Posted 16 September 2008 - 07:58 AM
Old Letters: backstory from BG
7 Alturiak, Imnescar, Amn
My dearest Elena,
I read your message with great happiness. Congratulations on your being advanced to choice! By the time you read this there will only be a few more months and you will be in your final year of apprenticeship. And Mystra is a good Goddess to serve, I hear. I always thought you would lean towards The Wise One, Oghma, and go with the Estelmer family nobility as benefactors, but you know your own heart. If your calling is to Mystra, then I guess you couldn't do any better than to Eltorchul family. There are some stories about a few of them, but they generally get written about as good people, for nobles and wands. Good but not lockstep; some of them are pretty wild, if trail stories and news broadsides talk about the same family. The Thunderstaffs follow Mystra, but from my end - plenty of warmages from that family, that is for sure! I was pretty sure you wouldn't end up following them, anyways. I am really glad your benefactor was happy, too. I thought it was like a trade apprenticeship, and you would be with The Lady Mage all the way. I guess I didn't understand about the schools, and how you work your way up. I love the emerald, and I will figure out what you mean about saying the inscriptions in private once we are on the trail. I hope this isn't one of your practical jokes, though. That is too fine a gem just to put a joke on. I liked that letter with the butterfly. The guys laughed at me, but I know that means you are practicing hard. And the colors were beautiful. It lasted a full thirty seconds before dissolving into smoke, and it was a deep, shiny green with gold and silver and sky blue. Plus, it only erased a little bit of the parchament, so I got to read most of the message. That is so much better than the one where you tried the pseudodragon, and it burned up the whole letter.
I got your messages from the Guild, just barely. A coach from the coast came in last night late, and since we were all at the hall the next morning, I got it. Evara said it was a good idea to stay put a few tennday, and make sure everything caught up to us that could. "Put a clean start for everyone", she said. As for my news about that, things are pretty bright right now. We signed up as an independent coster with the delegate here in Imnescar, paying dues in advance to the local chapter of the Trading Guild in Amn. Evara is doing great as leader, which means we not only are punching to Zazesspur, we have a real bard with us! He is pretty tall and good looking, and sings like an angel, but also a pretty decent sort, for a bard. He sat down with us swords after dinner, and traded stories for stories. Most of them I couldn't tell you, as this set of swords is all male, and we kind of get carried away with the tall tales, but if I remember a good one that is fit for your company, I will write it down for you. I think Evara might be sparking with me, but I can't really tell. Parthak says I have rocks for brains, but then again, this is Parthak we are talking about. Anyways, she came in to break us up and send us to get ready for early travel tomorrow, and decided to taste the ale with us instead. She sat real close to me, and smiled alot, and leaned forward a bit. I know you told me that means she might be sparking, but I am not sure, because the client was sitting on my other side, and it seemed like sometimes I was just passing trencher between her and the bard. Plus, the wind was awful any time any fool opened the doorway, so I expect she was cold. Now, don't you worry. She is as beautiful as a spring morning, and hald-Elf to boot, and I will admit that if she ever wanted to go spooning, I would not turn her down, but so far she acts all business with the coster. "My Boys", she calls us, even though Gladi is not; of course, Gladi never talks anyways, except when she wants to split someone apart with a lightning bolt. And Kharad is no boy, but then who knows how old dwarves really are. And he only tells stories about hammers, and gods, and how our souls should be forged like mithral to fight the darkness. He is fun to tease, though; he sputters the most fun curses I have ever heard, and usually doesn't try to hit me when I make a mistake with dwarvish. I think I accidentally insulted him last tenday, because he didn't speak to me for a day or two, but then he came up to me and boxed my kneecap hard and told me how to pronounce some words so as to not actually call him a lady of the evening when I meant man of strength. The talking part is so much harder to get right than the writing.
So I am sending this on to you on the overland post, as the winter is something fierce here, and the word is that there is little or naught moving by sea right now. The plan is to go over Small Teeth and stop in Mosstone, then again over Startspire into Zazesspur. The main client is some staves of Lothlander on a relief caravan, not running far from the main trade way as the snow is too deep for wagon travel. It is part of the midwinter resupply for most of the big temples for Helm, Ohgma, and Lothlander, Tymorrans being smart enough to stock enough that if the Goddess looks the other way no harm will come. The main distributions are being handled by Flaming Fist and Helmites, accompanying some of the major Coster wagon trains, but the Morning Lord (or his servants, anyways) pay too little for the big boys. Either that, or someone told the Guild who to favor. We got hired to resupply the Lothander missions along the route, but I looked at the figures, and we are pulling more profit than the big boys anyways. We have less risk, and much lower overhead. Plus, no Helmite is going to pass us by if we run into bandits. Some of those mercenaries enjoy splitting heads too much to not get involved. So, we get a bard, the added passengers that are pure profit (few, but enough to mean 6 whole wagons total), a full fist with four swords, a whole set of Flaming Fists to run to if anything big hits us, and all we have to do is keep off some stray wolves and a bandit or two, entertain followers ofthe Sun God, and follow the Trade Way. What could go wrong?
All my love and best to you and your pet lizard. I take it pseudodragons don't mind who you worship, or do they? Gladi has a raven, but he is old and spends most of the time huddled under Gladi's cloak and glaring at us. I will write when I can, and as usual you will get them when you get them.
Your Faithful Brother,
18 Alturiak, Tradeway, Southbound
My Dearest Elena,
Thank you so much for the beautiful emerald! I figured it out! The picture of Mother is beautiful, and Father looks his usual sweep-everything-into-his-power self. And you; well, you look great. I'm not sure the outfit is so good for the cold, and I might have some things to say about where you wear it, but you look happy, beautiful, and very definitely not a kid any more. I could not figure how to make it work at first, but reading the script out loud worked great. This is much better than the butterfly. I will keep it close to me. I always did consider emerald color good luck, so I will keep this as both a memory and as a luck token. You are really getting the magic thing down!
As for the coster, well, you know how I said nothing could go wrong? Remind me next time you see me that writing things like that is an invitation to the Gods to liven things up a bit. We did have some interesting stuff happen, so I am writing this over several days a line at a time or so, when I can, as a sort of reward for keeping up the accounts and materials list for a couple of caravans.
We set out the day I wrote you last, and it was pretty fair travel, for midwinter. The Staves along are nice, and understanding about swearing as long as we are not too obvious. The older male one is a little standoffish, but that is probably because he is really worried about something. He hasn't said much. His two apprentices, or whatever you call clerics-in-training, are really nice and want to know about everything. The female one, Drianne, she is very alert and helpful, and obviously a good healer, but I'll come to that. The male one, Vran, he is great with the food, so we have something to talk about. He isn't actually that young, either. He might be my age, but he converted from the fighting ways to preaching ways only a short time ago. I daresay that is a tough thing to do, but he is strong in his faith; but I will come to that presently as well. So far Kharad's been too busy to discuss theology, so no problems there either.
Evara was great getting everything going, and she and the bard came to an agreement about his travel. He actually hired on as client, instead of just travelling with us. I have never heard of such a thing, but then again, they do seem to be getting a bit cosy with eachother. I'm now pretty sure that when she looks like she's sparking with me, it is because she cant help but sparkle, not spark - she just does that winning ways with everyone, kind of like the way Father can make a whole room think he is taking to each person individually. Between the two of them, they have kept the big boys close by, meeting up at the end of the day in a big group of caravans. This is definitely a new idea, but makes things kind of like a cold, icy version of a carnival each night. Work gets done, too; that bard starts playing, and you can't help feeling like you are all part of a big family. Even the Flaming fist guys aren't so bad, though Parthak and I had a difference of opinion what one of them should call our hald-Elf leader. We kinda had to ask Drianne to heal him a little afterwards, but no real harm was done, and he turned out to be a good sport about the whole thing.
So anyways, two days ago the big boys in front pulled up sudden, and went combat ready. Good thing, too, that we were close behind them; I just wish the caravan in back of us was not an hour or so behind us. The day was overcast, bitter cold, but just normal - no huge wind or anything, but they must have had magic aid them because suddenly the front caravan (Sunrise Coster and Travel, with some serious Helmites and a brace of fists to augment the Flaming Fist - real classy operation) was swallowed in a sudden huge gust of wind and snow coming from nowhere. We scrambled to point positions and pulled in outriders, and good thing, too, because the squall blew over and we saw that the big boys were in a serious fight. Elena grabbed our Wand and staff, and headed forward with our lead cleric to lend a hand - it looked like they were in a true fight, not just a few bandits. Lightning, fireballs, lots of magic flying around, and the Flaming Fist didn't look like it was the usual ShieldWall, Forward, Mow 'em Down, Square, Reform.
Well, we found out why a second or two later. The forward party hadn't gone more that a few hundred yards down the trail when suddenly we were hit with a suprise attack. There were a few bandits, but the real hard part was they must have made a pact with a local troll tribe. I was a bit scared, having heard the stories, but never seen one up close and personal. Watching a perfectly executed head slice just close up around your blade is enough to scare anyone, I suspect. Arrows sang, I knocked a few down (the bandits died quick and easy) - but the Verra-be-damned trolls just wouldn't die. It was a fair bit desperate there, and I took a good solid scratch or two, and we began to fall back towards the caravan.
Vran saved us. Vran and the bard, eventually, but first Vran. He wouldn't pick up a blade and fight, saying he was Called now, and had to use his staff, but he knew his business. He stepped right up shoulder to shoulder with us, saying a prayer that made us feel strong, and then he stepped right in calling for fire and oil. He lead well, for a minute or so, and got us back in order, and gave us the tools to destroy the troll bodies (you have to drop fire on them to keep them from regenerating), but he paid the price. He was too new an initiate, and started falling back on fighting ways, instead of using his staff right. A troll got through and dropped him dead in one blow. That just made us mad.
Then came the part I am not sure about. Suddenly, we heard this warsong, lifting up from ahead of us. It was like nothing I have ever heard, Elena - it grabbed hold of your soul, made your eyes start to tears - it was like the swords of a thousand men suddenly appeared beside you, and you felt connected to every fighter that ever lifted a blade in the service of another. It wasn't pretty, like a song is usually, or sad. It was huge. It slowed everything down, and filled our veins with fire, and made us angry and sad and powerful, and stern, like we were Helm himself, terrible and just, striking clean through the heart of evil. Parthak and I looked across at eachother, nodded, and then we went to war. I don't mean battle. I mean War.
I really don't remember what the fighting was like, but I know we moved our powers as fighters to a whole new understanding and strength that day. I found myself with my blade locked through a troll shaman, Parthak's sword the other locking blade, with the troll's head sizzling from Gladi's lighningbolt. We kind of dropped our swords, and looked around, and it was a sight. Drianne was bandaging up some Flaming Fist, since their cleric (and ours) had not survived, and the Flaming Fist captain was looking at us kind of funny. He did something I have never seen one do. He took his helmet off, and bowed to us. Then he grinned a ferocious grin like we were equals all, and strode off to see to his men. I think that scared Parthak more than the trolls.
Half an hour later the trailing caravan caught up, and we all shared supplies and repaired things. It turns out the bard was a fair might more powerful than he let on. Thanks to him singing that song (even now, I want to hear it again, Elena - it was one of those things you never want to hear, but need to and must hear, beautiful and terrible and strong), we made it through what should have destroyed both caravans. Luckily it is winter, because with our highest ranking Staves gone, there is no way to raise our dead, but Drianne has taken the lead for both damaged caravans, and now we are the hospital wagon. We have Vran in a place of honor, and are watching his body as one of our own; when we get to a temple with a high enough cleric, he will rejoin us. Drianne says the cold means we have a few weeks before the dead that were not destroyed become unraisable, so we have incentive to push on.
Well, this one is going to be awhile before it gets to you, but I will keep writing as interesting things happen. My best to everyone, including miss whirly-eyes, and I miss you all.
Your Faithful Brother,
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. - Douglas Adams