Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 1
Chapter 2 - The Vale of Lost Voices, Cormanthor (1359DR, 7-8th Flamerule)

Our next problem was how to speak to these spirits without so enraging them that they would ignore, or worse attack us. Faergil, as the only true-blooded elf in the company, became our spokesman and left the path to plead our case. While he did so a merchant and his guards came upon us, riding hard from the direction of that the mercenaries had come. They had been victims of the Company of the Bloody Moon too and were grateful for Baldric and Amber seeing to their injured, their dead and their horses before being on their way. Faergil's entreaties to the spirits dragged on. He told them that he was the emissary of Labelas Enoreth; the elven god of Time and that we had come to seek their wisdom about the Corellin's Tear which burnt red in the heavens and in the end they consented that we could enter the forest.

Haunting wails, laughter and moans had filled the trees since the sun had set but now all was quiet. We trusted to fate and Tymora that our blind journey would take us in the right direction. Guidance came in the unexpected and foul-smelling form of a dwarf in antique armour and wielding an axe as tall as I. Seeing us as intruders the dwarf attacked with a savage strength and great skill. Some of us fended him off while the rest pleaded with him that we were not enemies, eventually we got through. The dwarf, Durkin, led us deeper into the Vale. Talking to him was difficult, he had a short temper and was more then a little mad. Surprisingly he seemed completely unaware of the elven spirits in the wood.

Eventually he led us to a forest glade containing a large pool where a vast number of elven spirits waited and then said his fair-wells. While most of the dead elves were insubstantial twelve of their number were too solid for my liking. The rest of the company may have described them as noble and tragic figures but I had to bite down my ingrained loathing of the corporal undead, a crime against Silvanus and the cycles of nature, and decided I would let my companions do most of the talking. We almost didn't get as far as "the talking" as one of these elven liches, or Baelnorn, grabbed Colatto and threatened to kill him as punishment for the damage he had caused to the forest in our fight with the mercenaries - a wall of fire no less.

Luckily a second Baelnorn staid her hand. It was this second Baelnorn who spoke to us at length. He claimed to know no details of the drow's plans, why they were searching for Tsornyl and the Legacy of Srinshee, what knowledge they sought in the Twisted Tower or any of the other things in the drow communiqué that Ilmeth had intercepted. He did advise us to continue our journey, which he warned us would be the longest and, for some, the last of our careers, and look for his sister Arianne Maerdrym. At the fall of Mith Dranor she had taken three of The Blades of Demron, known as The Bane Blades, with her so they would not fall into the hands of evil. The Baelnorn warned us that we would need then and gave Faergil one of his mithril bracers,a symbol of his Bladesinger Guild, and a token of the trust he had placed on us. He then told us something that made my heart leap with joy and freeze with dread; he directed us to two spirits who perhaps knew more of the drow's plans, spirits who he knew some of us had been looking for.

In a smaller glade with a smaller pool, in which seemed to hold all the stars in the heavens we found the spirits of Korlanthia and Korlanthian, two old elven friends that had fallen during our journeys. It was heart rending to see them like that, Amber could not bring herself to look upon them at all but I owed it to Korlanthian to look them in the eye. They confirmed what we had learnt from the drow letter. The dark elves had framed them, making it look like the twins had betrayed Highmoon to the drow. In their anger the elves of Highmoon had used "The Casting Out", a ritual of elven High Magic, to banish the pair, to make them Non'Tel'Quessir. They would never find peace, not even in death, and could not enter Evermeet or the elven heaven Arvandor. Before becoming members of The Company of the Silver Coin they had learnt that the drow were looking for a place called Tsornyl but they had not lived long enough to bring this news to their confidant in Highmoon, the human mage Azagartha Nimune.

Their tale told, I took the opportunity that fate had provided me with to apologise to Korlanthian, he had found some form of happiness amongst the green-elves of the High Forest. I had dragged him away to help me in my crusade against the Wolf Lord, a crusade which had led to his death. The spirit spoke to me with kind words and forgave me but I could not forgive myself and added my voice to Baldric's in swearing to find a way to release them from their undeserved fate. Before departing with his sister Korlanthian took some water from the pool and had me keep it in a water-skin saying that if we needed to speak to him again to drink of it and he would appear in a dream. He also told us to drink directly from the pool; we did and found that it soothed our weary and injured bodies.

I dreamt that night, while we slept in the glade. I dreamt that I was trapped deep within another body, a body which turned a great forest to ashes with it's/my fiery breath and enjoyed it while I screamed in impotent protest. I have always placed much faith in dreams and this one would haunt my waking moments for days. Was this to be my unhappy fate? It was not long after waking that I discovered that I was not the only one who had been haunted in the night. Colatto had dreamt of a woman from his past, of her destruction and being unable to save her. Bazil had dreamt of being trapped in a clock and trying to bypass a fiery sigil. Latter he would try to reproduce the sigil but the paper caught fire, almost destroying his precious maps. Amber, Baldric and Faergil acknowledged that they had all had dreams but were reluctant to speak of them. A mocking pair of violent eyes or the image of a powerful male drow had been a re-occurring feature, though not in mine. Only Moneetha, the Paladin, seemed to have had an untroubled night. We set off back to the road with a renewed sense of purpose and left the bitter-sweat Vale of Lost Voices behind us. By evening we had reached the famous Standing Stone which recorded the treaty between the Elves and Men of the Dales 1359 years ago...

Chapter 3...

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