Things have come a long way since Norsoon…
Time has proven no balm for my feelings about Nebuchadnezzer. While some religions could be described as an assault upon my sensibilities, I’ve never felt like it was my place to judge such things. While it may have been some time since any of the gods in this realm have walked the continent of Suldairia, only the most dim-witted or determined could deny their existence.
I have seen enough to know it true; while there are certainly other explanations for the power behind priestly magics, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. And I’m beyond being able to deny the existence of Nebuchadnezzer, this White Lord.
I find it telling that my first true learning of his worshipers spoke of the atrocities they’d committed. The few followers I’ve had the chance and inclination to speak to on the matter have had little to say but that, “He’s just so great!” I can’t claim to have the wit to navigate the courts of my own people, but something about it bothered me, even then. I can name ten reasons I chose to become a wizard, but these people can name only one for following their god? It reminds me of something… almost like magics that cloud the mind, or change the paths of thought.
I am hardly the elf to philosophise on such matters, but it disturbs me more the more I learn of it. Already, more than half the continent worships the White Lord; anyone who refuses to convert is put to death – usually by fire. My people remain in the forests, likely preaching the usual wisdom of patience… I can understand it, and there are so many good reasons for it… But I think that it will fail against Nebuchadnezzer. Only recently, his warriors were hammering on Montano’s door, solars and other beings in tow, clearly prepared to destroy what seems like one of the greatest threats to the empire I can only guess they are forging.
And I suppose that leads to what disturbs me so much about this situation: Montano, the Dark Lord of Raister, arcane despot to his people, abomination before nature, is the only thing I see clearly standing in the way of the White Lord’s advance… Yet this situation is ANYTHING but black-and-white.
This twisted creature, sustained only by warping the Weave into unforgivable patterns, does all it can to hold Raister in its grip while his general has abandoned him, insurrection threatens, and an army marches around his countryside. And, somehow, some way, Montano has negotiated a ceasefire… Is it temporary? What does he hold that tempts the White Lord? The only thing I can think of his Cecilia; Nebuchadnezzer wants her son, and Montano has used her to hold Anastasis in bondage before… But I can’t know what he has planned for certain.
What I do know is that the Raisteri have always been the war-mongers to the South, and the elves’ most obvious enemy. Her armies have not marched of late – the warmachine (what a TERRIBLE, human concept!) is silent and unmoving – nobody quite knows what to make of this.
And that horrible scene with the child! I absolutely will not write of it. If trying to invade my homeland through the Vale was not enough, I don’t think I can ever forgive him for that one.
Ai, we’ve come here chasing a thread of connection between Raister and the recent events in Norsoon, only to find a pattern emerging on the loom, but one I have not the skill to understand; it is not yet complete. Oh, if only I had spent more time learning the courts and their subtle ways I might have some clue as to where to search next.
And yet, I’m coming to know my heritage better. I’ve seen things I dare not write of, and they’ve brought me much appreciation for my past. I’ve even sent prayers to the Seldarine… It had been years since I thought overmuch on them. When I next return home, I know just the Elf I need to speak to about it..
I really should read that book, the Origins of my people.
And while I’m on that topic, Rasgo! I can’t believe how he’s been behaving lately! He has kept us in the dark about many, many dangers… And I’m still a little miffed he didn’t turn that book over to me right away. And on top of that all, he’s asking me to go acquire mithral from my people! I’ve met trees smart than that human. And not even Awakened trees! I can’t help but think that having him around is nearly as dangerous as having Istoaufrien around…
And Isto! Twice now, he’s tried to kill me and my friends! That mask of his will bring us nothing but woe… He’s claimed many times that he is trying to mend his ways, to tread a brighter path. Leaf and lentil, how can you claim such and still make bargains with that mask? Oh, sure, “We have an understanding.” Naive human! The mask has an understanding; you do not.
Why do I travel with these people?
I suppose Baulder is the only real answer… With Rose gone, the only one in this group of travelers I truly care for is him. Why can’t all humans be like him? He’s such a conundrum! How can any human, especially one from Raister of all places, be so much like our younger elves? Perhaps he has some faeling blood, or was born under the right energies. I don’t know. At least he’s started talking to me again – for some time, I feel like our friendship has been waning. But, oh sweet Seldarine, he’s grown in so many ways! I was even able to talk him through the most basic of arcane exercises! It’s a long step from what almost seemed like a fear of the Weave. But I can sort of understand a fear of magic being a healthy thing in Raister. Oh, poor Baulder.
Amben is as quiet and brooding as ever. I’ve been glad a number of times to have her and Kai with us. And yet, I feel I should be speaking with her more; I know so little about her, and she’s, well. Honestly, she’s a little scary. Mostly because of that wolf.
Alara has been traveling with us since Norsoon. I cannot claim to know her mind, but she must feel lost without her temple. I know she’s been trying to help some of the more unfortunate people of Raister. She knows some of the situation, but I don’t think we’ve yet shared it all with her – we really should do that sometime soon. I’m more than certain that Baulder lives yet only because of Ilmater’s blessing, directed through her. I hope she will stay with us for a while – these are dangerous times, and another armour-clad companion is welcome indeed.
Another among our new companions is Rabdao. He’s… an elf, but he’s new at it. At first I thought my comment about his human side got through to him. I’ve spoken with him a little on the matter: it is much deeper than that. In any case, I hope to bring him to my people some day soon – surely a feast is in order to welcome him among us!
And then there’s Mamori. She has about as much sense as a stone at the bottom of a river, and not nearly as much patience. She’s probably going to get us all killed one of these days. At least she’s keeping Isto occupied – and, given her penchant for changing her form, and her usual guise of a barely-pubescent human child, even that is questionable. Those two are a sure recipe for trouble.
Nathaniel has returned. He as as canny as ever, and probably one of our few hopes for figuring this whole disaster out. He’s not bad for a human. I like the guy.
And Nidalee! Oh, gods above, she’s so different from Rasgo! She has the energy of youth, a good sense of humour, and her powers don’t seem to have come from being dropped on her head as a child. So different! He seems to have trouble talking to people, but Nidalee just jumps right in. And the pranks she’s played on Rasgo! And she told us about the time he peed himself! I like her already.
Each day, as I learn of the goings-on of Suldaria, I am more and more tempted to retreat into my homeland, find some passage to another plane, and spend a couple of decades working with the Weave. If it weren’t for the obvious threat that everything happening poses to my people, I’d say my few friends in this realm are the only thing that really keep my tethered to all these troubles. And I really shouldn’t forget that there’s a rather angry dragon out there somewhere…
[Below this is a half-page drawing of a scary dragon stomping on some flowers, and a nude woman running away from it. It’s not exactly the best drawing, but the woman does look a little familiar.]