caught in.
Thankfully, the knights did not pursue us out of the Old Woman's forest. Tobias revealed that the last time they were encountered, that they were able to teleport somehow back to their home on the other continent. So either they have returned home, have decided to turn back and return to the little fishing village, or they are lost to the Old Woman's forest. Either way, they are now only a peripheral problem.
During one of the hunting trips, Fife encountered a very large deer-like creature, and was able to successfully kill the beast. I have never seen a creature like this, and while it does resemble a deer or perhaps an elk, it is much more massive. Once it had been killed, I touched it gently, in a gesture of honor and respect for giving it's life to sustain ours. We fed Amit his choice of the animal, took the horns, hide, and bladder for trade goods and waterskins, and prepared the rest for cooking and preserving. Lan caught some large salmon from the river near by, and I was able to also find a selection of wild roots, mushrooms, fruits, and herbs. We even found a small grove of apple trees, and were able to harvest a good number of the ripe fruits as well.
We all ate well, and were able to greatly add to our provisions, which makes Shalev rest a little easier. I admire his dedication to insuring that the party is well provided for, although I wonder at times if the other party members - Tobias aside - realize just how much his forethought to supplies and provisions is necessary. Looking at them, and how much they do unconsciously rely on others to do for them, I often wonder how they made it through the desert in the first place, those many years ago.
The party discussed options now, and as we had no idea where the red mage KelLyn was chasing had gone, we decided to follow the road to see if it would lead us around the mountain and closer to a city where we could stop to get our bearings and then directions to Ambralia, and then to Qualton. Our other choice was to turn back and go once again through the Old Woman's forest, and we all agreed that was a less than desirable course.
KelLyn expressed her extreme dislike of the fact that we decided to follow the road, instead of following a cold trail to go after the red mage. I am thankful to see that she has come out of the depression that plagued her, but her anger and acerbic nature has come to the forefront once again. I am concerned that the in-fighting between the party members will end up becoming.... lethal.
So, with her fuming not-so-silently about the decision to travel on the road, we continued our watchful travel - still keeping a wary eye out for the knights in case they decided to pursue or circle around ahead. After a few days, and off to the far side of the road, we discovered the remains of a party of 7-8 people. Nothing but skeletal remnants, and long dead, there was nothing to be found save evidence of a brutal fight that was the cause of their demise.
After about another week or so, we hear horns being sounded ahead of us, and we come across a large stone fortress. Shalev and I rode a little ahead to approach the gates, and we all enter the main gate unmolested by the guards. We find an inn called the Swallow's Rest, and we secure lodgings for a few days to allow us to resupply, and look for information. Almost as soon as we are settled in, we are approached by a courier from the main castle, summoning us to meet with the Count (John) the next morning. We agree, and Fife, Ishmael, and KelLyn then venture over to a seedier looking establishment, most likely for a desire to be away from Shalev, Tobias, and I. KelLyn still seems rather angry that we are here, but then she is angry about everything these days. So they go off to drink with the promise that they will be ready in time to meet with the Count before morning court.
I decided to spend the evening in quiet contemplation at the Swallow's Rest. A good bath, clean clothes, a hot meal, and a mug of the Philosopher's Tea. All together a relaxing and somewhat luxurious evening. I spent some time just watching the people come and go in the common room of the inn, and then after my ablutions were complete, spent the remainder of the evening in study and deep meditations.
The next morning, around 4th candlemark, we were roused and made preparations to meet with the count. Shalev, Tobias, and I exchanged travel and adventuring attire for court dress, and Ishmael, Fife, and KelLyn - appearing somewhat the worse for wear- made themselves presentable.
We met with the clerk who was to be our escort, and are told of the troubles on the southeastern roads, of brigands and a mysterious old man who appears as a harbinger to the attacks. People dragged off, and whole caravans that have disappeared. When we reach the gates of the castle, we see a smaller band of adventurers leaving, with a distinctly dejected look about them. The courier...cleric.. that was escorting us to the Count made some sort of comment about "not passing their interview".
Looks of caution were exchanged between the party members - those not too hungover to care anyway - and we proceeded onward somewhat more warily. We met with the Count who asked us what our... qualifications as adventurers were. Shalev introduced himself, and the rest of the party with aplomb, and the cleric standing beside the count - probably to truth-say and provide verification of honesty - asked if KelLyn were the one wanted by Penicia for the destruction of the mage school.
Between her constant dialogue of things probably better kept out of a character interview, and Lan's unbelievably short attention span, it's amazing that we made it as far as we did. But the cleric - somewhat wide eyed - verified the truth of our statements, and our characters apparently met what ever criteria the Count was searching for; because Shalev began negotiating with the Count for provisions, a guide through the mountains, giving KelLyn access to a private collection of magical items left over from long ago, and our pick of whatever treasures we found in agreement to take on the task of traveling along the southeastern road to deal with the brigands as well as whatever...evil...we should encounter along the way.
We were then ushered through to the main hall wherein we were able to interview those affected directly by the brigands and attacks. We learned that the attacks seem to be premeditated, and forewarned somehow, as the brigands seem to target the most powerful warriors first.
During this discussion, Lan mentioned quietly that she felt someone scrying the party, and KelLyn took action to stop it from happening. She successfully cast a Dispel, and felt the scrying attempt stop. This apparently was not expected, and the table in front of the Count burst into flames in an attempt to kill us all before we could even get started.
Ishmael used his gifts to douse the fire, and KelLyn immediately targeted one of the clerics to the side as being responsible. The impostor cleric looked panicked at being discovered, and threw some sort of powder into the air, which caused him to disappear. Fife took immediate action, and snatched a knife from Shalev's belt to throw at the impostor cleric - or where he was a second before. He made a successful hit, as the dagger also disappeared, and there was a sound of pain from the impostor. The guards quickly moved to close the gates, but it was too late and the impostor managed to escape unseen and with no further injury.
Lan used her ability to heal to bring the Count back to full health, and to make sure that there were no others who were gravely injured.
Shalev then, in a moment of divine inspiration, cast Dispel Evil on the area, and discovered the unprotected area that allowed the impostor to enter and leave; as well as completely removing the remaining scrying efforts.
The Count then promptly agreed to the terms Shalev had set for our agreement to proceed, and we made plans to head out in pursuit as soon as possible.
Who...whatever.. is behind the attacks now knows that we are coming, and knows - to some degree - who we are and what we are basically capable of. We do have some advantage, however, in Tobias, my fleet-footed hunter, as he can sense evil, and had not revealed his talent for speed. Whatever we face also does not know of the party overall, nor of the efficient destruction that we can cause when given incentive to do so. But they will discover soon enough.