Intermission Bluebook - A Trader's Envelope

A human trader drops his pack on black sands in a practiced motion and sits on it with a sigh. In his treasured silvered mirror, drawn from his satchel, he sees that looks haggard, unshaven for several days, and his black hair is going to silver at the temples rather faster than he’d like. Still, with a comb, a shave, and an application of his personal myrrh-tinged cologne, he knows that he’ll look a distinguished, worldly visitor to the permanent dragonborn encampment of Tarrvale. Auswick the Wanderer, traveler with his pack mule, has always found it pays to look, smell, and feel the part.

Soon, he will walk the extra kilometer or two to where the guards will stop and question him. He will be allowed in to trade, and will do well for himself; he’s run this route several times by now. He will find it curious, however, that when he describes Chaedi of Tinderwood, he is firmly advised to drop the subject, without explanation or a direction. Auswick is much more invested in his own reputation than that of others, and this is as far West as he is planning to go. He will stay in this sun-baked oasis for several days as he rests and refills his provisions, trading with those who will see him, and then begin circling south; he rarely crosses the desert unless he has to.

Inside his pack, tucked flat near the bottom between books for sale, is a sheet of paper, folded carefully into an envelope for itself, covered in Elven script. Inside are a few small, pressed yellow flowers and a handful of light brown sand, although it is golden under the sun. Auswick regrets not being able to deliver it, and, when he next visits Tinderwood, promises himself to refund the silver coin he was paid to carry it along. After all, this will reinforce his reputation for honesty and fair dealing, which is worth far more than a silver coin. Perhaps nobody will ever read it, except for its author…

Dear Chaedi,

I dearly hope you are well, and that you read this message one night while laughing with your friends around a campfire, under the moonlight. Things are different here in Tinderwood without you. I am afraid that Kaenna and Olla have been particularly difficult without you to tell them stories and help them make sand-castles, but Naeren has been doing his best to watch over them, and I think he will be a great father one day as well as a carpenter and weaver. Keyleth has taken her first shots with the bow, and she will not stop talking about it with longing in her eyes; it is all that Virro can do to stop her from trailing him on every new hunt.

It is strange to be preparing for the harvest day feast without you by my side helping with the tidying and the rituals, with our hands in the temple’s earth. Each time I pass by, I half expect to see you folding dough with Adlana by her ovens and giving her the daily news of the village!

I know, of course, that you are off doing wonderful things in service of Melora, on a journey that has become longer than I had hoped it would. Every night, I wish I had said a better goodbye to you before you set out. I remember that Melora wishes us to look to tomorrow’s meals and not yesterday’s regrets, and so I remember you with fondness. The temple feels emptier without your singing voice, songbird.

I say again that I hope with all my heart that you are safe. Two nights ago, I had a dreadful premonition that you were in some sort of terrible peril. I woke in the middle of the night and could not sleep, so I ventured outside. The winds were blowing, as if they were driven by the beating of my heart. I waded into the sea, remembering the first time I brought you with me in the midst of a storm, until the waves were at my throat and the currents threw me back and forth, and there I prayed to Melora for your safety. Yesterday and today, Melora has sent a gentle rain, and there is freshness on the breeze. I have hope in my heart for your safety.

It comforts me that you did not leave alone. Bright is still as skittish as a squirrel, but he is much better than before; and while I know you have grown into a strong, fine young woman, I often think that I can trust his skill with knife and bow to protect you when you cannot protect yourself. I know that Melora sent us to him for a reason. I used to think it was because he needed us; now, I am grateful for him in a way that I did not expect, even in all my “wisdom”. I hope you have taught him that he is a good-hearted and talented young man, and that he has a home here in Tinderwood if he ever wishes to return. You always were best at talking to him, and even if he has never said so, I know he likes to listen to you.

Melora turns the leaves into fiery beauty, and sends great gusts to shudder them down under our feet, sheltering the little soil creatures deep in the forest so that things may grow. I hope her winds bring you back by winter, but I swear I will be happy enough just to see your smiling face again, even if it should take thirty years.

I love you, Chaedi. Come home safe.

Kerren

Intermission Bluebook - A Trader's Envelope

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