There was once a time when the world was at peace. Ioun would shine His wisdom over man and beast, and all would acknowledge their place in the world. But, at times there would be some who would not listen to reason. They would rage and revolt, and claim the world for themselves, or so they would say. This is one of those times. A time of war.
My story is not that of a common village girl. At very young age I would argue with my father. At five, I would read him his letters. At seven, I could tell him he was getting less seeds than he paid for, at the market. At eight, an old man came to my house and told me -as if I hadn’t noticed- the temple of Ioun had just been finished. He had brought me a book. Mervelled at the prospect of all the knowledge, I went with the kind man.
For five years I worked with the priest. There were others, both boys and girls, and all older than me. Our duties were to read. The kind man would cook and clean and somehow pay for our things, and would sill find some time to do his reading.
It changed on the day I turned 13. As I woke up, I had a word in my mouth. “Naess?”. The old man (he was close by..) turned to me. “Wha… Jalissa? How..?”. That was the man’s name, he told me (we would call him ‘priest’). “A dream, priest. Or, maybe, another thing. I…”
Thus my gift came to be. His Grace now speaks though me, and I know all he knows. And we all know how knowledge can be a weapon. Except against goblins.
I am now nineteen, and an acolyte. Naess was feeling unwell, so I made him stay in bed and went to the market in his stead, having asked one of the altar boys to look for him. It was a quiet day. There appeared to be some trouble near the tavern, but that was most recurrent when strangers were around. Seeing a displacer beast cross the street like Pelor’s fire chased it, on the other hand, was not. I turned, but a cloth came down my eyes, followed by a soft thud.
I was happy to wake up between four stone walls. It immediately felt safe. But soon followed the dread of not recognizing said walls. A boy of no more than 9 was curled in a ball in the other corner. He was clearly scared. Also, those slabs of the stone floor looked creepily like sarcophagi.
It didn’t take much to make him talk. And, for once, someone knew more than I did, and it felt nice. Thurann, the boy, I found out to be the son of Kartenix. He is the chief of the guard at Brindol, and the boy was sure that he would come and save us. Well, that certainty faded over the week he was locked with me, but he always had hope. And he helped me keep some of min, too, until the day a couple of goblins took him away.
The next day, everything outside my four walls seemed to grow restless. My guards came and went without a rest, as if something nearby disturbed them. And as quickly as it began, it stopped. The noise downstairs lasted the whole day, though, and most the day after that.
After a week of captivity, the door that kept me away from everything was kicked to the ground. He looked like Kartenix, but he was Claidheamh. Maybe Kartenix was with the kid already. But…no. In my thrill to be released, I threw myself at my savior’s feet. “My lady”, he said to me, “Please, stand.”. I knew I was being childish, but I did not stand. Still I knelt at his feet, partly because I could still see the machines reeling and hacking in the other room. The swords he had crossed behind his back looked far less intimidating than the massive cleavers out there. And when a dwarf wearing the head of a gravehound over his helm, I couldn’t help but to shriek.
The crazy paladin (who kindly helped me to my feet) turned out to be Thoradin, of the old Oakenshield. He and Claid stayed with me near a corner for a while, until a steel plate caught their attention. A grey-skinned half-orc threw a knife, and the two opened the panel and tried sticking stuff in between the gears. After nearly shortened by a head, the dwarf finally found it better to call in the specialist. I was amazed that the orc from before was said specialist. Such mass can not help one being a good thief. Still, he seemed smart, and after a few tries, the pressure plates clang ed.
With the way cleared, Claid took me to the middle alcove, the corridor that took upstairs. As I quieted down, he tried talking to me. His finger was touching the blade of one of his swords. Maybe the castle was getting to him as well. Still, I told him – and Thoradin, who had come to hear me as well – the story of how I was taken. I talked about Thurann, and that his father would come. Claidheamh’s eyes faded, and Thoradin prepared to speak, and the Gift told me too, all the faces and all the silent voices, all screamed at once: He died .
I was on the floor for the next five minutes. Not much happened anyway, but for the appearance of a flaming angel. He vehemently listened to the orders of a man in a corner. The man’s hands were schorched and callous, with a look as hardened as their owner. He seemed hellbent on destroying the axes. Perhaps the ugly cut in his mail-covered shoulder was their doing. At some point, Sertanian, the old castellan, sat on the floor and mourned Kartenix with me. I had never met the man, even though he had been the captain for the last four years, but he was still one of Brindol.
Ugarth finally got to disarming the axe trap, at the cost of one of his best lockpicks. After a rest, where I retold my story and met everyone else (interestingly, I had hoped to meet with mr. Adronsius a week ago. Temple matters..), we proceeded up.
This room was strangely chilly. Those pillars emanated an unnatural cold. I immediately decided it would be better to stay away, and had barely grasped Claid’s shirt (to warn him) when he lurched forward to meet whatever made the noise everyone heard. From the north corridor stepped a tall figure, all blue and moist. Later being informed of the existence of the Genasi folk, I did not know what that was at the time. Locked in battle with the Genasi was a goblin. He was large, and was made larger by the massive armor he sported. The beautiful helmet struck me as familiar. Sertanian looked wearily at me, as if confirming both our thoughts.
The gobling snarled at me. And His Grace Ioun whispered a single word at my ear.