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Balancing Act

Theona’s Journal

Kythorn 18, 1373, Silverymoon

This room arrangement worked out better than I thought, since there was a window available that led to Areon’s room. Now, I guess I’d better explain my suspicions.

One thing I have not told my companions (other than Areon, being neither human or currently involved with a human), is that I saw a Harper symbol scrawled in the corner of Dante’s cell when we found him. This is the most exciting thing I’d seen in about ten years of watching the town guard watching the Harper agent watching the town guard (I suspect they are both Harpers that don’t know each other is a Harper— a tale for another time). I’ve always been fascinated with the Harpers, mainly because they work against the evil Zhents. The more Zhents move into the area, the more Harpers arrive to keep an eye on things....

As it turned out, I was right about Dante, and he really had been polymorphed into an orc by a wizard— and had the means to turn himself back before reaching Everlund until Grom took his belongings and locked him up. That also explained why Rand Tallwood, the “shopkeeper” that we’d gone to talk to and re-outfit Dante, had given him such good quality armor and rapier when he only paid for basic goods— that was, in fact, his contact in Everlund. Thanks to our bizarre room renting, I managed to get Dante aside to get that much info (or rather, I told him that much and agreed to keep quiet to all other than Areon, who, of any of my friends, would notice if I was behaving oddly), if I could help. He is obviously a good judge of character, as he agreed.

My “job” was not that interesting, but I did accomplish it! Each night I had to sneak out of the Stone Griffin unseen, and I had to slide past Tassar and Deitricha’s window to get there (thankfully they were always doing something that prevented them from noticing a female elf back lighted by the moon climbing past) to Areon’s quarters, and climb in, then go out the window on the other wall of his corner room. I really surprised him the first night, but he was so relieved by my explanation of my behavior that I regained his confidence. Areon and I would then slip out of town and walk for nearly an hour, to get to a specific tree. And wait. For two hours! If we didn’t see anything unusual, we’d just head back and sneak back into the inn again, our friends none the wiser. I thought this would allow Dante to get the extra rest humans seem to require (the poor guy had barely slept while in Grom’s captivity), but he always looked even more haggard when I came back in— the two occupants in the rooms on either side of him would keep him awake! So, each morning when I got back into the room I’d bang on the wall if things were too noisy. This seems to please my friends immensely.

The last night in Everlund, Areon and I finally completed our Harper “assignment.” When we went to the tree, we found a small scroll of paper stuck in the crotch of the tree. I confess I did look at the note, but it was in some code I could not completely make out. As promised, Areon and I took the note back to the Tallwood’s shop and slipped it under the door. I was sorry the person leaving the note had not wanted to show himself, but hopefully someone will put in a good word for us if Areon or I ever want to join the Harpers on a more official basis.

The next day we departed for Silverymoon, with Dante and the caravan. We decided to go straight through, considering that any campsite would likely receive attention from orcish attackers. We surrounded the caravan in the same fashion as we had on the way to Everlund, Areon at the head, Deitricha watching the river, I watching the mountains, Tassar galloping ahead on Otto and then waiting until the last wagon caught up, which was driven by Dante and in which Antonio was preparing for any situation that needed firepower— literally.

About halfway home, in the darkness, Areon came upon a burning wagon right in the middle of the road. He and Tassar went on ahead to investigate, and when we heard commotion, Deitricha and I followed to find two burning wagons and four human zombies (not yet burning), which were attacking our comrades. Tassar had fallen off of Otto, but luckily Deitricha had seen and was so incensed that she turned the zombies, who shuffled away from her as quickly as they could.

The rest of our caravan was coming forward as the zombies shuffled back into view. We peppered them with arrows and fire, and Deitricha fell off of her horse in the fracas, I sped off to catch the horse, and did so, but by then I was away from the fire of the burning wagons. I noticed movement a ways up the mountain— humanoids about one hundred yards up the sloping surface on a ledge. I grabbed the reigns of the frightened horse and returned to the party. The zombies were dispatched and they were moving a charred (and stripped clean, apparently) wagon off the path so we could squeeze by with our caravan. As I began to tell them of the movement ahead, we heard a call to arms in the form of a horn blast.

We moved off as quickly as we could, though at one point a dozen orc warriors led by an orc in chainmail riding a dire wolf was close enough that we could see the evil glint in their eyes. Tassar took a potshot at the leader and actually managed to lodge an arrow in his chain. Of course, he also shouted his name so that Grom (for that is who we think it was) would know who to seek revenge on.

We kept up what amounted to a forced march until we saw the Moonbridge leading to our city.

I had got to thinking of Dante as a Harper rather than an orc, so I felt almost guilty as we walked through the streets of Silverymoon, where all eyes turned a disapproving stare on him. Antonio disappeared (we figured he was already shopping again!) and soon returned with beautiful silver mugs each engraved with our first name. It will be doubly handy if I meet up with a lycanthrope in a bar.

Dante spent the night in my tree home with me— my house is much too small for more than one person, especially when one is a hulking orc. I peeked out now and again, since I don’t need sleep, and I swore I saw Areon keeping watch on my place. For some reason, that makes me feel more secure, even though Silverymoon is the safest place I can think of. He hates being cooped up indoors — even when the house is a tree, so I don’t invite him up. I think he spends most nights “hunting” though I don’t know just what all he hunts for.

The morning came and we all met at the Bright Blade Brandished for breakfast, where Antonio seemed intent on making plans to go to that abandoned tower I’d heard rumors about. We eventually left to go over to the Greycastle estate to collect our pay. Unfortunately Lord Greycastle was not available, but his butler was expecting us and provided us with our earnings. I was surprised that Antonio already had an idea for spending our money— he knew someone at a local magic college that could polymorph Dante back into a human. I was immediately confused by conflicting emotions. First, if Dante was human again, he could go back to doing whatever exciting things Harpers do without my assistance any longer, and well, he’d be human, the N’Tel’Quess that most often follow the Zhentarim ideals. Even more confusing to me, the two humans in my party were the ones that were pushing to make his appearance human again! I knew my reasons were selfish though, and kept my concerns to myself, even paying a third of the cost of the spell.

He was changed instantly back to his human form, and though attractive for a human, just not what I had expected. For one thing, his vanity level increased 200%— the clothes we had provided weren’t right for his image. Luckily Deitricha was willing to take him shopping. I needed a drink!

I must have had too much to drink, because, when I became conscious again, I found myself lying on a bearskin rug in front of my own hearth in my home, with Areon characteristically pacing the perimeter of the room. I must have really worried him, as his expression unexpectedly softened briefly when he saw I was coming around. He only said, “We had a mishap with our N’Tel’Quess companions.”

Posted by Kristin on February 17, 2004, 17:23 | Theona’s Journal