My travels from Baldur’s Gate have been both safe and interesting, the roads up to Waterdeep filled with people and races from all over the Faerun. From caravan guard to wandering tinkerer, almost everyone I have travelled or camped with has been uniformly friendly and kind. I believe the derogative stories my colleagues told to me of the northern Sword Coast people was purposefully unkind and quite ignorant. I will note that for when I return and hopefully take a posting higher than their small minded selves.
I had thought Baldur’s Gate to be an immense city of beautiful chaos and human geography but it now feels like a country town compared to Waterdeep. While wondrous in its size, it is certainly less friendly to the smaller folk like myself, the constant hustle and bustle putting me on my derriere more than once, and the impending doom I felt as I was pushed out in front of a fast moving carriage was the worst feeling I had ever felt. Thankfully, Oghma’s guidance allowed me to reach out to the horses who stopped suddenly for me. In turn, I made sure I properly tended to and repaid the poor driver who was flung from his seat. But Waterdeep was not my destination, but it was a curiosity. Such an immense city with little to no way to support itself with food, a strong reliance on regional farmlands and forests to keep it working. This seemed to be a fault with many of the independent cities of Faerun, one I hope to one day amend, to make all communities self-reliant.
The trek into what will become the true North has been filled with natural beauty I had never witnessed outside of the many naturalist portfolios I had read. The sunsets are grander than any water-painting that hangs in my old university and the emerald valleys and groves speak of both peace and ancient wonder. Until this point, I had harboured some regret and fears of my decision to step-down from my position but for the first time, I can feel Oghma’s touch in all things, even the natural world that is cared for by Mielikki and Silvanus.
Detestable! I had always heard stories of marauders and bandits in the night, boogeymen who would sweep down from hidden camps to loot and burn. But in my far away Baldur’s Gate, behind the ivy covered marble of my university chambers, they were little more than horrific stories told by students to scare one another. But I have now passed several small hamlets that have been raided and their land pillaged and burnt. The families, some now left without husbands and sons due to foul murder, left sitting on the ruins of their whole world. What good is discovering a way to help the people of the land work and prosper if it can be so wantonly taken away from them? And it seems to be getting worse the further I go, many of the roadside inns are filled with whispers of groups of bandits, mercenaries and others of ill-intent moving through the valleys, drawing into the Dessarin Valley, ruin and tragedy left in their wake. While I had never felt in danger on my journey, I am now mindful to try and keep good company on the road as much as possible. My goal of seeing Goldenfields now on hold, I wish now only to see what I can do to help the people of this grand valley, my service to Oghma surely helpful to some. Red larch is now my destination, a small town halfway through the valley where traders and travellers of all kinds pass and meet. Here I hope to offer what help I can.
My growing disappointment in humanity has now at least been alleviated, for a stranger on the road offered assistance without pause or reason. If he had not alerted me to the uncouth farmhands who wished harm on both myself and the poor dog, I am unsure where I would be at this time.
Seth Blacksilver, a young human traveller and woodsman as far as I can tell. He ended up being good company on the final stretch of the road to Red Larch though he seems not much of a talker. Back home, he would be considered a brooding type, at once considered both a ruffian by the women of high society while secretly wanted for his dark appearance. He seems driven though and while my dislike of bandits and murderers is new, his seems to be much more personal. For someone so young, it seems a shame that he has suffered something so terrible that he now has such single minded vengeance in his heart.
Seth however, is not the only pleasant surprise I have had since reaching the town of Red Larch. While it has a very frontier and sparse look to it, the people are friendly and the homes and cottages off the main road are surrounded by small gardens of flowers and produce and well shaded by the many trees dotted throughout. I would use the word quaint but I feel that it would be considered an insult, though I truly mean it, it has a peaceful atmosphere that has been built out of hard work and neighbourly care. Because of this, I feel that their fears of a darkness descending upon the Dessarin Valley are affecting me much more than normal, they have put blood, sweat and tears into having this lifestyle and the possibility of losing it all to something outside of their control of ken seems wrong.
Luckily, I have already been able to help, though small it has been. Seth asked me to help with a bandit bounty and he had already drawn some other travellers to his side. The half-elf Samara Greenshield is beautiful, her accent and grace seeming at odds with terrain around her and yet, without complaint, entered the nearby hills to help track down bandits who were plaguing the area. While Baldur’s Gate had more than a few half-elves, few showed the vivaciousness and confidence that Samara seems to display. Is this the result of northern resolve and tenacity in the face of such a harsh climate? And the other, the dragonborn, Naaluka, is a delight. Knowledgeable and cultured, the towering figure seems to care little of the stares he gets, seemingly content and comfortable with his place in the world and his own ability.
After witnessing the strangest civil works I have ever seen, the bandits were found. I am not sure what I expected of my first encounter with bandits. Heavily scarred and bloodthirsty murders who licked their blades with glee as they bellowed forth profanities and threats of hideous things done to our corpses was what I imagined and yet, these were just people. Randy people, but people. As a professor of various biology fields, I am quite familiar with the naked forms of many races and creatures and yet, the view that my eyes took it was not one I wish to keep in my mind. Despite rarely drinking, I may join my new friends in the celebratory imbibing of alcohol to see if I can erase that image. But as I said, just men (and a harlot). Desperate and opportunists but not the murderous terrors I imagines. I feel almost bad for handing them in, but they have taken from others who are also desperate. If the law in this land is fair, I hope that maybe, instead of lethal penalties, they work the lands in penance. It would seem just. But that is not for me to say or offer and I am still proud in my role to bring them to justice, small though it was.
So now I find myself back in Red Larch, enjoying the praise of the populace and enjoying the company of these three strange but fascinating and good hearted people. I am yet to know whether this was but a short partnership where some good was done or if we are to work together more to bring light and prosperity to these beleaguered lands. I not sure of their reasons or motivations, but I know Oghma has guided me to good people who I can at least assist with my minor prowess to ensure they see their own goals through.
- Laurel Seeker Cassie
Spread knowledge whenever it is prudent to do so. Keep no secrets for their own sake. Curb and deny falsehood, rumour, and deceitful accounts and histories whenever you encounter them. – Oghma’s First Accord