December 28th, 2002
Baby Steps: Part 2 - By Vellai
An excerpt from the Trade Journal of Novice Adella regarding her
completion of the Trading requirement:
It is 7:07 pm, on the Day of Justice.
The 29th Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
It was cold this morning, turning our breath into puffs of white fog,
and we were kept waiting for thirty minutes. You'd think Dean Lyonel
would at least have the decency to be on time. When he finally showed up,
he handed out our journals and told us we had a two week period to
finish our assignments. He assured us we could do them in time. I'm glad
someone thinks so. I've finally been able to do something right. My
saddlebags were the perfect weight for the draft horse I've been given from
the academy's stable. They don't go very fast, but are strong and easy
to ride. We've been riding all day. Jaabar, our group's guide, is cute!
His eyes are blue; a stark contrast to his white skin and black hair.
He says he never burns or tans, but that we will, and we should wear the
wide brimmed hats that were distributed to us before we set out. I hope
he doesn't find out what a klutz I am, but it probably can't be helped.
We've been given some oil to rub on our skin to keep our muscles from
getting too stiff and sore since we aren't used to riding all day.
I don't hurt yet, but if what Jaabar tells us is true, we'll feel it
tomorrow. We each have assigned chores; these will stay the same
regardless of who is "leading" for the day. We have a leader rotation, and if
we follow it we'll finish both our trading requirement and leading
requirements these first two weeks. My assigned job is to feed and water the
horses with Jaabar. Yay! I get to work with him. He was impressed by
how easily I got used to riding, and how comfortable I've been with the
horses, even though I've never ridden before. We're camping today just
outside the Ranger's Cabin, and near Crystal Lake. There is plenty of
water for the horses, and grass for them to graze on so they don't
require much tending. All that will change later according to Jaabar. For
now, we comb the worst of the burrs out of their manes and tails and let
them graze. I study my book of spells while we ride. I've become
moderately proficient in the spell that keeps us refreshed and eager to
continue the journey. I only muddled it the first dozen times, or so. The
campfire is blazing and it's time for dinner. I'll be sure and write
It is 8:33 pm, on the Day of Honor.
The 30th Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
We left the Ranger's Cabin early today with our covered wagons full of
items we'll trade in New Ashton. I get to haul ivory. We traded in our
slow and steady draft horses for spirited morgan horses at an inn with
a stable. The inn was crowded and smoky and I was glad when we left. As
we rode with our covered wagons trailing behind, Jaabar told us of the
different factions that have sprung up as trade increases between the
trade posts. There are Kobolds, Demon Lords, Trolls, Bandits and Rogues.
Jaabar gave us a lecture today on the dangers of Troll hordes, and the
signs to watch for that signal their presence since they are the most
dangerous. He says there is a good chance that we'll encounter them.
There's a distinct smell when Trolls are nearby. I guess it's because they
never bathe and their natural smell gets a bit fragrant. He also
demonstrated the Troll war cry that they yell shortly before attacking a
trade caravan. It was terrifying. Jaabar said you occasionally run into
crushed human corpses that the Trolls have ripped apart. If we ever run
across one, we are to take the time to bury the body. It's a matter of
common decency. He also said you can occasionally see them moving along
the side of the road. The normal response to this is to shield the area
surrounding your freight, and go kill the Troll Captains, or to take
your freight with you and fight through all the Trolls until you reach
the captains, and kill them. Jaabar was right; I am stiff and sore after
riding all day, but from the looks of it so are many others. The group
is in good spirits for the most part, but I wonder as the dirt and
stress of the trail gets to us how long we'll be able to maintain them. We
picketed the horses near a small spring, and combed the worst of the
burrs and briars out of their hair. We're camping just south of the City
of Medievia, we'll reach it tomorrow, and spend the entire day there.
I'll write more tomorrow, I'm too tired to stay up for dinner.
It is 9:31 pm, on the Day of Spirituality.
The 31st Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
We reached the City of Medievia today. There is a huge castle floating
above the city. It's always there, hovering on the edge of my vision.
We're only here for one day so I tried to ignore it. It is so busy here!
I never thought to see so many people all living in one city. There was
so much to see and do. We were able to split into groups and meet up at
The Severed Hand Tavern later in the evening before we retired for the
night. It was absolutely amazing; everyone else split into their own
groups and left, and by the time everyone had gone all that was left were
me and Jaabar. So I spent the entire day sight-seeing around Medievia
with him! It was great. We visited each of the four quarters located
here; Poor Quarter, Wizards' Quarter, Clerics' Quarter, Quarter of Arms.
We started out in Clerics' Quarter since that's what I'm in training
for. We visited Rose Park, which was absolutely gorgeous, and Mercy Abbey.
These are places we've read about many times in our training guides,
but have never actually had a chance to visit until now. I also visited
the potion shops in the Clerics' Quarter, as they are some of the best
in the land. Besides that I needed to restock my supply, it was getting
a little bit low. After that we visited the Wizards' Quarter, where we
found The Theatre Grande, a luxurious opera house. If there's time I'm
going. I've never been to an opera, and I'm eager to see what it's
like. Jaabar mentioned he was hungry then, and took us to a hidden diner
called Familiar Haunts. I was a bit nervous at first because we had to go
through a dingy alleyway to get there, but it had some of the best
pancakes I've ever tasted. We didn't spend too long in the Poor Quarter.
Everyone there looked sneaky and untrustworthy. Like they were going to
pick your pocket at the first chance they got. The last place we visited
was the docks. They were bustling and busy, and so full of things to
see that we spent the rest of the day there. There was enough time before
we were to meet everyone at the tavern, so we stopped at The Pipe Bowl
for some thick, filling stew. I didn't end up going to the opera, but I
had such a fabulous time otherwise, that I didn't mind a bit. We are
camping outside the eastern gate to the city. There's a lot of traffic
through here, and I'm not sure how I'll ever get to sleep. But we leave
tomorrow and Jaabar is sure to push us to reach New Ashton in three
days. I'll write again tomorrow.
It is 7:47 pm, on the Day of Sacrifice.
The 32nd Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
Today was my day to lead the group. Jaabar gave a lecture regarding the
tactics to recognize and easily beat a Rogue faction. The road gets
extremely quiet. So quiet you can hear the snap of twigs as they move from
place to place. Sometimes they startle a flock of birds, and they
spring into flight ahead of the trade caravan. Jaabar said some peoples'
instincts are so sensitive they can predict when a Rogue faction is
waiting for them. Apparently rogues only ambush you if you run into them with
your freight. Jaabar explained it's common to hitch your freight, and
continue on to kill the scout, returning for your freight and continuing
on with no disruptions. If the scout is dead they don't know when you
pass. We picketed the horses near some lush grass, and I managed to
create a small pond of water for them to drink. I got the spell on the
first try! I was so proud. I feel like I'm beginning to get the rhythm that
goes with the incantations, and they're coming easier with practice.
The dinner bell has rung and it's time to eat. We're camping near The
City of Athalasea. Some of our group wanted to stop at the Cloaked Shadows
Clan Town, but Jaabar didn't want us to lose the time. He said if we
hurry we can make twice as much money by hauling more freight back to the
Ranger's Cabin before we're required to be at Braneri again. I didn't
say anything about my opinion either way. I was afraid my support would
only hurt his authority with the others. They've left me alone for the
most part, but if they start thinking I'm the "guide's pet" then I'll
have a lot more problems than simply not being able to cast my spells.
The dinner bell rang a long while ago, and I'd best get my food before
they start to clean up. The horses are easy to care for, and I don't
mind their company. They listen and never argue or tell you you're stupid.
They don't care if I can't cast my spells correctly. I'll write more
tomorrow, hopefully in a more cheerful frame of mind.
It is 8:13 pm, on the Day of Freedom.
The 33rd Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
We've camped between the City of Dray'mar and The Realm of the Cloud
Giants. We're at the edges of the Dragon's Teeth Mountains. This close to
them, you can see why they've been named that. On a clear day, the
mountain tops cut into the air with a jagged sharpness, as if they're
trying to take a bite out of the sky. The weather is so hot. It's obvious
we're traveling next to the Ar'raeydn Desert. It's my turn to lead the
group again tomorrow. I really don't want to. I know I don't really lead
it, and that Jaabar will be telling me everything that needs to be
done. I just have a bad feeling about it. Today we had fought our first
renegade faction. It was a Rogue Faction, and Jaabar said we handled it
very well, which means no one panicked or had fainted, I suppose. Because
of this unexpected fight, we didn't have our daily lecture regarding
the renegade factions. Today we were to have learned about kobolds. The
horses grow more and more tired with every day we're on the trail. At
New Ashton they'll get a thorough grooming, and a few days rest. For now
I just sing to them while I work and try to lift their spirits as well
as my own. Jaabar rides at the head of the caravan now. I wonder what
I've done to bother him. Hopefully tomorrow goes smoothly. I'll write
It is 9:17 pm, on the Day of Justice.
The 34th Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
Well it's finally happened. No one is speaking to me tonight. Something
that's easy for them to do since we've finally reached New Ashton. I
went about my nightly horse chores alone tonight. Jaabar was holding a
meeting with the rest of the group and only I was excluded. I suppose
they have every reason to exclude me. I did almost kill the entire group.
I just can't figure out how I'd have done things differently. Maybe if
I'd ridden a little slower, if I hadn't been so focused on leading, and
doing a good job of it, or if I hadn't been studying my book of spells.
I'll just set the facts down. There's nothing I could write to redeem
my position in this incident. We hit our second renegade faction today.
I was leading. I had been so wrapped up in my books that I completely
missed the warning arrows the kobolds had fired and Jaabar's shouted
warnings to stop. I rode directly into a large gathering of kobolds. I
suppose the group could have all left me to my fate and let the kobolds
kill me and take my freight, but they all came in after me, fighting. We
were to have reached New Ashton early this afternoon. Instead we
reached it late at night, because we had to stop and they cast a large
quantity of healing spells. No one even bothered asking why I wasn't helping
out, since every single spell I'd attempted during the fight had failed
miserably. I had been so flustered during the entire fight I couldn't
concentrate on anything much less my spells.
New Ashton has apparently been built at the base of a large volcano. We
could see it as we were journeying to the city, but all I could see was
a large dark shape against the night sky. The only good thing about
this trip is that my leading requirements are filled, and I don't ever
have to do it again. We've all got our own separate rooms at the Inn at
New Ashton. The group is eating downstairs in the main room, but I've
requested that my meal be brought to my room. The maid is at the door with
my food tray, so I will write more tomorrow.
It is 1:35 pm, on the day of Penance.
The 35th Day of the Month of the Scorpion, Year 538.
We are leaving New Ashton tomorrow. We'll be hauling freight back to
the Ranger's Cabin, but we won't be sharing leadership responsibilities.
Jaabar will lead the caravan the entire way. He was nice enough to say
that what I did could have happened to anyone, and that I couldn't have
known the warning signs because he hadn't told us about them yet, but I
know better. Everyone in the group blames me for almost getting us all
killed and knows that our freight would have been stolen if Jaabar
hadn't taken command. So around the group I've become even more remote and
withdrawn than usual, and when I'm by myself I try not to get too
depressed. I'm staying in the inn all day today. I don't have the curiosity
needed to poke around town. Everything in Ashton is covered by a thin
layer of ash. Chayrles, the Innkeeper told me when the mountain first
blew its top they tried to keep clean up after it, but now that it blows
smoke and ash once or twice a week the townspeople have just about
given up. I won't be writing every day of the trip back. The requirement
was for one trip, so that's all I'll be doing. No more than is necessary.
However, I will write one last journal when we finally reach Braneri.
It is 12:15 pm, on the day of the Great Gods.
The 1st Day of the Month of Vecna's Terror, Year 538.
We arrived back from our trade route several days ago. I'll never take
my own bed for granted again after sleeping on the hard trail for the
past two weeks. We made it back from New Ashton with no mishaps, and we
didn't stop in any cities along the way. We only encountered one Bandit
Faction, but Jaabar guided us past them easily enough. He also told us
how to spot Bandits, Kobolds, and Demon Lords. Dean Lyonel gave us our
next assignment, again with a two week completion time. We are going to
be invited to go to a dragon lair sometime in the next two weeks and
will have to help kill the dragon. I'm nervous about this, but as it's a
requirement, I will do it. I hope whichever instructor gets the
pleasure of reading my journal has an entertaining time reading what I had an
interesting time experiencing.
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