The Chronicles of the Seekers of Faerun - Chapter Nine

Adventure Date: January 30, 2009

Last Updated: March 29, 2009

A Complete History of the Time of the "Darkness Rising" and a True Account of the Inspiring Words, Astounding Feats, and Valiant Deeds of "The Seekers Of Faerun" - by The Venerated Sage - Elminster the Younger

DR 1476 - Shadowdale

Chapter 9 - We Fought the Drow and We Sang the Blues


I first vowed to write this history of the Seekers of Faerun when I attended the cremation of Gideon Fireforged many years ago. It was a stirring sight when the golden flames cleansed away Gideon's physical form, so that he could join all mighty Kossuth on the elemental plane of fire. Many of Gideon's writings, the so-called Interludes, fell into my eager hands at that time, and have helped greatly in my research. But I also vowed to extend my research with face-to-face meetings with the surviving members of the Seekers, so that their story would not die.

That was many years ago and people still ask me, "Why do you labour so long over the History? How can it bring you so much satisfaction?" Even my darling Hilda, also known in these pages as 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' sometimes says, "Elminster, why don't you get out and get a bit of fresh air, find a nice run down old keep, and bring home just a tiny bit of treasure?" Then she would add pointedly, "Other wizards manage to do this. It's difficult to manage the household finances on the earnings of a mere Sage." To these questions my answer can be given in a single word, 'Inspiration'! I believe the highest calling is to bring the inspiring story of the Seekers to all of the people of Faerun.

Writing this chapter of the history reminds me of the time not so long ago when I sat having high tea in 'The Seekers' Tea and Pastries', an establishment in the center of Ashabenford of Mistledale. I had arranged to meet the sturdy Seeker and clan leader, Risca Foracker, there that very afternoon. I had met him at Gideon's funeral and later at Walter Little's just before the ageing groom passed away. Risca and I have remained fast friends ever since. True to his word, he entered the front door right on time and strode confidently over to the table where I sat.

Risca had a thinly veiled expression of disgust as he surveyed his surroundings. "If I knew that this is what had happened to the 'Velvet Veil' I would have agreed to meet you at a real pub."

Indeed it was difficult to imagine that this sedate tea room was, a hundred years ago, one of the most notorious flesh pots on the Ashaba River. I tried to imagine that time, the smell of rabbit pie and stale beer, the crush of local farm folk, rugged keelboat drivers and of course the Seekers of Faerun. The primly dressed waitresses serving us now were a pale substitute for the Veil's buxom serving wenches in low-cut dresses.

I complemented Risca on his well groomed looks. His new role as leader of the Stalkers Clan brought new responsibilities.

"Ah, well I guess one can't remain a barbarian forever," he said wistfully. "I hardly rage any more unless it's at the wee ones."

I knew that the 'wee' ones he was talking about were his seven sons, now all fully grown dwarves. At that meeting, I asked Risca about the adventures of the heroes just after they killed the mad wizard Bareris. Much has been told about the battle with the wizard, but very little was known about the events just afterward.

'I'll tell you about it," he agreed, "but I must confess that the drow ambush was not our finest hour."

Gentle readers, just now 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' has been reading over my shoulder and advised, "Get on with the story, Elminster; nobody is interested in your musings. And put more sex into it. That nice sage with the interesting name, what is it now… Lord No? He seems to be able to get a lot of sex into his histories."

"But he just makes it up," I protested.

"What's your point? You have an imagination too, don't you?" she said. "Don't you always say that history belongs to those who write about it?"

She would have to mention my nemesis, Lord Tornado No. His histories outsell mine two to one just because they are a veritable carnal cornucopia. I believe, on the other hand, that my readers want the truth. But 'She' is right about one thing; it is time to cease my musings and get on with the story and get on with telling that truth.

The Heart of the Matter

The severed head of Bareris, its face frozen in a bug-eyed expression of insanity, was safely stowed in the magic bag of holding. The mad wizard's inner sanctum had been searched, its treasures collected and a path further down into the depths of Haptooth Hill was found.

Kilzadi Litecaster, the sorcerer, sat in the middle of the room surrounded by some of the Seekers of Faerun, as they examined the inventory of treasure from the chambers. Kilzadi chortled as he lovingly caressed the piles of gold and platinum that lay before him. In his imagination, he had already exchanged it to purchase a vast array of arcane devices. Neon Wilde, the intrepid boater, approached the group, his magnifying glass at the ready, to appraise gems, but Kilzadi wrapped his arms around the stash, like a card player pulling in his winnings. "We're keeping an eye you," he warned "we don't need your help in valuing the treasure."

Neon decided that he was not wanted so instead he approached the gorgeous scout, Swan Battlestar, to concede defeat in their kobold killing contest. They had wager on which one of them would kill the most kobolds in Bareris's keep. "Oh Neon, I am so proud of you! You did so well in the contest. It will do wonders for your confidence!" she gushed. Neon wondered what on Toril she was talking about, but he bit his tongue. In fact, Neon took it easy in the early going of the contest and planned to let Swan win, in the hope that her excitement at victory would continue with more excitement as he joined her under her travel blanket afterwards. But his competitive instincts took over half way through the contest and he tried desperately to win, but it was too late. Swan's lead was too great, and in the end she edged him out eleven kills to ten. Now he was disappointed that he had not defeated his friend.

They had uncovered the way down under the throne of Bareris, but the Seekers were exhausted and needed rest before continuing. They investigated a chamber off of the throne room and found Bareris's bedroom. It was simply furnished with a table, iron chest and a feather bed. They also found the desiccated remains of a cat, presumably the insane wizard's familiar, pinned to the back of the door. The chest had some bags with platinum pieces, three pearls and under a false bottom; a bear's head helmet, an iron bar like a wand, a pair of gauntlets and two vials. On the table were a ruined spell book and a blank note book. When Kilzadi rifled through its pages a hand written note fell out. Gideon Fireforged, the healer, picked it up and read the following: "Harrowdale, Hollowdale. A facade of idiots and bumpkins. The Temple of Mystra opened my mind. SHE speaks to ME now. Order will be brought to the darkness. I must return and start again. My power will be greater more!"

"What does this mean?" Gideon wondered aloud.

"I'm from Harrowdale," Neon said. "The temple of Mystra in Harrowdale was built almost overnight. It must have been pretty expensive to build something that big so quickly.

"Maybe we need to check it out," Gideon responded.

The Seeker's decided that this room would make a good place to spend the night. Neon sat on the feather bed and bounced a little to test its softness. "Swan, let's celebrate your victory in the kobold killing contest on this bed tonight. What do you say?" Neon invited with cheerful enthusiasm.

Swan was used to Neon's crude come-ons but this one was too much and caused her to snap. "Neon, you should be ashamed! No sooner is Aleena's death avenged and you are thinking of nothing but humping away on her murderer's bed! You are the worst kind of man, the kind that my mama warned me about, and the kind that only wants one thing from a girl!"

Neon could have said nothing, but he didn't. "Well you are the kind of woman that Headslap the bar keeper at the Cleric's Finger warned me about. You are a wanton tool-teaser." And having momentum, he kept on going. "I'm not going to become a suitor like Inialos Oakwood. You teased the poor, moon elf mercilessly until he was but half a man." Then he continued in a falsetto voice to imitate Swan, "but I could not bring myself to surrender my body totally". Finally he added, "Keep your precious virtue and die a shrivelled up old crone, for all I care!"

"Well go back to your little elven strumpet, if that's what you want. Just leave me alone!" Swan spat out the words.

"Fine! I will!




"What's next?" Gideon thought shaking his head, "Leading the Seekers is like herding a gaggle of geese in the best of times and now two of them were not speaking to each other." The argument put everyone in a bad mood so our heroes had an unsettled night's rest.

Okul Tamarikos, the dragon born, had drawn the straw for the last watch and he sat brooding as morning, or morning as near as he could tell, finally arrived. The depth in the earth cut the Seekers off from the natural signals of the passage of time. His revenge on the kobold chieftain, who had led the attack upon Gildenglade and his family so long ago, brought little solace. The winged shadow of Emberspeak, the dragon, was cast a long distance through the winding paths of time. And there was dragon now deep nearby in the bowels of Haptooth hill. Okul felt this in his guts. But it was not dreams of dragons that had haunted Okul that night, but a stranger dream, one like the dark visions that the Seekers had shared even before fate had tied them together.

Swan and Risca were stirring now and began to talk to each other in whispers. Okul heard the word 'Jebalek' and he knew his instincts were true; all of the Seekers of Faerun had shared a dream again. Soon all of the party were awake and this time they were quick to talk. Okul recounted his vision first and the other Seekers nodded throughout saying, "Yes, it was the same for me."

He was standing alone at the entrance to the Zhentarim Citadel that the Seekers recently conquered. The sun was passing by overhead, rising in the west and setting in the east, taking them back to days of yesterday. He looked at the chasm below. The shadows turned darker still and almost seemed alive as they twisted and turned up and around the rock face below. As they got closer, the figures writhing amongst the shadows, coalesced into fierce Drow warriors, getting closer, ever closer.

He turned and fled, the swarm of Drow spilled inside and down the tunnel behind him. He made it to the smithy, and hid amongst the instruments, just before the swarm overtook him. Jebalek the gnome was still there, trussed up, just as he was left. The drow warriors stopped inside the smithy and looked at the pitiful gnome before them. Jebalek's eyes popped open, awake, calculating, as consciousness returned.

The drow warriors stood aside against the wall, allowing a regal female Drow to enter the smithy, just as Jebalek wiggled free of his bonds. A stern stout stocky dwarf stood behind the regal female drow, like a bodyguard or some sort of glorified pet. The dwarf held a dwarven war axe in his hands. For a moment, Okul got a glimpse of his face amongst the shadows. The features quickly vanished, but for a moment, they seemed familiar.

At this point in the story many of the party looked at Risca with deep suspicion. Gideon had revealed that he was warned that there was a traitor in the group. Could Risca be this traitor? "The dwarf looks like me because he is a relative of mine," Risca explained. This seemed to satisfy everyone. No one really believed that Risca could be a turncoat, although his earlier denial of ever having the first dream of darkness didn't help his case.

Okul continued with his story. The regal looking female drow reached down and tapped the gnome on the head with her hand, healing his wounds. "There, there, little one, I trust that feels better now. Someone of your stature should be treated with more respect."

Jebalek puffed out his chest with pride, and tried to stand a few inches taller, while putting on airs of importance.

"Now tell me little one, I understand there were prisoners here. Perhaps you can tell me their fate amongst all this carnage. In particular, a prisoner by the name of Kurud, he would have stood out, being a paladin."

Other Seekers dreamed of other prisoners like Gwenect Moondark or Inailos Oakwood.

Jebalek motioned for the regal female drow to bend down. Smiling, she complied, lending her ear, as he whispered, "Freed her they did, them's whom gutted and hogtied me and left me here to rot."

"And who are 'they'?" the regal female drow deftly inquired

"Bunch of self-acclaimed heroes, six of them, called themselves the Seekers of Faerun. Their true leader, Okul, a fierce dragon-born warrior, is the truly dangerous one."

Smirking, the regal female drow loudly proclaimed to all within earshot, "These so-called heroes, these Seekers of Faerun, are but an annoyance. They will be dealt with soon enough, and as for their leader, I have a special fate in store for that one."

"And as for you, little one, I could use someone of your talents, your skills, and your courage. Follow me, and soon, everyone will know to respect you, to fear you. So tell me, little one, will you follow me?"

Without hesitation, Jebalek, rejected the workings of Gond, and sweared fealty to her, filling his heart with darkness.

"Now come, little one, there is still much to be done."

"A moment mistress", said Jebalek, and he turned around to reach inside an apparently empty treasure chest. "Those foolish heroes were no match for my masterful gnomish ingenuity. Overlooked the real treasure, they did. See how clever I am. A secret false bottom in the chest", Jebalek said triumphantly, reaching down and pulling out a gaudily decorated multi-hued tome. "My detailed notes on the proper craft and art of spellweaving for gnomes of all things Illusionary and Arcane", he explained.

"Leave it", commands the regal female drow, "And I will teach you true magic."

Dropping his spellbook to the ground and abandoning it, Jebalek followed his new dark mistress and her swarm of drow out of the Zhentarim Citadel and into the rising darkness…

The Seekers could not decide what to make of these dreams. Were they caused by a benevolent spirit that was bringing them together to accomplish great things, or were they caused by an evil spirit, messing with their minds? Okul imagined he could hear a faint 'Bwahahahahahahahahahaha' in the back of his head.

Our heroes decided to explore the rest of the level that contained Bareris's inner sanctum before descending further into the depths. There was another door like the one to Bareris's chambers off of the main hall. That is a door into a small closet with a secret door on the other side. This only allowed entry of one person at a time. Risca was starting to make a career out of going first, and he did this time as well. Okul went next, followed a minute later by Swan. When she went through the secret door she was transported to another room. It was empty with no sign of Risca or Okul. But there were three doors in the walls so she wandered over to listen at one of them. Neon appeared shortly after her in the center of the room. She glanced in his direction and if her eyes had been weapons they would have unleashed a volley of arrows, mowing him down, so he faded to the far side of the room. Then they heard muffled shouts coming from beneath the floor. There must be a trap door; so Neon and Swan began to search for the mechanism just as Gideon appeared in the middle of the room. The trap door opened but Gideon managed to scramble gingerly to safety, as if he was performing the fire walk ceremony to prove his worthiness to Kossuth. They knew that Kilzadi would be coming through next, so the three of them gathered around the trap door planning to pull the sorcerer to safety. Kilzadi popped into existence and three sets of hands reached out to save him. For a brief moment, he seemed suspended in mid-air before dropping, hands futilely reaching out to grab him. Gideon could count to three before he heard Risca yelp as the weight fell upon him. Okul, Risca and Kilzadi were badly hurt, but soon their wounds were mended and the troll gut rope was used to haul them up.

Elsewhere on the level, the party opened up a dusty room that had not been entered in a long time. Inside was a table with two chairs with a book placed in the center of the table. Everyone entered and Risca poked at the book with his sword. The light seemed funny in there and upon the walls there were eight shadows instead of the expected six. Soon our heroes were in battle with ethereal ghosts.

Gideon faded towards the door. "Hold them off and I will call down the power of Kossuth to strike fear in these apparitions." Up front Risca, Okul and Neon attacked with blades and Swan manoeuvred to strike with her arrows. But the power of Kossuth did not come. The ghosts were easy to hit but the strikes sometimes sailed right through them without connecting. Gideon continued to beseech Kossuth for his blessing but there was still no sign of divine intervention. The shadowy forms moved and attacked. Risca and Neon cried out as they struck and both felt physically depleted.

"Oh please Kossuth don't forsake us now!" Gideon pleaded again. Finally Kossuth answered his pleas and the wraiths cowered toward the back of the room. It was now an easy matter for Neon and Risca to finish them off, in revenge for the drain on their strength.

The book in the dusty room was called 'The Fear and the Flame' by 'Murgar, the Man with Fire in His Hands'. Kilzadi examined it with a broad grin on his face. It would help him develop his arcane power. Risca found that the gauntlets restored much of his lost strength. The party finished their search of the level but besides some recently occupied bedrooms, now empty, there was little of interest.

The Seekers had delayed long enough on the level of Bareris's keep; it was time to descend through the dais into the depths below. The stairs went down thirty feet until they opened up into a large hewn-rock cavern tinged with the smell of brimstone. A glimmer of daylight could be seen at the far end. Within the shadows of the cavern, a huge seething mass began to stirr. A monstrous red-scaled tail uncoiled and a giant horned and bearded head turned to survey the intruders.

"Mother of Tempus!" Okul cursed as he realized that his instincts were true and the depths were home to a red dragon, the most feared creature in all of Faerun.

The dragon opened his mouth to speak and it was like standing by a fire pit stirred by a smithy's bellows. "So you are the rabble that has defeated Bareris."

Risca whispered into Okul's ear, "On the count of three, we charge. We can take him."

Okul wasn't as confident as his stout friend. "Kilzadi, speak to it in Draconic; maybe we can talk our way out of this," he urged.

Kilzadi had never been as frightened as this in all his life but he resolved to not show it. Then like a desert fox, part cockily, part cautiously, he inched forward to stand mere feet from the dragon's jaws. "Yes we are the ones who defeated the mad wizard," he claimed, "We did it to avenge the death of a friend. But we will not attack you."

The dragon considered this carefully and at the same time it mulled over the most interesting ways he might kill them. "I am Venthavaxus, but you lot may call me Volcanix, although you won't need to remember my name for long. You won't find me so easy to defeat as Bareris."

The negotiation did not seem to be going well. "We have no quarrel with you Volcanix," Kilzadi pleaded.

"Tremble fools! I am the Spawn of Zormapalearath, known to some as Emberspeak," the dragon seethed. "Tremble before my mighty…" Then Volcanix was startled. "What is that you have? Is that Crimdrac's Claw?"

"What, this little blade?" the desert fox asked with feigned nonchalance as he withdrew his scimitar. "Yes, I believe it is."

"Is it real?"

"It is. I took it from Bareris, you know."

"Not one step closer! Get back!" Volcanix was overcome by extreme terror and backed away as quickly as he could, down the cavern and out into the daylight beyond.

Risca chased after the departed dragon, "Come back here wee beastie. I'm not done with you yet!"

The rest of Seekers crowded around Kilzadi to slap his back and hug him in celebration. Swan gave him a sisterly kiss on the cheek.

With the dragon gone, the Seekers passed easily out of the far opening and Volcanix was now a mere dot against the slate grey sky. They could see the mushroom farm and the village of Hap down the hillside below them. The land was covered with a thin dusting of white powder. "Is this snow?" Kilzadi asked.

"Yes, it's a reminder that winter will soon be upon us," Okul confirmed. "You have bested a red dragon, my friend. Let's see how you fair against a harsh Dalelands' winter."

The adventurers stayed the night in the town of Hap and visited the shrine to the Blood of Lathander to see that everything was alright.

Neon approached the cleric at the shrine, Cathalandra Dovaer, and asked in a loud voice, so that everyone could hear, "I'm new in Hap. Would you, pretty lady, please direct me to your bedchamber?"

"That has to be the lamest line I've heard in long time," Cathalandra responded with an amused giggle.

"Seriously, it must get awfully lonely here by yourself, watching over Lathander's blood."

"Not really, you see there is a garrison of beefy soldiers nearby."

Meanwhile, Swan was scrutinizing Lathander's relic in the utmost detail. Her face betrayed no evidence of hearing Cathalandra rebuff Neon's advances.

The next morning the Seekers mounted their horses set out on the long road back to Ashabenford. Swan and Neon rode side by side in stony silence at the front of the group while Kilzadi and Gideon brought up the rear. On the second day of the journey, they were about an hour outside of Essembra with darkness falling, but they decided to push on in an attempt to reach warm beds at an inn.

Suddenly, Neon heard the familiar whiz of arrows buzzing out of the forest. He moved to dismount, but not fast enough, and he was caught by arrow in the shoulder. An arrow from the second volley struck him too and one pierced Kilzadi. Six Drow archers appeared out of the forest, three attacking from the north and three from the south. A male drow warrior with a crossbow appeared to be leading the attack from the front. But then a female in a mithral shirt armed with shield and cold iron rapier strode into view. She had the true swagger of command.

The Seekers were surprised but quickly recovered. Neon, now off of his horse, shot an arrow striking an archer. Swan reached into her backpack and dropped a daylight pellet which blazingly lit up the surroundings, dazzling the drow and slowing the charge. Neon heard the male drow cry "golat tang! golat tang!", which he understood to be a call to attack in the goblin tongue. Four, seven foot tall, bear-nosed, hairy humanoids responded to the call; two came at them from the front and two from behind. Bugbears! Okul moved to meet the drow archers to the south, while Risca charged to the north. Gideon's eyes looked skyward as he called on Kossuth, yet again, to bless the Seekers in this time of battle. Four additional Kilzadi's appeared and prepared for combat.

The male drow dropped his crossbow and unleashed a long spiked chain, while Neon huddled among the horses to drink a cure for his arrow wounds. The drow archers were still dazed by the light as Risca and Okul smashed into their lines and each hero dispatched an attacker. Swan's bow killed an archer just before a javelin, thrown by a bugbear, staggered her. Kilzadi watched the motions of the female leader closely; she was casting a spell. Gideon let loose a sound burst at the bugbears at the rear and stunned one of them.

The chain warrior moved and cornered Neon and the spiked weapon tore into him. "Die elf half-breed," he spat as Neon's body crumpled to the ground. "Ninniach!" Swan cried, when she saw him fall. She rushed to Neon's aid, completely forgetting her anger with him, and angrily shot an arrow into the swirling chain. Okul swung at and missed a drow archer as she drew a rapier. Okul speared her on his second attempt and then moved to meet the chain swinger head on. Risca flew into a barbaric fury at seeing his friend fall and renewed his attack on bugbear and drow. Gideon, too, moved quickly to Neon's aid. The bugbear bearing down on him swung wildly and struck himself dead. "Oh, thank you, Kossuth!" Gideon prayed. Kilzadi continued to watch the drow leader closely; he could tell that she was summoning monsters to bolster the attack. And then he blasted a bugbear with searing bolts of flame.

Gideon healed Neon, while Swan and Okul engaged the drow chain master. Swan continued to use her bow. The chain wrapped around Okul's great spear and tore it from his hands, so he had to draw a mace to attack. Risca killed a bugbear to the north. The enemy leader cast another spell. But no monster appeared and her look of frustration betrayed the fact that the attack was not going as well as planned.

The warrior swung the spiked chain in a deadly vortex now and ripped the mace from Okul's hand and the dragon-born had to dive to retrieve it. Then the chain turned its deadly attention to Swan. The steel snake wrapped around the scout from bottom to top and. the spike at the very end of it pierced her neck. Swan collapsed and her body flung out across the ground to lie mere feet from the fallen Neon. She looked at him, reached out for him, and squeezed his hand in a gesture of encouragement, and then she lost consciousness. Swan's touch brought Neon around, and he looked up at Gideon working on his cure, and a bugbear bearing down on them. He jumped up and dived out of the way of the attack.

"Kill them all! Kill them all, for Lolth!" the drow priestess shrieked hysterically. She continued to cast spells but was getting more and more frustrated by their lack of effect.

Risca hacked his way through drow and bugbear. Kilzadi rained more firebolts on the enemy and watched for the summoned monsters to appear, but none did. Dodging the blows of a bugbear, Gideon scrambled to the side of Swan's broken body. The drow warrior turned the chain on Okul and pulled the mace from his hands again. Okul defended with his gauntlets, while a lone drow moved behind him to attack. Kilzadi finished off the last bugbear and began to direct firebolts upon the chain warrior. Risca finished up his opponents and ran to face the drow priestess who was cursing the lack of power of her spells. Some unseen force seemed to be helping our heroes.

Neon moved quickly and killed the drow who was swinging at Okul from behind. Okul tried to wipe the smirk off of the chain master's face with his gauntlets, but the whole head suddenly disappeared as it was blasted away by a volley of firebolts. Now the drow leader was the only attacker standing and the Seekers moved in to finish the battle that she had started.

"You will all die... all die!" she raged in madness.

Kilzadi, wreathed in the smoke and embers created by his own arcane fire, blasted the rival spellcaster with firebolts and ended her misery.

The enemy was defeated and the Seekers rushed to gather around Gideon, who was kneeling over the frail form of Swan spread out awkwardly upon the ground. He looked up at them as they approached; a look of utter despair etched his face. "There is nothing I can do... She's dead!"

To be continued...


Risca's shoulders sagged and he was deeply saddened when he recounted the tale of Swan Battlestar's death. "I was blinded by rage and I forgot the first rule of combat: take out the big fighter first. I blame myself for poor Swannie's demise."

"But how could you have known that the chain fighter was so strong?" I asked. But he would not be consoled. But eventually he cheered up. "But on a happier note, I know how much you like old documents, Elminster" he said. "I have a present for you."

"A present! For me?"

"Oh, I think you will like this," he said as he handed me a worn leather scroll case.

I opened it with eager anticipation and took out a single sheet of faded parchment. Upon unrolling this, my eyes spied a single line in the Chondathan verse written on the sheet: 'We fought the drow and we sang the blues'. I knew instantly what I held in my trembling hands. It was the original lyrics for Neon Wilde's classic song about lost love in times of rising darkness, 'Me and Swannie B'. Sometimes 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' is wrong; a mere Sage can possess a treasure beyond compare. Risca told me how Neon blamed himself for Swan's death, and penned this song in a fit of anguish.

"How do you come to have this?" I asked the dwarf with delight.

"Turn over the page."

On the back of the parchment were dwarven runes that spelled out Risca's name. One set of runes was written in a strong clear hand while another set, written below, seemed to be penned by a child. I looked at Risca quizzically.

He said with slight embarrassment, "Neon wanted me to train him up in the martial arts, so in return he helped me learn to write. I always appreciated that, and I kept this sheet."

Well, gentle readers, that was an amazing story. And Risca told me many other stories that day, until the shadows were long in Ashabenford. But I will recount those tales at another time.

Your humble servant, EtY.

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