Aroland sat in a tree in a small wooded area to the northwest of Eveningstar. He had spent the entire day cramped up in the Lonesome Tankard and needed some fresh air. He needed to feel the calmness and serenity that just isn’t present in the city. He had a lot to contemplate. “Tomorrow we depart on yet another dangerous journey. Lately, the danger in these quests is so much more real…more terrifying. In the past, all of the jobs we had taken had such definite threats. But now we deal with things we do not understand. Powers we can’t fathom. Plots we can’t see.” Aroland was not unfamiliar with the concept of Gods – he had spent his entire life learning about how he was surrounded by them. He feels most at peace at times like this, where he shuts the rest of the world out and just…listens to them. “But the Cormyrians do not think of Gods in the same terms as we do. They see Gods as powerful and believe that the world they live in is shaped by the actions of these beings. I do not see them this way. I see them as finite. Their power is defined by their domain. They reach and grasp to extend this constantly battling each other for scraps of power.”
Below him Aroland saw leaves swirling in the wind. A wistful air spirit. He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of nature around him. The rushing of the water from the river that had saved Eveningstar from the Zhentarim just days ago. The leaves rustling as the breeze rolls through. Birds calling to one another. Deer prancing in the bed of the woods. "True gods do not act like this. True gods are found in nature. It is they who shape the world we live in. It is nature who creates the mountains and the oceans, which causes the sun to rise and set each day. It is nature that causes rain to fall and trees to grow. The power of spirits is not defined. There is no competition, only harmony. It is from this harmony where I draw my strength, so now I will look to that harmony to draw my knowledge as well. I must…shut the rest of the world out and just…listen.
Again Aroland closed his eyes and listened. He listened to the sounds of frogs croaking, the sound of thunder rolling in the distance. “A fire crackling….that’s not here…where am I?” Around him stood no walls. Support beams held up an unfinished roof, and freshly cut chunks of stone littered the landscape. Stone floors beneath his feet were fresh and unfinished. Before him stood a towering man clad in armor, his face covered in distress. Behind this giant of a man was a doorway and through that a staircase leading into the sky. The man lowered his visor, masking his pain, and spoke to the woman on the ground in a voice that was at once sad and terrifying. “I pray, that you have made peace with your goddess. Neither your silver tongue or your trickery can save you now.” The woman was bleeding from a wound on her side, and Aroland caught a glimpse of her necklace – with a triangle charm that had wavy lines etched into it .
Aroland turned to see the same woman bending down to pick another pendant off the ground, but he could not make out any details of this. No one in the room had yet seen her. She looked exactly like the woman on the ground. Behind her stood two more men, one armored and decorated as a knight or cleric, but the other stood out. The look in his eyes was frightening, hungry, focused, and…destined. The image of those eyes burned into Aroland’s mind as the world around him began to shift but he snapped back into focus.
The man quickly struck at the woman on the ground but his blade passed harmlessly through her and cut into the stone on the floor. He cursed and looked desperately around until he saw her in the shadows. She muttered a spell and 2 more of her appeared and ran in opposite directions. Each of the men chased after one of the illusions individually. Nobody seemed to pay any attention to the open rift amidst them. She spoke a few more words and a mist rolled through the stones and obscured everything around her. The man whose face was obscured was close. He could not be seen, but his presence made Aroland feel sick. A sense of pure evil emanated from the man. He carried the same feeling as that woman…Delotha. Strangely Aroland also felt a connection to the woman….“was it the amulet from before?”
He didn’t have time to continue exploring that thought though. The woman had managed to sneak behind the man with the evil presence. She lifted a stone with three cuts across its face and put the amulet into a small leather pouch, struggling to push the stone back into position. She grabbed her side and began struggling to breathe. She began to move off when the man caught sight of her and began to give chase. She moved into the nearby woods and stumbled. She coughed up blood and collapsed into the grass. The man began to speak but I could no longer hear what he said. She used her hands to pull herself up against a young tree. When his killing stroke landed it cut through her neck and his sword cut deep into the oak.
When he awoke, several creatures of the woods stood around him, watching. A wolf pup left his mother’s side and began to lick the sweat off his face. As soon as he sat up, though, all the creatures departed. As he returned to town he contemplated what he had seen. Who were those people? Where was that keep? What were that pendant and that stone? Aroland had sought answers but it seems he only found more questions…