Chapter III Of The Tale Of My Current Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Which Started 11 Months Ago… Written/Retold By My Player Who Plays The Character Of Vilven
*The Art Above Is Commissioned For This Chapter by Living Silver
Vilven woke in a trance, her breath, slow and deep, expanded her lungs in a somehow comforting and natural movement. But as she pushed her eyes open, her surroundings were unfamiliar. She was at the bottom of the water looking up at the surface, as she had done many times in the past, but these waters were different than her home. Everything was different. The color, the energy, the feeling of the water, the fish, the lighting, all different. Yet, calmness surrounded her. A dreamy rebirth that it seemed hardly real. The troubles of her old life floated away, even her memory was slipping. She wasn’t entirely sure what had happened between her and Areiden, but she could feel the strength of it within. It felt right. Even now she could feel the piece of her that was given to Areiden, a strange, powerful merging. Sitting up, pulling her knees to her chest, Vilven looked down at her hands, focusing on her fingertips. Her light, silvery skin was almost glowing, her bare feet almost delicate against the mud. Her eyes adjusted, focusing next to the anklet he had given to her. Magic.
She admitted to herself she wasn’t sure how to embrace this new power. Outside of the small ways she could manipulate water from her water genasi race, magic had been a mystery to her. So having the potential to be powerful, much more powerful, was difficult to understand. Though the thought was intoxicating.
She wasn’t sure what her next step was. Areiden didn’t explain what he wanted from her, or where he sent her. Why did he come to her for this anyway? Why did he choose her? Was it really because he saw something special inside her? Or was it just because she happened to be vulnerable? Was it just because she was directionless? But regardless of anything that had happened, regardless of the questions she had, she would’ve had to leave home anyway. She was banished, she reminded herself. And if this hadn’t happened with Areiden, what would’ve happened to her? She would just have to figure it out now. She made her choice.
Becoming more aware of her surroundings in the beautiful, but murky water, she noticed a pack next to her. Near the pack laid a pair of black, ankle length boots, as well as two blue handled sickles sheathed onto a black belt. Vilven assumed correctly that these were keepsakes from Areiden who wanted her to be prepared. She pulled one of the sickles to examine the blade more closely, it felt good in her hand, and the sharp curve of it seemed more useful than a simple dagger might be. Re-sheathing it, she pulled the belt to her, stood, and attached it around her hips. She put the strap of the pack over head, to cross over her body, letting it hang to her side. As for the boots, she looked at them hesitantly, but awkwardly slipped them on, as she had never really needed shoes before. But they had been magically altered, she could tell, and in the water it felt as if her feet were still bare, as to not limit her ability to swim. She smiled, the gifts fit her quite well.
Speaking the tongue of her home, she called out to one of the fish swimming by, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I might be?” She asked. The small fish, black and gray, swam to her, looking at her curiously. The fish replied simply “Beaumont. Lake.” He than swam away, into the distance of the green-blue water. “Lake?” She said to herself, and looked around once again. Though it didn’t look as vast as the ocean, it looked bigger than an average lake would be. Curious, Vilven swam upward toward the top of the water. When her head broke the surface of the lake, giving her a glimpse of the surroundings, Vilven’s eyes grew wide at the sight before her. After hundreds of feet of water, was a large, stone castle. It was a type of structure that looked as though it wasn’t intended for defense or attack, it was more like a fairy-tale. Though in some ways it gave the appearance of strength and royalty, in other ways it seemed rather pretty and magical. The different towers, all topped with deep red flags, seemed to layer each other, giving it the likeness of an intricate origami piece. The magical quality further exemplified being surrounded by such an enormous lake, for it seemed to float in the middle. Vilven, though she found a rare patch of island to walk upon in the Water Plane, had never seen such structures on land before. She realized then that her adventures in this place, wherever she was, would go beyond the comfort of water. At this she felt overwhelmed, and quickly sank back just below the surface.
“Vilven,” Areiden’s voice came into her mind, that same deep, calm voice. “trust me.”
“What am I supposed to do here, Areiden? Who lives in the castle? ” She spoke, desperate for some direction.
“Trust yourself, Vilven. You will know what to do.”
But there was no reply.
After taking a breath, allowing her courage and strength to grow, she broke the surface again to look up at the impressive castle. What was it Areiden wanted her to do? In an instinct, she turned to look at the other side of the lake. A wall of tall, green trees met her gaze. This was another thing she had never encountered, a forest. Though she had seen lone trees before, and was mesmerized by their beauty, this amount was simply overpowering, and further astonished her. Vilven shook her head in disbelief, and began to turn back to the castle.
Just as she did, she noticed a couple guards, one younger and one slightly older, walking around the castle. As quick as she could, she pushed herself underneath the water, cursing herself for not being more careful. But before she could get underneath, she did notice the younger guard turn his head toward her movement.
She seemed to wait there for a long time, though it had only been a few minutes. The quiet was deafening as she tried, unsuccessfully, to peer through the water to see if they had spotted her. She then decided, cautiously, to take another look. Vilven swam up, just enough to peer over the water. No one was there. It seemed to her that they probably hadn’t seen her. She exhaled in relief, and took a moment to assess the situation. It became obvious to her then that this was not the front of the castle, but one of the sides. She thought about her options. Either head toward the castle, head toward the forest, or explore the water. In a nearly impulsive decision, she decided she was going to see who lived in this castle. Areiden sent her near this castle for a reason, and knowing who lived there would probably give her some clue to what she was supposed to do. She swam to the edge of the water, then sticking to her decision, ran quickly to the wall of the castle. In an almost manic fashion, she looked everywhere for an entrance, going so far as to run her hands over the stone for a secret entryway, but there didn’t seem to be any doors. But she did finally see an open window not too far to the left above her.
Running her hands through her dark blue hair, she tried to think about how to get up there, which was about five times her height. Glancing around for the guards, she put her back against the wall, and started to search through her pack. She realized she neglected to look through it before. In her rummaging she saw some useful things, such as torches and rope, but she smiled as she spotted pitons and a hammer. She got an idea. Admittedly, she wasn’t sure it would work, but she didn’t have any other plan. So she walked to right underneath the window, and as high as she could reach, hammered two pitons, shoulder length apart, into the cracks of the stone. When she felt they were secure she began to pull herself up, and though it was difficult, she was able to get each foot on either piton, and balancing between the two, she leaned against the wall. Pushing her body against the stone, she found two more pitons in her bag to replicate what she had just done. And though it wasn’t as easy this time, she successfully hammered the next two into the wall. However, this time she was unsuccessful pulling herself up, and she fell, back first, down to the hard, grass-covered ground.
The air was taken out of Vilven, and she knew she had a bruise, but she was determined to get inside. Glancing around again, praying she wouldn’t get caught, she jumped up, and quickly ran back to the lower pitons, to pull herself up as she had done before. Attempting the second rung again, she strained her muscles, but she was successful this time, now balancing on the next two pitons. Looking down, she did realize the third rung of pitons would be rather high, and if she fell again, she would probably hurt herself. Taking a breath, she reached in for another piton, and began to hammer. The first seemed secure. Just as she went back to her bag to get the second, a rope flew down in front of her.
In a jolt of surprise and fear, Vilven looked up abruptly, losing her balance. In instinct, she grabbed the rope so she wouldn’t fall.
Dangling there, she heard a voice from the window call down to her. “I’ll help you up. Hurry, before they catch you.”
Vilven realized she had been caught. But by who?