Autumn Harvest, Trader’s Day 6, Year of the Lion number 427; September 25, 1738 Agathon (Second Entry)
A lot happened today, but I don’t want to bore you with the details. On the same token, I want to be sure I touch on everything. It’s late. I’m back in my cabin. We were supposed to leave tomorrow morning, but we left Swarmgarde at noon today. I had to work a double-shift at my post today because some of the other crewmen couldn’t be found and we left without them. One was a lookout like me, so his replacement still has to be trained.
Anyway. This morning I heard a knock on my door in the tavern. I opened it and saw one of the students from the Wizard’s Guild. He asked me to accompany him to the guild to meet with Headmaster Avibur. I grabbed my things and followed him through the city to the guild and into the main hall. No one said a word to us as we made our way into the Headmaster’s chambers.
Here, a very old woman was leaning over a workbench of some sort. Several books lay open. She turned as we entered. “Thank you, Mahanem. If I need anything else, I’ll let you know.” She straightened her tunic, which seemed uncharacteristic and out of place. I expected her to be wearing the same kind of robes the students and teachers wore. Instead, she wore a light-weight tunic and a long skirt. She looked like one of the city-folk. “Welcome, Miss Vipertree. It seems you made quite the impression on Calatar yesterday.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Come. Come. Please. Make yourself comfortable.” She led me to a parlor area where there were several couches and chairs adorned with thick cushions. I found a spot and she another. On a side table, she opened a small wooden coffer from which she pulled out a dragon card and handed it to me. “I thought you’d be interested in this. I understand you have White #4.” I slipped it out of my pouch and handed it to her. I accepted the card and examined it. Gold #2. The image depicted a youthful dragon with golden-hued scales. Its horns, spines, and wings were distinctly different than the white dragon image I was familiar with.
“I feel the white dragon’s effects,” she said. “It is interesting. Typically, the chromatic dragon cards have two effects – a positive, helpful effect and a negative effect. With this one, the permeating chill feeling might be considered the negative effect, but not so in this warm climate. Tell me, how did you come to possess this?” She handed it back to me and I gave her back the gold dragon card.
I explained to her how a travelling merchant came to our village and sold it to us. I asked her, “What is the origin of these cards? I saw that Prince Ikanare of Juivestea had one. How many are there?”
“In all, seventy cards were created. Sixty-three dragons were trapped along with seven adventurers. About fifteen hundred years ago a great war raged between the dragons. They fought over possession of a great, horrible artifact, known as the Cursing Wand. The chromatic dragons wanted to control the wand and wield its power, while the metallic dragons wanted to keep the wand out of the hands of those who would abuse it. There were traitors on both sides, but more than anything, their war spilled over and caused great amounts of collateral damage to those in their way. A group of adventurers, led by the famed dragon hunter, Silenox Lyseth, and the archmage, Hermanus Zircon, sought to find a way to end the war. Each dragon that came in possession of the wand became cursed by it. Even the most powerful dragons, Tiamat and Bahamut, had lost their godlike abilities. Yet, still they battled. Finally, Zircon came up with a plan. With the help of the Wizard’s Guild, they modified a spell that would trap each dragon in its own plane. A sort of alternate reality. Once trapped, the dragon wouldn’t be able to harm anyone. But to do this, they were forced to trap both the chromatics and metallics. And when they executed their plan, they, I mean the adventurers, were caught by the curse and trapped into cards as well.”
“Then what happened?”
“They were on a ship in the Innerrim Sea when this happened. All the cards were magically brought to the one location, along with the Cursing Wand. The ship remained adrift at sea for several hundred years, caught in a sort of whirlpool, when a fisherman happened to find it. He brought the cards and the wand home and unknowningly cursed himself, his wife, and his crew. His wife, who was a bit of a scholar and historian in her own right, recognized the wand and told him to return it to sea and throw it and the cards overboard. The story goes that while at sea, the ship was set upon by a great storm. Most of the crew drowned, including its captain. The wand and the cards were scattered and have since washed ashore or have been found by sailors all over the known world.”
“What of the wand?”
“The wand washed ashore as well. I can’t tell you all the places its been, but I do know that it is now in the possession of a witch named Allison. She lives in the Wraithscape Mountains west of Linne. While many depict her as evil, she has tried many times to destroy the wand but has failed every time. To my knowledge, the only one who knows how to destroy the wand is the oracle, Propheta.”
There’s that name again. “Who is Propheta? I keep hearing her name.”
“Propheta is one of the twelve witches of the Linne Coven. Just under 200 years ago, the coven formed to put an end to a series of wars that were taking place in the northeast countries of Waralica: Handocher, Antarrow, and Avensaria. Linne is an independent City-State which was caught in the middle of these three nations. All the witches are cursed, and Propheta’s curse is that she cannot speak clearly. She is the librarian in the city of Norrod, a very powerful wizard in her own right, and is gifted with the sight; She sees the future. I am descended from Procella, one of the other witches on the coven.”
“If she knows how to destroy this Cursing Wand, why doesn’t she?”
“I don’t know. All I know is this: the wand will be destroyed by a ‘paradox of desire.’ No one who has heard this understands what it means. I have spent many months researching history books and have found no references to this. I am fortunate that I’ve never been cursed by the wand and I will consider my life a blessing if I go to my grave uncursed. However, I believe the entire world has suffered under the effects of this artifact and all who know of it agree that it should be destroyed.”
Just then, our meeting was interrupted when a teacher and some students barged in. One of the students was unconscious and bleeding from fresh wounds. Headmaster Avibur apologized as she tended to the emergency. I gathered that the student got caught accidentally in another’s spell. I waited patiently for a bit. Finally, the headmaster said that we’d have to meet again another time. Perhaps tomorrow? I told her my ship was sailing in the morning, then she promised that we’d meet next time I was in town. I wanted to learn more, but it wasn’t going to happen today.
I quickly jotted a note in my other book, “Gold #2,” thinking I’d get back to it later to fill in the details. It didn’t occur to me at the time that she never told me what the card does.
I realized I hadn’t had breakfast yet. I went into the marketplace and found a small cafe. I was struck by the oddity that the waitress had a streak of blue in her hair, but she served me promptly and professionally. As I was finishing, Mak Vashiga found me at my table. “It seems our plans have accelerated. Captain has me trying to track down everyone and we’re leaving as soon as we can.”
“I don’t know. Captain Silverkeep didn’t tell me. Have you seen anyone else?” I told him I hadn’t. “Okay. Get back to the ship. If you see anyone on the way, tell them.”
When I got to the ship, I was put to work immediately. I helped load several crates of goods and supplies and store them below decks. I tried to find out what the rush was, but no one seemed to know.
It was shortly after midday when Mak returned to the ship. He reported that there were still three crew members he couldn’t find, but brought three recruits to take their place. The sails were set and we were underway. When we left the harbor, Captain Silverkeep called the crew together on deck. I came down from my post in the nest to listen. With him was an elf. “I’m sorry we had to cut short our stay, but Xyrlina is paying us to make haste. Not only are we getting paid triple what we’d normally get for passage, we’re taking her to a destination we don’t normally go. We’re going to the Isle of Scone.”
The woman standing next to the captain looked like a teenager, but something about her spoke wisdom and experience. I’d seen half elves before. She was full-blood wood elf. Her light brown locks flowed over her long, pointed ears. Green eyes highlighted a face that appeared clear and youthful. “I am on a mission for Queen Tari. Yours was the only ship available and ready to leave on short notice,” she said.
The crew murmured among themselves. It seems many had knowledge of this island and were concerned about it. “I am assured that there is no danger to us traveling to Scone. Despite this, I want everyone on their guard. Lookouts, be more vigilant than you ever have before. I want the ballistae manned, loaded and ready to fire at all times. All of you must carry your weapons. I expect the voyage to take just over a month, where we’ll not see land until we arrive. And from Scone, it’s a month travel to anywhere, so I’ve purchased three months supplies. Thank you for those who were here to help load and store it. Now, everyone, to your posts!”
I climbed back up the mast and resumed my station. First we sailed west until we rounded the island of Swarmgarde. The sun was setting and I expected my replacement to climb up and relieve me. When this didn’t happen, I called down to Mak. He climbed up and told me that one of the crewmen he couldn’t find was one of our lookouts. Until one of the new guys got trained, Dagmar and I would have to work 12-hour shifts. Finally, just before midnight, Dagmar climbed up and I was done for the night.
Now, here I am back in my cabin, thinking about today’s events. While some questions were answered, I think I now have more questions than before. It seems that ever since I left my home in Czethai, all I’ve discovered are unanswered questions. I doubt I’ll get many answers on this next leg of my life’s journey.
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