This is the last I will control your character. Enjoy!
The weather had been perfect, clear and warm, a picture Andoran summer day. To Tatalia, it felt like the puffy clouds and bright sun had been mocking here all day. Everyone else at the funeral had seemed to enjoy the weather, as if it didn’t matter.
It had been a long day for the Halfling paladin. Part of that had been the scale of the service itself. Nearly every soul in Cyremium had turned out and many had come from out of town, drawn by the news of the famous adventurer’s death.
A stage had even been run up at the simple graveyard to give the speakers a way to be seen by the bustling crowd. A long series of people had occupied the lectern, speaking of Connac and how they knew him. Some were simple townsfolk who only knew Connac Aevell as a genile old man who enjoyed playing his lute at local taverns. Quick with a joke, a story and a bit of coin, he had been a popular fixture at the town’s two watering holes.
The outsiders had a more mixed tale to tell. Some were tearful goodbyes to a comrade from past adventurers, and a few had been people he had saved. The mayor of a distant town spared from an attack by orcs by the Band of the Black Banner. Another was a roguish looking gnome who regaled the crowd with a humorous story of a caper in Absalom. Another was an ex-lover, now remarried, who came to pay her sober respects to the man she had once loved and still respected.
And so the list went on, speaker after speaker. Then, after that came the long procession as everyone in attendance walked past the dead man’s coffin, touching it or bowing mournfully. It taken hours for everyone to file past at that slow pace people use at funerals.
Most of the people left then, and only a tight inner circle of friends and the local cleric stayed to bury the coffin in the simple grave, at the edge of town. A few short prayers, some turned earth and the men who has a legend across half of Avistan was buried. One by one, with a muttered word or in tears, the others turned away and left. Then the paladin was alone, a standing sentinel by the aromatic earth of the new grave.
The sun was setting now, drawing a curtain on the weary, emotional day. Long shadows from the graveyard trees reached out, throwing Tatalia into the shade. The simple marble headstone gleamed in the dying light. Then, out of the shadows of a tree, a figure appeared. It was dim and dark as if wrapped in shadow.
Then they stepped into the brighter light and Tatalia could see it was a robed and masked humanoid.
The figure strides to the other side of the fresh grave and kneels. Tatalia can just make out a muttered poem or prayer. Slowly the figure stands up, facing the paladin.
”I have heard you were there when he died and heard Connac’s last words. What were they?” Under the urgency of the request, the voice is soft, feminine, refined, a far cry from the local rustic accent. Tatalia does not recognize it from any of the speakers she had heard that day.
"He..." Tatalia was hesitant to speak at first. She had thought she was alone before she'd seen the speaker beneath the shade of the tree. The stranger was not someone she remembered from the service, and the the mask gave her some pause. Yet despite that, Tatalia could not think of a reason not to answer the woman's question. At least, I think she's a woman, the halfling thought to herself. She looked away from the masked person for a moment.
"He asked me to get the Band back together," explained the paladin slowly. "I'm not entirely sure why yet, but it's what he wanted, so I will do it." Tatalia found her hand resting on the gravestone, clutching it, and looked back at the stranger.
"May I ask your name? I'm Tatalia," she said encouragingly with a small, sad smile. "I, um, I believe you have me at a disadvantage, miss."
First, targeting the stranger:
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
I'm especially curious about any religious symbols or the like on her person.
Also, if there are religious symbols or if I overheard her prayer from earlier, I'd like to make a Knowledge: Religion check.
Knowledge: Religion: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
The stranger is well dressed to hide, the robe is dark and tight, revealing a trim, lithe figure. Tatlina sees no obvious holy symbol but she does hear the prayer clear enough. It is a murmurer to Calistria, promising vengeance to the murderer. It is an old prayer, rarely used nowadays.
The figure looks down on Tatalia, face shrouded by blackness. 'Connac asked you to do this? Not to tell another or that this was his wish in general. He asked you?"
The voice is not kind and laced with suspicion.
"He didn't have much time left when he... passed." The halfling looks intently up at the stranger, deciding how much she should say. "I found Connac after his murderer had already left. I wasn't able to heal his wounds. He grabbed me by the hand and said 'Get the Band back together,' and then he stopped breathing.
"So I plan to do just that," Tatalia finishes with a tone of resolution. She takes a deep breath. "And I hope to find out who killed him and why."
A lengthy pause, as if the figure is digesting this. Quietly, as if to herself the figure says, 'Why would he choose her?' Then she speaks louder to the paladin.
"How do you plan to do this? This is not a childish lark, to be done in an afternoon. Do you have any idea how to even begin? The costs that may be required?"
"Well, I believe the phrase 'Put one foot in front of another' is an apt description," Tatalia answers with a hint of a grin. "I think the old man would prefer action over inaction, anyway. But while I do have a plan, I'd rather tell it to someone that isn't a complete stranger.
"So, let's stop being strangers." Tatalia stands up a bit straighter and regards the haughty figure. "You clearly want vengeance for my tutor, and I can't fault you for that, so you must have been close to him somehow." The halfling holds a hand out to the robed person. "I'm Tatalia, like I said - Connac's student. Who are you?"
The figure ignores the hand, but throws back the dark cowled hood. It reveals a proud, handsome elven face. Her skin is dusky, blending in with the growing twilight. Black tresses are held back in a practical style. Her eyes...Tatalia is put aback at the eyes which are mere black pools.
"I am Bronwen Nosol-Sy'n." She says proudly, "Night Warden of Darkmoon Vale and wanderer of world. I knew your...tutor well. To honor his last will and testament, I will accompany you in this task."
A knowing smile and, 'So, tell me Tatalia. What is your plan, other then 'action'."
"Well, Bronwen..." Tatalia takes a moment to recover her senses - those eyes were unnerving, and . "Well, my gut tells me that the first member of the Band we should search for is Thragrim Stoneblood. The Five Kings Mountains are close to Andoran, and I'm sure he must have some family or friends in Highhelm that can point us in the right direction. What's more, the road to High Helm should be a relatively safe one compared to, say, the long trek to Riddleport.
"But before we go," the halfling notes with a raise of her hand, "I would like to pay one last visit to my teacher's home. I'm hoping we might find some letters or a journal of his that could provide a hint as to his companions' whereabouts."
Tatalia folds her arms over her chest, thinking. A frown grows on her face. "Truthfully, I'm... concerned that none of the other Band of the Black Banner appeared for Connac's funeral. I think we should move with haste; they might have assassins after them as well. So, I'll investigate his home tonight, and in the early morning we can start traveling.
"Unless you have plans of your own?" The young paladin looks up at the elf with a furrowed brow. "You, ah, probably have more experience in this sort of thing than I do. What do you suggest?"
The woman's face remains unreadable, "I know little of what was in Connac's mind these last years. We..we had a disagreement." A flicker of emotion passes over her dark face but it is gone in an instant.
"I do know we was afraid of something...or someone. His papers would be a good place to start. I will come with you, to be sure nothing is missed."
"Let me do one last thing before we go." The halfling steps on over to Connac's grave and pulls a small canteen off her belt. She removes the cork, and the smell of alcohol rises into the air - something thick and strong. With a long, sad smile, she pours it over in front of the grave.
"He always did like this particular kind of rum - he'd call it a divine nectar and so on and so forth." The halfling presses the cork back into the canteen, then mutters, "Between you and me, it tastes awful. I'm not a drinker. But... Well...
"Let's be off." Tatalia starts on out of the cemetery and heads in the direction of Connac's manor.
I didn't know the answer, so I didn't include the transition; I just wrote where I wanted Tatalia to go.
Most time, it is good to stop and let me carry on. These scenes are natural transitions. What might be good is do exactly what you did but in OOC just mention you plan to 'go in the front door' or 'sneak up the roof' and so on, all right? Give me a general idea
Together they head toward the manor house, the elf putting her hood back in place. Tatalia notes Bronwen moves with a liquid grace, nearly vanishing among the long shadows even when as the paladin watches. She crouches slightly, breaking up her outline and the grass makes no noise under her feet.
Before them, the old house stands quiet and cold. The rambling, one floor house had been so full of life when Connac had been there, crammed with stories and mementos of past adventures. But even an empty hovel would have seemed lively if Connac had lived there.
Now the white stone seemed cold, reduced to mere rock again. The main doors stood open, revealing the dark interior.
Tatalia stares at the house in silence for a few moments. I haven't been here since that night, she realized. Has anyone?
But after that pause the young woman stepped up and opened the door. It creaked noisily. "His library and bedroom are this way," she notes quietly. "Those are probably the best places to check first."
Before going further, the halfling pulls her lantern off from her belt and puts in a bit of oil. She then lights it, casting light in a cone in front of her.
It's night time by now I figure. I'm using a pint of lamp oil so as to be able to use my bullseye lantern. Removing it from my character sheet.
The enter the house, and find no signs of life. All is quiet and still inside. Walking the hallways to the bedroom and library bring a host of memories to Tatalia's mind. His stories, his life lessons, his little jests, learning swordship by fighting through halls. Connac has always made the 'fights' messy with turned furniture or wrinkled carpets. Now though everything had been straightened and cleaned. It seemed dead, sterile.
With Bronwen ghosting alongside, they enter the study. Instantly something feels wrong. The papers on the desk look riffled through, a few books askew, a chair set at an odd angle.
Someone has come here.
"Something's wrong," says the paladin aloud, setting the lantern down on the floor facing the room. She keeps one hand on her sheathed sword. "Someone has already been here."
Tatalia grips her holy symbol tightly and holds it aloft. She mutters a small prayer to Sarenrae, and her eyes glow with a dim, pale, golden light. The halfling peers about the room searchingly.
"They might still be here, whoever did this. I doubt it, but... Keep an eye open."
Also, I know she doesn't have Verbal or Somatic Components for this, nor does she need her holy symbol as a divine focus. It's a spell-like ability, not a spell. She won't always use those things, but I felt it fit.
Tatalia sweeps the area, her magic spreading out into the room, probing it. The paladin detects nothing, no sign of evil here, at least not now.
Bronwen joins the search and Tatalia notes the elf seems very experienced at this, no stranger to exploring darkened rooms silently.
As Tatalia explores she sees a desk drawer, the lock smashed opened. A false bottom has been cracked and beneath it is a small handle, the brass shining in the light of her lamp.
'A secret handle?" Bronwen breathes, suddenly right behind Tatalina. 'I did not know of this." her voice has a trace of chagrin.
"Neither did I," notes the paladin, "but he always had a flair for the dramatic. Secrets are very dramatic."
Tatalia pulls away the false bottom and tugs on the handle.
There is a loud click as Tatalia pulls the handle. Then..nothing.
Browen lets out a dissapointed sigh, "Nothing." She mutters.
Then a large tapestry on the wall rolls up, revealing a wide expanse of stone wall. This seems unhelpful but then the illusion shimmers and dissolves, transforming into a dark staircase, leading down into pitch blackness.
The elf lets a hiss, "A secret chamber...surely this is where he kept his papers..but look." Among the thick dust of the stairs are smudges. Whoever has gone before them has gone this way.
Tatalia Survival: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
The paladin can see little information among the smudged dirt.
"If they're still here..." Tatalia reaches for her longsword and carefully draws it, recovers her lantern, and steps in the front. "Stay behind me, where the lantern won't illuminate you," she suggests to the elf with a serious tone. "I'd feel better knowing I am the target with a bullseye on it." After taking a deep breath, the small paladin then lifts her sword up and starts advancing down the staircase.
She keeps her eyes peeled for danger as she goes, her magic still searching for the presence of evil as she goes. She does little to disguise her approach, hoping the sounds of her footfalls and the bright light in her hand will distract whoever is below from Bronwen's presence.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
The elf nods and throws up her dark hood.
It is like being followed by a ghost. Bronwen is invisible behind Tatalia and nearly silent. Together they pace down the old, dusty stairs. Cobwebs hide in corners, but there are none across the passage.
Finally they come to the last stair. It seems to lead to a tunnel that runs into darkness. At the base of the stairs is an ornate white line, lined by arcane lettering.
Linguistics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11
Wisdom: 1d20 ⇒ 12
Tatalia stares at the text for a moment, trying to decipher its meaning, but in the end gives up. "I don't know what that says," she mutters, staring down at it. "I hope it's not a magical trap of some sort."
The paladin waits for some sort of signal from Bronwen.
The halfling clears her throat. "Tatalia, sir. Err, your student - plus a friend?"
There is a silence from the voice. Then it intones, "Intruders."
Then a grinding, groaning sounds from up ahead. A hulking, roughly humanoid creature of dirt and stone explodes up from the floor, faceless save for two glowing gemstone eyes. Two rock arms swing wide, grasping and reaching.
Roll Initiative. I figured this combat is simple enough without a map or would you like one?
Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
"What was I SUPPOSED to say, then?!" Tatalia shouts as she drops the lantern onto the floor and grabs her holy symbol.
Tatalia mutters one last prayer, squeezing her holy symbol for comfort, and visibly relaxes. Then, she begins speaking in a calmer tone: "I am the light in the dark; I am the shield before the blade..." It sounds like an oath of some kind, or a mantra, a phrase the halfling is very familiar with. She speaks it with a passion, stepping forward at a slow pace to await the elemental's approach.
Starting Inspire Courage as a Standard Action. +1 attack/damage to Bronwen/Tatalia.
Tatalia comes to a halt and enters a defensive posture. She's chosen to situate herself beside a wall, trying to give Bronwen as much room to maneuver around her should the creature approach. Clearly, she intends to use herself as bait.
If the mud elemental attacks Tatalia in melee and misses, Tatalia will use an Immediate Action to move into its square (Underfoot Assault).
Even as Tatalia moves into position she glances back at Bronwen. In the dim light of the corridor the elf seems to shimmer and..vanish? The dark skinned woman is simply gone!
The muddy elemental charges forward, swinging two huge fists at the small halfling. The large creature towers over the paladin like a wall.
Did you prepare an action to attack it if it came close enough? You didn't say so, but it would make sense? If so, post that attack.
Silently the elemental hammers at the paladin.
Charging Slam: 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 12 + 2 = 29
Charging Slam: 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 12 + 2 = 24
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Sheer force batters at Tatalina, and she knows she'll have some nasty bruises.
Couldn't prepare an action to attack - move action to move, standard action to start the song. It doesn't become a move action to start a Performance until I hit 7th level.
Luckily, it's a free action to maintain once I've started it.
Also, not too worried about this, but the elemental doesn't have pounce, right? I don't think it gets two attacks on a charge, just one. Again, not a big deal; but it would reduce her damage taken to 8 instead of 19.
Tatalia staggers back from the force of the blow, but lifts her sword back up and slashes on back at the massive elemental. "I am the anvil upon which my enemy is beaten," she continues to chant, "and I am unbreakable!"
Attack (Longsword+Piranha Strike+Inspire Courage): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
Confirmation Roll (if needed): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30
Damage: 1d6 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
Same as before: if the elemental attacks and misses her, she'll move into its square and give it a -4 penalty on attacks versus her (and it'll provoke an attack of opportunity if it tries to move).
That rule always slips my mind. I apologize. It won't happen again! Only take 8 damage
Her words seem lost on the mud creature but her blows are not. Her sword swing slices off a large hunk of gooey muddy 'flesh'.
Out of the darkness an arrow flies, heading toward the elemental's slick back.
Long Bow: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
It misses though and Tatalina thinks she hers someone curse in the dark.
The mud slathered creature ignores it and swings at the defiant paladin.
Slam: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26
Slam: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
The first slams lands, making her head ring. The second though is clumsy and misses the nimble halfling. With skill she actually steps inside the blow, right under the looming beast.
I've always thought underfoot assault was cool!
No worries on the rules; we all slip up. And yeah, that's why I wanted to try it.
Despite the heavy blow she's taken, the halfling is grinning with excitement. She ducks on low and presses her hand upon her chest, a golden energy washing over her and healing her injuries.
Lay on Hands (Swift Action): 2d6 ⇒ (1, 6) = 7
Then, with renewed vigor, the paladin dashes about underneath the elemental's feet, hacking and stabbing at its legs and lower body.
Attack (Longsword+Piranha Strike+Inspire Courage: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (13) + 11 = 24
Damage: 1d6 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
As her strikes connect, the halfling lets out a victorious whoop.
Updating Tatalia's defenses/stats/resources tidbit to reflect lost HP, Lay on Hands, and rounds of bardic performance.
Tatalina's blow carve off more mud, much of it splashing on her and her armor. For the first time the elemental releases a gurgle of rage, trying to find the small, darting foe.
Another arrow slices out of the darkness.
Longbow: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
Again it missed.
Bronwen isn't helping much...
Tatalina then sees the elf step out of the wrapping darkness, wielding a rapier. She doesn't strike but she moves close behind the befuddled elemental. Flanking for you
Still wetly roaring,t he thing swings at the paladin dancing around its feet.
Elemental: 1d20 + 12 - 4 ⇒ (2) + 12 - 4 = 10
Elemental: 1d20 + 12 - 4 ⇒ (13) + 12 - 4 = 21
Both blows miss, the paladin far too light on her feet. Globs of mud fling everywhere as it futilely tries to keep up with her footwork but Connac has taught her well.
Have you been factoring in Inspire Courage for Bronwen? But yeah, she's had bad luck.
"We've got it on the ropes!" says the halfling encouragingly as she heals herself again. "But don't be afraid to back off if you have to!"
Lay on hands (Swift Action): 2d6 ⇒ (2, 4) = 6
Attack (Longsword+Piranha Strike+Flanking+Inspire Courage: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (4) + 13 = 17
Damage: 1d6 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Tatalia gets another good upward stab in as she fights. To her, it's just like Connac taught her: to use her size against bigger foes, just keep them guessing where the next attack will come from, and keep them off-balance.
Oh, and if it decides to move for any reason, Tatalia will take the AoO.
She hasn't been close enough..
Tatali's blow stabs deep into the center of the muddy mass, towering above her. Even as she twists and pulls it free, Bronwen darts in, sword in hand.
Bronwen Attack, Flanking, Courage: 1d20 + 6 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 6 + 2 + 1 = 17
Damage: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
The blade slices through one knee, making the muddy monster topple over. As it hits the ground it breaks apart into a gooey mass, quickly losing shape. A long sigh fills the chamber and then it shimmers, vanishing.
"It must have been summoned somehow," Bronwen says stiffly, looking at the vanishing mud. 'Connac must have hired someone to install it for him, I believe this was beyond his skill."
"And he couldn't have built these hidden halls all by himself, either," muses Tatalia as she heals herself and cleans mud off her longsword. "I wonder if the people who built it for him reside in town...
"But no matter. I'm certain we'll discover the purpose of this place soon enough." The young halfling grabs her lantern off the floor and takes the front again, resting her sword on her shoulder. "If whoever snuck down here doesn't discover its purpose first."
With that, Tatalia begins venturing forward again.
Lay on Hands: 2d6 ⇒ (1, 1) = 2
Perception check (rolled in advance): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
The pair soon arrive at the end of the passage and a large steel door blocks the way. On the surface is a intricate system of letters and numbers, obviously a lock of some complexity.
It now hangs uselessly as someone has torn the entire door right off the hinges. Tatalia sees no footprints or or clues as to who did this or how.
to save time
Bronwen ghosts ahead of the wreckage and says, 'All is empty and quiet."
Past the ruined door is a small study, a round room ringed with a few bookcases, cabinets and a writing desk. All is tossed apart, obviously someone looking in haste with no care. A chair is cracked, a bookcase knocked over, papers everywhere, ink splattered. Even the rug is torn up and thrown aside, revealing an intricate floor. It is covered with mosaic stones, some of them raised and some lowered, creating an uneven surface.
Bronwen sighs sadly, 'Someone has beaten us here." Then, 'At least they have gone."
"This..." The paladin frowns as she surveys the scene. Her expression is a heavy one, and one of concentration. She carefully inspects each feature of the room before her stare settles on the mosaic stones.
"Well, that's odd," she says aloud. "Look at those rocks - how they're unevenly set into the floor. Do you think it could be a fancy secret lock of some kind, or an image?"
Curious, the halfling casts her light on the stones and starts examining the floor in detail.
Taking 20 on Perception if necessary.
Bronwen looks at them closely then shrugs, 'I see nothing of note. Just some design that caught Connac's fancy." she turns back to the writing desk.
But to Tatalia they trigger a memory. A sun-dappled day in one of the halls above, Connac telling her how to fight.
"Keep your feet moving! Always moving, always moving!" Then shakes his head when she stumbled or tripped.
"No, no! It is like this....like a dance, with you and the blade." The old man then grabbed her blade, and with a fluid movement belying his years, stepped and spun in graceful arcs. His feet, arms, back all part of the same graceful sweeping motions, both beauty and danger.
"Now, you try it!" And she had to retrace his steps, hour after hour, day after day until she thought she could do the routine in her sleep. When she remarked the old bard had smiled and said, 'Then we will have begun."
She stands there in silence for a bit, stifling a sniffle at the memory. It comes out as a choking noise. The old bard left a hole in the world that Tatalia wasn't sure could be filled by anyone.
Focusing, the halfling gathers her composure and regards the room again. She starts helping Bronwen in her search, kneeling down to grab the papers strewn about the floor and try to see what it is they say. But the memory replays in Tatalia's head, so she tries to fill the silence in with a question.
"How did you know Connac, Night Warden? Did you travel together once, or did he help you in Darkmoon Vale?"
The elf is silent for a moment, holding a sheaf of useless papers. "We traveled together more then once."
A pause and then, "Connac Aevell was a great man, and he helped many over the course of his life." The elf seems reluctant but adds, 'I have not seen the Vale in many lives of your kind. I became a Warden long ago and retain the title, but not the position. I have wandered far.."
"Well... Maybe you'll have a chance to see it again soon, if you wish." Tatalia offers a small smile at the elf, then looks back down at the papers she's sorting through and adds, "If we choose to go to Riddleport - a good place to start looking for after we find Stonehelm, we could always travel back through the Vale. Then we could go south and take a boat from Augustana and sail at least part of the way toward Riddleport..."
The young woman sighs and stands up, dropping the papers she's sifting through. "I don't think we'll find anything of note looking through these. Half of these are ruined, and I'm sure anything important was already taken."
She walks back over to the strange set of stones on the floor and draws her longsword. "You know... When Connac first started teaching me how to use a sword properly, he started by teaching me the right steps first. It went something like this:"
Tatalia begins recreating the 'dance' that Connac had her memorize over the stones, starting in the center, exactly as she remembers.
Bronwen, if anything looks offended, 'We are on a task set us by Connac himself, his dying wish. Do we really have time to sight-see?" the elf says caustically.
As Tatalia steps on the stones, she finds wherever her foot reaches the ground, it is raised. She runs through the old pattern, and the stones begin to glow faintly. Faster and faster, they glow brighter and brighter. Finally, sweat dripping from her forehead she finished with a flourish and stamps on the last one.
The stones all glow brightly, then a few fall away revealing a small secret hole. Inside Tatalia can see a wooden box, with brass hinges. It is engraved with a crossed C and A, Connac's usual symbols.
Tatalia grins back at Bronwen. "Just some design that caught his fancy, hm?"
Sheathing her sword, the halfling steps on over and reaches down to recover the small box. She shows it to the elf, then starts to open it.
The elf grunts and shrugs, 'He could be a strange man."
The box is not locked and opens easily. A small cloud of dust goes up confirming Tatalia's thought. This box has been unused for some time.
Inside she only finds three items.
One is an old lute, slightly cracked at the at the head, with dusty old strings.
Another is a piece of parchment, with fresh ink on it. Written is a list of names as follows-
Mestra- Last sighting: Westcrown.
Thragrim- With Mestra?
I will write the other letter in a bit. Feel free to react to those two items.
Did you mean to write Abroad or Aboard? Out of curiosity.
"Westcrown," Tatalia mutters, taking a deep breath. "That's in Cheliax." She grimaces at the thought. "If the last place he knew of Mestra being was in Westcrown, and Thragrim is with Mestra, then... Then that's where we should look first, isn't it?"
The notion does not please Tatalia, and she chews on her lip in thought. "I suppose the quickest path would be by boat. I doubt we can find much in the way of sea passage here in Cyremium. We can try, but it's a small town. We may have to travel to one of the nearby port cities first..."
As she speaks, she starts to open the other letter, hoping for some better news.
Abroad, sorry. I do promise boats though!
The second parchment is older, the ink long dried. Instantly Tatalia recognizes Connac's 'formal hand' as he called it, usually saved for the final versions of his ballads and musical scores.
Tatalia, if you are reading this, I am dead. It is a cliche start, but nonetheless accurate. I am proud that you found this although it did mean you have penetrated even my darkest secrets. Well done!
Seeing you grow, both as a warrior and as a person has been one of the greatest adventures of my life, and the highlight of my older days. While few will sing of it in taverns and halls, teaching and training has always been a delight of mine. I am sorry to not see you embark on your own adventures. I am sure they will be worthy of song.
Please, do not try to Resurrect me. I have it on good authority I will be going to Elysium and from my brief glimpses, I think it will suit me.
I wish you the best, Tatalia. May your sword stay sharp and your step light. Do great things.
P.S. This is the first lute I ever played. It is yours now. It was all I started with and I turned out well enough.
Tatalia opens the letter with barely-contained excitement. She begins with a calm look and a big, eager grin, still caught up in the rush of discovery, laughing like a child solving a puzzle for the first time. Her fingers carefully unfold the parchment and flatten it out so it can be read properly, and she sets the lantern down to where she can read it right.
And then the halfling slows down. She stills. She goes silent.
Tatalia's expression doesn't waver so much as it changes. It changes from a gaudy grin to a small, quaky smile. A teary film comes over her eyes. As she nears the end, the young paladin stares over at the lute, then back down at the letter, and she silently sets the letter down on her lap. When she grabs the battered old lute, she does so with care, as if holding a priceless artifact. Then she plays.
It's a very brief song, and frankly Tatalia isn't very good at it. She might have had some practice playing the lute before, but she was no virtuoso. It's a somber ditty with only a few notes, the sort a beginner would play when being taught the basics.
When she finishes the song, Tatalia pushes herself up to her feet, holding the lute in one hand. She tucks the letter away in a small pouch on her belt and takes a deep breath.
"Let's head on out of here," she says. "Our adventure starts tomorrow."
Bronwen stands, and Tatalia thinks she sees a trace of tears in the elf's eyes. Before she can be sure, her cloak is raised, shrouding her face in darkness.
'Where are you staying in town? I have a few things to take care of this night, where shall I meet you?" Her voice is thick with emotion as well, and not very well hidden.
"I'll be staying at the inn by the wharf - you know, the one shaped like a boat?" Tatalia wipes an arm across her eyes, then continues, "I think we should meet at the village entrance. We... Cyremium is a small place, and I don't think we'll find passage to Cheliax here. We can go west until we reach the next port town and make our decision from there."