By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 1 - A Meeting of Songs
Outside Waterdeep, 1371 DR, Kythorn, 17th day, morning
The white horse is easily trotting along the trail, enjoying the summer’s day. A soft breeze blowing in from the coast gently tugs her manes. Teri is really enjoying the freedom her rider allows her. ‘She deserves a trip out of the city.’ He thinks. Smiling Telsom lets his beautiful mare go and pick her own way. The wind ruffles the young man’s hair, though hardly enough to obscure a very handsome face. With an almost angelic smile Teri’s rider sits relaxed in the saddle, trusting his mare and letting his thoughts roam as his eyes take in the beauty of the countryside. As his mind wanders back to the delights and sensations of the Temple of Beauty, reality somehow penetrates. On the trail ahead, he sees a something beautiful yet out of place. A single rose is growing in the middle of the road, beautiful red with a strong fragrance. Dismounting from Teri to admire the flower more closely, Telsom sees the flower wilting before his eyes. Only a single petal remains. A breeze picks it up and blows it a little further down the road. Raising his eyebrows in surprise, Telsom walks toward where the petal landed. Just when he wants to pick it up, a breeze blows it a little further down the road again. Curiously, Telsom walks toward it again, and like the previous attempt, a mysterious force blows the petal away down the road, landing several yards away. Walking back to Teri, Telsom picks up the reins and leads the horse on foot. A few yards removed from the mysterious single red rose petal, it again moves on a soft breeze. Quickly mounting Teri, Telsom follows the petal, which now remains airborne, and seems to lead him on, ever further south. When the evening falls, Telsom looses sight of the petal. He makes camp and spends a quiet night outdoors. The next morning he finds a rose blooming in the middle of the road again, a few yards down from where he made camp and in the direction he was traveling. Like the day before the rose wilts when Telsom approaches and a single petal remains which floats on the wind, leading on and on.
Just after Highsun, a steady drizzle starts to fall, the rain obscures Telsom’s vision somewhat and he looses sight of the red petal. Shielding his eyes with a hand, Telsom looks ahead through the drizzle in the direction the petal was leading him. Several yards ahead, Telsom sees a lone wanderer guiding a horse. As Teri draws closers, Telsom sees the traveler is wearing simple yet functional clothes, and carrying a staff. Apart from a longbow and a dagger, no other weapons are visible. The wanderer has a small purse to his side, and apparently carries only traveling gear on his horse. Removing his one-piece full visor-ed helm, letting the rain drench his short hair, Telsom quickly runs a hand through his hair and dismounts. Stowing the helm on his saddle Telsom approaches the stranger. “Well met friend!” He calls, “Lovely weather we seem to be having.” Stepping towards the slender stranger and smiling wide, the paladin calls upon his goddess’s favor to detect the intent of stranger. As Telsom walks toward the stranger, Sune’s favor does not show him any threats. With a puzzled and peaceful look, the stranger turns around to meet this stranger and says, “Well met indeed… but who do I have the pleasure to speak to? I’m Druth.” Golden hair, held back in one single braid frames a finely chiseled face. The bronze-skinned elf bows slightly and returns the friendly smile, the gold speckles sparkling in his violet eyes.
Telsom gives Druth a small salute with two fingers off his forehead. “My name is Telsom Torentshed, paladin of Sune and seeker of beauty. I believe my goddess is leading me somewhere at the moment but alas, I have just recently lost the trail she has so generously put before me. You haven’t by chance seen a beautiful rose petal sailing on the breeze on your travels down this road have you?” He says, an almost pleading look in his eyes, as his gaze flickers past the man searching for the petal. “I have indeed, but let’s not rush ourselves. My name is Druth Symbaern, and I was heading for Waterdeep, after spending some time in Silverymoon. For the past few days, however, this rose has kept me intrigued. I do believe someone or something is trying to guide me – sorry, us. But where to? Could it be a trap? Nonetheless, I would like to see what this is all about, and since I feel it’s of great importance to you, may I propose that we travel together until we find the reason behind such mystery?”
“If it’s a trap I trust in Sune to protect me. I hope it is something other though, for this is the sort of things written in romantic novels, this should make a grand tale. I would be pleased to have you with me. Do you know where the petal last flew?” Walking over to his horse, Telsom quickly mounts her, placing his helm once again on his head. Shall we be off?” He says, “Tell me Druth Symbaern, what deity do you worship? Is it one of the elven pantheon? Not often but on occasion I’ve encountered elves who favored gods of non elven origin.” Seated on Teri, the young paladin looks at his elven traveling companion. “Last time I saw it, it was that way.” He says, pointing to the south. “And as for your question, I respect all the Seldarine, but I find the teachings of Labelas Enoreth to be the most interesting to me. Although I once knew a priestess of Halani Celanil who almost made me change my… oh, forget about it! Shall we go?” Although his smile is hidden behind his gleaming helm, Telsom’s eyes relay his happiness to have a companion on this new adventure. “Aye, let us be off.” He says the excitement to continue evident by the tone of his voice.
Toward late in the afternoon, the drizzle slows to a slight drip and then stops altogether while you were riding on in the direction Druth was pointing. Blackbirds start to sing, welcoming the last warm rays of the setting sun. Telsom and Druth prepare their camp under a large oak, the tree’s thick summer foliage preventing more rain from reaching the pair. When Druth wakes the next morning, he again witnesses a rose growing out of the ground. Quickly alerting Telsom, the two companions break camp and make ready to follow the rose petal. Predictably, the rose wilts, save for the single red petal. A cool summer breeze carries it on further south. The journey takes the pair along the banks of the Dessarin river, along the eastern edge of the Ardeep forest, over the Unicorn Run past Illefarn. Further south the trail of rose petals leads, though it holds a slight easterly course past Illefarn, over the trade way down to Soubar. Crossing the Chionthar, Telsom and Druth find themselves riding along the western tree line of the Reaching Woods, when only a few miles from Berdusk they hear a horse whinnying. At the sound of the horse’s whinnying, Telsom digs his heels into Teri’s flanks, urging her forward at a run. “Aha!” He exclaims, eager to reach the horse and see what or who is causing the horse to whinny. The woodland trail, which they had been following, runs along the forest edge, the river Chionthar never far off. The galloping horses reach a small rise, an outrunner of one of the many hills that hidden under the green blanket of the Reaching Woods. Cresting the rise, the two travelers see a group of about half a dozen persons standing or shambling around somebody lying on the ground flailing arms and legs as if to ward the others away. A large dog seems to be wrestling one of those in the group; a further four or five figures are lying motionless on the ground, small wisps of smoke seem to be rising from their bodies.
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