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Where to begin?
At the beginning, of course, and that would be today. The sense of gathering urgency above the ancient and tradition-hallowed stone walls of Candlekeep oppresses like the thunderheads of a gathering storm.
My name is Diana Nightflame, but my heritage, my own true beginnings, are unknown to me. I do know that I am currently a resident of the fastness known as Candlekeep, a dull and predictable place where time and the terrors of the outside world rarely intrude, where the priests keep their books and scrolls, and academics ponder arcane pen-scratchings on parchments holding ancient wisdom.
I know that I am half human, half elf; that men call me beautiful and exotic; that our weaponsmaster jondalar grudgingly admits that I have some skill with sword and bow. I know that Gorion has been my guardian for as long as I can remember, my father in all but fact.
But who I really am, where I came from, these things are unknown to me. Often I suspect that they have been deliberately kept from me, that I have been sheltered from some dark and evil secret never whispered aloud.
I sense a gathering of forces... of powers beyond my ken, invisible, yet made manifest, almost palpable, by the shadows they cast across the minds of those who know me.
Gorion has been preoccupied, of late, and I sense he is contemplating a journey. More than once he has spoken to me of the possible need for both of us to leave this place.
I wonder where he has in mind as a refuge. I wonder, too, just what it is we must seek refuge from.
I begin this journal as a record of what happens... of Gorion's quest, and mine.
Day 1,hour 7 (2 Mirtul, 1368)
The day began as any other. I wandered the Grand Circle about the walled Inner Grounds. Gorion has been looking for me, I know, and I know that I will find him oil the steps of the central keep.
But I elected instead to visit friends and places without the keep, for I have a premonition that I will soon be gone, that it will be long ere I see them again. (old Phlydia lost a book and asked me to find it. When Dreppin pointed it out to me, squirreled away in a hay rack, I returned it to her and was rewarded with a gemstone, a lynx eye. I met with the weapons master, Jondalar, as well, and had a brisk sparring match with him. He seems satisfied with my progress these past months. And a soldier named Hull sent me to fetch his sword, which he'd forgotten; he flipped me a ten-piece for my trouble and groused that I'd taken my time. It scarcely seemed worth the effort.
Later, a soldier told me of strange lights in the night... large numbers of people with torches in the darkness. Bandits, perhaps? But why so many? There are many rumors and whispered gossip about bandits making the roads beyond Candlekeep's gates unsafe. Another soldier worried aloud about the growing iron shortage. It seemed strange. Rarely, if ever, do the problems of the outside world intrude themselves within the tiny, comforting circle of Candlekeep's walls. I had the feeling this day that the outside world was at last breaking through, as if after a long and dolorous siege.
The outside world...
The thought seemed disquieting, even though it remained remote, as unreal as an evaporating dream.
Not long after I entered the bunkhouse beneath the south wall of the inner grounds, and there was accosted by a man named Carbos. "'Ere, there," he said, advancing with menace in his eye, a dagger gleaming in his fist. "You're Gorion's little whelp, aren't ya? Yeah, you match the description. You don't look so dangerous to me."
I had my staff, of course, and a man with a dagger stands no chance at all against a quarry armed with a quarter staff, and who knows how to use it. In less time than it takes to tell the story, Carbos lay dead, and I was left with one ineluctable question.
Who wants to kill me? Carbos's boasts, as he lunged at me with the dagger, suggested fiat someone had been willing to pay for the murder of Gorion's ward.
The idea of the outside world breaching our walls was not so remote now. Someone had reached through, someone who wanted me dead.
I could not begin to imagine why.
Gorion is right to think we are no longer safe here, though I have no idea why someone would want to cause us harm. The attempt on my life may have been laughable, but I fear there will be more threats to come.
I took the dagger from Carbos's body, but knew I needed something more substantial to defend myself with than this pitiful blade, or even my staff.
Winthrop would have what I needed.
At the Candlekeep Inn, I found jovial old Winthrop at his accustomed place behind the desk, making his usual jests and bellowing his good-natured guffaws. I decided to keep the dagger, and purchased from him a long sword, a short bow, some arrows, a helm, and a small shield. I was tempted by a full coat of chain mail, but it was more than I could really afford, even after I sold Phlydia's lynx eye for fifteen pieces of gold.
I had one interesting encounter while I was there. Firebead Elvenhair, an old mage who makes the occasional visit here from Beregost, told me he'd left an Identify scroll with Tethtoril in the inner grounds. I swear, without me to run its endless errands, this keep would crumble into the very dust from which it sprang.
Day 1, hour 9 (2 Mirtul, 1368)
I found Tethtoril easily enough, on the path that circles the Inner Keep. He gave me Firebeard's scroll and told me, too, that Gorion was urgently looking for me. Others - had been telling me this as well, all morning.
I met Gorionas I expected-on the steps before the keep. He told me that we had to go away. I replied that I had a few final errands to run, but that I would soon return. I also met Imoen on the inner grounds, the young woman who was my childhood companion. She's quite the young lady, now, though still immature at times, and rumor has it that she can be light-fingered, that she can't even show her face around the Candlekeep Inn any more because of her pilferings of Winthrop's cash box. She blurted that she knew Gorion was taking me away, that she'd read a letter of his... and indicated that she wanted to come along as well.
It would be fine with me. I like Imoen, thief or no. I doubt that Gorion would approve of her coming along, however.
I returned the scroll first. Old Firebead was grateful for my help and cast a spell on me, saying it would protect me from any evil I might meet tonight. The way he said the words... it sent a shiver through me. What evil could touch me here, safe in familiar old Candlekeep?
I don't know what's out there beyond these walls, but I guess I'll find out soon enough...