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…