No. I don't know why.
Chapter 1: In which I, Taslin Farcrier, set the scene.
The Shaman found me traveling alone. It was spring, and the lands were still healing from the disaster of the Cataclysm and the horrors of those dark times.
At the time, it was hard to believe that only two years prior, the land had been rife with Demons and abyssal creatures; vicious and blood thirsty. Perhaps because I chose to stick to the roads, I had not seen much of the destruction.
When I arrived in the small settlement of Misraeth, I noticed the charred lands and toppled buildings – but all of that was dwarfed by the spirit of rebirth and the highly enthusiastic people who were delightfully busy rebuilding their town.
One thing I did notice past the relieved elation of the people reconstructing their homes was their wariness. They cast searching glances at every new face that came and went, as if hoping to find something specific in their eyes. The way they did it confused me at first, before I had my many conversations with the shaman.
Some townsfolk searched as if cautiously seeking the face of a lost loved one, hope in the corners of their smiles and eyes alight with prayers.
Others, however, sought the faces of newcomers as if seeking for the face on a bounty post; their caution fueled by pain and anger. Those people sought faces of people to blame – thankfully I was not one of those faces.
Misraeth welcomed me with warmth. I received many questions about my scrollcase and the instrument I carried. Delighted as all bards are with the curiosities of their audiences, I indulged them with the reading of a poem, or a song strummed on my guitar.
For those brief entertainments, I, Taslin Farcrier, gained free room and board (exclusive of alcohol, of course,) and the pleasure of telling stories and singing songs to the tired townsfolk at the end of their busy days.
I had been staying in Misraeth for two days. Mainly because I was hoping for the downpour to stop. I adore traveling – but traveling in a storm is dangerous and unpleasant to say the least.
However, I also felt the desire to stay in town while the workers and families waited anxiously for clear weather. It was plain on their faces that they had a physical need to bring Misraeth to the way it had been two years ago, and this lapse in productivity did not sit well with them.
Seeing this with a sympathetic eye, I wished to help them ease through the troublesome weather with clever use of uplifting song and poem.
Their appreciation was heartwarming, and I had the distinct pleasure of dining with one particular family for mid-day meal during both of those days in the rain.
The man of the house was a well built older gentleman, around my father’s age in estimation. He was known as carpenter Raels, and he lived with two young women that he fancied as daughters. They were a few years my junior and very coy and pretty; in a fashion akin to cautious deer.
They were always hospitable and polite, and their food was compellingly home cooked and hearty.
But I digress.
I had been in Misraeth for two whole days. Each night I played a selection of songs and poems that I hoped would soothe or please them. I found it strange however, that I never got any requests; until of course, that third night at the Inn.
The rain poured down in gales. The usual patrons at the establishment took their time on the modest foyer to shake the rain off of their cloaks and jackets before drawing close to the hearth or settling in at the bar.
I played two lighthearted songs on my guitar before the winds and rain blew in yet another patron.
An unusual one at that.
Now, being a recorder and reciter of poems and tales, I tend to take note of the people I see, observe them in a sense. I imagined it was my duty to remember faces and people as easily as the poems I recited, in the hopes that one day we would meet again, or their would be the subject of my next great work.
What I saw was a lean, slight-of-build woman, beneath the thick, rumpled, travel-beaten cloak made of some animal’s wounded pelt. She had a dark, thick cowl draped about her shoulders and head, effectively hiding her face save for the delicate point of her chin and the thin, pale line of her lips.
She was leaning daintily on an elaborate walking-staff that looked like the gnarled root of an ancient tree. The opposite side of her was hidden beneath the furs, and seemed to be laden with weight. From the faint rustle and clatter that came when she moved towards a vacant table, I concluded that her belongings were safely tucked within the cloak with her.
I noticed something else then, as she walked. She cast an eerie shadow that seemed wreathed in a greenish glow. What was more curious as I studied it silently was that this green glow was coming from beneath the furs, gathering light at her feet.
The Inn became silent past my absent plucking on the guitar.
For some inexplicable reason, my first fear was that this strange woman was somehow going to start trouble. How she walked to the table – shoulders low and back curled forward as if still fighting against the wind; steps long and purposeful; the façade of frailty that was at first assumed by her posture. This woman held herself with strength – for regardless of her lean build and hunched shoulders, upon closer inspection, none of her movements spoke of frailty.
After I watched her sit – along with the other patrons, carefully watching – I came to another conclusion. This woman was being very mindful of us. She did not once look at the locals (or myself) throughout her arrival, but what caught me was how mindful she was of her staff. As she moved, she seemed to lean upon it, however, when it went to strike the ground it was as if she very purposefully tapped it as light as she could upon the floorboards, hindering any obtrusive noise.
I believed as well that the curve of her back and the hunch of her walk was an attempt to make herself seem as harmless as possible – which struck me as funny, seeing the enormous pelt that hung about her shoulders.
I remember chuckling out loud at the thought of this woman killing a beast that large, and changing songs. I began a melody that was fashioned to be relaxing and social, more of a background piece, in the hopes that activities would continue.
However, even with that attempt the tavern remained still and quiet. I was pointedly annoyed at first, nearly offended that my well-practiced method had failed – then of course I was astonished to find that all the patrons were still looking at this strange woman.
While the other patrons were still damp from their entrance out of the cold rains, attempting to dry themselves by the fire – this woman had not even left a damp footprint in her wake.
I cast my gaze quickly to the shuttered windows, and through the slats I could still see the rain pummeling the earth like thousands of angry fists.
As I turned to look back at the woman, curious now, I saw that she had removed her cowl in that short time. As I watched, she leaned back in her chair with a visible relief.
I must admit that in the moment I saw her face, my fingers stumbled on the strings of my guitar and I had to clumsily remember what part of the song I had been playing.
Luckily for me, that seemed to be the perfect Ice breaker, and the conversations quickly returned to the patrons at the Inn.
As I regained my composure, I fully absorbed the implications of her current state in such a downpour.
Thy mysterious woman and her furs were completely dry.