A tide of bones

Session 2: 2nd Kythorn, 1372
Walk all day, and pray all night

2nd Kythorn, 1372


I walked all day, trailing Lionel, until we came to a scatter of houses without a name. The walk was surprisingly interesting. Not the landscape; I mean, even though I’ve never been much beyond the river this way, the landscape all looks sort of the same. But there were a lot of people on the road, some walking in groups or by themselves, some on carts, and even one trade caravan. I overheard one of them discussing a rumour that a big army is amassing to the North of Arabel. Again, after it was already sacked once, and the Purple Knights (and others!) reclaimed it. This after Tilverton disappeared? There’s trouble around here, and I’m worried for the monastery; it’s so close to Arabel. Too close to danger.
I also learned a little about Lionel. He comes from a place called Waterdeep, which is apparently just beautiful. He talked about it for a long time – I guess he really misses it there. He’s been travelling from there for 3 months.

Finally we got to the hamlet on the edge of the Hullack forest. It’s really just a way stop on the road, a last gasp before the day-long journey through the woods. There’s an inn here, called The White Pipe. It’s beautiful, the rooms are like those in a palace, with the softest, luxurious quilts. The water jug is elegant and the basin is beautifully carved from wood. Such a far cry from my cell in the Monastery of Ilmater. The building is not very fortified; I wonder that it hasn’t already fallen prey to the nefarious creatures dwelling in the Hullack forest. Still, it stands proud, a joy to behold. Lionel seems so easy in these surroundings; he’s so well-travelled and experienced, and he seems to know his way around even though he’s never been here before. I thought he’d try something on, you know, after the whole naked picture thing, and with his Sune swanning-around-half-naked behaviour. But he asked for separate rooms, no questions asked. I’m sitting in mine now, catching up on my journal…. Oooh, a knock on the door – I guess it’s Lionel.

I can’t believe what I’ve heard – another disappearance? This time it’s been local to the inn – an entire guild of sixteen scribes disappeared a few days ago. Apparently they arrived with a cart, full of manuscripts, parchments and scrolls; during the night they vanished along with the box, but not with the cart. There was no way that they could possibly have run away in the night – they wouldn’t have been able to move the chest without the cart. Lionel suggested that we check it out tomorrow. I need to go see Dayla, but a delay of one day shouldn’t be a problem. It’s Ilmater’s mandate to help all those in trouble or in need, and it sounds like those scribes could use some help.

The inn is full of different races, more than I’ve ever seen before. Also, some of the people here seem really bad. Really evil. I’ve never been close to anyone like that. I mean, the villages where I helped before were full of normal farmers and tradesmen just trying to get by, and the monastery was filled with the devotees of Ilmater. It makes me feel strange; there’s nothing I can do about them, but they make my skin itch.

There are good people too, I think. Primae is a Halfling woman, a druid who grew up around her and is familiar with the Hullack forest. She told us that the forest was ‘unhappy’. I don’t know what it means exactly, but I’ve heard stories of druids being in tune with nature. She says that the orcs and goblins living in the forest are damaging it somehow, that they are spreading a darkness within it. She has a friend, Hamond, who’s a human originally from a desert called Amn . He said that the climate didn’t agree with him, so he went wandering in search of his fortune and ended up in Cormyr. He bickers a lot with Primae, especially about her intuitions to do with the forest. She definitely likes him in a more passionate way than friendship, although whether he reciprocates is not clear. She begged to go with us tomorrow to search for the scribes. The footprints which led away from the inn went north, where there is only an old, abandoned tower, which is where we shall search. I believe that Hamond will join us too.

The food here is just incredible – the menu contained dishes that I’d never dreamed could exist. In the end I went for mutton, which was tender flavourful and braised to perfection. They offered alcohol, but I figured that tonight would not be a good moment to try it for the first time. I’d love to, one day, though.
I’m back in my room as I write this, lying on the fluffiest pillow imaginable. It’s as if it embraces me as I lie on it – bliss. Well, I still have to pray before I sleep, and tomorrow morning will be long. I should probably stop writing now…

Ysgarlad's diary, Session 1; 1st-2nd of Kythorn, 1372
"a banana trying to be an apple" Lionel

1st day Kythorn, 1372

Weird things happened today. I mean, the duties were pretty normal. I had to lead the soup kitchen with the squires; it was hardly heroic but, on the other hand, it’s one of the most significant duties I’ve been asked to fulfil so far. And we helped a lot of people; healed the sick, fed the hungry. When I’m doing these things, it’s Ilmater’s work too. That’s some comfort. The squires helped me out, and they’re pretty fun; Martin will be a training squire soon (he’ll probably follow Master Paladin Verrenis, lucky boy), and the girls, Millie and Sophie, are very sweet if a little serious. Well, we’re all supposed to be serious – they’re better squires than I ever was.

So the first weirdness was a rumour I heard in the kitchens. Apparently Tilverton DISAPPEARED. Just vanished. All that’s left is a chasm of emptiness, a void – no survivors. Master Paladin Rickkan the Still was gone this morning, so I guess he’ll be investigating and offering aid. He’s so surely and ineffective that a void without people would be just perfect for him. I’m sure he’ll do a good job, and I shouldn’t be so disrespectful in my attitude towards him. After all, he’s the mark and copy of what we all should be.

The second weird thing was more petty but, for me, more annoying. During the soup kitchen, in the middle of all these sick and poverty-stricken people there was a tall man in a fancy red cloak, with Sune’s face all over it; he was bristling with weapons, like a crimson pincushion. I went over to ask him to keep them sheathed (“we’re supposed to help people here, rather than puncture them”, the usual speech) and he starts telling me some rubbish about how Sune had told him to come for me, and that I had to go with him. And then, to make matters worse, he strips half-naked and starts bathing in the fountain, as if this were some whorehouse! Turns out he knows Brother Ignatius – the two of them were very friendly. I went back to ask him some questions and, although Brother Ignatius trusts Lionel (that’s his name), I don’t at all. He’s a Paladin of Sune – just made Paladin six months ago, actually. He’s got this amazing silver hair and golden eyes. Well, all of the Paladin’s of Sune have to at least be attractive – their entire sphere of mechanism is vanity and pride, and Lionel seems just the same. He followed me into the temple when I was trying to pray, and wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s hard enough for me to pray to Ilmater for patience and perseverance with his path, without some superficial idiot chattering in my ear.

I thought I’d lost the vain idiot when I went to bathe, but after dinner (where, by the way, he sat with Abbot Sereneheart!) he turned up in my room, and showed me a picture he’d drawn of me – naked! He saw me naked! He starts up with some rubbish about how I’m the long-lost relative of Sune, some pile of excrement about the way I look, and that I was “a banana trying to be an apple”. Of course, he’d seen my birthmark by that point (honestly, he’d seen everything!) – usually I can pass for a normal human, but by this stage it must have been pretty obvious to him that I was Aasimar. He made some ridiculous point about how I was family and so I belonged to Sune – I couldn’t believe it! I don’t belong to anyone – I have chosen my route. Ilmater is all about making sacrifices, persevering, trying to better yourself and help the people around you, and this Lionel is trying to sell me some facile trash about how good is superficial and frivolous, and that to be ‘pretty’ is enough. Following Ilmater is hard, at least, it’s hard for me, but I’m trying! I can’t believe … [illegible due to tear drops]… rubbish about the way I look, when that’s not even… [illegible]… if she wanted me so much, she shouldn’t have thrown me away in the first place. Now they tell me that Ilmater doesn’t want me either, which [illegible] … takes pity on all the downtrodden and dispossessed, instead of just swanning around naked, and… [illegible]

2nd day Kythorn, 1372

I thought about Lionel’s words all night, and I couldn’t sleep. I prayed a lot, begged for guidance and strength, but it didn’t seem to help. Maybe Ilmater doesn’t want me after all. I will ask the abbot for advice.

I’m leaving – Dayla needs me. I got a letter from her and she is struggling, losing her strength and her way. The Thunderpeaks are dangerous at the best of times but, with the sudden warm weather, the roads have thawed and the town of Frostbitten Jaw is being overrun by goblins and other nefarious creatures. She heals all day, she fights all night, and it still isn’t enough. When I was a squire, a Paladin lodged briefly at the monastery and I overheard someone talking about how he’d changed, become cynical and worn weary trying to stem the suffering of the world. This will not happen to Dayla. Ilmater or Sune, Lionel or the monestary, it doesn’t matter – this comes first.

When I spoke to the abbot told me everything and nothing. Last night, Lionel raised the point that I had been kept behind as a Paladin, whilst all my peers had made full-Paladin at 17, and I hated him for it. But I can’t deny it – the Abbot warned me not to lose my way, that Paladins must act on the front lines, not be forced to waste away in cloisters trying, and failing, to fulfil the office of monks or clerics. He called me a ‘blessed child’, whatever that means, and told me that a Paladin’s journey is a lifetime of discovery. I was soothed a little – perhaps I don’t need all the answers now. He implied, though he never said, that the Master-Paladins didn’t know what to do with me, and I agree. It’s like they’ve always been waiting to see something in me, holding me back even though I passed all the tests, I had the knowledge and the skills. I was ready three years ago – I can swear by Ilmater that I honestly believe this, without false pride.

I was ready to go with Lionel to the Temple of Sune. I had bid farewell to Masters Brodereck and Verenis, who gave me the letter. I packed my things and then, finally as an afterthought, I opened Dayla’s letter – that changed everything. I met Lionel outside my door – I had been hoping to miss him on my way out, but he insisted on accompanying me, if I would not go with him. Regardless of his interference, suddenly my path is clear. Maybe this was the strength from Ilmater that I have prayed so often for. Now I have a purpose.

The story begins

As the summer starts to shed it’s first warm rays on Faerun and the fields are filled with grain and vegetables our young heroine also begins her journey…

Ysgarlad has lived most of her life in the Monastery of Ilmater close to the long standing city of Arabel in Cormyr. From a very young age she was taken in from the monks of Ilmater and when she reached the very young age of 5 she was introduced to the life of Paladin in training, a squire. As the years passed by Ysgarlad spent her days training and learning, but although she passed all the challenges she was given with flying colours she still remains a trainee after squires even two years younger than her graduated and left the Monastery.


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