It almost feels odd to begin an account from anywhere other than the beginning. Had one of my students tried such a farcical idea under my watch, I would have shown him the sharper side of my tongue. Even so, I find myself in precisely that situation, since filthy burglars broke into my room at an inn in Baldur’s Gate and stole my last journal (probably thinking that it was a spellbook or something else of worth; little do the rat-bastards know that it was simply the account of a cursed scholar wandering around the various stinking holes of the Sword Coast). Luckily, I was carrying everything important on my person at the time. If they had stolen the scrap of burnt tapestry that I saved from my burning home, I don’t know if I would have been able to continue this foolish journey.
It has been near half a year since the beginning of my self-imposed exile from the lands of the Tel-quessir, and I still have not completely grown used to the prolonged solitude. My travels amongst the N-Tel-Quess have taught me much of the ways of the world, however, I often feel pangs of homesickness for the quiet eaves and moonlit glades of the twilight realm of my birth. Thoughts of exploring the outside world were mere whimsy; I much preferred the softly lit reading nooks of my library in Starfall Enclave, and the cozy warmth of my small home amongst the cedars. I miss my wife and children terribly; this, however, is an unfortunate circumstance that I must become comfortable with, since there is no way the Dread Prince will allow me to live peacefully alongside them as I had before the Nilshai destroyed our home and drove us to Toril while he still holds my soul hostage.
Today, I was hired as a caravan guard for one Averro Dugud, a merchant prince hired to transport goods from the city of Beregost (east of Baldur’s Gate) to the town of Greenest. A caravan guard! I, who used to be the Lorewarden of the entire library of Starfall Enclave, I, who was responsible for educating the all of the younglings of the Enclave on all subjects and fields, I, who sat on the council of elders and led my community in times of need, have been forced to sit atop a caravan with a spear across my lap while the wind whips my cloak about me as I try in vain to search for goblins, bandits, or worse who would likely slit my throat in exchange for my meager possessions. I hope that a hundred years in the future I will look back on this and laugh that I had such a flight of folly, but now, I am cold, miserable, and in terrible need of a warm bath. At least Master Dugud appears to be of a good enough sort; his round face is always smiling, and he showed great interest in conversing with me as he drove our wagon.
The other hired guards are somewhat more interesting than a portly merchant-prince, surprisingly. For one, I have struck up a fast friendship with a wood elf named Immerel, a fast-fingered thief of somewhat ignoble origins. I find his blunt manner refreshing, and it brings me back to better times when he allows me to educate him on the history of his people, a subject that he is sadly deficient in due to having grown up as an orphan on the streets of some human city. Another guardsman (though I use that term loosely) is Balthazar Yargitte, a dragonborn adherent to the Platinum Dragon Bahamut and former Brigadier General of some army of dragonmen. His holy fervor and military discipline can be trying at times, though he has a sound mind for tactics (if nothing else) and a strong and courageous arm in battle. Third is the half-orc savage Akasha Skullsplitter, a fierce warrior who possesses the typical orc traits of utter dimwittedness and hatred towards Tel-quessir, particularly magi. Like Balthazar, she is a fierce combatant, however, and though I can’t decide whether she hates me more for being an elf or for being a practitioner of the arcane arts, sound judgment has thus far stayed her hand from turning her axe against me. Rounding out our ragtag bunch is Jandar Stormborn, a fanatical priest of the Storm God Talos. This fierce and taciturn warrior seems to prefer solitude, though he does not hesitate to fill the ears of all around him with the words of his god (possibly the one subject that I truthfully would not care to study). His prowess in battle is quite remarkable as well, though I find certain aspects of his character questionable.
Some days out from Beregost, my hopes for an uneventful trip to the hamlet of Greenest were dashed against the wall when we were set upon by a large raiding party of kobolds: fierce, runtish lizard creatures led by a crazed member of the Cult of the Dragon, almost all of whom we slew handily (except the few that escaped, and the cultist, who was run down and captured). Using some of my more persuasive “gifts” from Prince Saath, I managed to wring information out of the prisoner that indicated the existence of an imminent offensive against Greenest planned by the Cult of the Dragon, and that it was to be the very next night! With this news fresh on our minds, we made great haste towards the town, only to find it in flames, a mighty blue wyrm winging its way through dark palls of smoke, blasting lightning from its maw at the slightest provocation. There, we engaged more kobold raiders and rescued a family with the help of a human swordswoman named Linan the Swift, and endeavored to help them safely reach the keep in the center of town while we fought off more kobolds.
I find that even now, months after I left the Sildëyuir in ruins with the remnants of my community, I still find myself oddly affected by the violence of battle. It is not cowardice that I feel, for I was battle-trained in the arts of the sword and the bow as is tradition amongst my people, nor was it squeamishness; I would have known if I could not stand the sight of blood early on when my father took me on hunting trips as a youngling. Instead, I feel a profound sense of sadness, or something very similar to it. Why must blades be used when words could be used instead? These Toril-folk are so violent; they seemingly draw blades at the slightest provocation. Even the most heated disagreements amongst my Ruar-tel-quessir kinfolk never escalated into physicality. Today, I killed kobolds with great blasts of eldritch power from my fingertips, and afterwards, when the rush of battle-madness faded, I wondered if things would have been different had I tried to reason with them. Yet, during the act, part of me seemed to almost enjoy it. Is this the insanity of the Githyanki Dread Prince seeping into my mind unbidden, or was I always a killer deep down? No matter how many times I remind myself that kobolds are the misbegotten spawn of primordial, evil dragons, I still feel slightly disgusted with myself that I took pleasure when I exploded the head of one of the little creatures with my eldritch might. Gods of the Seldarine in holy Arvandor above, I miss my family. I should be working in the garden out back with little Takari and little Ysuran, or in the warm embrace of my lovely, raven-haired Azariah, not playing the hero in some dragon-infested backwater.
Even as my quill leaves the parchment, I understand the folly of that line of thought. I will surely return once I have repaid my debt to Saath; I dare not return to them until I do.