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Postby Lorsalian » Thu May 06, 2004 10:37 pm

A warm breeze rustled the heavy canopy above, but no bit of air stirred near the youth. Youth. By the measure of his mother's people, he would be considered a youth a hundred years hence. His father had been among the last human adventurers - a ranger or a bard, the youth's family never mentioned him - to be politely, yet firmly, told to leave the area around Leuthilspar before the harbor was closed and the gates slammed shut. Whatever his father's profession, the youth had inherited a tendency to wander, or so it seemed to most. In truth, he tended to stay close to town. Private lessons from the guildmasters seldom completely held his attention, and the grove where the youth now sat was one of his favorite hiding places. No time at all seemed to pass; not one bit of movement, yet the air was sweet and warm, and any discomfort was soaked away as soon as he arrived. The youth sighed deeply, then started as -

A silent shout pierced the silence, "Lorsalian!"
"Mother?" he stammered, "How did you find " "
She smiled wryly, "You thought you were the only one who new about this grove?" She looked around appraisingly. "Hasn't changed much since I was here last - but then it rarely does. There are several such groves around the city, had you bothered to look." She frowned. "What studies have you abandoned today? Archery? Fencing? Gardening?"

"Uh," Lorsalian stammered as he rose to his feet, smiled, and then 'conjured' a small thorny stick - not found that side of the city - with a wave of his hands, and made it vanish with the next. "Cantrips, I think."

His mother rolled her eyes, reached out her hand, and pressed hard on Lorsalian's left tunic pocket where the stick was hidden. Lorsalian winced as the thorns bit into his skin, and then through it, causing several circular cuts. She was an adept herbalist, and a fair healer, but sometimes that just meant she knew what would hurt the most. Within seconds, the bleeding had slowed - a testament to the uniqueness of the grove.

After Lorsalian's knees solidified, they both prepared to leave the grove for the city, and Lorsalian washed the wounds the thorns had made with a bit of water from a skin he carried.

When they were almost home, his mother sighed, usually a sign of a lecture. "You need to take some things more seriously."
More attention to his lessons? "I already know what - "

"I am not so sure you do, Lorsalian. When I went looking for you, I checked several places you may have found much more interesting. The Sylvan glades, Anna's cottage, and the library of Larallyn, among others. But you don't seem to have bothered to look for them. Should you be this inattentive of the guides, or wander off when you aren't meant to, I may never see you again. You have led a quiet life, but you don't seem suited to much more, which is part of the reason you will be going today across to the continent of Faerun." A magical portal still permitted travel to the lands beyond the island of Evermeet, but, perhaps in keeping with a lack of desire for visitors, the portal was only one-way, paired with another hidden portal to bring one back. Some, usually adventurers, would enter the portal and return either in a week or in a century, but could not be relied upon for news. Others made regular - once every couple score years - trips to trade for certain items not to found on the island, or simply to see how the world had changed. Lorsalian would be a traveler in such a party; and would be shown the continent, and finally, the location of the other portal.

"Where is the other portal, mother?" Lorsalian asked, wanting to seem like he was paying attention. He had heard all of this before.
"I don't know, Lor," she replied, using his nickname, "And since you don't either, the guides will play riddle games with you and the others to make sure you pay attention. If you make the wrong choices, they'll wander with you for a week or so before they tell you that you were wrong."

Lorsalian gave his mother a hurt look. "Is that why you're worried you might not see me again? Am I that bad at paying attention?" Well, maybe he occasionally leaned that way, but did she have to say it?

"Yes, I did," she teased, smiling warmly as she read his expression, "but this trip will improve your attentiveness." As she remembered something, she drew something from the bag she carried. "I hope you won't need this, but it is good to have" She handed him a small canvas pouch. When Lorsalian opened it, he could think of nothing but his favorite grove as the smell surrounded him.

"It's an herbal mix I've been working on. Mix them into a paste and either apply them to a wound, or ingest them, and they should prevent infection or poisoning. Be careful, there is only enough for a few applications." Lorsalian placed the pouch inside his tunic on the left, winced at the heavy pouch against his bruises, and replaced the pouch in his right tunic pocket.

It was early in the morning, so they passed through the city without seeing many people. Those who they did meet walked by without comment, sometimes ever without looking. In a shoulder-slung sack he had packed earlier and left at home, he carried a sketchpad, a few days worth of druid fruit, and a curious water barrel that carried more than it should have.

The caravan had already formed, and the master of the mage's guild was busy explaining travel through the gate to the other youths.

" ... can be quite disconcerting at first," he lectured with his back to Lorsalian, "so I've cast an illusion to provide a path for you. Do not step off the path!" He then turned to look around, and rolled his eyes before saying to Lorsalian's mother, "So where was he today?" His expression grew disgusted. "He could have explained all this if I had had time to tell him!" He sighed, "Well, get in line. The others will no doubt enjoy teasing you about the other details." Lorsalian stood in front of the mage, and looked at the gate. It seemed little more than door into another room, the path through it the only light until the other side, where he could see a bit of green - a forest, he assumed.

He was the last to pass into that dark room, but he stayed less than a yard - at least it seemed to be a yard, even though the first person through hadn't reached the other side - behind the traveler in front of him, an elder elf who had been through the gate before. As he cautiously looked around, he couldn't seem to see anything above him. When he looked down next to the path, however, he saw small points of light in the distance, as if he walked on a bridge over a still pond that reflected the stars - only ... no stars above.

He was a bit behind because of this, so he hurried to catch up. About a minute - another strangely meaningless measurement - later, something happened.

The door on the far side wavered like the air above a cobbled street in summer, and the path winked out. Lorsalian hovered for a moment, then slowly began to drop, keeping pace with the other youths who fell like stones. The elder travelers in the group hovered in place, frantically reaching for Lorsalian and the other youths, then for each other, but they merely floated in place. Lorsalian yelled in alarm as he sank, and followed before by himself below him. Some were hauled across and herded towards the original exit. Lorsalian could hear the relief on their faces. He lost track of the other youths as he floated along the floor toward another door. He passed through the door into a bright blur, slammed chest-first into a wall, and instantly lost consciousness.
Last edited by Lorsalian on Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lorsalian » Thu May 06, 2004 10:40 pm

A burning in his upper chest awoke him. Only his back was dry – the rest was in some sort of wet material. He was embedded at least an inch in the wall – no, he amended as he shifted to move – in the ground he had slammed into earlier. Judging by the smell and the slightly salty breeze, it was a patch of a well-composted and quite well-fertilized field near the coast. He sincerely hoped that the sun was actually setting at the coast, since the mainland was to the east. Although that he could remember no accounts of travelers through the gate going to other planes, this did not comfort him. Coming to shaky feet, coughing and spitting out whatever his scream had allowed into his mouth, Lorsalian took stock of his predicament. The contents of his pack were gone – as was the pack itself, although he still had the shoulder straps, which were frayed; as if the pack had been torn from his shoulders. Strangely enough, his boots were also gone, yet his clothes were merely torn, and he retained his herb pouch and his small pouch of coins – a handful of copper. The wound on his left was caked with the contents of the field. Brushing away what he could, his fingers brushed the skin near the wound, which was practically glowing red. The sudden eruption of pain nearly knocked him from his feet. Okay, Lorsalian thought in a few moments when he could think again, nothing to make a paste, so ... He shrugged, and swallowed a pinch from his herb pouch. As all moisture was banished from his mouth and throat, he realized why his mother has said that it needed to be taken with water. Coughing weakly, but trying to keep the herbs down, he hefted what remained of his possessions and his dignity and started walking toward a group of buildings, the sun at his back.

The group of buildings was a small town – a small village really – called “Man den” if he read the sign correctly – a strange, if descriptive, name. The streets were loosely cobbled, looking like stones that had merely been embedded in the sucking mud and left there for boots of travelers to nudge and wear them into the proper smooth position. Too bad I don't have boots, he winced. His thirst and the smells wafting from a building on his left, however, urged him on.

The door had been left open, despite the night's chill. The room was loosely populated. A man sat at a round table near the fire, his back to the wall and his sword on the table, talking to a man whose face was shrouded by a hooded robe. A woman holding a tray walked up to him and gasped at the mud-covered mess before her. “Wot d-d-iyawon ?” she stammered. “Alu ... fallanar ... uh” he croaked, at a loss for words. What was human for water? He gave up, and made drinking and wave motions with his hands, repeating, “Alu ... falma ... yulna”

The warrior looked up from his conversation as the woman stepped back, her face paling. “Eez kaisen uhspel! El pamee!” she screamed. The warrior grabbed his shield and shoved the invader out the door. Lorsalian tripped backyards, landing on a flat patch of the street. Darkness closed around him.

Erahbam rushed through the night to the tavern, his staff occasionally sticking in between cobblestones.
“Of all the times and sloppy ...” he muttered. Remembering himself, he supposed that going to the tavern in town was preferable to waking the cow, stirring up a fire from coals, and warming the milk

As he neared the center of town, he heard a crash. A shape had been knocked backwards over the threshold out of the tavern – not an unusual occurrence this time of night. But another shape raising a weapon above the helpless first was definitely going too far. He tucked his staff under his arm and ran the rest of the way, chanting a simple spell.

A bright flash illuminated the scene – in reality, a call for help to the others of his order, but it got the warrior's attention as well, who put up his sword, squinting at the sudden near-daylight.

“What cause for bloodshed is here?” Erahbam demanded.
“Witchcraft,” the warrior replied, squinting less as the flash shrank to an ambient glow, “or perhaps it a ghoul 'self.”
Erahbam sighed. “And what did he cast?”
“Nothing,” the warrior declared, “I knocked him out before he could finish.” He puffed out his chest proudly, “an-and was getting ready in case he counterattacked,” he added quickly, noting the cleric's stare.
Sure you were. “What did he start to cast then?”
“I don't know ... something about “Aloo ... felma ... fallanard”
“Alu, Falma, and Fallanar?”
“That's it! How did you know?” the warrior replied. Then his expression grew dark, his eyes narrowing
Erahbam could barely control his distaste any longer. He rolled his eyes, resolved to pray for more patience later, and turned away for a moment, his thumb and forefinger bridging his brow to stave off the coming headache. As he straightened, he caught sight of a group of his brothers, still attempting to fasten on shoes and belt their robes as they ran. Oh good, here they come, he thought as “We have an innocent hurt man here!” he called to them, then turned and unleashed the full force of his voice on the blockhead with the sword.

“That was Elvish! The poor soul was hurt and was asking for water! Did he happen to make these gestures?” He mimed a drinking motion. The warrior backed toward the door, looking sheepish. “I thought so,” Erahbam noted, regaining his composure, “I'll speak to you later about some basic language instruction,” he said before walking past the befuddled warrior into the tavern. After hurriedly collecting a bottle of warmed milk and promising an explanation of tonight's events to the shocked barmaid, he left to help his brothers, who were preparing the man to allow them to move him to the temple.

“Eesi smovd ... Eescom inarowd.”
“Welcome back, young elf.” A voice said, in a strange, nasally accent.
Lorsalian slowly opened his eyes. He was in a brightly lit stone room. Too bright, he thought as he squinted.
“Where,” Lor began.
“In the temple of Ao, young --”
“Lor – Lorsalian.” he stammered, blinking. As his senses returned and he rose slightly to place his arms on the pillow underneath him, he noticed he was lying on a few canvas blankets on a raised bier. The air in the room was a bit less bright than it seemed at first, tinged with the shadows and scents of something burning – a faintly sweet-spicy smoke was rising from an urn in each corner of the room.
“Lorsalian. You were lucky last night, whatever you may think,” the voice, a short man in a flowing brown roughspun robe, started. They exchanged stories...

“'warrior thought you will be bewitching the barmaid. I headed to the bar for a bit of milk warmed ... a foundling we discovered today, and our stove self was down to night embers. Doesn't hold a lit stick to your adventures day this – luckily, I'm also the one here brother knows who bit elvish. Ao was with you night last.”

“I think you're saying the right words, but your accent is horrible,” Lorsalian chuckled, catching himself and bracing for the pain in his chest and arms that didn't come. These humans knew what they were doing, he marveled.

The vault was cool, yet dry. Once again, Lorsalian reached for the water bottle at his belt, balancing himself against a wooden staff he had wedged between the floor and the wall. He could walk with a slight limp, and had agreed to fill the monks of this temple to – Ao, he thought it was that Erahbam said – in with a vague idea of the goings-on on Evermeet in the weeks until he was fit for travel. So Erahbam had led him to the library, and left Lor to study. The windows let in some light, but the sun could not be seen – the walls were designed to block direct sunlight. He chuckled to himself. Unless he hurt himself helping with the gardening, he didn't have enough time to fill them in – even if he could remember everything he'd been taught. The library was just missing the last few centuries – which was strange, because Lorsalian wasn't that old.

To be fair, most of the books were quite well preserved, and the quality seemed to increase at intervals. They probably rewrote them right before they were destroyed. Lorsalian moved back to a bookshelf in the back against a wall to get another book on history, and raised the intricately carved cover from the shelf. The shelf underneath was sturdy, and buttressed against the shelves below to support the heavy tomes. He ran his hand over the covers, looking for an interesting title – usually, one whose author was unconcerned with the truth.

He jerked his hand back reflectively, falling against the shelf behind him, which hardly budged. Levering himself aright, he looked again at the book he had touched. The spine was pale white, slightly yellowed bone trimmed in black – and it didn't look like any animal bone he had ever seen. Hoping the shelves just kept the tomes chilly, and the bone just held onto the cold longer, he gazed at the title on the
spine. His face contorted in amazement, and he fell backwards again, making a sign he had seen his clerical teacher make a few times.

The characters were drow.

Weeding a garden with Erahbam later, Lorsalian shuddered. Thankfully, they don't seem to understand the writing. Lorsalian decided to fake ignorance, which would be quite easy, since he had barely recognized the characters. He could not understand anything of that dark tongue, save a few phrases he was certain were curses, since they were uttered by the prisoners occasionally taken when the drow raided on Leuthilspar.

“So say you which, er – that you never really spoke common? Just read it?” Erahbam, standing beside him, said, breaking Lorsalian's reverie. The cleric's accent had lessened greatly in the last weeks. Maybe I'm not as poor a teacher as some thought I was a student, Lorsalian mused, bringing a smug grin to his face.
“Yes, much not teachers use thought – err, the teachers didn't see much use in learning a dead language,” he responded in heavily accented common. Okay, maybe Erahbam was just a better student.
“Might have been a fatal flaw, considering that most barmaids around here don't speak elvish.”
Lorsalian nodded, smiling ruefully.
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Postby Lorsalian » Thu May 06, 2004 10:45 pm

Weeks later, the time came for Lorsalian to set out again. Though he retained the patched remains of his old tunic in a bag slung on his shoulder, and a single dose of his mother's herbal mix – having left a portion of it with the monks to study, as a token of gratitude – the majority of his clothing had been fashioned in the village of Menden (not “Man den” he learned). He scratched absently at the collar – it was entirely too tight.
“Are you sure you don't want that book you seemed so intent about?”
Lorsalian cleared his throat and looked around, “No, its just a book about ... uh, gardening.”
“With a binding of bone?”
“I've heard the author was a bit of ... a bit eccentric. Which makes it that much more worthless ” Lorsalian lied.
“No book is worthless, Lorsalian,” Erahbam said with an indulgently smug smile he knew Lorsalian hated, “but farewell. I hope you find your companions.”

Lorsalian nodded his thanks. “Thank you, Erahbam. Greet Akansu for me when he is older.” Akansu was the name of the child whose hunger had aided his rescue. A small pale child who already had a few midnight locks on his head, Akansu had been left at the temple door, and the bell rung. Erahbam, who had answered – “I always seem to be up at night anyway, so I mind the door for travelers,” he noted to Lorsalian later – had tried his light spell in the courtyard, but could not detect the person, presumably the mother, who had left the child. It was a complete mystery, but they would raise the child regardless. “Perhaps you may find her, “ Erahbam shrugged. “Fare well, young elf,” he smiled.

Waving a farewell to his rescuer, Lorsalian turned again from the sea, and set on the path to the human city called Waterdeep.

A glint of glass in the gloom caught the beggar's attention. He was stooped slightly, leaning against a sturdy staff, and dragged his left foot behind him. Besides being a little hungry, though, Lorsalian was in much better health than he looked. The young thugs who posed and insulted everyone who passed simply invited attack, he had learned. So he had adopted his stance as a defense. As for those who saw a feeble beggar as easy pickings, well, this staff wasn't just part of his disguise.

Despite the occasional thug, Lorsalian found he preferred the Southern half of the city. The shadows provided ample places to hide – he wasn't the only one who was skilled with a weapon, and not all thugs were weak bullies – and it tended to be quieter.

Months ago, he had barely caught glimpse of the northern gate, about an hour after dawn, when the clamor of a wakening city could be heard. The guards at the gate barely paid him any heed as he walked in between wagons. Lorsalian got a guard's attention, and asked about the elvish caravan.

“What do I look like,” the guard blustered, “a merchant? Check the bazaar!” He drew his arm back quickly, as if to deal a blow, then rolled his eyes. Lorsalian followed the wagons further along the street in the direction he assumed the guard had been pointing.

Hours later, devoid of the few gold coins and most of the silver he once had, and the proud owner of several useless trinkets, he learned that most merchants had very few ideas, much less about Lorsalian's caravan. “And if I did, I CERTAINLY wouldn't tell a bastard half-elf!” one particularly fancily-dressed thief had told him, before he resumed the polishing of his rings, and his guards moved to “escort” Lor from his shop.

Lorsalian resolved to learn what a “bastard” was, but that had to wait. He was becoming hungry, and he had less money now than when he arrived in Menden. He sighed. Well, I remember a town crier saying something about soup for the poor. Guess I now qualify. Unwilling to ask anyone for directions – his money wouldn't have handled the fee anyway – he wandered around until he found it.

Lorsalian leaned over, looking like he had stumbled, and scooped the bottle into the satchel he carried. His money and what little remained of his mother's herb mix were in a pocket made by folding his old tunic from home. It hung from his neck and was strapped to his torso to be invisible under his tunic and cloak, especially when he stooped over and leaned on his staff. The satchel had some food and his salvage, along with a few dozen copper, so if someone did rob him, they might stop at the satchel.

He'd look more closely later, but it looked intact – he could eat for a week on the money some bars would pay for their bottles back, or maybe get some fruit or traveling rations. If he really saved up , although earning money and avoiding notice were near impossible, he might soon earn enough for a leather jacket to wear underneath his cloth tunic.

He had lived like this for the past few months. He did his best to avoid the squabbles of those around him, although he occasionally dropped a few coins into a bag, or placed one of those useless trinkets – since the lousy thieves wouldn't even give him anywhere near what he paid for them back – next to a parent while a child slept, and the parent couldn't see him. Gratitude created connections, and anyone wondering why a freshly-stolen item was suddenly back to its owner could follow those connections back to the new competition – he had seen it happen often enough. Perhaps he should negotiate with a few of the poorer merchants to “steal” some of their stock, paying them weeks in advance, to turn over to a few of the gangs to make them think – although, Lorsalian chuckled, perhaps that was a feat best left to mighty sorcerers – that he was trying for membership. He would have to consider it.

The word “bastard,” he was learning, was something of a curse, since every time he had dared to utter it, he had had doors slammed in his face – sometimes literally. He needed to find out where the scholars gathered. Perhaps he could find someone who spoke a little elvish. Before that, however, at least, he needed to find a clean set of clothes. His clothes seemed to attract too much attention north of the bazaar. Adventurers – he assumed everyone with armor but no Waterdeep tabard was an adventurer – seemed to go out of their way to attack anyone who looked like they wouldn't call to the guards.

He often passed his time at night in the house of the poor listening to the stories of the “mysterious avenger” and was pleased to note that even once he stripped out the hyperbole, there were still many things they talked about that he hadn't done. All the better to protect myself and the others, Lorsalian mused, smiling lightly, and congratulating the teller on their good fortune.

As Lorsalian began to carry his new treasure off to a shop he knew would pay him well for the bottle, someone shouted “Hey! You there!” It was an adolescent voice, base enough to indicate he was one of the older thugs. Lorsalian kept hobbling, exaggerating his movements to hide his new tighter hold on his staff.

A hand landed on Lorsalian's right shoulder and whipped him around. Yep, Lor thought, this one even has a bit of facial hair, as he stood an inch from the thug's face – he obviously thought the beggar would have fallen over. His breath could have done the trick if I'd eaten today, though. Lorsalian took a step back, coughing slightly.

“That was MY bottle you just stole, slime,” he thug sneered. His companions chuckled, and the thug looked back and grinned.
“Alright ... fine then,” Lorsalian handed over the bottle, hoping this was just an intimidation rite.

The thug looked at the bottle, pleased that he was so scary. “Nope, I was wrong. Wasn't mine,” he admitted, throwing the bottle over his shoulder. It shattered against a wall, sending several rats scampering for cover, and more than a few rodents. “Have anything else of mine, you rotten thief?” The thug shoved Lorsalian back towards a wall, and attacked.

Lorsalian jumped aside, dodging to his left as the thug charged into the wall Lorsalian should have hit, and brought his staff diagonally across his body, readying for the next move. The thug merely smiled as he drew a sword – a badly made, poorly maintained sword, but a sword. Lorsalian attempted to buy some time for an escape with a swing to the thug's shins, but the thug jumped back, swinging his sword back around for an attack at Lor's head. He brought his staff up, attempting not to block, but to knock it away. The dull sword still made slivers of the left side of the staff, but the sword bounced right, slicing through the tunic on his left shoulder, and leaving a gash on his arm – instead of his neck. The thug stepped back, surprised at how this rat of a junk collector had blocked him. After a moment, the smell of blood and the cheers of his gang brought him back around, and his eyes narrowed as a grin spread across his visage.

Well, this is it.

Snagging the fabric with the splintered end of his ruined staff, Lorsalian turned his satchel inside out and flung it the thugs. Assorted expensive-looking junk – including a trinket left from his first day, finally useful – as well as his copper coins scattered across the area, the satchel itself landing on the main thug's head, as Lorsalian used the movement to whip himself around and bolt.

He ran, hoping they would be distracted by the loot for a few moments. He dropped his staff on the cobblestones where it might roll. He used every trick he new – changing directions, shedding his cloak, and ducked into a building.

The building was just an empty warehouse. Lorsalian looked around for something to use as a disguise. Several cloths lay on the floor, so he scrambled to gather them. Underneath one, he found a large metal ring stuck in the floor. Strange, this place isn't big enough for a giant to stand. That must have been why he scraped his ring into the floor. Chuckling nervously, he took a quick breath, gathered his thought and realized it was a handle. Noting increased noise outside, and not noting any promising disguise material around, he frantically opened the door, and jumped down into darkness–

– and through another such open door into a tunnel. He picked a direction, and ran – into a dead end. Scuffling noises above. They'd found the door. Wait, a ladder against the dead-end. Not bothering to listen for anything above, he started up – and stifled a cry of pain. He left shoulder was gashed a lot worse than it felt at first. Climbing up one-armed into a hollowed-out tree, he flopped up onto the ground. Since his tunic from Menden had clotted into the wound, he torn it to shreds and used the rest of it to bind his shoulder, re-donning his repaired tunic from Leuthilspar from– he hadn't worn it earlier because the different cut would have been noticed.

Hearing a thud, followed by a clang of metal against a stone, Lorsalian inched towards the source, his shoulder burning. Must be something about that side, he mused, remembering his scar.

It was an unconscious human, his pale paling, his skin cold with sweat, and twitching in the grass. A dagger lay nearby, a strange non-blood oozing along its blade. Poison.

Lorsalian's shoulder flared again. He reached for his herb pouch, and stopped for a moment in taking a pinch out as the child caught his breath in a gasp. Lor sighed. He'd probably be missed more than I would. Grimacing and tearing up a bit from such a depressing thought – no, it had to be because of his wounds – he decided to just get on with it.

He spread a only few flecks on his wound, swallowing a few more with a swallow of water – not going to make that mistake twice. The rest of his water, he poured into the herb pouch, drenching the last reminder of his grove back near Leuthilspar. He placed the mixture near the boy's nostrils, and used an oak leaf to place some across and under the child's tongue. As the human's breathing slowed, Lorsalian crawled back to lean against the tree, and used the last light from the setting sun to watch over the child, until the burning in his shoulder allowed him to slip into unconsciousness.

The sunrise in Lorsalian's eyes began to rouse him from his sleep. Sunrise?!? he bolted awake.

“Good morning, L – ” a deep voice said softly.
“How did you -- “
“I've been watching you. There were several times I thought I might have needed to add my sword to --”
Lorsalian looked at the man's belt. A Sword! He looked up. Armor! An adventurer! Lorsalian frantically levered himself aright, scrambling to escape.
“Woah! Woah there! I'm not going to do anything!” the man called defensively, raising his hands to show his lack of weapons. His mouth pursed for a moment, then he nodded.

“Just so you think I didn't heal your shoulder --” Lorsalian checked his shoulder. His scar was still there, but the sword gash had mended itself -- “for some demented reason,” he drew his sword, placing the blade on his palms, and placing it, hilt to Lorsalian on top of a large rock, tossing another rock at Lorsalian's feet. “If you think I'm rotten, go ahead and break the blade.” Lorsalian looked at the sword. The blade was a polished double-bladed longsword of the finest steel, its hilt decorated in etched bronze, which extended for a few inches along the central grove. “I implore you not too, though. I've had that sword for a long time.”

As Lorsalian took a position above the sword, his hand wrapped around the rock. Lowering his hand slightly, he nodded for the man to continue.

“I've been watching you. There were several times I thought I might have needed to help you, but you always seemed to escape. You avoided the gangs, recovered stolen goods, and bade those you helped to help others – all without anyone really knowing who you were. Sometimes they helped you in return, sometimes one of your counterparts. Unfortunately, one of them helped a near-helpless youth by giving him an old rusty sword. I'm not entirely sure if that youth was your attacker, or if that youth decided to join a gang for more protection, and someone took if from him. The result is similar.”

“I wasn't entirely sure if you were just a noble rogue, or someone worthy of more. But your healing of that boy convinced me.” Seeing Lor's eyes widen, he added, “He's fine. He left with the dagger, but he is fine for now. I moved you so he wouldn't see you when he left. He's not the sort to accept help – too focused on protecting what's left of his family.” Dropping his gaze to the ground, he sighed, then looked straight into Lorsalian. “I have things to show you, Lorsalian. I'm not much older than you are – 10 years or so – but its time for me to settle down, and I flatter myself in thinking I have something to pass on,” he chuckled, then he stared at Lorsalian, his eyes suddenly serious, yet filled with wonder.

“I will show you how to thrive in the wilderness, be it within a forest of trees or of brick and stone. To move and travel stealthily, with only a trace of your passing, and how to strike similarly. You could help those people with them never even seeing you. Or, if they do, they won't remember what you looked like, or they won't care enough to remember. What will it be?” He extended his hand.

He's an adventurer. Why should I trust him? Lorsalian thought of the rock in his hand. At least I can hurt him before he gets me.
You fool ... another side of the argument asserted itself in Lor's mind, you were resigned to dying last night! This guy offers you a better life, and you're going to smash his sword? Distrust, hopelessness and hope waged a silent war behind Lorsalian's eyes. The war lasted for several seconds – belied by slight changes in expression

All I've wanted ...
What about home? ...
Where is home? I'll never
Don't say never
It's too good to be true.

“What will it be Lor?”

Lor?!? That's what my ...
She said you never explored. Look at yourself. Alone in the grove, inside the walls of the temple of Ao, inside the stone wilderness of that city you just left ...
Anger flashed through Lorsalian's mind. That's not true! I could have left that town in a week if I hadn't run into that ... trap. Alone.

rage welled inside him.

Lorsalian gritted his teeth, raised the rock above his head in both hands – and let it slip through his fingers to drop behind him, thudding down beside his feet and sinking slightly into the soil. Hanging his head for a moment, Lorsalian looked up entreatingly at the human above him, and extended his hand in return.

“I'm not sure about how well I'll learn all that, but I will do what I can.”

Their wrists smacking together, the new companions helped each other to their feet. “I think you've learned a bit of the important lessons already. Tomorrow, I'll start teaching the rest that I know ... I'm not quite sure what I'll do in the afternoon, though,” he joked, as he retrieved his sword, threw his arm about Lorsalian's shoulders, and lead him deeper into the forest.

Lorsalian doubled over as a foot slammed into his stomach, then fell backwards as Elner – the ranger he had met in the forest that day weeks ago – pushed on his head. I must be improving, Lor thought, as his breath returned. He didn't smack me down with his staff.

“I didn't use the staff because I'm getting tired of healing you,” Elner teased, “although you didn't double over quite as much that time. You spend too much time focusing on my staff, and looking for a target – you become one yourself. I'm glad I didn't start with swords,” he pondered, grinning.

Life, Slash decided as he propped his feet up onto a smaller wooden crate, is good. He had another name, of course, but not a soul in the warehouse knew it. Besides, he patted the tooled scabbard with his old sword on his belt,“Slash” sounds so much better than “Kanrol.”

In the year since he cut up that beggar, he had secured his place among the Blades – and business was good. A lot of beggars wanted protection – at least that's what he told them. Not so many lately, though. Maybe he should stop leaning in the direction of object lessons to get the others to pay. Nah, it just means beggars have gotten better at avoiding paying ... the lousy good for nothings, he amended.

The clock tower outside the warehouse boomed a single chime. Slash looked at the window. It was beginning to darken outside – late enough that most would be tired, but early enough that most of the guards would still be patrolling the bazaar. Besides, they know better than to come down here. He looked around, but didn't see anyone else. Looks like I'll have to collect today – just means I get to keep a bigger share than I usually do.

The air was chilly, only adding to the quiet gloom. At least the rats have sense to seek shelter – even the two-legged ones. Ever the kind protector, Slash let them stay in a building a few streets over that he was sure was unowned – now, at least. It made the beggars easier to find. Slash put up the hood of his cloak, gathered it around himself with a flourish, and started down the street.

As he turned the first corner, a figured revealed itself in the distance. An old man, leaning on a staff, his face buried in his hood and facing the ground. He seemed to be making his way to the home of the helpless – a few streets in the other direction. Slash grinned, and walked to be in the old man's way. Can't have him running to the competition, now, can we? Slash still couldn't believe it. That place claimed to give shelter and food for mere copper coins; he knew there had to be a scheme somewhere.

After about a minute – Maybe I should have stood closer – the man turned and walked around Slash, all without averting his gaze from the ground. Slash was incensed. He unsheathed his sword, and raised it to teach this beggar a lesson.

A flash of silver, and a dull clanking noise came to him immediately before a sword hilt struck his face. He staggered back against a wall, and dropped to a sitting position. As he regained his senses, he heard a voice say something, but it was gibberish. I must be delirious. He opened his eyes, squinting at the light. Not seeing anyone around, he fumbled for his dagger, and raised it as best he could from his sitting position.

Dagger? I don't have a ...

He looked closer. His sword was sheared diagonally a half-inch from the hilt, and the blade shard was nowhere to be found. He looked down for the shard, and found a small object that had rattled its way across the ground to rest at his feet – a beer bottle with something inside.

One of the few useful things those torturers at the orphanage taught Slash before he escaped was how to read, and the note read:

You might be able to get a few days use out of that sword
before someone makes you take it out. I suggest you find a new
profession. By the way, Selune's smile offers sometimes half a silver
piece for their bottles back, and the weapons smith on Delzaren
sometimes buys junk.

Slash launched the bottle at a nearby building – it shattered spectacularly. He stood and shoved the remaining blade indignantly into his scabbard just as one of his lieutenants turned the corner, heading back to the warehouse.

“Where have you been!” Slash called to him, he hand on his sword hilt, adjusting the straps to keep the shard from tumbling out.

“The warehouse! There were a bunch more deadbeats in there, so I had to go find some more boys to make em pay!”

Slash's expression softened as he came closer, and he could see that the lieutenant was limping slightly from a heavy purse. “Check in next time. There's nobody at the house at the moment,” he chided, using the term for the warehouse they met in. “Though you did do great,” he added, noting the hardened jaw – the last thing he needed was to have to remind this guy of his place, since Slash didn't have a sword anymore. The best he gave his guys were long daggers, but even those were better than the hilt he had at the moment. “Head on back. I gotta do a few things.”

The beggar watched the exchange from a place a few yards to Slash's side, an extra scabbard hiding the sword shard. Most magi apprentices would have laughed at how much trouble he had had learning the vanishing spell, but Lorsalian was still amazed at how useful it was – as long as he remained quiet. It would have been far easier tactically to just have killed the thug who had near-killed him that day so long ago, but Kanrol was a decent enough person – or would be, as soon as Slash was out of the way. Lorsalian smiled, and almost chuckled at the events he had set in motion to do just that. Kanrol would see the error of his ways, and turn to the shopkeepers in town for a proper apprenticeship. And no-one would get hurt – a beautiful plan.
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2003 6:01 am

Postby Lorsalian » Thu May 06, 2004 10:47 pm

The day dawned gray in the maze of walkways above the poor quarter of Waterdeep.

Below, pleading the need to do a few things, Slash set out for a few of the caches he had created around the city, since his share of the loot barely amounted to a gold piece – far too little to repair his sword, much less purchase a new one. But he easily had that much in just one of the several places he had hidden his money. Not that he didn't trust his friends to not steal from him, but, well ... he didn't trust them.

Above, a solitary figure followed him from the rooftops, going ahead to get a good vantage point of where Kanrol was headed. Gradually, a figure dressed in black resolved itself. Lorsalian tossed a gold coin to the figure, and placed his finger across his lips. The figure deftly caught the coin, then grinned mischievously, tossing the coin back before disappearing again on his own errand.

The first hiding place was a small pile of dirt-encrusted silver coins hidden amongst the filthy remains of a rusted wagon. After carefully prying the cage away and digging into the filth that hid his treasure, his hands struck something solid. He drew the object out to find ... a bottle with a note inside:

You know, you really should have saved that bottle last night –
you are going to need it. Here's another one. By the way, nice
work keeping this wagon together while making it look rusted out –
you could really do well as a smith.

Every hiding place was the same, but with different notes, each complimenting him on hiding his hard-gotten coins, then suggesting some 'honest' profession. Even the collection of gold coins he had painstakingly cached underneath a cobblestone and then reseated:

Very nice – your stone-laying skills are much better than
anything you did with that wagon. Perhaps you could be a
bricklayer, or join a road-building guild.

Slash's hands were now rough from smashing each bottle against a wall and digging with the broken shards, and his face and clothing were crusted with dirt. He sulked back to the warehouse, wondering what he was going to do – all he could think was to ask the boys for money – but how would he explain that?

Lorsalian watched the warehouse from above as Kanrol pushed the door aside and went inside. The notes, the destruction of the sword – all went perfectly. The look on his face when he discovered those notes! It was really too bad that he destroyed all those bottles. Maybe he could arrange for Kanrol to find a few gold pieces in his new work clothes.

About an hour passed before Lor heard the crash of crates and the shouts from within the warehouse. The door to the warehouse crumbled as one of Slash's men crashed through it, followed by a limping Kanrol, his left arm hanging useless, cradled by his right. The clang of metal on metal continued behind him among the others inside the warehouse. He stumbled, and ran to the north, towards the bazaar. A few minutes later, a squad of city guards mounted an assault on the warehouse, and the sounds within were quickly silenced, followed by a procession of guards dragging the bodies of the men north to the jail house. Lorsalian quickly chanted a spell, and sighed with relief and horror. Those men were still alive – at least for the moment.

“Didn't go the way you thought it would, did it, Lor?” a voice said from behind. Lorsalian turned to face his mentor, and cancelled his spell of concealment.

“You keep forgetting that you can easily be seen when you do that," Elner began, "You have more to learn about people as well,” he continued, sighing and shaking his head in disappointment.

“But – it was all going so well ... ”

“You cornered a man, Lorsalian. He was seen looking for money to repair his sword and what he thought was a good life. The rumors flew about how he had to pay off enemies or some such nonsense. His 'friends' confronted him when he asked for a loan, and all that saved him as he staggered out were the other offenses the men took this time to avenge against one another. Faced with no alternative, he escaped, and returned with what he thought was an overwhelming advantage to avenge himself, watching from a safe distance.” He pointed to a location down on the street were a figure cowered in the shadows, a strange expression of hollow victory on his face as he watched the others drug past him, unable to tell whether or not they lived. The guard bringing up the rear saw recognized him, however, bound his hands, and led him behind to the jail. Elner turned from the street, and looked again at his pupil.

“Sound familiar?” Elner accused. Lorsalian's mind reeled.

Not allowing Lorsalian to recover enough to respond, Elner replied, “I thought it might. I might be able to keep that Kanrol and his friends on a work gang instead of the gibbet, but I want you done at the jail to offer your services as a healer, assisting whoever they already have there. I assume you didn't just study the offensive and concealment spells, and you do remember your healing?” Lorsalian nodded, still stunned.

Elner's expression softened slightly. He sighed. “Get going. This has been a costly lesson for you, Lor. See to it that the costs don't increase,” he said, and watched Lorsalian start north, stripping off metal armor and weapons to appear a modest healer as he went.
Thanuk OOC: 'thats 6 years of hard work, come to fruitition in 1 single statement'
Was Felton Orm the "Wizard of Auz" ?

Lorsalian Silvermist -- Seeker of the Complete MUD Cookkit
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2003 6:01 am

Post - Note

Postby Lorsalian » Thu May 06, 2004 10:50 pm

ooc: I'll go back and adjust some of the formatting and italics once I figure out how to do it in BBC code, but there is the beginning.

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