Added on November 05, 1999
Category: Fantasy/Dark Elf - Humor
Author: Lledrith RavenWolf

Year of Adventurr

Ok. My next story is not to be taken seriously ;) It is humor and do turn off your spell check and your grammar check when you read it or you will have a headache (I use Microsoft Word and there are always those highly irritating red and yellow lines when you spell something wrong)

It's the one-year diary of K'yanae Do'Urden, the little girl with the wooden 'plane' who's the 'heir' that Kurent speaks about in the Theft. This takes place several years later. Each chapter is named after a month. The first and second chapter will be posted later, but here's the disclaimer -

Disclaimer: All characters belong to me except for Zaknafein, Elminster etc as the more celebrated characters of the Forgotten Realms series. Do turn off your spell check and grammar check if you read this on Microsoft Word. This story is dedicated to my brother as it is his birthday this day as I first start to write this story. Thank you.

Winter's Tide is a totally invented holiday supposed to correspond with Christmas.

Month of the Hammer
Month of Althuriak
Month of Ches
Month of Tarsakh
Month of Mirtul
Month of Kythorn
Month of Flamerule
Month of Eleasias
Month of Eleint
Month of Marpenoth
Month of Uktar
Month of Nightal


Salutations. My name is K’yanae Do’Urden, daughter of Zaknafein Do’Urden. Nankaar says I should keep a Die-Ree as it is an ‘Add-My-Rable’ ‘Past-Time’ and he’s sure I have lots to say about myself. It’s Winter’s Tide now or the ‘most bloody cold day of the whole bloody year’ as Father says it. Years can’t bleed, can they?

I’m sure I should put down the year for this but when I asked Father he said he didn’t know and didn’t care as all years are different and there are so many calendars anyway so why don’t I write my own name for a year? I asked Lieutenant Laradar about this and he says that year names are predictions of what will happen, and the most famous one is the Roll of Years from someone called Mad or something. I sometimes think people are very strange.

I don’t want to write a day by day diary. That’s boring. I’m going to write a month by month one - then Nankaar says I should hide it somewhere and read it when I’m as old as my parents. I’d be ancient then - I think I’d wait ten years then take it out.

I’d hide it in Father’s table with all the papers except that sometimes when the Lieutenants aren’t looking he burns the lot of them. He says that people who write stuff instead of coming to him can’t have anything important to say.

[top]

Year of Joy Laff Ter Fun Adventurr

Month of the Hammer

Father gave me two nice daggers for Winter’s Tide but Mother didn’t like it, and she scolded Father especially when I tried to use them like Father uses his swords and cut myself. I don’t care. I like them. Father didn’t seem to mind. Mother gave me sparkly things that go round your hand and a dress. I think I prefer Father’s. My Brothers and Sister got stuff too but I won’t talk about them yet.

Some Friens of Father sent interesting Stuff, EG a small crossbow from someone called ‘That Thief is he trying to corrupt my daughter early’. A box of nice chocolates with a stuffed toy Wolf from ‘Rim is doing well isn’t he’. Also a white fur lined pair of white boots from ‘Paladins are the strangest people I don’t know what is he doing by giving this type of boots’. Nankaar gave me this book where I'm writing my Die-Ree now.

The lieutenants gave a collective present on behalf of the Talons which is a cloak with a stitched Talon design on the back it is very nice and I said so. They all smiled.

Some days ago my brothers and I found seven kittens but we didn’t know if Father and Mother will let us keep them so for Winter’s Tide we gave them to each other. They laughed and said that we’re too devious for our age we’d soon have even the Thief under our thumbs but we were too happy that they accepted to think about what they said.

Father suggested names for it when he saw them he looked Re-Signed. The orange-red one is called Hat’yet, the white one called Morikan, the black one called N’avsh, the patterned one with the bright green eyes called Rykvaz, the one with bluish fur called Belnarath, the smoky gray one called GrayWolf (don’t know why) and the light yellow gold one Shoshuna. He says that Asur’s poking spies at him and he has forbidden any kittens in his office or Study as he calls it.

I think they’re very cute. Sometimes they sleep with me and sometimes with my brothers. Father always avoids them. He is funny sometimes.

***

My twin brothers Kalain and Kaswain Do’Urden are now old enough to speak Com-Pree-Hen-Sive-Lee to me. Everyone thinks they’re smart because they can ‘do that so early’. I wonder why? I mean, if they’re going to do it sooner or later, if you do it sooner does that really make you smarter in the Long Run?

Kalain keeps talking about numbers to Nankaar for hours when he could be out climbing a tree. Kaswain plays a Muu-Sik-Cal Instruu-Ment from Nankaar called Number 55.

It’s made of wood with lots of funny ‘key’s on them. Some ‘key’s are black and some are white. When you press them there’s a nice sound. I don’t know why they’re called keys - they look like painted bits of wood to me.

Everyone thinks that Kalain is smart ‘cos he can Multiply, Sub-Track, Divide and Add lots of numbers, and they think Kaswain is smart ‘cos he can play Number 55. Don’t know why. I like them, esp. Kaswain because he sometimes plays songs that he thinks of and says they’re for me. Dedd-Di-Cate is the word for it.

Kalain sometimes writes numbers on paper while Kaswain plays Number 55. Mother teaches us how to write regularly. I hate writing and I like climbing trees, but Aunt Verdana gets a fit when she sees me doing so. I don’t know why either - Father thinks it’s ok so long as there are some Talons watching me.

Kaswain Paints very well. The paintings look like the real thing. There is a painting of all the First Lieutenants hanging in the Entrance Hall. The Staff made a Remembered Picture while the Lieutenants Posed and Kaswain Painted it Later.

Kalain also makes stuff like funny structures that can move on their Own. Father says that wonderful Nankaar passed on his Inventing disease to my son now we’d have two flying objects denting my head but I looked closely and Nankaar doesn’t have a disease I think. Why is having a disease wonderful?

I think this disease is quite interesting then. Kalain gave me a bird that can flap its wings and walk when you wind it up with something he says that Nankaar helped him with it.

***

Sister K’yanne hasn’t started talking in sentences yet, but since she’s the youngest I suppose she can’t. Some of my Ants (Sisters of Mother I don’t know why they’re called insects) nearly cried when they saw her when she was born ‘cos there’s something wrong with her legs and she won’t ever be able to walk or walk properly.

Mother was sad then but Father said she was beautiful. I think she is, too. Her skin’s like mine and my two brothers - not as black as Father’s but still rather dark. Nankaar says it looks X-Xot-Tic. Her hair’s a deep gold color or tawny. I think it’s nice.

Father says she’s still a very serious baby not like me as I always tried to crush his fingers with my hands or bite off his fingers. Mother says he is X-Xa-Ger-Rat-Ting but he just smiled.

***

I’ve finally gotten Father to teach me how to fight! He says I’m still a bit young for swords and he’s rite - I can’t lift one of his without using lots of strengtthh. The sword with the red edge thinks it’s funny, but the other one can’t speak.

Father’s staff sometimes talks to me, but he has to sleep for half the day. Father says that it’s A-Parent-Ley still A-Fect-Ted by Cree-Ate-Ting the Citadel of the Talon. I like the Citadel and I like the Talons. I say this as oftene as Poss-Si-Bel to them and they all smile and hug me. Father says this is not fair as they are soon going to like me more than they like him, but he smiles when he says that so it’s fine actually.

Father says that I’m very very good at daggers and when I get stronger I can Pro-Seed to swords and I may be his best student so far but he looked sad when he said this so I didn’t say anything else.

***

Father has not allowed me using Number 48 in his room because he says he thinks I hit him with it purposely. Number 48 is a wood toy thing that Nankaar made with flat wings. Nankaar says it might just work if he makes it bigger so it’d carry people, but Father says if my daughter uses the small ones to try and dent my head she’d use the big one to dent the building by Asur no thank you.

Nankaar is a nice man who’s nice to us. He was not nice to Father before and Lieutenant Warrenn suspects him of Fowl Play but Father says he trusts him. I don’t see what Nankaar has to do with Chickens. How-Ever when-Ever we talk to him some Talons are always Sitting Around.

***

It is snowing outside and Father is Not Happy. When he’s Not Happy he has a Look on his face and people try not to Irr-Ri-Tate him. He usually stays in the Study and Grum-Bles to himself. He keeps Inn-Sult-Ting the cold weather, and there are a lot of Words that I am going to check up now.

Asking Mother just makes her ask me where I heard those words and I don’t want to get Father into More Trouble. All the Lieutenants have Different Ideas on them, so I have to look in the big fat book called the Dict-Tion-Narr-Rie.

Every-Nite snow falls on the large Court-Yarr and I think it’s pretty. Father glowers at it. Sometimes I drag Kalain and Kaswain out to play Snow Ball where we roll up snow into balls and Throw it at each other. Sometimes Father joins in, but most of the time he is Inside. We sometimes Sneek Up on Talons and Snow Ball them and that makes them Join in.

Father sometimes gives Kalain and Kaswain odd looks when he thinks they are Not Looking. He always looks sad when he does this. I asked Mother why and she says that once he had twins too but they Died and he feels sad when he is Ree-Mind-Ded by the twin brothers. Sometimes he says that Thank Asur they’re not As Close to himself when the twins are around and he Does Not Elaa-Bore-Rate when I ask him why and what he is talking about.

***

The pond in the Ant-Trance has a hard surface and I think it is Fun although it makes me fall when I stand on it and it is Cold. I dragged out my brothers to play on it. Somehow the Water at the bottom hasn’t Frozen and the Fish are still swimming there. I wonder why?

Nankaar says that Water is Densest at Four Degrees Cell-Xius and Sinks to the bottom. Apparently the Ice which is Less Dense stays at the Top. I think I fell asleep at this point because I woke up in my room.

Kalain is trying to Cal-Cu-Late how much ice will form on how much Pond Water, but the Ruler cannot Penn-Ne-Trate the surface so we have borrowed Father’s red sword which Cuts Thru Everything. Father was writing when we were taking it but I am sure he would not mind.

I was Right. Father thought it was funny but he thinks we are Strange in the Head and I heard him scolding the sword. The sword didn’t seem to mind.

***

All Sorts of people come to See Father at all sorts of times. Usually they have to see whatever Lieutenant is on Duty but they insist on seeing Father. Father is Not Amused by this especially when they Call at Nite.

It’s ‘cos he is usually Sleeping or ‘Doing Something’ as Lieutenant Bankan says. (Lieutenant Laradar turns Red and Coffs Loudly and talks about Me Being in the Room Don’t Talk Like This in Front Of Her when he says this but Bankan says that Laradar is Still Young. If he’s young how old am I?)

EG, today a man in one of the hard leather suits and long staff came and he sat inside the room for a Long Time. Zak does Not allow anyone to Inter-Rupt except for me and my brothers. Sometimes the Lieutenants say they will give us sweets if we go in occasionally to see if Father is ok. Strangely they always wait Ank-Xious-Lee for us to come out then keep asking us about it.

Father suspects this but he does not mind, Especially once when we had an Dis-Tant relative of Mother whom Father did Not like, and Kalain had an Accident with the person’s white clothing. Father thought it was funny but the man did not. Some people have no sense of Humorr.

The man whom Mother says is a Drudd wanted Father to find some sort of plant in which Father said he was not a gardener why don’t you go look in the Palace Garden and the Drudd said that it was hard to find and mentioned money in which Father started to argue with him. They are looking for the plant now.

Mother thinks that Father is being too Offen-Sive but Father says that if they cannot Stand the Service they can leave because he is Busy.

I don’t think he is Busy. He always plays with us when we want to and most of the time he practises his sword in the room when he thinks no one is Looking.

***

Sometimes we see Mother doing the mouth thing with Father it looks ick. Lieutenant Laradar says that's because they love each other and Lieutenant Bankan says ha wait till you get married the kisses lose their fire and Lieutenant Laradar turns red and all the Lieutenants have a long argument.

Lieutenant Laradar resembles a tomato when he turns red. I told this to Father and he thought that was funny but he says that although Laradar is the youngest he has a good heart and he will go Far. Far where? Why does he want to go far? I have heard that the Forn Countries like someplace called Halruaa is not very friendly to Strangers, EG Us.

Sometimes Lieutenant Bankan gives us sweets to ask Laradar questions, EG How do children come about? And Laradar turns red. Perhaps that is a Protective Func-Tion as Nankaar once showed us a picture of a Cham-Mee-Lion, which is a Lizard that Changes Color to the color where it’s on.

Why red?

***

I have found our years start from something called DR or DaleReckoning when humans were first Allowed to settle in the Open Regions of the forest by the Elven Court. Father says that humans should have stayed there now Look what they do to the place they live short lives but manage to destroy half of what they See.

I said that the Talons are nice and undestructive and I find most Elves that come here are Cold and Boring and he said that he’s an Elf well half an Elf and you’re One Third Elf anyway. I asked what the last Third was and he pretended to be writing so I asked Mother and she said we’re all One-Third Wolf didn’t we know?

Father is the only Dark Elf we know he says that Dark Elves are not Well-Comed in the Realms ‘cos most of them are Evil buggers that worship a bloody stupid spider goddess and live their entire lives underground in some Underdark place like Moles.

Mother said don’t ask him about the subject because he is Sen-Sitive about it.

I called the brothers and they said that well Kalain had thought about us being wolves before ‘cos our eyes are amber and funny but he didn’t think about it. Mother says that Father and Her are WereWolves and can turn Wolf at night or at full moon.

We asked her when we could change and she said when we grow up. They always say that. Father said we could try but when I tried later when there was a moon (Well, half a moon) nothing happened.

I think I’d like to be a wolf. The lieutenants and the Talons all seem to know about this and they think that it is Lucky (Father being able to turn Wolf).

***

I have a nice room that is just large enough for me though the bed is Big Father says this is all the better so he wouldn’t have to get another one when I grow taller.

There are a few windows looking out to the street and there is a Bell Pull if I need help suddenly. I have a large War-Drobe where Mother puts all my Clothes they are mostly dresses but I like to wear Trousers as Dresses get caught on branches and make me feel cold.

There are lots of books on a bookshelf but I only read those about weapons and adventurrs and stuff. All the rest are stupid, EG There was a dog named Brown Brown has a good Mother and Father and so on. Dumb. Why would I want to know about a dog named Brown?

Kalain and Kawain share a room their room has many Tech-Nical books and Mus-Sick-Cal books, as well as Dog Named Brown type books, which they also ignore.

K’yanne also has her Own Room though one of the Ants that are not married or a Maid would stay with her thru the night because she is still Fragile. K’yanne can recognize all of us and she likes me. She plays with me sometimes until she falls asleep and Father thinks it is good as she is Normal in her mind. Then he looked at Kalain Kawain and me and smiled and said well maybe more than normal and Mother smiled too.

***

[top]

Month of Althuriak

Kalain asked me why if I have a Dict-Tion-Naree why I don’t use it to correct my Spelling and I said ‘cos I don’t know so many I’d take Forever to check them all up. However it is ‘cos I didn’t think of it but I didn’t want to say so.

The Dict-Tion-Naree does not have that many of the words which I use ‘cos it’s Supposed to be Common to Elvish but I will try. Mother thinks I will learn Elvish more this way but if I don’t know what the meanings mean how am I supposed to? When I asked Father about this he says that Unless you want to live in Evermeet forget about this ‘cos most elves you meet here speak Common anyway he doesn’t speak Elvish himself so why do I need to?

I asked him if he’s an Elf why doesn’t he speak Elvish and he said that he’s a dark elf that’s different and he looked sad again so I didn’t Question further.

***

Father has allowed to to Practise my crossbow in the Interior Crossbow Practise Room and the Talons are all very nice even though I miss the target most of the time.

Father says that Practise makes Perfect and then he forbid me to bring the crossbow into the Study. Father is strange sometimes.

Nankaar says that it is because you are Accident-prone and you may shoot him I say I don’t want to use him for Target practise because he is too big and I’d like to shoot at my dresses instead Nankaar thinks this is Not a good idea.

***

Father is thinking of Expanding because many people are joining the Talons not only humans but also elves and dwarves. He wonders what he can Buy Over to expand but Mother says that well if you expand Further it will be a Threat because we are so near to the Ducal Palace.

I said there’s lots of land outside so why not go outside?

Father says that is interesting but he’d like the Talons together Mother says well then use Baldur’s Gate as an Office and use outside as a Main place and he says where, Ulcaster? Mother says no, buy a few farms outside here and he said well there are Ankhegs.

I asked Lieutenant Qayin what an Ankheg was and he said it’s a giant burrowing green ant don’t go near it where did you find one? I said I was just asking and he asked me where did I hear of it? Lieutenant Bankan smiled and said don’t ask Qayin any questions he’d always ask you some more but a Talon came along and asked them to go and meet Father.

Later when they came out me and Kalain and Kaswain went in and Father looked Thoughtful. Kalain said why don’t we extend a wall outwards from the city and build like that? Then we can be still part of the city and we can sell this place. Like the big estate of Duke Entar.

Father looked surprised and he smiled and nodded and he said that’s a good idea Kalain. Later he sent Lieutenant Terry to go to the Ducal Palace and when Lieutenant Terry returned he went also. Mother kept telling him to put on something warm and he grinned and said if he’s cold he’d Change mother said oh no you won’t and he went off laughing.

***

Today Kalain, Kaswain and I got a box of chocolates each and the Lieutenants are Con-Gratul-Late-Ting us. Lieuteant Bankan says we’re very smart and he gave us a pie from his wife.

Father looks pleased and I heard him talking to Mother who asked When will the building start? He said when this bloody snow clears off. Again, I wonder why he thinks snow bleeds. Is it because they melt later?

She then asked, Are you using the staff? He said, For the building itself that will shut it up for a year at least and he smiled. Apparently when Father uses the staff too much it stops talking to Store up Energy as it is Drained.

Then she said, Where? And he said the Dukes must think they need an Eye on us becaue it’s at the Southwest part of the City right next to the Flaming Fist Gaol.

I don’t know why ‘cos Father says they usually keep an Eye on us anyway though I didn’t see any Eyes floating around. I don’t mind. Scar is Captain or something of the Flaming Fist and I like him. He is nice to all of us when he comes for a Friendly Visit and he always gives us sweets.

Mother smiled and said well all the Diss-Reputable people are in one spot of the city then and Father said what about Thief Guild and Mother said well excepting Thief guild.

I don’t see what’s so bad about that part of the city it contains: Flaming Fist Gaol, Manycorns Merchant League (Someone called Aldeth Sashenstar is nice but the rest are not), Seven Suns Coster (Someone called Jhasso is nice but the rest are Boring) and the Iron throne where Father’s friend Rimn is.

The only bad one is Water Queen’s house – Father says he does not like the place and I don’t too. The people worship a Queen called a Female Dog.

***

K’yanne hasn’t started to speak yet but I think she’s still beautiful. She cannot walk for a long distance and always has to sit down and Rest by sleeping. She doesn’t cry even when I accidentally hit her once but merely smiled as if asking me not to do it again.

The seven kittens haven’t grown – me and Kalain and Kaswain feed them together every day and have to wash them once a week too.

Morikan the white one has silvery eyes and he’s my favorite. He likes me too but prefers to Irritate Father by suddenly appearing in front of him and purring loudly in which Father will stop dead and glare at it.

Hat’yet the orange-red likes the fire and he always sleeps there. He alternatively sleeps in my room or in my brother’s rooms – all the cats do that except for Morikan who always sleeps with me and N’avsh which I will speek of later.

N’avsh the black cat has very dark big eyes and she likes K’yanne. K’yanne likes her. She sleeps with K’yanne and doesn’t allow strangers to touch her. N’avsh is funny – she doesn’t like guy strangers but doesn’t mind girl ones. She obviously likes GrayWolf.

GrayWolf is smoky gray and looks like a storm cloud. He has funny gray eyes and he always plays pranks on everyone including Throwing Up in Father’s boots but Father cursed him then didn’t talk about it any more.

Rykvaz has bright green eyes. His coat is ginger with stripes on. His stare is very impressive and he can outstare anything. Father says one day he’d try that with a mirror and kill himself heheh so Kalain Kaswain and I remove or cover all the mirrors in the room when he comes to sleep.

Belnarath has blue eyes with a bluish coat. He’s very serious and he likes Kalain. He does not like being bathed and you cannot scratch his belly or he will either scratch you or sulk for the rest of the day. GrayWolf often tries to bite his tail then run off.

Shoshuna is the nicest one. She has a light gold coat with gold eyes. She is the only one that does not try to catch the birds that shelter in the roof of the place and she likes Kaswain. She likes to sit next to him while he paints or plays Number 55 and won’t move an inch unless he does too. She comforts Belnarath when GrayWolf tries to bite his tail.

Again although Mother doesn’t mind them Father tries to avoid them and always talks about spies Esp when Morikan turns up in the Study.

***

Althuriak means The claw of Winter or the Claws of the Cold (due to Mother). How strange. Is Winter an animal?

Kalain and Nankaar are designing a Pipe System for use when they build the New Building. They take the Staff in with them every time to explain it to the staff. Apparently it will Allow hot water to be heated somehow due to novice Talons turning something and it will be Piped into every room for baths and drinking water.

They are still working on it and have taken to taking food from the Kitchen in with them. Father thinks it’s a good idea but also thinks that Mother will now keep Carrying On about him needing a bath and he smiled when he did this so I asked Lieutenant Bankan.

Lieutenant Bankan said that didn’t you know the bath can be very exciting esp when there is a couple and Lieutenant Laradar turned red again so I think that this is one of the Things I should Not know until I Grow Up. EG, I should try to find out what it is.

***

Kaswain and I piled lots of pillows on the ground before the large marble staircase then kept sliding down the wide railing. Kalain came in after my third turn and joined in.

It’s very fun ‘cos when you climb up to the top and jump on and slide you have to keep your balance or you’d fall on the steps. If you slide straight you’d come off at the end at great speed and hit the pillows. It’s very fun – try it sometime!

Father came looking for us later for some reason and when he saw this he started to laugh. Mother came in behind him and looked like she was going to scold us because some of the pillows burst in lots of feathers but she also started to laugh.

Now at least two Talons follow us everywhere we go.

***

Today a very old mage who wears red came to look for Father. He has a big staff and a very long beard and a very nice smile. He had a long talk with Father in which Father mentioned the names of the cats lots of times but I wonder why the mage wanted to talk to Father about cats.

Apparently the mage is called Elminster and he has met Father’s friend Rimn before. He was talking about World-Makers and I said don’t the gods do that when he came out. He looked surprised then he said no, the World-Makers do, they are spirits.

He is staying in the GuestRoom for a while as he talks to Father about these World-Makers.

Elminster occasionally talks to Kaswain about music and also to Kalain who as usual talks to the mage about numbers and seems surprised and pleased when the mage can answer ‘properly’.

He sometimes talks to me about his adventurrs in the realms and they are Exciting and I hope I can do them nextime too. Elminster’s favorite is K’yanne and he often talks to her even though she can only say ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ now. She seems to be listening when he talks and doesn’t say anything.

I asked Father why he keeps talking to Elminster and Father says that is one man whose entire life is an endless pursuit of knowledge I think it’s a silly idea because the more you know the more you know you don’t know I’d rather use swords.

Apparently Elminister wants to know about World-Makers. He is now holding Morikan and looking at the kitten curiously. I helpfully say that Morikan likes his ears scratched and he does so though when he looked carefully in Morikan’s silvery eyes he had a look of wonder on his face.

I tried it later and didn’t see anything. Morikan yawned and his breath smelled of milk.

***

There is a new exhibit in the Hall of Wonder and Father told Nankaar and Lieutenant Laradar to take us to see. This is because Kalain kept asking him.

It’s a large working clock or something where the sun keeps moving and you can see the Rep-Present-Tations of the various planes. Elminster was there and he was arguing with a priest of Gond.

I didn’t know what was so interesting about the clock but the priest was surprised when Nankaar and Kalain took a few looks at the clock and started to talk about how it worked. Elminster laughed.

I like the steam dragon – at least it was warm so I stayed there until we were to leave. The Talon that stayed with me didn’t mind but some Flaming Fist kept looking at us so I waved at them when they did so.

Kaswain was looking at the musical instruments and he liked one, which was a stick with many holes and funny things you can press. It is made of metal.

Later he bought one that looked something like it in the Shop. I thought the shop was boring. There are no weapons at all in it or any thing interesting. Kalain smiled and said anything you want in the shop I think I can make for you and the priest at the counter looked offended and said, young man, unless you can make a device that surpasses all of these don’t talk like that.

Kalain was going to open his mouth but Elminster smiled and dragged all of us out of the shop he said that if thou wouldst challenge and beat a Priest of Gond, why, thy father wilt be besieged by requests from the priests to have you work for them. Elminster always talks funny.

***

[top]

Month of Ches

Ches is supposed to be the month of Sunsets but I haven’t seen a single one yet. It is still too cold for building so we will not be Expanding yet. Kalain says it’s because stone is porous so water freezes in it and it Won’t move.

I said why don’t we use magic?

He said that well we might as well wait until the water unfreezes so that less magic is Ree-Quired for more stones. He said this is his proportion Theory and he has worked it out... then he keeps talking about Numbers so I go and play with Morikan.

Morikan is the leader of the kittens and he sometimes orders them about. I notice that he has three dark spots on his white chest and I wonder why – Father says it is Symbolic and then glares at Morikan and goes away.

***

I finally managed to hit the target three times in a row! Lieutenant Bankan thinks I am improving and I am happy about that.

Elminster left yesterday even though it was still snowing. Father says that now that old buzzard is gone I can get down to my paperwork and then he fell asleep on his desk. Mother thinks that he should Delegate and is working too hard for his own Good.

***

It is Grandfather Baron’s birthday and we are all invited to go. Father says that we’d all catch our death of cold and Mother says don’t be so pess-simm-mistic. We took all the kittens and put them in the carriage, which Grandfather sent over – it is roomy with thick curtains and is warm.

The horses are weird – they have red eyes and are huge and black. They don’t seem afraid of Father – something, which seemed to surprise him very much. They tried to bite me when I tried to climb on them and the coachman said these horses are fierce hands off young lady.

Father didn’t seem to like the idea of going away and he gave the Lieutenants all sorts of instructions. Aunt Verdana is here too along with her mate and she said there are some of Mother’s brothers waiting for us outside the city.

K’yanne is traveling with a very thick blanket and a book present from Elminster which Father doesn’t think she can read yet but I think she can. She often props it up and looks at it.

Kalain is traveling with his Box, which contains bits of wood and metal pins and stuff. Kaswain has some painting paper and his brushes and paints and also the Stick with the holes in.

I brought my daggers and my crossbow. Aunt Verdana raised her eyebrow at this but her mate said it was very appropriate. Mother put in some clothes in the back of the carriage and Father says we’re not going away for a month and she smiles and says she knows.

The kittens seem to like Aunt Verdana.

Outside the city it was still snowing and Father said where are the Ankhegs? Aunt Verdana said they are still hibernating I can call them if you like and Father said no thank you.

There were some men wearing light robes. Mother hugged them and they smiled and she said that they were her Brothers. Father shook their hands.

I asked why don’t they wear something heavier won’t they catch cold?

They smiled and said they’d Change later don’t worry young lady.

Father nodded, then later when the carriage reached some thick trees all of them disappeared into the forest including Aunt Verdana’s mate. Aunt Verdana says she’d look after K’yanne.

Then a strange thing happened – lots of wolves came back holding clothes. A gray one dumped Father’s armor in the back of the coach and gave me a lick before I realized it was Father. Mother is a small wolf with a red coat that shades to white at the bottom. She also gave all of us a lick. The other brothers come in all sorts of colors including brown.

The kittens weren’t afraid at all. Aunt Verdana nodded at them then told the wolves that they should know what they’re supposed to do which is guard the coach and they all nodded and melted away into the trees.

I asked Aunt Verdana why didn’t she Change and she said one of us have to look after the lot of you and I don’t trust all those men. Then she grinned.

Kaswain said he wished he could Change and Kalain agreed but Aunt Verdana said even if we could we’d have to stay in the coach because we’d be puppies.

I think it’d be fun anyway.

***

The wolves came back into sight only when we stopped at night. They all seemed to have eaten and some fell asleep in front of the fire. Aunt Verdana Changed into a black wolf and went to have a run with her mate.

Father stayed in his wolf form and we used him for a cushion. Mother Changed back to take care of K’yanne. I think I fell asleep at this point because when I woke up I was back in the carriage with Aunt Verdana.

One of Mother’s brothers asked why we were so calm about this and Kalain said well if we’re going to do that nextime it won’t help to keep having hysterics about it.

I asked Verdana when I become a wolf what color would I be, and she said it’s usually the color of your hair. That means I’d be a gray-white wolf like Father and the twins will be dark redbrown-white and K’yanne gold.

Kaswain asked if K’yanne would be able to walk as a wolf and Verdana says she doesn’t know.

I said I hoped she’d be able to and Verdana said that isn’t very good ‘cos she may want to be a wolf forever. What’s wrong with that?

***

Grandfather Baron lives in a large mansion and they all came out to greet us. Grandfather says I’m as beautiful as ever and so are the brothers and esp K’yanne, who gave him one of her smiles.

There are lots of people inside the mansion and apparently all of them can Change. Some of them are not Family but other Houses of Werewolves, which is what people who can Change call themselves.

There are other children my age and I play with them. The boys, I mean. The girls all seem to play with dolls and that is Disgusting. Kalain is calculating how far each Realm is from the other and Kaswain is painting the landscape.

K’yanne is being Pampered by lots of women werewolves along with Mother and Father is usually dragged into discussions about Politics which he says is the most wretched and boring game in the Realms.

Grandfather’s birthday is tomorrow and the kitchens are very busy and I am not allowed to go in so I led some of the boys in and stole some Pastries.

***

Grandfather sometimes changes into a very big wolf and we can sit on him. He likes us and often watches us play when he can escape from the torturous Politics discussions.

Apparently lots of the werewolf Heads like politics.

There are six boys my age and the nicest one is known as Namaen. He supports my decisions and seems to be quite happy to let me lead like the other boys except for the biggest one known as Caen who pulled my hair once and called me a stinking drow.

We had a fight and a Brother who had heard this from a window above and was coming down to Remon-Strate Caen rescued Caen.

He laughed and said why, Caen, can you not beat an unarmed lady? Shame on you for using a stick.

Namaen said that even if Caen used the entire tree he wouldn’t have beat me and that is True.

The other boys haven’t even learnt how to use daggers and crossbows yet and I was teaching them until a few women werewolves found out and there was a small quarrel which Grandfather interfered with and said the Young should Learn.

Then they started arguing about what Grandfather said so I led the boys (not including Caen who is still crying over his black eye) out to climb a tree.

Kaswain was not happy about this as he was painting the tree so we went to climb another one. Father got a shock because he was looking thru the window during the Politics discussion and saw me climbing up. I don’t know why – I only reached six meters so far.

There was another scolding in which I was accused of being too Wild and I said if I’m half wolf won’t that make me half-wild? Isn’t a wolf wild?

Mother says Father didn’t help by laughing.

***

The cats are allowed to wander everywhere in the building and aren’t afraid of anything. Esp GrayWolf who enjoys funny treatment as everytime he walks into the large Temple werewolves bow to him.

N’avsh still stays with K’yanne and Shoshuna with Kaswain and Belnarath with Kalain. The rest wander around or sit down and look at us.

Morikan now spends half his time with Grandfather and the other half with me. He likes Grandfather.

***

There was a large feast for Grandfather’s birthday night and everyone gave him presents. He looked very happy.

I ate a bit too much at the feast and had a bad dream in which I was being swallowed up by the ground. When I woke up I was sweating and Morikan suddenly jumped on the bed and slept on the pillow and I had no more dreams.

The men werewolves were drinking thru the night and they all woke up with headaches the next day except for Father who can hold a lot of wine. Apparently this is what elves do. He did, however, wince when Morikan purred loudly next to him.

***

Some families left after this including the family of Caen and I am glad. It snowed during the next night and the boys and I and the twins played snow ball as Kaswain said I give up drawing the snow unless I want to called it Ruined Footprinted Vista.

One snow ball hit Grandfather as he was coming back from his early morning walk as a wolf. He went to Change and joined in.

I don’t see why they all say Grandfather is strict. He isn’t – he’s very nice to us.

***

Namaen asked me what must he do to be selected for Talons and I said well he could just join though he would have to pass a few tests later and it’s hard work. He asked if I was a Talon and I said no, not yet because Father says I’m still too young.

He nodded at this and the boys said that being a Talon sounded fun and I said it was and told them the rules: No drinking on duty, practise your selected weapon everyday, no drugs etc.

Later Father asked me if I wanted to get into the Add-Vertising business but I don’t know what he’s talking about.

***

We’re the only family left now as the rest have gone and Mother likes to talk to her brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and Asur knows what other type of relations – they all stay together. Father said we shouldn’t say ‘the gods know what else’ as the gods don’t know alot of things and one of them is Peace.

He says that since Asur knows everything we could say that. Father is funny sometimes because when I asked him what Asur was he said look at the kittens and you’d know. What do kittens know other than eat sleep crap purr?

Grandfather says he will frame up one of Kaswain’s pictures of the Mansion. He is currently posing in his wolf form before the fire.

***

I asked Aunt Verdana how many werewolves are there now and she says Lots since there are two types – Wolfweres and Werewolves. She says Wolfweres look like Asur had an accident with half a wolf and half a man and just stuck the two failures together.

As for werewolves she says when a werewolf bites you, he or she can choose to turn you into a wolf or not but she thinks Father does not have this choice because he was bitten by another type of wolf on another world.

***

There are nice sunsets here. Kaswain pained a picture of one as the staff did a Remembered picture.

It is still snowing and I am not allowed to go on the trees anymore after that Politics discussion when Father saw me.

I found the armory today. It is a locked door with a large carving of a sword on, but today it was unlocked. Morikan was preening himself on a large suit of armor and did not look surprised when I came in.

I like the chain mail and was trying on a winged helmet when a Brother/Cousin/Uncle (sorry, lost track) found me and said everyone is looking for you you naughty girl.

Father was looking rather worried as was Mother when the Brother/Cousin/Uncle took me up to them. For some reason Mother cried as she hugged me and Father says next time bring someone with you or we’d think something happened to you.

Of course something will happen to me. I always find all sorts of things to do in this large place. But now some Brother/Cousin/Uncle keeps following me around.

Once I managed to get him off my track and fell asleep under the large staircase. I was woken up in the middle of a dream where I had grown up by a wet nose poking at me. Father looked rather amused and relieved and he was in his wolf shape.

For some reason I got another half-hearted scolding. Father says its not nice to give people the slip when they mean good and I said they always prevent me from doing fun things, EG using the tree leaves for crossbow practise.

The Brother/Cousin/Uncle said that that was because once the bolt went into the kitchen and nearly hit the head cook who scolded another Brother/Cousin/Uncle who was practising crossbow on a target further on.

I laughed at this and got another scolding. I really don’t understand adults.

***

[top]

Month of Tarsakh

This is the Month of the Storms and yes it rains terribly often though mostly either in ice form (Hail Stones) or wet sleet. We are back at the Citadel and life is becoming even more boring.

Mother thought that we are running wild and has gotten a Tutor who is a Brother/Uncle/Cousin to teach us boring subjects like Math, History, Science, Music, Arts, Literature, Geography. They are so boring I usually fall asleep but I try not to because he is actually very nice.

The Tutor’s name is Taenan and he is rather old and frail looking, though once he did fight with father with his metal pole. Father says appearances are deceiving, but since Father won anyway I don’t know why he said that.

Taenan always looks like he is on the verge of tears when we answer a question wrongly EG the years are named by someone called Alaundo instead of Augathra the Mad. So we try not to get questions wrong in case he cries and Mother scolds us.

K’yanne attends the lessons too – she makes a great fuss when she doesn’t. We have a roster – Kalain answers Math and Science questions, Kaswain answers Music and Arts, and we struggle thru the rest together although I am somewhat better at geography.

Taenan knows we have a roster and once asked Kaswain to answer a math question called What is 62 x 2 and he said it was 12 and Kalain winced and Taenan eyes brimmed with tears so he doesn’t do it anymore.

Later he told Father that we have specific memories. Father nods and says that he wouldn’t have it any other way but do try your best. Then he grinned.

***

Father has one of those biting horses which is a present from the Baron. Its name is Diablo ‘cos Father says its an evil bugger.

Diablo is black in color and also has the red eyes. He is the biggest horse I have ever seen, and he has two sharp tusks that extend down from the sides of his mouth.

Mother says that Grandfather is trying to kill Father. She says that Diablo is a dominant stallion and has never been tamed.

Father says that he was the one who chose Diablo and he likes the horse. He has been trying to ride it when it doesn’t rain and has so far managed to stay on for about six minutes at the most.

Diablo tries to bite or kick Father whenever possible and is very intelligent. It tried to bite me as well but it doesn’t seem to mind K’yanne who is the only one who can feed it sugar.

K’yanne spends her time making Talons bring her down to see Diablo and Taenan and books.

She also likes listening to Kawain practise Number 55. Nankaar asked Father whether he could design a Chair on Wheels for K’yanne but Father says no, she has to learn that she must walk by herself no matter how large her problems are.

She certainly tries. She always walks around with someone to support her, but if she can she tries to walk by herself.

K’yanne still can’t walk properly though and I am sad that she won’t ever be able to climb a tree.

***

Father has broken his leg due to a nasty fall on Diablo and Mother is not happy about this. She says it serves him right and Father says I’d ride him yet, that bugger.

So now Father is confined indoors. He is not happy about it because a Talon or so has been ordered to sit in with him at all times to make sure he ‘doesn’t try anything’ as Mother puts it. So far all the Talons have resisted bribery and threats with a smile and this makes Father even more bad-tempered.

One of us sit in with him in another Roster until Mother manages to get some healing potion.

Father says he thinks Mother is delaying it on purpose. Mother says maybe, but you had better not try to ride that horse again just like that.

Father has forbidden Morikan to get into the room and starts cursing colorfully whenever he does come in, something that made Lieutenant Laradar turn Red when he was sitting in with him.

***

Kalain at Kaswain’s suggestion has made, along with Nankaar, a funny wooden Instrument with strings on. It is small and its round end goes on your shoulder while your left hand holes its other end, which is long. Then your right hand holds a stick with some white cloth thing on and you pull this across the many strings on the thing.

Kalain calls it the String Instrument. It sounds very good and they are constantly improving on it.

Father says its sound is wailing and thin and high pitched and ouch, which made Mother ask him how much wine did you take last night?

Father is spending time as a wolf as night ‘cos he says at least he can walk around. During the day he still has to do the documents and since the Lieutenants are taking advantage of the Situation to talk with him about all sorts of things like the facilities for the New Building.

He also cannot burn the documents anymore ‘cos they sit in with him.

Mother is also sending up ick stuff like broth from the kitchen and Father says that she is an evil woman and she smiles and laughs and said you know why, Zaknafein.

Father says fine, he’s sorry.

Mother says that well, there’s a shortage on potions since the herbs aren’t out yet as it isn’t spring. Father is now in a bad temper again.

***

Today Taenan was talking about the history of Baldur’s Gate. Apparently there was some rich guy called Balduran who was a Sea Explorer. He got lost somewhere and his four oldest captains decided to become ruler of some village and called themselves dukes.

So now there are always four dukes who are eleck-ted by the people. I asked when the next elek-tion would be and Taenan says well when one of them dies.

So I asked when one of them would die and Taenan says well when they have an accident with a weapon or go to heaven or the nine hells heheh.

That is a long wait. If I could elek a Duke I would elek Father althought that would make him even more bad tempered and he says he’d rather burn down the ducal palace than be a duke when I asked him.

The ducal palace is a giant building that I can see from my room. It takes up half the viewing space, blocking out the large mage tower behind it. I think it is ugly compared to the Citadel.

Sometimes the Dukes send people over. These people are men who wear tights and large hats with feathers on and have rapiers, which look like knitting needles as Father says.

They bow and say stuff like ‘Greetings and Salutations, young lady’. I think they are irritating.

They come over to talk about the new building we are supposed to build, so Father tries to be nice to them, something he is not good at.

***

Father can now walk around with his staff. Apparently werewolves heal faster as Mother says.

He spends some time each day glaring at Diablo or glaring at whatever Talon is on duty accompanying him around.

Father keeps protesting he is not a child and does not need help to move around, but I am a child and I don’t need help so what does he mean?

The Talons merely smile and sometimes the Lieutenants will accompany him so that they can speak to him about problems.

Father says he hates listening to problems and says he is regretting taking over the Talons but I know he doesn’t mean it because he smiles when he says this.

Diablo is oblivious to Father’s glares and threats. The only riders he allows are the kittens, esp Morikan who occasionally sleeps in the straw in his stall.

Once Father saw Morikan riding on a Placid Diablo who was eating straw and he was not in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Mother says Father is a free spirit and does not like confinement whatever he says and she would take him for a run when his leg gets better.

***

I was out in the rain once for the fun of getting wet and Mother scolded me when she caught me and made me have a hot bath.

I kept sneezing and now she saws I have Caught a Cold. I don’t know what she means about this but my head feels hot and Father looks slightly worried.

Mother has sent for Aunt Verdana. I don’t know what a Cold looks like so how can I catch one? When I asked Father he says this is a Figure of Speech. I asked why Speech has a figure when Speech is talking and he says I give up go to sleep young lady.

***

Aunt Verdana came with all sorts of funny potions and makes me drink them. The potions taste ick.

Kalain and Kaswain are not allowed to come close to me incase they catch a cold too, but they come everyday to sit in a chair to read to me or something.

K’yanne is not allowed in the room and neither are the cats as Mother says they may Agg-Gra-Vate my Condition, but they manage to come in anyway.

I don’t know how they do it – the windows are closed and so is the door but when I wake up from a sleep at least four of them including Morikan are purring and stretching on the bed.

Aunt Verdana has given up with them and she says it may help me anyway they are not ordinary cats.

I still feel sick – I think I won’t run in the rain anymore. The Talons are sympathetic and Lieutenant Bankan brought some kind of chicken soup from his wife.

***

It is raining hailstones now that makes a Ry-Tem on the roof. Kaswain thinks it is musical and is now composing an interesting song on it. Kalain is calculating the possibility of a hailstone hitting the same part of the roof or something.

***

[top]

Month of Mirtul

It is still raining and as the month’s name means the snow is also melting. The River Chiontar has flooded parts of the lower city but not to a great extent, which Father says is highly unfortunate.

Father has started to employ people to start building the new wall around the part for the new Citadel and the Citadel now has lots of people walking in and out of Father’s Study and arguing with him.

One of them looked very frightening when I first saw him – he was tall and had a nose like a bird’s beak, and a black eyepatch over one eye. The other was a strange shade of green though not as green as Rykvaz’s.

He knelt down next to me when he saw me and said so you’re Zak’s hair, eh?

I said I had nothing to do with Father’s hair and took out my daggers.

He laughed and said young lady, you have your father’s claws, but I don’t think you’re up to beating this old man yet.

I said Father had nothing to do with claws and stepped forward with the daggers. The Talons behind me looked faintly amused and said that the man was a friend of Father’s.

The man said that let her continue she may learn a thing or two while her father is still concerned with that stonemason.

I said Father wasn’t concerned about him he told me the other day that he wanted to pay him with a large lead bar and tie him to it then drop him into the River.

The man laughed again and said that your father never changes, young lady, but you will in time.

I said that if Father won’t then I won’t either and he said well try me then. So I feinted and he tried to catch my hands but then I darted to the side and tried to stick a dagger in his boot.

The man must move faster than a snake – he was already up and standing. He said he won’t use weapons and I said that was fine with me and went under his legs to kick him in the ankle but he’d moved away so I hit the other ankle which was supporting his weight with a dagger hilt.

He let out a curse word, which I would check up later, and said didn’t Zak tell you anything about a fair fight?

I said no, Father said that the fairest fight is a fight you win and he said that he could teach me a lesson in that. The Talons that had been gathering there smiled at this even when he said fine, and drew a long, thin sword.

I didn’t think he was going to hurt me as he left me lots of gaps but I was too angry to care. A long sword’s all the easier to parry, but he still moved faster than I could.

So I threw one dagger at him that pinned his long cloak to a wooden part of the wall and kicked him in another part of the ankle that Lieutenant Bankan said was rather effective.

Then I quickly kicked the other and he fell down and said another word which I will try to remember later – though it is relatively untrue for me.

He still managed to catch one hand while the thin sword moved to me and I noticed that it didn’t seem to have a sharp edge, so I caught it with my dagger-less hand and pushed up the blade sharply so the hilt hit him on the chin.

Just when he was going to say another word Father came out of the door, then he started to laugh. The man looked injured and said, isn’t it too early to teach her these type of skills? Girls should learn how to cook.

I said I hated cooking and Mother knew how to fight so why shouldn’t I?

The man said that I was a wildcat and Zak, tell her to let go of me. Father was a spoilsport in agreeing with him – I was interesting in seeing if he could get himself out of the situation.

He pulled the dagger out of his cloak and examined the cloth with interest, then he sighed and said that’s a very good cloak you’ve ruined, young lady.

I said too bad, and Father smirked at the man and said give her back her dagger, Kurent, I have to speak to you about something.

The man gave me back my dagger and walked into the Study with Father. The Talons Conn-Gratu-Lated me on my success and Lieutenant Laradar gave me a sweet and said I may need some improvement but very well done, considering.

I asked him considering what and he said that Kurent is the Grand Master of the Thief Guild, well done, though next time try not to grab his sword because he can use lots of spells with it.

I asked what and he said that he’d heard that the sword can produce nasty spells like a shock as if lightning hit you, or make you burst into flame or turn into ice.

I asked why didn’t he and he grinned and said well, firstly he likes you, secondly he’s your Father’s good friend, and thirdly if he did your Father would kill him, Master or no Master.

***

Kurent comes regularly to talk with Father in the Study. Father says I’m not allowed to fight with him, which is unfair because I’d like to see if I could beat him.

Morikan seems to like Kurent and always greets him with a purr when he appears to go and speak to Father.

Apparently Father is using Kurent to get a good price that ‘would not Bank-Krupt me’ since Kurent is good at Bar-Gaining.

Kurent is not really happy that he is doing this for free. Father said well, remember that time when I asked you to come along for the million-dollar job?

Kurent said that you were asked to.

Father grinned and said that he could always have said that he couldn’t find you. Kurent sighed and said fine, fine, I give up. It looks like you can now put that million dollars to use and Father smiled and said that was what I was saving it up for.

My brothers and sister like Kurent as well. K’yanne always smiles at him. Kurent can play the flute very well, which Father explained as ‘criminal types are always rather artistic’, and he usually plays accompanyment to Kaswain when he is free.

As for Kalain Kurent seems rather fascinated with one device, which is the Listening Device and has asked Kalain whether a smaller one could be built.

Kalain asked why. Kurent said do you know what a safe is?

Kalain does. He says it’s a new invention by the Priests of Gond who say it is thief-proof. Kurent said not really, but the Device would help in ‘cracking’ them very quickly.

Father, who was present, started to laugh and said ‘once a thief, always a thief’ and told Kurent not to corrupt Kalain.

Kurent said that he was educationg Kalain and said, well boy, will you build it or not?

Kalain said he could, and Father said yes, for a bit of money, which we will talk about later.

Kurent looked injured and said, Zaknafein, are you intent on ruining me?

Father said no, but nothing’s free, and a job’s a job. Kurent asked Kalain whether he wanted to go along with ‘this farce’ of Father’s, and Kalain said yes so now Kurent is looking irritated.

***

Father tried to ride Diablo again and fell off, though this time did not break anything. Mother told us that Diablo is a High Breed of Nightmare and Horse and don’t try to ride him.

I asked why Father did and she said that your Father is a stubborn mule in some matters.

***

Father has finally managed to stay on Diablo for fifteen minutes but landed by crashing into the paddock fence. Diablo doesn’t seem to be trying to kill Father anymore as he only watches Father mildly until Father tries to ride him again.

Mother is worried that Father will break his neck or his back but Father says he’s going to ride that bloody horse no matter what.

Mother sighed as Father got back on. This time he almost landed up in the water trough.

***

It is still raining. The floods have risen slightly but the sewers are taking care of the problem, or that is what Father says.

***

There is a problem in Lower Baldur’s Gate. There is serious flooding and the water does not seem to be going into the sewers.

***

Someone identified the flooding as a result of a rare species of Water Elemental that has come into the City. It controls water. No one knows why this one is here. Kalain looks interested in the matter, so we asked Father whether we could go and take a look. He said no.

The twins and I went up to the WatchTower of the Citadel to take a look. The Talon spies were right – most of Lower Baldur’s Gate was flooded in knee-deep water.

There’s hardly anyone in the water except for Flaming Fist. I saw Scar, who was yelling for the Elemental to show itself or something – could not really hear him from here.

Then it did. Some of the water rose up straight and changed into a figure...well, one quarter of a figure of a lady. It looked very vague from up here but it was certainly interesting, esp when a large hand formed out of the water and went around the closest Flaming Fist.

We saw some mages clambering up onto the roof of the Elfsong Tavern and they hit the Elemental with some fireballs. The water fizzed and the Elemental let go of the Flaming Fist, then reformed somewhere else and the water rushed upward over the Elfsong Tavern to envelop the mages.

Then they disappeared. I asked the Talon on duty why no Talons were down there and he said that Father said that the fewer lives wasted the better – there are too many Flaming Fists anyway.

***

A very dressed up person visited Father today. I think his name is Shoe, or Shirt, or Pants or something. Certainly something to do with clothing. Remember him from somewhere but don’t really care.

He came out an hour later and nodded a greeting at the three of us before walking off. Father came out five minutes later in a bad temper and holding his staff, gave each of us a hug and stalked off.

Rykvaz padded in front of him and hissed. Father stopped and regarded the kitten before we could do anything, then bowed to it and contined to stalk off.

Kalain said he’s gone to deal with the Elemental, so we all went back up to the WatchTower.

We saw some Lieutenants trailing after Father but he turned around and scolded them, then they hid behind some buildings and trailed him again. Father sometimes says that unconditional loyalty is extremely irritating.

Lieutenant Laradar arrived up with us, and sat down there looking worried. We told him Father could look after himself.

Laradar said that Father’s staff has never really recovered from building the Citadel. So we watched Father walk to the rather flooded Lower Baldur’s Gate, then he abruptly turned into the large black building of the Iron Throne.

He was inside for a while then came out with a man who was holding a bluish crossbow and a bag.

Laradar said the man was Rimn and one of the current leaders of the Iron Throne. As we watched they levitated up to the building on which Scar was.

Scar called the Elemental again. Laradar tried to be helpful and said that the Elemental only seemed to Ree-Liab-Blee come when Scar called it, and Lieutenant Bankan had a very...(he paused) disturbing but Plaw-See-Ble theory about it.

The water rose up and formed into the lady again. She/It faced the building and the giant hands rose on either side.

Then Rimn held up his crossbow and shot with one single move. We couldn’t see the bolt from the WatchTower but the Elemental seemed to move backwards as if drunk.

The hands collapsed and in a roar of water the water seemed to flow backwards into the sea but the figure remained, then pitched downwards.

Father had gotten down from the building with the rest of the Flaming Fists and they gathered around the figure so we couldn’t see anything.

Then there was a short movement in the crowd and a way was cleared. Scar was half-dragging and half-supporting a lady who was only wearing Rimn’s cloak. The small procession was moving towards the Flaming Fist gaol.

Rimn went back into the Iron Throne building after talking with Father for a while, then Father walked back to the Citadel.

He stopped suddenly and seemed to say something because the Lieutenants came out from where they had been hiding. Father seems to be scolding them, but when we went back down to see them they were smiling.

Father said something about being blackmailed in this damned city and being treated like a child at his age and stalked into the Study and slammed the door.

Mother was holding K’yanne, who smiled.

***

[top]

Month of Kythorn

Lieutenant Bankan is teaching me a new move, which does not involve any weapons but your own hands.

There are spots on a humanoid body that are Cent-Sit-Tive and if you hit them in the right way with two fingers the victim will fold up.

Lieutenant Laradar says that Bankan probably grew up in a rough place and Bankan said yes, my father was a tavern keeper. I think it is useful – am waiting for Kurent to come back for a visit.

***

The skies are now always a very beautiful blue in color. Kythorn is the Time of Flowers and that is true – lots of people outside are selling them.

K’yanne seems to like flowers. She can say ‘flower’, and she always says it when she sees one. She seems to like roses, Esp one which was white at the ends and in the center a very deep red.

Father is in a good mood now because the extension is being constructed. He goes there every day with Kurent.

The Wide, where the market is, has opened and there are a lot of tents and festivities. The twins and I have been pestering Father and Mother for a few days now, and they have finally said they would take us!

Mother has to take care of K’yanne who keeps sneezing. Some think that it is an Aller-Gee to the flowers but she seems to pine and get even worse when they are taken away from her room.

Lieutenant Terry is taking us, along with a few other Talons. Father has to Super-Vice the Conn-Struct-Tion site and has given him some money.

The Wide is full of haphazard tents and stalls. Many of the stalls involve flowers and we got a few more of the white to red roses for K’yanne.

Kalain was interested by a large structure with sail-like wings at the side and a small passenger seat. He was so interested that two Talons stayed with him while we went on. Then the large ‘chamber-pipe’ organ or something interested Kaswain like that. It looks like a brown, deformed box to me, but he insisted on trying it. So a few more Talons stayed with him, and Lieutenant Terry and two more with me.

When we were stopping by the pottery display shop, something very Un-Too-Ward happened.

A tight group of robed men approached, but Lieutenant Terry didn’t bother them, thinking they were mages.

When they passed us, one of them used his staff and brought it down sharply on one Talon’s head, and about that time chaos started in full reign.

Another one pointed his staff at the crowd and lots of fireworks spurted out from it so the crowd stampeded away. Lieutenant Terry saw the other Talons that had been guarding the twins coming forward and he yelled at them to stay with the twins, then stabbed one of the robed men.

Nothing happened except a stench that reminded me of the time when the twins and I had found a pigeon in an advanced stage of dead, probably due to one of the kittens.

Lieutenant Terry reeled back and the robed figure opened its robe to show the features of a zombie.

One of them tried to grab me so I ran towards him. He was rather surprised as he probably expected me to run away screaming so I stabbed him in the ankle and kicked said ankle. When he fell down I kicked him in a spot in the head so he’d stay down, and turned around.

Someone/Something picked me up in a grip of steel, and there was lots of smoke/mist/steam and then the world seemed to jump, and we were in a damp-smelling house.

***

They finally managed to tie me in a chair though one of them has a stabbed wrist and I got another one in the belly and another in the ankles.

I had thrown enough hysterics, tantrums, screaming etc to make them put me in a room by myself other than a guard. I thought this is useful, ie, only one person to take care of. The room has thick walls.

The guard first threatened, then screamed, the begged me to stop screaming, and he stays at the other corner of the room. They don’t want to hurt me for some reason, and I got some food and water.

I don’t know how long I was in there – days and weeks seemed to pass without much notice as the house seemed perpetually dark - but the guard fell asleep after a while when I pretended to sleep and only throw a screaming fit when someone else came into the room.

I think they are afraid that someone will find out or something. I’m sure Father and Mother and the Talons are upset about this.

I was rather surprised when Morikan showed up. I don’t know how he came in, but he announced his presence by loudly mewing on the window sil.

The guard looked up and smiled, then he decided to use Morikan for target practise. I don’t think he’s an ordinary guard because sometimes there’d be knocks on the door and he’d go out to talk with them, while someone else comes in.

He has a strange dagger on the table, which he seems to take wherever he goes. It has a blade of bone and the hilt is a carved skull of some weird animal with lots of teeth. The front part of the hilt closest to the blade curves away from the blade and ends with a talon. A papery sail like wing extends from this towards the blade, then curves away to the center of the end of the hilt closest to the blade.

The other daggers that the guard leaves on the table (probably to scare me) are two ugly looking daggers, which end with a curved tip and have serrated blades. There are gems on the hilt and the blade looks like mithril.

Anyway, he takes out some smaller throwing knives and keeps aiming them at Morikan, but Morikan’s very good at dodging. Morikan keeps running and ducks behind my chair, and the guard stops.

I’d revise any views I have on his intelligence. Morikan seemed to know what to do, and he used his sharp claws to cut through a bit of rope, and the rest of the knots came free. Then he darted out for another target, causing said guard to chase him all over the room.

Somehow he Men-Oo-Vered the guard’s back to me, and I did Lieutenant Bankan’s prodding skill on him. It worked – the guy folded up like a puppet.

Morikan had ended up on the table, and was patting the skull-dagger with one paw. I climbed up to the table and took it – it seemed a logical thing to do since they took my weapons.

It was hot under the touch, but I buckled it on quickly. The belt seemed to fit, and I put the curved-tip daggers into my fur boots, which have a small pocket at the sides for dagger carrying.

Morikan was at the fireplace, and I took the jug of water and poured it on the dying flame. It hissed, and some smoke floated upwards, and I saw the blackened handholds. People sometimes send ‘Chim-Ney Sweeps’ up to clean it. It’s a bad job but has its uses.

Morikan hung on to the back of my dress and the belt while I went up the Chim-Ney. Compared to a tree it's quite easy.

I came out on the roof of a large house in the middle of what looked like a forest. It was also raining rather heavily so there were very few guards that could be seen. I took off my boots because they were leaving black footmarks and wiped away any trace that could be seen on the chimney, then tied the laces together quickly and hung them at my neck.

The house looked old. Lots of plants were growing on it, but I made my way to the ivy growing up the side. It was a hard climb and I was scratched all over but I made it down. Morikan and the boots were a bit of a weight, but through ducking in the overgrown garden bushes, shrubs and trees I made it into the line of the forest where I put on the shoes again and made a run for it.

Morikan was running in front of me as if leading the way. I must have stumbled across a forest of nettles and thorn bushes and small bogs of mud and clear streams, the forest becoming denser and denser.

I was getting sore when I met a wolf. It looked exceedingly surprised to see me, then started to lick my face excitedly. Part of its ruff was flattened as if it was used to wearing a collar, so I knew that I had found one of Mother’s brothers/sisters/uncles/aunts/cousins.

I looked around for Morikan but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen, and I had a strong idea I was not to tell anyone about his part in this.

The wolf led me through the forest until we came to a small town. We met a few more wolves on the way back and they all seemed glad to see me.

Father and Mother and the Lieutenants and some Talons and some of Mother’s relatives including Aunt Verdana and Grandfather were in the small inn. Mother ran to me and hugged me when she saw me, and she started crying and laughing at the same time.

Father eventually managed to prise part of me from Mother and gave me a kiss, then nodded to Grandfather and the Lieutenants. They walked out of the room, and Aunt Verdana smiled and said that revenge was forthcoming or something.

I was made to have a bath after Mother stopped crying, though she doesn’t seem to be able to stop carrying me.

Mother asked me how I managed to get out of the place but then Aunt Verdana said wait till the rest come back, and they both smiled. Mother asked up some food from the inn, which was much better than the food in the house.

Aunt Verdana was examining the skull knife, and she said it was a demon of a blade, where did I get it?

I said I stole it from the man guarding me, and Mother laughed. Lots of Talons are around the inn as well as three inside the room with us.

After a while lots of smoke floated up from the trees, and Aunt Verdana smiled grimly and said that’s some people getting their just desserts.

I asked her why the people took me and she said why, to blackmail your parents, of course. Your Father and Mother were very upset, and so were we, especially Grandfather.

I asked how Lieutenant Terry and the Talons who were guarding me were, and she said they were all fine but for a while they held themselves responsible but your Father gave them a talk and they gave up on that nonsense, at least.

Mother said that the people were part of a group called the Rising Star, and this was partly revenge and partly because they wanted Father to get back a jewel called the Rising Star.

Father didn’t do so but told the person who had the Rising Star that he would do so if totally necessary so the person came over. Aunt Verdana began to describe the time that had passed – a week or so, and what had happened (Nee-Go-Ciate-Tions).

I must have fallen asleep I think. I woke up in another room. Mother was still holding me but Father, Grandfather, and some uncles/cousins/aunts/sisters/brothers of Mother were there as well. All of them looked rather satisfied.

They asked me what happened and I told them, though leaving out the part about the guard. Something told me to do it, in my mind, but I heard that people who heard ‘voices’ were mad. I don’t want anyone to think I am mad.

Grandfather laughed when I said the part when I climbed up the Chim-Ney, and he said that I had spoken like the true descendant of an Acheron. I don’t know what he’s talking about.

I slept in Mother and Father’s room. When Mother slept Father turned over and said, there’s something else to this, isn’t there?

I said yes, and told him what really happened.

Father nodded and said he had suspected that – he said that that idiot silver dragon is always up to some tricks.

I asked him what he meant, but he didn’t say anything, except smiling and giving me a kiss before telling me to sleep and not do it again.

I said it wasn’t my fault, and he smiled and said no it wasn’t, but try not to give him or Mother any more frights.

I promised and he smiled and rolled over. Outside there’s an occasional call of the owl and I think I have lots to tell the twins and K’yanne when I get back.

***

[top]

Month of Flamerule

The days are long and the nights are short, and the sky’s always clear. I decided I liked this month – even when sometimes Father complained it was too hot.

Now one mage Talon will follow the twins or myself around. I suppose they aren’t taking any chances, but it’s very strange to be followed by four or five people all the time.

I’m not allowed to go very far from the Citadel either. Father says this will end when the new Citadel is built, but even then I’d only have a free run of the compound.

Speaking of building, the wall extension will be completed next month. Father has stopped any new people who want to sign up until the new Citadel opens.

Mage Talons have been going to speed up the construction, but Father has been saving up the energy of the staff for the actual building.

However so as not to overtax the staff too much the seven pillars and some of the artworks have been moved to the new site.

Mother has finally stopped trying to carry me at every opportunity. I realized I still remembered how to walk, but now every morning she’d go into my room and always looks rather relieved when I’m still there.

Kalain and Kaswain and K’yanne were ok, and life is more or less back to normal.

***

The kittens have been growing and although they are still not as large as mature cats they are doing well.

The Demon’s blade, as I call it now (thankx to Aunt Verdana) is very strange. It seems to have a ‘thirst’, as Father calls it, for letting blood and always tries to bite into anyone I am fighting with, including Father once during a sparring lesson.

The Comm-Pile-Sion is so great that it somehow leads your hand this way, and that, and so Father retired with a bleeding leg. I am not sure of it, but there seems to be a triumphant tingle whenever this sort of thing happens.

Father says it’s a dangerous dagger and I’d be better off learning swords. I said I think I liked daggers more, and he said it was my choice, but he suspected me of turning into a thief.

I said that thievery had a certain thrill in it that only fighting can equal.

Father said I’d never tried Nee-Go-See-Ate-Tion with a client, but he asked if I would like to train as a thief.

I asked how, and he said, why, Kurent could teach you, of course.

Apparently this Kurent is the leader of the Thief guild or something. We still haven’t gotten down to fighting.

***

Father has fallen off Diablo and sprained a wrist. Mother is not happy with him. Father grinned and said that breaking in a horse is exciting.

Mother said that if Father weren’t careful he’d end up breaking his neck instead.

Father said well, either I ride him or I break my neck, and Mother decided not to argue with him anymore and stalked off upstairs.

Father winked at the twins and I (who had been watching), sighed and said he has to make Dee-Plo-Mat-Tic reparations, and also went back upstairs.

I asked Lieutenant Bankan, who also had been watching, what Father meant, and he said your Father is. Before he could go on any further Lieutenant Laradar said that he was sure the children wanted to go upstairs to play and dragged the three of us up.

Lieutenant Bankan was laughing all the way if I remember correctly. Some people have so great a sense of humor that even the tiniest thing sets them off, eg if you wear your trousers under your dress.

***

K’yanne said her first sentence! She had been gravely holding a white to red rose, then she said from a cold winter blanket to the deep red of a dying sun, thy petals carry all that is soft and beauteous, but thy thorns all that is bitter and sharp.

We were all very surprised, and we didn’t say anything for a while, before Father said well that is different from the usual ‘flower’ or greeting.

Nankaar looked up from the pipe drawings he had been inproving for months and said that K’yanne will soon rival the finest bard in the land.

K’yanne seemed to think about this for a while, then she said that while music and words go together like a bee and a sweet carnation, her forte is the words of the heart, and not the soothing music of the soul.

I asked her why she’s suddenly talking like this, and she smiled and said she’d always been talking like this to N’avsh, but had never really had anything important to say to us.

Kalain said so a rose is important?

K’yanne said it depends on your point of view, because to a bee or a dancing butterfly a flower is essentially balm to a sore wound, but to the blind it is but a soft and sharp thing which he would never see and thus never judge.

Father glared at N’avsh then at Morikan, whom I was playing with, then sighed. He said he would be heartily obliged if K’yanne spoke in a normal tongue, but said he was gratified that she’s finally speaking some intelligible.

K’yanne smiled and said that what is, to one, learned speech is to another the talk of a beggar, and that only through all great unbalances on this world would the world be balanced.

Father said that this type of talk gave him a headache, and he gave her a kiss and retired to the Study.

Mother said she was proud of K‘yanne and the rest of us and K’yanne said that Mother’s love was as unbordered as that of the vast ocean, and as unconditional as a body’s obeyance to the mind.

I said that was nice, and Kalain agreed. Kaswain said that he’d like to write a song with K’yanne if that was possible and she said yes. They’re working on it now.

***

Kalain is building a ship in a bottle. The bottle is a large one with a small one inch diameter opening and the ship is large. I don’t know how he’s going to fit it in unless he uses magic, and he said it all depends on the masts.

I still don’t understand him, and went to practice with my daggers in the target practice room.

The curved daggers, which Father says are Sembian daggers and very destructive, can’t be used for throwing, but the Demon’s blade can.

The daggers that Father gave me are small enough for throwing and a bit of cloth (with the symbol of the Talons) can be tied at the hilt. I don’t know if this aids the flight or something but it looks nice. I sometimes manage to hit the target with them.

The Demon’s blade, after seeming to understand what is required of it, always flies to the center of the target even when I throw it vertically upwards. I just need to visualize it sticking in the target and throw it.

This thing requires me to concentrate and not think of chocolate or grass or skies when it is flying to the target or it will simply drop down.

The most reliable way to make it hit the target is to aim it there, but I am still not strong enough to throw a dagger correctly, even though the Demon’s blade is lighter than other daggers. I can throw stones easily though, and I keep a sling with me in case it is needed, along with a small bag of pebbles.

I can’t string the crossbow very well and it takes several tries to get the bolt on correctly. Aiming it is ok but shooting isn’t, as there is a backlash when the bolt is fired from the crossbow at great speed. I hardly hit the target and the Talons move out of the way when I try to practise.

Lieuntenant Bankan has a dummy and is demonstrating more of the spots you can hit for the other person to do other things. Lieutenant Laradar sits in with us in these sessions. He says he wants to learn but Bankan says it’s just to stop him from teaching me some of the more interesting moves that will usually make him turn red.

***

Father asked Kurent when he came whether he could take a student, namely me.

Kurent said he’d be willing to take me as a student so long as I don’t try to kick him anymore. I asked about stabbing and he said that too.

He now comes to the Citadel regularly to teach.

We are starting on pickpocketing. Kurent is very good at that and you will not feel him when he does it to you unless you are expecting it.

He says that though I seem naturally good at this my hands are still too clumsy and I need more practise.

***

Taenan is trying to teach us the finer points of maths and is failing miserably. I still don’t know what a square root is – how can a root be square? Roots are, to my knowledge, irregular.

Taenan said what about a cube of a number? Kaswain asked whether that was six times of that number and Taenan looked very sad.

Taenan says that a cube of a number is three times of that number and Kaswain asked why as a cube has six sides so it is technically logical that it is six times of a number.

Kalain said that’s the way it is. A square is two times and a cube is three times. So I asked what four times was and he said there wasn’t any term for it.

Taenan said that Kalain is right and then tried to move back to double-digit multiplication.

Incidentally this wasn’t a success either.

***

Once I was playing with Rykvaz (Morikan was in disgrace after having upset a bowl of milk over himself and was doing penance in the bedroom) while Father and Kurent were speaking about the Elemental.

Kurent smirked and said that the Elemental was getting rather fond of Scar.

Father said that well, perhaps that was why it, or she came to Baldur’s Gate in the first place.

Kurent said that he suspected Father was a romantic at heart, but Father said he was merely speculating about what brought it here. He said he certainly didn’t want to face any more of the nasty creatures.

He did ask whether Scar liked the Elemental though. Rykvaz seemed to be paying attention to this.

Kurent said well, Scar isn’t married and the Elemental’s rather beautiful, and Father snorted and shot a glance at Rykvaz. He seems to be doing this regularly to the cats. They’ve grown too large to be called kittens anymore.

Father nodded and asked when Kurent waas getting married, then smirked.

Kurent said what a horrible thought.

Father said that well, Kurent could get little Kurents, terrible as that idea may seem.

Kurent said that although he liked children as a whole, living with them did not seem very entertaining.

I asked why and said that Father always seemed to find us funny.

Kurent said that’s ‘cos you’re all an unusual lot and don’t cry and scream all the time, unlike some that he has met.

Why would some children spend all their time crying or in a state of sadness? There’s so much to living, like climbing trees and stealing pastries from the kitchen, or even simply watching Diablo canter around his paddock. That horse is beautiful. Maybe Father will ride him someday or maybe not – but for now, with a hunk of warm bread in my hand and a cool wind in my hair, I’d just sit back and watch him run.

***

[top]

Month of Eleasias

Eleasias is the month of High sun and it is rather hot. Kalain says that it won’t be that hot ‘cos we’re near the Sea of Swords.

I asked why, and he said that when it’s hot the air rises, and there is a low-pressure area. I didn’t know what he was talking about and said so.

He said remember those large floating bags above Halruaan mage ships? I said yes. The mage on it was very nice and had taken us aboard for a tour.

He said well when you heat up air it gets less dense and rises. In the mage ships the air pushes up the bags so the ships stay up. When there is less air pressing on an area there is lower pressure.

I asked so? He said the sea heats up slower and so air is denser. Wind blows from an area of low pressure to that of high pressure, so wind blows from land to the sea in the day and vice versa at night ‘cos the sea loses heat faster than the land. So summers are less hot.

I said I’d take his word for it. I asked then why aren’t winters more cold ‘cos there’s always so much wind?

He said that warm air flows as wind here, so winters are mild.

I said mild or not, snow and ice forms. Kalain frowned and said actually that should not have happened, but apparently something strange was going on in the earth. Father had said something was going to happen sometime later and he didn’t like it, so Kalain said he thought it would be something huge and magical.

I think Father will be able to deal with it, if that something magical comes after the new building is being constructed. Due to the help of the Talon mages the wall is finished and they are preparing the place.

Father took us to see it once and it is huge. It’s even bigger than the estate of Duke Entar Silvershield. Father said that the Dukes allowed this ‘cos of several services he had done for them, then he started to mutter darkly about blackmail.

The pillars are there and a large pond is being dug, the bottom laid with stuff so that the water can stay in. Father was wondering about how long the fish can stay in the pond with seven resident cats around, and said what about getting Pee-Rann-Ha fishes?

Mother said that had better be a joke. Father merely smiled.

***

Nankaar has gone back to the University of Halruaa for further research work. Kurent asked Father if this was wise and Father said yes.

Taenan says that he has tried to teach us everything he knows and has gone back to Grandfather’s place, so we are tutorless and free one more.

***

The mages are building the inner wall (facing Baldur’s Gate) with lots of magic. Father even paid a few more outside mages to help, esp someone called Ragefast, a wizard that lives near the Citadel to direct it.

Ragefast seems to me as a very boring man. He can be called ‘handsome’ but always looks so sour I wonder if he knows what the word happiness means.

Lieutenant Bankan said this is because Ragefast is in love with someone.

I said doesn’t this make him happy?

Lieutenant Laradar said Bankan, isn’t she a little young?

Bankan said nonsense she’s old enough it’s better to have some practical knowledge before you grow into THAT stage when a young child’s head is turned by a wholly Faa-Bree-Cated idea that they are important. He said that Ragefast is in love with a Nymph.

I said that Kalain said isn’t a nymph the young of a cockroach?

Lieutenant Laradar and Bankan were silent for a while, then Bankan began to laugh so loudly and strangely that Laradar quickly started to pat him on the back hard. Bankan ended off in a series of choking noises.

Bankan said well there are many words for many things but that’s a new one. He said a nymph is a humanoid, pretty female that is like a sirine but is normally very, very friendly to male humans or humanoids.

I said being friendly is good.

Laradar made strangling noises and Bankan started to laugh again.

When Bankan calmed down he said that well, that’s a different type of friendly and said that Father would probably tell me about it when I’m more interested in it.

I said that means I’m not interested in it now?

Laradar started to choke again and I wondered if he had eaten something wrong that morning.

Bankan said no, I’m not. He said it’s an adult thing, like...like...

I asked, like wine?

Bankan asked what was wrong with wine.

I said Kalain, Kaswain and I tried it once since Father seemed so fond of it in the nightime. I said we all agreed it tasted very horrible.

Bankan said in that case, like wine. I said fine then. So what was wrong with Ragefast?

Bankan said that that was the problem – he liked the Nymph and the Nymph liked him.

I said so? That’s good isn’t it?

Bankan started to cough again and Laradar pounded him on the back. When he recovered from this one he said that Nymphs can’t live in cities or they’d die, and Ragefast doesn’t like living in the forest, the Nymphs usually live about ten times or so longer than humans and don’t grow older, Ragefast doesn’t want to tie the Nymph to him, and so on, like a very badly done play.

Then he said don’t ask Ragefast about it because he’s sensitive about it and it’s supposed to be a secret.

I think I’d ask Ragefast later and tell him to forget about it. People are strange sometimes – I mean, if you really can’t have the thing forget it and get something else.

***

The outer wall is finished and Father has sold the Citadel to someone. All our possessions were put into carts, which were led to the new Citadel.

Mother asked Father why he got such a low price for the Citadel.

Father said it was twice what the Lieutenants paid for it in the first place.

Mother said well, the entire place is set in gemstones, but Father smirked and said all things go away in the end.

Mother looked shocked and said, you wouldn’t.

Father said well, he never said anything in the deal about the fittings and the furniture.

When he made sure everyone was out of the Citadel, he told the Lieutenants to clear a space around it, then he nodded to himself and raised his staff.

I don’t know why he does that. Anyway, in an instant all the gems and stuff shimmered and disappeared from the walls, the WatchTower sunk back into the ground and the dome disappeared. The arch also disappeared as well, and as we watched everything seemed to waver and fade back to what they had been before – a bunch of rather sad looking, ordinary houses.

A man pushed through the Talons and started to shout at Father. I think he was a merchant ‘cos he was fat and wearing lots of jewelry that would have added a bit to his weight. Also, Lieutenant Bankan said once that merchants value money more than their life and I could see that from the way he was challenging Father in the middle of about half of the Talons.

Father said calmly that he didn’t say anything about gemstones.

The merchant was flustered and said that was supposed to come with the house.

Father said prove it, and the merchant started to scream at him again until the Lieutenants shuffled closer. All the clinking of chain mail and steel-soled boots must have brought him back to his senses, and he ran away threatening Father with a lawsuit. Father just shrugged.

Mother said that was not very nice of Father and Father said he never claimed to be a nice person.

***

We were going to walk to the new Citadel. Father gave up trying to hold Diablo (he’d given up about the reins earlier) but was rather irritated to find that Diablo submitted to K’yanne holding his lead rope (a lasso around his neck).

I haven’t been out in the city lately and I found it as fascinating as always – all the slitted windows that are easy for arrow shooting, the tall, narrow houses, the strange miasma of lamp oil and refuse that made up most of the air of the city, and the colorful noblemen and noblewomen that were in Upper Baldur’s Gate.

Lower Baldur’s Gate was even more interesting. Drunk people tottered around occasionally, and there would be, now and again, a cheerful exchange of language even fouler than Lieutenant Bankan’s between a pretty girl and a young man. Loud and harsh laughter came out from taverns and we saw more and more seagulls as we moved on towards the harbor.

The cats either rode on the carts or on Diablo’s back, hissing fiercely at the various stray dogs lying down in the streets, their ribs showing on tattered fur.

Morikan had insisted that I carry him by continually butting my legs until I picked him up, and appeared to have fallen asleep. I thought he would be a weight as I was already carrying the Demon’s Blade and two of Father’s throwing daggers (the Sembian ones were in my box on the cart) but he wasn’t. It was like carrying a feather.

Once a bony, fierce, one eyed and one eared dog padded out of an alley to bark at me and Morikan. Morikan woke up and turned to regard the dog gravely with his silvery eyes, then bared his teeth. The dog whimpered and slunk off with its tail between its legs.

I am beginning to have suspicions about these cats.

Mother was asking Father whether Lower Baldur’s Gate would be really good for us children and he said well, they’d be exposed to this type of depravity sooner or later if they continue to ‘enjoy’ civilization, so it doesn’t make much difference if they learn about it now.

So long as they don’t start to like it, Mother pointed out, and Father said there’s that, too.

Kalain and Kaswain are looking bored. They would be happier indoors with their stuff, but K’yanne, who had refused to ride on a cart or a horse and was walking on supported by a provided staff was looking around, her grave eyes taking in everything quietly.

I asked her what she thought of it and she said it was interesting what the word civilization meant and seemed to mean, and that the more humans were packed together the stranger they became.

Rimn joined us when we passed the Iron Throne place along with Kurent. They said they were going to watch the fun.

Father talked with them about all sorts of stuff like what the building would look like and where things would be built. He said he was going to include all the stuff that had to be built into the walls or floor so that nothing would be ‘knocked’ up. More furniture would be bought later. Kurent said he could help Father with that, and Father said thank you, free?

Kurent said no.

Father said what percent?

Kurent said ten?

Father said he was thinking about five.

They argued about this until we reached the inner wall.

***

The old wall had been knocked down and a new one had been magically constructed. Apparently Ragefast had some spells for that – he seems to be a smart person, and he does like Kalain. Once he invited us to his mage tower. Kaswain, K’yanne and I found it boring but Kalain seemed to love it.

The mage tower has a huge tube that stretches through the ceiling. Ragefast said it was a Tele-Scope or a Farseer and it could see the stars. Kalain spent some time with it.

Ragefast also has lots of maths science and magic books, and Kalain borrowed lots of these. The only thing I found interesting was the large metallic ball thing with all the planets on. They all ticked on and on mechanically due to some gears (as Ragefast said) and they were accurate. Kalain loved that too.

Kalain wishes he could have such a room and Father said well, fine, go and design one yourself and I’d try to get it built, though all the furniture will have to be bought.

That was the reason why Kalain has been spending all of Ragefast’s free time. He has been asking Ragefast what books are good to get, what stuff are good to have, and Ragefast once told Father that Kalain could become a very successful interrogator.

***

The new inner wall is a network of metal stuffs that look flimsy but isn’t. People can see what’s going in inside. The top of the metal is spiked, and there are several large gems stuck now and again in the metal.

Father said that through the gems potential burglars would be spotted, and anyone trying to climb or fly over the gate without authorization would be electrocuted – an invention of Kalain’s.

Kurent said that Father was not playing fair and Father said that’s good, get your thief spies out of my Talons, thank you – I know one of them is the scullery boy and he has been given notice. Wouldn’t like him to be electrocuted.

Kurent sulked until we went through the rather complicated gates into the large compound. Grass was growing as well as the trees, which lined the sides of the large courtyard, its borders neatly graveled. Other than that the courtyard was grass, unlike the old one. Father said this is to soften people falling down.

Where buildings should be have been marked with some sort of paint and the greenery cleared from those areas. The large malachite pillars are already up. Morikan and the cats have gone to chase birds, with the exception of Shoshuna, who Kaswain is carrying.

There is a large pond behind the courtyard, actually two rectangular ponds with a path in the middle. The marked areas for buildings are behind them.

The stables have been built, and K’yanne and some Talons led Diablo to them as well as the other Talon horses, then came back out.

Father was studying Kalain’s building plans – drawn by Kaswain, then he nodded and raised his staff, which flared brightly like a new sun. There was a loud rumble then the ground fractured where the marked areas were.

The cats came back lazily, and Morikan sat next to Father. It seemed to me that the staff became even brighter.

The main building – directly in front of the path between the ponds, had the pillars in front of it. The dome from the old Citadel was on it, and the building was the same comfortable and beautiful shade of light red-brown stone as the old Citadel. The steps were still onyx, and the windows were still archery spots.

The building behind that was taller still, and at the top was a large bell or bells – I decided to go up and check soon. The building on the left of that was a serviceable one, near the stables.

Lieutenant Qayin said that Father had explained all this to them already and said that that building was the dormitory. The student rooms were lower down and closer to the stables for their little jobs. He said our rooms were on the last floor with the guestrooms, probably the best rooms.

I said no they’re probably as good as yours, with a few modifications. Mine was the one with the large tree growing such that the branches were very near the windows, Kaswain’s one was the one built such that it had a correct amount of sunlight every hour and Kalain’s was the one with the large telescope sticking out of the roof, a recently arrived (teleportation) present from Halruaa.

The Citadel is beautiful. The buildings on the right are ‘classrooms’ and miscellaneous stuff, including a larger kitchen. In front of it, in the space between the main building and that building, is a large stone Amph-Phi-Thee-Ater.

Father nodded to himself when he finished – half an hour’s work. The staff’s light winked out and he said that it’d have to refil for at least a few years before it can light a match.

I felt rather sorry for it but Father said it’s a few years’ rest where it won’t be insulting him. Kalain asked about the pipes and Father said now that that’s done, he’d be buying furniture, everyone go and make yourselves useful.

I went and climbed the large tree outside my room with Morikan. It’s an old one with lots of branches and handholds, and several animals living in and on it. Climbing right to the top, I can see over lots of Lower Baldur’s Gate and part of Upper Baldur’s Gate, and looked out over the sea, the waves looking just like a bit of vibrating, brilliant blue silk.

***

[top]

Month of Eleint

The last bit of last month was spent with lots of Talons running around the place Organizing, so I have spent most of my time with Morikan in the Tree outside my window. It’s a good place to climb and there’s a place near the center of the crown where there are three branches parallel to each other, so I put several large cushions there and roped up the place until it looks like a makeshift rope basket.

This is a good place to sleep, hide, eat, or just to watch the Talons running around. The leaves seem to cover the place rather well, and I have chosen cushions with dark colors. I have called it the Hollow.

From what we (K’yanne, Kalain, Kaswain and I) have heard, Father is opening the place into a sort of training school with levels in it (lowest is First year, highest is well, Seniors or Tenth year). Students will get a bit of money on weekdays to go out into Baldur’s Gate.

All the Talons now are Graduates. When the new students graduate they will have to serve the Talons for six years with pay, then can either ‘get lost’ as Father puts it, or stay to become permanent Talons.

The new students are coming in tomorrow and they will be fifteen to seventeen years old. Father shocked Lieutenant Bankan by saying that girls are also allowed in and will be given equal treatment.

Bankan said girls? Fighting?

Mother happened to be there and she said what is the matter, Bankan?

Bankan muttered something then retreated under Mother’s stare. I think that Mother will be able to outstare Rykvaz if she tries.

Father said that they’d be allowing in students from all walks of life, including other countries, and ‘agents’ have been sent to go tell the other countries. He said that there will be a limited number of students that they will accept.

Lieutenant Qayin asked how many?

Father said there would be a hundred per level, but as the School is just starting it would be only three hundred in the school now. Seventeen years old start at Third year, Sixteen at Second and Fifteen at First.

Laradar said it sounded Amm-Bit-Xious. Father said just so.

Kalain said let’s go look at the new students when they come tomorrow. Kaswain said where? I said in the tree, of course – we’d help K’yanne up.

***

It was rather slow getting all four of us out of my window unseen into the tree, but we made it half an hour before the supposed time and spent it putting more cushions in the Hollow, as well as drinks and food. Father was going to give a lecture, we had heard.

Some students came in early. The gates were wide open and they sort of wandered around the courtyard looking around.

Those from Lower Baldur’s Gate were wearing their best clothing, the least tattered shirts and such. Those from Upper Baldur’s Gate came on time, the carriages stopping outside the gate.

Some of them wore robes – the mages-to-be or the healers, probably. Some carried weapons which would be confiscated by Father later. All of them wore very colorful and expensive clothes in all sorts of colors.

All the noble girls seem familiar. I asked K’yanne and the twins about them and they said don’t you remember? They’re our Older Cousins. They are talking loudly and obviously having lots of fun.

There are about ten or so other girls but they are all from Lower Baldur’s Gate. They gradually began to approach the Older Cousins, and then all of them started chatting together. The boy Older Cousins are trying to impress the girls who are laughing at them, by doing tricks with their weapons, or just walking around.

After a while the Lieutenants came out of the Main Building and called the students to order, then separated them into the three age groups. While they were doing this a few more carriages pulled up at the gates, and Nankaar stepped out of the first, followed by a few more mages, and also Ragefast and the other really rich wizard in Baldur’s Gate, Ramazith. Ragefast and Ramazith are not talking to each other – Bankan said they hate each other.

People are weird.

Taenan came out of the last carriage, paused, walked over below our tree, waved up to us, then hurried off after Nankaar and the rest. We keep forgetting that he’s also a werewolf.

***

After the lot of them settled down and all the mages and Nankaar disappeared into the buildings, Father walked out wearing full armor plus swords. He nodded at the whispers (Probably ‘Drow!’. I mean, isn’t it obvious that he’s a dark elf? One doesn’t need to get excited about it) then clapped his hands.

Silence fell as Father began to talk. He first said that now that they are all divided into age groups they would be further divided into Houses.

A Lieutenant would lead each House: Lieutenant Warrenn would lead Manticora Red House, Terry would lead Dragon Green house (at this point Morikan, sitting beside me, let out an angry hiss. From here Father looks like he’s smirking.) Qayin would lead Griffin Blue house, Bankan would lead Hralwayin Black house, and Laradar would lead Saur Yellow house.

Morikan hissed at Rykvaz who looks smug. I scolded both cats and they settled down.

Kaswain said he didn’t know what all the animals are except for Griffin and Dragon.

K’yanne said well, a Manticora is basically a giant lion, with a man’s face and a scorpion’s tail, it is intelligent and can speak.

A Hralwayin is a dark unicorn. It has red eyes and is black all over including its horn. Its feet, instead of cloven hooves, are claws, and it has canines. It is more intelligent than a unicorn and can also speak, and thus can cast some spells. K’yanne said that if it was a battle between Unicorns and Hralwayin she would bet on the latter, but they were supposed to have become extinct from this earth hundreds of years ago during the war with the dark elves.

K’yanne said that she doesn’t know why she knows what a Saur is since it doesn’t exist on this world. It is a human sized reptile with powerful hind legs and a long tail and a long snout with powerful jaws. Its front claws are two-toed and weak, but on each foot is a very large sickle-shaped talon. They are also intelligent and most of them (on the worlds they are on) are scholars instead of warriors.

Kaswain said it made sense. All the animals were intelligent and could speak and all of them involved either have claws or talons. Cool.

Kalain said that this explained why Father sectioned up the rooms and why he insisted on having five stairways at regular parts in the dormitory.

Father was now talking about what the Talons stood for (money, then good causes), what they would be learning (magic for mages and weapons for warriors and healing for healers).

Then he spoke about the Rules (we fell asleep around here) and lastly (here’s when we woke up) about where and how they would be roomed (First years on the first level and so on, bunks in one large room, both girls and boys together).

He handed them over to the Lieutenants, bowed, and wished them an enjoyable stay.

***

We don’t see the Students during meals – all the Years eat separately, the Talons and Lieutenants eat together, Father, Mother and us usually eat together but sometimes with either groups.

Nankaar is teaching Science. Taenan is teaching History. One of the Halruaan mages called Kaaln is teaching Math, one of the mages called Kilaan teaching Potions and Practical application, one of the mages (on closer inspection, was not a mage but a female cleric of Lathander) called Mykaana teaching First aid (bandages, setting bones and stuff).

Ramazith is teaching Defensive magic and Ragefast is teaching Offensive magic.

The Lieutenants and some Talons, having been taught by Father before, are teaching the weapons classes. I always watch these.

The Citadel is now even noisier, esp at night when the students stay up late and rowdy until the Lieutenants go around yelling for people to shut up. Father says he can’t get any work done with the noise going on, but there are more weird people looking for Father with jobs to do now.

***

Father is not very happy with Grandfather. He said, why didn’t Grandfather tell him that Diablo was intelligent?

Mother said it’s obvious unless you are blind.

Father said he’s not blind to his knowledge, but he wasn’t meaning animal intelligence, but sentient intelligence, although he is also certain that the two words do not often go together.

Mother said it’s half nightmare, what do you think?

Father said he’d never met a nightmare before, so how was he supposed to know? And why didn’t K’yanne tell him about it?

K’yanne said she thought he knew. He said he didn’t. She said too bad and smiled. Father asked her if she had been having private lessons with Bankan. She said no, it’s Father’s influence.

Father looked annoyed then as he does, he ignored what K’yanne said. I asked what happened.

Father said that he had caught K’yanne talking to Diablo, and Diablo was answering back. It looked like K’yanne understood what Diablo was saying ... (K’yanne said she did at this point, didn’t everyone?) ... stop it, daughter, and Grandfather never told him about this.

I asked him, so?

Father said that well, if Diablo was that intelligent he could reason with it instead of trying to break it.

Mother said don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy trying to break your neck.

Father said well he did but this would have been shorter.

Later I saw Father riding Diablo around the courtyard, saddleless and bridleless. Apparently he was right. Diablo only tried to bite him when he got off and never kicked.

***

Eleint is the moth of the Fading, and there are a few more out of season flowers in K’yanne’s room. They are beautiful and smell good, though some make me sneeze. Kaswain is drawing them.

Kalain, now that he has dropped his pipes, is starting on something else. He is always secretive when he does that, and is locking himself in his room often, coming out just to take in glue, bits of wood and cloth and nails etc, then locking himself in again.

K’yanne spends her time composing poems and visiting the non-warrior teachers or Professors (tentative suggestion from Taenan). And watching Kaswain draw.

As for me, Father has not allowed me to sleep in the tree. I practice my daggers myself now as I will only be seriously learning them when I reach age fifteen and become a first year student. I still watch the lessons, though.

The students go around either in robes or in chain mail, and all of them have a band on their left wrist with the color and symbol of their house. We support the Talons and not specific houses, so we greet all of them when or if we pass them, which is rarely. We use the Tree for coming up and down, including K’yanne, who does it slowly but faster than she could climb stairs. N’avsh always seems to be helping her climb the tree.

There is more food in this month as the harvests are being done in the countryside. Father has gotten some new wine and was opening a bottle to celebrate when Mother caught him. Now he spends some of his free time trying to find out where she put it.

The strange weather is continuing – now it is raining heavily outside with lighting and thunder. The sky is a dark uniform gray, and the branches are lashing against the windows. We are all in Father’s and Mother’s large bedroom. I’m writing my diary, Father is holding K’yanne in a chair and seems to have fallen asleep, Mother is watching Kaswain play and lose chess to Kalain. Life is good – even if you notice the shouts and laughter from the floors below.

***

[top]

Month of Marpenoth

Marpenoth is the Month of Leafall, and all the trees around are a riot of beautiful red and gold. The students are being made to sweep up the leaves that are falling, and I feel slightly guilty that the Tree is shedding like a dog with a bad case of mange.

It’s still beautiful. Kaswain has moved from drawing flowers in K’yanne’s room to drawing the Tree in mine, but he doesn’t mind me practicing darts on the dartboard.

The Lieutenants and Father have thought of a game that all the students can play, and I am watching them explaining while Kaswain is calling to me not to put my foot there or it will appear in his painting. I said that would be funny but he said it was not.

***

From what I see, the opposing teams will be of the same age and of any sex, so long as anyone wants to play, they can form a team. There are six in each team, with four reserve players, with a large rectangular portion of the courtyard to be the game field. Later the best ten in a House will be selected to be the official House team.

At the ends of the field there is a rectangular frame that is about thirty-cm higher than a human and many times his/her length. This is called the Goal.

Two players of the team will be called the Riders, and they’d ride horses and hold sticks with a large cotton wad at the end soaked in black paint.

One player will guard the Goal, called the Guard. He will not ride a horse and neither will the remaining three players, technically called Players.

The objective of the game is to kick a ball through the rectangular frame, scoring one point. Only the Players can kick the ball through the opponent’s goal, and the opponent’s Guard can use his body/hands/feet to try and prevent that.

Diablo plays in this game – Father explained the rules and what it was supposed to do to it four times. It seems to understand. Diablo will wear a light white blanket on its back, secured comfortably by straps. Its job is to try and touch (touch only, no biting, as Father warned it) the Players, thus putting them Out of the game.

When a Player is Out, a Reserve may come in to take his/her place, but when all the Reserves are used up, then too bad, as Father put it.

The game ends after an hour (with a break after half an hour) or when one team runs out of Players.

Since Diablo is a horse (well, half a horse) and can run faster than a Player, that is where the Riders come in. They have to try and drive off Diablo from their own players to the other team by using the long poles with paint on the ends. They can use the sticks to ‘touch’ Diablo’s blanket, leaving a black spot. When Diablo has twenty black spots, it is out of the game and the game will continue (players probably all breathing a sigh of relief) without it, or any replacement.

It looks fun, so I have convinced the twins and K’yanne to go down and watch the opening match. The students have so far formed their own teams within their Houses, and horses have been given to them (or lent, actually) by Father, four horses to a House. The first match is a Dragon team versus a Manticora one.

***

The Houses have spent the weekend practicing. The Talons have given out flags and uniforms, and have also built up a makeshift stand, with one row of seats higher than the other so that everyone can get a good view. Ragefast and Ramazith strenghtened the rickety thing magically. Father, Mother, the Lieutenants, and us get front seats.

The Houses sit in their own sections, and are all wearing their uniforms (colored surcoats with House symbol over chain mail or colored robes with symbol) and everyone is laughing and placing bets, especially Lieutenants Warrenn and Terry.

It looks rather pretty – five blocks of colors and laughter. In the front of each section a boy will wave the large, gold rimmed flag of his House, the smooth wood pole longer than himself.

Father smiled to us and then wandered off to the stables. Some students saw him and started talking excitedly. Apparently when Father brings out Diablo, the teams that are playing now will follow him back to the playing field/courtyard and the game will begin.

After a few minutes Father appeared leading the black half nightmare. Diablo is wearing a silver-gold bridle with tassels and bells, and his/its tail has been done up. The blanket has been strapped on with soft leather, but is otherwise very ordinary. His hooves have been newly shod with an alloy of mithril and adamantite, which looks pretty but which Father says cost him a lot of money.

The two Dragon Riders lead the Dragon team, wearing green surcoats, one guy riding Felicity, a good-natured dapple-gray mare, and the other riding Fortune, a restless bay gelding. I spend lots of time in the stables.

Beside the Dragon team is the red Manticora one. The Riders also are leading the team in, one riding Lady, a roan mare with a tendency to kick, and the other riding Blaze, a white, powerful gelding.

They come to cheers in the crowd. We picked up a few organized cheers – apparently the Houses haven’t only been practising the game, or Game, as it is called. No one has bothered with a name.

The playing field’s borders and middle line has been marked out in straight, white lines and the Goals have been put up. The Guards moved to their Goals, with their team’s players in front of them. Two Players stand at the circle in the middle line, and throw dice to see who goes first. Apparently it’s Dragon team.

Father led Diablo to the end of the centerline closest to the spectators and waits while Lieutenant Qayin, who is Referee of the match and on the blue roan mare Grace, blows his whistle. The team who starts first gets to kick the ball first.

Father takes off the reins and dumps them on the ground, and I can hear him telling Diablo to touch the Players and not bite them or kick them, and don’t attack the Riders. And remember to try and touch the Player that is actually in possession of the ball instead of sticking to one Player like a limpet.

Qayin blows his whistle and Father gives Diablo one final pat on the back. Diablo bumps Father with his muzzle and streaks off to the nearest player, but is blocked by a Rider.

***

The Manticora team won the Dragon team 3-1. Both sides used up their Reserves, and Diablo emerged from the match with only eleven black spots. He looked rather smug.

The students retired chattering to the dorm for a break then for lunch/lessons. Lieutenant Bankan has asked Father why the last five levels for the Fifth to Tenth level students of the future are missing, and Father said well since it’s going to be about three years till anyone is going to use them, we won’t build them yet.

The game in the late afternoon will be a Hralwayin team versus a Griffin one, but already Lieutenants Bankan and Qayin are laying bets.

***

We decided to go down to see the Players for the evening match practice. The Riders of both teams are using a normal horse for practice as Father didn’t allow them to use Diablo, who is eating a reward of apples fed to him by K’yanne for strength. The students say this is a pity because Diablo is more intelligent and avoids the stick easily. Father has not allowed Diablo to catch the stick in his teeth, so it is slightly easier but not by much.

The Players have a longer lunch break so they can practice longer if they liked. Kalain watched with us for fifteen minutes then went to get some glue and wood and went back up to his room.

We still don’t know what he’s building but respect his secrecy. We don’t have anything to lose anyway, and he enjoys it.

Many of the Riders are nobles as it is compulsory for them to ride. The students have noticed that all horses don’t like the werewolf cousins, so the cousins are Players.

***

It’s the last few days of Marpenoth and the official teams have been voted in. The first match is Saur versus Griffin, and Laradar and Qayin are laying bets, the loser having to buy a round of beer for the winner at the tavern of the winner’s choice.

So far I think the Hralwayin team is the strongest. K’yanne favors the Griffin team, which is Ok, and Kaswain the Dragon team, which is picking up from its first defeat a long time ago. It is going to be a close match.

***

The Dragon team has won, and Morikan is looking very smug. All the Lieutenants have to buy Lieutenant Terry a drink.

***

The Game is now just entertainment after the competition, with the students making up all sorts of rules. It now looks even more entertaining, with both sides cheating at the same time. Diablo plays in every one. He seems to enjoy it – Father says that he has a sadistic streak.

The weather has become very cold and Father says it may soon snow. Many people in Baldur’s Gate are hysterical about this fact for some reason.

Father says that although it is not natural, he does not know what it is, so we’d all ignore it, shall we?

***

There is the problem of individual bandit bands around the main roads, and the Dukes have paid Father to get Talons to patrol them, so about two-thirds of the paid Talons are gone. Father told them all to come back at Winter’s Tide, avoid other sorts of trouble, and keep their ears open.

The last one-third is ‘just in case’, as Lieutenant Warrenn puts it.

The Tree has shed most of its leaves and I have taken away the cushions. Birds and squirrels are busy building nests and I have banned the cats from going to the tree.

***

[top]

Month of Uktar

Uktar is the exam month, and is fitting that it’s also known as the Month of the Rotting. The students spend most of their free time studying or sparring on the courtyard.

Exams for Warriors are a sparring match with Father or the Lieutenants, so that would take longer than the exams for mages or healers. They also have to have an archery test, a dagger throw test and a riding test.

Mages have to perform spells one by one in front of the various Halruaan mages or Ramazith or Ragefast and do a mathematical/scientific paper.

Healers have to heal something and do a paper on potions and pratical use of herbs. All of them have to take a test on history.

The warrior exams have started already with the first levels. I have no idea how they are judged, but the marks come out all the same, on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10, with criteria for technique, response etc.

It is not interesting to watch and I am more concerned about the Tree. Most of the leaves have fallen except for a handfull, and it seems to me that it is about to sleep.

Birds have built nests in the hollows and I have been leaving some materials on my windowsil for collection, eg a few feathers from the pillow, warm fluff from the healer supply of cotton wool and some straw from Diablo’s stable.

My favorite residents are a family of Tawny Owls. The mother and father alternate going out for food. The babies are covered in white fluff and look like deformed cotton balls. They are very noisy, but the parents are beautiful – their brown gold coats and piercing amber eyes, the coat shading to a delicate white at the legs which are sheathed in a winter coat of down.

I am hoping for the babies to grow up so I can catch one. Thus I also leave food in a tray I have balanced on a few branches for the family.

K’yanne seems to be able to understand what they are talking about and she says that they appreciate the food. I have left out other kinds of food (stolen from the Kitchen) for the squirrels and other birds. Morikan looks irritated everytime I put out food for the birds.

***

A light snow fell overnight. The weather is ‘going crazy’, as Father says, and he has taken to putting his swords under his bed at night for easy reach, and glaring at all the cats when they pass him.

Mother says that something is going to happen soon, but both of them don’t know what it is.

***

Kurent came at night in the disguise of an old man, but in the Study Father closed the doors and asked him what in the nine hells is he doing now.

I sat up from where I had been playing with GrayWolf near the fireplace. I have been keeping an eye on the cat ever since I found him eating the meat left out for the owls. Morikan and Rykvaz have been locked in Kalain’s room, and N’avsh and Belnarath are being taken care of by K’yanne. Shoshuna is with Kaswain, but I never worry about her.

Kurent said that he was only visiting.

Father said ha, you never visit, you rogue, unless you are in trouble. Now what have you gotten into now?

Kurent said his feelings are hurt.

Father smiled and said in that case go and look for Gamier now.

Kurent said fine, fine, and he needs a room for the time being because the Thief Guild is being renovated, and this would allow him to give me more frequent lessons. Our lessons had been cut short somewhere at the end of Eleasias as Kurent went on ‘a trip’.

Father said what have you stolen now?

Kurent looked uncomfortable then looked around the room.

Father said the room was magically soundproof and now what?

Kurent nodded and then handed over a necklace to Father. It had a light silvery chain that looked like mithril, and a large brown-gold jewel pendant, that had a burnished look except for the dull fire that seemed to throb in the interior. Strands of thin mithril encircled the rough jewel, which was the size of a large marble.

Father looked at it critically, then said well, the Stone of Wings does not have that much value such that you would be Praw-Xe-Cuted to this extent.

Kurent said that his client would be here soon to take it then he would go.

Father said that we’ve been friends for too long for you to hide things from me. You may have stolen the Stone at the same time as you stole the other thing, or you may not have, but you had better tell me what else you stole or you will be escorted out of the Citadel.

Kurent said why?

Father said that he had to know whether the other thing would have an Add-Verse effect on the Citadel and the Talons.

Kurent said no, then he said he gave up, and handed over what looked like a blue marble to Father. I felt GrayWolf struggle, but held him down. GrayWolf is very good at making messes.

Father looked at the marble and his eyes widened, then narrowed and he said Kurent, do you know what this is?

Kurent said yes, it was the Life Seed.

Father said this must be the worst trouble you are in yet, my friend.

Kurent said he knew.

Father looked at the marble for a while, then he sighed and said he supposed that Kurent could stay and did anyone see him come in?

Kurent said it was dark and only the Talons at the gate did, and Father nodded, saying that Kurent could have a guestroom, but he was not to show himself to anyone at any time.

Kurent nodded as Father rang for a Lieutenant. Lieutenant Terry took Kurent to the room as Father gave the Seed back to him.

I asked Father what the Life Seed was.

Father said that all galaxies are formed from one. It is a very dense ball of stuff, and when a galaxy dies it somehow will expand violently and take its place. Somehow someone on this world had found the Life Seed that would be the galaxy to take the place of this one.

I said so? If this galaxy dies then the Life Seed will have no use to us.

Father said it’s not so simple as that. When our galaxy dies we will die also but the Life Seed will continue. If you can tie your life to the Seed such that it gives a little of its potential power to you you can live until the galaxy of the Life Seed ends, which is a long time.

I said what for?

Father shrugged and said humans are strange.

I said I meant that the longer you lived the more decrepit you became.

Father said really?

I said Father wasn’t decrepit yet and he said thank you very much, but the Life Seed was slightly unique in the fact that the eternal life it offered was eternal youth, and if tapped correctly you could also have power to rival that of a god.

I asked what if it was tapped wrongly?

Father said you’re full of questions today, young lady. Then he said that well, the Life Seed would expand while this galaxy still is here, and both galaxies will explode to form, probably, an immense Hole that sucks everything into it, including the other galaxies.

I told this to the twins and K’yanne later and Kalain immediately went to find Kurent.

Who had paid Kurent to get such a thing? I only hoped that the person was Elminster, the only person I know who seems suitable for this, but when I asked Kurent about this later he gave me a narrow look and said a certain rich Duke somewhere had.

I said what if this Duke found out how to use the Seed?

Kurent said that was none of his business. He said a thief is a thief, and if you have no moral compunctions you would live happier and be more successful, and that is a lesson to you, young lady.

I said that I wouldn’t like this galaxy to die.

Kurent said airily that someone would stop it. None of the gods would like the galaxy to die either and heaven knew it had been threatened so many times in history already.

I decided to eat in my room and think. Neither Father nor Kurent seemed to care, and later I called for a meeting of the twins and K’yanne.

I asked Kalain about the galaxy. He said that it was infact very dense stuff and he thought what Father said was true.

Kaswain said that we should prevent the Seed from going to any person in the Realms, even ourselves. K’yanne agreed. I asked what about Elminster?

K’yanne said that one was all very well, but how were we supposed to get to him?

I noticed that all the cats were in the room, and they are in a rough circle around us watching us carefully. I walked over and picked up Morikan, and looked at the others, then said Morikan would be the messenger.

Kalain nodded and said that was a good idea. I said did all of you notice they’re not very normal cats?

Kaswain said that was obvious. K’yanne smiled and said that was because they are incarnations of the seven World-Makers.

That seemed to make sense – why Father refused to go near them, and all their different personalities. I said maybe we should give the Seed to them, but then Morikan did a strange thing – he shook his head. The other cats also did so.

Kalain said the Seed had to remain on this world. So we wrote a short message to Elminster telling him about the Seed and what is happening, tied it to Morikan’s neck, then let him go. Morikan turned his silvery eyes to us and the eyes changed in an instant to a deep black with pinpoints of white, like a starry night in the midst of winter. Then he ran off out through the door.

***

Nothing seemed to happen for two weeks, but Father always nodded absently when we passed, as if he knew something and was thinking about it. I don’t know how he does this, but he must have some strange selective spying system in the Citadel.

Kurent continued to hide in his room and have his meals brought to him by a few Talons.

Elminster came after these two weeks, in his red cloak and hat, at the gate. The Talons on duty admitted him to the Study, where K’yanne had been reading a new book. She told us what happened:

Elminster asked to see Kurent, and Father said that Kurent is in Sembia.

Elminster said that he knew Kurent was in the Citadel and could fetch him now if Father liked, and Father sighed and asked Lieutenant Qayin to fetch Kurent.

Kurent came in with an air of suspicion, but Elminster nodded at him and said that the Praw-Xe-Cution would end as he has spoken to Him. Kurent said that he was indebted to Elminster.

Elminster said that the Duke has agreed that Kurent was to hand over both stolen items to him (Elminster).

Kurent said gladly, and gave the marble and the necklace to Elminster. Elminster nodded and pocketed the marble, but looked carefully at the Stone of Wings. Then he gave it to K’yanne and asked her to give it to me. He smiled at K’yanne when he said this, and said that caring for a world is the most practical and sensible thing a person could do.

Kurent said what are you talking about?

Elminster smiled and said that everyone had his or her secrets, then he left. Kurent nodded to Father and said he would stay on for a few days then leave as well, and thanked him for his help.

The necklace seems to work – I can hear and understand what the birds are saying or doing, and I can call them to me. The Stone is different in which I can’t seem to command the birds to do anything but I can speak to them. I see what K’yanne means by saying that she is always surrounded by friends – all the animals she meets like her as the birds like me, their benefactor. This isn’t a boast or something self-righteous, but a fact.

It does get noisy when they started calling for specific types of food. And I still cannot understand the squirrels.

Kurent said that the Stone is a powerful tool for thievery, and told me to practice with it, especially on small birds. I don’t know – I still like the owls.

The cats have more milk than usual tonight, a present from us for a job well done.

***

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Month of Nightal

The students can choose whether they would like to stay over for Winter’s Tide or go home. The cousins are staying until Winter’s Tide, as Grandfather and some relatives are coming over for the city’s Winter Festival. The nobles go home for the month in their carriages and the Halruaan mages have left, except for Nankaar. Ragefast has gone but Ramazith has been persuaded to stay.

Lieutenant Bankan is the only Lieutenant that is going home for the month.

Some of the students from Lower Baldur’s Gate have gone home, except for those that say they have no home to go to, and so stay in the Citadel.

I think that is sad, but I am now only putting out food for the birds. The squirrels have gone to sleep, and anyway I realized they just pushed all the food they could in their mouths during Uktar and dumped it in their holes.

The owls are going well. The father’s name is ShadoWing, a common owl name, and the mother is NightBreeze. The babies will not be named until they become adults. The other birds also have different names. I have given up asking the robin to come out - he says it is his duty only to do so when spring comes. Some birds are strange.

***

The city is preparing for the festival - many decorations have been hung around the city and plays have been taking place in the theatres or even on the street in the cold. The Talons that have gone out have all returned, and the place is still as noisy as ever even with most of the students gone.

Kaswain is now painting the tree with branches of snow. Kalain says it really shouldn’t be snowing, but the weather is still mad, and anyway it’s rather pretty.

Kalain has showed us what he had been working on - a large device with outstretched sail wings - one large pair and one slightly smaller one immediately behind the large pair. It resembles an ornate kite.

Below the wings that are longer than Lieutenant Terry, the tallest Lieutenant, is a sling like support for a person to lie facedown on. It even has a rest for the head. Below the sling, in good position for the arms, is a device, which Kalain calls the hand-pedals. There is one for each hand and it can be turned in circles quickly. This pedal runs in a series of ‘gears’ to the wings, causing them to flap a hundred or more times faster than the pedal is run.

Kalain said this is inspiration from watching dragonflies. The wings can also be locked in a straight position such that the device, called the DragonFly, can glide in the air.

There is also a rough wood like thing, which Kalain calls the Steer, and it can cause the wings to move such that the person can change the direction in which the DragonFly is moving.

Kalain said it would be easier to use in summer as there are warm thermals, but it was really too bad. The support can be lengthened or shortened by a series of screws.

***

We managed to drag it up to the roof of the dorm without being caught, and then Kalain said he’d like to try it now. I said what if he fell? Kalain said well then that was too bad, but he had tried testing it in his room and it did rise a little.

So we helped him on. There were three wheels in an upended triangle underneath, and using this we pushed him, at his directions, off the building.

For a moment we thought he would crash, but then he started to turn thing pedal with his hands, and the wings whirred into life, alternatively buzzing up and down with great speed.

The DragonFly ‘stabilized’, as Kaswain put it, a few meters above the courtyard, or actually swooping upwards. All the Talons and students on the courtyard stared, then, like us, started to cheer Kalain on as the DragonFly rose over the Citadel, Kalain pulling the Steer towards him.

After flying around for fifteen minutes, he landed the craft on the building, nearly crashing, but we had set up a large bedsheet such that the DragonFly, running very fast on its wheels, ran into the sheet and stopped. We disentangled Kaswain from it then drew lots to see who would fly next.

***

We got a lecture afterwards from both Mother and Father, but we didn’t care - there’s an almost wild, primal feeling of freedom when you fly like that, and anyway, none of us crashed.

Father paused when Mother went off to the bedroom, and then he asked whether it was fun.

We said yes, would he like to try?

In the evening Mother lectured Father as well for encouraging us and also trying to break his neck.

***

Some of the Priests of Gond came over and knocked on the gate. Then they spent their time watching us and some Talons take turns to fly and land.

They asked Father later in the study whether Kalain would like to go and study with them.

Father said no, the boy is doing very well himself, and then called Kalain to ask if he did want to study.

Kalain said he liked the Citadel very much and didn’t want to.

The Priests asked whether they could buy the ‘rights’ of the DragonFly for the Museum.

Kalain said only when he was finished with it or started building another one. The priests asked him how much would that be, and Kalain said ask Father.

Father grinned and said that the priests could only duplicate the DragonFly, the original would be kept in the Citadel, and then they started to talk about money so Kalain left.

I think of all of us, K’yanne is the one who is most eager to play with the DragonFly. It’s a new way of transport, and she is also, among us, the best flier, even surpassing Kalain when she took the DragonFly high in the air and did a double loop.

***

Kalain has taken the DragonFly back to his room for ‘modifications’. The Talons and us are rather disappointed.

***

The Talons are playing the Game, even in the cold. Then the losing team would buy the winning team a round of drinks at a tavern, and they’d stagger back to the Citadel drunk and singing. Sometimes Father goes with them, but Mother does not approve, especially when he sings - she says he has as much talent for tunes as a rock.

***

Grandfather has led many cousins here for the Winter Festival, and we managed to get a good place to watch the parade move from Lower Baldur’s Gate to Upper Baldur’s Gate, and see the performances in the Wide, which had been cleared for this purpose.

I especially liked the white horse march, where twenty horses did the same moves at the same time in the Wide, a performance that earned quite a bit of applause and also the short play which showed the Seasons of the Realms, ending with the advent of winter.

The Dukes of Baldur’s Gate rode in in magnificent horses, though their colors were slightly subdued. Duke Entar had been assassinated for some political reason, and there was one less Duke. Elections would take place next year, and Father is now wearing a slightly apprehensive look as he watches the Dukes lead on the rest of the parade.

***

The Citadel held a large feast in the Hall, with the Talons on one table, the Students on another and the rest of us, including the Lieutenants, on another, as well as Father’s friends - Sir Gamier, Rimn and Kurent.

The women excused themselves somewhere around eleven o' clock to go and talk, and we ran up to the living room. There was a heap of presents there from many people to us - those for Talons and the others were placed in their respective rooms.

We opened them together, then moved the gifts up to our rooms, then all of us collected in my room, opened the window, and started to wait, and while taking out the pastries and sweetmeats that we had taken from the tables.

The large bells in the Tower struck midnight, welcoming the new year in a beautiful mixture of ringing bells, the large ones in a deep heartbeat, the smaller ones shrilling out praise and beauty of the new year.

Then as we watched, wolves streamed out from the building of the hall, of many colors, a great old gray, Grandfather, leading.

In the large pack we picked out the shapes of Mother and Father, running in joyous strides to the gate in the side of the Outer wall which Father had secretly made before, which led out to a large, primeval forest where the wolves would run and herald the new year with their haunting calls.

End of 'Year of Adventurr'
I hope you have enjoyed this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Lledrith RavenWolf

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