Gilwen leaves the castle and looks up at the sky. The sun was beginning to set in the west and she breathed deeply a sigh of relief. Now that she was once again in the open air of the outdoors she could relax a bit. With Veryn hooked to her quiver Gilwen heads out towards the southern edge of town in search of Hagan’s dwelling. She felt the need to check in on her friend to make sure he was still alive at least if not alright. After having discovered their dhamphyric bloodlines she had been concerned for the others… all of whom were of a younger age and had grown extremely accustomed to their beliefs and the image of who they were.
Gilwen sneaks past store vendors and street dwellers as the sun continues to sink in the sky. She easily spots the building that Hagan used as shop and quarters and headed towards the door. Peaking in the window she clearly could tell that Hagan was not at the front desk and it was his pesky little helper instead. Not caring for an encounter with the wharf rat Gilwen wrapped her fingers on the door before shrinking off to the side of the doorway and squatting to hide as a bush (31 stealth check).
Lotho came bumbling out the door looking franticly about for customers. Gilwen snuck quietly (26 stealth check)through the open door and into the main room of the building before Lotho even could adjust to the blinding light in his face from the clear day. Gilwen carefully snuck over to the door to the back and lightly rapped on it five times. Settling against the wall away from the hinges of the door so she wouldn’t get a broken nose.
Hagan rolled over on his bed, reaching for his mug. A strange thought passed through his mind as he lay half awake
I feel the same. Why did I think I’d feel different?
Suddenly the events of the night before erupted in Hagan’s thoughts. The maelstrom of random images blurred in his mind. He was in the castle. That cleric from the forest was there; then he was bleeding. Hagan smiled to himself. He hoped to all the gods that he was responsible for the red stains on Artorius’s otherwise pristine white cloak.
Then something else. A dragon. A little red one. And then another. A big one. Dragons. D-D-D… Dhampyr.
Hagan sat bolt upright in bed, panting from the shock. He quickly checked himself for bites. His ribs were still sore and the tenderness brought more memories of the Dragon
We almost had him.
The knocking at the door persisted, much to Hagan’s displeasure. He scowled as he dressed and put his boots on
“By the Gods, Lotho, what did i tell you? This had better be damned important or I’ll be digging a very small grave tomorrow.”
And not a jury in the city will convict me.
Hagan walked to the door, his eyes still blurry with sleep. He opened it briskly, ready to kick Lotho right in the…
There’s a tree in my house.
“Lotho! Is there some sort of plant monster in the shop?”
Gilwen’s scowl was quite apparent as she swished her twig decorated hair out of her face. Though she wasn’t very charismatic she had hoped that 282 years of being in the wilderness hadn’t some how made her ugly.
“A plant monster wouldn’t come to check on you to make sure you hadn’t drowned in your mead.” Gilwen says angrily barring her teeth in an odd sort of way. Cat-like in a sense. Gilwen side steps across the room and plops down in a chair watching Hagan intently.
Hagan winces slightly. Not from the scolding, but from the seemingly excessive volume of it. He walked over to the cask and turned the tap to fill his glass. A single drop fell from the tap followed by a small bubble and a gurgling noise. Hagan shrugged and poured the single drop into his mouth. He rubbed his jet black eyes and shook his head to wake himself up.
“My apologies, Gilwen. I’ve had a rough few days. Beside, I’m sure that if you put your mind to it, you could be a very convincing plant monster. I’d offer you a drink, but it would appear that…wait, why are you here again? And how did you get past Lotho?”
Hagan stretched and cracked his neck loudly before running his fingers through his hair in a futile attempt to make himself look more presentable.
Gilwen shrugs slightly and flicks her hand towards the open door at the scrambling figure looking into the distance down the roadway, perhaps trying to see a fleeing carriage.
“I’m checking in to see how you are fairing… I mean… Do you even know what day it is? You look like you have been sleeping for the past 3 days.” Gilwen says as she picks some dirt from under her fingernails, glancing up at Hagan nervously. ‘Sleeping isn’t really it… more like drinking…’ Gilwen thought to herself as she choked on the stench of mead. “You should get out of here… come with me on a walk… you look so caged up… lets go outside” Gilwen says and takes a few steps towards the door.
Hagan mulled the idea over. He didn’t want to leave, but then again, he was out of drink and awake for the night.
Might as well step out for a bit.
“Very well, Gilwen. I do have one thing to address first.”
Hagan walked out behind Gilwen, and stopped behind Lotho who was still scanning the landscape.
“Lotho! Where is the front desk?”
Lotho jumped so high, he was almost looking Hagan in the eye.
“M-M-Mister Hagan! You’re awake! I thought i heard a noise and…”
Hagan interrupted the halfling with a hint of frustration in his voice.
“Lotho, where is the front desk?”
Lotho looked puzzled and tilted his head slightly.
“It’s in the office, Mister Hagan, where else would it be?”
Hagan closed his eyes for a moment, trying to think.
“Then that’s where you should be, Halfling…Lotho, what time of day is it?”
Lotho looked even more puzzled at Hagan’s question.
“It’s sunset Mister Hagan. Have you been asleep this whole time?”
Hagan tried to remain focused, but he supposed the halfling would learn his lesson one way or another.
“Then go back inside and mind the shop until dark. Then take the night off.”
Hagan reached into his pocket and tossed the halfling handful of coins.
“Here’s the bonus for keeping your mouth shut about our customer. Lock up after dark and have a few drinks on me. And if you see John the Hammer, tell him I wish to speak with him at his convenience. That will be all, Halfling. Now, back to the shop with you.”
Lotho picked up the coins quickly and scurried back to the shop, closing the newly repaired door behind him. Hagan then turned to Gilwen with a slightly stressed look on his face.
“And where did you plan on leading me, my friend?”
Gilwen looks up at the darkened sky. The stars had begun to twinkle like beautiful gems in a black velvet bag.
“You are probably hungry are you not? We could head off to the Drake if you like.” Gilwen says softly, her eyes still cast at the stars.
As if on cue, Hagan’s stomach growled audibly. He rubbed his stomach a bit before looking up at the stars as well. As the sun sank farther into the horizon, more stars began to seemingly blink into existence. Hagan took a deep breath as the dusk around them began to remind him of the Shadowfell and all he had left behind.
Someday, when all this business is over, I’ll go back.
Hagan tapped Gilwen lightly on the shoulder to get her attention.
“Come. Let’s get something to eat. I feel I’ve had enough to drink for a few days at least.”
Gilwen jumps slightly from Hagan’s tap and nods, her mind someplace in the past as they walk towards the bar. They walk in silence for a little while before Gilwen glances over at Hagan.
“Has your drinking lead to any revelations?” Gilwen asks quietly, her eyes shifting into the hedges of the road.
Hagan pondered the question, not entirely sure what she meant.
“I’m not entirely sure what you mean. One does not drink to find revelation, one drinks to…avoid them. Or sometimes just to forget…”
Hagan became lost in his thoughts. Not an uncommon thing for him. He glanced over at Gilwen and almost allowed himself a small chuckle.
And our merry band of miscreants are supposed to save the world. Maybe the Raven Queen has a sense of humor after all.
“Anyway, what have i missed in the last one…three…several days? Have you spoken with the others? How are they taking our…new information?”
“I have not been in contact with them… I myself spent the last three days… wandering… around… It gives the mind time to piece things together… you have to remember… I have more life to have to rethink than you do.” Gilwen sighed softly as they entered the Drake, the sent of pork and potatoes wafted into their face as they opened the door.
Hagan took a deep breath, inhaling the smell of food as his stomach growled even louder. He walked to the table in the corner near the fire. He waved to Lilly who made her way to their table.
“I’ll have the Haggis, Lilly, and a pitcher of ale.”
Lilly nodded looked over at Gilwen, recognized her and walked to the back to fetch the orders.
Hagan turned and faced the fire for a moment, warming up after their brisk walk through the night air. He rubbed his hands together before turning to Gilwen as his haggis was set in front of him.
“Thanks, Lilly. This is just what I need.”
Hagan picked up his knife and sliced the casing open. The Drake’s cook made haggis with a pie crust around it, like a meat pie. Some people stuck their nose up at the dish, but Hagan couldn’t get enough of it. He scooped up a bit into his mouth and savored the taste.
“You know, I have no idea what’s in this. But I absolutely love it.”
Gilwen, on the other hand, knew exactly what was in it.
“But how can you eat if it you don’t know what it is?”
Hagan took another bite as Lilly returned with a pitcher of ale and two mugs. Hagan poured one for himself and moved the pitcher over the other mug for Gilwen. Not being a drinker, she shook her head slightly. Hagan shrugged and set the pitcher down and took a drink.
“Gilwen, it’s not the not knowing, it the not caring. Unless the Drake is mashing up zombies and stuffing them in meat pies, I’ll probably still eat it. It’s that good. But I digress, how are you handling the story the Blackbournes gave us?”
Gilwen absent mindedly picked through her stew. She looked up at Hagan then glanced around the tavern. The fire light was dancing over the tables. The people there seemingly quite intent on their food and mead. However she couldn’t be sure… she felt like she was being watched. Gilwen shook her head slightly.
“It pieces alot of my life together” Gilwen sighed simply before blowing on a spoonful of hot stew and sticking it in her mouth. She continued to eat while Hagan stared at her slightly.
“What?” Gilwen asked with a mouthful of stew and a fist full of bread. Hagan zoned out for a bit and Gilwen went back to her food. They finished their meal in silence except for a slight bought of laughter as a young drunk attempted to flirt with Lily… who inevitably pushed him off his bar stool and dragged him outside by his shirt, dumping him on the doorstep. Hagan and Gilwen paid for their meals and left, heading back the way they had come.
Gilwen glanced at the stars, nodding to herself. Tonight was an exceptionally clear night, the moon only a sliver in the zenith, not bright enough to bleach out the stars but luminescent enough to create a slight shadow on the ground. Gilwen could easily see in the low light and gracefully traveled down the darkened path.
“My story is probably unfamiliar to you but my mother and I were shunned from Tyrneamiltore… I always knew that other elves weren’t very fond of me… I had some contacts with them but for the most part I grew up on my own. My mother past on from this realm after my first 15 years… leaving me to wander on my own… She never gave me any answers… but now I have them… and now I can be at peace with who I am… I don’t need to wonder why anymore. Why my own race would shun me.” Gilwen says as she hops from stone to stone across the path, acting more like a child then a almost 300 year old elf. “I’m sure you’ve had a more difficult time with this recent situation with the Blackbournes… I’m curious as to what your plans are… however that is your prerogative.” Gilwen stated as she came to rest gracefully on a large boulder on the side of the trees, her feet swinging back and forth like a little kid. The brisk night air was invigorating.
Hagan watched the nimble elf jump about like a rambunctious child, allowing himself a brief smile before carefully choosing how to answer.
“I suppose that I may have been premature in my judgment of the Blackbournes. While I resent their interference in my bloodline, I see now that they are the lesser of two evils and that their intentions may truly have been for the greater good. With this in mind, I have come to believe that it is better to defend the continent with their aid, and the aid of the other dhampir clans, rather than encounter entire undead armies on our own.”
Hagan walked next to Gilwen and leaned against the tree while she sat on the boulder. He still felt no different, and yet he kept believing that he would. Perhaps this was his fate after all. Maybe he had realized his greater destiny. Or maybe the Raven Queen just hadn’t gotten around to smiting him just yet.
Gilwen nodded slightly and looked up at the moon again.
“No matter how much you try to ignore the truth it doesn’t make it go away… We are what we are…”
Hagan nodded and cracked his knuckles as he thought.
“Still, I can’t help but wonder if we are what we were meant to be.”
Hagan stretched and stood up, turning to Gilwen.
“I thank you for dinner, but I should get back to the shop. I need to see that Lotho has been doing his job during my…absence. I know you prefer the wilderness to civilization, but you may rest at my house if you like. Either way, I must take my leave.”
Gilwen sighs quietly and shakes her head.
“Thank you for the offer but I’ll best be heading back to my woods”
Gilwen slips off of her boulder and vanishes into the shadows of the night, leaving Hagan alone.
Hagan walked slowly back to his shop and unlocked the door to let himself in. He bolted the door and went to the desk to check the logbook. Lotho had done a fair job of keeping things in order. According to the book, there were three burials to be done in the next several days. The bills for the ceremonies had been paid and the coins were in the small chest in the bottom drawer. Hagan nodded in silent approval and walked back to his room to continue work on his new tattoo design.