Inner Grounds

2 Mirtul 1368

As I enter the Inner Grounds I’m approached by Imoen. She’s an errand girl at the Keep, and a ward of Winthrop.

Aegon: I’m afraid I cannot chat today, little one. My foster fatehr wishes me to prepare for a journey, but will not say to where.

Imoen: Little one? I’m not much younger than you, though you sure got tall fast. Relatively, anyway. A journey, eh? I never get to travel. Wish I could go with ya. Yep, I really wish I could. Yes, sir. Really do.

Aegon: All right, all right. I get the message. I’ll ask if you can go with us.

Imoen: Oh, don’t be silly, Gorion would never even let you finish the sentence. Especially after what that letter of his said… er… did I say that? No, of course I didn’t. Never saw no letter. Nope. I’ll just get back to work now. You had better go. Gorion is waiting.

Letter? What letter? What does she know? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I wish she could come with us. It’d be nice to travel with a friend.

Speaking of letters, as soon as I turn away from Imoen, I am spotted by Camryn.

Aegon: Phylydia found this letter in the spine of a book I was retrieving for her. She said it’s a love letter, and she thinks it’s from you.

Camryn sighs.

Camryn: Now why would you think that it’s mine? There are many books in the Library, you know. Who knows what patrons will leave in them.

Aegon: The letter’s addressed to a woman named Tamah. You mentioned her last time we talked.

He blushes.

Camryn: Oh. Did I mention her? She was one of my assistant Illuminators many years ago. I’m not surprised she was meant to be the recipient of the letter: she was very beautiful and, even better, very intelligent. Books that she has done the illustrations for are very, very valuable these days, too. That letter only proves someone loved her and hoped she would open that book.

Any other reason you think the letter is mine…?

Aegon: Because the handwriting looks like yours.

He sighs.

Camryn: That would be a little harder to explain away, I guess. Yes, young one, that’s my writing.

I might as well admit it to someone. Tamah and I were lovers once. But she felt trapped by the high walls — the very walls that helped me feel safe. She tried to persuade me that we should leave, but no matter what she said, I had a counter-argument. Finally, she went without me. I haven’t heard from her since.

Aegon: But what about the letter? Why didn’t you send it?

Camryn: Ah yes… The letter. That’s merely one of many. I’ve had years to write them, after all. And Tamah is ever in my thoughts. That’s one reason I’m heading out to the inn today. Today’s the anniversary of her leaving me and I finally decide to do what she always wanted me to do — change my routine, face my fear, and go out for a drink in her memory.

When Tamah left me, I was devastated. The only way I could keep myself from going insane was to write out all my feelings in letters. Then, it occurred to me that the books I copied would be leaving Candlekeep. That was the key to my plan. Tamah loves to read. If I could get just one of those books I’ve copied into her hands, I could communicate with her. You see, I… (cough) I used to hide love notes in the books I gave to her when we were together. Wherever she is now, she might still recognise my work in a book and pick it up out of sentiment. She might use the book in the proper way and… POP! Out will fall a letter from me.

Aegon: But why not send the letters directly to her?

Camryn: When Tamah left, she never said where she was going. And, coward that I was, I never could face how much more dangerous it is to leave these sturdy walls.

I never anticipated that she would be gone so long without at least writing back. I figured that the books were likely to end up in someone’s library… And libraries always attract scribes. Sooner or later, Tamah would at least visit a library if not work for one copying books. There’s always work for scribes in noble houses. It may not seem the most straightforward of methods to contact her, but I… I had to make some effort. I had to do something to reach her…

AegonHow can I help?

Camryn: It’s kind of you to offer to help, Dorthon, but Tamah left… Oh my! At least thirty years ago… Maybe more. I lose track of time so easily these days. I don’t know that she’s even still alive. Humans don’t live very long, usually. On the other hand, she does have some elvish blood in her, so she might… No, I’m fooling myself. If she’s still alive, she’d no doubt have a family and a completely different life.

AegonCome on, Camryn! I could at least take this letter with me when I leave. You never know… I might run into her or someone who knows her.

Camryn: I don’t think so, Dorthon. It’s not right for you to carry around such a… a personal note.

As I’ve said, the letter is mine. Let me take it… Oh! You… you opened it?! Is your name Tamah?

He blushes heavily.

AegonI didn’t open it. It tore by accident when Phlydia removed it from the book.

Camryn: Phlydia?

He raises an eyebrow.

Camryn: She’s a fine woman, but it would be wise not to imitate her in matters like this… Historians are always such busybodies!

There is such a thing as respecting the privacy of someone else’s letters, you know.

AegonEr, you did know that placing the letters into the books would make people find them, eventually? I mean, wasn’t that the purpose of placing them there?

Camryn: Well, yes, but still… That is why I wrote Tamah’s name and description *on the envelope*, young Dorthon. So no one else would read it.

Aegon: I assure I didn’t read it.

Camryn: Well… Alright. You have been a good child for these many years. I suppose it could have been Phlydia’s doing. Thank you for returning the letter to me. You know, as a scribe, I think much of my life has been concerned with the creation and duplication of letters. Sometimes I open one of the Candlekeep Library books up and find letters and what not inside… Which, in retrospect, explains the origin of my idea to send out letters hidden in copies of the Library’s books. It was about one, two years after her departure, in which time I tried to locate Tamah by asking newcomers whether they might have seen her – to no avail, as you can imagine.

Then one day, I opened one of the books that she had left behind, one she enjoyed reading, I mean, and I smelled her inside! I smelled her discreet perfume, and I imagined her wonderful hair, too, and in the rush of the moment heard her laugh… So the idea hit me: If I could find her in a book, why not make it so that she could find me in one, too? I figured she would have the need for money eventually, and working as a scribe would be the obvious choice. Either that, or a trusty fellow scribe would find the letter and pass it on. So I started to hide letters in the books I copied that I assumed would leave Candlekeep.

AegonSuch a sweet story!

He looks at me intently.

Camryn: I hope you are not being disrespectful. I am your elder, after all.

I will keep this letter, thank you. I’d rather you weren’t running around with it. Where you’re going a lot of others might see it… No need to put more salt in the wound. It was nonsense to put it into this book, but at the time I copied I didn’t know it would never leave Candlekeep.

He sighs.

Camryn: This was what? Twenty years ago…? You weren’t even born yet!

If you happen to run across her when you leave here, you can let her know where she might find the other ones… if she hasn’t already.

Oh! I almost forgot! I’ve got a little going-away present foe you. This nice book bag! I never go anywhere without mind.

Oh… and here’s some gold to put in your pocket for your journey with Gorion… You might need it. And now… to go have my drink. Have a good day, Aegon.

He gives me some gold and book bag.

It has a place to hold scrolls so I slip Sister Sapientia’s letter and the Bounty notice inside. I wonder if I will find more of Camryn’s letters hidden in books outside the Keep. Maybe I’ll even find Tamah and be able to deliver some of these letters.

I wander the Inner Grounds and manage to find Tethtoril.

He gives me the Scroll of Identify that Firebead asked me to fetch for him.

I already know this spell, otherwise I might be tempted to study it myself. Though I am determined to finish my chores before I leave the Keep today.

Nearby I see a familiar Gnome listening to the chanters sing the prophecies of Aluaundo.

Finch: Ooh! I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going!

Aegon: It’s okay, Finch, old pal! What’s new in the world of literature?

Finch: I have been scribing the monks’ singing, Aegon. I am fairly certain their words come from the volume of Alaundo’s writings inside the citadel.

How I wish I had found the opportunity to study them first-hand this past tenday! Alas, such a rare edition proves popular among the curious. I never had a chance!

Aegon: Those are the breaks! Still, you have managed to add a number of works to your copy book over your visit, correct? I have hardly seen you with your head out of a cloister.

Finch: What else would a cleric of Oghma’s Scribe do? The halls of Candlekeep are a paradise for lovers of the written word! Why, in the past tenday, I have copied a treatise on Tethyrian border history, duplicated a few volumes of Lliiran hymns, and transcribed an entire Hin cookbook with the most illuminating recipe for stewed goat. All things considered, a successful amount of information to share across the land. I have high hopes Deneir will be proud of the efforts of his new initiate, even if I did not copy the entire works of Alaundo.

Aegon: Ah, you are a cleric of Deneir. No wonder you love this place.

Finch: Truly, my brief time here in your home town has been a great joy. I can imagine no finer occupation than living with your nose in a book! Alas, I have dallied in Condlekeep longer than I should have in service of my temple, though I am certain Deneir would understand.

Anyhoo, I leave with all haste. I have a list of works needed to establish a new library on the Amnish border. I located a likely seller of one volume in Beregost, so off I go!

Perhaps we shall meet again. I bid you a fair journey!

This is Finch, a new NPC created by Bons. We will see more of her later.

After she leaves I stay a while and listen to the words the monks sing.

Voice of the East: In the Year of the Turrets, a great host will come from the east like a plague of locusts. So sayeth the wise Alaundo.

Voice of the West: The Wyrm shall wander the earth and such a pestilence will follow in his wake, that all that know of his passing shall be struck down by the plague. So sayeth the wise Alaundo.

Voice of the North: When conflict sweeps across the Dales the great lizards of the north shall descend with fire and fury. So sayeth the great Alaundo.

Voice of the South: When shadows descend upon the lands, our divine lords will walk alongside us as equals. So sayeth the great Alaundo.

Chanter: The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his doom he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny. Chaos will be sewn from their passage. So sayeth the wise Alaundo.

The prophecies seem to speak of the Time of Troubles. A time long ago when the gods descended to the earth and lived among us. It was a time of great turmoil, where gods died and new ones were born. They have since returned to their divine realms, but the scars of their conflict can still be seen across the Realms. But that’s all in the past. There are more pressing matters right now. I have errands to complete!

I head back to the Inn to find Firebead. He is happy to get his scroll back.

He casts Protection from Evil on me. I don’t know how long this spell will last, but perhaps it will help if father and I have any trouble after we leave the Keep. He also gives me another Potion of Healing.

I talk to Winthrop and sell the equipment the assassins use to try and kill me. It’s not worth much, but it helps. I also buy the quarrel of crossbow bolts for Fuller.

I don’t know how to use crossbows, so these are worthless to me. The Watchers use them regularly though. I head back to the barracks and he’s a bit rude when I hand them over to him.

Are all Watcher’s like this? Or is everyone just too hungover today. He gives me ten coins, so at least it was worth it.

My chores are finished for the day. My last day. It’s starting to hit me. I’m leaving the Keep. One last thing to do before I leave.

Aegon: Of course I did.

Alec: Things have been hectic recently. My new duties as Ulruant’s glorified squire, you and Gorion leaving…

And rumours go around about assassins attacking you. Oh Dorthon… who’d have thought this place would become a trap?

AegonI know.

Alec: It will never be the same. But it feels good to pretend that for just one evening, everything can be back to normal.

AegonA dream.

Alec: It feels real enough t me. Doesn’t it? Soft hay, far-off barking, voices… even the smells are as they were ten years ago.

And I’ve got this! Stolen from Winthrop’s kitchens by yours truly. A meat pie, a good old lasagna, some milk and carrot juice. I think I might’ve even stolen a piece of some fancy Calishite dessert.

AegonYou’re my personal hero.

Alec: I couldn’t leave my best friend hungry, could I? Especially on a night like this.

There’s a light next to your old window. Do you see it?

AegonWhat of it?

Alec: There’s something calming about it, a light in the night. Especially when it’s in your room.

You know… When uncle Will just died, and I wanted to be alone, sometimes I walked the grounds, saw the light in your window and felt better.

That’s what being a priest means to me. Hope. Not a candle for somebody stumbling in the dark, no – I’m not that vain… but just some hope.

AegonWe all need hope. I certainly do, sometimes.

Alec: I’m not sure if I’m ready to become a priest, though. My healing’s much better – I’ve even closed some gruesome wounds. But can I really ever be more than an initiate with a dusting room?

People I should be helping and advising – they’re grown farmers with families on their own, with livestock they’re responsible for. I’m just a boy to them. By Oghma, I’m just a boy to *me*!

AegonYou’re a man to me. You might be young, you might doubt yourself, but you’ve grown.

Alec: It means a lot… but even if I’ve grown, I’m just not used to it, yet.

I guess I want people to… be proud of me. For someone like you or my uncle Will to say they’re glad to know me. I… but that sounds way too self-centered. I’d better shut up.

AegonHey. I’m proud of you. All right?

Alec: Thanks. For sitting with me like this. You know, I…


Alec: I will miss you very much. And I hope that one day you’ll come back.

AegonWe’ll see each other again, I know it.

Alec: Gorion is waiting for you, and the time is short. But I hope to see you again, alive and well. I know you’ll be fine.

Still… take care, all right? All those dire wolves and hobgoblins and ogres can’t be healthy.

AegonI promise.

Alec: Go. Be a hero.

I don’t look back as I walk away. I lied to him. I don’t know if I’ll ever see anyone again. If people are trying to kill me, Candlekeep is the first place they will look. I hope father has more answers for me.

I head to the Inner Keep to meet him. It’s time to go.

Wow, a whole four chapters just to cover the “tutorial” section of the game!
Next chapter the story will really kick off and we will be getting into the actual game. The extra modded content is interesting – there will be a lot more Aegon runs into later on that will connect back to Candlekeep. Without mods I think it was only Imoen and Firebead. Now we have Alec, a bunch of love letters to deliver (maybe I should have named my character Cupid), 3 NPCs (Braegar, Recorder, and Finch), as well as Firebead and Imoen. Should make the game a bit more interesting.

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