A Long Journey...

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A Long Journey...

Postby Lilira » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:07 am

Lilira, dressed in common clothing, sat on the aft deck of the Wave Dancer awaiting the ranger. The plaintive sob of a viola drifted across the wooden boards earning stares from the sailors who quickly returned to work after a bellow from the captain.

After a time the bard felt a familiar presence. Halting in mid-song, she opened her eyes to smile at Lorsalian. “There you are,” she said softly, carefully packing away the instrument.

He lifted a hand in a brief greeting. “Your message finally reached me after a trip to talk to our some-time employer. He still thankfully has at least one horse he left home with,” he told her, frowning slightly. At her look of curiosity, he raised an eyebrow. “Smoke rings, wolves?”

“Bhym?” she asked and Lorsalian nodded.

“I was trying not to name him, but yes,” he snickered.

Lilira shrugged. “I will not repeat it.” Her gaze drifted over the rail as the ship left port, tracing the waves.

“I have not run into either of the others since a few weeks ago, and there was no time recently,” Lorsalian commented, “How fared the gardening?'

“Not well,” was the quiet response. Lorsalian's gaze was curious though he frowned. Still staring out to sea, Lilira added, “Someone told the Hand almost before I led the others to failure.”

“Failure?!” Lorsalian choked. “The others...”

“We survived,” was the tired reply. “The shaman was routed from the caves and the druid was treated similarly to myself, which was with undisguised hostility, but no overt attacks.”

Lorsalian looked relieved, then agitated. “I ... blast the drow.”

A chill breeze swept across the deck and had the bard scrambling for a cloak out of her pack. Pulling its tattered cloth around her, Lilira continued with a blank expression. “The drow in the caves were... agitated when we arrived. More so than usual.” Her gaze moved back out to sea again. “I tried to bluff our way in to speak with the quartermaster but failed.”

“Blazes with that woman!” Lorsalian burst out. “I should have been at all your sides.”

The bard shook her head emphatically. “I am glad you did not!” Tugging her cloak a little more tightly around her, she continued her recitation. “The Hand managed to track me down some how... almost before I could make it to Ashstone.”

“Why did you go back?” the ranger asked.

“I could not decide whether to report my failure to her or not...” Lilira confessed, smothering a sigh. “I was... dithering.” From under the cloak, Lilira's fingers slipped to her throat, caressing it absently. She turned in time to catch Lorsalian's questioning look at the motion, causing her hand to drop to her lap. “It was... an interesting conversation.”

Lorsalian frowned and the bard continued. “I am afraid he is rather upset with me for now. I refused to tell him why I went on the mission.”

“Most interesting conversations with that one tend to lead to only one standing .. occasionally him, often others,” Lorsalian said wryly.

Lilira grinned. “I will admit it took a moment to return to a standing position.”

“Are you willing to tell anyone, or is it still too close to the flame?” he asked.

Lilira bit her lip before turning her pale gaze towards Lorsalian again. “My reasons were personal. I knew if I told him, another target would enter his sights.” His eyebrow arched as he considered the bard before nodding with a slight frown marring his features.

“How easily they turn...” he muttered. “Once protectorate, now?”

“He is an assassin and drow,” she murmured, “And I have been on the receiving end of an annoyed assassin's blade once before.” The ranger's gaze drifted to her scars, looking away quickly and Lilira shrugged.

Both half-elves were silent for a time, the slapping of the waves against the hull of the ship interspersed with the curses of the crew filled the air where their conversation lapsed. “I promised you an explanation at a later day,” Lilira began tentatively.

“If it is too close...” he interjected.

The bard shook her head, the ocean breeze teasing the edges of the scarf securing her hair. “If you want it, I will give it.” Despite her assurance, she was silent again before reluctantly beginning. “You.. met Jorinthal?”
He nodded, remembering the elven ranger who had accompanied them when they had performed the service for Lord Hyndarr. “Your ...father?”

“Yes, the resemblance is very weak,” she chuckled wryly. “I have been told on numerous occasions that I fully favored my mother with a few differences.” Reaching to her shoulder, she tugged a lock of her silver-white tresses.

“I never met her,” Lorsalian reminded, “So I can only wonder who was doing most of the telling.”

Lilira reached into her worn pack, pulling out a smaller, gaudily crafted bag that had a faint blue sheen of dweomer about it. “Old friends of hers... and my own eyes,” she told him, withdrawing a small silver locket from its depths.

As the bard gently opened the silver oval, the strains of an old elven song began to play. Each note was lovingly strummed on the strings of a lyre, its poignant sound drifting across the deck. Lorsalian carefully accepted the piece of jewelry, his intent gaze examining the exceptionally rendered portrait contained within. Faint brushstrokes where a younger version of Jorinthal kept company with a dark haired half-elf with intense blue eyes who was laughing up at her companion. The delicate features were very familiar as Lorsalian's eyes swept over the bard to the one in the painting and back several times.

Lorsalian gingerly returned the locket with a nod. “Very much so.”

Lilira closed it with a snap, the song silenced prematurely. Rubbing her thumb over it absently, she stated quietly, “Jorinthal was drawn away before mother found out she was carrying me.” At the ranger's nod she continued, “So I had not seen him. It was not until shortly before her passing she told me of him.” Putting the locket away, she slid the bag back into her pack then returned her gaze to Lorsalian. “We have... come to an accord, but I learned that several years ago he had been aiding the Kneecappers against one of the drow attacks and was taken.”

Realization dawned in Lorsalian's gaze and he nodded as Lilira continued. “He was traded after a time, but...” Lilira sighed, then seemed to withdraw into herself as she finished her tale with a final rush. “I saw the Lady's request as a method for some retribution...” Lilira shivered, tugging at the edge of her cloak.

“I can't say I agree, but I can understand your reasons,” Lorsalian stated. “Please tell me next time .. I don't have so many friends around anymore that I could lose any in such a way,” he finished with a sigh.

In a small voice, the bard murmured, “I wasn't sure how you would react.”

“Likely going off to help you all,” he sighed again. “Perhaps you were right in that. That drow's information had better be worth the price. It's probably cost me a great deal of favor in _her_ eyes.” He spat the final two words.

Lilira winced slightly. “I did not even think of that repercussion.”

“Oh, she still wants the gold she'll get from our little shops, I'd wager,” he snickered.

“I merely did not want to see the same expression upon your face that you wore after we were encouraged to leave the isle suddenly,” Lilira murmured before shrugging. “I left the Lady a message with my contact there. I thought it wise to stay away from her.”

The ranger crooked an eyebrow. “Contact?”

There was a brief hesitation before she shrugged. “Lady Ashstone introduced me to one of the merchants there in case I needed to send her some information when she was not available.”

He nodded. “As to my expression, that was more towards the Queen and the one who sent you on the errand. She, for digging in her heels like a child, and he, for probably knowing EXACTLY what she would do.” He smiled, “Just keep to the good intentions you had in carrying it.”

“Easily said... but easy to step over the line,” Lilira smothered a sigh. “Poisoning is poisoning regardless of the target.”

“Far easier than you'd think,” Lorsalian commented quietly, turning to scan the horizon. “All we can do is sit back and look at ourselves from time to time.”

Turning a stretch into one graceful lunge, Lilira rose to her feet, bracing against the rolling of the deck. Taking a deep breath as though for courage, she told him, “I am leaving for a time Lorsalian. I have learned that the mission truly did fail.” He frowned at her words while she continued. “They know enough of me to learn who it was that attempted the poisoning, and the Hand will most likely tell them the rest. By the time I find out whether or not they will take the trouble to hunt me down, I would be dead.”

“And he likely shortly after,” Lorsalian almost growled in response.

Old habit had Lilira defend the drow even now. “He had his chance... twice. I even offered to give a taste to that damn blade of his.” She stifled a nervous giggle. “I have never seen anyone retreat so quickly.”

Raising his eyebrow, Lorsalian asked in an astonished voice, “Why would THAT frighten him?” Studying the bard for a moment, he noticed another shiver from the chill air wrack her body despite the tattered cloak she wore. Reaching into his pack, Lorsalian pulled out a heavy coat and wrapped it around her before she could react with her habitual startled jerk.

She smiled her thanks instead before continuing. “Because no matter how angry he was... he didn't want me dead.”

“I'm not happy to hear this...” he frowned. “Even less since when hidden from enemies, you'll be hidden from friends as well -- I meant that, you know. I wasn't just being poetic.”

A faint pink tinge colored her pale cheeks. “I will be a moving target. I have found a ship...”

“With only two ports of call,” he interjected.

The bard shook her head. “Not this one. It is one that travels to many ports. I will be less than what I am there, with none of the expectations. A simple minstrel who wishes for a taste of the sea.”

Lorsalian looked thoughtful. “We never did find a better way to communicate than messengers and hasty notes, did we?” Lilira shook her head negatively. “If you should find any way to contact ...” Lorsalian left the remainder unsaid.

“I have a way to send a message to Sotana should there be an emergency...” Lilira hesitated. “Please do not tell her of this should you see her.”

“I won't mention it without asking,” the ranger told her, “But I don't think I could lie under a direct question.”

Lilira's pale blue gaze met Lorsalian's green as she studied him intently. “Once before she has stormed off on my behalf to chastise someone,” she stated lowly, “I would not wish her to do so again.”

A wicked little grin played itself across the ranger's face. “Perhaps that thought alone will keep the Hand at bay.”

“It is not him I am concerned about,” she murmured seriously causing his grin to fall. “There are other drow.” The bump of the ship as it came in contact with the dock had Lilira notice their surroundings. “Waterdeep. I need to disembark here to make my way further.” Removing the coat, she returned it to the ranger with a smile of thanks.

“Keep it,” he told her, nudging it back into her hands. She shook her head and he accepted it, reluctantly putting the article back into his pack.

“I have my own things if needed,” she smiled. “They just cause me to stand out.” Reaching up, she adjusted the scarf to cover her ears. “Safe journeys.”

“And to you... and quick returns.”

“Not too quick,” she quipped with a playful wink before moving to the loading deck and slipping off the ship. The last she saw of the ranger was his solitary form, brooding out to sea over the rail and deliberately looking away from the direction she had taken.

Lilira strolled along the docks, her common clothing keeping her from standing out amongst the other oddities a large trading wharf exuded. With a bitter smile, she handed her ticket to what seemed like the same master of the dock that had been there many years before as she stepped onto the deck of the Silver Lady. The irony was not lost on the bard as she made her way to the aft deck to lean against the rail. A pang of loss filled her as they cast off and Waterdeep grew smaller as the ship made its way to the Moonshae Isles. As the city of her birth faded, Lilira murmured, “I will return... who I will be is not yet known, but I will return.”

The trip had been simple enough, and Lilira's booted feet touched the old wooden dock before leaving to travel along the beach then into the woods. The forest here always made the hair on the back of Lilira's neck stand up slightly as it seemed to be watching her. Following the paths she made her way across the center of the isle passing a few locals, but nothing adventurous until she reached the western beach where she would await the next stage of her journey.
Last edited by Lilira on Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:53 pm

Postby Lilira » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:16 am

Lilira stood on the windswept beach, the waves a constant roar in the background as she studied the dance of the gulls. She hadn't wanted to resort to this, but she had to say one last farewell before disappearing for a time. Taking a small pouch out of her pack, she reached in and removed a small pebble-like object, cradling it in her palm and breathing on it softly before covering it with her other palm. After a short time, life fluttered in her hand and the bard released the glimmerwing to the salty air. Watching the small creature until her eyes could no longer follow it, Lilira stepped back into a sheltered area carved from the cliffs along the beach and sat to wait.

The sun rose twice, its brilliance blinding on the water. Lilira merely sat and watched, her fingers stroking her mother's lyre, or merely resting while the bard allowed the sounds of the sea to soothe. The duty she had performed for Arnd'ir before leaving had stirred many of the emotions she had long suppressed, giving up on the idea of a family several years before, and the sea salved the wounds that had began seeping.

At dusk of the second day, the quiet scene changed as mists pooled and gathered on the sands not five feet from Lilira's shelter. Within moments, warm hands grasped Lilira's and the druid Sotana was standing close, slightly out of breath, her eyes bright with life as she studied the bardess's face. "Lilira!" she exclaimed "Are you well?"

As the last word left the druid's lips, she found herself fully enveloped in an hard embrace. “Gods I have missed you. I am sorry if I worried you, but I had to speak with you,” Lilira babbled.

Alarmed, Sotana pulled back to study Lilira's face, her voice sharp now as she repeated, "Are you well?"

Taking a deep breath the bard closed her eyes and composed herself. “I will be. I'm leaving.”

Sotana visibly relaxed as she smiled. “Plying your craft across the lands again? You have been rather staying close to home of late.”

“Not too close to home. I have been up to my ears in mischief from troll hunting, to courier, failed rescues, and merchant guarding. But no. I won't be plying my craft across the lands 'Tana, quite the opposite.” Looking past the druid, her gaze drifted over the darkening waters of the ocean. “The sea is calling.”

Sotana frowned slightly, her eyes clouding with concern, but her voice was laced with gentle laughter as she prodded, “Calling? I thought the waters only spoke to such as me.”

“If that were true Oh Wise Druidess, why would so many sailors marry themselves to the sea?” Lilira teased, catching the look as she turned to meet Sotana's gaze. “The creatures within may whisper their thoughts to you, but the ocean herself can be a balm to heal.”

Sotana simply nodded, her eyes still watchful even as she glanced away to focus on the soothing surge of the waves breaking close to shore, rolling gently to the beach, before receding back, dissolving into foam and melting into the sand.

After a moment's quiet, Sotana murmured, “Do you know what you seek? Or do you merely seek to no longer have to know?”

Lilira started guiltily, quickly covering the expression by stepping away from Sotana and moving towards her pack where she knelt and began rummaging through her things to pull out a flask of tea and a cloth wrapped bundle of cookies. Opening the bundle, she laid it on a piece of driftwood. “Come and sit please. I wasn't sure where you have been tucking yourself away, so I brought cookies with me, and some tea. While this isn't exactly my parlor, we do not have to be uncivilized.”

With a wry grin, Sotana pulled her gaze from the water and stepped over to the impromptu tea party. "You know I never say no to cookies and tea, Lira." Still smiling, she settled herself onto the sand, helping herself to a buttery cookie and holding out one delicate teacup.

With an answering grin, Lilira whispered a word to the flask which heated in her hand. As she poured into the offered cup, the delicate spicy aroma of a Calimshite blend wafted with the steam to stir with the salt-laden air. Pouring some into a small pewter cup of her own, Lilira stretched her legs in front of her, leaning against the cliff wall. “I have missed this 'Tana.” A gust blew in, stirring the edges of the scarf covering her head and most of her ears. “I am sorry if I interrupted you in the midst of an important task. I knew if I left no word, merely vanishing, that you would grow concerned.”

Sotana settled deeper into the sand as she focused her concentration on the cookie, munching happily for a few minutes then licking the final crumbs from her fingers. With a contented sigh she cradled the teacup in both hands, sipping slowly as she watched the bard over the rim. "And you still haven't answered my question," she reminded quietly.

“No I haven't.” Lilira replied with a sigh. “The true answer would be yes to both.”

Sotana frowned into her teacup and the quiet stretched on for a long moment, the sound of nearby waves filling their small space. At last the druid sighed deeply, lifting her gaze to meet Lilira's. With a twist to her lips, she nodded very slowly, her voice gentle as she said, “I hope you find your answers and your peace, Lira.”

“I hope so too,” the bard murmured, her gaze blurring with thought. “The Lilira Shadowlyre I once knew is fading. She has aided in far too many things that weigh upon her conscience. Thanks to her heritage, she has many years of life ahead, providing she does nothing foolish to shorten it. Friends are absent or lost to time or disagreements. She is adrift without purpose. It is time to find that purpose, and start at the humble beginning.” Blinking, Lilira returned to the present, breaking her reverie. “Tana, you are the closest I have to a sister. Will you do something for me?”

Sotana nodded without comment then took a sip of tea, her eyes never leaving the bard's face.

Reaching beside her pack, Lilira lovingly lifted her lyre and the leather instrument bag beside it. After twisting the keys to detune the instrument, she placed it within the bag, lacing it closed. “Three days hence, I will be boarding a ship from this beach. The captain has a good reputation, but should somehow my belongings disappear, I need to know this is kept safe. Of all the trinkets, weapons and armor I have gathered during my time adventuring, this lyre is the most precious. Most everything else can be replaced. I have simpler instruments to carry with me as befits the less experienced singer I will be portraying.”

Warm tea sloshed into Sotana's lap as her fingers jerked involuntarily, tipping the cup for an instant. With a muttered oath, she hastily set the cup on the driftwood and began mopping at her lap with a corner of her cloak. "And after all this time, I had thought myself quite impossible to surprise," she murmured, shooting a crooked grin at Lilira.

A soft chuckle escaped the bard's lips. “What is so shocking? I can not leave it in an empty house. I will not send it with Jorinthal, and while I would trust Lorsalian, I have no swift way of getting a message to him. And Nilan...” Lilira's expression hardened slightly. “Well, you no longer have to worry about his influence upon me.”

Sotana's eyes flickered briefly at the last revelation but she only nodded, wringing the last of the tea out of her make-shift cleaning rag then dropping her hands into her still-damp lap. "Are you certain this is your wish? I would guard it with my life but am a wanderer myself and can rarely guarantee that my own travels will be safe."

With an impish grin, she held out the lyre. “You have methods to escape trouble I do not possess, and there is only so far I can go on a ship.”

Sotana reluctantly accepted the proffered instrument, tracing the outline of the heavy lyre through the rough fabric as she looked at Lilira, her expression wistful. "This lyre lives in even my oldest memories of you. I had not thought to ever see you parted from it."

“All the more reason to guarantee my return. I would hate for it to end up at the bottom of the ocean, and would rather travel with the knowledge that it is safe.” Lilira's expression softened. “You are the closest I have to a sister. I think Mother would be pleased.”

With an abrupt movement, Sotana gathered Lilira in a warm hug for a long minute, then, just as quickly released the bard and scrambled to her feet. Clutching the fabric-wrapped lyre she smiled, murmuring unevenly, “Three days is not much time. I have some important things to attend to but will come see you off three days hence.” Lilira blinked in startlement before nodding wordlessly. “I will be back before you leave these shores.” With these words, Sotana's form blurred and shifted...until a new seagull, smaller then the others already circling the beach, perched on the sand at Lilira's feet. A quick thrust of wings and the seagull was aloft, flying higher and higher until it was out of sight.

Lilira sat in silence, the roaring of the waves echoing in her mind as she pondered the druid's odd behavior. “I had hoped to spend some time...” she sighed, before leaning back against the earthy wall of the niche, eyes staring over the water.

It had taken the full three days for Sotana to accomplish her tasks, to prepare herself as best she could for Lilira's journey, Lilira's protection. The druid mentally recited every prayer she could draw to mind that she was not too late as she flew the last mile to the beach, tired and sleep-deprived but intent on her goal. Soon, the beach was in sight...but empty of life, and Sotana's wingbeats faltered. Then she spied her, a tiny figure almost invisible in the sunset's shadows. With renewed energy, the druid shifted her flight, changing her form even as her feet touched the sand of the beach.

Looking up at the druid's arrival, a small smile creased her drawn features. “Look there,” Lilira gestured towards a ship, still tiny in the distance. “I was not certain you would make it.” Rising stiffly from the piece of driftwood that had been her seat for the night, Lilira approached Sotana, embracing her again. Breathlessly, Sotana pulled back and extended one hand, opening her fingers to reveal a flat, gray stone.

“What is this?” Lilira gingerly accepted the stone, holding it up into the sun's rays to examine it.

“It is yours. To keep until you have need. Glimmerwings will not survive the distance you will be traveling but a triel can fly half across Faerun without pause.” Sotana glanced over her shoulder at the approaching ship and hurriedly continued. “This one will require far more than the mere warmth of your breath to stir it into animation. Triels explode into life at the violence of their birth. Should you have need of me, you must crush this egg with all the force you can muster.”

“Where do you find these things Tana?” she chuckled softly, studying the heavy, stone-like object. Her eyes glistened suddenly as she bit her lower lip. Turning her gaze back up to the druid, she just stared. “I...” she stammered then fell silent.

Sotana brushed the back of her hand quickly against each eye, blinking furiously as she rushed back into speech. “You must bring the triel into life within eighteen months as the egg is only viable for that period of time and ...and I didn't know how long you'll be gone....” her speech slowed then trailed into nothing.

Moisture trickled down the bard's cheek. Clenching her hand around the gift, she roughly pulled the druid into an embrace. “Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely, damp spots appearing on Sotana's shoulder. “I will be careful. I'll miss you so, but I *have* to do this. I love you little sister.”

Sotana snorted in the midst of her own tears. “Little sister...Why do I feel so very old right now?” she murmured, closing her eyes and resting her cheek against Lilira's head. After a moment, her arms tightened convulsively and her voice strangled in her throat as she whispered “Whatever will I do without you to keep me human...gods, I pray you recognize what you come back to.”

“You are so strong... you have never needed me. It has always been the other way around. You are my oak, so wise,” Lilira retorted gently.

A teary chuckle then a fierce whisper, “And my very strength is my greatest weakness.” With a deep breath, the druid composed herself and stepped back with an attempt at a smile. “This looks to be a journey for both of us then.”

Tears trailed down Lilira's cheeks unchecked and she gave a watery smile, a strand of hair blowing across her face to catch in the dampness. “Quite. It will not be so long. Time moves swiftly when we wish it to.”

Sotana nodded silently then turned toward the ocean, letting the salty breezes dry her tears as her eyes followed the path of the rapidly approaching ship. “Just...not too long Lira.”

“And miss out on the adulation from those who adore my music? The men who fling themselves in my path to keep me from leaving? The heart pounding adventures?” she quipped to shift the mood as the sleek merchant vessel slid up to the dock. Reaching down, Lilira scooped up the battered pack that contained her belongings. Tucking the egg into her pouch, she grinned at Sotana, her red-rimmed eyes filled with humor. “Worry not Tana.. I will return to Waterdeep in approximately a year. If for some reason I am unable to do so, I will send word somehow to the druid grove outside of the city. I must go before the captain of the ship changes his mind about the odd request he received,” she gave the druid one last quick embrace. “Take care,” before turning to jog along the beach to clatter with booted feet onto the dock. A muffled grunt of surprise was carried to Sotana by the breeze as hands hoisted her over the side.

With a brief shimmer, a tern stood where the druidess had been. Launching itself into the air, the bird glided over the dock and up to circle the bard who stood staring at an odd dwarf on the ship's deck. Lilira looked up with a distracted air to study the bird, and something within her gaze reflected recognition. With a wistful smile, a hand lifted in farewell as the transformed druid circled a final time with a caw before flying away.
Last edited by Lilira on Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:30 am

The third day of Marpenoth (Leafall)

A new journey. Around the main continent, most of the common folk have just completed their celebrations of Highharvesttide, leaving plenty of goods in need of fast ships to deliver them. In my younger years I would be recovering from the afteraffects of a fair or village dance somewhere in my travels. This year is different. I watched the day come and pass, feeling nothing other than anxiousness that Sotana would not return in time though she had promised otherwise. Her arrival on the sunset of that day, one which I only now remember as being one revered by Silvanus, was in the nick of time. It is true that we do not often have the luxury of time to spend together, but the thought of even the chance being denied me... I will cease this line of thought here, I do not wish these strangers to see the tears flood my eyes.

Something I did not tell the two I had left behind was that they were not all I would be leaving. For too long I have depended upon the tolerance most bards draw from those who travel with them, ducking behind more powerful companions when trouble arises. I have decided to forgo my music as well as the arcane skills I have learned on my path to adventuring in an effort to improve my own usefulness. One practical benefit will be that those who may or may not be hunting me will look for a singer. Even if I can only change my appearance so much, their ears will listen for the sound of my song as well as the fairness of my skin. But I lie to myself just as I had told Sotana a half truth. I would not need my mother's lyre where I was going because I would not need its connection to the power that pours through the songs drawn from its beloved strings. I have instruments if I felt the need to sing, but any tune I might perform whether for myself or others will be as hollow to me as a tapped dwarven keg. I silently asked her forgiveness as I watched the bird that was Sotana fly off, wondering what I was in for. Already I was heartsore. The naturally gruff voice of the dwarf who had hoisted me aboard drew my attention back to my surroundings.

The Frisky Wench is a sleek little merchant ship built for speed. I am not extremely knowledgeable about ships so I am not going to go on and on about foredecks, masts and hulls other than to say she is as flamboyantly decorated as her captain, Kayliss Mithrilheart. A dwarven sea captain is an oddity on its own, but this dwarf would stand out in a room as finely decorated as some of the noble apartments I have had the pleasure to visit. He dresses flamboyantly, and no I do not mean in heavy armor covered with runes bearing an axe that fairly screams of its magic and beautiful craftsmanship... I mean silk. Silks, satins, velvets and jewelery. When one steps close to him, one does not catch the whiff of ale, soot and armor, rather it is the scent of cologne. When first we met on the deck of his ship it was spicy with a mild undertone of something woodsy I could not identify. He chuckled at the startled expression on my face as I took in his appearance. Due to my mixed blood, I manage to look most human men in the eye, and come to a typical barbarian's shoulder. The top of this dwarf's head reaches my chest. Where most males of that race have a thick fulsome beard long enough to tuck into their belts, Kayliss's face gives the appearance of being bald in comparison! It is cut into a goatee, kept neatly trimmed and the rest clean-shaven. His hair is kept pulled back into a single thick braid with a few locks at each temple braided with small mithril heart-shaped beads and precious stones. His hands were clean and well tended, his garments a doublet, tight breeches and tall boots with a rapier at his side! It was him that hoisted me over the edge of the rail to board, giving me an appraising look before releasing my hand. At that moment I was too sorrowful at my parting from Sotana, then startled by the captain I would be serving for the next year to take note of the little bits of jewelry and ornamentation proclaiming him to be kin to Roqn. I had used other contacts to find this berth.

“Well lass,” he rumbled in greeting, his common quite clear, “My kinsman told me to pick up a little package with white hair off the 'shaes, but precious little else.” Turning to his men, “Lads, get the Wench underway while I take her to my cabin to hear her tale.” One of the sailors grinned knowingly and nudged the other, a few snickers were hastily stifled. Kayliss gave a mock scowl, then nudged me with my crimson cheeks along to his quarters. My personal experience may be lacking but I knew what those snickers were about. Apparently our captain has a reputation. We entered and again I was startled by the extravagance. I have no need to go into great detail as the particulars have forever etched themselves into my mind.

“Who are you?” his flirtatious demeanor dropped immediately upon the closing of the door. “There are not many who know enough of my kin to request aid, and there are few enough of them I would listen to with as little information as I was supplied. You have the look of one who can handle herself in a fight, though you do not have the bulk of muscle to make a life of it.” His solid, though oddly graceful, strides carried him over to a ornately carved chair and he gestured me into its mate before pouring two glasses of wine.

I shrugged, attempting to be nonchalant. “No one special captain, merely someone with a friend or two
in the right places, and the luck to have done them a good turn. When I found myself in a spot of trouble he was able to ask you to help me with a solution.” I accepted the drink and sipped, pleasantly surprised by the flavor.

An eyebrow raised. “Lass, I have been in this business longer than you have been alive I would wager. I recognize a bluff when I hear it, and you don't have the feel of 'no one special'. You keep your secrets if you must, but I'll have your name and would know if your spot of trouble will have a chance of affecting my ship.”

“Lira, Captain. Simply Lira,” she replied. “And those who seek me will look on the land. I will promise you now that if I suspect they have found me, I will toss myself overboard before bringing additional danger to this crew.”

“Now lass, what would be the fun in that? If the rumor got around that I allowed Lilira Shadowlyre, a mere slip of a bard stand between me and danger, my reputation with the ladies would be condemned to the abyss,” he stated, grinning with amusement as my jaw dropped in shock. “However, if the trouble follows you and the fight isn't worth it, I'll toss you in myself.”

“H.. how did you know Captain?” I asked, mind working furiously. Were all my plans for naught?

“My kin and I do speak lass, and Kyrth knew I would not take you on without a name. In certain circles, your name has cropped up on numerous occasions, so the name was really all I needed, though your hand and voice confirmed it.” My look of puzzlement pulled a chuckle from him. “You've the voice of one who has had training in how to use it, and your hands do not just bear the marks of weapons. Your fingertips gave you away.”

Studying my hands, running my thumb across the callouses on my fingertips, I murmured, “I have had them so long, it did not occur to me.” Looking up at him, I frowned. “Is this a worthless attempt?”

“My crew aren't a bunch of logger-headed idiots. I would not have them aboard if they were,” he pointed out. “They will be wanting to know why you are here. Of course there is one position they would not question,” he winked suggestively, and I felt my cheeks begin burning and I shook my head. With a lusty sigh, grinned. “Ah well. Then I suppose you will need to do something about that mouth of yours. My suggestion, do not speak until you pick up some of the saltier terms and accents. Your voice speaks too much of learning a normal sailor does not have.”

“I kin toss out an accent when needed Cap'n. Tis just not part of me nature to be doin' so on a reg'lar basis,” I rolled out with a grin. Expression going serious, I added, “My music is gone. I expect no special treatment, nor do I wish it Captain. I only used your kin to find a berth because it would be difficult otherwise to find a place on a ship with no skills to speak of other than the capability to defend myself in a pinch.”

The dwarf nodded. “I'll pass you off to my first mate, and you will do what you are told, keeping in mind the need for those pretty hands of yours to stay healthy. Just because you say your music is 'gone' does not mean my lads might not like a tune once in a while.”

And so begins my current life of a sailor. According to Captain Kayliss, we will be making for Athkatla to pick up some cargo bound for Calimport. The second name had me stiffen somewhat, but I nodded my head. The sailors are a mixture, but there is one who just watches me. He is handsome enough, though his constant stare is unnerving to one who is trying to learn new skills. I will admit I laughed when one of our shipmates threw a bit of hardtack at him for not paying attention to his own tasks.
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Postby Lilira » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:18 am

Tenth day of Marpenoth (Leaf fall)

I can not believe what a fool I am. I practically flung myself into his arms. I, a freak amongst my shipmates who barely tolerate me, threw myself at one who was surprisingly enough trying to protect my virtue by seeing me to my room before one of the foolish puppies who escapes his life of privilege to slum in The Seas' Bounty took advantage of my inebriated state. Curse the bottle. Curse my weakness that has me drown my sorrows in it. Having stepped back from my music has made me unable to seek it for consolation so in a rash moment of self-pity, I fell back to the seductive whisper of temporary oblivion.

I am uncertain which brings the blush more rapidly to my cheeks. The fact that I flung myself at Ameneth whilst drunk, sloppily overwhelming his attempts to leave or the fact it was the click of the door as he let himself out at dawn that woke me. I cannot blame him for taking advantage, as I believe I was far too persistent, but he has not returned and I sit here with my churning stomach and pounding head to keep me sorry company. We leave in two more days, but I must report by the nooning bells to help with loading the ship for the longer trip. Gods I am not certain I can face him. Two months of journey by ship, the lot of us crammed into our own little world with nowhere to go...

A tap at the door?
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Postby Lilira » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:18 am

I am off watch. We made it out of port easily enough yesterday, and now our travels will take us around the Tethyr Peninsula, through Asavir's Channel and on towards Calimport. A trip which with good fortune will take us a ten day. Upon our arrival, I am already resolved to volunteer my time to stand watch while the others have shore leave.

Ameneth returned to my room at the inn that morning with a surprise. He had wandered the Promenade to find a flower vendor and carried back a wisteria blossom. The last one I had seen had been on the Isle. It is said anything can be purchased at Waukeen's Promenade. I guess that is true.

He apologized for leaving. He thought after the previous evening, I would have slept longer than I did. He does not know of my adventuring past and my tendency to sleep lightly even when hungover. At least I have talked myself out of the blade beneath my pillow.

I suppose many a maid has gushed about the loss of her 'innocence' but truly I have nothing to write about the experience as the alcohol made it hazy. I have jumbled images of sobbing incoherently feeling sorry for myself and the comfort of strong arms, stroking hands and heated lips. His return in the morning was much different, leaving me to ask only this... why did I wait so long?

Instead of going into detail, I will only mention that the two of us reported for duty at the last toll of the noon bells with hastily donned clothing, flushed and out of breath from the dash to the ship. My face was the red of beets while my fingers tugged at the laces of my vest, Ameneth shaking with silent laughter beside me as Captain Kayliss strode up and down the deck outlining our duties. The captain turned in his pacing and stopped before me. Taking in the fingers rapid tightening and tugging at my laces as well as the color of my face, he simply chuckled and gave me a knowing grin which made me blush all the more. Turning to Ameneth, he added, “Excellent taste,” which set the rest of the crew to laughing. It seems I am accepted.
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Postby Lilira » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:54 pm

The fifteenth day of Marpenoth (Leaf fall)

It is back to business while on ship, though I feel a warmth which I can surmise is him watching me while I work, though usually he waits until I have my hands full pulling on a line or some such other duty that requires my focus. I do not have the sailing instincts of the others, but I have been told my skills are improving. The callouses from years of playing my instruments are fading to be replaced with the rough hands of a sailor. It will be painful at first if I return to my previous life, but then I have felt the pain of hemp rope being dragged across my palm when I do not catch it fast enough. Pain teaches. Another lesson I should have learned years ago.

The ring I stepped aboard ship with on my finger is now in a pouch with the stone egg Sotana gave me, both tucked deeply into my bodice attached to a strong steel chain. Our captain caught the glint of gold while I was working and removed the necklace from his own neck, gruffly instructing me to take it off and tuck it away. An accident could catch the band and take my finger. He knows the truth behind my identity and the hazards of a bard with one less digit. I did the best I could to remove all traces of magic on my person save my ring and the bag within my normal scuffed up pack that contains my adventuring gear. Oh and the salve. My pale skin pained me at first being swept by sun and sea, but the salve has healed the discomfort, and my skin is darkening. The jar never seems to empty, so I use it daily to fight against the effects of the searing sun and salty wind.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:11 pm

The Eighteenth day of Marpenoth (Leaf fall)

I surprised Ameneth and the others. When I boarded, my hair had been just past my shoulders, tucked constantly beneath a scarf to hold it out of my eyes. Sailing in the tropical climes and fighting a constant battle against storms and wind, not to mention washing with salt water has persuaded me to cut my hair. Once again it seems like I take a step backwards in my life with my hair a sleek cap of white hugging my head, just long enough for the ocean breezes to ruffle playfully. Fortunately there are enough odd weapons amongst the rest of the crew that my little adamantium dagger was hardly noticed when I sat on the deck with a bowl of water and began to cut it. Jehana, the only other female aboard, laughed when she saw my fumbling and grabbed the blade before I could hurt myself. Trying to cut your hair with a wobbly reflection on the deck of a moving ship is not something for the inexperienced. The scarf to hold back my hair and cover my ears is gone, another layer of myself exposed. It gained a few questioning glances at first, but the others are considerate of secrets. I wonder how long before I am no longer recognized even by myself.

Jehana, with her dark hair and swarthy skin is everything I wish to be as a woman. She bears the scars of several fights with pirates, though it doesn't diminish her self assurance. In dress we are similar: A sleeveless vest tightly fitted with a sleeveless cotton chemise underneath, hers black in color to my simple brown, with form fitting cotton breeches. I tucked my stockings and boots away after the first day on ship, my bare feet being able to grip the constantly wet deck far better. Her hair is cropped similarly to mine, with curls giving her the appearance of a mischievous child. More it is how she carries herself. I am tentative and hesitant, constantly aware of how ridiculous I feel with my bumbling and fumbling while she is bold, joking with the men, pulling her weight and instinctively knowing what needs to be done before the bosun's bellow. Watching her is like watching a dancer as she leaps and shimmies up lines.

She has taken the time to nudge me from time to time, pausing in her circuit to correct my grip or show me an easier way to do something. She has been the one that showed me how to tie knots. Thankfully the agility my fingers possess applies well to the bulky ropes. Her personality is vibrant and forthright, holding nothing back. My ears have rang with her displeasure as she does indeed curse like a sailor when the situation warrants it.

Tomorrow I'm told we enter Asavir's Channel... pirate infested waters. We have been told to keep arms and armor (if we possess it) close to hand, so the bland leather armor I purchased from Meliant some time ago will see use. I pray to whichever of the gods who might bother to listen to me that we make it through safely.
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Postby Lilira » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:17 am

The Eighth Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

We made it through, though not without losses. One day after entering the channel, three ships arrived on our horizon, their smaller, sleeker design allowing them to catch us, though not without cost. The First Mate, Kearn pulled a slender wand from his belt and aimed it at the hull of one of the ships, muttering something under his breath. The planking buckled and warped, water rushing in where the wood had weakened. I had managed to scramble into my armor, daggers to the ready, tucking myself into one of the small spaces between the rail and the hatch that led below. After the third time Kearn had pointed, this time at the second ship, I watched as a crossbow bolt sprouted from his shoulder, the wand sent flying over the side and into the water by the force of the impact. The sailor dropped, curses fluently pouring from his lips to assail my ears. Three more bolts peppered the deck around him.

Seeing that Jehana was on the other side of the deck reloading a heavy crossbow, I jumped out and heaved Kearn to safety, pulling him into the place I had been hidden. Before the battle, I had gathered some of the potions I have always hoarded, and readying one, I extricated the bolt by pushing it through, wincing as he bellowed my ears deaf. It took all my strength to hold him down while I performed this task, before pouring the potion into his mouth. Recognizing the minty flavor of the potion, he swallowed, and after a moment the wound began closing.

With a nod for him, I was up and across the deck towards Jehana who threw a crossbow to me. I caught it reflexively and stared at her uncomprehendingly. “Use it! Pointy end at the pirates and fire,” she hollered as she picked up another and ran to the stern. While I stood there blinking, a bolt passed so close to my head I felt the pain of hair being ripped out. Turning about, I saw my attacker on the deck of his ship fighting to reload the weapon in his hands. Holding the crossbow up and sighting along the stock, I squeezed, the power from the string's release forcing my shot to go wide. A swarthy human next to my target jumped back with a curse as the bolt hit the deck and shattered to rain shards on his legs and feet. Dharin and Lefan had shortbows out and were releasing four arrows for every one of their crossbow volleys. I watched admiringly as eight pirates sprouted feathers and dropped. Then a shiver crept up my back as I heard the unmistakable creak and snap of a catapult.

The world burned as a viscous ball of flame landed on the deck and splattered to hungrily try and consume everything within its path. It was a miracle it had missed the sails. But it had not missed me or four others. My throat is still raw from the shriek of pain that burst from it as well as the searing heat I breathed. The edge of the splatter landed on me from the waist up, some of the burning fluid getting through places my armor did not cover and charring where it did, quickly eating through the leather even as I dropped to the deck and rolled in an attempt to douse the flames. A quick-thinking soul threw a bucket of water over me, leaving me to scream from the burning of the brine entering my wounds, but saving my sight. Thankfully I passed out. The remainder of these events is second hand.

Kayliss had a few tricks up his sleeve apparently. Torin, the ship druid, called upon his power to swamp the heavily damaged vessels as well as drench the decks of The Frisky Wench with seawater to put out the fire. Kearn pulled out a cord and began untying knots, filling the sails of the ship with wind as Kahliss cut the lines that had captured the railing for boarding. The other sailors scrambled over the Wench's lines to secure and assess the damage, replacing the ones that had been lost to the fire. We managed to outdistance the third ship which stopped to pick up the survivors from the other two. Fortunately our vessel was not rendered unsailable, though it was in need of repairs. Lorin, a cleric of Valkur who traveled with us, immediately tended to myself and two of the four others. The other three had taken the full brunt of the attack and died painfully.

I woke on a pallet, the unnaturally still surface below telling me we had found a place to dock. The skin of my face and neck felt tight under a layer of ointment, like it did the first few days after I began this trip from too much exposure from the sun. My armor was gone and I lay covered with a light blanket for modesty. The inside of my arms where the leather armor had fastened were twisted to lay upward and similarly coated along with my hands. A thrill of panic danced along my spine and I moved to bring my hand up, hissing with pain and catching Lorin's attention. “Stop,” he commanded, gingerly catching my wrist. “They will be fine. The healing Valkur granted tended to the muscles and tendons first. The skin is still new and not ready to be in the open air which is why I kept you sedated.”

“How long,” I whispered painfully.

“Two days,” was the terse response. “Another two with Valkur's blessing before you will be fit to leave the bed you are on. Even then you will need to stay out of the sun, though you are fortunate and there will be little scarring. Do you feel any pain?”

Once he had brought it to my attention, I did. A muffled whimper escaped my parted lips which soon felt the edge of a clay cup as his wiry form stood over me. “Drink,” he ordered as my throat had already begun swallowing, the medicine soothing on the way down. My gaze blurred under the quick acting drugs which left me feeling as though I floated.

It was while I lay there with the world feeling odd that the realization landed of just how spoiled my music had made me. I had never really had the need for pain medication. My voice or the sound of my fingers drifting along the strings of my mother's lyre could soothe any pain. I had a better inkling of life for common men. They did not possess magical trinkets to keep fire from scorching their flesh, or the ability to heal themselves. I was special in that no matter how often I might complain to myself or ask why I kept ending up in the midst of events I failed to have control over, I had the tools and skills to deal with them. Perhaps not the way I wanted to, but I could cope. The true question to ask myself... did I wish to?

What do I want out of life? Even hazy from the drugs, I remember those thoughts now. It is simple yet difficult. I could take the easy path, find someone, settle down in my home with the treasure I have managed to accumulate over my time on the roads, have a family and raise children. But who would ensure that the world they grow up in does not destroy them? Depending upon who I choose, my children would either be as long-lived as I, or I would see them to their graves. I have time. If it ever became a necessity, I might be able to extend it, as much as the thought bothers me. I know those who can perform the necessary magic. I still have so much to learn, yet to 'retire' would deny me the lessons. Retirement would stop the heartache as well. The feeling that I am just not doing enough no matter how hard I tried. Would I even be left in peace within the walls of my home? I had served the lord of Arnd'ir twice now. If something came up would I find one of his retainers knocking at my door to ask my aid?

All those thoughts and more spun through my head while I lay there half conscious. My eyes drifted closed and the next thing I saw was Ameneth's profile. He was looking away at that moment, but turned back at my slightest motion. “Lorin was just here,” he told me. The pain was far less and I held up my hand in front of my face. The flesh was a raw pink, the same shade my skin had been after those first several days in the sun when the blisters had peeled. The ointment that had previously coated my skin was gone, and I felt the kiss of a draft upon my face. “Do not try to do anything,” Ameneth warned me, “Lorin said the skin is still very thin and anything too hard or rough will pierce it.”

“I will behave,” I whispered, my throat still sore. The movements of my mouth pulled at the skin on my face. Then the smell hit me. Burnt flesh and hair. I am surprised my stomach didn't threaten to rebel. I must be more hardened than I thought. Gingerly I turned my head and saw Hrolth laying on a pallet a short distance away. He had taken far more damage than I, and his hair was mostly gone. What remained was brittle from the heat. A weak chuckle escaped me. “I must look awful,” I rasped to Ameneth who gingerly brushed a lock of scorched hair off my forehead. I have been secure in my odd appearance for years now, brushing aside idle flattery with a preference for brutal truth. “You are alive... that alone makes you beautiful.” For the first time in my life, I actually believed someone when they said that to me. Most likely because he had nothing to gain from the statement at the time. He already holds my affection.

I have been wearing gloves since then to protect the skin. After the third healing, Lorin declared me as healed as he would ask of his god. Since then I have been performing the limbering exercises I learned as a child to keep my fingers agile, rubbing in some of my ointment to keep the skin supple. My hair is even shorter, the flames having damaged it right down to my flesh. Jehana came in with a borrowed razor sharp enough to wound the wind and took the rest of it off. The feeling of the ocean wind caressing my bare scalp at night is one of the oddest things I have ever felt. My hair grows quickly thank the gods and already a short fuzz covers my head, concealed by the return of my scarf to keep the sun from burning. My voice is still husky, and every morning just before I drift off I wonder if it will ever return to the soft soprano I once sang in.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:45 pm

The Eleventh Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

We are in a secluded cove on the Tethyr Pennisula. A small but surprisingly well supplied settlement, tucked away in secrecy. I dare not go more into its location should someone ever manage to get their hands on this book. If they could get so far in without dying of boredom...

The crew beached the Wench and for the most part all repairs were completed though it took a majority of the time I was recuperating to perform them. They've gotten her back onto the water now and we leave in the morning. Calimport...
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Postby Lilira » Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:33 am

The Eighteenth Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

The fortunate thing about the timing of my injuries was an excuse to avoid leaving the ship when we reached Calimport. According to Lorin, some of the nerves under my skin are still healing, so they cause phantom pain... whatever that means. All I know for certain is that sharp pain will run up my arms for no reason while in the middle of some task, or worse, when I am at rest. While those with shore leave were carousing on the docks, I was curled up in my hammock below decks under the influence of pain medicines, nervous and praying that no one would speak of the white haired sailor the ship had picked up off of the Moonshaes. I lay awake, my reactions slowed by the herbs but my ears ringing with the effort to listen for stealthy footprints, alert for moving shadows and waiting for the explosion of pain as a blade enters my chest.

Jehana returned from her night of freedom filled with laughing tales of the others' exploits. It seems our dwarven captain has a lady or five he visits when docked here and was last seen escorting (being carried off by) them to a wealthy inn. Jehana did not expect we would be leaving on time. When my white face paled further at her pronouncement, she truly took a moment to look at my nervous, perspiring form. “What is wrong?” she asked in a no-nonsense tone. I shook my head. She does not need to know of my problems, and alcohol can loosen lips faster than any spell I have come across. She frowned, expertly assessing me. “Do not lie to me Lira. You were fine at our other ports. What is wrong with this one?” Again I shook my head. She snorted and grabbed me by the arm, dragging me out of my bunk and onto the deck where the rest of the crew on shift watched us curiously. The wind caressed my almost bare scalp as a movement I had seen somewhere in my travels had me twist, a foot snapping out to trip her. In surprise, Jehana released my arm as she went sprawling to the deck.

“Let go,” my husky voice told her. I do not know what came over me, but it was like every instance of someone grabbing me boiled within until it over-flowed. “I have had enough of being dragged around like a piece of baggage whenever I decide to keep my mouth shut.” While everyone gaped, I stormed back below, the tender skin of my arm stinging from her hold. I returned to my hammock, turning my back to the entrance of the crew quarters. A soft footstep and the scent of honeysuckle betrayed Jehana's presence. Behind me I heard the sound of something dropped into the chest she kept her belongings in before she climbed into the hammock below mine.

“I was trying to prove to you that you are one of us,” her voice whispered. “It was my intent to have the others tell you. Obviously something here frightens you, and I was attempting to reassure you of your safety with us.”

“With as much as this crew drinks on one night of leave, I prefer for once in my life to keep information to myself,” I told her dully.

“You have no idea of what you speak my little friend. But that is for the Captain to share,” came a soft laugh. “That was a nice move on the deck. Teach it to me tomorrow?”

“I can try. I do not even remember where I saw it,” I told her wryly.

“You know what you need Lira?”

I paused, allowing the sarcasm I was feeling fill the silence between us. “I think that particular need has been filled...”

She laughed. “Not that, though I think Ameneth is sulking because you stayed aboard. He was grumpy all night.” It was odd how my heart leapt somewhat after that pronouncement. “We are going to start sparring bare-handed now that you seem to be able to withstand more than casual contact.”

So began my training. The looks on everyone's faces, when Jehana and I marched on deck several hours later to begin, were priceless. We rolled around, kicked, and tripped to the accompaniment of both suggestions and well.. suggestive comments. I did better than I thought I would, my natural agility helpful as well as my experience. Finally we ended up laying on the smooth planks laughing and breathless while Ameneth looked on with an amused expression. He gave me a hand up murmuring, “If I had known what it would take to get my hands on you again, I would have offered to teach you myself.” My blushes set everyone into gales of laughter.

I belong. Yes, it is a constant source of surprise. It is amazing to me how much better I slept at the end of my watch.
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Postby Lilira » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:47 pm

The Twenty-third Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

We are still here. If it were not for the commands being sent to Kearn I might be concerned that Kayliss had been kidnapped in this dangerous city. Jehana and I have continued our sparring with me surprising her occasionally when I remember something from other battles I have fought and abruptly turn the tables on her. Her skills are far more advanced in that arena as they were learned with the confines of a ship or alley in mind. Most of my own battles have been in the open with large intimidating warriors or mages with minions between myself and most of the fray. Or dragons, I have to add with Baludeorrogauna in mind.

Dharaen has taken it upon himself to instruct me in the use of a crossbow. I was nervous at first as it means I stand on the deck for long periods of time under the blazing sun. There is a difference between recognizing a fast moving tangle of limbs and a familiar form standing on a deck with a loaded crossbow who is attempting to hit a target. Again I was the butt of several jokes for the first few shots, though I could tell from the tone there was nothing malicious intended. Jehana made a point of reassuring me after my shaking hands caused me to miss several of my first shots, that I look far different from the pale thing they had initially picked up. It calmed me enough to hit the target to the accompaniment of shouted cheers. I did not have the heart to tell her that there are ways beyond simple physical appearance to recognize someone. By the time my arms were shaking from the effort of constantly pulling the string back to reload, I could hit my target three out of ten attempts. Dharaen assured me that I was a capable student and with some additional practice, I would improve quickly. The trick would be learning proficiency under the conditions of a rolling deck, not the ship's restless shifting at dock.
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Postby Lilira » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:48 pm

The Twenty-fourth Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

Captain Kayliss has returned. He came on board while I was on watch last night, bidding a fond farewell to his companions who all pouted so much I could not help but roll my eyes. He had called for some assistance in retrieving his 'personal belongings'. I do not remember him taking quite so many chests when he left. Grins wreathed the faces of the others on watch as though they were privy to some secret. But then they probably are.

We will be loading in the morning and heading out with the tide, which Kearn mentioned will be in the evening due to the moon cycle. I just nodded my head. I still have much to learn it seems. I wonder if the leaves have turned in Arnd'ir?
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Postby Lilira » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:51 pm

The Twenty-seventh Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

I am penning this as a reminder to kill Kyrth when next I see him. That sneaky dwarf has found me a berth on a smuggling ship of all things. I think my laughter startled the Captain when he told me. I had my suspicions... beginning most notably with the place the ship was beached for repairs.

Most who know me might be surprised I am so accepting of my circumstance, but a lot of unasked questions were answered. Why the crew seemed to be a closer knit group than those I have experienced in my past... why they were so well equipped, including the fact that they have a full-fledged healer and druid aboard? Kayliss pays well, and the side deals allow for it. Commerce is commerce, and the only thing I would object to would be slavery, so I wish us good luck and more coin to line our pockets. He reminds me of another dwarf I know... but as they are related, I can understand why.

We make for Urbeth on the Isle of Tharsult. There were a few raised eyebrows at this pronouncement, but noone nay-sayed the captain. With fair winds we may make port by The Feast of the Moon.
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Postby Lilira » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:01 pm

The Twenty-ninth Day of Uktar (The Rotting)

By all the gods... it is amazing how swiftly the weather changes when you are sailing. A ten-day ago I was comfortably attired in sturdy, yet light-weight garments, and today I had to exchange it for woolen trews, shirt and fur-lined vest. It takes time to grow accustomed to navigating the decks and rigging with a pair of wool socks and boots between my soles and the smooth wood. The night watch had me curled up in my worn fur-lined adventuring cloak, unabashedly pulled out of my pack for the occasion. It earned a few raised eyebrows, but the crew has seen odder things. One more day should have us comfortably in port to enjoy the revelry. It will be odd to sit back and watch instead of performing.
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Postby Lilira » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:11 pm

The First of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

We made port in time. As I had stayed aboard the entirety of our stay in Calimport, I was given leave. Ameneth traded someone so he could accompany me, so I pulled a few precious coins out of my horde and we left. Being a large port city, there were shrines and temples to every deity imaginable. As it was the Feast of the Moon, I was drawn to the temple of Tempus where the Song of the Fallen drifted through the entrance. I paused tentatively, shook my head and continued on with a small grin for Ameneth.

“You know,” he began grabbing my hand and tugging me to walk snugged under his arm. “The Turmishan celebrate the Feast of the Moon far differently than anyone else I have heard of.” I stared up at him waiting for the jest, knowing he'd noted my pause. Leaning down he murmured, “Theirs takes place after Midsummer, and it is quite the evening of licentious behavior.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and I laughed, not for the first time wondering about his past that he should be so well spoken.

“At the very least,” I retorted, “Harune, Jarthen and Kalt deserve at least a tankard raised in their memory this night,” listing the three who had fallen to the flames I had survived. His expression sobered and he nodded, guiding our path through the streets to a small tavern, which like most this night, had a somewhat somber air about it. What is it about me that insists on killing other people's amusement?

We entered to the strains of a song being softly played on a set of pipes accompanied by a fiddle. My heart clenched, and my steps faltered. I so much wanted to join them, but I couldn't. Ameneth looked at me curiously and I shrugged, slipping free of his embrace and moving over to one of the large tables where Jehana and a few others from the Wench were seated.

Listening to the words it seemed to be a list of names, broken occasionally by the name of a ship. Then I realized that it was exactly that. Jehana pushed a tankard at me as I sat down on the bench, Ameneth straddling it and pulling me close. I sat stiffly at first, still unaccustomed to his casual familiarity. The contents of the tankard and the music worked like a spell upon me and I relaxed into Ameneth's embrace, much to his amusement.

The song ended far too soon, and the hum of conversation picked up. We chatted about inconsequential things, enjoying the camaraderie of people who spend most of their time together. A few sailors from other ships joined us, some of them looking me over with interest until what I can only surmise was a warning look from Ameneth had them begin treating me like an equal. Stories were exchanged, yet every time the bells toned the hour, the tavern fell silent for the “Sailor's Song of Remembrance”. The voices of all within amazingly blended into a seamless melody that sang the first verse together. Then someone from each ship would add their own verse with a list of those fallen. It was touching actually to see how these tough men with their rowdy ways paused in their fulfilling every rumor and tale of their rough and tumble behaviors to remember those who the sea had taken in one way or another over the past year.

Sailors dear who never reach the shore
the ocean's waves do hold them tight.
To add their bravery to our ship's lore
We remember them on this hallowed night.

The first listing for the Wench while we were there was sang by Jehana, her clear tones ringing out with five names, three of which I recognized, and the other two lost before I joined the crew. Again it seemed to end too swiftly, though the crew from four other vessels had filtered in. This was the one night, I later learned from one of the sailors who had made this place his home port, that the Urbeth militia did not enforce the curfew as long as things did not get out of hand.

Four hours later, the song began again and Ameneth nudged me when it was close to the time for the listing for the Wench. “I have been watching you since we got here.” I shook my head and he nudged me again. “Sing for yourself if not for us. For their memory.” I sighed. He had touched a nerve. I wanted so badly to do it, but I could not. For one, my voice was still in ruins. As the crewman from the Silver Crescent finished his listing, I hesitated. After a brief pause with the gaze of my shipmates upon me, I closed my eyes and added in a voice unfamiliar to me.

The Frisky Wench remembers well
our brave comrades who in battle fell...

Harune Otano
Jarthen Lysheel
Kalt Worlan
Maric Syran
Nedrin Pylan

As the next memorial was taken up, I pulled away from Ameneth and struggled free of the bench, my initial staggering steps bumping into people as I made my hurried way to the door. Breaking free, I ran along the mostly dark street, blindly trying to find my way back to the docks and my berth there. Two pair of booted feet pursued me, one set of steps lighter than the other, and I knew who it was who followed. I ducked into the nearest patch of shadows, holding my breath and freezing as they approached.

Having lost sight of me, the other two slowed. I could see the wariness in their postures as they moved cautiously down the street, hands drifting near hidden weapons. I held still and waited, past experience having taught me patience even though it was a battle to control my emotions. By this time silent tears were coursing down my face to chill my cheeks.

Convinced they had moved on, I stepped out of the cluster of shadows that had concealed me, and picked my way along the street. No longer moving in a headlong rush, I was able to identify where I was and find the docks.

A rough pair of hands clamped over my mouth and waist, pulling me up against a muscular form before twisting me around to face him. “Don't,” he ground out, eyes blazing with fury, “Run away from me again.” In my mind somehow, he took on the shape and form of every dark and shadowy figure pursuing me in my flight from familiarity. I tugged against the hold, panic clawing at me. I tried futilely to twist and send my assailant sprawling, but my attempt was easily foiled.

“Easy Am,” an unfamiliar female voice warned, noting the expression of terror that had burgeoned on my face. “Its us Lir...” she murmured.

“I could shake her silly,” he growled staring at me intently before dropping his hold. “You NEVER walk alone when you leave the ship.” I am proud to say that even though my targets were misplaced, my next reaction is far more different than I ever imagined it would be. After the weeks of training, I drew my blades, dropping into a defensive crouch.

“LIRA,” the female called, shock evident in her voice. It was that tone that dragged my terrified mind back into a semblance of sense, leaving me to blink stupidly at Ameneth and Jehana warily standing before me. Staring at the twin daggers which had appeared in my hands, I dropped them as though burned.

“I-I thought you were them,” I stammered unthinkingly.

Jehana give me a look of disgust. “Get those off the ground, you don't treat weapons like that.” Fumbling, I picked them up, nicking a finger as I finally replaced them into their sheaths.

“What in the Abyss was that about? Why did you run? Hellfire, why did you think to attack?” Ameneth demanded, even more infuriated when I flinched under his raised voice. “Stop that!”

“Gods above man, cease! You're scaring the piss out of her,” Jehana spat, slapping his shoulder loudly.

“I didn't DO anything,” he retorted, fixing me with an icy glare as I hesitantly began trying to drift backwards.

Jehana muttered under her breath. “Get out of here. Ship is in view, we can watch you board.” I stepped back, and her hand snaked out, grabbing my arm. “Not you Lira...” Ameneth gave Jehana an incredulous look. “Lira and I are going to talk, and you are going away...” she informed him. When he didn't move she snapped, “NOW!” Cursing fluently in several languages, some of which I actually recognized, he stormed off. Keeping a grip on my arm, Jehana watched him until his angry steps took him up the gangplank, my own gaze ashamedly studying the cobblestones.

“Listen,” she stated, catching my attention. “We all have our secrets, and as shipmates we can respect that fact. He, however, is more than that. I do not know what has you so spooked, constantly looking over your shoulder whenever we hit port. But I can tell you one thing... Ameneth would rather plunge a dagger into his gut than hurt a hair on your head. Your constant flinching is botherin' him something fierce. No matter how mad he gets, he is not one to be raising his fists to take a swipe at a female unless they start it.”

“I.. I have had my share of adventures,” I stammered slightly, refusing to meet her gaze. “I have never been comfortable around men, especially young and attractive ones. I have learned the hard way that outer appearance can shield the blackest of hearts or the souls of traitors. Ameneth has joined a small handful of males I have allowed close, yet...” I sighed. Looking up I continued. “I am not a good person Jehana. While I would not betray anyone on the ship, allowing Ameneth to grow too attached to me when I will be gone in less than one year's time...”

“That is his decision Lira. The captain made no bones about the fact you were not in with us for the long haul when we agreed to have him disclose our little secret,” she grinned at my startled look. “As for a good person? The hell with that. We're smugglers. Too many of those who are looking down their noses claiming how evil and destructive we are the ones whose pockets are lined by our bribes. The captain spoke for you and that is good enough for the rest of us.”

I shook my head stubbornly and she rolled her eyes. “Let me ask you this. Why did you run tonight? You know safety is in numbers. In strange ports you are not to wander without the company of at least one other.”

“I reacted... poorly,” was my murmur. At her curious look, the tears began again. “The music.”

She shrugged. “It was just the Remembrance. Granted some of those who sing it could make your ears bleed, but there was nothing other than its nature to upset anyone.”

Again, I shook my head. There was no way to make her understand without telling her everything, and that could put her at risk. She sighed and turned to make for the ship. After a moment, I followed.
Last edited by Lilira on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:17 am

The Second of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

He is avoiding me and has since that night Jehana and I returned together. I have no idea how to chip through the icy wall he has erected, so it is my guess I must wait it out. I am horrible at confrontations, and I realize this. We are to leave here in two more days, and I have volunteered to stay aboard in the crow's nest to keep watch. Perhaps ours is a conversation to have when there is nowhere to run.
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Postby Lilira » Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:20 am

The Third of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

It is nice to be useful. I was responsible for the apprehension of someone trying to sneak aboard to tamper with some of our cargo. I had been up in the crow's nest, keeping a constant scan of the deck and the dock leading up to it. I noticed a shadow moving up the side of the ship from the water. I shiver to think about it, but I know there are trinkets one can find to make it so the cold is not so bad. In fact I have one tucked away in my bag.

I tossed one of the small dried beans I carry up with me, hitting Kearn in the head. He looked up questioningly in time for me to gesture towards the shadow. He could not see me in the darkness, so I took the small wand he had given me a few days previous and aimed it at the figure, murmuring the key word. The man was outlined in purple fire. With a muffled oath, he ran for the rail, only to freeze as three crossbow bolts thudded around his feet. A few barked words had the man coiled in ropes, then
a couple of my shipmates scooped him up to carry him below for questioning. I could see Kearn's grin in my direction and a brief salute.

Apparently Kayliss has quite the competitor for business; A man simply called “The Wolf”. He is a smuggler of the darker sort, occasionally slipping over to piracy. It was his ships that had attacked us in Asavir's Channel. His little friend had actually snuck aboard with sabotage in mind. Interesting.
Last edited by Lilira on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:11 am

The Eighth day of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

Damn him. People wonder why I always hold things so close. I have problems enough of my own without constantly having to worry about the wounded pride of others. Standing beside Ameneth in the performance of our duties aboard ship is like climbing one of the glaciers in the north. We do our jobs, but every word uttered to me is like one of Lintral's messengers whispering in my ear and sending those icy chills down my spine. Damn him. Why did I let him in? Jehana is avoiding us both, refusing to step between. I've seen Kearn watching us, but as our duties are unaffected and it is not an altercation spreading through the rest of the crew that I have noticed, he will not speak of it. Even now my fingers itch for one of the instruments tucked away in my gear.

We should be docking in Shairtalar within the next day or two. Kayliss is expecting a shipment from the dwarves of Eartheart by way of Khôltar. If all went according to schedule, it should be waiting for us in a warehouse. Dharaen has commented that he is ready for us to arrive, if for no other reason than to see the look on my face at some of the wonders we will see there. If only he knew... after riding a dragon into combat against a dark force that would destroy the world, not to mention all of his minions we had to fight through to get there, anything I see in the coastal city will mostly likely seem tame by comparison.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:12 am

The Tenth day of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

I have to admit, I am almost ready to tear out the last page of my journal and eat my words. We docked and once secured, I turned my gaze to the wharf, jaw dropping in surprise. Huge curving tusks lay stacked on the dock resembling dragon teeth. A blaring sound, reminding me of a trumpet, captured my attention and an enormous grey beast lumbered along the dock with an odd box perched on its back. Within that box were three humanoid forms. As it stopped at the end of our ship's quay, they dismounted, dropping some twenty feet before making their way towards our gangplank. I barely registered their presence, my gaze fascinated by the creature that had carried them. Dharaen slipped up beside me and closed my jaw with a click.

“What is that?” I asked.

“Elephant,” he told me.

“That thing is almost as big as some dragons I have seen,” I whispered unthinkingly. I felt his regard, and blushed. “Er...” I stammered.

“Most people would consider themselves lucky ta see one dragon and live ta run away,” he drawled, “I wouldna say that too loudly lass.”

I found a line that needed securing and scampered assuredly across the deck to deal with it. His chuckles followed me.
Last edited by Lilira on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:38 pm

The Twelfth day of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

A small contingent of odd dwarves marched up to the ship earlier today. Odd in that their costume is far different than the furs and armor of their northern kin. Their garb is lighter weight and their armor constructed for the environment with engravings as beautiful as anything I have seen out of Mithril Hall. Large cats and elephants, as well as other creatures I cannot name that inhabit this area, covered every surface. Ivory was worked into their elaborate jewelry, though it tended to be more... ornate. Their dark hair and beards are shorter in response to the warmer climes, their skin the color of well steeped tea. Each one wore a cloak of arrogance about them that would almost put an elf to shame. One of them condescended to look at me in passing, his lip not quite curling with disdain at my unkempt appearance and I absently rubbed my rough hands against my leggings. The captain greeted them like old friends and they all crammed into his cabin somehow.

The night, still kinder to me, typically finds me on watch, so I decided to slip below and get some rest before it was due to begin. A hand on my shoulder roused me from my slumbers. I stirred sluggishly, noticing by the light that it had been no more than an hour. Ameneth was kneeling next to me. “Whas wrong?” I asked groggily.

“Captain needs you,” he murmured, brushing a strand of hair out of my face. “And after, we need to talk.” I yawned and sat up, gaze going from sleepy to wary. “He said bring your pack.”

I reached down into the small seachest under my hammock and grabbed out my battered travel pack, scooping the few loose items from the chest into it. Pausing, I looked at the man who had refused to speak to me for over a tenday. Then I did something that surprised the both of us by grabbing the front of his tunic and pressing my lips to his before pushing him away and heading to the Captain's quarters.

Kayliss was entertaining the dwarf that looked like he was the highest ranking by simple virtue of the fact his garb was the most elaborate. “Ah, Lira. Apparently we need to accompany these gentlemen to the warehouse to pick up my belongings. We expect some resistance as apparently some squatters have taken it over. You have some experience in this so gear up and we shall go recover it.” I raised my eyebrow inquiringly. “Now lass, I know ye have a few trinkets in your bag of tricks, so get them on and let us go fetch my property.” I stared at him stonily. “That's an order sailor.” For a brief moment I thought about refusing. Then the supercilious look on the other dwarf's face prodded me into moving behind the screen. The others left while I struggled into armor that now felt strange, bulky and hot after the time not wearing it.

Eyes widened as I strode out onto the deck. I saw furtive movements from some of the crew as gold exchanged hands. I rolled my eyes at the winners of whatever betting pool had been set up, and stood next to Kayliss, arms crossed and broiling in the black dragonhide breastplate as the sun soaked up the heat. He glanced me over appraisingly then nodded. A similar look from the other dwarves had me shift nervously. “Shall we get this over with before I melt right here?” I muttered crossly to the captain.

The dwarves formed up, and we left, my steps soft on the ground behind them. The helm that normally grants me flight was tucked away in deference to the heat and replaced by a light-weight hood. I glanced at Ameneth and Jehana as we passed, both of whom wore inscrutable expressions as they studied my well used gear.

Ah well, I had warned Jehana at least.
Last edited by Lilira on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:39 pm

The Eighteenth day of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

We retrieved the chests. Apparently things amongst the men who own warehousing here are unstable. The owner the dwarves had their agreement with died rather suddenly and the man who inherited the property was seeking additional compensation in exchange for the return of their property.

While it was not child's play to sneak into the warehouse and gather the three heavy chests by the most expedient method of jamming them into my magical travel pack, I managed. The guards were lax, more interested in their dice game than my not quite inept skulking. Slipping back out, I returned to the tavern where I left the dwarves, where I staggered from the cuff of appreciation their leader gave me. I had found a small area of mismatched items in the warehouse, and after watching some of the men working within, came to the conclusion it was the owner's stash of items he was extorting from those unfortunate enough to have used the services of the previous owner. Kayliss laughed when I fished a small bottle from my bag, signaling for a trio of glasses. Cracking the seal, I poured an even amount into each glass, nudging the other two towards Kayliss and his friend. Lifting my own I inhaled its fragrance, the sweet, apple scent almost bringing tears to my eyes, and the taste almost sending the rest of my senses reeling. It was easily the best wine I have ever tasted in my life.

"Lass," Kayliss rumbled. "If you liberated more than the one, I bet I can find a buyer up north that would pay four hundred platinum for each one."

I grinned. "No thank you Captain, I think I will save some for a special occasion. Perhaps the birth of a child or my own funeral."

He sighed gustily. "A waste."

We returned to the ship, his business with the native dwarves complete. He led the way below, pointing to a corner where I knelt and retrieved the chests, grunting slightly as the magic left them. Kayliss pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the chests, flipping them open and grinning at the shining contents. Pulling out a bolt of fabric, I was startled to see it was silk shot with mithril. I must have made a noise as Kayliss looked at me and chuckled. "Not as protective as a good mithril shirt, but pretty and functional."

"Are you done with me?" I asked, wanting to get away from the beautiful fabric I longed to run my rough fingers over. Gods that would make a beautiful gown and safe too. I wonder if I could trade a bottle of that wine for enough fabric...

"Aye lass," was his response.

"One last thing Captain," I murmured, rising to my feet. "Do not do that to me again. There is a reason I was attempting the part of a simple sailor, and I do not appreciate what you have done to me this day."

He turned an raised an eyebrow. "When you joined this crew lass, you agreed to place yourself under my command. If you wish to discontinue our agreement, you can jump ship now and find your own way back to more familiar waters. Until then, you follow my orders no matter what they be."

I stared at him unblinkingly while he returned my look with an expectant air. We stood like this for several moments before his confidence and air of command finally (I am ashamed to admit) overwhelmed me, and I found myself lifting my fingers in a brief salute. "Yes Sir," was my murmur before I turned on my heel and left him there examining the contents of the chests.

"You are excused from watch tonight," Kearn told me as I entered the crew's quarters. The large man stepped through the entry and headed above decks while I unbuckled my armor with one hand, balancing on one foot long enough to flip the lid open on the chest for my gear and dropping my pack into it before methodically stripping off my gear. Slamming the lid closed, I crawled into my hammock wearing only the sleeveless tunic and pants I had under my armor, exhaustion and the remaining affects of the wine wrapping me in a cocoon of sleep.
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Postby Lilira » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:28 am

The Nighteenth day of Nightal (The Drawing Down)

Movement had me stir after several hours of rest. I recall squinting my closed eyes in protest as my sluggish body decided it was time to get up. "I broke rule number two," I muttered softly.

Jehana snickered. "What is that?" she asked.

"Never drink with a dwarf, and I drank with two. Oof what a punch," I groaned quietly. "And it was only one glass." A soft laugh was her response. I opened my eyes and sat up, swinging my legs over the side of my hammock. "I think I am going to go above decks. Get some fresh air to clear my head."

Jehana nodded and climbed into her own bed, allowing me to slip out, grab my cloak, and slip above into the cold night air. Nodding at Parinus who held the watch, I moved to the prow of the ship and perched on a crate. Folding my legs, I tucked my cloak tightly around me, tugging the hood up to conceal my features from casual study and stared out to sea. Selune danced on the water, a pale sliver growing in her cycle. I sensed a presence behind me, and I knew without a doubt who it was.

“You knew I was not what I appeared to be,” I murmured softly. The breeze caught my hood and playfully tugged at it. I hurriedly reached to pull it back in place, and the chill of the evening slipped through the opening to set me to shivering.

A warmth settled next to me before Ameneth spoke. “I knew you were more than a simple sailor,” he commented. “It was surprising to see you as you are.”

“That is not me. That is just armor and trinkets,” I corrected.

“It was how you looked wearing them. Comfortable. From the moment you stepped aboard ship, you never seemed comfortable in your skin,” Ameneth spoke softly, shifting closer to her. “When you left the captain's quarters, there was a confidence.”

“Annoyance,” I shrugged. “I was backed into a corner.”

“You completed your task.”

“It was child's play compared to some things I have been asked to do, and if it were not for some of those trinkets, it would have been impossible for me to accomplish,” I shrugged again. To me, a little breaking and entering of a place with such pathetic security was not that difficult. Certainly it was odd to not use invisibility to add to my efforts, but I managed.

I pride myself on the fact I did not flinch when he reached to gather me into his lap, wrapping his cloak around the both of us. “Tell me,” he murmured near my ear.

“I cannot,” was my whisper. He sighed against my back.

“My family is one surprisingly gifted with wizardry. I have four brothers and two sisters, all of whom followed tradition. When I showed no interest in the Art, I learned other things. Every one of my siblings had their paths charted, save me. So I left. As fifth born, it was no great loss to the family, though they were not eager to see the back of me. I visit them when we dock in a port close by,” Ameneth murmured.

“I knew you were not common, you are too eloquent,” I retorted softly.

“Never said I was noble,” he drawled.

I snorted with suppressed laughter. “You are. I have met too many and seen too much not to recognize it Ameneth. Having grown up amongst the common folk, I can also tell you that they do not tend to have names like that.”

“Ah, an expert are you?” he asked, arms tightening around me. “A commoner are we Lira? You speak of my education, but you are no backwoods lass or village idiot yourself.”

“I never claimed to be. There is noble blood swimming through my veins somewhere, though being a bastard I never really had much use for it. My mother was well educated and taught me. The rest I learned,” I felt my lips twist sardonically, “Sometimes the hard way, in my travels.”

“It sounds as though you have had an adventuresome life. Why so reluctant to speak of it? What did I do to scare you Lira?” My body tensed within his embrace.

“It is complicated,” I answered lamely. Taking a deep breath I relaxed against him. “Ameneth, I am here to forget about the past, or at least step away from it for a time, while I decide what I want for my future. I cannot tell you who I am, for that is the purpose of this journey.”

Ameneth was silent for a time, and I watched the water, falling lightly under the spell of waves lapping at the sides of the ship, the moonlight and the clear sky. When he spoke again, I jumped, then grinned wryly. “Was it me you fought Lira, or ghosts?”

“Nightmares,” I told him honestly. “Some ghosts of the past, but mostly shadows of my own perception. I have been hunted off and on in my life, seen and done things which haunt my dreams and conscience. I carry the scars you have seen as well as those not visible. I would think distance would have diluted my fears, but they are still real.” I shrugged and fell silent.

Leaning his head against mine, he whispered, “I would never harm you.”

“It was not you I saw,” was my only response. I shifted until my head was on his shoulder, and together we watched the sea.
Last edited by Lilira on Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Fri Oct 19, 2007 12:19 pm

The Eleventh day of Hammer (Deepwinter)

I have spent many hours thinking when my duties do not distract me. My conversation with Ameneth not quite a month ago has made me begin questioning myself. Why did I become a bard? Who placed my feet on that path? I love the music. So much it hurts at times not to run my fingers across the strings of an instrument. I have several with me, but have not wanted to tempt myself even though there are a few on board who play the flute or a hand drum. Dharaen even has a rather beat up lute. Some of the songs my companions sing would have made me blush a month ago, but I have become accustomed to them. I listen and enjoy, even if I do not participate. Jehana has commented on it more than once, and even Kayliss has nudged me. They do not understand. It would be as much a betrayal of my identity for me to play as it would be for me to stand on the busiest dock and scream out my name for the world to hear. I was formally trained, and I am not a good enough actress to hide that fact. It may sound as though I think more of my fame than actually exists, but it would not take many to recognize me, merely one wrong person. How many bards aided with the final battle against the Vile One? How many of them were female? How many had stark white hair? The mantle of 'hero' rests uncomfortably on my shoulders, no matter what jests I have made to others. My disguise is rather thin, mostly reliant upon keeping in motion and avoiding my normal haunts.

But I digress. Did I ever really have the choice of what I would become? I began my travels as a shy young woman, older than most because of my blood and preference for staying at home. I have never been comfortable around males. It is not merely the abuse I have undergone as my feet walked the roads. My nervousness began much earlier when they began taking notice of my matured form. My youth was spent in the poorer districts of Waterdeep, even if it was not the slums. Mother's years of adventuring had paid well enough to keep us modestly, even with the constant need to pay a healer to attend to her. We never starved. She began my training early, teaching me everything she could, and being an accomplished bard herself, it was quite a bit. Master Aaral rounded off what she could not. It was very rare for Mother to leave our home, though on a good day she would take me to the market. Once I was old enough, that became a task I took upon myself. The pitying looks and whispers at my appearance always pricked at me like a thousand needles. When they changed to frank and appraising from the men I shied away, far too easily remembering the years of their former treatment of the 'freak'.

Looking back now, after a few decades, I wonder if it was the familiar refrain of, “She is marked she is. For what her mum did years before,” that was the most damaging to my young ego. Mother had done what she could to make up for her life before my birth, in fact it was that personal crusade which resulted in the remainder of her life spent in weakness and bouts of pain. After listening to those words during my formative years, I have to wonder how much of my life has been lived trying to right HER wrongs on her behalf. How much is me? How much is my mother? Once again I have to ask... Who AM I?

I am Lilira. The power my music harnesses is something I inherited. I needed the training, it is part of who I am. But not all. How much of my desire to help people is really me? How much is a sense of misplaced guilt? I doubt myself. Am I choosing for myself or for her?

I prefer to see the best in individuals. That is the reason for my somewhat unorthodox choice of companions in my past, far beyond what necessity required. Those I would name friend are few. I am not as innocent as most may think. I am aware that some of the names I have or used to have on that short list are more interested in keeping me close in case they need the little tool that drops what she is doing to come running when called. The point is, there is at least a chance of them doing the same should I require it. Selfishness balances selflessness, and can be just as much a driving force for relationships as love or hate. My throat tightens and tears prick my eyes even as I write this. The list is short. Alliances have changed, so many have simply vanished. So many just... gone.
Last edited by Lilira on Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:03 pm

The Fifteenth day of Hammer (Deepwinter)

Not much has happened in the past weeks. After leaving Shairtalar, we stopped in Ithmong for a couple of days, slipped into a couple of quiet little communities, and made for Tashluta, a large port city in 'The Tashalar'. I smelled the spices in the air when we docked in the natural harbor. After off-loading a few crates, Ameneth and I were given leave to wander. We followed the streets up into the middle class district, and the smells from the inn Ameneth chose burned my nose. Whereas I always associate Calimport with sandalwood and a few of the other oils and incense fragrances commonly found there, I will always associate Tashluta with the spicy smells of the flavors they use in their foods.

We entered the establishment and found an empty table. I watched Ameneth out of the corner of my eye as he grinned with a hint of mischievousness, ordering our meal in what I had to surmise was the local tongue. What they brought us looked heavenly, though I glanced suspiciously at the red and green additions to the olives and mushrooms mixed with meat. The smell alone nearly brought tears to my eyes.

“Will you try it the native way or the cowardly way?â€
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Postby Lilira » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:07 pm

The Twentieth Day of Hammer (Deepwinter)

It is midday and a realization dragged me out of my slumber, grabbing this journal and quill, to perch on the prow, wind ruffling my hair. I have willingly cut myself off from that which was ripped from Mother. Perhaps this way I can stop following her path and clear my own.

The Third Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

We are waiting on a decision. West and around the Chultan Jungles to skirt the south side and move towards the halflings, or heading north into lands I am familiar with. For obvious reasons I would prefer the former even though the dangers are far greater.

The Fourth Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

Halflings it is. Our last port of call for a time will be Narubel. Jehana and I have been ordered to stay in the captain's quarters, bundled up like women of Calimshan. The story behind our disguises is that we are Kayliss's women, so the inspectors will leave us in peace. Yuan-ti control that city, and slavers run amok. We will only be staying long enough to take on supplies to get us around the peninsula, as few of the crew leaving the ship as possible.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:57 pm

The Eighth Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

We are loaded and back out to sea, relying on the stars to guide us. The winds have been poor lately, slowing our progress to a crawl unless we break out the oars. The Captain does not seem to be in a hurry, and we have plenty of provisions, so we are merely steering with or across currents as the mood of the ocean changes, slowly easing our way in the direction we wish to go.

I saw something interesting just before the sun set. As I was leaning over the side of the ship, watching the ship's wake, I saw several forms cut through the water below. A light breezed ruffled my hair, now about the length of a dagger's width as I leaned further out. At first I thought perhaps it was some of the dolphins I had seen during different portions of our trip. Their dancing and playful ways never cease to capture my imagination. But the shape was humanoid. A delicate face broke the surface meeting my gaze, and I remember gasping at the sight of ears, pointed much as mine used to me. Pale skin with a hint of green, almond shaped eyes that matched the darkening water around her and small slits in her slender neck connected with an old story of elves from the sea to quickly surface within my memory. A love story, old when Mother was young. That is something for another day.

I heard a series of clicks and trills before realizing it was trying to speak to me. I called down tentatively in elven, remembering at the last moment some of the courtesies Mother had drummed into my head when I was younger. Its eyes widened briefly and responded just as tentatively in the same tongue. I had garnered the attention of some of my shipmates who wandered over to watch. A looped rope was lowered over the side and the elf climbed in and allowed herself to be hoisted up to dangle over the side for easier conversation while a few others broke the surface and watched us warily.

After satisfying the social niceties, one of which was answering the question about my disfigurement, I asked her questions about the area, prompted to do so by Kearn. She warned us that the sahuagin in the area had been attacking ships. After a few other questions, none of which are worth mentioning here, we lowered her back to the water and continued.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:05 pm

The Eleventh Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

Wet steps on deck. A scream. An eerie gurgle of a war cry. A cacophony of blades on blades. Those sounds roused me from slumber to roll out of my hammock and reach for weapons. My body moved faster than my mind could keep up, and I was on deck before fully awake to find my shipmates combating green scaly-skinned creatures that appeared to be some twisted cross between a man and fish. Webbed hands and feet, fins and large black eyes were the only other details I managed to see before avoiding an attack by one of the creatures.

Pain blossomed along my back as I failed to recover in time to avoid the second strike. I spun quickly, both of my blades cutting through the air and meeting no resistance as the creature lunged backwards in one fluid motion. Darting forward, it reached for me, claws extended. I recognized my misstep only when I felt the entangling strands of a net grab me from behind and render me immobile, weapons useless. Crossbow bolts shrieked past to embed into the chest of the creature behind me with wet thumps. It screamed and fell over the rail as its companion grabbed the net and tossed me in after.

An odd sense of detachment came over me as I landed in the water. The creatures are not the only danger I had to fear. I was bleeding. My blood entering the water would act as a siren's call to natural creatures. Sharks. I managed to grab a quick breath before the chill water closed over my head. Claws dug into my thigh, a scream of pain releasing what little air I had managed to take in before entry. My other foot kicked downwards reflexively, skipping off the creature's arm which only dug his claws further into my flesh. I gasped in a small amount of water before catching myself. Suddenly it released, a muffled grunt echoing through the water. My wounds burned from the salt of the water as I struggled to turn my blades to cut the net holding me. Webbed hands dragged at the net, pulling it free from me. Another set pulled me to the surface where I coughed and gagged the water out of my lungs.

Blue eyes met mine and I nodded my thanks to the sea elf. A slender shape slid through the water and intercepted the deadly form I missed approaching. The elf dove under to aid the dolphin, and soon more blood flowed freely through the waves. I called upward and grabbed the line someone tossed over to painfully pull myself up on the deck. Hands grabbed me as I reached the top with a moan and pulled me over the rail before turning to face yet another of the creatures. Three bolts riddled the monster's form before it staggered towards Dharaen who dropped to his back and bunched his legs beneath the crumpling creature, using the momentum of its fall to send it sailing over the rail and into the water.

That was the last of them. Then we just had to clean up. My little cache of potions has diminished further. We lost three of the crew. Cerran Lanthey, Bakar Jersan and Leward Curskan will all be included in the song for the next Feast of the Moon.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 10, 2007 7:44 pm

The Fourteenth Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

A menacing darkness is on the horizon. It is mostly in my imagination, though I see the trees of the jungles. So many stories abound about the Jungles of Chult and the denizens there. The deck has been scrubbed. I found a nice knife made of coral on one of the sahuagin corpses. I think it will make a nice souvenir. The type I tuck into a boot when I am wearing them. Maybe Jehana will have a suggestion for another option.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 10, 2007 7:45 pm

The Nineteenth Day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

Tomorrow we should make port in Deltar in the region of Thindol. We have made it around the jungles with our only 'adventure' being the fight with the Sahuagin. From the talk of the crew, we have to be cautious entering the bay. There are groups of men who row into the Thingulph and by using lanterns, attempt to force ships to founder on one of the many submerged islets.

There are, however, several divers in the town who collect pearls and sell them reasonably. Perhaps I may purchase a few to take north in the attempt to sell them for profit. I may not be a merchant, but there is no reason I cannot attempt to make a tidy sum from small items I procure on this trip. I must admit I am looking forward to fresh food. I can only take so much hard tack and salt pork, and I ran out of fruit cookies a month ago. Perhaps if we get to Luirund I will be able to restock my supply. But for now, oysters, clams, fish, all freshly pulled from the sea. Fruits. Vegetables. Something savory. My stomach rumbles now in anticipation.
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Postby Lilira » Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:33 pm

The Twenty-first day of Alturiak (The Claws of Cold)

Oh gods. He loves me. What did I do to deserve this?

After making port, half of the crew was excused for leave, Ameneth and I amongst them. Yet another port he has been to before, he led me to an eating establishment and left me there after ordering our meal, vowing to return. While waiting, I did something I have caught myself doing more and more. Wishing and planning. Images of the two of us returning to Arnd'ir when my time is up, and setting up housekeeping in my home. Eventually children, a blend of his and Mother's appearance, for I would not wish my overly fair features on anyone. Especially as I am not certain it would be possible. Would they take after the human characteristics of their father? Or would my father's heritage mark them? There has been no 'me' for a small time. It has been 'we', at least in my own mind. I have refused to allow my treacherous hand to pen such a thing, because to write it down makes it more real. I could not bear it if I was the only one who felt this way. He loves the sea, and I simply could not ask him to give it up for me for I am not worthy of such a sacrifice. Perhaps I could never return. Ignore the responsibilities I constantly heap upon my own head and sail the realms on this smuggling ship... No. I cannot. It would be impossible for me to be true to myself.

He returned as the meal arrived, with a small package in his hand. From within he extracted a ring, a platinum band with turquoise inlay to form waves. Simple, beautiful. Within is inscribed Amin meluva lle ten vee'an shaes termar,, elven for “I will love you for as long as the oceans endure.”

I felt my jaw drop as I read it. The first thing that pierced my shock was the realization the engraving was elven. Then... what it said. My eyes felt as though they were going to pop out of my head as I gaped at him. A brief smile at my expression teased his lips. “Surely you knew Lira,” was his soft question.

I shook my head. “I am not worthy Ameneth.”

He scowled, anger briefly transforming his expression. “That is the most stupid thing to ever escape your lips.” I flinched as he rose from his chair, uncaring of the eyes watching us, to pull me roughly to my feet and into his embrace. “It is not easy for me to say, but if I must I will repeat it for hours until it pierces your thick skull,” he murmured into my ear. “I love you.”

“You don't know me,” I whispered, my body stiff in his hold.

“I know enough. You are beautiful,” I blushed, resisting the impulse to soften, “Brave, sweet. You can curse like a sailor, hold your own in a fight if needed.”

“I am terrified,” I whispered, “I have lied to you, kept secrets, kept my true self from you. I know not how long that will continue. I have stolen, I have behaved in ways most would consider less than honorable. I have killed. I have plotted to knowingly harm others for my own means. “

He snorted. “There is not one ounce of malice in you Lira. Certainly there may be a hint of scoundrel buried deep, but look at me. I am a smuggler and chose to be despite my lineage. You say you are terrified, yet instead of finding the darkest hole you could locate, you took on a new life, skills you had no knowledge of before... you started fresh.”

Shaking my head, I retorted, “I ran away.”

He held a finger to my lips, then turned to look around the room. Catching the eye of a server, he told the girl to pack our meal. After shouldering the heavily laden pack she handed him, he pulled me out the door and we followed a road leading along the shore to just past the docks where we could sit and watch the ocean without the risk of being overheard.

After pulling me down into the embrace of a dune, he began again. “The gods play games Lira,” he began irreverently. “Who knows if perhaps they arranged things so you would flee... but instead of running away, perhaps you were running towards something.”

“I have done nothing to garner the attentions of the gods,” I muttered, hoping I was right. That is the last thing I need. The closest I can remember being to a god was in the aftermath of The Battle... when that voice spoke to us. Well that and carrying a servant of Eilistraee into battle while I wielded her blade. But all the confusion with regards to that is something I have gone over in my mind so many times since then, and not worth bringing up now.

Ameneth snickered then sobered. “Lira, is there any chance...” he trailed off.

I sighed. Despite my wishes for the future... oh to the nine hells with it, truth for once. “Yes,” I whispered. A grin split his weathered face as he dragged me close.

The bond was already forged, now tis confirmed. I am not certain about a wedding, as I claim no deity for my own. Perhaps Ameneth has a preference. Another ring is in the pouch around my neck, worn only when we are in port. He wants us to plan a future, and for once I can see one forming in the mist before me. My house could actually become a home. The echoes that mock when I am in residence... changed to the comfort of someone waiting. Details can wait. We have time.
Last edited by Lilira on Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:24 pm

The Tenth day of Ches (of the Sunsets)

I write now to avoid laughing in Ameneth's face. In the time since that day on the beach we have tentatively spoken of the future. He insists that we marry. Some requirement for his family, so they will 'take care of me' if something happens to him. Given the longevity possible to me, I find the idea humorous and very sweet. His family venerates, of all deities... Sune. Of all the gods to bless our union, I cannot imagine that flight of fantasy doing so. I could be doing Her a disservice, but I claim ignorance if I have. A theology based upon veneration of physical appearance just does not seem serious to me, and the idea of a household of mages that revere Her... Even now I am biting my lip to avoid mirth. Perhaps I should ask Ameneth for some basic tutelage so I do not embarrass him if we go to meet his family. If nothing else, it would keep my lips from twitching. As it is, I do not think that with the marks of my travels like a road map across my body that I would be 'pretty' enough for his family's approval if they truly do revere Her that much.

Soon we will be docking at Rulasun, a seaport and island on the tip of Halruaa. Given my knowledge of Halruaa as being a place filled with magic and wonders, there should be some interesting things to see. We will be filling the hold with provisions again to make a straight shot to Darmesh. We might pause in some smaller ports, but they have little to offer for supplies. I know from rumor we are picking up a 'special order' in Assundath to hold until we make dock in Waterdeep, but do not plan to replenish our supplies except perhaps for fresh water.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:25 pm

The Fourteenth day of Ches (of the Sunsets)

I stayed aboard. It was my turn to serve on the skeleton crew in port. The others came back with stories of entertainers using magic prolifically to enhance their shows, cooks who spiced up their meals by cooking right before them on a portable grill heated by small figures of flame. The taverns weren't quite as smoky due to the absence of illumination by candles, torches or cheap oil lamps. The mage lights didn't flicker as much and burned more brightly unless the establishment was deliberately setting the mood for intimate. It is disappointing that we will not be staying long, it would have been interesting to see for myself. The Captain himself left the ship and returned with a chest. I wonder what stop it is for this time.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:28 pm

The Twentieth day of Ches (of the Sunsets)

We reached Assundath and picked up two small crates heavily packed with straw. I can only surmise the contents are delicate. Given the way the Wench gets tossed about in storms, I hope the packing is secure enough. One such storm hit yesterday in the evening and blew all night. The others are praying another does not hit until after we pass the Bay of Pirates.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:34 pm

The Third day of Tarsakh (of the Storms)

Nothing much to record until two days ago. We had dropped anchor in a small bay at one of the stealthy settlements not located on a map. We were delivering a missive and I was asked to go along as one of the oarsmen for the small boat that took us ashore. A storm was brewing, so the remainder of the crew was battening down the hatches and securing lines. It has been months since I have spent time ashore in a storm, so I slipped out of the village and into the trees which bordered it. The darkness for once was comforting. I was alone. Yes, I enjoy the comfort of my Ameneth's presence, but there are times I wish for quiet, even if it is merely time to think. I never thought I would actually crave solitude.

I stood in a miniature clearing and angled my face into the deluge of water pouring from the clouds above. Lightning lit the sky in a spectacular display, dazzling my eyes while I reveled in the elements. Thunder hummed through my body like a deeply toned drum. Then I stiffened. I was not alone. Slowly I slipped my soaked form into the deep shadows of the trees, and crouched. A hint of movement. Crimson glow from two orbs shining through the rain not ten steps from my hiding place. I held my breath, freezing in position as my sight automatically shifted. It moved, a branch snagging the hood covering its head. The blaze of heated color wreathed the form of an elf, though smaller than most I knew. I cannot explain it, but I knew somehow that this was the malevolent kin of my blood.

Muscles still locked into the same position began trembling while I fought an inner battle. I wanted to flee, shrieking at the top of my lungs, back to the village. Another flicker of orange, a sliver where a cloak caught to reveal warmth against the ambient blue and greens of the chill foliage. I closed my eyes to merest slits so my watchful gaze would not betray me, glad I was wearing only cotton soaked by the cold rain which helped to blend my temperature into the background. Lungs complained at the lack of air. Somehow I managed to force myself to hold still while my heart raced. A total of five forms slid through the shadows around me as gracefully as a snake through thick grass. If I had not been staring at them directly, I would never have noted their passage.

My mind was in a gibbering panic. They had come for me. The shadows I thought I had left behind. I was too panicked to ask myself how they had tracked me. I only knew I had to get away. The drow were there for me, and I had to run. As soon as I saw no further signs of movement, my feet broke free of their paralysis and sent me running towards the village, and the ocean beyond. Drow have magic. I had done nothing to prevent locating me by magical means.

The captain looked up in surprise at the sopping wet, wild-eyed and shaken figure that burst into the meeting hall of the village. I was babbling, but one word sent everyone assembled to scatter. “Drow.â€
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:36 pm

The Twelfth day of Tarsakh (of the Storms)

Gods. How quick comfort changes to wariness and paranoia. I had grown comfortable with my crewmates, but now I have returned to the shaken, jumpy creature who first boarded. After I burst in and roused the village only to lead them on a merry chase with no results, some of those I serve with watch me when they think I do not see. I have adventured enough to sense the appraising stares, and while they are not hostile, I do not have the feeling of easy camaraderie that was present before.

I hate this. Ameneth and Jehana are the only ones who believe me. I do not even believe myself, and I loathe the feeling of insecurity that has returned. Am I going insane? Were they real? Perhaps it was just a coincidence that they were passing through even if they were real. Do I think too much of myself?
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:45 pm


We arrived in Luirund yesterday and spent most of today celebrating the holiday with the halflings. I found a baker and was able to replenish my cookie supply! Ameneth laughed while I stuffed my face like a child, eyes drifting closed while I hummed with guilty pleasure. I had missed my cookies.

Shortly after my last entry, Kayliss and Kearn took me aside. They believe me. Kayliss has had his own dealings with drow and can believe they left no trace. I still feel like a fool, completely uncertain as to whether or not I really saw them, but at least the side-long glances have stopped.

I have been sketching ideas for a new gown. The gods know I have plenty I rarely wear, but I think something special is in order. Perhaps Tetera will stitch it for me. I blushed when Ameneth caught me at it. He just chuckled and sat down to watch me.

The halflings in Luirund celebrate Greengrass for a ten-day, calling it the Seeding or the Planting in honor of Sheela Peryroyl. The riotous celebration started last night, shortly after we docked and ended at dawn. No one can cook like the halflings and I ate like a pig. We unloaded the ship during the day, then Ameneth and I found a quiet area along the beach. He has a different celebration in mind for this night and privacy is precious. At night, despite the distance from the last encounter, I keep catching myself studying shadows to make certain they are empty. The city is unnaturally full at the moment as the normally nomadic halflings flocked to the celebrations. I have no idea how these folk manage to maintain any kind of society with their penchance for packing up and wandering off when the mood takes them.

We leave in three days to retrace our route, ignoring some of our previous stops, on our way north to Waterdeep.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:53 pm

The Second day of Mirtul (The Melting)

Seven months. Now we are heading home. Winds will favor us as will the currents for returning, so we will make better time. Am I ready? I cannot be certain, but I am looking forward to returning to the four walls of my house and seeking out familiar faces.

The Fourteenth day of Mirtul (The Melting)

I thought I saw sails behind us. They vanished right after. Am I seeing things again? Dutifully I reported, and Kearn handed me a gem to watch through during my shifts in the crow's nest. I am very glad that the weather is warming as icy nights rocking above the ship can be disheartening and make for a miserable watch.

The Fifteenth day of Mirtul (The Melting)

I saw sails through the gem. They are using illusion somehow to cloak their approach. Kearn scryed upon the vessel and saw her colors. “The Wolfâ€
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:00 pm

The Twentieth day of Mirtul (The Melting)

We did it. No casualties, no damage to the ship. Four ships left to founder along.

Three of us were dropped overboard that night with spells of waterbreathing to draw us down into the watery depths. The druid had called some dolphins and talked them into towing us over to the ship that shadowed us. Upon reaching it, we used the wands Kearn had given out to buckle the planks under the waterline. The ocean rushed in and one of my companions aimed upward through the crevice and muttered three words, sending three balls of fire to ignite the ceiling of the hold.

As we turned to leave, I grabbed his arm and gestured towards the deck. He stared at me a moment before grinning and breaking the surface to send another burst of flames upward. The fire did not catch, but the confusion in our appearance slowed their notice of the rising water level. Diving back under, we returned to the Wench for further orders.

Once again we were sent out. The second attack went off flawlessly. The third was met with crossbow fire. We dove deep and came up under our target. I twisted enough for my head to surface, and managed to fire the wand before diving back under. The other two did the same. We moved towards the final and largest ship. I hissed in pain as a crossbow bolt creased my upper arm. Turning, we found five assailants in the water. Apparently “The Wolfâ€
Last edited by Lilira on Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:03 pm

The Twenty-fifth day of Mirtul (The Melting)

Rulasun again. We are stocking our holds for the long trip back around The Wild Coast and the Chultan peninsula. Our next stop will be Tashluta, with the intent to put distance between us and “The Wolf'sâ€
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:05 pm

The Fifteenth day of Kythorn (The Time of Flowers)

No signs of pursuit. Granted we left the ships heavily damaged, but there are speedy ways to send messages ahead.

The Twentieth day of Kythorn (The Time of Flowers)

I finished the design for my gown. Jehana was practically drooling as I explained it to her. I mingled several different styles seen through my travels. I only hope it can be made. Otherwise, everything is business as usual. Jehana and I are back in our warm weather garments as the climate heats up. Two more days should have us docking in Tashluta.

The Twenty-third day of Kythorn (The Time of Flowers)

We arrived, the scent of spices burning my nose. I stayed aboard to help shift cargo while Ameneth and some of the others went to procure provisions and arrange for delivery. He returned with a small bundle for me, and I opened it up, laughing as the fragrance of the dish I had our last visit assailed my senses. After loading, I curled up in the prow and ate, tears streaming freely down my face as the flavors burst on my tongue.

We leave tomorrow, bypassing Urbeth and heading straight to Calimport where I was determined not to hide.
Last edited by Lilira on Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:07 pm

The Second day of Flamerule (Summertide)

Calimport. Familiarity at last. It occurs to me that if I disembarked at this moment, I could be home in a matter of days. But no. I will give this to Ameneth and see it through. As it is, he does not know I am a bard, so my methods of transportation would be quite the shock.

Granted leave, I left ship and wandered over to visit Ferrukhi. He showed no signs of recognition as I selected a few bolts of cloth. The pale blue I favor and the silver grey. If a woman in the common garb of a sailor purchasing a fortune in silk made him curious, he did not show it, most likely assuming I was buying it for the captain or some such. He wrapped them carefully for me and I returned to the ship, grinning mischievously when Ameneth asked about the parcels. I placed them carefully into my trunk then returned to the deck and slipped up behind him. Wrapping my arms around him, I peered over his shoulder at the activity on the docks. “Almost home,â€
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:09 pm

The Fifteenth day of Flamerule (Summertide)

We paused to drop off some supplies in repayment for the services performed at the quiet little settlement where we repaired last time. I hope the gods grant us a quieter passage tomorrow than was given previously. We have pulled out all the bolts, arrows, bows and crossbows, placing them strategically around the deck. Kearn has passed out wands to those of us who can use them, and we are all sleeping in our armor with weapons close to hand. I rummaged through my belongings and found a pair of trinkets I remembered protected against fire. Remembering the previous tactics shown by the pirates, I handed one to Ameneth, and fastened a necklace around my neck. The mages covered the ship with protective spells until the deck practically hummed beneath our feet.

We would be better prepared this time.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:17 pm

The Twentieth day of Flamerule (Summertide)

Once again, no damage, no casualties. Just injuries.

No sooner did we enter the Channel than we were flanked. A ship slid out of a small cove behind us, and as we made our way through, another appeared in front. Kayliss dropped anchor and the Wench jerked to a standstill. Those of us with assignments scrambled to our positions. The ship behind entered range first. Five of our number began firing longbows, aiming for the enemy archers doing the same. An arrow thudded into the deck next to me. I cursed. Such an annoying repair to make.

Arrows were exchanged, then crossbow bolts. I pulled out the wand Kearn had given me and aimed for their hull. No affect I could see. I had to wait. The tension was maddening. Standing stupidly in the open, I aimed again. This time three boards buckled at the water line. Then I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise. A spell. I dove for the deck, rolling for cover as a layer of ice coated the place I had just been standing. “Damn mages,â€
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:18 pm

The Twenty-fifth day of Flamerule (Summertide)

It only took five days. Scrubbing, removing arrows, arrowheads and crossbow bolts, sanding smooth where they had embedded into the deck so they would not shred bare feet. Rubbing oil over freshly scarred wood. The Wench gleamed again under her crew's care.

Three days from now we will reach Athkatla. After many requests, Captain Kayliss has agreed to spend several days there so we can all enjoy the midsummer celebrations. Ameneth's grin at the news was positively delighted which changed to mischievous when he turned to me.
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Postby Lilira » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:29 pm

The Fifth Day of Elasias (Highsun)

Stealthy footsteps had followed from the tavern, unnoticed by us as I laughingly supported Ameneth. It was mere minutes away from the start of Midsummer, and some of us had started our celebrations a little early in anticipation of later activities. Of the four of us, I was the only one still sober, but it was late and after a hard day of unloading, my reflexes were slow to respond to the deadly whistle of a dagger in flight. Ameneth staggered again, twisting me enough so the blade only sliced a gash in my side before burying deeply into him. Jehana dropped to the ground, rolling to bounce agilely to her feet with the wall of the alley to her back while I tripped Ameneth to send us both sprawling painfully. Dharaen disappeared from my sight as four slender forms stepped out of the shadows. Releasing Ameneth, I rolled away before gracefully gaining my feet, daggers in hand. In the back of my mind as I studied our assailants, I registered the ragged gasps coming from Ameneth.

There was nothing memorable about our attackers other than the ease of stance they greeted us with. An ease which set alarms up my spine having seen it before. “Well,â€
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Postby Lilira » Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:38 pm

The tenth day of Elasias (Highsun)

It has been a battle, but I finally talked Kayliss out of a burial at sea. Ameneth's family, being nobility, deserves a choice. I accepted responsibility for his remains and told Kayliss to take the difference for the space they would require instead of cargo, out of my pay. I do not care. He will be returning home instead of to Valkur's arms. I think the others believe I have gone a little mad with grief, but my path has never been so clear. Lorin has preserved the body Jehana and I cleansed and wrapped, and he waits with his belongings in a coffin below for me to take him home when the ship reaches the docks of Waterdeep. The dwarven captain consented to this much after my insistence that we carry him.

As for that night. I lost time. I have no memory of what happened after the bells tolled. Jehana told me after my storm of weeping, I rose and calmly looked them both over before leaning down to try and lift Ameneth's body. She also told me that as the last of the assassins had fallen, she and Dharaen had felt a brief touch of healing before it dissipated. After we got back to the ship, I had calmly left Ameneth with the crowd of shipmates that had swarmed us, and fallen into my hammock to sleep for several hours. I remember waking up, groggy and wondering if I had had too much ale again. Then I remember the thrust of agony to my heart. Jehana was below me and heard me stir as I twisted to my side to stare blankly at the boards forming the hull. I ignored her attempts at conversation.

All the years I have spent on the road. Only once have I felt such loss. Mother's death. Done, finalized. His hurts even more because the fault lies with me. He turned us to take the blade meant for me. I failed him because I spurned what I was. I had forsaken the gifts I was born with. In doing so it took too long to reach, too long to heal.

His death has answered the questions I have asked myself. I am a bard. It is what I was meant to do. It is my purpose in life to live. Now I will do it because it is what I wish to do. Here is my choice.

I am me. I can love whether it is my art or a person, and I am not afraid of that anymore. My decisions are for me. As I told Ameneth as he lay dying in my arms. I am Lilira Borginstine, called the Shadowlyre.

I am my mother's daughter, not her saviour. It is not my job to rectify her mistakes or make restitution. I am my father's child, though barely acknowledged by his family. None of these define me any longer.

I am strong. I love and was loved. I am me.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:51 am

The Twelfth day of Elasias (Highsun)

One month to return to the city of my birth. Less if the winds favor us. Jehana and Dharaen are still watching me closely. They still are not certain about what occurred that night other than the attack. They had been too occupied with the last bit of battle to hear my soft song.

I have thrown myself into physical labor so I can sleep at night and turned down chances at leave. I will pay for it later, but I have ever been the type to mourn in private. His loss hurts so much I cannot express it even on these pages.

I think when I return home I will host a party. It sounds odd, but sometimes when one is closely touched by death, they are more inclined to celebrate life. I think Ameneth would prefer that to my wearing a shroud of mourning for the remainder of my days. With it being fall, the weather will be fair. Perhaps I could take over the hostel north of Waterdeep for a night. It is a place where any may meet and by the old enchantments on the building, all within are limited to dueling with words only. A safe enough haven for the odd collection of acquaintances I have gathered in my years of travel. We shall see how I feel about the matter after I perform my heart wrenching task.

I only hope his family will forgive me. Perhaps then I can forgive myself.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:34 am

The Sixteenth day of Elient (The Fading)

It is done. The results startle me every time I see my reflection.

We docked in Waterdeep nine days ago. I sit now at the small desk within my house, dressed comfortably in my beloved silk and pleased I had no cleaning to do. Yesterday the woman I had hired to air out the house once every ten-day had come through and cleared the dust and cobwebs. My arrival surprised her in the midst of sweeping the front room. I am home. The comfort to be felt is unimaginable. I regard it in a new light. Even though I may leave for lengths of time, it is a place to return to. A place where there is no one but myself to perform for. I would gladly have shared it with Ameneth, and 'what might have been's' haunt me, but something happened during my visit to his home.

That is it. Home. He returned there when he could. It was his home. This is mine. A place I can catch up with my scribblings on a surface that does not dip and shift with every swell.

The following is a collection of my last few entries. I needed the soothing presence of home before I could close the book on this chapter of my life. I will never forget Ameneth, I miss him daily, but it must end so I can proceed. I have memories for always. Good ones.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:36 am

The Ninth day of Elient (The Fading)

I slipped off the ship and made arrangements for a wagon and horse, thankful for the physical changes my journey has wrought upon me. No one looked twice at the tanned female in worn sailor's garb wandering the streets. My shipmates stood as an honor guard of sorts when the time came to take him off the ship and place the coffin on the conveyance. Two horses, one to pull and the other tied to the wagon waited while I made my farewells. Yes, even hardened sailors can get misty-eyed, though I will never repeat it to anyone. Jehana embraced me so tightly I thought I heard my ribs crack. I chose that moment to whisper in her ear my true name, and where to find me should she choose to leave the sea. A startled look was instantly covered by a nod.

Quietly, my voice husky and uncertain, I sang a song for those who I had fought and bled beside for the past several months. A ballad about sailor's love of the ocean. Everyone stared at me in shock, and I smiled a farewell, shaking the Captain's hand before turning and mounting the black mare that waited for me. The horse drawing the cart followed the lead attached to my saddle, and quietly we left Waterdeep.

Two days the journey took. If I had not been riding, my feet would have dragged. Stopping on the road outside the north gates, I changed into my armor. It felt odd, but right somehow. I was Lilira once more. I left my helm off. The next day, I saw signs we were close. The roads were kept well repaired and clear.

Then I was there.

A walled manor house. A pair of figures stood at the gate as we approached. One challenged.

“Lilira Shadowlyre to see Lord or Lady Dylmair,â€
Last edited by Lilira on Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lilira » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:37 am

The Eleventh day of Elient (The Fading)

The ceremony was the next morning. Attendance was surprisingly high. I had no idea his family was so large. But then I have entered a handful of rooms in that house so I have no idea how many reside there. I kept to myself, standing in the back of the chapel and erecting a wall between myself and my emotions to keep from loosing control again. I refused to wear black. He would have chided me for it. I watched, fist clenching around the ring on my finger, as Ameneth was lifted from the altar and carried out of the chapel to what I surmised would be a final resting place. I slipped out, shouldered my pack and walked out the front door. Halfway down the road I turned back to study the imposing structure... And said my last goodbye.

The Thirteenth day of Elient (The Fading)

Waterdeep. This time as myself instead of a faceless sailor. Stopping at the hostel, I changed back into my armor to make my entrance. The guards at the northern gates were unfamiliar faces that scanned me warily as I entered. Walking through the city I was assailed by familiar scents as I made my way to the eastern gates.

I entered the forest to the south of the eastern road, pausing to pen a quick note before finding my way to the guardian of the ranger's guild. I grinned at the unicorn and called past for someone to please speak with me. One of the trainees answered and accepted my note, vowing to give it to the Master to hold until Lorsalian wandered by. I would also leave a note with Mistress Cleona. After taking my leave, I once again braved the noise of the city, making for the southern gates. Three miles south, I stopped. Reaching into the pouch at my side I pulled out a small pebbly cocoon, examining the marks intently. Drawing off my gloves, I cupped the object in my hands, and blew softly to heat the air between them. After a moment there was a tickle of life, brushing my skin and I released the small insect to fly rapidly to its destination. Two messages sent and the miracle of her gift constantly surprises me.

Hesitantly, I pulled out the box that protected the tools of my trade. Out of it came my backup lyre. Slowly I began, fingers stroking the melody reluctantly from the freshly tuned strings. I reached, a soft call within for that which I had last dropped abruptly. A warmth filled me. The music rang clear and I felt refreshed. MY gift. MY craft. The one joy I will never lose now that it is freshly returned.

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