Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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May 2013

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Having Faith

When we entered the Green Chapel, as I came to call it in my mind, I didn’t know what to expect. That it might be an offshoot of one of the stories in Firiel’s book was certainly not in my mind.

Firiel’s book…. dear gods, what an unexpected complication! Right when we need to be sneaking around the countryside, assassinating clerics, she puts a beacon to a cleric in her backpack! It’s not that I distrust the servants of Ioun. It’s that… well, maybe I do distrust them. On the one hand, they abhor secrets. On the other, they are willing to keep them. Sir Carrigan himself said there were agents of Vecna among his order.

And yet… trust has to start somewhere. I put my faith in Sir Carrigan before. I’ll believe in his innate good nature now, too.

The Green Chapel. With the were-boar and his pet. And the owlbear– guess I’ll know an owlbear nest the next time I see one!

We found a deceased dwarf with a partial scroll on his body.

Ordune really showed his talents in the chapel. I know he wasn’t going out of his way, but he led us through with real grace. I still chuckle at the memory of him perched up on the tree-stairs, smoking his pipe, waiting for us to finish slaying the owlbear. His sharp eyes caught every pitfall (literally) and hazard we might have otherwise missed. And even though he seemed to go out of his way to offend the dryad of that tree, he was nonetheless an asset in all other parts of that challenge.

The divining pool… I should have asked if anyone wanted to see anyone, besides Sir Carrigan. We’ve been so long from home, and I don’t even know if my companions have family or loved ones who they might be missing. I know Firiel has a brother. I know Tristram’s family, if only by reputation. But Ordune? Emilien?

Is there anyone I would have sought in the pool, if I’d thought of it? Perhaps… but I would not have been seeking friends.

The skeletons… so many dead orcs and elves. With elven arrowheads. Gods, I wish we could have buried them all. It’s sacrilege to leave the dead unburied like that. Ordune would say it was sacrilege for elves and orcs to live together in harmony, but I’m not so certain. This Phayrd. She might have been a prophet, or simply a dreamer. In any case… she brought together two peoples who would otherwise never have cooperated.

In the bird room, Ordune found a scroll case with the other half of a scroll on it. It appears someone has cast a ritual to hide something away, indefinitely.

And the spiders. Firiel was not happy about those, to be sure. I wasn’t all that content with having my strength sapped by their poisons, either. But Tristram kept them at bay for us. I know he was exhausted by the time we met the dryad. He’d have soldiered on– I’ve seen him on the march for 3 days with half-rations and half-rest. But I’d rather not ask it of him, not if we can help it.

When we came to the dryad, he was so tired. We all were, but he was the worst off. Ordune nearly provoked her, but Firiel and I managed to keep her from getting too upset. We made it up the stairs, across the canopy of trees, then down… into…

I sincerely hope that what was done to that elven woman was done by creatures who long ago died, preferably in violence and pain.

Ordune spotted a key, which she must have swallowed. Tris says it’s probably the focal point for the secret chest ritual, but we’ll have to wait until we’re somewhere safer before we summon it and deal with its contents.

We unshackled her skeletal remains and laid her out to put her to rest. In all this place, with all these dead, this one struck me as the worst. Maybe because the others were slain defending their home? Not bound up and tortured to death.

It made me regret how we left Herschel the dwarf. What if something went wrong? What if he wasn’t able to loose himself or call for help before he was seriously hurt? I know, I have been in war, I have seen terrible things. I have done terrible things. I prefer not to do them to people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I do not know if I believe the stories in Firiel’s book, about ghosts and such, though I do not quite accept Ordune’s view that the men in the vault were merely sick and starved. I only know it is sacrilege to leave the dead unburied. Even our slain enemies deserve peace. I try to remember this, when my temper flares and I’m in no mood for mercy. In death, we are all equal. Only the Raven Queen may judge us, after.

We laid her down on the mossy floor of the chamber where she had died. I spoke a few words and a prayer to both Correllon and the Raven Queen, to give her rest and peace. I wish I could remember the words I spoke, but they seemed to move through me as if from some other place, some other time. I am not one to believe the gods bless reckless fools like me. But… in that moment, there was clarity in my voice. I’m not sure the words even mattered, so much as what was in my heart when I spoke, when I pleaded with the Raven Queen to give her rest and an ease from the pain she had endured in life.

I think there was something odd about the flower I had put in my hair. When I placed it on the makeshift grave of the elven woman, I felt something, like a little spark of light, travel into my hands.

When we finally came out of the chapel, with Ordune knowing now how to find road, and made it back to the horses, it was nearing dusk. And a group of orcs was standing around our horses, like they were trying to figure out if they should steal them or eat them.

As it turns out, neither. They introduced themselves, and we made an uneasy camp together. I was impressed that Ordune was so amenable– I truly expected him to insist on making a separate camp, and I would have followed his lead, in this.

However, we made a fine camp and I brought out my playing cards and dice. Firiel received some healing from the orcs for her gore wound, and her fever broke sometime in the night. She’ll be fine, though we want to take a care in the future to avoid being scratched by lycanthropes, for sure.

The orcs were very good-natured about Firiel and Emilien’s cheating. It’s not that they are trying to deceive anyone. It’s just that… well, I learned a long time ago that when playing a game with them, the best strategy is to make a side bet over which one of them will cheat more gracefully than the other. I’m pretty sure Venak, the orc shaman, knew that innately, or he caught on fairly quickly. It was only a matter of time before he brought in a few of his own fellows– all veteran cheats themselves, no doubt– to take over. Not paying much attention to the game anymore, I asked him about a name they kept using– Jorash. Apparently, they’re the mercenaries hired to look for something out in the forest here (probably us, though the orcs thankfully don’t seem to realize it).

We set up joint watches and retired for the night.

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