20th of Sunburst
This morning was busy for me as I needed to rehearse my song “The thirteen saviours of Arry” with musicians in order to make it a performance to remember. I also wanted to prepare few other songs to perform at today’s festivities as well, as it had been a long time since I last had an opportunity to entertain people with my music. I was able to find three musicians who could play instruments that were most suitable for the composition, and had a singing voice complimentary to mine. Indeed, our voices combined together allowed multiple layers of harmonious singing to fulfil all senses.
Just before the festivities, Dulkan approached me. He had wanted to give tokens of appreciation for the men. He had prepared medallions, of sort, to give to the men for their valiant efforts. I was very happy that Dulkan had thought of that, and was now asking me if I wanted to join in distributing those tokens to the men at the festivities. I was wondering how he could get nine medallions prepared so fast, but when I looked more closely, I understood. They were fashioned from spoon baits; how appropriate as the men were sailors and fishermen turn into fighters and combatants! But when I saw the words he had chosen to be inscribed inside the spoon bait, my heart was about to burst from pride, joy and affection. It simply read: “_Defender of Arry – In Year 1 of the New Reckoning_”.
When it came time to open the festivities, I was well-rehearsed with my fellow musicians. Although I say it myself, we gave an excellent and moving performance. I was glad to see that our nine men were singing happily and proudly along when it was time to perform the song I had thought them only some days ago. Then it was time for the speeches. Alexha gave hers, congratulating and thanking us for taking care of those pestilent creatures, the Harpies and the Sahuagin, which had plagued their seafaring people. After Alexha’s speech Dulkan and I gave little speeches of our own whilst distributing the medallions to the men. It was very heartfelt and earnest moment, the men being so grateful and humble, while bursting with pride while accepting them. This to me felt like the true main event of the festivities.
After distributing the medallions, Dulkan and I cogitated on the matter of divulging the information about Khariss to truly promote our main agenda. I was of the opinion that whatever we do, we should consult Alexha first, as she is the ruler of this domain. There was no point in stepping on her toes in such a matter, which was concerning, after all, giving sensitive information to her subjects. We had but begun our communion when Borel, who had apparently had one too much to drink, overheard us and in his impatient and impertinent manner overtook the floor and revealed everything by himself. I was in shock of his wilful action by which he ignored us all in the decision making process. We had gotten this far together, discussing and negotiating and taking every viewpoint into careful consideration. But now, he had acted on his own behalf. However, for once, when Borel opened his mouth he did not put his foot in his mouth. Indeed, his words were well-chosen and eloquent, and I do not believe even I could have made the speech more heartfelt and convincing. Be that as it may, the damage had been done and we had to face the consequences. I could see that especially some people among the merchants and artisans were not as easily accepting this news as the common folk to whom Borel so easily appealed to.
But the worst was yet to come. I could see Timothy storming towards us, furious. He began to reproach us, Borel in particular. I attempted to appease Timothy and calm the situation. But I did not even have the chance. Disregarding every measure of good manner, Borel waved me quiet, boasting me that he would handle this situation, and attacked Timothy. I could not believe my ears! I was speechless in the face of such ill-mannered behaviour. I could not but stand back in horror as all my efforts towards dragon-free rule, all the good work we done and all the lives we had put at stake in our adventure, were now going up in smoke, thrown in the furnace of Borel’s inflated ego. The things he said to Timothy! I cannot even repeat it, there is no point. The conversation did not proceed beyond machoism on the other side and anger on the other. As Carric and Dulkan were indisposed, I could not get their aid in my futile attempt to silence Borel and appease Timothy. For a moment I felt sorry I had not learned any spells that would render their objects mute. Having had this thought I immediately regretted it, feeling like I had fallen short for fulfilling my duties as a diplomat as I was not able to negotiate the two viewpoints closer together. How could I face my father when he would know how I had failed! I had no choice but to wait for them to run out of steam, hoping that at least some of the delicate stands of the new-formed alliance would survive. Every diplomat’s nightmare!
After Timothy stormed off, Borel returned to his drink, conceited as if he had won something. He had won nothing, but possibly lost us, and our cause, everything in a single fit of machoism. I returned to the festivities, talking to people and attempting to bring the benefits of a dragon-free rule to their minds, so that people would see the possibilities and not the threats and difficulties of the situation. Carric had long since retired, but Dulkan was still there, asking what had transpired. I could only say that Borel had acted like Borel; I was too upset to state anything more, my mind in wild turmoil with possible ways to mend things. There was nothing else to do but to retire for the evening. Hopefully tomorrow will bring me piece of mind, and maybe things had not turned as dark as I feared they had.
21st of Sunburst
In the morning Dulkan was feeling better, but Carric was not. I went to Carric’s bedchamber to see what the matter was. Apparently Dulkan and Borel had come to this conclusion, too as we were soon all gathered at Carric’s bedside. He was indeed feeling very poorly, barely able to lift a glass of water to his lips. It became evident that herbalist’s skills would be needed, to allow Carric’s recovery. Yet again, when a fried was feeling poorly, I was not able to help a comrade in their sickness: I had no skills that would be of use here. As none of us could be of any help, Borel went off looking for someone with required skills.
Dulkan and I remained with Carric, as we needed to take stock of the current situation. Northern realm was now in an alliance with us. Southern realm, as ruled by Lord Erinak would not stand to oppose Baron Marram, but he would join us if the Baron could be persuaded to our point of view. There was still LadyTuire to consider of the southern realms. Western realm was still, at least in name governed by the Baron, although his rule was dependent on Khariss’s favour. Half of the members of the council were on the side of the dragon-free rule. Only easterd realm had not yet stated its opinion in the matter: actually we had not heard anything from Kolmhaag, or from the Kiln family, since the news of Khariss were first delivered. Thus, the power balance between Baron with his old ways and the new rule was hanging by the stand-point of the Kiln family.
As I saw it, we had three options. We could stay in the northern parts to reinforce the alliance; we could go to Kolmhaag to ask the official opinion of the Kiln house; or we could go to Melenne to meet with Lady Ashinka and my father to discuss the current situation and to think of a show of power to allow the Baron to hear us and see reason.
Dulkan seemed a bit agitated as I spoke of Kolmhaag and Kiln house. The reason soon manifested. He opened by stating that if we were considering going to Kolmhaag, we should be aware of something. There was a curse in the Kiln family line, where their fate was joined with that of Khariss. It seems that if a member of Kiln family was born with a mark of Khariss, it meant that they needed to send someone along the tribute to be sacrificed to Khariss. Current Lord Uratha bears the sign and Edessa was originally chosen as the sacrificial lamb. Dulkan volunteered in Edessa’s stead, and he joined the tribute knowing he would meet a certain death. So, when we discovered that Khariss was dead, he was given a second chance. However, things were indefinite: what was to become of the Kiln house and members of the Kiln family, those born to it and those adopted, now that Khariss was dead.
Then Borel came back, bringing with him a man clad in elk antlers: a druid. It seemed that both Dulkan and Carric had contracted Scale Plague whilst sleeping in the damp conditions a few nights ago during our adventure in Assarna. Dulkan had been able to fight it off, but Carric’s constitution did not allow him to recover as quickly. Even in his weakened state Carric expressed academic interest in the druid’s healing methods, using both herbs and magic. The druid concocted some sort of lotion for Carric, which was to be applied to the skin at regular intervals. I offered to help Carric in this matter, but perhaps out of shyness, he opted to use “Mage hand”.
We had received summon from Alexha in the morning. No doubt to discuss about the things that had transpired yesterday, and what we were planning to do next. After we had attended to Carric, we headed for the meeting room. There was Alexha, looking solemn and Timothy, looking very austere. I waited for them to begin and set the mood of the discussion. As soon as Timothy begun to speak, Borel again engaged him in very offensive altercation. Timothy’s anger immediately flared up, and he was warning us for the far-reaching repercussions of Borel’s announcement and behaviour yesterday, quite legitimately I might add. Spies of every major family in power were now quickly distributing this news all over the realm. All this was arrogantly dismissed by Borel. I was helpless, powerless to stop further agitating Timothy. Thankfully, Carric, who was now feeling a little better, assumed the role of the mediator. For some reason Carric now succeeded in which I had so miserably failed yesterday: to get Borel to control himself. After Borel finally held his tongue, I was able to attempt some form of reconciliation between our party and theirs. In no uncertain terms, Alexha stated that we should leave Arry, the sooner the better. I could very well understand that. I reiterated my wishes from yesterday that our alliance would remain strong, regardless. We agreed that we should leave as soon as possible, and Alexha was gracious enough to prepare our ship for us.
I was not at lost at what to do next. Seeing the druid I had remembered something. Druids inhabit the Emerald Forest, and Melenne is in the northern outskirts of the forest. This was a group of people usually opting themselves outside politics and power struggles, and we reciprocated by leave them be. However, these peculiar circumstances where we were without a ruling dragon to oversee the realm, the druids might wish to promote dragon-free rule as well as. Zathare, the dragon who ruled the realm before Khariss, had inhabited Emerald Forest, and there was no way of knowing what domain the next dragon would choose as the location of its lair, or indeed what kind of havoc it would reap before settling to power. Druids would definitely be a formidable force, perhaps enough to allow the Baron to reconsider his maniacal behaviour. Even the fact that druids, which are considered free spirits, would join under one banner of dragon-free Dusk Coast should make a statement. I shared this information with my comrades, and we reached a consensus that we should make our next destination Melenne.
22nd of Sunburst
In the morning we set sails to Melenne. The captain estimated that it would take us two to three days to get to Melenne, depending on the weather. This meant that we had again free time to better ourselves and to share information. On the subject of sharing information: Dulkan and I had had a confidential discussion about Lady Ashinka’s motives yesterday. Dulkan was concerned by the contents of Lady Ashinka’s letter and he was also anxious because of Timothy’s words regarding Lady Ashinka’s ambition. So, I arranged that when our meeting with Alexha and Timothy was over, the rest of us would leave, allowing privileged discussion to ensue between Dulkan, Timothy and Alexha. Dulkan now shared his opinions. He had gotten the impression that while Timothy’s opinions were coloured with prejudice and pessimistic worldview, Lady Ashinka was a woman who made things happen and was eager to seize an opportunity when one should present itself. I was no stranger to this idea, as that was exactly what we had done in Khariss’s lair, to name one occasion.
On the matter of bettering oneself: Borel had expressed wishes to learn to play some instrument. He had bought a guitar, and hopefully I was able to teach how to play a guitar. He was not too quick a learner, but he would have plenty of evenings and leisurely days to keep on practicing. I estimated that it would not take even a year for him to master the guitar, or even at least to be able to amuse himself with his talents.
23rd of Sunburst
It seemed that it would take more than two days to get to Melenne, as the weather was not very favourable. Carric had used this time to study the fan and the iron ring. The fan was indeed used to raise a great wind to blow the sails full and expedite journey. However, we dared not to try it as of yet, since there was no room for any mishaps in instrumenting the fan.
24th of Sunburst
We continued our guitar lessons with Borel. Dulkan had wanted to learn about sorcery, and Carric was teaching Dulkan some basic things about it.
The evening was late when we finally reached the port of Melenne. As I had docked to this port several times before, I instantly knew where we would be able to hire a coach to take us to our family estate “Moon on the rise”. I was looking forward in seeing my brother Bade and his wife Maria together their twin daughters, Rhodonna and Valeriana.
We loaded our trunks and other belongings to back of the carriage, climbed in and of we went. We soon reached the outskirts of Melenne, and the town with all its lights, sounds and smells was left behind. Moon, though not full, shone bright with stars in the refreshing cool of the evening air as we proceeded down a wide dirt road leading to “Moon on the rise”. Lining the road beyond wide shoulders was a forest of lime, ash, beech and occasional oak trees. The lit lanterns of the coach also lend their light inside the coach. We were all in pensive mood, perhaps also somewhat tired at each other after several days the small confines of the ship’s cabin. No-one spoke and all we could hear after passing the busy sounds of the city in the evening was the creaking of the leather seats and rhythmic but slightly muffled clop sounding as the hooves of the quadrigram pulling the carriage made contact with the dirt road.
Reaching the gates of “Moon on the rise” our coachman stopped the carriage, and I climbed out to greet our gatekeeper Alfred. I was so delighted seeing him after so long. He was surprised to find that it was me and my friends coming: he had been expecting us but not this soon. After I had had a chance to greet him properly, I climbed back in the carriage and Alfred opened the gates. The road now changed from dirt to gravel for the distance of our driveway, and at the end of which I could already see our family home, lights lit in the family room. The garden on either sides of the driveway, trees, flower benches and statues standing in the garden, were all the same as the last I had visited, and a sense of familiarity, calm and ease permeated through me; I felt as if a weight had been lift off my shoulders.
The coach pulled to the main door. I was already running up the stairs to the door as the rest of my company stepped out, stretching their legs. I had not time to knock as the door already opened and a familiar voice asked me: “Is that you miss?” As the door fully opened, I saw Jarvis our butler standing in the light of the hallway behind him, and seeing his face my heart shrank a bit: I had forgotten how long it actually was since I had last been to “Moon on the rise”. The last I had been there Jarvis was a man in the prime of his life; now, although still in good health and with evident vitality, he clearly was an older man. I sometimes forget the frailty of the human race and how evanescent the human existence is. I quenched the impulse to embrace him: my emotions towards Alfred, Jarvis and their families – practically members of the family – were intimate and private, and I was jealous not to let any intruders to tarnish the moment to express our feelings of rejoice after meeting again, expressing our mutual devotion and attachment.
Jarvis led us down the hall lit with sconces, all the way towards the door behind which I knew I would find my brother and his family. Opening the door to the family room Jarvis did announce us, although usually we do not care for such formalities. Approaching my brother with extended arm, and then offering a cheek to my sister-in-law Maria I greeted them with appropriate affection to be shown in public towards family members. I inquired after the girls, and received news that they were in good health, pursuing their respective interests. There would be plenty of time to introduce the party to the girls; members of the Nailo family are introduced to the world at a relatively younger age than is usually the practice among non-elven members of the nobility. As my brother had quite correctly assumed, this evening we would not have much time to talk about diplomatic issues or family matters due to late hour of our arrival. We only needed to get a round of introductions, have some light refreshments and then appoint everyone to a room where they would get some rest.
Receiving news that Bade was expecting our father to arrive, if not tomorrow then most likely the day after, we decided to retire for the night. Bade asked me to show the guest to their rooms, and I knew the east wing would be available for the use of guests. I was wondering whether to remain in my room or one of the guest rooms as a gesture to be one of the party still, even though at my family’s estate to express comradery. After Dulkan, Borel and Carric had settled to their rooms, I visited Jarvis and his wife, and then Alfred and his family. We had a lot to catch up and I did not know how much time I would have for myself tomorrow or whenever father and Lady Ashinka were to arrive. We also needed to initiate discussion between the druids and us as the emissaries of the new rule.
25th of Sunburst
Very early in the morning, when morning dew was just misting leafs and flowers in the garden I came downstairs after my nights rest to wait for my comrades to wake up. I could use these early hours of the morning before my human friends would wake up to play the piano with my niece. Rhondonna was very keen on music; an enthusiasm which I shared. Valeriana was more inclined towards botany and herbalism; how to use plants in healing. So this morning Rhodonna and I were in the family room, having fun together with music.
However, I could not be completely in the happy feelings of playing with my niece. There was a weight in the back of my mind. Now as the first comforting feelings of getting back to the house that I had spent most of my childhood had abated, the troubles and realization of the needs for discussions, clarifications and negotiations came crashing back in. We had plenty of things to discuss within our party, most pressing of which was definitely Borel’s erratic behaviour, and between the harbingers of the new rule. I was of Dulkan’s opinion that the framework for the new rule needed to be drafted in paper to be sure towards what end goal we were actually working for. As soon as my comrades would wake up and come to breakfast, we could gather in the family room, or to the library if it suited better, to discuss matters at hand.