From The Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum
My chronicle begins on a seemingly peaceful day in the harbor town of Trastenfen. I had recently arrived in town after the completion of what constituted my initial forays into the arcane arts. I am a Maestrum by birth, a name which has followed me, clung to me, for both good and ill, throughout the course of my life. After completing my initial studies into arcana, I was eager to put some space between myself and the Maestrum name. I booked passage on The Argus, a merchant vessel owned by my uncle. I found lodging at Falco’s, a homely little Inn and Tavern owned by a rather gruff dwarf. My initial conversations with Falco gave me every reason to believe he knew I was indeed a Maestrum. I remembered the words of my grandfather when I was a child: “The memory of a dwarf has has deeper roots than we can ever see.” I made the decision to drop all pretense of duplicity when it came to Falco and the ever-present assortment of characters that frequented his establishment. Two characters especially piqued my interest: a rather ill-tempered half-orc named Grimvock and a mysterious Elven rogue named Ashvact.
Ashvact and I struck up a congenial relationship over the next week. At first it seemed as though he was sizing me up for a quick cut of my purse. Over a few days time, however, Ashvact seemed to take a liking to me. This no doubt had little to do with the pleasantness of my company and more to do with the fact that I was simply e only human in these parts willing to talk to Elven-kind. I found out that Ashvact was not elven, but indeed a half-elf. His father was a human and his mother is elven.
During the mornings I often found myself walking absently along the docks. The sea runs deep in the Maestrum blood and I often find being close to the water helps focus my thoughts. On the 15th day of Hanten there was a crowd at the docks. A large assemblage was crowding near the shoreline, looking out to the sea. A massive ship with ornate golden sails had broken up on the horizon. I made a quick note of the weather and found it odd that a ship should wreck itself so far from shore when winds were just slightly above average. Two figures were swimming towards the shore. Some movements were made among the crowd to launch a boat to help rescue the survivors, but they had reached the shore before anything could be done. There we only two survivors. A red-bearded dwarf and a young dark-skinned human cleric. The dwarf had pulled the young cleric from the ship and, coughing and choking, swam the man to shore. Just before emerging from the ocean, the dwarf gave a guttural roar and heaved the cleric to the shore. An old wit on the shore noticed the emblems of Straben adorning the water-logged cleric and joked that Straben was now rejecting his own. The dwarf stood, still coughing, and pushed his ay through he crowd, rejecting all attempts to assist him. The cleric was soon carried to a small room at Falco’s until he regained consciences. If Falco was put out by the use of one of his rooms, he gave no outward appearance. He did seem worried that someone might take advantage of the cleric’s state to do something unfortunate to him. I agreed to sit with him and Falco seemed glad, or what passed as gladness from such a dour dwarf.
The cleric proved to be a very strong young man and recovered quickly. I learned his name was Ralpheo and that his father and brother, also clerics, had been recently murdered. He was an eager disciple of Straben. His eagerness soon wore on the patrons of Falco’s. While dining with other groups at the tavern, Ralpheo would launch himself into one-sided discussions on the finer points of Straben philosophy and teaching. He was soon something of a pariah in the tavern. There was something in Ralpheo’s earnestness, in his wish to be a force of change in the world, that I found quite refreshing. My interest lies not in gods, though, but in the deep mystery of life at the core of all arcana, my servant is knowledge, my master is truth. Surprisingly, and much to my amusement, the dwarf who pulled Ralpheo from the ocean became our frequent dining companion. His name was Barick Grimhammer, the brother of a far off dwarven king who had perished in the shipwreck. It seemed to my eyes that, in his strange dwarven sense of honor and pride, Barick felt a grudging responsibility for Ralpheo’s safety. Nobody, it seemed, was more annoyed by this fact than Barick himself. As the gruff dwarf spent the next weeks grieving quietly for his lost brother, Ralpheo was by his side, discussing Straben and trying to talk to the dwarf about his loss. Barick would turn almost violent at the young cleric if he mentioned his brother, but there Barick was day after day, drinking and listening to Ralpheo ramble on. Of all creatures that walk Rubyorn, none fascinate me like those hardy mountain warriors, the dwarves.
That mysterious figure, Ashvact, came and went a lot during this time. I admit I was highly curious as to where exactly the half-elf went when he was away from the tavern. He offered up little information and I did not inquire. When he was at the tavern, he and I would often discuss elvish craftsmanship and the wonderful items his people make. Ashvact and Barick were surprisingly civil to each other during these times and, while there was certainly a level of distrust among them, as is common among their people, neither seemed to have any particular ill will towards the other. It was during these conversations over warm meals that I began to feel as though I had found a group of adventurers that could affect some some change on the island. We spent a merry night together laughing and drinking, but we all knew there was something not quite right about this town. I began to recall the words of my grandfather: “You will find yourself against evil in the world, Waldrick. You must ask yourself whether you are the hammer or the anvil.”