Part 35: Oath

12 to Burning Sun, Inalis

Good morning, Heath! The sun is shining brightly and everything seems like it’s going to be a good day! I just wanted to write a quick bit while still in my room before we head out. I’ve so much to think about, and a lot of it came to me while I tried sleeping last night.

I need to send a message to Mother and Damon, but I think I’ll wait on that just a little bit longer. Clio and I spoke at length over the past few days about the spell. Since she’s going to forget the sending spell to a degree and focus her abilities on other spells now, Clio taught it to me and I’ve finally learned how to properly cast it. I want to tell Mother that I’m looking for her. I’m honestly not sure what I want to say to Damon, other than I hope he is well. He’s a changeling, too, and we ought to stick together, right? Or, perhaps at least we ought to keep in contact? What if he needs help from me someday? I want Damon to know I’m here for him.

Today on my todo list is visiting Estor Arkelander. There are many questions I need to ask him. I should think Rendu will want to come with me. He’ll need someone to protect him in case he gets angry at the captain. After that, I want to go to the Academy Arcanum and buy the necessary equipment to start making spell scrolls. Briar and Clio want me to get some more papers as I learn the fey language. I’m trying to learn past and future tense now but all the sounds run together, and the script is just as confusing as elvish. But I guess I eventually mastered elvish well enough, right? Sylvan is so much more than tonal, though. It’s just as much body language and eye contact as it is spoken. They and Actaeon are very talented to be able to speak it with such fluency. I’ll get there eventually, then I’ll have to make them each something special as a thank-you gift.

I’ll write more later. I hear movement outside my door and I think everyone is starting to wake up now. Waking up before everyone to do my prayers is weird while we’re in the city. In the wilds, I can just move away from the group and lay out the prayer rug, but in town I feel like I might accidentally wake them a little too early. Clio’s usually awake already since she doesn’t sleep quite as long as the rest of us, but I hate to bother the others.

Goodness, a lot has happened and I think many of my plans have changed. While we were eating breakfast this morning, a messenger arrived and gave us a new note from the Lady of Coins. It seems her Lady wishes to meet with us much sooner than expected, so we hurriedly made our way to Harp Bridge to meet with her messengers. To protect the Lady of Coins’s true identity and whereabouts, we were blinded and deafened via magic cuffs and led by hand to her hideout. I don’t think any of us were very impressed with the secrecy but I suppose we can forgive her for wanting to remain private. A lot of people in Ellandyr are looking for her (ourselves included) and many of them wish to do her harm (ourselves excluded).

After what must have been an hour or more of going who knows where, we ended up in a small circular room surrounded by beautifully crafted silk curtains and finely carved statues of musicians – these statues we later learned were the missing bards of Ellandyr turned to stone by the Lady of Coins. Remember, Heath, her Lady has the curse of the medusa upon her. Her skin is more reptile-like than flesh and her hair is made of writhing snakes. A look from her Lady can turn one to stone if she wills it. But she was courteous with us. None turned to stone for this conversation.

At first, she was amused that we – the heroes of prophecy who took a job to kill her – would be wanting an audience with her. We quickly and truthfully explained that we have no intention of killing anyone here today, but rather we wanted to see if we could perhaps assist her with freeing the enslaved minotaurs of the city. Her tone shifted in an instant. While she was still mostly untrusting of us, she made her intentions with these minotaurs very clear to us. Simply put, she wants an army. She was once an amazon warrior from the island of Talys but was exiled after a failed attempt to take the throne from her sister. Her sister, a worshipper of Khar’shan, was not leading the amazons in the way the Lady of Coins would have them led.

Now, whether or not that is a good thing is not for us to question right now. She wants the minotaurs so she can usurp the throne. If we assist her, she will give us the freedom to move about the island without fear of repercussion from the amazons and their traditions involving gender. Further, Shadow’s family sword is on the island and she’ll be more than happy to allow us to find and claim it, as well as claim any other treasures that may help us along the way. The deal seems pretty good, but the Lady of Coins said that one thing she certainly needed help with was dealing with those that hold the oaths of service for the minotaur slaves. Killing these people will free the minotaurs, but that’s not something I’m very comfortable with doing. The goal of such is to make sure no minotaurs are sacrificed at the beginning of the games. We thanked her Lady for the time to meet with us and said we will get back to her on whether we can work together with her.

For her protection, we were blinded and deafened by the magical cuffs again and led out of her domain to a small watering hole called the Snake’s Den. The people here are part of her thieves’ guild and quickly chose to hide their faces when we could see and hear again. They kept quiet but gave us no reason to feel threatened. As we were leaving, we saw a few vendors selling some less-than-savory items or services, and much of this caught our eye. The poison maker, Gallia, is far too young to be doing what she does, but she seems to enjoy her work. Maybe a little too much. We bought some fancy poisons from her that may be helpful in the right circumstance, but I’d feel better if she had a friend instead of just making poisons all day. She seems like she really needs someone to talk to. An elven lady took payment from me to procure some spell components, and she said she’d be on the lookout for some magic wands that might help me. But I wonder, where does she find these items? I hope she doesn’t steal them, and I’m probably happier not asking too many questions. A large minotaur at a weapon shop roped Torag, Actaeon, and Shadow into purchasing some stuff. Actaeon put on the strangest helmet. He looks like a dinosaur now! I wonder what the helmet does, though, apart from making him look more intimidating.

On our way out, we met the most interesting creature I’ve seen thus far! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m very interested in Clio Clio and Briar the fey Clio Briar Clio and Briar, but this is something else entirely. It was a mimic! And it was very hungry for ghost goo as he called it, which we interpreted as ectoplasm – the remains of the dead ghosts from the Gjallarhorn. It promised to cough up some treasures it had found in its years of existence if we fed it ghost goo. So we did, and it was the strangest and weirdest thing I’ve experienced here thus far. We each got some very interesting things from it. I think Briar has some new shoes, Clio and Torag each have some new rings, I’ve a new potion, Rendu has a nice spear, Shadow has a new sword, and Actaeon got a mess of items – one of which was a spider wand that he gave to me! Nice!

When we left the Snake’s Den, we realized we were actually at the docks of Ellandyr. Not sure how we got all the way here, but it doesn’t matter now. Seeing how we were so close to the Gjallarhorn, I decided to board the ship and speak with Arkelander. Rendu and Shadow came with me while the others decided to board the ship and look around. We found the ghost of the captain still in his quarters and he looked very disappointed to see us. So I asked my questions.

Why do you hate the fey so much? According to him, the first people to cross the sea and come to the Emerald Isles were enslaved by the fey, and Arkelander’s mission in life was to free or avenge them. In his mind, the gods are on his side. I tried to explain that there has been relative peace between the fey and the mortals since that time, but he wouldn’t hear it. He does not believe people can change, learn, or evolve, and he is quite mistaken in this. The fey I know are kind and wonderful people. Granted, not all are alike, but even the mortals have their warlords and criminals among them. To judge a whole people based on their ancestors is reprehensible, but Arkelander does not see it that way.

Was the curse worth it? He made a bedfellow in Khar’shan, so I was curious if he regretted the decision. Apparently, no. It extended his life and living as a ghost haunting a magical ship has not changed him in the slightest. He still wishes to kill the fey and sees his curse as a boon. Because of it, he can continue to scheme and connive without worrying about his own mortality. And he doesn’t seem too concerned about breaking it either unless it gives him the true immortality he was wanting in the first place. You know, like with a body.

What about the treasures of the dragonlords? It’s part of the prophecy about me, so I had to ask. He knows where they are, and he can give me their location. But he wanted me to swear an oath to him that he could have a certain item from the treasures for himself. He has leverage over me and he knows it. What does it say about me and the prophecy if I don’t have those treasures? But I looked for an omen from the Morninglord and He could only foretell woe coming from such an oath.

We took our leave of the captain after Rendu made some mocking remarks to him about his fallen and cursed state. What else can we do now? I’ll have to find a way to help my friends without those treasures now. Maybe I can speak with the Oracle? Or perhaps Aminatou has some information about them. Either way, I will not make any oaths to that man under any circumstance. The captain is a bad person and I won’t associate myself in any way with him if I can help it. I’d see his curse broken just so Rendu can finally put an end to the tyrant’s life. Xerender will be a much better place without Estor Arkelander.

We arrived back at the Starfall Estate before I realized Briar and Rendu were missing. Clio said she got an animal messenger bird from Briar that said they had gone out to do something, so the rest of us took stock of our new magic items. Clio’s new ring can store essence of magic in it, so she gave it to me to prepare. I’m going to put a bunch of spells in it for her! At first, I was going to make a sanctuary scroll for her to use in the great games, but this makes it a bit easier. Spell scrolls take a lot of time to make and the paper is terribly expensive! But this ring will do nicely! I’m going to surprise her with some neat magic!

After a while, Briar and Rendu returned. Rendu looked a little colder than before, and Briar was extremely pale. They were both kind of damp, too, and I wondered if it had rained before I realized they had gone to the bathhouse. Something happened between the two of them, and I don’t think it was a friendly or happy moment. Briar seems very bothered and was furiously writing something on some parchment before marching to the kitchen. We could hear her muttering something in some strange language – druidic, maybe? – while chopping vegetables with an overly large knife.

Dia came over and we had lunch with her while discussing our plans. Torag and Actaeon seemed fine with killing noblemen to free minotaur slaves, but we ultimately decided that was a bad idea. We are heroes. If we go around poisoning people, it’ll look very bad for us. Dia instead suggested we make a public statement on the slavery. If we volunteer to fight the sacrificial minotaur at the start of the Great Games instead of letting the poor minotaur be slaughtered by the League of Storms, it will look very good for us and we get to act and be heroic. Actaeon will be our champion, and Briar, Clio, Rendu and I will discuss spells we can cast on him to help him out. So in the end, we opted to not kill any noblemen. Instead, we told the Lady of Coins – via a sending spell by me! – that we’re more than happy to help her take the throne of Talys in exchange for Shadow’s family sword and a share of the treasures of the amazons. Her Lady said the amazons will stay out of the war with the titans, which is the big plus for all of this.

That leads us to right now! We are heading over to find Kallista, Torag’s sister, and find out how to free the children from the temple of Khar’shan tonight. I hope to write about good news when all of this is done. Briar’s already low on magic spells but Clio and I have a good few left in our arsenals. We should be fine, and I look forward to squashing any hold Khar’shan has over this city.

Maybe if all goes well, I’ll finally work up the courage to ask Clio out to tea. But I don’t know how! I’ve never had to do that before, Heath! You with your stupid cute eyes and smile. You never asked me out at all! It was all like, “Hey, Flee, let’s go play in the forest” You never took me out, you know. At least, not like a date or whatever this is. It didn’t count after we were married. You knew I was going to say yes when you wanted to go dancing, so I don’t count that as asking me out. You didn’t get to be a nervous wreck like I am over asking out a pretty girl! But I guess you asked me to marry you. Actually, you know what? That doesn’t count either! You knew I was in love with you, and you knew I was going to say yes, so you weren’t nervous then either, were you? Nope, doesn’t count as asking me out. What am I supposed to even say? Or worse, what if she says no? What if she doesn’t want anything to do with me? “No, Leef, you’re dumb. I don’t want to have tea with a weirdo like you.” Or what if I’m super boring or something? What if she only wants to have tea with people who can teleport and read minds like her? I can’t do any of that cool stuff!

Maybe I can talk to Shadow or Rendu about this. They would know, right? Shadow probably asked River out for tea at some point. Or some other beverage. Would Rendu know what to say? He seems like the kind of guy who would know how to ask people out. Right? Maybe?