Part 22: Music

10 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

What a day. What a day! There’s so much happening! I… 

Honestly, I have regrets. I should have said something to her. The opportunity was-

Let’s restart. We left Xander’s Tomb behind us. Clio and Torag took us back through the maze until we returned to the frigid air of the Necropolis outside. Dia was waiting for us, humming to herself, and we were very happy to see her. She said we were gone for only a few hours, but it felt like so much longer. It was good to see her again, and she was ever eager to hear our stories of triumph and conquest, or whatever it was that just happened with Graxis. 

I began a healing spell while the others were talking, and we had a strange conversation. I think Briar meant well when she asked what we all wanted to happen to us if any of us should perish. She meant it in the way that the Dawnbringers mean it. She can cast a spell of healing to bring people back from a terrible fate. Everyone but I misunderstood and thought she was asking where to bury our bodies. She got frustrated and strode away from us. 

As I finished my prayer, Briar returned with a newcomer in tow. His name is Rendu. He’s an aasimar and is the son of the goddess Palladia. I’ve never seen an aasimar before in person, but I’ve heard of them. They’re like angels in a way, but not entirely. Or something like that. Rendu’s skin is green. I asked why and got told (by Briar, no less) that was a weird rude question to ask.  In my defense, I can choose my skin color on a whim. I thought maybe he could, too! In addition to green skin, he’s quite tall, pretty muscular, and he’s very handsome.

Don’t get the wrong idea, Heath! I don’t mean handsome like I would- Because I’m not interested in Rendu. I’m interested in-


I’ll come back to that.

Anyway, Rendu has the Mark of the Pierced Dragon on him, too. It’s on his chest and I noticed how bright red Briar’s face flushed when he lifted his shirt to show us. I’ll come back to that later, too. Rendu was on a mission from the Oracle to find us. More specifically, he wanted to meet Torag. They’re cousins, apparently, which is kind of cool. Torag seemed genuinely happy to have someone else with us, and Actaeon was very keen to have a newcomer. Shadow was a little weary. Clio, too, I think. Briar was awkward Briar. I think I like Rendu. Like a friend, I mean. He’s indisputably friendly. 

Rendu told us he came here to find us all, but he also came here to see the tomb of Estor Arkelander. There’s something there for him to do, so Actaeon, Torag, and Shadow led him that way. Clio, Briar, Dia, and I went to speak with Damon the Lich. 

The conversation with Damon was surprising. Clio got his responses telepathically since his voice was injured so many years ago. He seemed pleased to have someone to talk to. I…

I showed Damon and the others my true form. My real true form. They didn’t back away. They didn’t get scared of me. I don’t know what they thought. I looked like Leef again. I hadn’t been like that in many years. I wanted to speak to Damon like this to show him what I was – a changeling, like him. And it was… It was very good to meet him. I’m pleased to have made his acquaintance, and I think he was pleased to make mine. I asked him if he had any advice on being the real me here. I’m happy with what he told me. The bad reputation of the changelings is not present in the Emerald Isles. I think, for the first time in my entire life since I met you, I can actually be myself here.

Not yet. I need to prepare for it. I need to be ready. I’m not there. But think about it, Heath! People who won’t hate me just because of what I am? 

I was a little elated and almost didn’t hear what Briar was doing. She gave Damon a flower as a thank you for whatever happened between them a yesterday when Damon gave her that shining gem. Damon gave her some words of comfort and warning. There’s something at the settlements on the west coast that will lessen some pain she may experience in the future. Briar seemed pleased to hear that.

Clio had a number of questions. She asked about her telepathic powers, seeing how they were similar to what Damon himself had. But Damon told her his telepathy comes from practice, whereas Clio’s comes from the Goddess of the Dawn. Clio also asked about Xander’s journal. Damon did not list the name of the traitor’s dragon, so he gave us its name now. It was named Mazerik, the same name as the lost god of beauty. 

As we left, I told Damon I was sorry for what happened to his family so long ago. Some awful people took his wife and child from him. I know there’s nothing any of us can do about that now, but I offered to help him in any way I could, if such is even possible. I don’t know how he felt about that. What can I do for him?

We made our way back to the others – me, back in the guise of Flee – just as they exited from Estor’s vacant tomb. Rendu was now wearing a feathered cap, one originally worn by his mother Palladia. It looks good on him, but he wasn’t so sure. Briar offered to store it in her bag for now. We asked what happened in the tomb, but all Shadow told me was that Rendu was hearing some illusory music in his head and they all just wanted to leave the Necropolis at that point.

We started our way out of this awful place. Damon had left. We’re not sure where. As we were crossing the bridge to leave, Shadow spied one of those dark ebonwood trees again just like the one we saw on the road a few days ago. Now that our task at the Necropolis was over with, he wanted to harvest some wood for making his equipment at the forge. The tree he saw was down on the cliffside (trees are so resilient to grow in such weird places!), but he thought it too much of a risk to climb down to get it. We began moving on to find Corinna at the cave camp when we heard noise behind us. Actaeon and Torag decided to go get the tree, despite the fact that we could find another one on the road tomorrow or the next day. Briar stayed with them to make sure they were alright, but she looked incredibly flustered.

Shadow, Clio, Dia, and I walked with Rendu to the camp. We were talking about the Oracle’s Chosen doing our heroic deeds or whatever the Islanders are calling them. One of those deeds was to drink of the Horn of Selesnya. Rendu seemed very keen on imbibing but he was wondering if it was a joke of some kind to get him drunk. Only then did I realize we could have been playing a fun trick on him! But that will never happen now. As Clio rightly pointed out, he was part of the conversation and now he’ll know if we’re tricking him. I’m going to do it, though. I’m going to find a way to get him somehow. And I think I know how…

Corinna was very happy to see us and wondered who was Rendu. Seizing the opportunity, I told her “We broke Torag’s curse. This is the real Torag!” and Rendu, bless his heart, played along perfectly. We almost had Corinna convinced except for Clio and Dia laughing. Right after that, Rendu saw another ebonwood tree and helped Shadow cut it down. 

I think this is where I decided Rendu is pretty cool and is more than welcome in our party. He’s so very carefree. Won’t he be surprised when he realizes how messed up we all are! I think it will be nice to have another voice in the team, though. Things have been very tense, as I will mention in my next paragraph, between some members of the Oracle’s Chosen. Maybe Rendu will help us come together a little more. Or maybe he’s as reckless as Torag and Actaeon? I’ve only just met him. But I know I like him already.

Okay, tense. This is what happened. Briar came back completely flustered. She helped Torag and Actaeon pull up the ebonwood tree and was astonished to see Shadow and Rendu had already cut another one down here. In her eyes, they had once again senselessly risked their lives with little regard for the rest of us or themselves. They knew we had seen another ebonwood tree a few days ago, but they wanted this one. Briar was fuming when she saw Shadow had another tree. In her anger, she punched Actaeon in the face. Clio threw a little psychic energy into the punch, too, but Actaeon just shrugged it off. 

We settled into the cave to rest and relax before going to sleep. Dia helped us with the Oath of Friendship, thereby joining Rendu to our group. With that, we kicked off a night of drinking and relaxing. Most of us, anyway. Torag fell asleep immediately and was out for the rest of the night. Shadow went out to set some snares for food. Rendu and Actaeon got to drinking and seemed to enjoy themselves.

I sat with Briar and Clio and began laughing. I confessed to them that, when I was in Leef’s form, I hadn’t been in the shape of a boy for years. My clothes felt so different like that! They laughed with me and promised to help me remember to make some new undergarments for myself when I am finally brave enough to be me around them and everyone else. The three of us got to talking. They’ve both adopted me into the “fey” group of the Oracle’s Chosen now, which makes me very glad. We talked about Rendu joining our party, and how red Briar’s face is when she talks to him.

Okay, it’s time to confess something, Heath. I’ve been… I’m trying to be brave. I will be soon enough. I have to be me here. Damon says I can do it without fear. But what can I be brave about? Heath, you know I’ll always love you. Is it okay if I like someone else, too? I think I can admit to myself that I liked Clio the moment I met her. I’ve been trying to hide my feelings from even myself. There’s no telling if she would ever feel the same way about me. I should just be brave and tell her. Right? Can I do that?

Anyway, the reason I bring that up now is because I was about to make fun of Briar for having a small crush on Rendu. Clio asked Briar why her face goes red. I guess my face was red, too, because she asked about my blushing. I couldn’t say that my face is red because I have a crush on her! I…

Thankfully, Shadow came in to join the three of us. His snares turned up nothing. Briar asked Shadow if he’d be willing to help her catch some animals and use their hides for some new armor for herself. As cold as it is up here, we all thought it would be good for her to have some more protection – weather or otherwise. I’m glad we changed the subject. Maybe I should have said something to Clio. I want to. I’m just not brave enough.

I don’t know, Heath. I was brave enough to show her and Briar my real form. They’ve been so accepting of me already. Will it make it weird between us? What if she doesn’t want anything to do with me like that? What if she really thinks of me as a monster? No, she was so kind to me. She said I’m not a monster. Coming from her, I don’t think she knows how much that meant to me.

Oh, Shadow and I danced tonight! Rendu told us a bit about himself. He likes the performing arts and I learned he can play a variety of musical instruments. Being the son of the goddess of music has its perks, I am sure. He tuned up my flute and played. We were going to play a game of truths and lies, and the group learned that I love to dance. Remember when we would go dancing on the balcony? That was wonderful. Anyway, everyone asked me to dance to prove I could do it, but I didn’t have a partner. Briar suggested I dance with Clio since we’re the same height. I confess I truly wanted to, but two things were holding me back. First, I And second, I haven’t ever had to lead before. I’ve been a girl for over ten years! No one ever taught me how to dance as a boy, and I would have to lead since Clio has never danced like that. But Shadow wanted to dance, so we did so while Rendu played for us. Shadow is incredibly graceful, but I admit I kept looking to see if Clio was watching

It’s time to sleep. We’re all pretty tired. I don’t even know who’s on first watch, but I’m on third. 

It’s funny, when I was telling everyone a little bit more about me, they all thought it was weird that I can dance. No one thought to question the tattoo I told them about. I mean, the other tattoo. 

10 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

Sleep was interrupted by the most magnificent man. Woman? Thing? It was a being made of metal. Maybe it was a woman made of metal. Maybe it was just a person wearing cool armor. I don’t rightly know, now that I’m writing this all down. Briar and Actaeon saw it fly in from the north. The light of our campfire glinted off its golden body and butterfly-like wings. Over its shoulder was an impressively large bag.

It introduced itself as Keledone, a servant of Azorius in the Mithral Forge. Keledone had a delivery from Azorius to Clio: her new opal flower armor! It also had a message from Queen Aminatou (where have I heard that name before?) to Dia, summoning her back to Ellandyr immediately. It then took our orders of good back to Azorius and flew into the sky, out of sight. 

Dia left immediately, charging us to take care of each other and to be safe. I don’t know why, but I feel strange with Dia gone now. She’s been a part of this group for so long that it feels hollow without her. Kind of like when I lost a tooth as a child. The mouth feels strange with that void there. Dia seems pretty sure of herself, so I hope she’ll make it to Ellandyr okay. We promised to meet up with her there again after we settled some affairs in the Forge and back in Altea. 

We are trying to get back to sleep now. Briar and Actaeon are on watch again. It looks like Rendu is going to drink from the Horn now. Have fun with those visions, new friend!

9 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

It’s a new day today!

Shadow and I took the final watch last night. I wanted to talk with him about a lot of things. I never got the chance. He was insistent we keep quiet so the others could sleep. I wanted to tell him how much he means to me. I wanted to tell him about my feelings for Clio. I wanted to tell him about my order from Azorius and the seraph skins. I even wanted to tell him my real name now. There’s so much I need to talk about. I just didn’t find the chance. He was busy watching his traps and scanning the horizon all night. My mind has been racing.

Damon says I can be me! How cool is that?

We roused everyone from their sleep and I went to do the Sacrament of Sunrise. As soon as I got out there, I realized I couldn’t see the sun at all. It’s been overcast the entire time we’ve been up here. There’s a faint light in the sky, so at least I know it’s there. While I was doing my thing, I overheard Clio talking with Rendu. He had the dream, same as us. The Gjallarhorn is out there, and we need to find it. But his dream went further. He saw Estor Arkelander, the ghostly captain of the ship. Rendu heard the music again, the same music I guess he was hearing back in Estor’s tomb back in the Necropolis. Seeing Estor made him angry, but the anger was coming from someone else, not Rendu himself. Rendu then told Clio that it doesn’t matter because, as I wrote just above, today is a new day! He has new friends and having friends is a blessing. 

Did I mention I like Rendu? He’s a joy to have around!

Oh, also, I should mention this since I’m being more honest in my writing now. Clio’s new armor is amazing! It has her usual charming looks, but with those forget-me-not flowers woven into the fabrics and materials. She looks so great! It’s hard not to stare. She’s absolutely breathtaking.

We’re getting ready to head out. It might be good for us to go to the Mithral Forge now. I want to see about picking up my new robes from Azorius, and we all collectively want to check in with him and see if he needs anything. We need some more supplies from Altea, too. And eventually, we need to figure out how we’re going to get to Ellandyr with the hurricane happening right now. I hope Dia is-

Something is coming from the sky. Dragons.