Sunday, March 3, 2013

Upon the Heights of Innis Byr

On the Night Watch I saw as it were a Star on the horizon, near and north of that great ruby star which sailors name the Whale's Heart; yet after a time, I perceived that it was the light of a Ship, as it may be Prosperity. And though she be afar, yet on the morrow she will come Swiftly, and we not done yet our Quest, nor is any Healing yet given to us. And beyond Her to the northeast, over the world's Edge, Gwynneth and Llewellyn port and the warm halfling lasses I knew there, and many long, long leagues beyond them, Ravahana and Alihana and my own bed in Waterdeep; and, homeless wandering, Shautha of Sorrows. For her sake, in the dark of the night, I began composing a Ballad, in part thus:
Long leagues away,
My hearth and home
Where lovers wait,
Yet I sleep alone. 
The wind cries cold;
My bed is stone.
The Moon's gone down,
Yet I sleep alone.*
Although my watch was not complete, from weariness I must rouse Kanak, and after drawing apart from the nook wherein Inae slept, for we desired Not to wake her, then Kanak spake of certain things he had found upon the Ghoul ship, viz, an Arrow and a Wand, and by my gift I discerned that some Potency lay within them, although what, I knew not. Kanak, having no magery in him, desired me to hold the Wand, and he will gift the Arrow to Laithoren or whom he wills.

At dawn we rose, all my Bones feeling split for marrow, and I scarce able to walk, yet by main Will I sang and made my voice merry, for though I be verily at threshold of the Iron Gate, shall I not greet Urogalan with a jest? Inae also is very weak, and I fear will not see the Morrow an we find not that Herb of which her goddess spake.

Beyond the Waterfall we found fallen Statues, perhaps of the brethren of this place, now cast down, methinks, by the hand of Calimshan. And there was a dim and narrow Gorge which led up into the Cliff.  Inae and I being too weak to Climb, Kanak carried us, past more statues all fallen and defaced. And after a time the siq opened onto a shelf, and beyond a Chasm, two hundred feet deep or more, and in the depths a forest gold with Autumn; and a little ways to the East a stone Bridge spanned the gulf. Little confident in the Mastery of those ancient Masons, I resolved to go alone, and ordered Kanak and Inae to remain behind. And there came a swarm of sprites, like unto blue Butterflies save they were clear as glass, and flew as readily through Stone as air. Thinking them the Spirits of the slain brethren, I spake to them most courteous, but they moved not aside, and when I walked into the midst of them, I fell senseless, and Kanak must drag me back. And so, seeing no way around, I essayed again, yet this time removing my Rapier, and my daggers, but still Armored, and unable to pass so; yet when clad only in my Doublet, the butterflies alighting  only, did no harm; and Inae the same. Kanak was much loathe to disarm, yet needs must; and he wisely put our armory into a bag, and dragged it behind him, and so also crossed over the Bridge.

Onward led the flagstones, and onward we followed, Inae and I much impaired by our Weakness, until shortly Kanak, mindful of the creeping hours, and desirous to Speed us lest we be marooned, carried us through the gardens of that place, much overgrown and Wild, of interest if we be marooned here and seeking Food, or perhaps to a druid, but none else. We came after a time unto a cliff with a line of Caves, as it were monastic cells, but these Sealed upon a time with stone, and within them a jumble of Skeletons, burned with fire. I privately thought this an ill Omen, for it seemed to me that the Calishites who came here with great effort, and wrought thus, would not do so without strong Reason; yet I spake not, seeing no need of troubling the others. Yet verily had we trod the path of old Bloodletting, and, in accordance with the Prophecy, must now seek a path of golden Petals.

And so we marched on, or more aptly, Kanak marched on, I being perched on his Shoulder, and Inae carried, passing fallen Pillars and ruined Walls, until we came to a Temple, still standing, although the back wall had fallen and Trees intruded therein. And as we approached the Altar, there was a rustling amongst the Vines, and a seed flew out, catching me as if a Net, yet I slipped free. Kanak was similarly struck, but deigned not to release himself, rather bringing his Sword heavily upon the creature, which we now perceived to be some animate Tree. Thinking it rooted and Sessile, we withdrew, but it pursued us to the Door of the temple and outside. My Rapier being ill suited to hacking vines, and I not minded to be caught again, I tried my luck with that same Wand which Kanak had given me, and behold, it cast a Dart of arcane force, which wounded the creature, albeit to no great effect. The beast, more troubled by the sword, rose up and smote Kanak, who, being already wounded twice or thrice, Fell, to my great Dismay. Yet before Life had ebbed, I sprang to his side, under the very shadow of the Beast, and by the magic of my Belt healed him, and he arose and took up his Blade once more. I ordered him to carry Inae to safety, which he did, but the Lust for battle was strong upon him, and he leapt upon the beast, and with a single furious Stroke, cleft the thing right in Twain, and so it died.

*Inspired by "The Moon's gone down, but alone I lie", from Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, which was probably inspired in turn by a fragment from Sappho.

1 comment:

  1. While Kestrel was *thinking* about using a flask of oil on it, and wiggling out of two Entangles, and thinking about using the stonecutter vial to bring the door arch down on the creature, and shaking the wand of Magic Missile....Kanak hit it with a sword. And then he missed, and missed, and missed, and then did a Raging Power Leap Attack, got a critical, rolled a 20 to confirm the crit, doing triple damage, for a total of 100 points in one epic blow.

    I did contribute something valuable, though, in addition to the "He's At -10 Better Not Wait For The Ceric" use of my healing belt. The Killer Strangler Fig had ensnared Kanak and was about to crush him; but I sang out "Teleport!" and Kanak remembered his anklets of translocation. Only ten feet, but that was enough to get away. Then he carried Inae away (and she healed him up), came back, and .... SMASH!