By Brian Flood
Chapter 16 - Kyrelar
The Forest Father’s Grove
Hill’s Edge, The Sword Coast Backlands
Early Evening, 13th Day of Marpenoth; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The gentle sound of the breeze rustling through the leafy boughs of tall trees soothes the young priest’s mind. His slight form is clad nearly completely in a particular shade of blue. A pasty white face, framed by dark brown hair, peeks out from beneath an azure cap. On his hip he carries a small mace, a sling, and a collection of pouches. A simple pack containing his worldly belongings rests at his feet.
He is alone. Then again, is some ways his is always alone – even when in the company of others. Ever since his parents’ death as the hands of drow elf slavers, the elf has felt a persistent emptiness, as if part of his soul were forever lost. Only one thing comes close to filling that void – magic.
Magic is the youngster’s fascination, his passion. Of course, that is the least one could expect since it was by the hands of Mystran priests that he was saved from his parents’ fate. That love of magic inevitably led him to the path of the priesthood, to the life of a dweomerkeeper of Mystra.
But still in his heart dwells the longing for the forest, for the wooded paths and glens of the Moon Wood. And while his stays in Silvermoon and later Evereska have been fruitful, there was always the sense of wonder at what lay beyond the misty hillocks of the Greycloak Hills.
And so he finds himself in Hill’s Edge. Located within striking distance of the Sunset Vale, the desert of Anauroch, and the flat but treacherous expanse of Pelleor’s Prairie, the frontier town seemed the perfect place to begin a life of adventure and further exploration of the Weave’s mysteries.
Breathing deeply, he inhales the scents of the trees, the grass, the nearby bubbling brook. How odd that this secluded pocket of nature, a shrine to Silvanus, should be so close to the debauchery and questionable dealing of the town’s resident merchants and citizens, he thinks to himself.
“The Forest Father provides this grove for all who seek solace.”
The milky voice comes from behind the elf. He turns and finds himself facing a mature human woman clad in earth tones and clutching an gnarled oaken staff. Her hair is a fiery red and a set of emerald-like green eyes grasp the elf’s in their hold. Something about her clothes seem strange and after a few seconds the elven priest realizes that she wears a jerkin of green-hued leather that has been crafted to appear as though she wore a blouse made from live leaves.
“And a fine thing that is, especially so close to the town,” the elf answers. “But then again, even in a crowd one can find solitude.”
The woman remains silent for several heartbeats as she absorbs this comment. “That is an interesting perspective… Kyrelar Moonthorn.”
The woman holds out her hand in a calming gesture as the azure-clad elf’s face betrays his surprise. “Fear not, dweomerkeeper of Mystra, I do not mean to alarm you. But I realize that I have you at a disadvantage – allow me to alleviate that. I am Daerthglara Shynd. I am the keeper of this sacred grove.
“Tell me, what brings you here?”
“Alarmed?” replies Kyrelar. “No, I wasn’t alarmed – I was merely lost in solitude remembering the Moonwood and did not expect company although I should have in such a well-tended place.”
He looks her up and down. Druid, he thinks to himself before continuing, “And the beauty of this place comes in many forms.”
After a savoring moment’s pause, he adds, “Just because one is in a crowd does not mean that he is of the crowd. It may be chance that he passes there. But you probably know all about me anyway – as the Lady wills.”
Dearthglara smiles. “I would not say I know all that there is to know about you, for it is only for the gods to know all about any of their subjects. But you and your history have recently been made known to me.
“But before I go on, I ask again – what brings you to this grove?”
“If it was more than just reliving old memories while on my way to Hill’s Edge to serve my Lady, then it is beyond my knowledge,” Kyrelar retorts. “And you, what do you do when not tending this place?”
“Tending to this grove, is my life’s work,” the lady druid smiles. “Now then, I have been told that you are a student of magic. Is this correct?”
“I suppose I am more interested than most. After all, magic is my life’s work.” Kyrelar’s face breaks into a slight smile as he responds.
Dearthglara nods and her face turns a bit more serious. “Excellent. What know you of the desert Anauroch?”
“It was the home of the great magical empire of the Netherese until the Phaerimm came. Great stores of magic are reputed to remain there. But anyone living near it probably already knew that,” Kyrelar answers.
The druid nods again. “All very true. And what would you do if offered the opportunity to see the former Netherese empire, firsthand?”
“My answer is what yours would probably be if you were offered a chance to visit Grandfather Tree. Magic study and preservation is what I know am.” Kyrelar’s full attention is focused on Dearthglara now.
“In that case, there may be a unique opportunity for you in the very near future,” says the woman matter-of-factly.
“How is it that I am chosen, for I am yet lacking much that those of experience find commonplace?” Kyrelar asks.
“And how is it that you have sought me out? And where do you fit into all this?”
Dearthglara holds out her hands as if to ward off the barrage of queries. “How many elven orphans find their way into the Mystran clergy of Silverymoon, my friend? Whether you realize it or not, you have mentors who are watching you – some of them known to you, others not.
“As for seeking you out, the gods work in mysterious ways, Kryelar – you have sufficient experience to know that, by now. After all, are you not standing in my grove? It would seem that you have perhaps sought me… albeit somewhat unconsciously.
“My role in this is quite simple. I am to gather a group of able and courageous souls who are of good heart. Your presence here was made known to me. It was only a matter of time until I found you… or you found me.”
“The will of Our Lady of Mysteries is sufficient for me and I am not questioning it,” Kryelar retorts. “It is just that to me most others seem far more qualified.
“And you are correct in that among Mystrans in Silverymoon – or anywhere else – there are few of us. Corellon Larethian is the common choice among us. Yet that was not the path I am sent along. And you seem to know enough about me to know my basic history.”
A slow sweeping look around the glade and a thoughtful expression interrupt the elf’s reply for a few moments and then he continues. “And from what you know, it should be easy to realize why one can be alone nearly all the time.”
“I think you will find that the companionship formed by shared hardship and peril comes easily,” the druid replies. “The mission you will be asked to undertake will be revealed once the group is assembled. For now, all that is required of you is your acceptance of the task.”
“I will pray to the Mother of Magic for her guidance and give my answer afterwards I follow where she leads,” Kyrelar responds. “My limited experience tells me that she will send Psilomelane and I to seek out the Netherese magic and knowledge that remain in the great desert. Are you just assembling the party or accompanying it also?”
“I am assembling the company, but I do not think I shall accompany it, answers Dearthglara. My place is among the trees and glades – not in the sands of the desert.
“Who is this Psilomelane you speak of? Your mate?”
Kyrelar chuckles. “So there is something about me that you don’t know! Daerthglara Shynd meet Psilomelane’s Breeze also known as Psilomelane or even PB.” He makes a sweeping gesture with his arm and ends up pointing at his pony.
The lady druid smiles, and nods toward the pony. “Pleased to make your acquaintance Psilomelane,” she says to the steed.
Then she returns her attention to the elven priest, becomes serious, and lowers her voice as if to mask her words. “I must tell you that I feel no small amount of concern if you intend to take your companion across the barren desert of Anauroch. Time has allowed the desert’s inhabitants to adjust to their environment – and that environment is most… unforgiving… to those travelers that nature has not prepared for such hardship.”
“I had feared as much though without her aid I fear that I cannot carry much of my possessions,” answers Kyrelar. “What mode of conveyance would a group on a mission be using? Would there be pack beasts available also? And where is a safe place to leave her?”
Again, the woman raises her hands to ward off the elf’s queries. “Much of that will be for the group to decide. From what I know of those being sought, there will be some expertise in such matters.
“But I cannot say much more than that, for the time being. If I have your acceptance of this quest, I will leave you to your solitude. I ask that you return here in the afternoon, tomorrow. By then, I will be able to tell you where and when the group will be assembled and told more of its task.”
“Unless my Lady guides otherwise, I will return tomorrow,” Kyrelar replies. “I am unfamiliar with Hill’s Edge. Is there some place in or out of town where Psilomelane’s Breeze could remain while I am away that would not charge a prince’s ransom to care for her while not abusing her either? As you probably know, personal funds in the priesthood are often sparse.”
“I would try either the Hippogriff or High Horse stables,” the woman suggests. “But I have no mount, so I may be a poor judge of such accommodations. If there is nothing else, I bid you a peaceful night and fair day on the morrow. May the Forest Father – and the Lady of Mysteries – watch over you, Kyrelar Moonthorn.”
The druid turns and walks out of the glade. Soon, she is lost from sight.
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