Last Updated: August 9, 2014
Dislike of Nobility
Upon the Seeker's return from their victory at the Zhentarim Citidel...
Swan's close brush with death impelled her to cling more dearly to the memory of her family and their love and hopes for her.At times like this and because she never knew him, she would always open the case holding her deceased grandpere's master crafted longbow, just to hold it in her hands and recall the many heroic tales her mother and grandmere would relate about him and his wishes for his newly born granddaughter.Imagine her surprise as she instead pulled out a changed bow, one that had been altered such that its draw would take advantage of her strength. (composite bow)Along side the new bow was an arrow made of silver with bright forest green fletching- the holy symbol of Solonar Thelandria. As with trembling hands she picked up the silver arrow, once again, in her mind, she heard the voice of the god."Beloved daughter, you have proved your worth to be a vessel of my divine grace.You have passed my test. Not once did you falter, even though you came close to death. Due to the love you bear me and your family and their people, the elves of the forest,along with the pride in your heritage, I grant you the powers of the Domain of the Elf race. (Point Blank Shot feat, True Strike as the Domain spell). Because of your bravery and ferocity in battle.I grant you the powers of the Domain of War( Proficency in Longbow types and Weapon Focus feat in longbow types. Magic Weapon as the Domain spell.) As a personal gift I grant you the ability to strike at no penalty in order to aid your companions as they struggle in combat(Precise Shot feat). Sleep now and know when you awaken that you may pray to me to use my grace to do magic against the forces of darkness and those who would threaten our friends and our nations."
Swan is troubled by Harsek Malorn as what she hears about him outside the region of Ashabenford is contrary to what she hears about him inside the region. She wants to investigate this dichotomy. She wishes to start learning what she can about him, his family and especially the Rod of Peldan, more than what is common knowledge.
Just prior to the storming of the holy temple of Mystra (Chapter 11)
Swan decided to look in on Nivea. She had purchased a juicy apple for her horse so that they could play their grooming game. Swan would hide the apple and pretend there wasn't any. Nivea, smelling the apple, would urge Swan to produce it. The urging would be tickling in the form of mouthing Swan's hair, nibbling at her ears while snorting impatiently and whisking at the scout with her tail. As a last resort, Nivea would lean and trap Swan against a stall wall, until with much laughter, said apple was produced.
Approaching the stables of the Anchorage Inn, Swan was suddenly struck by an awareness of all that was occurring around her. She could make out each individual singing bird. It seemed that she could understand what each bird was calling. She could distinguish different sets of animal prints, what kind of animal made them and even how long ago. (Track feat). In addition she somehow could identify each kind of grass and plant growing around her. (Knowledge Nature). This new awareness of nature dazzled her. It seemed that all of her mother's survival lessons along with granmar's lore of nature lessons all surfaced together into her memory and remained there.
Shaking her head to control the new sensations and information, she entered the stables. The Seeker's horses all put their heads over the stall doors as she walked by to Nivea's stall. She did her usual greeting, calling each by name and pausing to rub their heads and muzzles. The horses would snuffle their appreciation. Reaching Nivea, she put her arm around the horse's head and pressed her cheek against that of the horse. "Miss me dear?" she began to say and then felt a major shock as she definitely heard the horse say "yes much, 'bout time visit. Smell apple. Playtime" ..
This occurs just after the Seekers' first battle with the drow in the Tomb of Chanis (Chapter 13).
The last drow fell dead, his glaive clanging to the stone floor. The Tomb of Chanis echoed with the sound. Okul had been wounded badly. He had born the brunts of the glaive attacks. As Swan stepped forward to help heal him, there was an instant of discontinuity. She found herself in a magnificent forest by a running creek. She sat under a tall tree with a large tome in her lap. All was very peaceful. The book's cover was constructed of fall leaves of all descriptions and colors, fitting together to form a thick binding. The pages appeared to be composed of different types of bark. The title in golden elfin script read 'Lore of the Ranger-Scout'.
A note attached read, "Most Darling Granddaughter: A present from the Great Archer. Other matters prevent me from being there. Read and learn. With much love, Granpar.
She opened the book. All the pages appeared blank except for two. She read. The first page explained how she could inflict more damage in battle. (Improved Skirmish feat). The second explained how she could combine her ranger and scout abilities to improve her skills and damage even those enemies that would not ordinarily be damaged. (Wild Hunter feat). Upon reading suddenly these skills were part of her as if she had practiced them countless times. She closed the tome. Another period of discontinuity followed. She found herself standing beside Okul in the Tom of Chanis.
As a scout from the Deepingdale, Swan has had the pleasure of the company of many elves, both local and travellers from afar, teaching her of many secret and hidden places throughout Cormanthnor.
Just recently, Swan had been tasked to meet and escort a party of noble moon elves and their escorts from Tangled Trees to Deepingdale for a council on what to do about the growing Drow problem that affected both nations. While the diplomats and nobles talked on endlessly (it seems that is all they ever do), Swan showed four of the elvish warrior guards from Tangled Trees around Deepingdale. They introduced themselves as Simimar and Lathai Evioro (twin brothers at that, a rarity amongst elves), Nylian Moonglade and Inialos Oakwood. This quartet of moon elves put Swan at ease. She was able to take them away from the capital, Highmoon, and show them all of the dale's beauty, near and around Bristar and Green Glen, her home area.. It was soon apparent that Swan and Inialos had developed a great mutal affection for each other. While the other three guests would spend their evenings with Swan's parents or with the Fox tribe of wood elves (Swan's relatives and friends), Swan and Inialos would take strolls and moonlight baths in pools inside the forest.They became very physical with each other, but for some inexplicable reason, Swan was never able to give her person fully to him. Inialos respected this and never pressured her. All this did was to endear him more to her. No one will ever know what could have happened had the two of them more time to spend with each other. However, all good things must end, and all too soon, it was time for them to depart and return home. With promises to keep in touch and visit each other often, the five friends seperated. It was shortly after this that Swan began having her Dreams of Darkness and left for Ashabenford.
Even before Swan arrived in Ashabenford, she has heard nothing good about Haresk Malorn, the High Councillor of Mistledale. It was said his family controled the local general store, charging high prices to keep the area farmers indebted to him. No one dared oppose him, especially since he controls the mighty Rod of Peldan (a black sceptre of unimaginable power). But interestingly enough, after her arrival, everyone she questioned about the High Councillor seemed to have nought but good things to say about him. How he was doing such a splendid job governing and how he had the best interests of the people and country at heart. This contrdiction implied a mystery. There was somthing wrong and she wanted to resolve it.
It is also said that those who harp (the Harpers) are well represented in Mistledale, and keep an eye out for good and worthy recruits, and question all strangers to learn their business, but stay well hidden to avoid those that are evil or who hoard power for their own ends. Swan knew about this rumour but had no real information to either deny or confirm. Besides which, her belonging with the Seekers did not leave her much time to investigate that which at the moment did not concern her.
My human father, Armando, calls me his Little Shy Swan. When he is somewhat cross with me, he uses my full name. "Swan, Morgana, Battlestar", he would loudly emphasize and pause after each word, "finish, those, chores, right, now!"
Father is Damarian: dark-haired, blue eyed and white skinned, rugged, not handsome. He arrived in Deepingdale years ago, a Witch-King War refugee. He does not speak much about those early days. He lost his parents in that war and so my middle name is in memory of my grandmother. He says the best thing that ever happened to him was meeting mother. Mother says he was a bit of a rogue in his younger days. Father is the locksmith of the glade village, Green Glen. He is also a jack of all trades. Helping out with the smithing, the carpentry, the lumbering, whatever has to be done at the time. It is he who tends to our little garden, and our rabbits, pigeons and chickens. Father taught me locksmithing from an early age as I would help him out fixing and repairing locks. He also showed me the proper tools to use to open stubborn or closed locks. He is a great believer in healthy body tone and so some of my earliest recollections are of us doing our morning regime of calisthenics. From an early age, I was tumbling, jumping, climbing, vaulting and somersaulting. I think I also inherited his disdain for nobility. Father says respect and authority should be earned through good deeds, experiences and wisdom, not accident of birth. We are like that. Deepingdale is a republic of free peoples and we elect our 'Lord'.
My mother, Lilia, is half wood elf. She prefers my elven name; Cygni Lainneea Vulpae. Swan of the Sweet Wood Family of the Fox Tribe. Mother is a Ranger-Captain of the Deepingdale Militia. She was my main teacher in the care and use of bows. She also serves as a priestess of Solonar Thelandria. Many were the times I helped her in The Full Moon ceremonies. Before we sang and danced under the stars, I was the one to hold the Silver Arrow and recite the refrains during the ritual of The Hunt. I too wish to be chosen by the Keen-Eye to serve him.
Mother's mother, my Granmar, is the Tree Talker of the Fox Tribe. Many seasons of my childhood, I spend with her, learning wood elf lore and ways of the forest. It is she who listens to the trees of the forest, cares for them and protects them. In return they tell her of what is happening in the woods. "Cygni", she would say, "you have the best of two worlds. Your body is mostly human, but your heart is mostly elf and your mind is both. Granpar was a human scout. He died fighting drow invaders before I was born. Granmar says that I get my shyness from him as well as my eyes.
I grew up in Green Glen which is a little village in a small glade in the Cormanthar Forest. Mostly humans and half elves live there. Mother's tribe lives nearby but deeper in the forest. Green Glen lies near the large town of Bristar. Mostly moon elves live in Bristar. Deepingdale takes great pride in the harmony of its races. Human, elf and half elf all share the same freedoms and great affection for our land. We all defend our land and forest from those who would take it from us, be it Vhaeraurian drow, Banites, Zhents, or even the encroachments of the neighbouring kingdoms of Sembia and Cormyr. We have even welcomed drow worshipers of the drow goddess Ellistrace as they too are enemies of the evil drow. They now also are also fiercely loyal to Deepingdale. We have good relations with the many other independent elf communities in Cormanthar Forest for we share common heritages and common enemies. Many treants, druids and sylvan folk who live in the forest also call Deepingdale their home. There are many shrines to nature and sylvan deities in our forests but most elves and half elves worship the Seldarine, the pantheon of elven gods. Many humans prescribe to the teachings of Oghma, especially in the capital city of Highmoon. There, is found a temple and a monastery of Oghma, which serve the library known as the Leaves of Learning. This library is reputed to be one of the finest in the lands surpassed only by Candlekeep and the Royal Cormyreran Library. We are justly proud of our Leaves of learning.
At sixteen, I undertook the compulsory militia training. I was enrolled with the local scout unit. At eighteen, instead of returning to civilian life, I stayed on with the scouts. My favorite times were those of guiding various dignitary visitors and groups around the Dale. My last such outing involved 4 moon elves from Tangled Trees. There was one, Inialos Oakwood, a moon elf ranger, that I became most fond off. He returned my affection. Many were the nights we spent together. I learned much on how to be physical and intimate, but could not bring myself to surrender my body totally. Inialos was a good teacher and never pressured me. He said that in time I would know my own heart and do what I knew to be right. He just hoped it would be he that I gave my heart to. In the meantime he would accept whatever I wished to give. The last night before he had to return to Tangled Trees, we spent entangled together under the full moon of Solonar. I cried myself to sleep on his chest knowing that it may be a long time before we met again. After his departure, I enjoyed the times I spend alone on patrol in the forests. It allowed me much time to think about my future and my relationships. Recently there has been much talk and rumors about new drow raids in neighbouring Mistledale. I decided that for a time I would offer my services as a scout to the authorities there. Telling my parents of my decision was sad but they were also proud. Besides, I was not going that far. What I did not tell was the more important reason I had decided to go. Lately I have been having the same nightmare, over and over again, concerning an ancient elven standing stone in the Cormanthar Forest near Ashabenford. It is too much of a coincidence that these nightmares started at the same time as the increase in the drow raids. I must investigate, if only to dispose of these eerie dreams. I feel a strong calling to travel to Ashabenford. "Cygni is leaving the nest", mother exclaimed with tears in her eyes. "My little chick has become a beautiful Swan", added father as he hugged me hard. They both gave me gifts that they had saved especially for this occasion. Father presented me with half a quiver of elven serpent tongue arrows. Mother gave me half a dozen thunder arrows with the advice to use them sparingly and only when required. On the way to visit Granmar, I found that father had also put in a fine set of lock opening tools inside my backpack.
In bidding farewell to Granmar, she nodded as if she had expected my leaving and said, "Yes the time has arrived. Cygni, the Great Archer will call for you soon. For that I have a gift for you." So saying, she produced a water proof oiled cloth wrapper. Inside was a magnificently crafted longbow. "It belonged to your Granpar. He wanted his first scout descendant to have use of it after him. Use it well and use it with pride." As tears streamed down my eyes, I vowed to use it only when I heard the calling of Solonar Thelandria. Granmar hugged me and let me weep on her breasts. "Cygni, your path is divided. You will have to choose two styles in your life. Should you choose one over the other, it will determine how you live your life, the elf way or the human way. You will have to choose between two major decisions. One will allow you to be remembered by your friends and family. One will allow you to be remembered by the whole world. You will have two great loves. One will bring security, love and fulfillment. One will bring conflict, passion and constant striving. Now dry your eyes, beloved granddaughter. drink your tea and I will will tell you tales of your Granpar, your mother and your father. Remember these tales and in times of doubt and insecurity, they will instill grit and determination." The next morning after a breakfast of honey cakes, berries and tea, I bade good-bye to Granmar ant the rest of the Fox tribe. In this manner I set out for Ashabenford, the capital of Mistledale.
Taking short cuts through the forest the journey I discovered that the frequency of nightmares decreased the closer I got to Ashabenford. The journey was uneventful. That changed only two days away from my destination. As nightfall was approaching I decided to cut through to the main caravan road. I intended to spend the night near the road. Suddenly I came across the spoor of two bugbears. Now fully alert and following the goblinoids, I could determine that we were approaching the campfires of caravan. It appeared that no one in the camp had noticed the bugbears. Quickening my pace, I hid in the shadows of the underbrush as I silently passed by unnoticed by the two monsters. Reaching the encampment, I could see that a dwarf seemed to be on watch duty. Instead of looking out for the safety of the caravan, he seemed to be in a deep conversation with his battle axe. Just my luck, I thought. The first dwarf I encounter turns out to be totally weird if not downright insane. He seemed completely oblivious to the encroaching bugbears. Needing to attract his attention, I mimicked the call of a nightingale. [Risca later told me he thought it was a thrush. I had to explain to him that thrushes are day birds and so do not call out in the early evening.] The bird call got his attention. He became alert and began to scan the area. Then still not having noticed the bugbears trying to sneak up, the fool started to walk towards me. Thinking quickly, I moved towards the bugbears, intentionally making noise and acting clumsy. The dwarf kept on approaching me. The goblinoids also noticed me and approached me from the opposite side. I stopped and waited for all three to rush at me. They did. At the last second, I tumbled out of the way, allowing them to rush at each other. All three gave out a roar and charged at each other, weapons swinging. As they fought, I readied my bow and waited for clean shots. The dwarf was obviously an experienced combatant. His axe technique kept them from flanking him. One of the monsters adjusted its foot stance. By doing so, it exposed its leg and I quickly loosed my arrow. It struck just above the ankle. The dwarf never noticed. The shot made the beast lose balance. The dwarf quickly took advantage, head butting the beast, while swing its axe to where its neck would be after the head butt. A quick decapitation followed. At this, the remaining bugbear went berserk. Flailing away with its huge sword, it managed to catch on the dwarf's axe, knocking him back and slightly off balance. This worked to the advantage of its longer reach. Raising the huge sword it prepared for a crippling blow. But with the dwarf out of the way it was now an exposed target to me. I released another arrow. This one the dwarf did notice as it whistled over his head to bite deep into the bugbear's shoulder joint. Exactly the spot I had aimed for. This caused it to drop its sword. Now weaponless, it was no match for the experienced dwarf who quickly dispatched it. Imagine my astonishment when he lifted his bloodied dripping axe up to his face and began to address it. He used a language I was not familiar with, most likely dwarven. Turning, he approached me. He pointed to my third arrow, already drawn, cocked and aimed at him. Just in case! Then he pointed to the ground. I lowered my bow and slackened the pull slightly. In broken Chondathan he asked for my name. "Swan Battlestar", I responded, "and there is no need to thank me."
By now the commotion had awoken the rest of the camp. He grabbed my wrist. As I was quickly surrounded, I could see no point in using my escape artist tricks to break his fingers, so I allowed his hand to stay. "Lookee here, capt'n", he spoke to a grizzled battle scared older man, who was examining the bugbear corpses. He stood up and came to us. "I found her trying to sneak up ", the dwarf tried to continue but was interrupted by the caravan leader.
"You shoot those arrows?" he asked me. Looking at the ground to avoid his eyes, I could only nod. "Lucky shots?" he went on. Now I got a bit angry.
"No", I replied, looking up. "I'm a Deepingdale scout. Have been for awhile now." The dwarf snorted at this but the captain just rubbed at his whiskers for awhile. "Deepingdale, hey? Tell you what, little miss. You scout for us, until we get to Ashabenford, maybe even bag us some wild game on the way and I'll give you three squares a day, a place to sleep and a few coins at the end. What do you say?" Since that was my destination as well, it seemed more than reasonable. Staring back at the ground, I nodded my head again. "O.K., that's settled then. Everyone back to the camp. Risca, since you found her, you can the responsibility for her. Show her the ropes and how we do things. It will give you someone to talk to besides your axe." A lot of the caravaneers seemed to find this amusing.
In the two days it took us to reach Ashabenford, I found myself enjoying Risca's [that is the dwarf's name] company. He did not push or demand and I became much less shy with him. Reaching Ashabenford, we unloaded the last silk bales, and received our pay. Risca asked me to join him in finding a tavern for supper. With no reason to refuse and with several ones to agree, off we went. Little did I know what a great adventure lay ahead of us.