A tide of bones

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.



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