The dream had been with her for as long as she could remember.
Of course, remembering was really the issue. The gaps in her memory, her past before the gilded cage and her abduction from it, her escape from her abductors, her life with the wolf pack… all that came before was just simply not there. But the dream had always been… at least, she thought so.
Hard things to comprehend, dreams are… especially as an elf, where one does not sleep in the same sense as a human or a halfling. The meditative trance state of elves, the Noae Elithor, are typically dreamless, a regenerative mental rest passed down from their Fey Ancestry. However, there have been accounts, albeit exceedingly rare, of visions by prophets of elvish legend as well as flashes of creative inspiration by elvish artists and artisans accompanying the awakening after a trance. So, who is to say that dreaming is impossible?
But the dream was troubling Thia as of late. With their first expedition out to the mysterious Dread Isle, the dream began recurring with greater frequency. And, the intensity with which Thia experienced it… the sounds of the crowd on the other side of the great doors to the banquet hall, the sunbeams as they cut across the entrance hallway, her dress, the rising trepidation gripping her lungs, the confident and expectant smiles of the guests as they entered, her lute in her hands. It was always the same… just flashes, feelings of missing someone dear to her, and the emptiness of not truly knowing.
Far, 13 Jo, 3E998
Thia awoke from her Noae Elithor in her exceedingly comfortable room at the Onyx Fountain Inn to be greeted by a warm, sunny Anchorhead morning. Heroes 4 Hire’s arrival aboard the Sea Wyvern the previous evening had led to a late night of unloading cargo, transferring monies, paying contracts, and revelry in their wildly successful first expedition to the mysterious Dread Isle. She dressed and went to breakfast downstairs, and then spent the day tying up loose ends before continuing on to Hellespont.
She had decided to take a sabbatical from the adventuring company long enough to return to Father Tristan and continue her training in Medicine. She said goodbye to her teammates, Master Ven and Emen Benniel, all the lovely people she worked with at Dolara’s Watch and the crew of the Sea Wyvern. The next morning she squared her tab at the Onyx Fountain Inn and rejoined Potema at the northern edge of town for the day-and-a-half journey back to Hellespont.
Sar, 14 Jo, 3E998
The journey back to Hellespont was an easy one as Thia and Potema had shadowed the road a few dozen yards in the treeline, to keep the great wolf hidden from passing travelers and avoiding alarm. While ‘on the road,’ Thia shared her recent experiences with Potema, who listened intently and seemed to nod in understanding at Thia’s recounting of the dream and her concern over its increasing frequency and its continued vagueness. Potema, Thia mused, was the best listener a girl could have.
Sul, 15 Jo, 3E998
Arriving just after breakfast, Thia left Potema to her own devices in the forest outside of town and proceeded to the Chapel to find Father Tristan. She quietly waited outside the double doors while the congregation finished listening to the kindly cleric’s morning service, and when the group disbanded she found him near the pulpit and asked him to take her back into his tutelage in Medicine. Father Tristan was more than elated to do so.
The rest of the citizens of Hellespont were equally excited to see Thia again, and the warm response was a little overwhelming for her. She still wasn’t comfortable with attention in large doses. She worked out an extended stay term for a room at the River Bend Inn with the owner, Treth Greentree, who was more than happy to reduce the price for the long term business.
Mol, 16 Jo, 3E998
The next day Thia returned to her study of Medicine under the careful instruction of Father Tristan. When they broke for lunch, she headed towards the tavern and came across Dajjal standing in the middle of the ‘square’ in the middle of town, fuzzy and disoriented. She approached him and said hello, and asked if he was okay and why he was there. He said he wasn’t sure, but he thought he was there to see Taerel Brylen. He seemed foggy, asked her what time it was and she told him lunchtime; he seemed confused about it but thanked her for her time and excused himself to go into Enchanted Elixirs. Thia thought it was a bit odd, but she went to the tavern and ate, then returned to the Chapel for more work.
That evening when Thia and the acolytes finished for the day, she again found Dajjal standing unfocused in the same spot. She approached him carefully this time, not to disturb him, and circled to see his face, completely slack and unfixed, staring off into space totally expressionless. She finally greeted him and asked if he’s okay, and again he seemed dazed and confused, not exactly sure how he got there, and was surprised again when he realized it was getting to be evening. Thia again invited him to join her for dinner, but he again politely deflected her inquiries and declined, excusing himself by saying he had to get going, and then walked off toward the Livery. She decide to shadow him at least to the edge of town, which she did easily as he wasn’t paying any sort of attention at all. At the Livery, he mounted the draft horse Heroes 4 Hire purchased with company funds and rode off slowly on the main road south toward Anchorhead.
That evening, Thia wrote Dajjal a letter and told him what she had observed of him, and asked him if we was truly okay. She then gave the sealed envelope to the porter to be put in the morning post.
Wir, 18 Jo, 3E998
Thia awoke from trance having had the recurring dream once more, no more clear or memorable than the previous times, with the exception that she was absolutely sure she had it. The same feelings of longing and belonging, perhaps someone dear, perhaps family, perhaps a romantic interest… she was just so… not… sure. Later in the day in the midst of her studies and exercises, she pulled Father Tristan aside in a quiet moment and told him what she was experiencing, and he listened intently and kindly.
“Thia, could this simply be memories of your family? ‘Homesickness’, perhaps? How long has it been since you visited your parents?”
“It was my 23rd birthday when I last saw my home… I’m now approaching my hundredth. To be honest Father I don’t recall much of home, my family or otherwise.”
Tristan’s eyes narrowed slightly, in concern. “Oh?…”
Thia hesitated. “All I can remember is brief snatches and a song I used to play.”
“You don’t remember anything else?”
Thia thought hard for a moment. “A tree… waterfall…” She frowned and shook her head, putting a hand to her temple. “No, I’m sorry.”
“Here, perhaps this will help.” He reached up and placed both hands aside her cheeks and ears, and closed his eyes. His hands were warm and gentle, but then she felt the same gentle touch inside her head… inside her mind. The sensation was wonderful, like getting the best back massage ever, and she felt like she just finished a session of yoga-style stretching… awake, loose and alert… invigorated.
Thia felt something tingle in her brain, and flashes began coming back in more frequency… a high ceiling… a banquet hall filled with the noise of people… standing just outside the entrance way taking deep breaths trying to calm her nerves before entering… a group of elves walk past her into the hall, a few smile encouragingly. Thia came back to focus, not sure what just happened. “Father, I…”
She opened her eyes as Father Tristan moved his hands away from her face, a faint silvery glow fading from his eyes, hands and holy symbol of Bahamut hanging around his neck. He looked at her, opened his eyes slightly wider. “Any better?”
There was something else there… something she couldn’t bring to the forefront before, but now, like a brick having been pulled from a wall she could clearly see a face… an elven boy, adolescent and beautiful, locks of gold and eyes as pale grey as sun-bleached marble. She could clearly recall him now, or more correctly, she could clearly recall his face. When she thought of it, when she concentrated on that face and held it in her mind’s eye, her heart ached for him. She couldn’t recall his name, or how she knew him, but she knew that for whatever reason, she loved him with all her being. And also, for some reason unbeknownst to her, she felt that love must be kept a secret. Or it used to be. Or maybe it still should be.
Thia was unsure of “if” or “why”.
Thia smiled to herself, the sweetest of smiles, until she realized the Father was looking at her. She took a breath and shook her head slightly. “I think I remembered something, someone… maybe. I don’t know. Whatever you did, I saw some things.” Thia seemed excited. “I actually had a life before…” Thia seemed to remember something else; fear flashed across her face followed by anger, and she shook her head again and regained her stoic composure. Thia relayed to Father Tristan what she had seen, leaving out the boy and the strong emotional response she had to him.
Tristan stood up. “Well, that will have to suffice for today. That particular healing can do a great deal… regrow severed limbs, cure disease, restore the petrified, return one’s sanity…,” he looked at her again, a moment of seriousness on his otherwise gentle face, “…erase the scars that hobble us, outside or in.” He left that statement hang in the air for a moment, and then continued, “But it takes time and repeated application. For today we should get back to your studies and our duties. We can revisit this another time and try again.” He smiled again. “Small steps.”
Thia returned to her studies over the next several days, silently but excitedly enjoying the delicious bit of intrigue surrounding the face without a name. She revisited his face often, somehow happy that it was secretly hers and hers alone.
Zor, 26 Jo, 3E998
As Thia rested in her room a little more than week later, the dream returned. She remembered more this time… the high ceiling in the hallway, subtly ornate and organic in its elvish trimmings… the excited voices escaping the door of the banquet hall a few feet away… taking deep breaths trying to calm herself… the smiles of encouragement… her lute in her hands… her dress.
She looked to her left, and the elven boy she saw was there, his face peeking out from a hiding spot behind a set of draperies near the window. His eyes darted left and right mischievously, ensuring that he hadn’t been discovered. Her heart skipped a beat, and she also looked around to see that no one was there to witness, and then quickly stepped over to him. In a hurried whisper she said, “What are you doing here?!? I’m nervous enough as it is without the worry of Father catching you. Again.”
His movements were deft and swift, light as a feather. He snatched her by the shoulders and before she even registered that he moved, his lips were against hers… warm and soft and moist… his scent filling her nostrils, of honey and jasmine. Her knees felt as if they might buckle beneath her, but her heart soared at his kiss, which he held for just a moment and then parted.
“I could not stay away. I’ll be watching, but you will not see me. No one will.” He grinned at her, the most beautiful smile in the world. “You will be magnificent!”
And with that, and another all-too-suspicious glance up and down the hallway, he slunk off as if trying to meld his forest-hued robes into the very walls themselves, turned a corner down the hallway that headed towards the rear of the banquet hall and the building, and disappeared from her sight. She took one more extremely deep breath and held it for a moment, then released. She straightened her dress one more time, picked up her lute, and walked to the doors to enter the banquet hall.
Suddenly, Thia came back to focus from her trance, in her homey room in the River Bend Inn.
That morning Thia set out early before training, met Potema in the woods and confided her latest dream. As she sat and talked things out, thinking of the lad’s face and the snippet she remembered, the wolf looked at her directly. Thia got a flash of an instinctual concept from Potema in her head… in the form of a question.
Of course, Thia had NO idea what his relationship was to her, other than ‘romantic interest’. She pondered the idea for a moment, and Potema seemed to understand her lack of concrete answers, gave her a lick up the side of her face and went back to sniffing around the area for scents of interest. Thia smiled as she watched Potema roam about for a few minutes, then got up and returned to Hellespont and Father Tristan for training, the elven lad taking up a large amount of her brain space as she walked.
Far, 13 Hili, 3E998
Several weeks passed uneventfully as Thia continued her Medicine training and hunted on the weekends with Potema. She had the same dream again, same as last time… the hushed whispers and the stolen kiss in the hallway. She awoke in the middle of the night and strolled out of her room to go talk to Potema about it and observed a shooting star pass through the night sky. The next morning she talked with Father Tristan about the dream again, keeping the boy to herself.
Father Tristan gave her another treatment of Greater Restoration, and she experienced the same sensations as before. She didn’t remember any more of the dream, but the details seemed to get more vivid and sharp in her memory. This time, however, she got a name.
Sar, 14 Hili, 3E998
As she studied and practiced through the day with Father Tristan, Thia found herself more and more distracted by thoughts of this boy, Thalolan. She asked Father Tristan if there was such a thing as a tracking spell to locate someone far away.
Father Tristan sat and thought for a few moments, and said, “Yes, in a manner of speaking, there are several ways to find someone through divination magic, though it isn’t easy and has some… difficulties. One adept at Scrying can see and hear an individual they are familiar with, overtly or surreptitiously, which could yield clues as to their whereabouts… the location could be said in conversation while the scry is observing, or perhaps some sort of landmark may be seen, or perhaps a document on a table will provide a clue… but there is no guarantee of that. The scry could just as easily observe the person of interest sleeping in a bedchamber with the curtains drawn for ten minutes.”
“A Locate Creature is much more accurate, but it is much, much shorter range. If the target is say, less than a mile, it will provide a distance and direction to get to the creature, provided there is no running water of significant size between you and the target. Running water oddly messes up the ‘Locate’ series of divinations. No one really knows why.”
“Lastly, there is a possibility of using the Divination ritual itself. We would have to do that one together, I believe. In the ritual, if my offering is accepted, Bahamut will answer a single question of mine, about almost anything… people, events, even a short distance into the future. Here’s the rub, it’s a personal interaction. I simply do not know if we were to perform this ritual together, if it would work for the both of us. I also don’t know if Bahamut would consider answering me if I’m asking a question for you, which he will be fully aware of my intentions.”
“The good news is, there is no penalty for any of these actions. Either they’ll work, or they won’t… no downside consequences. And, they can be tried more than once… just not usually more than once per day per spell, as they are fairly advanced magics and tire an old man like me.” He smiled at her warmly, and left her to consider her options without asking her ‘who’ or ‘why’.
She took the next few days to ponder; across the weekend she hunted with Potema. The game in this area was plentiful and tasty, almost too easy. She shared her spoils with the folks around Hellespont, and many were impressed with her prowess as a huntress. There were several reports of huge wolf tracks found around the periphery of the village and farmlands, but to date she was fairly sure no one had spotted Potema in the surrounds. No one seemed particularly concerned about the tracks, other than marveling at their size. Farmer talk, you know.
Mol, 16 Hili, 3E998
Three days after her latest dream and the ‘locating’ discussion with Father Tristan, Lt. Diplo Norixius rode into town on a rented horse, rented a room in the River Bend Inn for several weeks and made his way to Father Tristan and Jolene Hellen to request advancement training in his career as a paladin… divine magics from Father Tristan, and combat from Jolene Hellen. Both gladly agreed. He told Thia when she saw him that he’d be in town for about three weeks. The two visited and he filled her in on the details of the Darkshelf Quarry mission.
It was the middle of Hili, summer in Hellespont along the beautiful White River. Thia had a comrade in town, the name of her old flame that had been dominating her dreams as of late, medical training that was going well, and a few options of “finding the needle in the haystack” available to her. What would she do?
Stay tuned, for more to come, on “TGC: Thia and Potema!!”