A journal from Kaenan-Tal’s perspective. A new wonder is discovered in this otherwise dying world, as well as the scope of the tragedy that has gone before.
I had not expected to encounter true beauty in this cursed land, but I am grateful to be proved wrong. But I must start from the beginning…
Not two days ago, after much scrying using the Obsidian Mirror, Long Tom declared that our next target was an endless expanse of forests to the north, where we would seek the next artifact needed for our journey home, The Sword of Sylere.
The Sword was in the keeping of the Valanorn, a race that was said to be not unlike the Tryshallan members of our erstwhile family. Before our departure, Long Tom requested that I hold my peace on the purpose of our mission, lest I inadvertently invite even more people to flee this world with us.
Though I did not understand why we should not aid all that required it of us, I nevertheless agreed in the name of party harmony. Long Tom seems to have lost a lot since we came to this world, and I would not want to shake his already fragile psyche. Perhaps this particular quest will be his salve? I can only hope.
Borne aloft by our eagle allies, we arrived at the edge of the forest in a matter of days. A sea of green, yellow, red and azure that stretched as far as the eye could see, topped by mists coruscating with arcane energy. After ascertaining that we could not simply fly above the treeline, we bid farewell to our winged allies (they could not navigate the press of trees) and made our way into the enchanted woods.
Much to our alarm, after our first few steps, our party was engulfed by a sight killing fog, and we stumbled, separated, further into the forest, our plaintive cries to each other seeming to come from all corners. I found myself in a small clearing with Long Tom, Lillith, Hannah and a few others, not half our original party.
Surrounding the clearing, eyes shimmering in the reflected light of our lanterns, were dozens of Valanorn warriors, their longbows aiming arrows steadily at our vitals.
How to describe a Valanorn? It is almost like asking how one would describe a dream. Their features are better defined than the Tryshallan, where the Tryshallan tend to look somewhat like finer boned humans, there is nothing that is not fae about the Valanorn face. Their hair flows like a king’s ransom in spun gold, and their ears are a full hands-breadth longer than the lobes of my Tryshallan friends. But perhaps the most memorable thing was their eyes. In their eyes shone the light of stars long forgotten, each one a pinprick of multihued radiance.
But I am a simple country preacher and halting of speech, perhaps the poets could couch it better.
In their unfamiliar tongue, they addressed us, and Long Tom was able to interpret. They asked us our purpose here, and before Long Tom could respond, Lillith said it was to defeat the Inexorable Kings, the dread monarchs who hold this world in thrall. That shocked us all (and I will say now, I will never again question the fortitude of this young woman), to say nothing of our Valanorn snipers.
Regaining his composure, their leader choked out laughter, asking us how we were to accomplish this. Lillith stated her belief that the Kings were weakened following their victory in the final conflict, otherwise they would have already come after the Valanorn in their forest haven. (On reflection, I realize that Lillith was speaking Tryshallan yet the Valanorn seemed perfectly capable of understanding her, how peculiar.)
Though their leader was doubtful, the other Valanorn started to whisper behind his back, whispers that turned to excited chatter when they learnt about the rescue of He Who Watches (which was proven when the Scorpion Ring I wore on my hand flared with his radiance).
Before their leader could protest further, we heard in our minds these words:
That is enough.
A voice gentle as a spring breeze caressing a mythril blade, belonging to (as we were to learn) Princess Isethial, Sovereign of the Valanorn race since her Mother Queen Ishalla fell in battle against the Inexorable host.
They have won the right to be seen. Bring them to us so that we may speak directly to them.
With a muttered curse, the leader of the Valanorn downed his bow (as did all the others, though he gave them no command, did they too hear the word of Princess Isethial?) and hiked off into the woods, beckoning for us to follow.
As we followed a path that seemed to materialize out of what was previously a wall of trees, the missing members of our group gradually stumbled into our procession. Klangor related a most bizarre tale about his sojourn in the mists, of dreams of battles, old friends and honor.
After considering his tale, I have come to believe that Princess Isethial made use of our separation to test our little group. That I live to write this probably means that we did not fail.
We were led swiftly into the centre of the woods (it seemed to take no time at all, though we must have trekked for dozens of miles). And the sight that greeted us would have brought an Emperor to his knees.
As I love the Law, I saw a kingdom which Threshold would not comprise the smallest part of, the domed palaces and towers that went on further than the eye could see were forged from glittering jewels interweaved with the living branches of massive trees. Yet, for all its wonder, the streets were silent and empty. I saw no children at play or people taking their ease.
As I strolled the wide avenues of this miser’s fever dream, I heard Klangor gibbering beside me.
Thats not possible, its all one piece! One silver lord blasted piece! There isn’t that much in the whole world, let alone in one building! And they got it to bend! How do you get bloody diamond to bend?!!
We were led into one of the smaller domiciles (the mind boggles at calling them houses), which had room enough for twice our number (some 60 rooms), where we were attended by the Princess’ representative.
At her instruction, we were to reside here and await her pleasure, and in the meantime our needs would be attended to. We were not to employ potent divine gifts, for fear of drawing the attention of the Inexorable Kings, and neither were we to harm any of her subjects, but otherwise our time was our own.
The suites we were each given were heavily ornamented with intricate baubles, the craftsmanship of which once again had Klangor in a near faint (I fear that any more stimulation and he will suffer an aneurysm), some of them were quite… personal… in nature, gifts from loved ones and other mementos of affection.
We asked our minder (the Princess’ representative) where the Valanorn who used to dwell here went, hopefully our presence had not deprived them of their abode.
No, said he sadly, they are now lost to us. They either gave their lives in the last conflict, or the grief arising from the death of their loved ones took them. While you are welcome to use these rooms, please do not desecrate the memory of those who have gone before.
I write this entry from the desk of Yseldra, daughter of Fronin, beloved of Kylaeth, all three now distant memories.
May the words that I write forever remember you, even beyond the passing of your world.