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The · Errant · Scholar

A Tale of Gale Evenwood, hedgewizard, sellsword, and mercenary scholar

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* * *
            Since our group’s departure on fifth of this month I’ve had little time to write in this journal, primarily since most of my writing has been in my spellbook.  My fellows and I purchased horses at Amphail-on-Dessarin outside Waterdeep (on the city’s purse, naturally) and kept them in good order over the two tendays it has been since then.  The Amphail Gray is a fine breed, albeit an extremely expensive one, at two hundred, five-and-twenty gold a head.  Thank Waukeen for letters of credit.
Upon reaching Everlund in the Silver Marches, we sold the horses, as they would be ill-suited for sort of wood that the High Forest possesses.  Everlund is an interesting place—a walled city on a river that is home to a large standing guard, five fortified gates, and a people that seem to be ever two-steps wary of the dangers of the North.  It relies quite a bit on trade, and had I gone there on account of Waterdeep, I might have ended up there eventually as part of a caravan.  Although many times larger, the place does remind me of Highmoon way back in the Dales—humans, elves, and a wary yet friendly demeanor.  I doubt Lord Theremin Ulath wants his walls as thick as Everlund’s, though I wonder (in jest), with the drow bastards now rampaging through Cormanthor.  I would wager that Rand, my cousin back home, is having a field day.  Not the most personable half-elf, but deadly with a bow and openly kills drow he finds, sheathing his blade only for the Eilistraee folk.  But I digress.
Over the course of the ride into the Silver Marches, I asked Tabris and have been borrowing his spellbook, using it to prepare spells into my mind and once practiced, writing my own versions in my own spellbook.  This, combined with a few simple lessons from Tabris (and his enthusiastic familiar, called “Yuno”) has proved to be quite the tachydidaxy.  Over the course of two tenday, I have learned close to sixty common lesser spells.  One might scoff and call them weak or ineffectual compared to the might of larger wizards, but many of them should prove quite useful, such as protection from arrows, Tenser’s floating disk (no idea who this “Tenser” fellow is, though), scorching ray, and a few summoning spells I had not had the chance to touch.  At the same time, the ruffian, Dual, has had me watching my effects and my back, as he has attempted to pick my pockets more than once.  Brother Darvin has been doing his best to keep his “charge” in line, but as the Dalesfolk saying goes, “do not place a ram in charge of a fox.”  One would be surprised by what the mendaciloquent-tongued tatterdemalion of an acolyte can accomplish.  I surmise that he might even be able to steal the pants off a man, if so inclined.
So, if it can be said that a spell is a process or in simple terms, a tool, with my tool bag much increased by the time we reached Everlund, it was a simple matter of staying the night and then crossing south again over the river Rauvin and entered the single largest forest in all of northwestern Faerûn, where treants, centaurs, druids, and much darker things alight.  Our group received some sage advice in the only real settlement in the High Forest, known as Olostin’s Hold: avoid the druids protecting the sacred Grandfather Tree to the direct south, step lightly, and try not to make too many enemies.
Well, today, we nearly failed in that regard.  And when I use the term “we”, I am not exactly certain whether that is a compliment to my involuntary comrades or an insult to my person that I am fixed in such position as to travel with them.
It was upon the start of evening when my group stumbled across a druid’s grove—quite in the literal fashion.  Sitting at small “campfire” of luminescent fungus (Druids of the sort who think fire a violation of the usufruct given by Silvanus or Mielikki use the substance, a sort of mossy substance ostensibly related to the substance used in the Underdark.) was a moon elf with a calm demeanor to him and an unusually tall (I would venture a guess at six feet, four inches) burly wood elf.  The tall elf immediately confronted our group, demanding to know why we had dared enter his grove.  I responded that we were passing through and that our business was our own.  He did not take this in a sensible fashion, and with a scowl, walked away from the campfire and promptly disappeared into the shadows.
I had actually dealt with such effects before.  The Shadowmasters of Teflamm in Thesk are thieves with such abilities to preternaturally bond with shadows, and while it would be an entertaining aside, I shall decline and merely mention that I killed enough of the Shadowmasters’ Guild footpads to significantly decrease any future hospitality to that city.  I also hear the recently active “Shades”, the descendents of the Netherese who recently reappeared above the Anauroch, possess similar powers.
So what way does one have to thwart the invisible skulking of these types?  I calmly retrieved the copper ring I had made and placed it onto my finger.  The bright red light from the ring destroyed the darkness under the trees, and the bellicose elf immediately popped back into view.
“Well, I do not think we should suffer these city types invading my grove, Tandil.”  The elf bared a strangely-shaped scimitar, which was met by my longsword.  At was at this point that the moon elf intervened.  “If these travelers are lost, should we not help them, lest they unwillingly return to ‘sully’ this spot?”  The wood elf sneered and lowered his blade.  Though I had enough sense to know I was not the least bit lost, it was better to let the wood elf think that if it meant avoiding further hostilities.
So, we set off with the moon elf archer in tow.  The man was dignified in his manner that suggested military service, and once we were out of earshot of the grove, he stopped to introduce himself as Tandil of Silverymoon, a scout for the Argent Legion, the army for the new confederation that is the Silver Marches.  It is rather nice to meet a man of balanced mental harmony among the likes of bumbling churchmen.  No offense is meant to Tabris, but theorist wizards who are Mystran regular are hardly the image of common folk.  I have oft found that I am most relaxed in the company of soldiers, guard, and mercenaries.
I explained that we had been sent on behalf of the Lords’ Alliance from Waterdeep, and that we sought a place known as the Hellgate Keep.  Tandil gasp through clenched teeth.  “I know of this place, though what would a motley group of Waterdhavians want with such a place, especially since it fallen into ruin?”  To this, I answered with a bit of clarification.  “First, friend, I am not from the Heartlands nor Waterdeep.  I am a native of the Dalelands who plies his trade as a mercenary scholar.”  Tandil chuckled.  “A mercenary scholar?  How, pray tell?  Are you hired to unchain books from their shelves and steal them away for your patron?”  “Not quite.  I am a sellsword who works with a blade to gather coin to pay for his books and spells.”  “I see.  Well, what need you of Hellgate Keep?”  “We are to search for the remnants of an old mage’s staff so that it might be used against Luskan.”  “Luskan…nasty folk.”  “Hear rumors about dragons going mad?”  Tandil nodded.  “Luskan’s involved with that somehow.”
“Well, provided that Turlang and his treants cooperate I believe I can get your people to the keep, but do not expect much of it to be more than rubble.”  “Thank you.”  “It will take three more days’ travel, at which point I shall leave you and return to where you found me.  I am on holiday, you know.”  “Yes, much thanks to you.”  It was thus how the day ended, with a bit of a scare followed by a few hours’ civilized talk before setting up camp.

Tengwaita faereithamin,

Current Location:
North-central High Forest
Current Mood:
calm calm
* * *
            Spent a good portion of last evening convalescing at the Blue Clamm; their non-holiday rates are four “dragons” (the Waterdhavian gold piece) a night—by far not a trivial amount, but one I could happily afford.  The woman bookkeep I had grown accustomed to seeing was replaced by a preternaturally beautiful elven woman.  I say “elven”, but I do very much suspect that she is a nymph, though I wonder why such a fey creature would be in the midst of a city.  Then again, there are manner of strange and wondrous things that the local folk merely scoff at; I suppose it shows that I am an errant forester at heart.
I explained my plight and aching coil to the dwarfman cook, who suggested, “perhaps ye are in need of drink beyond that of small ale.”  My spellbook was safely packed away; I was tired, sore, and inclined to agree.  He suggested a sweetened, fortified fruit wine made by the Chauntean abbey in Goldenfields, a few days’ ride to the east.  Monks, be they contemplative scholars or ascetic practitioners of the weaponless arts, both ranks of clerics of just about any deity are known for being excellent brewers, and the Chauntean Helmthorn-derived wine was thick, tart, and quite good.  The only thing I have had comparable was a similar blueberry concoction made by the Sun Soul monastery one Dale east in Tasseldale.  But I digress.  I imbibed enough to ease my weary body and luckily not enough to leave me with a weary body this morning.  (Speaking of draughts particular to a certain church, the church of Ilmater in Impiltur makes a rather stiff but I am told rather well-tasting beverage known as Hospitallers’ Mead.  I never had the privilege of trying it, but one of my friends from the nation often alleged its merits.)
I spent much of this morning working on a dagger for my person, (and as a matter of habit, reading while I worked).  I had a reasonable hilt with a worthless blade and a finished piece of steel that simply needed a point and an edge.  With a bit of finesse and a small hammer from my gear, I managed to ease apart the handle and replace the pins with some I had collected in my travels.  Other than that, it merely took a series of metal files, tying a leather strap between two of the tables in the common room, and quite a bit of patience.
At late mid-morning, I was approached by an odd-looking man wearing a half-dour look on his face and the white-trimmed blue robes emblazoned with a flame and the seven stars of Mystra.  He approached me, considering this particular young man in studded leather and a black knee-length robe devoid of lace or frill.  He observed for several moments as I ran the blade across the strap.  The blade was rather hot, so as to keep the edge, I stopped and began to carve upon the wooden grip, while watching the fellow out of the corner of my eye.  As a minor act of proof, I cast a cantrip to levitate the blade onto my bag of tools while I worked on fitting the handle to my hands.
After this minor display, the cleric finally spoke.  “Would you happen to be Gale Evenwood?”  “I might.  Who wishes to know?”  The cleric kept his dour tone.  “A cleric of the Lady of Mysteries who might wish to work with that sellsword.”  With that, I put down my works, and stood next to the brown-haired brown-eyed wizard.  “Gale Evenwood.”  “Well met, Evenwood.  I am called Tabris.  Tabris Crael.”
Tabris handed me a wax-sealed letter.  I opened it, and read it.  It turns out my mission is to recover a magical item of great power from a recently ruined fortress known as Hellgate Keep—a fortress held for many centuries by demonic forces and later a tribe of the Northmen Uthgardt barbarians before being destroyed in 1369.  The item is a mage’s staff (or rather, the parts to it) that is believed to have been lost in the ruins.  I also seem to remember in my studies that the area in question once made the lost Elven kingdom of Ascalhorn.
Tabris, having finally explained (thank Azuth, or possibly even Savras for this long-awaited truth) the circumstances of the mission to me explained his circumstance.  Seeing as the Church of Mystra in Waterdeep would very much like the acquisition of this item—a relic so powerful as to be called an “artifact” of previous times—Tabris would act as the city’s arcane factor in recovering this staff, and was to join my group.  At this point, a small brown ferret popped its head out from the collar of his clothing before perching on his shoulder.  I assume that this animal is Tabris’s familiar.
I asked, “are we to leave this day?”  “Nay.  The Lathanderites are still milling about their spire to-day…as they are ought to do.”  I agreed.  I expressed my appreciation in working with a properly trained wizard, (though I suppose Tabris has the privilege of access to both sides of magic: the Art and the Power) and Tabris agreed with underwhelming enthusiasm.  He excused himself on the basis of his worship and studies, and bid me a good day.
By the time I finished tossing the new Oghman spells around in my head, I had fixed a newly curved, two-edged dagger blade onto a decent hilt.  It was not a masterpiece by any means, but for a sloyd art, possessed decent balance and was quite serviceable.

Tengwaita faereithamin,

Current Location:
Blue Clamm, South Ward, Waterdeep
Current Mood:
artistic artistic
Current Music:
grit on a whetted blade
* * *

            At early mid-morning Breshia yelled and kicked me awake off a bench in the heliolaters’ common room; the two of us met with the rest of the group and were ordered to a tavern on the border at which the Castle ward turned into the Trades ward.  Before we left, Darvin arrived with a large, leather alchemist’s case: a series of slots each with a vial of potent healing potion the church had created.  He insisted that no tithe would be necessary, and I opted to take a few to replace the empty loops on the front of my belt designed to hold just such things.
            On our way, we stumbled upon a lost traveler at the edge of stabling, still on his mount, frowning at a cheap map and expelling minor blasphemes in what I recognized to be a northern dialect of Damaran—though extensive, my mastery of the language did not cover such uniquely bawdry speech.  I asked if I could be of help to him.  The response was the sharpened blade of a polearm projected a few inches from my face.  The man was moderately tall, stocky, and utterly analogous to the chiseled man on the destrier.  The traveler’s eyes peered into mine, then into Breshia’s, and he lowered his glaive.  “<You are supposed to be dead!>”  “<Me, Vasily?  No, you are dead.  I saw it!>  The two dismounted their equally imposing steeds and stared each other with looks that might freeze Auril herself…until their laughed and embraced one another.  As irritating as it might be, the two were undeniably brothers.
            The brother of our neophyte companion, Vasily, explained that the Brothers Nityuv had lost sight of each other during an engagement a few years back in northern Damara.  Each unable to find the other, and considering the deplorable conditions of the battle, they assumed the other had perished.  Several years and hundreds of miles later, they were again a team.  Introductions were made, the not-quite-mendaciloquent “scout” almost received blows from another Nityuv, and it was then that Vasily approached me and asked why such a “sword-straight fellow” (a translation of a Damaran idiom) was conspiring with these strange churchfolk.  I answered that I was being paid by the city.  He responded in kind with an unbalanced smirk.  “<Maybe, but not nearly enough.>”
            Upon reaching the tavern, I say that it was the sort of establishment with wooden benches that have a permanent veneer of grease and a boisterous volume to match.  At the head of the regulars’ table was a tall man with a well-trimmed beard, a large crossbow slung across his back and a permanent half-amused sneer across that beard.
            The man curtly introduced himself as Jardwim, and stated that he was a follower of Mielikki with little time for idle chatter.  Despite my and Breshia’s (much louder) protests that this affair was not in our bailiwicks, Jardwim plainly accused the lot of us of unleashing the lich known as Vergastaron, and thus the city had called them in to “correct” the problem.  And since Jardwim’s force, known as the “Grey Hands” did not enjoy “rectifying the blunders of would-be-adventurers”, we were to accompany them keep whatever matter of minions Vergastaron had created busy.
            Before Jardwim were seven of his “enforcers”: a Calishite man with a cut and scarred lip and a large scimitar; a fair-skinned, grey-eyed, and raven-haired Illuskan lady (I say Illuskan, though her dark hair and the Old Netherese runes embroidered on clothing imply that she was a Northlander of some Netherese heritage) in the robes of a mage; a human scholar in brass-rimmed spectacles and carrying a weirwood staff; a hard-bitten shield dwarf in leathers with an oversized, double-headed axe; a moon elven man with a rapier and fine mithral chain; a knight with golden eyes (could be from unusual heritage, possibly an aasimar human) and heavy plate armor; and a Tethyrian human warrior in splint mail emblazoned with the emblem of a gold dragon.
            On my earlier studies at the Oghman library, I remember hearing something about these Grey Hands.  They are apparently a semi-officiated branch of the city guard that is only activated in times of need, for although they have a great renown for overt directness and prowess in battle, this must be meted against their common tendency to destroy large portions of Waterdeep carrying out their orders.  Hopefully, if in an isolated underground environment, I should hope that this tendency will be lessened.
            Our short march to the necropolis (Vasily asked “<Why are we going to hunt this evil lich creature again?  I do not remember it bothering me.>”) was punctuated by the sound of window shutters abruptly closing, and persons clearing the street and bolting their doors.  Jardwim’s troop (the leader having decided not accompany his septenary combatants) led the way, the braggers jostling over past and future glories.  The gold-eyed knight was apparently the leader, but after I asked, informed me that I “was not worthy of [his compatriots’] names”.  This incensed me little, but Breshia’s lips curled into a gravelly geck.  Luckily, the path was shorter than my faction’s patience, and soon another entrance to the crypt and our scacchic dance was upon us.
            We arrived at a stone wall a good hundred yards from the night’s previous entrance.  The Grey Hand scholar worked some sort of countermagic spell (I am not exactly certain what specific spell) on the side of the land rise, revealing a vertical, flush wall.  The lady mage then blew the wall outward as if off its hinges with a fireball, splattering fragments of granite ubiquitously.  The elder and more oxythymous Nityuv picked a few sizeable rocks out of the mail portions of his armor, and even Soulcaste, hiding behind his new brethren, cursed upon being struck by a few pebbles.
            Upon descending a long, shallow set of stairs behind the pair of Nityuv warhorses, I found my sight dimming as the sunlight faded.  Brother Windrivver fumbled with a piece of flint and a steel bar until he succeeded, and Breshia struck an alchemic sunrod which lightened things considerably.  It was at this point that I realized I was without a light source and made mental admonitions against myself, though how often do a caravan escorts and bodyguards go caving?  I recently learned a permanent spell for such things, and vowed to test it once this affair was over.
            At the bottom of the stairs, the Grey Hands yelled at Vergastaron and he muttered something back.  I could hear little, for at that moment, Breshia shouted in Common for our group to stick close, as the two knights, with ample room to perform martial maneuvers took up defensive positions in front of us.  Dual secreted a small crossbow from under his tatters.  The paladin withdrew an arming sword, though different than the one I remember him having.  Darvin the cleric withdrew a strange half-sling, half-crossbow contraption and nestled upon a flask containing holy water.  I withdrew my bow and notched an arrow.  The moon elf from the Grey Hands did likewise and took up a position to my immediate right.  The remainder of the man’s unit advanced forward and I was given a glimpse of what was before us in the darkness: at least forty-five re-animated beings, mostly human in shape, with several large dogs or wolves; some of the lot were shambling and rotten, but the others were skeletal and more swift in step.  Behind them, fading into the darkness, were a pair of enormous ooze-like beasts in shapes roughly square, and the undead skeletons of giants.  Behind them, I was sure, was our lich.  The only problem was, of course, the unfeeling army he had conjured over the night.  What in the High One’s name had I gotten myself into?
            To add to the mire of the situation, the Grey Hands took that moment to charge off into the middle of the enemy rank, literally slicing, crushing, and spell-blasting a wide line of the undead into bits.  The elf and I each struck true, though the former had spaced three arrows between his fingers, and Darvin’s holy water turned one of the skeletons to a pile of dust, singing those foes nearby.  Dual tangled with a wolf as the swords of Tamas and Breshia clashed against bone and flesh.  Vasily’s skill with steed and glaive was equally admirable, changing his grip on the haft with trained precision, while his charger showed little concern over the unnatural foes its rider faced.
            We had soon cleared a small path.  Dual skulked to the right and took cover behind one of the large pillars supporting the ceiling.  Tamas likewise advanced left.  Instead of drawing another arrow, I twisted my right hand in a brief gesture for one of easier spells I know, disrupt undead, a sort of “white” necromancy that manipulates a small burst of energy keyed in such a way as to mimic a cleric’s powers—the one ray was enough to destroy the last skeleton in our immediate locality.  The elf slung his bow, drew his rapier, and ran forward to join his fellows, who were slowed up ahead against the lich.  Darvin stayed in the rear as Breshia barked orders to his brother and to me: “move up!”  I quickly replaced my bow under my robes, only tightening one of the buckle-straps, before releasing my sword and returning it to my right hand.
            Two pillars and forty or so foot ahead, one of the Grey Hands yelled something incomprehensible.  A dull roar and a small red light could be heard above the din of the battle ahead.  I immediately recognized what it was.  “Fireball!”  Breshia echoed, “disperse!” at the top of his lungs.  The next few actions, thought nary a few seconds, lasted an eternity.  The knightly pair kicked their horse in opposite directions, leaving the fireball screaming directly towards my person.  I turned to the left, and dove into the air.  Behind me, the fireball struck the ground and detonated, engulfing the area in a momentary, though intense burst of heat and flame.  Not only was the actual magical damage painful, the force of the spell propelled me further forward, and I struck one of the columns.
            A few moments later, after I started breathing again and coughing up blood, I pulled a potion off my belt and uncorked it.  The Lathanderite potion was colorless, tasteless, and if not for the distinctive tingle and cessation of pain, I would have doubted its effectiveness.  I righted myself and advanced forward at a moderate gait.  Once I neared, I saw the seven against a gaunt, taught-skinned figure that was Velgastaron, who looked to be already near a second death.  Breshia had a short lance out for a small charge and the distraction was enough for the Grey Hands to finish off the lich.  Breshia dismounted his horse, walked over the robed pile of bones, and crushed the skull with the rear of his spear, pointing at the interior.  “Something we learn from Vaasa.”  The golden-eyed man picked up a small red gem and crushed it in his hands.  A small shriek was whispered at the lich struck finality.
            I sheathed my sword and sighed.  I had spent the day as second seat to some glory-hounds and had come closer to death in a single instant than ever before…and I was not even being paid.  I hope that this should be the last dire and mortal side road I should have to face before my true contract begins.

Tengwaita faereithamin,

Current Location:
Waterdeep, City of the Dead
Current Mood:
sore sore
Current Music:
Fireball-induced Tinnitus
* * *
Mind you, most of the following are minor spoilers for upcoming entries, but here you go:

Gale Evenwood
Race: Human (negligible amounts of moon elf)
Ethnicity: Chondathan (Dalelands)
Height: 5’8” Weight: 132 lbs.
Eyes: Green
Hair: Dark brown, almost black
Age: 20
Class: Fighter / Wizard / Raumathari battlemage
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Homeland: Deepingdale
Profession: Mercenary (Guard, Bodyguard, Caravan escort) / Self-taught scholar
Fighting Style: Dalelands Archery / Self-taught swordsmanship / Raumathari sword channeling
Magic Style: Self-taught arcane wizardry (no specialty) / Raumathari battle magic

Gale is of average height, with green eyes, near-black brown hair set on a slender build. While not as burly or resilient as some Dalefolk, Gale is both strong and agile. His regular garb consists of a pair of sturdy but worn leather boots, trousers and a knee-length grey-black scholar’s robe. Underneath the robe, he wears a tunic of typically some neutral color, and a studded leather chest plate. He recently changed acquired a shirt of fine mithral chain, which he changed out for his leathers. Instead of a regular belt, Gale wears a belt with ten loops designed for potions and flasks, allowing him to keep healing potions and alchemical items ready at all times.
Most striking is the four-foot long bastard sword on a diagonal sling-scabbard across his back, with the hilt projecting the right of his head. However, most folk don’t notice the arrow quiver on the left of his waist, nor the Dalelands longbow on his back nestled between his shirt and robes. Even fewer are aware that he keeps a large dagger inside the sleeves of his robe.
Overall, Gale gives off an interesting image to those he meets. A scholar who carries a large sword—it’s an odd but not inherently threatening image. At least until they learn he’s a wizard, to boot. While some potential employees and other hired guards or mercenaries may mock his appearance, it becomes evidence that he is the epitome of both apparent facets: much of the self-taught student’s free time has been spent polishing or sharpening a blade while reading a propped-open book.

Gale’s parents and neighbors live in a nameless hamlet a league away from Highmoon. Further relatives (mostly human or half-elf, with a few elves) live in or around the town of Highmoon, and some of his more distant cousins live in the elven village of Bristar.

Personality and Outlook:
PHB II Data: Archetypes: Mercenary, Sage, Theorist, Seeker (Staff of Memories)
Traits: Calm, Disciplined, Erudite
Gale is unusual for a man born in the Dalelands, but still adheres to the identity of his homeland. While he opted to not follow the path of the ranger and forester like his parents, he did acquire the archery skills of Deepingdale, and above average stealth and survival skills. Being raised in an area that venerates Oghma and educated by the Oghman temple known as Leaves of Learning has left him with a healthy respect (almost venerating) for knowledge and its incarnation, books.
His wizardry and swordplay, however, are a different matter. Since leaving home at the age of sixteen, Gale looked to no one but himself to improve himself, teaching him magic from books and sparing against fellow hireswords and mercenaries to improve his swordsmanship, and accepting rare offers for help with such things. Learning either practice is demanding enough, but Gale has done both admirably.
Gale is calm, well-spoken and loyal, though he does have a tendency to come off as brash. He respects his superiors and elders, but is much more likely to appreciate a person who has come into their office by their own hands—a Dalelander such as himself has no lost love for haughty nobles that flout themselves on nothing more than the right of their blood. He does not mind large cities, but is most at home on the road or in the backcountry, and is much more likely to identify himself with a farmer, fellow mercenary, merchant, or city guardsman than to the plights of high society.
Owing to his to chosen profession, Gale has little patience for thieves and ruffians, which has led to trouble with the Shadowmasters of Telflamm and a distrust of the party’s “scout”, Dual. Sorcerers irritate him, as they fall under the same category as nobles: those who attained their status innately and not by their own labor. He enjoys the company of more properly trained mages but cares little for the scoffing rebuts of “proper, ivory-towered wizards” against a simple, if not highly trained and powerful hedgewizard.
Still, in the end, so long as the work is honest and pays enough to cover the cost of wizarding expenses, Gale minds little. He won’t go out of his way to help those he has no connection to, but neither will he knowingly help the agents of evil: his skills are for sale; his loyalty is not. His recent trips working for Waterdeep have brought him both closer to death and fortune than he would care, but he still steels himself by telling him that the payment (expenses covered, enchantments to his sword’s hilt, and a personal safehold) and the knowledge gained in the past few months make up for it. And it has. He’s magically powerful, calm, determined, and steeled enough to ignore intimidation or even the radiating fear of a great dragon during a fight to death.

Gale has picked a bit of free climbing and rock hopping in his travels and has become an expert long jumper. Owing to his to need to dodge and party blows rather than take them right out, Gale is also adept and rolling, tumbling, and evading attacks.
In addition to his combat and magical skills, Gale has picked up a variety of other practical skills. Gale picked up a bit of bladesmithing to keep his sword in top condition, and later tested his skill by constructing a dagger after he forgot his former knife in Daggerford (no pun intended). Gale picked up the study of alchemy as part of wizardry studies, and has used it to fabricate various items, identify and synthesize smokepowder, and in a first-of-its-kind experimental fashion, separate out blood from a piece of parchment to identity the race of the unfortunate owner. Despite having no formal training, Gale’s understanding of spellcraft and knowledge of both arcana and history is extensive, equivalent even to a ranking War Wizard of Cormyr.

Gale had as his unofficial patron, Oghma, the god of knowledge, due to local tradition. While in Scornubel, Gale came across an unattended shrine to Azuth, the patron of arcane spellcasters, and was so impressed as to declare his following to Azuth. Since then, he’s taken up the philosophy of sharing and teaching spells to those responsible.

Gale’s Motley Companions:
Dual Soulcaste: Dual, a rogue and “scout”, an orphan originally from the Dragon Coast, was the first member of the party Gale met, and the only one that still manages to irritate him. Gale kept him from stealing from Menth Akeym’s caravan in Waterdeep, and subsequently pointed out his pickpocketing of the Lathander cleric and paladin to said cleric and paladin, which resulted in a swift moral lesson and a religious conversion that made Dual into an acolyte of Lathander.
Since then, Dual has been on a short leash, but still manages to bluff past his guardian, Darvin. As an agent of the church, and with a soft spot for orphans, Dual still steals everything not bolted down, but he prefers to steal from the party’s adversaries and donates a portion to charity. That doesn’t mean Gale has started trusting him, and hasn’t stopped the explosive runes on Gale’s spellbooks and journal.
Since touching the artifact known as the Staff of Memories, Dual has awakened to the path of sorcery, an appropriate fit to his surname and origin. Again, it’s not likely to improve Gale’s opinion of him.
Darvin Windrivver: A cleric of Lathander, or more specifically, a favored soul, a person who has a more spontaneous connection to a deity than a cleric. Darvin is probably the meekest favored soul or cleric Gale has ever met, but is still a trustworthy friend. Gale is unlikely, however, to pay much attention to Darvin’s apologetic excuses for his charge’s (Dual) behavior.
Tabris Crael: A Mystran cleric and wizard. Gale was enthused to meet a cleric of the goddess of magic, and has learned several dozen spells thanks to Tabris’ help. Gale considers him a quiet man, trustworthy man (with a likewise cautious ferret, Yuno) who keeps to his deity and studies, as well as vein of experimentation involving mixing natural divine magic and the arcane, which might explain the cat’s tail and partially photosynthetic skin Tabris quietly gained.
Tandil: Gale is more inclined to understand Tandil’s concern over protecting a patch of forest, and since after actually partnering with him in the ruins of Hellgate Keep and after vowing to correct things after the destruction of Silverymoon, Gale considers Tandil a trusted friend and ally.
Orel Bresk: Gale worked with Orel for several employers during his stay in Impiltur. If Gale was hired as heavy artillery, they hired Orel, a tall, buff, and imposing Damaran man, as a deterrent, since the mere sight of a 6’2” man in heavy armor and wielding a greatsword was enough to keep some bandits at bay without even drawing a weapon. Orel is not the sharpest point mentally, but he is tough as a rothé and as strong as an ogre, and prone to making periodic outbursts of wisdom. Gale considers him an able friend, ally, and drinking buddy…Orel does most of the drinking.
Alistair Archibald von Andremor: Gale unexpectedly met up with this Sharakim (“noble orc”) duskblade while on the outskirts of Waterdeep. After exchanging thoughts over a three-hour horse ride, it turns out that Alistair had been sent from the Spine of the World to investigate the very things Gale and his fellows were after. Thus, Alistair joined the group. He’s quite well-spoken for being six and a half feet tall and blue-skinned, and Gale appreciates an honest man who mixes swordplay and sorcery, in an elven style, no less.

Former Party Members:
Shiro: Holier-than-thou Shou diplomat and haughty noble who, among other things, refused to give his last name. Hypocritical, loud, insulting, and patronizing to everyone, he met his end after casting a deadly spell to finish off a few helpless driders…through the lines of the party, despite screams not to and Tabris’ best attempts to restrain him. It killed Tandil and the party guide, Aradon, (both have since been resurrected at great difficulty) and Gale decided, after a string of insults that this act of indifferent manslaughter (followed by a snide remark) was the last straw. He released a true strike spell stored in his sword, and charged the cowardly Wu Jen and slew him in one devastatingly powerful overhead blow.
Tamas Nathandem: An overly effeminate, overly emotional, and overly fearful (yes, you heard me) paladin of Lathander. Was eventually recalled by the Order of Aster due to his own behavior.
Breshia Nityuv: Damaran Knight-Errant. A justice of the peace back home, Breshia took an extremely direct solution to solving problems—by breaking their proverbial or literal nose. Armed and armored to the teeth and astride an enormous destrier warhorse, Breshia was a force to be reckoned with…
Vasily Nityuv: …at least until Breshia’s brother showed up. A mounted knight and master of the halberd, the two finally found each other after being separated for several years and headed back to their homeland.

Allies and Enemies:
Among his allies are Piergeiron the Paladinson, the Open Lord of Waterdeep (and his current employer) and his former employers. He recently freed from a Red Wizard stasis field one Izmira Rosthara, an errant historian, diplomat, and Hathran “witch” of Rashemen, whom he had served as bodyguard while in Thesk. After displaying his skills, she asked to train him in the ways of the Raumathari battle magic, a state secret of Rashemen, for his own use.
Gale hates few people, but there are few he considers his enemies. Gale dislikes drow and abjectly hates Vhaeraunian drow due to their actions against the Dalelands. After his travels in the Unapproachable East, Gale picked up a dislike for the Red Wizards of Thay, and due to his mission and the evidence stacked against them, he is also at odds with the evil Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan.
On a related note, Gale is unlikely to be welcome the next time through Telflamm. When a Shadowmaster thug took a knife to Lady Rosthara’s throat in an attempt to extort some coin, the mugger didn’t count on her bodyguard having a bow. He met his end with a quick arrow through the skull.

Equipment and Possessions:
As a traveler and a mercenary, Gale prefers to travel light, and all of his material possessions are those that can be carried on his person. In addition to those things on his person, Gale keeps a rucksack (with bedroll) that includes such things as his spellbook, tools for alchemy and bladesmithing, his journal, quill, ink, silk rope, a magnifying glass, and a variety of alchemy items, ranging from alchemist’s fire and stonebreaker acid to nearly a pound of alchemic smokepowder for use as an explosive.
Dalelands Bow: Gale’s bow is a gift from his parents, and his typical of a Dales bow: a composite longbow of yew and hickory. It is powerful, compact, and well-balanced, and Gale keeps a small quiver of broadheads at his sides.
Gale’s Sword: Gale received his preferred weapon, from an Impilturian merchant in exchange for monetary payment. He thought little of it, but accepted the offer and decided to keep the sword and teach himself swordplay.
The well-made but plain blade is a bastard sword, a “hand and a half” sword with eight inches of hilt and a good forty of blade, but is extremely well-balanced. The Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, Waterdeep’s pseudo-mage’s guild, replaced the hilt with a jeweled hit with three cabochon-cut gems. One activates a hold monster spell on hit, the other projects a cone of cold as a spell completion item, and the third can store five levels of spells that can be released as a swift action, as well as serve as the activation trigger for Gale’s new extradimensional safehold. Gale has since then enchanted the blade (previously only the hilt was magical), and has begun adding more specific enhancements to the weapon.
Gale recently found out that the small, “decorative” markings near the hilt are actually in the lost Imaskari script, and they make up a maker’s imprint. The sword is actually from the now-fallen Raumathar Empire’s arms stockpile at (the recently-ruined outpost of) Beacon’s Cairn, on the far eastern edge of Rashemen. Until Waterdeep touched it, the sword was non-magical (since the anti-aging transmutation used to preserve the blade leaves no magical residue).
Recently, Izmira instructed and helped Gale empower the blade for use in the Raumathari style for use as an arcane channeling focus. Since then, runes have appeared on the sides of the blade in the old Roushoum tongue, which read “Forest Zephyr”: the transliteration of Gale’s name.
Dagger: Gale carries a dagger for utility and eating, and promptly left and forgot his unremarkable knife during an overnight stay at a converted festhall while in Daggerford. Since then, he took an old, broken short sword blade from a Waterdhavian merchant and refinished into a finely balanced and serviceable dagger.

Feel free to comment and what not.  Catch 'ya later! ~_^

Current Location:
Wit's End (It's a short trip, really)
Current Mood:
recumbent recumbent
Current Music:
Entire Contents of a Hard Drive
* * *

            After a breakfast much larger than one could find traveling (or that I would pay such an amount for, yet I suppose my recent travels have increased my wealth to that of a burgess), I again hiked through the forest of row-houses clustered together like a grove of blueleafs (I am told that the houses—not the trees—are narrow-faced for tax purposes but grow backwards and upwards much like trees) to the Lathanderite temple.  I was met with a parson, Brother Meynarde, who directed me to the churchmen I had been assigned with by the city.  Meynarde gave me notice that a city messenger had delivered earlier to the Spires: our group was to meet a discoverer of the city at a spot just inside the City of the Dead, the expansive cemetery and catacombs at the city’s east and central end, which I am told contains, in a jest of the gods, the most greenery, grass and trees of the whole city.  The area is closed at dusk and we were to tell the gate guard we were there on permission of the city, for while there are no revenant beings, various miscreant and cultists are apt to meet in the tombs after dark…usually to create such undead things.  (Thus, cremation is a common practice in the Dales and elsewhere, and Kelemvor’s priests are apt to help in such rites…and hunt down necromancers.)
            After the paladin was done praising the morning in such fashion as to unknowingly yet severely irritate my person, I found that while the Order of the Aster is apt to command the army of the church, the persons I had allied with were more apt to contemplation than crusades.  While the building had an armory of fair size, actual provisions for the day would have to be acquired.  So, I would acquire the few things I needed, and meet the churchmen back at their temple.  So, I left the group and headed to the Trades Ward (which borders the City of the Dead) with the intention to take note of the evening’s meeting locale and acquire whatever comestibles and items I might need.  It was at the mean that I noticed I was missing my eating-knife.  I had apparently left the dagger at the festhall in Daggerford that I had slept in before meeting Akeym.
            If the Lords’ discussion had been indication of the dangers I would be facing, then it would benefit my personage if I replaced it with a fighting dagger.  Yet, after an hour’s time, I had only found decorative knives or those proffered to nobles and city folk.  Finally, one merchant said that he had an old dagger I was free to have.  To my misfortune, it was not old—it was old enough to be from Cormanthyr, and I suspected it had not been sharpened or oiled since then.  Luckily, the chapman gave me an unfinished blade he had somehow acquired.  It would take some work, but I thought I could combine the two into something workable.  I had some considerable experience in such things: a mercenary has to know to take care of his arms, and restringing bows, polishing steel, and oiling blades are among them.  Among my travels, it seemed that after watching me, the other guards in a coster would inevitably relinquish their arms to me.  Many a night I spent reading by magelight with a book propped open while I sharpened and oiled someone’s halberd.  I even had to refinish a sword by creating a new edge after its owner broke the tip.  Edging and assembling a dagger would be quite easy.
            It was about this time when a wizard dressed in ostentatious garb decided to cause trouble by conjuring a small beast.  A mage of the Watchful Order teleported nearby, but before he could reach the miscreant mage, a voice shouted “move!” in heavily accented Common.  The speaker was a warrior clad in heavy armor, carrying a bewildering amount of arms, and mounted on an impressively tall destrier—the horse must have stood at least seventeen hands high, as my head only went to horse’s withers.  The rider was even taller.  The knight dismounted, accosted the mage, and was prepared to merit physical harm against him when the guild mage intervened.  The knight was insistent on punishing the offending wizard, for he explained in broken Common that he served as something akin to a Justice of the Peace in his homeland.  Rather than take the time to arrest the man, the two agreed to leave the brash young wizard with a rather painful warning—the knight boxed…and broke the offender’s nose.  I almost chuckled.
            While most commoners think of wizards as strange men whose fingertips shoot fire and whose clothes were selected by one unable to see color, that is a false tale.  Those men are sorcerers.  Only the young and stupid or the old and very powerful ever wear such things, and any sensible wizard is apt to wear more reserved clothing, especially in an area where he would be not welcome.  Thus, my own appearance.
            With the lawbreaking wizard dealt with, the foreign knight mounted his steed, and looked around.  Once his eyes swept over me, he paused as if in thought, and his gaze stayed fixed.  As he turned, I loosened the straps on my scabbard.  In an instant, the knight stood in front of me: I did not sense it to be arcana, though the speed at which he did so was awesome.  And in a thick accent asked, “Are you…Evenwood?”  I carefully said that I was.  The knight babbled something about employment I could not entirely understand.  That is when I remembered where I heard his accent: it was straight Damaran.  Not the sing-song variant spoken by the merchants in Lyrabar or Hlammach, but the harder, more guttural form spoken in Damara proper or even the far-north of Vaasa.  The Cold Lands are said to be places where men and dwarves do not simply live, but instead survive.  In the appropriate tongue, I asked, “Do you speak Damaran?”  The hector was actually surprised and took a moment to say “yes”.  He quickly then inquired as to where I learned the language.  I answered Impiltur.  A glower appeared on the man’s face.  I hastily added, “while a mercenary in the country.  I originally hail from the Dalelands.”
            The knight explained that he had been errable from his homeland for a certain time and now found himself listless in a Chondathan-speaking city with a bare grasp on Common.  Somehow, he had been directed to the Oghman library and told to find me.  While in the caravan camp I had been given the names of two greying former warriors, Blazidon the One-Eye and Filiare, who act as hiring agents for sellswords.  I never had the chance to visit their premises, on account of my meeting with the city.  I suggested the names, but he scoffed at each turn in turn, claiming that their tasks did not meet his style.  He then questioned my deity.  “I am not familiar with this…Azuth.  Is he an honorable god?”  “He is the patron of wizards who work their magic justly—he is honorable.”  After succinctly replying with “good”, he introduced himself as Breshia Nityuv.  (The trans-literation is as close as I can manage.  Damaran is written in the dwarven script of Dethek, not the Thorass-derived script that this Chondathan work uses.)  I held out my hand…and after explaining the “southerner” cultural significance of a handshake, I affirmed my name.  He was rather humbly impressed that was a wizard who practiced swordsmanship, though I think it improved his opinion.  Breshia then made an effort to introduce his horse, whose name currently escapes me.  I have the odd notion that it might be the only mortal creature the man trusts in a complete sense.
            So, acting on whim, I proffered the task the city had given me.  Breshia seemed to be quite interested in a vaguely defined task involving significant but impalpable threats…provided the pay was good.
            Thus, we needed a brief stop to the palace to treat for separate wages for Breshia, who hesitated on leaving his steed to the guard.  A contract entirely in Damaran was drawn up (on which Breshia was surprisingly shrewd, despite the Waterdhavian official being quite careful to avoid any thorns or catches), and sealed both in the modern form with a quill and in the traditional method used on the north plains of Damara.  I am quite certain the envoy enjoyed wiping the spittle from his right hand.  Breshia was rather affronted that the remaining members of our group needed to purchase equipment.  Men such as ourselves carry all their effects with them—all my worldly possessions are on my personage.  I also understand the anxiety a man of self-employ experiences when out of employment for a decent time.
            So, upon to the church, certain niceties and nomen were exchanged, and the whole of the group made their way towards the other half of town.  Breshia and Tamas did not agree on some things, and a verbal altercation began betwixt the two.  I was walking at the front of the party and did my best to ignore it…until the phrase, “Lathander hates you, little paladin!” was spoken by the former.  The champion of the church broke out with an overstatement of tears.  Breshia rode forward and addressed me.  (I think I shall mark such times when folk converse in non-Chondathan languages that I comprehend using the glyphs < and > to indicate when it is as such.)  “<Any particular reason you are working with these complete idiots/fools?>”  I answered that, “<the city assigned these people as partners, not I.  I certainly would not have taken them in of my own accord.>”  He then half-joked in louder fashion that it was certainly good that that the two of us were being paid enough to endure such people.  At this point, Tamas the paladin had recovered from his crying fit (almost as soon as it had taken him), and said in somewhat broken Damaran, “<Why would the two of you know Damaran?>”  It appears that his zealous piety might have some unforeseen and permanent effect on his mind—Breshia had introduced his homeland not ten minutes prior.  So, Breshia and I asked in unison why a Waterdhavian paladin would know the language of the Cold Lands.  And with all the tact and bright-eye of an oblivious child proclaiming some gem of knowledge, he answered in Common, “because I was born in Thay.”  I stopped in my path and turned my countenance at the man.  Breshia went straight for his sword.  Needless to say, it took whimpered screaming on the part of the paladin and several insult-filled minutes to continue onward without bloodshed.
            So, we reached the City of the Dead by early evening.  Breshia found temporary stabling for his horse, and we received the gate guards’ permission to stay on the premises as they locked the gates.  Near the entrance was a knoll with a stone mausoleum planted atop it.  The paladin, as if some bloodhound, swore that he sensed the taint of evil nearby.  The churchmen enlisted their acolyte assistance as “scout” and discovered a concealed keyhole.  The robed ruffian confirmed my suspicions of former work by swiftly picking the lock to the mausoleum.  The Lathanderites piled down into the gloomy environs without a second thought, and Breshia I reluctantly followed.
            The inside of the private crypt was, as one suspect, dark.  The other men drew and lit torches (except for a magical variety), and I realized at once that I had little experience as an explorer and tomb-tapper and although I had my spells, I had neither a torch nor a permanent means of light.  A quick minor spell remedied that effect.  In the combined lights, we were in an enormous sub-earthly room.  At once Dual sighted a wood and stone chest bounded by a large, locked hasp.  This by itself was not too out of the tales one would find in Volo’s works or even a chapbook.  However, when it was conspicuously placed on a dais at the near-center of the room and highly polished, the situation became clear that it was odd, and probably a trap of some sort.  As the rest of my companions approached the chest, I noticed a pair of oddly gleaming water puddles near the chest.  As the Lathanderites vocally considered the box’s contents, I noticed the “water” flowing sideways towards us.  And then a dozen faintly glowing eyes in the corners of the room sprang to life.
            A sudden skirmish against a half of a dozen animated skeletons and a pair of clear, gel-like monsters had thus begun.  People discount the power of idle necromancers, but a human skeleton moving with a simple, yet decidedly malign and direct intelligence and armed with martial arms is something on the long list of things that can end one’s life.  The presumably native ooze, though devoid of thought, made good on its strange nature and drifted towards the group.  I struck one of the creatures with my blade, and found it was not warmth or flesh they sought.  There was a distinct hissing like quenched metal in a blacksmith’s forge, and I saw the creature attempting to climb the blade—the blasted thing was acidic and apparently had a taste for metal.  I managed to shake the thing off, and after adding distance, I slew the creature with missiles both magical and mundane in nature.  In the meantime, the healer had some strange sort of mechanical sling he used to toss holy water against the skeletons (which worked modestly well), and within a minute, the melee was over with no more than a few scratches dealt against the living.
            It was then that Soulcaste the rogue and the paladin set their eyes on the chest at the room.  Sure enough, a series of minor wards and weighted stone contraptions dropped stones out of the ceiling as deterrent, and after several further almost humorous traps (including a series of bolts fired by fixed arms concealed in the wall) the box was opened…revealing a rather plain looking electrum key.  So naturally, they grabbed it.  It was at that time that a great rumbling struck the chamber, emanating from no clear direction, and I managed to persuade the group to leave at once.  We did as such and secured the stone door as securely as was capable.  At which point we were greeted by our mysterious discoverer.
            A man of average height and build well stood concealed in robes and for no particular reason, he used a glamour spell to obfuscate his face to a void of blackness.  He questioned our reason for not meeting him at the proper time, and then for entering the tomb.  He calmly explained—no, it was in a calm voice, but in a grating voice that a superior man would use to chide the town fools—that by opening the tomb and retrieving an utterly useless key, we had awakened an undead wizard of great might (The term, for those who study the arcane, is “lich”.).  This made little sense, that a graveyard so clean of such things would have such a cursed thing.  One would think that a city with some of the world’s most powerful wizards commonly and openly in residence, they would have prevented such a monstrosity from residing in their borough.  And though it was obvious this was not common knowledge, the shadowed discoverer presented it as if even the village idiot would know.  I had a sudden desire to have the rancorous fellow meet my sword’s pommel.
            When I inquired into what his information he had to impart, he disparaged me in speech by saying “it is no longer pertinent”.  He informed us that we not leaving the city until the lich was dealt with, and that we were to return to the Blue Clam inn, pay for our own rooms, and then assist the city tomorrow.  I seriously wonder if Azuth is testing my patience as a manner of proving my worth.  It is either that, or he lost a game of chance to Helm.  Either way, my desire to work in the company of respectful peers is much increased.

Tengwaita faereithamin,
Gale&apos;s Arcane Mark

Current Location:
Waterdeep, South Ward
Current Mood:
irritated irritated
Current Music:
The Paladin has been whining all day
* * *
* * *
Hey there, it's the Alex Putnam-y persona.  Note, that the title indicates a non-Gale entry, normally for relevant information that are not Gale's journal entries.

First off, I had an art binge and drew up the design for Gale's Impilturian bastard sword:
Gale&apos;s Sword
The left sword is from another of my stories, The Weaver (http://students.ou.edu/P/Charles.A.Putnam-1/)The two middle swords are Gale's.  The one on the right is its modification by the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors.  The thing on the far right is the sword's scabbard.  It's rather hard to pull a four-foot long sword out longwise of a traditional scabbard, so the sword came with a sling-scabbard.  You undo the three straps, and slide the sword out of the sheath sideways.
Name: none
Type of Sword: Bastard Sword, Oakeshott Type XIX
Length: 48" (4 feet) / Hilt 8" / Blade 40"
Weight (Real world): 3.5 pounds

In-game stats:
Classification: Masterwork Bastard Sword (with enchanted hilt)
Type: Exotic One-Handed Melee Weapon
Damage: 1d10 (Slashing)
Critical Hit Range: 19-20/x2
Weight (in-game): 6 pounds
This well-made but otherwise unremarkable sword was given to Gale in Impiltur in lieu of payment for his services in guarding a caravan.  The merchant in question had no idea when he had acquired the item.  Gale accepted it and soon began teaching himself the martial skill of swordsmanship.  It's been slung across his scholar's robes for the past two years, and is Gale's favored weapon.  After a recent encounter with the Open Lord of Waterdeep, Gale's sword was quickly modified, having the ordinary hilt replaced with a quillon crossguard and hilt containing three permanently attached magical cabochon-cut gems, though the wizards modifying it kept the same leather and wire-wrapped grip.  The sword can now store five levels of spells, such as a Ring of Spell Storing.  Its two other powers are the ability to cast a on hit version of Hold Monster 2x day (lasting for a number of rounds equal to the wielder's caster level) and the ability to project a Cone of Cold spell 2x per day, though the latter requires a CL of 9th.  If lower than ninth, the Cone of Cold spell will still function, but will drain the user's HP by 1d4 points for every level below ninth.  Meanwhile, the blade is still its well-made, but non-magical self.
Estimated market value: 60,335= (335+50,000+5,000+5,000)

Secondly, for those reading, feel free to comment.  If it's a comment to a journal entry, the response will probably be in-character.  ~_^
Catch 'ya later!
* * *

            Shortly after sunup, I found the inn-mistress and inquired about any decent libraries that might cater to a wizard.  She found and gave me a rather detailed map of the city wards printed on a wide sheet of broadsheet paper.  She then pointed to the city center, the “castle” ward, and with it, the city’s temple to Oghma, known as the “Font of Knowledge”.  From being taught at a temple of “learning” and progressing to “knowledge” four years and over a thousand miles from my homeland?  Quite an adventure, isn’t it?

            After making to the Font, I was rather impressed at how new the building is.  (Come to find out, the temple is a scant five years old)  Past a lobby with scholars and sages milling about (very informal compared to Deepingdale’s temple), I again asked for information, for a person is often much more helpful than an index, for any library usually has their own proprietary and inevitably idiosyncratic methods of organizing codices.  I was met with a bright-eyed, white haired man behind a desk wearing wrinkled robes bearing the clerical symbol of a scroll.  “I am a traveling scholar…a wizard as well.  Well, a hedge wizard for those who concern themselves with such classifications.  I have not had the benefit of formal training, though I do consider myself quite proficient one self-taught.  The Temple to the Binder of What Is Known in Deepingdale specifically excluded arcane teachings and books.”  The priest nodded.  “And a wise thing for them to do.  A temple so isolated probably should not bother with having errant spellcasters wandering in at odd times scouring for secrets.  However, in a city such as this, we are quite prepared to handle the bad apples.”  The cleric eyed my garb.  “You’re a sturdy lad…Dalefolk, I presume?”  “I am.”  “You are a long from home, young man.  Which of Ao’s stewards is your patron?”  “Azuth.”  The cleric grinned and let out a chuckle.  “About time that an Azuthan frequent our halls.  Might I have your name?”  I held out my hand.

            I responded, “Gale Evenwood.”  He shook my hand firmly.  “I am called Sandrew; through people insist on placing an ‘archmage’, ‘sage’, or ‘savant’ as a title and an epithet of ‘the Wise’.  If you seek spells, go forward into the stack and a take a right.  A librarian should be able to show you the section.”  “And what of a donation?”  Sandrew smiled.  “I am honored by your presence, Gale.  You should know the honor it is to spreading knowledge to those who shall use it wisely.  Take what you desire—there shall be no cost.”  Again, another generous offer by a Waterdhavian.  I found the librarian-aide and the section emblazoned “general arcana and spells” and spent several hours pouring over books, converting the instructions to my mind’s own brand of esoteric symbols and practicing somatics.

            I found that I had apparently missed several of the more-obscure cantrips and quickly added those, and literally doubled my spellbook’s selection of general spells.  A sorcerer might see magic as a way of flinging fire and a bard sees in a fanciful way, but arcane magic is more than just a fireball or a song.  It is a compilation of hopes and dreams, better ways of getting things done, and above all, is the purest form of knowledge whose bounds are only a mage’s mind and soul.  Yet, there is a sort of responsibility that comes with such things, and like a sword or a pen, a spell used irresponsibly can cause havoc.  On a lighter note, I found a simple conjuration spell that summons one a palfrey riding horse for several hours, which should prove to be quite useful.

            It was late morning when the “archmage” of the shelves approached me as I replaced a chained volume to its proper spot.  I overhead one of the two say, “o, he does carry a sword over his robes.”  My eye glanced over cautiously.  I apparently lack the entirety of paranoia common among wizards, but I do still have a very strong sense of the preservation of one’s self.  Sandrew asked me if I was looking for work.  I said that I was.  “If ye seek merely coin, I cannot help you and you might try the mercenary companies in town.  However, if you seek knowledge, I know of a very valuable enterprise.”

            He explained that this would be a commission by the city, but that his temple would offer favored status and access to their private and restricted archives in additional to what the city offered.  It sounded interesting, and soon a page was waiting in the lobby.  I followed him to an immense castle on the west side of the town, known as the Palace of Waterdeep, locally known as Piergeiron’s Palace, after the “open lord”, the head of the city’s government.  (As I understand it, it’s a sort of anonymous, meritocratic oligarchy run by council.)  On the way, I noticed the ruffian from earlier conversing with holy men (my guess was Lathanderites) and consequently lifting one’s purse.  I shouted a warning to the cleric, and the knight at his side seized the sneak thief.  Serves the red-haired rogue right.  Shortly after, the page pointed out a mob surrounding a house from which there emanated screams.  Not human cries, but something odd and inhuman enough to make one shiver.  The guide murmured something to the effect of “another one” before making his way to the palace proper and showing past several levels of gates to a side door to this fantastic palace.

            In the first hallway, there was either a servant or a low official (I am poor at telling such things; as one would expect, I have no experience with servants or great houses) who notified that I needed to leave all my weapons with him; they would be returned after my meeting.  I unslung my sword and then my bow from under my cloak, before unbuckling my quiver and handing it over.  Another such officiary felt my sides and checked the sleeves of my robes (for hidden weapons), cast a quick spell I didn’t recognize, and with the other man’s approval, then pointed me towards a black velvet curtain blocking a doorway.

            I entered the chamber to find myself at the bottom of an enormous circular room.  Above me were rows of circular seats on a terrace above a tall wooden wall carved with scenes depicting the history of the city-state.  Above me, a man stood.  He was tall—it was not merely the effect of the room that made him look imposing—with black hair, a stern and quiet pose, and a cassock lined with black furs (sable, perhaps?) and gold jewelry.  To his side were two similarly dressed persons, except their robes were even more loose-fitting and billowy, and their mid-chests to their tips of their head were concealed by an oversized steel helm.  Two more black-robed men (their heads uncovered) in the simple garments of what I presume was a magistrate’s robes.  The most astounding part about all this was that if I stopped and paid attention, there was what I presumed to be an extraordinary amount of ambient magic in the room, though I could not be certain due to the presence of more masking and dampening auras than I could tell apart.

            The unmasked lord slowly began.  “You are…Gale Evenwood, formerly of the Dales?”  “I am.”  “We have, through certain channels available to us, heard of your skills.  And I, Piergeiron the Paladinson, the Open Lord of Waterdeep, on behalf of Waterdeep, wish to commission and hire your services as a sellsword.”  “What, lord, is your proper form of address?  I come from a backcountry not used to dealing with personages such as yourself.”  The masked person to his left answered.  “Lord shall be fine…for any of us.”  The eerie part is that the voice was neither recognizably male nor female, and seemed to be enchanted to resemblance something between them.  “Well, lord Paladinson, what task do you have for a mercenary scholar that requires the attention of the entire state?”  “You have probably heard of or witnessed the strange occurrences that have been plaguing our fair city?  They are often with strange lights or odd sounds.”  “I believe…I have.”  “Khelben Arunsun and as well as our senior mages, have determined the origin of these strange occurrences to Luskan far to the north.  While this seems minor, whatever disruptions they cause, be it out of ignorance or malice, are so great, minor rifts and portals from Baator and other places have been forming in and around the city, bypassing the considerable wards and defenses we have encircling the city and its environs.”

            “Luskan…is that the city of the North ruled by a wizard’s cabal?”  “You are quite correct, the Arcane Brotherhood rules the city in all but name, and we believe this to be their actions; our agents tell us they have captured a high priestess of the good deity Eilistraee as part of their schemes.  We need you to find out what Luskan’s plans are…and bring an end to them.  Does this interest you?”  I answered without hesitation.  “That depends solely on the compensation.  It sounds like a fool’s venture at this point.”  “We are prepared to build you a portable safehold that exists as its own miniature plane of reality, and stock it with all supplies an arcanist might need, to be presented on completion of the task.  Also, we intend to enchant your sword immediately with such magics that should prove useful to a man of both sword and spell.  And finally, while under the banner of the Lords’ Alliance, all expenses, be they anything from victuals to spells and component items, shall be provided free of charge for your use.  Now does this interest you, Gale Evenwood?”

            I stood there under the glare of the city’s secretive lords for several minutes, thinking.  The world’s finest treasures are useless to man who will not live to see them used.  “I am hesitant to ask, but, surely there are more capable and skilled wizards in this city taking on such a task?”  The other masked lord answered, in the same pitch as the previous.  “There are, but none of them as a much of an outsider to Luskan activities.  Some of our agents have had their faces known and can no longer operate.”  Piergeiron nodded.  “Such is true.  But you will not be marching into Luskan’s harbors alone tomorrow.  There is a weapon deep in the High Forest that you shall have to retrieve before heading to Luskan.  There will also be a small contingent of the Order of the Aster—that’s the Lathanderite military arm—to travel with you, and should you desire to add another member to your mission, you may do so.”

            And quite foolishly, I’m sure, I agreed…to run into a forest of wild and unpredictable magic inhabited by only the gods know what, find some sort of weapon, and then sneak into the most notorious haven for pirates on the Sword Coast.  “Very well.  Gale, you are hereby permitted to practice open magic by the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors.  You may wield your weapons in the city for purposes other than defense of self.  And I believe you shall find the results of the guild’s best artificers when you leave this chamber.  I would now suggest heading to the Spire of Morning to meet with the Order of the Aster.”  I nodded, tried an awkward bow, and left the room.

            A wizard a guild’s patch on his robes presented a cushion upon which rested a blade.  “I believe, Evenwood, that this is yours.”  “I do not believe it is…or maybe it is.”  The sword was my same blade, but the simple hilt and crossguard had been removed and replaced, though it appeared the same grip had been applied.  The new quillons possessed a cabochon gem embedded on each side, and the guard curved towards the pommel at the end to be parallel to the blade.  At the pommel was a singular gem.  “That sword now has three functions.  We lacked the time to enchant the sword itself, so we put permanent magics on the gems.  The two on the guard may be used to paralyze your foes on striking them and project a duplicate of the ‘cone of cold’ spell.  Familiar with it?”  “Yes, but I highly doubt I am anywhere close to being powerful enough to cast it.”  “Then do not cast it with the sword until you are able to cast it otherwise.  It would drain a very painful amount of your vitality to cast it.  Each of those powers might be used twice in a single day.  And the white gem on the pommel you may find more useful.  You may cast a spell of moderate power or any combination of lesser spells, as if storing wine in a cask.  You may then release the spells at any time to cast them as per normal.  Does this meet your expectations?”  “It does.”  “Wonderful.”  I picked up my slightly different sword and my bow and quiver and replaced them before leaving the palace.

            This presented an interesting problem, almost a paradox of sorts.  From the aspect of pure logic, this would appear to be an undertaking with almost no chance of returning alive.  It is just as well, since I heard the constructing safeholds is long lost (according to that book by Volo).  A man may promise something impossible if he should never have to actually present it.  But why enchant a doomed man’s weapon at such power and speed to assuredly great expense?  It also strikes me that a man of such position and such name as “Paladinson” would be deceitful in purpose. 

            So, on my own once more, I headed to the north and east, following the streets.  Past a wide and long avenue of merchants known as the “Street of Silks” (ostensibly for the substance from Kara-Tur), and turned to the northwest past a temple emblazoned with the emblem-shield of Tyr.  At the end of the lane was a large collection of ostentatious golden yellow-lacquered spires that could only belong to a church of Lathander.  I approached the front door and had a clergyman approach me.  After explaining my business, I was shown in to a large, circular room, lined with benches around the walls with a multiple of passages leading off from it and a rather impressive, multi-tiered fountain at the center of the room.  I moved the bench nearest my person away from the way (so as not to catch my bow or scabbard on them) and sat down while the priest disappeared into a side passage.

            The priest returned and excused him while a party of four others joined the room.  In front was a rather becoming flaxen-haired woman in the full regalia of a Morninglord paladin, followed by a man of slightly darker complexion (though equally straw-colored hair) in similar armor, though apparently of lower stature.  Behind them was a more-reservedly dressed priest with no outstanding features.  What irked me most was the acolyte or initiate standing behind them: the rogue I had been seeing since I arrived in the city.  The woman introduced herself as the Dawnknight Alaura Cartier, a commander in the Order of the Aster.  The others were Tamas Nathandem, lesser paladin; Darvin Windrivver, a skilled healer with at least some martial skill; and a new convert to Lathander’s church, one Dual Soulcaste, a supposed “lost soul” who had devoted himself as a “scout” to the church.  I doubt both of these appellations, but on close notice, Dual appeared to have had someone place the fear of the gods in him and looked as if the beginnings of humility had snuck into him.

            Alaura explained the state’s mission to the other Lathanderites, Nathandem interrupting with a small emotional outburst and vow of retribution at every possible opportunity.  Darvin stayed meek and quiet, except when offering a question, and the supposedly reformed Soulcaste tried very hard to avoid taking back to the paladienne…with limited success.  By the end, Tamas was reduced to tears, which I find exceedingly odd for a champion of righteousness.  The paladienne bid us good luck, and then dismissed the three Asterites.  I half-heartedly agreed to meet at the temple tomorrow.  I reached the Blue Clam inn as evening showed up, and invested myself into a warm meal and my studies.

Tengwaita faereithamin,
Gale&apos;s Arcane Mark

Current Location:
Waterdeep, South Ward
Current Mood:
worried worried
* * *
            Waterdeep, first off, is enormous.  This may sound like the talk of a backcountry Dales man, but I’ve traveled through quick a few cities.  I’ve been through the merchant stalls of Lyrabar and the indifferent cobbles of Baldur’s Gate.  Neither can compare to the sheer size of Waterdeep.  After entering the twin city gates leading to the southeast portion of the city (each wide enough for four wide carriages), I found myself in the aptly named “South ward”.  Bedecked in flowers and the last bit of snow melting in the dark corners, the festival of Greengrass seemed barely noticed.  Menth’s caravan seemingly melted into the dozens upon dozens of traders parking their trains of wares, while inns, taverns, and lodging-houses lined the streets and corners.  Several dozen signs pointed towards all sorts of things, in several variants of the Thorass alphabet: Common, Chondathan, and what I believe is Illuskan, the rather hard language of the Northerners.  Akeym found his contact, and the two discussed business at a rapid pace while my eyes followed the corners of our wagons, noting all those who passed nearby.  Several minutes later, Menth returned and explained to the dozen or so guards and lesser merchants that comprised our party.  His contact here in town explained that while a good portion of the goods would be offloaded and sold within the city, there was a pair of trading ships waiting for the wares that would be taking them further north to a city called “Neverwinter” as well as far to the west to forbidden elven lands of Evermeet.  I am told that while the elves deny passage and asylum, they do have a lucrative yet limited trade with Waterdeep—elves apparently enjoy cough-e and are some of the few that can afford whatever it is.  The captain of this second vessel, the contact mentioned, was some sort of old war hero whom the elves trusted and one of the few sea captains to be given trading rights.

            A good portion of the spices and most of the silver trading bars Menth had were transferred unto a large cart pulled by a pair of heavy draft horses, while the mules in our caravan were sent to fodder and exchanged for fresh animals.  It was this time, that Menth went to each of his guards and paid them their salary (a few in Waterdeep’s “dragon” gold pieces and the rest in a mix of silver.)  It was then that he pulled me out of the line and up to the front of his makeshift street side performance.  Menth praised me with overly lavish words with the tinge of odd-sounding accent that’s common in Amn.

“And this lad, we give our most humble thanks.  Young Gale, a wandering myrmidon who is as deadly as a blade as he is with his arcane secrets, as our little ruffian friend Jardi found out the hard way.  My good fellows, our trip was safe, your wages are paid, and it is a festival to-day.  Enjoy yourselves, and this night, give a toast to this courageous young man, Gale the Bandit’s Bane!”

Menth then ceremoniously handed me a large sack filled with coin.  For a job of not even a full tenday, I was expecting maybe the equivalent of ten pieces of gold…yet, the bag contained not silvers and gold, but gold and platinum coins.  Almost three hundred gold total—this is literally ten times the amount I usually have to access to upon my person.
            As the group was dismissed, the caravan master again tapped my robed shoulder.  “Gale, my good boy, all that’s left is to move the rest of the good to the docks.  You’re welcome to go your way, but I would find some extra danters to pay for a few more hours’ work.”  I quickly agreed—a man happy to pay in specie above silver is not a man to be ignored.  I followed the last two carts and the half-dozen men left in our group to the west and slightly north, to the dock ward.  The transition, however natural, was obvious.  The air became stiff, cold, and took a pungent, unpleasant odor of stale seawater and dead fish.  The quality of a man’s linens decreased as his strength and poor temperament grew.  This was not the sort of place one would wish to tarry any longer than one’s business required.  I seriously wonder why Akeym dismissed most of his guard before the docks.
            A handful of minutes later, we reached the pier at which a sturdy and large cog was loading its cargo in earnest, assisted in what I guessed to be a crane, a sort of mechanical device to divert and counter-act weights as mentioned in some of the books I’ve read.  It was not long after that a pair of snooping eyes quietly began circling our cart like an underfed shark.  The ruffian, a tanned, wiry sort with hair dyed-red, came a bit too close to our stores.  I called to our fellows and the rogue was met with the business end of a halberd.  He quickly retreated.  As I helped load the machine’s dais portion, I heard a commotion a couple of piers down.  It appears the scoundrel from earlier had provoked an altercation with a seaman after announcing he was from the Dragon Coast.
            For those of you who are not as nearly traveled in Faerûn as am I, the Dragon Coast has such a low reputation among sailor folk that announcing oneself to be a person of that area is much like a wizard at a mage’s fair announcing that they hail from Thay, or a person in the Dales announcing that they are one of the Zhentarim.  Suffice to say, such a statement does not make for good acquaintances.  Soon, my wage was again paid, I said my good-byes to my host, and swiftly returned to the previous ward of the walled city, as evening was approaching, and I do believe a witness’d a poor soul being waylaid from the corner of my eye.
            In short order I was recommended to an inn known as the “Blue Clamm”, which is a sort of dainty viand enjoyed by the merfolk and sea elves of Waterdeep’s deep harbor.  The interior was plain for a large city’s lodging-house—a hearth and bar-counter stood opposite a notary at her desk with an even stone floor underneath.  Upon asking, the woman proffered a room for ten silvers a night.  This seemed reasonable, if not a bit cheap for an inn of such exterior size, but the woman assured me it was a reduction of price meant for the festival and not an error.  I went to the room, and was awe-struck.  Here was a single room larger than the two-room house I had grown up in!  Decked in marble and finery and linens dyed bright and deep, that was not a place for a common man to sleep.  This was a room fit for a prince! ...or at least a man of nobility.  I set my oilskin pack next to the bed and removed my bow and quiver from underneath my cloak, and likewise doffed the studded leathers over my chest.  This left my tunic underneath visible, and with the robes and sword-sling, very much gave the odd image I usually present.
            I returned to the front area of the inn after securing the lock, and after asking the dwarven cook, for a silver and a few coppers, I procured a portion of the pot roast from the kettle and a couple helpings of small beer—while I do enjoy some flavored spirits, being inebriate is a bit of a hazard to a mage and his or her surroundings.  (Many a humorous and half-true tale is spun about a wizard mis-conjuring while drunk as a mouse.)  And who should I see but the ruffian from earlier, in a disguise?  It has been a manner of habit that I should eat or drink with my back to a wall or corner, and I watched the man order a drink and proceed to talk to a scruffy, bearded fellow in the opposite corner.  Another altercation soon followed, and the two drew knives and fought.  Quite soon, both were apprehended by the City Watch, though it is my misfortune that the red-haired ruffian was quickly released.
            I returned to my room, cleaned my face and self with the washbasin, and studied my books under the light of an oil lamp.  I now finish penning this day’s events and plan to explore this city to-morrow.

Tengwaita faereithamin,
Gale&apos;s Arcane Mark

Current Location:
Waterdeep, South Ward
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
Current Music:
The humming from a nearby room appears to have stopped
* * *

            Before I get too carried away on a journey that shall most likely be the death of me, I should spend a moment to describe myself.  My name is Gale of the Evenwood, usually shortened to Gale Evenwood.  I am of average height, a slightly slender but wiry tough build, with pale skin, pale green eyes, and hair so dark brown most mistake it for black.  Most people do not know what to make of a man who wears scholar’s robes and a rain cloak over metal-studded leather.  Fewer still are aware of the difficulty it is for one to have a grip of swordplay and wizardry at the age of 20.  I currently am literate in five languages: Chondathan, (language of the Dales and much of central Faerûn) the trade language known as “Common” (little more than a simplified Chondathan with a few unique terms), Elven, Damaran (picked up during a year’s stay in Impiltur), and Draconic (at least for the purposes of spellcraft).

            I was born in the Year of the Arch, 1353 on the Dalereckoning calendar.  My parents are both foresters in a nameless hamlet a stone’s throw from Highmoon in the Deepingdale.  I grew up (with the Time of Troubles passing when I was of five years old) with an education in literacy, rhetoric, history, and philosophy provided free by the Leaves of Learning, a library and temple to Oghma.  It was quite clear that I was possessed of keen intellect: I quickly learned the Elven of our neighbors to a more extensive degree than my parents and even learned (most of) the nuances of the Espruar script.

            One day, I noticed an odd book in the library that was obviously misplaced.  I glanced at the strange writings and the parallel notes: it was a book of minor arcana: cantrips, meant to train a mage’s apprentice.  Out of sheer curiosity, I tried the motions listed and lights intricately danced before my eyes.  A priest rushed over to see what the commotion was, and pointed out that I was one of the gifted, rare few with the inherent talent needed for studying the Art; the highest art there is, that of arcane magic.  As it turns out, the Leaves of Learning shuns arcana from its shelves for more mundane texts in an effort to avoid errant and strange wizards from dropping in, and they did not want such a book on their shelves, so after discussing it, the priests there gave me the book with a shrug and a wink.

            It soon became clear to me that clearing trees and woodworking were not what I wished to do in life, and though it may sound folly to those not inclined to scholastic studies, I found studying arcana the most intellectually fulfilling thing.  My parents were impressed, but had no use for such things, as it could not directly bring coin or prestige to the household.

            So at the age of sixteen, I decided to leave the Dales to study magic.  My father and mother gifted with a quiver of broadheads and a sturdy bow—an odd composite sort like a longbow with shortened tips.  It was of elven make, but designed for a human to wield, and I had had practice throughout my childhood with archery.  I was also reminded to think like the Dalefolk that I was: think before speaking, be polite, careful, and wary, but to show no quarter when one’s life is on the line.

            I soon developed a talent for defending myself and found it was a very decent way of finding work.  I first was hired on as a marketplace guard in Marsember down in Cormyr, and soon found my way in into the more dangerous yet better paying job of a merchant caravan guard.  After one rather dangerous trip ending in the capital of Impiltur under the coster of one Delth Sherimov, he apologized for not having enough money to adequately pay me my original wage, and thus asked to make up the difference with a sword.  It was an exquisitely crafted longsword, of the sort larger than a knight’s arming sword and smaller than a greatsword: the so-called “bastard sword”.  I accepted it, and once I had a proper blade, shifts on the watch or low spots were spot refining not only my magic but my martial skills.

            In Impiltur I actually had the chance to hire out my skills as a low or hedgewizard.  I eventually traveled west again, passing through Sembia and into the kingdom of Cormyr.  Further west into the forests and city-states of the Heartlands, I enjoyed a two-week stay in the city of Scornubel, the so-called “Caravan City”.  In a quiet section of the city, away from the bustle of the mercantile trade, I was oddly drawn to one shrine resting alongside a mostly overlooked footpath.  It was a shrine to Azuth, the Patron of Mages, and although I had of the deity, I had only heard the Lord of Spells being worshipped in distant lands to the south and east where wizards are supposedly common.  The simple wooden structure was clean, had a “guest’s book” for traveling mages to record their travels, and a very handy yet simple spell to allow an arcanist to better withstand inclement weather and extreme temperatures.  Though I had thought little for religion, it made such an impression upon me that I have since taken up Azuth’s cause.

            After Scornubel started wearing on me, I helped a merchant coster’s barges downriver along the Chionthar to its terminus at Baldur’s Gate.  With an official mercenary company known as the Flaming Fist subsidized by the city, they are rather harsh on sellswords.  So after a recommendation, I headed North on the Trade Way.        

            In Daggerford, I found that the Amnian leader of a caravan, one Menth Akeym.  Menth had actually heard of me, which was troubling, since I have heard that Amn all but bans arcane magics.  The caravaner had actually picked up a recommendation from the coster in Baldur’s Gate, and actually needed help, since a small group of bandits known to have a mage was harassing (and pillaging, and sometimes murdering) travelers to Waterdeep.  Akeym had actually held up the caravan (which is something unheard of to the almost-greedy Amnians) of precious metals, rare spices, and something called “cough-e” until he had a mage as a guard, which again testifies to the fear those people have of the Art.
           As Akeym had predicted, three days out and halfway to Waterdeep, the caravan was ambushed by a half dozen armed highwaymen, lead by a rather sinister-looking and poorly dressed sorcerer.  I dropped two of the assailants with my bow, and put up a shielding spell that nullified the sorcerer’s surprisingly weak magic missiles.  My sword with a temporary enchantment ended his small rein of terror and his life.  Menth Akeym was actually overjoyed to the point of being supplicant and insisted upon a large bonus to my pay that more than doubled my wage.  Three uneventful days later, I found myself at Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, and the largest bastion of civilization on the face of Faerûn, on the holiday of Greengrass, Dalereckoning 1373.

Tengwaita faereithamin,

Gale&apos;s Arcane Mark
Current Location:
Waterdeep, South Ward
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
Current Music:
Does the humming from one room over count?
* * *