The Tearing of the Weave

The Brooch Diaries: Episodes 1 through 27 (Malia)

Day 1: Well, this seems awkward to me. I cannot remember speaking to a person every day for any decently long period, much less a brooch. You, whoever it is who is stuck listening to this nightly report of mine, will simply have to bear with me as I meander. I left Myth Drannor today… but you probably already knew that.

Day 2: It has been too long since I walked amidst the trees like this. I can tell because I enjoyed my traveling today rather than just trudging along because I had to. It was a gorgeous day for walking. Golden sunlight filtered down through frost dusted branches and painted stark shadow patterns on the snowy forest floor.

Day 3: Today was one of those days which reminds me of the endless drudgery of military campaigning. It rained. Marching in armor in the rain is never a joyous occasion. My current armor doesn’t chafe as badly as some I’ve worn, however. I can still remember my first armored march in the rain. I must have been 50 or so, and my parents had me gear up for patrol with them just for the occasion. They said that the experience would toughen me. I suppose they were right. The blisters healed eventually and calluses formed in their place. Besides, with the season being what it is, I should be glad that it wasn’t hail.

Day 4: I saw a shambling hulk today. It reminded me of some of the pranks we pulled when I was a youth. There was a shallow cavern along one of the patrol routes near our camp one year… I was probably 70 or so then. It was a muddy marshy thing full of mossy hillocks that collapsed beneath the slightest weight, fallen branches like giant pillars and the occasional solid rocky outcropping. A shambling hulk got itself trapped in there somehow. I don’t remember who came up with the idea first, but it wasn’t long before we had a dozen or so shocker lizards down there as well. Then, one moonless night when our elders were warning of “near certain” Drow raids we all went out dancing. We laughed and sang and played as loudly as we could… and the Drow came as if we had cast some sort of summoning spell. We had lookouts posted; we knew they were there. As soon as we thought we had them hooked we ran like spooked hares. They followed us like hounds on a scent, and they were fast. We weren’t faster… but we knew where those rocky outcroppings were. A few of our best archers were waiting above the cavern with bows, but they weren’t necessary. Not a single Drow made it out of our trap. Ah, what good times we children had.

Day 5: I am well outside Myth Drannor’s sphere of influence now… this Cormanthor is the war torn battleground I grew up in. I found a pile of Drow corpses today, peppered with Wild elf arrows. I was happy to see the Drow defeated, but sad as well. This band of Wild elves is small but…they did not come to serve the queen. The only way we will save this forest from darkness is through unity. That is why I abandoned my parents’ dreams of restoring Eanlann in favor of the queen’s far more reachable goal of restoring Myth Drannor.

Day 6: Traveling like this is quite lonely. I find my mind drifting as I remember the cheerful banter that marked the campsites of my younger days. Fireside tales of derring do competed with the steady “twop” of arrow fire. Marail and Karvanth never tired of trying to one up one another, while Tambral practiced his archery constantly, determined to become the greatest sniper the deep woods have ever known. All three are gone now. Karvanth fell in a spell battle with a Cleric of Lloth. Marail was taken somewhere by a giant spider that could walk through walls and Tambral fell in the battle for Myth Drannor, cloven neatly in two. The only familiar voice I hear now is Gwaew’Kiir’s and the only thing I have to talk to is this brooch.

Day 7: I was 100 years old to the day when I met Gwaew’Kiir, I had just chosen the name that would be mine throughout my adulthood and allowed into the armory to choose my first magical item. It was our tradition for the clan to give a new adult one single thing… the only free thing we would get from life. Everything else was to be earned. Some parents gave their children extra gifts before sending them off on their first solo mission, but I knew mine would do no such thing. They would stand aside and watch me succeed or fail based on the merits of my own skills and choices. I did not plan on failing, so I wanted a sword. I was well aware of the fact that things existed which could not be harmed by the simple steel sword that I had earned hauling rocks for a neighbor’s building project. I sorted through every pile and bag, dusted off and opened every chest, determined to examine each of my options before choosing. I had my hand in a chest that looked like it should not be quite so shallow when something bit me. I jerked my hand free in surprise while her voice echoed in my mind. “You’ll do. Now get me out of this box.” What I’d thought was a false bottom was actually a shield wedged in tight. A sentient shield that bore the same name as my clan. So it was that I left the armory without a sword… but I passed the trial anyway. Gwaew’Kiir proved to be plenty of help.

Day 8: I paused at a village I passed near today to restock my supplies. While I bargained a group of children ran laughing through the streets. I watched them wistfully for a short time before continuing on my way. I was rarely allowed such freedom as a child. My parents were determined that I would master both sword and spell before my name day. I suppose that I should be grateful that my parents were so strict. It is likely the reason that I have survived so many of my age mates…still…the simple joy of childish games was something I always envied.

Day 9: I suppose my parents valued toughness over tenderness. I can’t really blame them. They watched their friends and neighbors lose children to Drow raiding parties and random monstrosities all of the time. I never doubted that they loved me… or that they worried constantly about my safety… It’s been decades since I spoke to them last. I suppose they’re dead by now. The entire village has probably been destroyed by something or another.

Day 10: This is a dark and crowded section of woods. The forest giants are sparse now; smaller trees and underbrush are abundant. I found the armor I’m wearing now in a section of woods much like this one. It was one of those days when luck was on my side. The very young green dragon that attempted to ambush me tried to lunge from a branch not quite strong enough to support its weight. It didn’t have much treasure to speak of… Mostly weapons and armor from adventurers not quite lucky enough to avoid its trap.

Day 11: I left Cormanthor today. For the first time in my life, the sky is not occluded by branches. I find it oddly disconcerting.

Day 12: I stopped by a farmstead today to trade for supplies, but there was nothing alive there… not even flies feasting on the carcasses.

Day 13: The snow lies thick on the ground here in Shadowdale. I was grateful for my sandals when I snuck around a Zhent patrol. Normally I would have fought them… Zhents and Drow are my least favorite things to see around Cormanthor. The mission must come first though. (Sigh.)

Day 14: I should arrive at the Falconhand farmstead tomorrow if I read my landmarks correctly. Hopefully I will have real news to report to you, oh patient listener.

Day 15: Glorious News! The Warblade has been found, and recovered from the Drow stronghold in which it was held captive. It is not here at the temporary base the Fellowship of the Weave has made of the Falconhand farmstead, however. It is at their more permanent base in the now rebuilt and renamed Castle Havenloft. I shall travel with Ivak to there with the next band of Shadowdalian refugees he escorts and do what seems necessary to protect it and return it home.

Day 16: I traveled today with the majority of the persons that I was sent to find. Only the half-moon elf girl and the black-eyed human were not amongst my companions. I watched the Lord Merchant annoy a druid and thought about intervening. It was a happy chance that I did not, since amidst his attempts to impress the druid, the Lord Merchant showed that he had the pendant of Ashaba and that it had been taken from a Drow priestess. I fear this bodes ill for Scothgar’s parents, though I have supposed the news I would bring him grim since the moment he asked for it. The Lord Bard glossed over the anger that resulted from the Lord Merchant’s posturing and we continued to Havenloft. I do not blame the Druid for his discontent though. Were I a Dalesfolk I would not welcome a Sembian Lord, no matter how heroic he had proven himself… As a Cormanthorian I disapprove of a Sembian lord of Shadowdale even more. Sembia is more than close enough already. They do not need to share a border with us.

Day 17: Today I met some pegasi, killed some Zhentarim and freed some Dalesfolk. I found Ivak a pleasure to fight beside, and Kinokee a steady battle companion. The Lord Merchant however, took many seemingly needless risks. At several junctures I thought that I would need to waste a spell on regrouping our party, but he always managed to skate his way back to Ivak before he was too badly injured. I had hoped the Skymages, most particularly their leader would be here. I have heard some disturbing news from the Fellowship. Apparently this Skymage, Eregul the Freestave, has come into possession of a ring rumored to have very dangerous powers. It is possible that he will soon be able to transport himself and his companions directly into Windsong Tower, bypassing all the guards and wards in Cormanthor. Be wary.

Day 18: Once again the Fellowship has split its forces. I stayed at Havenloft to watch over the Warblade. I found myself working closely with the Lord Bard and the Lady Heartwarder trying to turn their ragtag group of refugees into a force capable of defending Havenloft against an attack. It is slow going.

Day 19: I spent much of today with Cormyr’s warmage, discussing tactics for a magical assault. I find myself torn between working on Havenloft’s defenses, organizing and training its troops, and keeping an eye on Kosh. I know that the Fellowship trusts him, but my experience with half-drow is that even the ones who talk a good game will stab an ally in the back at the first opportunity.

Day 20: I pray to Angharradh tonight in the Lord Bard’s temple to many Gods. The army is here. Their assault on Havenloft should begin tomorrow. Temudgin is gone, teleported to Cormyr again. Hopefully his relief troops will arrive in time.

Day 21: Aster and Arianna stood atop the tallest tower, pegasi at their sides in case they should come under fire. He sang and played, driving our troops to feats of greatness they could never have otherwise attained. She directed our defense, following the plan I laid out for her. We made a good team… My knowledge of warfare and her ability to capture the minds and hearts of troops. The Cormyrians arrived just in time, as did the rest of the Fellowship. None of the Skymages attacking us were Eregul. I will find him however, and pry that ring from his cold, dead hand. Lady Shaeryl was among the rescued captives the fellowship brought back from the Twisted Tower. She is in good health, but knows nothing about her husband’s status. I promised Scothgar that I would let him know about his parents. I am hoping that you will tell him that his mother is alive.

Day 22: We traveled today to help a band of Aster’s men take a Zhentarim caravan filled with badly needed supplies. Eregul was there. I fear I must confess that he escaped me with the ring. I chased him when he retreated on his foul draconic mount, and cut the thing out from under him, but he had more than one means of escape at hand, and I could not follow when he teleported away.

Day 23: Most of the Fellowship has gone to take the Twisted Tower. A group of Silver Ravens from Sembia have arrived, and appear to be following the Lord Merchant’s commands. I remained behind to direct the restoration of Havenloft’s defenses. Most of the population of Shadowdale is here now; hopefully the supplies from the caravan will last until we retake the town.

Day 24: The last of the injured are now healed or dead. I cleaned the bandages and supplies from the temple to many Gods and remembered my times in the temple of Angharradh during my youth. I spent a great deal of time there, sometimes as a page, occupying a bed at others. It was there that I learned to prioritize my goals. The elven people must be protected if they are to accomplish anything.

Day 25: The Fellowship returned today with news of great evil born from Mourngrym’s hand. That evil’s true source proved to be a dark spirit that had possessed Scothgar’s father. We learned this when Mourngrym fell in battle and the thing chose the Lord Merchant as its new host. It attempted to work great evil against Cormanthor but was prevented by the vigilance of Lemac the Northern Barbarian and banished by Ivak and the power of Torm. Mourngrym was resurrected by Ivak and the grace of Torm, and both Mourngrym and Alejandro have been returned to their previous states. Please let Scothgar know that both of his parents are alive and as safe as any here.

Day 26: Today we prepare for War. Scyulla Darkhope marches her army against us. Wolf scouts have run to bring us word of their exact number and direction, but I have no doubt that we are massively outnumbered. We plan to make our stand in Shadowdale proper. The Lord Bard is currently constructing whatever fortifications can be put into place before then with his Lyre. Whichever path to the city our enemies choose, they will march between forests filled with casters and snipers before facing the Dalesfolk militia, our small group of mercenaries and an even smaller band of Silver Ravens. When the fortifications are overrun, we will skirmish in the streets of Shadowdale, beside wolves and other forest creatures attempting to do as much damage to the Zhentarim as possible. I say we because I do not intend to return home. While my mission was to retrieve the Warblade and return to Cormanthor, I cannot in good conscience leave. Every possible sword and bow is desperately needed here. If Shadowdale falls before her, Blackguard Darkhope will surely march on Cormanthor in the spring. We cannot afford to face the Black Network on two fronts… not and have any hope of handling the Drow. If the Queen can send archers, we would be deeply grateful. If she cannot she should consider sending whomever she intends to have draw the Warblade and claim it. I will guard both it and Cormanthor with my life, but one soldier’s life is a cheap thing on the field of battle.

Please wait a moment.

What?! Umm… sure.

Ayamalia Gwaew’kiir, are you still there?

Yes.

This is General Aravilar Aramil. Please describe your troop layouts and numbers for me.

(Does so.)

I see. Please wait a moment.

Yes sir.

Ayamalia, do you know who this is?

Yes, my queen.

Despite the interference from enemy wizards, we have scryed the forces approaching your location. They seem to outnumber your forces by about three to one.

...That is about what I expected, my queen.

I have some questions for you.

Of course, my queen.

Do you love my people and my country more than your own life?

Yes.

Would you give anything, give anything to protect Cormanthor and the elven people?

Yes.

Draw the Warblade.

...Yes, my queen. (long pause)

Ayamalia, are you there?

...Yes.

I am glad to hear that you are still with us.

I am glad to be with you as well.

Cormanthor remains under siege, but I shall send Aravilar and what few forces I can spare. Contact Azalar Falconhand and ask him if the fey will transport our troops by means of the crossroads. The will not arrive in time otherwise. I wish you to know that I had full intention of presenting the Warblade to you in all proper ceremony when you returned to Myth Drannor, and still hope to do so. Wield Ary’velahr’kerym well, Ayamalia. I expect to hear from you again.

This is General Aravilar Aramil. I will await your response. I also wish you to know that I am both pleased for and jealous of your recent accomplishment.

Thank you.

I have contacted Azalar. The fey should be there shortly to aid your travels.

Day 27: We battled for Shadowdale today. It was a long and horrid battle, filled with the deaths of far too many allies, but we have emerged victorious. The Zhentarim push into Shadowdale has been broken, and the remainder of the army has fled. While the Zhentarim ground forces hit our ramparts like a tidal wave, the Fellowship took to the air to face their leaders. Scyulla flew on her white nightmare Targaraene, accompanied by six Erinyes, a mounted skymage and Eregul riding a black dragon. I could not reach Eregul at first, so I focused on the erinyes with Ivak. Lemac was the first to close with the wizard, and he died, mangled by the dragon’s claws seconds before the Lord Merchant scored the final blow against the black beast. Scyulla was in one of her temporary ethereal retreats at the time, and Eregul darted away. Fearing a repeat of our last encounter, I gave chase, but his magic was more than enough to keep me from landing a blow on him. It was not Eregul who laid me low, but Scyulla reappearing from elsewhere, unholy sword raised to smite me. I do not know how I survived that blow. I do not even remember striking the ground. I opened my eyes to see Aster and Arianna standing over me, neither any more certain than I how it was I needed healing magic and not a resurrection. That was the moment when the black tentacles exploded from the ground to ensnare us. I managed to avoid capture long enough to dimension door the three of us back up to the combat. We faced Eregul while Ivak, Alejandro and Kinokee targeted Scyulla, but with much less effect. I began to fear that nothing we did would penetrate Eregul’s magic defenses, but seconds after Alejandro landed the killing blow against Scyulla Darkhope with enough force to drive her corpse from the back of her nightmare mount, Arianna managed to destroy him with the power of Sune. I snatched the ring from the air as it fell, the nightmare vanished and the Zhent leadership was eliminated. That was not the end of the battle of course. Ivak, Aster and Arianna went to assist with the wounded. Alejandro displayed Scyulla’s head to the Zhentarim, and I know not what Kinokee did. I used the power of the blade to shore up our defenses and eliminate the worst of our foes. The dragon Alejandro spoke of did appear, an ancient black whom I feared would turn on our forces. She confined herself to the Zhent rearguard, however, breaking the last of their will. Shadowdale is safe, a solid defense for Cormanthor’s flank once more.

Comments

Zorana

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.