Adventures through Kells
My name is EmelynTinovir. I am 142 years old, born long before the end of the Great War that has brought relative peace to the land of Kells.
Our home has always been in the forests in the southwest of Kells, near to where one might find Raven’s Den on a map. I was born the second child of a poor serf family of wood elves, deep in the woods. I was born the only daughter of the Tinovir clan. For as long as I can remember, I have looked up to my older brother, Syldur. (You’re more versed in elven ages than I am but I think we agreed that he would be about thirty years older than Emelyn, around 175 now, maybe.) He was tall and strong, and beloved among the other fair folk in the small town that bordered the groves and orchards we tended. But there was a dark side to him, as well. Working the trees irritated him. Our parents, though loving, disappointed his aspirations to a better life. I remember him fondly, as the dark-haired youth who would tell me that I was pretty and bring me flowers and apricots, on occasion, but my last memory of him was a terrifying fight he had with our parents.
I never saw him again after that. He must have snuck out in the middle of the night, setting out into the world on his own, to try and find his luck elsewhere. I’m not sure I ever quite forgave him for his desertion.
I might have left as well, and abandoned our parents, but I stayed, feeling that it was not only my duty, but also to protect my younger brother, Yauren, no more than a child at the time.
I can actually remember when the last ruling power of Kells fell, and the new regime took over. We heard stories of the bitter war, but our small settlement remained mostly untouched. The only real impact we felt was that we now sent our produce to different collectors, and that they demanded more and more tax for us to continue subsisting on the land.
We were already so poor that the additional fees would have left us completely destitute. The one thing I learned in that time was that power is fleeting, and regimes can fall. No one is safe from time and death. And therefore they did not require my loyalty, unless I chose to give it.
So I turned to thieving. Simple things at first.Loaves of bread, eggs, or pennies if I could snatch them.It didn’t take me long to upgrade. I was small and quick, and my boot knife could cut purse strings without their owner ever growing the wiser. Soon I was providing more than half the income of my whole family, unreported and untaxed. My parents would have fared fine, either way, but it made me glad that Yauren was eating properly, and growing stronger.
It seemed like a marvelous life, at the time. But every thief gets unlucky, and it usually only takes one time.I was caught. He was a tradesman named Bovar, a fat human with a greasy beard and greasier fingers. The sweet oils and perfumes he sold had created him a small empire in this part of the world. And he loved to flaunt his riches for everyone to admire. Every other night he could be found in the one bar that the settlement of Owl’s Hunt could boast of, his face drowning in a tankard of expensive wine.
He was the perfect target. But I hadn’t been watching closely enough. Bovar was much trickier than I gave him credit for. I had snuck into the darkened booth with him, thinking him fast asleep over his wine, and three of his dozen or so rings were already in my pocket when his hand closed around my wrist, strong as iron. He was drunk, surely, but not so befuddled as to let a thief get away with his gold.
I pleaded for my life, and my freedom. I put on the best show of explaining about the state of my family. He agreed to let me live, though I had to promise to work for him, instead.
I thought I got lucky.
But Bovar was not only tricky, he was also ruthless. In a few short months, I had gone from swiping travel reports and signet stamps for him, to slipping into the rooms of his competitors. I planted incriminating evidence, I stole important documents. Working for him was demeaning, and though I had been a thief for years, I only now began to feel like a criminal. I was actively ruining people’s lives, just because he wanted them out of his way. I did it to keep my family safe, or so I told myself. No one could compete with him.
Then he asked me to kill a man. I had heard about Red Boots. He was the leader of the Ravens, an organization famed across the land. They were a secret guild, dealing in shadows and blood, and I knew next to nothing about them. Sneaking into the Ravens’ hideout was fairly easy. I had learned a long time ago that you can get into any place so long as you make it seem as though you have every right and reason to be there. I strode in, under cover of night, and I guess I looked perfectly at ease. I found, and approached Red Boots’ chamber. All the lights were out inside, and I heard the deep and slow breathing of a man asleep. But when I poised to strike, shaking and sweating all over, he stirred, and I found myself disarmed and knocked to the floor before I could even react.
I’d been caught a second time. I’m not sure why I’m alive today, come to think of it. Red Boots had me explain to him why I was there, and who had sent me. For the second time in as many summers I was pleading for my life, and that I only did as needed to provide for my family.
Maybe Red Boots liked how brazenly I had invaded his sanctuary, or perhaps he just enjoyed turning a pawn on its king, but he took me in.
I think that’s when my real education started.For the next 25 years, I learned the trade of a true rogue at his hands, and became a greater assassin than Bovar could ever have made me. But Red Boots insisted we leave the merchant alone. Best to let him think I not only failed in my attempt to kill the leader of the Ravens, but that I died in the process. I was not allowed any more contact with my family, either. As far as they knew, I disappeared one night, and never returned.
But every once in a while I send them a few silver or gold pieces. Perhaps they wonder about their secret benefactor.
I spent years with the Raven’s Den, rising through the ranks, growing to be friends with Red Boots himself. His connections can get me into any social rank and get me next to people from every walk of life. I trust his judgment implicitly. So when he handed me a shining coin and asked me to visit the Kingdom of the Sun, and enroll in a combat tournament there, I went.
Journal of Emelyn Tinovir, 7th of the Claw of Winter, 1478
We’ve been on this ship for about a week now. Tomorrow we are supposed to reach the Isle of Iona. I can’t believe it’s been a month since I joined this group. At first I was skeptical when Red Boots sent me to the Kingdom of the Sun to join this tournament. I kept wondering why he was making me leave Raven’s Den. Was there nothing else for me to learn there? But I knew better than to refuse him. At any rate, the tournament turned out to be interesting, and filled with capable warriors. The group of people I teamed up with ended up working well together and emerged victorious.
Afterward, however, we were approached by a strange woman named Rose who recruited us to go on a journey with her to uncover the source of trouble in the nearby town of Smallville. At first I was skeptical. After all, was I not supposed to return to the Ravens after the tournament? I figured this is what Red Boots wanted me there for, in the first place. To join Rose and this ragtag group of adventurers.
So I went. Smallville turned out to be a Halfling settlement deep in the middle of nowhere. They desperately needed help dealing with a huge monster that came from the woods to prey on them. The group and I were able to uncover stories of an old tower in the center of the Dark Wood, north of town. There were legends surrounding it, speaking of three noble adventurers that ventured forth to kill a necromancer but were then never heard from again. We found one of their number, dead in the woods. And when we reached the tower, we found another, turned into an Ettin by the wizard’s dying breath, doomed to wander the world as a monster.
We offered him the mercy of death.
The tower was another matter entirely, and not so easily dealt with. We spent many days, wandering its corridors, dealing with its nightmares, fighting its inhabitants. In the topmost room, we found the corpse of the necromancer, and in the basement, the brain of his closest companion, trapped in a jar.
Little did we know then that we had unwittingly set the necromancer, now a lich, free from his prison.
Though we had suffered so much from the tower, and cleared most of its horrors out, we had also learned that this danger could not be left to wander the world in peace. But all we knew was that the lich went north, potentially across the sea. Without a trail, there was no way to know where he’d gone, or even to begin to guess where to look.
So we turned our attention to another matter. Within the confines of the tower, we had found a dragon egg, and it was still alive. A Raven contact let me know that we could still save the egg, and allow it to hatch, if we journeyed to the Isle of Gallifrey, a haven for all things magic, without any further delay.
With help from my contacts, we chartered a caravan, and then a ship. Behind us we left the tower, slowly being cleansed and rebuilt by the Halflings.
Here we are then. We’ve been on the ship for a week, there’s been some trouble, but overall, we’ve been all right. And now we’re about to reach the halfway point of our overseas journey. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
It’s strange to think back over the past month. When I started out, I did not particularly care for my companions. After all, I’m a Raven, and I work on my own. To be saddled with others was… unsettling. If there had been any word from RB, any word at all, I would not have hesitated to abandon these people. But now?
We’ve been through some harrowing adventures together. Twice, in the tower, I nearly met my end. My companions saved me. Another of our number, Zephyr, was not so lucky. When we fought the mimics in the necromancer’s high chamber, Zephyr succumbed to the ferocity of these monsters. I’m still not sure how I survived that particular battle. It was truly tragic to see him there, lifeless and limp.
In the end, we gave him a warrior’s pyre, outside of the tower, honoring his death by returning him to the ash from whence we came. Zephyr had been a strange companion, full of bluster and arrogance, but nevertheless powerful. It was hard to see him go.
We lost another companion to the tower as well, though not to death. Stryker is a mysterious creature, all swathed in black and silent most of the time. For a long time, we did not realize he was, in fact, a she. I can’t say that I ever grew to trust her. From the very start, she made choices we could not fathom and that she would not explain, like killing a hostage without permission or explanation. The nightmares of the tower were too much for her, in the end. She heard and saw things that were not there, and bolted into the darkness on her own, afraid of us as though we were her enemies. Her actions were terrifying to behold. I kept wondering, could this happen to us? In the end, Stryker decided to stay behind with Rose, and accompany her on her journey to return Zephyr’s ashes to his next of kin. I think that was probably the best for her. Hopefully the ninja was able to find some clarity and peace.
William Smith is the fighter in this party. I did not particularly like him at first. He was too violent (maiming freaking corpses, who does that?), and too eager to rush into battle. He still is. But he’s proven his worth again and again, and it’s becoming more and more difficult not to like the gruff accent and his silly antics. His swords are invaluable to all of us. Though I do have to say that I find it both uncomfortable and amusing when he speaks to his weapons, Stabitha and Michael Shankson, as though they were people. It’s a little weird. Just saying.
There’s also Ezan, the druid. In a lot of ways, he’s a mystery. At first I thought he was a healer, but then I saw him wade into combat again and again, alongside his trusted wolf Wessen. While he’s very effective in combat, he seems less able to deal with other situations, and his mouth frequently gets him in trouble. Although, after seeing him turn into a bear today and crush a construct in arm wrestling, I can honestly say that I am proud to have this man as a fellow adventurer.
And then there’s Kathrynne. She’s still very young, but already one of the most competent archers I have ever encountered. Her skill with a bow is masterful. Her heart is full of compassion for other creatures, and while she is more than deadly with her weapon, I see that she would rather reason with the creatures we encounter, if at all possible. I admire that in her, although I don’t always necessarily agree. I used to think her soft, unwilling to engage in combat or make enemies bleed, but I’ve since learned that violence isn’t always the answer. Often it is better to learn from those we encounter, and perhaps avoid a fight entirely. After the amount of injuries we’ve experienced, I can’t say I’m as eager as I used to be, to wade into the fray. She’s become a good friend, especially since we’ve spent so much time on the ship together. She’s teaching me the language of demons, Abyssal, for one. I’m glad she’s with us.
Finally, there are the newcomers. After Zephyr died, and Stryker left us, our party had grown painfully small. It was a miracle to meet Nico Jones and Ventus. I’m almost certain their gods intervened in some way to bring them to us, though for what purpose, I’m still not sure.
Nico is a powerful cleric, with strange cleansing practices. At first I mistrusted and disliked his spitting of holy water, and his liberal smoking of those disgusting cigars. But as much as his demeanor might annoy me, his healing and light-giving powers are above repute. More than once he’s saved us from certain doom, and proven a valuable asset in all our dealings. Now that we have all gotten to know each other better, he’s also stopped acting so holier-than-thou. He’s almost like a normal guy. It makes it easier to bear his sanctimonious preaching, when it does happen. Despite his high and mighty talk, I think he likes us. It’s a nice change of pace from the always wary and overly mistrusting Ravens that I’m used to.
Lastly, there’s Ventus, a sorcerer whose god also led him to us in our time of need. His blue skin is unusual, to be sure, and I’m never quite sure what to make of him. He’s overly fond of shiny things (something I can absolutely relate to), and almost greedy for anything that could further his magic. The magic he does possess is already terribly powerful, at least to me. It’s impressive as well as a bit frightening to see his displays of fire and lightning. He’s helping us now, but what if at any point any of us stand in the way of something he wants? I still haven’t made up my mind about whether or not he would raise his hands against us. I don’t think he would. But love of power has turned many a man against his friends. I’ll continue to watch him closely.
The boat is swaying heavily on the waves and my candle has burned low. As much as I’ve thought about my companions, I have to also realize that I am no longer the person I was at the outset of this adventure. Before, nothing would have stopped me from carrying out RB’s will and leaving these folks behind, even if it meant betraying them in a moment of need. Now, however, I’m no longer so sure. I’ve come to like these guys. They’re valiant, and powerful, and honest (for the most part). They take their mission seriously, and fight for what they believe in. It’s nice to be a part of that. Heck, I’m learning to look at the world in ways other than how it can serve me. Rather, I’m beginning to wonder how I can serve it.
That’s not something I ever thought much about, before. I’ll have to continue contemplating this. But for now, I guess I’ll turn in. Tomorrow will be a big day, once we reach the Isle of Ioin.