Father always said that writing helps clear the mind and there is no better way to work through a problem than to catalog its sides. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I have developed the habit of following his advice over the years. So many pages filled with ideas and questions, book after book, which vary from ‘abysmal’ to ‘adequate’ even to ‘inspired’. They’re all gone now of course and I am left to start over with you … but I don’t know precisely where to begin.
Perhaps it would be easiest if we just said TODAY.
We made it to town!
After weeks, maybe even months of circuitous traveling we have again reached civilization! I have never been so excited to see people in my life. And the food, oh merciful gods the food! If I never eat a questionable bug or berry again in my life I will consider that a triumph. Tables of food all laid out along the main street. I thought I might weep at the sight, in part because I was convinced it must be a mirage because what kind of town puts out that kind of welcome for random travelers? It wouldn’t be the first hallucination I’ve had in the past few months (thanks for the life lesson spotted red mushrooms). But happily it seems they were in the midst of festival. I am not ashamed to admit that I ate until I fairly burst; it was all delicious, they outdid themselves.
Hanna was not happy. Too many people to watch, too much noise, but it was lovely. Until I learned that it was in honor of The Calling. Strange to see the event celebrated so. I can still hear Father’s voice with its edge of contempt with the faintest shadow of fear warning me from ever touching one of those testing stones. Then again it was the same tone that he used when talking about all things related to Axora so it is sometimes difficult to judge the severity of his cautions.
Then everything went … wrong.
I did not see the man ride in, the most lovely meat pastry had my full attention then, but I DID see him disgorge a mass of writhing … things upon those gathered. It’s astounding how quickly it went from party to nightmare. People screaming. I saw a man chopped in half, not for the first time but the sight was still disquieting. It was the first time that spiders poured from his corpse (and I hope the last because that’s just disgusting). There was fire, and running, and trying to get people to move away from the carnage.
Hanna was unflappable as always, I was reminded again that without her I should be dead ten times over. still I think I did quite well for myself. I’ve been practicing. Conjuring has always come easy for me. Light and water I’d mastered before I was eight. But everything is so chaotic in battle…
There were others there of course who also aided in diffusing the situation. A man who attempted to organize the efforts by shouting from the tables. His voice commands attention and there is no denying that his knowledge and ideas are useful .. but is it terrible to admit that when I hear him all I see is my Father’s face and the thought of being patronized and sheperaded by someone who ‘knows better’ sets my teeth on edge. I’m doing my best to repress that, but I fear part of my brain is set on mutiny.
A DWARF. Of all things I expected of this town this was not it, and yet there he was. It is possible that all the books I’ve read on their culture were wrong for this one was onthing like what I’d imagined, what with the leaping through fire and hacking guards in half.
One of the women from the town also joined in the fray. I’ve read about alchemists fire, but never seen it in use. I … am not sure I want to think about that right now actually though. The panic, the smell of burning parchment and wood, it brings back things that I’m not quite ready to anaylze. She seems a nice enough sort though. Her eagerness to be tested is worrisome. She dreams of attending the college and … but what would I say? There is yet time to deal with that though. I hope.
The … archer? I had a hard time picking him out of the fray at first. By design perhaps? He strikes me as a man well used to blending in. Am fair certain he’s not here for The Calling, nor does he seem local, but that can be a good thing I suppose. With so many near strangers together it is permissible to have secrets and your own agendas. Right?
And then the cleric.
All of Hanna’s hopes rest on the half elf’s shoulders. She’s the only reason that Hanna encouraged me to travel with this lot on their college handed quest. Of all of them she hopes that Nathalia will be one who is capable and willing to care for me when she is forced to be absent. They are all competent and nice enough in their own way, but surely a servant of Jlyne is bound more tightly to the preservation of life more than any other? We shall see though. She seems quiet and more … severe than I’d imagined. But Hanna is relieved and for the first time seems to hold out hope that my ‘mad plan’ might work.
She’s cautioned me to not tell them the truth yet. It has only been a day and that is already becomming worrisome for me, but I understand her caution and feel it myself. Still, for the first time in months I myself am cautiously optimistic.
Well, it is time to break camp and I should wrap this up. There will be more later I’m sure for I’ve missed the familiar action of writing and my mind is indeed more clear for the exercise. You were right Father. I tire of saying and thinking those words, but you were right.