Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 1
Chapter 1 - Essembra and the Company of the Bloody Moon (1359DR 4th-7th Flamerule)

We spent three summer days in the town of Essembra, Battledale, as guests of War Chancellor Ilmeth. Our recent encounters with the drow and the visitation from The Sage of Shadowdale were enough to convince us that there were powerful forces at large in the Realms but our injuries delayed our departure. Despite my wounds I was unable to stay in doors with the beauty of Silvanus's Great Work, in all it's summer glory, just outside the window. So I spent the day walking the woods and fields, talking to cows and soaking up the sun's warmth. On a small peak overlooking the town I met Hawkstone, a ranger in the service of Mielikki. He asked me for news of Cormyr and of Myrmeen Lhal, whom I gathered he knew. Understandably he was upset by the news of her death and that her spirit (now an undead Harper, though I didn't use the word) now acted as advisor to the new lord of Arabel.

It was on the evening of the first day that Amber told me that I was (literally) not the man she had married and she no longer loved me. I could go on at length about the discussion we had, about the emotions that raged through me, but that is a tale for another occasion. My travels with Amber would have a bitter sweat taste from then on but I would not have missed them for the world.

The next two days passed with a similar laziness. Colatto copied across some spells from a book we had captured from a drow mage. Bazil copied out some of the maps Ilmeth had in his collection in an attempt to replace the ones he lost to Colatto's ill-placed "Acid Arrow" spell. Faergil used the time to investigate some magical items that we had acquired in our travels; Colatto's sword 'Sarth', a staff Faergil himself carried, and some crossbow bolts Amber possessed. The bolts carried a simple enchantment to make them fly true and bite deep. The staff had been carried by the Red Wizard Zantar of Thay and would inflict searing wounds on its victims. We already knew that Sarth would protect it's wielder from flame and was enchanted to cut deep into flesh and bone, but we discovered that it would also save it's owner from fatal falls by reducing his decent to the speed of a feather blown in the wind. It could also shield its wielder's mind from certain divining magics. I contemplated the two gifts that I had recently been given; the gem with the power of true sight which Elminster had said would allow me to lead the company to our destiny, and the strange seed, a gift from Chauntea for afterwards. I vowed that I would be worthy of the trust they had placed in me and dropped the items into a small pouch, which I prayed to Silvanus to ward from harm.

On the fourth day we left Essembra, heading North for the Vale of Lost Voices. Ilmeth gave Brother Baldric a referral letter for Lord Heresk of Ashabenford in Mistledale, if our travels took us that way. He also arranged for the local horse wrangler, Beldarag, to supply us with the six best horses in his stable (Moneetha had her own horse; a paladin's mighty horse of war). Amber was drawn to a superb charger called Fleetfoot, an Everlundian Rangers' Horse. A well-suited pair; both had fiery spirits and were eager for the open road.

It was good to be travelling again, I think we all felt it. Amber and Bazil in particular were both looking forward to new adventures. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be travelling through such beautiful and ancient woods and by midmorning I could resist their call no longer. Passing my reigns to Baldric I took on the form of a wolf and spent the rest up the journey to the Vale darting here and there along the forest floor, simply one more thread in a great tapestry of life. In the afternoon we reached the edge of the Vale of Lost Voices, haunt of elven spirits who had lost their lives defending their world from human invaders. Like the rest of the forest it was beautiful and untouched, apart from melancholy wind chimes left hanging from trees by green elves, but there was a heavy silence about it, as if the forest held it's breath. It had a reputation as being an unforgiving place to any non-elf who strayed from the path but that is what we were intending to do.

We decided to make for the centre of the Vale and then strike out from the road and wait for the spirits to find us. Unfortunately something else found us before we could get that far. They called themselves 'The Company of the Bloody Moon', a mercenary group which included one priest of Cyric, who were heading for the civil war in Sembia. Since they outnumbered us 24 to 7 they decided to indulge in a spot of banditry as well. Amber took the bold step of challenging the mercenary's leader, a powerfully built man with a face disfigured by scars, to single combat, winner take all. No doubt reasoning that there would be trouble ahead no matter what the outcome Colatto cast a protective spell upon himself. Unfortunately the mercenaries noticed and took action; one bundled him off his horse while the rest levelled crossbows at us. It looked like it would turn into a free-for-all before Amber had struck a single blow but somehow we managed to keep things under control, almost. Not unreasonably angry with his manhandling Colatto goaded the soldier until he attacked him and then all bets were off. Amber continued to battle one-on-one with the mercenary captain while Moneetha closed on the priest of Cyric, the rest of us were left to deal with the rank and file. The rangeress and paladin soon dealt with their foes and the rest of the mercenaries; their leaders dead and under attack from miracles and The Art (not to mention some drugged crossbow bolts that Bazil has liberated from the drow) fled the field of battle.

Once the fight was over I insisted upon using the miracles and rituals of Silvanus to repair the damage done to the forest before we carried on. This took most of the rest of the day so afterwards we travelled a mile or so up the road and made camp. Believing that the Vale was prime Treant territory I recommended we didn't light a camp fire, luckily the weather was good and the night warm. Barely had the sun set, and the moon and that ominous red star which foretold dreadful events, appeared when we began to see patches of light moving silently about in the forest on either side of the road. It seemed that the ghosts of The Vale of Lost Voices had arrived.

Chapter 2...

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