Volume 1: Fond Recollection
I have lately thought that perhaps it would be wise to have an accounting of all that I have seen in my adventures, for posterity, and because I often find myself recalling them myself, in the lonely hours of evening.
I am not by nature a writer, nor am I a singer of song or painter of vistas, so in this record you will need to forgive me. My life in Tethyr has been far from boring, but in order to explain how all has come to this, I must first account for a history. A noble, Lord or Lady, bastard son or errant daughter, is only as good as her lineage – and accountings of lineage are in short supply in Noromath, of Tethyr, where most men of note are first-generation nobility.
My father is Lord Barandos Hawklin, the third noble patron of his house. My uncle, Tenshorn II, died last year under circumstances I do not feel it necessary to account, but my father has always been a fine and noble person. He raised and treated me well, and he loved my mother, who was his second wife, with all the passion that he loved his first, though I will never know her. Lady Ophelia died birthing his only son, Malveer, my older and only brother, so that I never knew my step-mother save from pictures alone. The pictures painted my father’s first wife as a rare and vibrant beauty and I admit that once, when I was a child, I had wanted to be as blond as she. My own mother, Lady Selas, is brown-haired, and I often despaired of inheriting it. Now that I am older, I know that I must have caused my mother some amount of pain, and my father with her. But I digress; the character of my father is impeccable. He is a faithful and loyal servant of the Crown of Cormyr and I respect him greatly and love him more.
My mother Lady Selas d’Telare, was of Tethyrian birth, her family being merchant and fleeing the country as result of some difficulties during the civil war. Now that I have set foot into Tethyr myself, I think it possible she may also have changed her name – some of the stories that she told me as a child struck me as somehow made-up, or glossed over, and having checked with the records in this county, I have at least a little confirmed my suspicions. Now, knowing the minds of men who were lowborn and elevated are prone to keenly defending their honor and position from even imagined slights, I think that she must have been lower born still. She was sweet-tongued, and quick to lash out with it, and she was fond of little schemes so that I often found myself doing her bidding thinking it were my own idea. However, for whatever reason she fled Tethyr, the idea was placed in my head that I wanted to see my mother’s country. Sitting in manor at Suzail, surrounded by all the fine civilization and luxury that court could offer me, I thought the tales of the dark Wealdath, the dangerous nobles, the hidden dragons, and all manner of other grisly and sometimes ribald tales, to be excellent listening.
Even with such a desire, it was Cormyr that I saw at first. Perhaps it was luck, but in my youth, I could travel with my father and Malveer, hither and yon over the northern marches of the Forest-country. I did not think it so lucky at the time. I was seven, or perhaps eight, when we went north into Hillsfar, and the Hullack borders, following my father’s investments in several of the adventuring companies up north. I thank Tymora he took me, because in my opinion it was certainly marvelous luck and worth thanking Tyche’s fair-haired daughter for. My father sponsored many adventurers, and each was more colorful than the last to my small, wide eyes.
I should say here that this is not a trait he holds alone; my great, great Grandfather, the progenitor of my House – Lord Tenshorn Hawklin the First – was ennobled as a Purple Dragon Knight for service that he gave to King Azoun Obarskyr III in 1277, a year before the King’s death, during a time of issue with Sembia. H.R.M. Azoun III, I am told, had granted Lord Tenshorn I a small property in Suzail, giving him a position on his small council and raising him to one of the various resident Lords who took care of the day-to-day operation of such a wealthy city. From here, my family gained Hawklin House, which is a rather resplendent manor even today, near a hundred years later. It was a nominal post until King Azoun III’s successor, young King Rhigaerd II, was nearly murdered by his brother. In the civil war that followed, my Great-Great Grandfather’s mercenary adventurers remained loyal to King Azoun’s blood successor and were rewarded with further land elsewhere when the Rebel Prince died on the throne he stole. We have been proud patrons of adventurers ever since, and until my own self, I cannot recall a single Hawklin leaving Cormyr without intending to return. Even I had intended to return. Even as I sit and write this, I wonder how I got so tangled into Tethyr’s politics that I am now placed here, on the borders of the Duchy of Noromath, holding an ancient keep in the name of Lord Knight Ibyn al Agis and the Queen Monarch Zaranda Star. And yet, I cannot say that I am unhappy here. I have found more purpose here than I ever might have, at court. However, I digress.
It was in Hillsfar that I met my first rangers. There are many types of rangers in Cormyr, so let me be specific about the type I am talking about. There are the honorable Purple Dragon Scouts, who are knights in their own right, and quite accomplished woodsmen, and they often do fine service. However, there is another sort of ranger for which it is said, the requirement is that they were at first in jail or never learned to read, and second, that they were first to drink and last to piss. It is the second sort that I am talking about, and I thought, and still think, that the men who brave beyond the edges of the dark and haunted Hullack, so long ago the place of elven sorrow so that it is yet plagued with their restless spirits, are half animal themselves.
It was one of these rude men that convinced me to wear pants and strut about as they did, as a lark at first, and because they missed their own daughters. I am embarrassed to recall that they mocked me until I capitulated, and that Malveer was chief among them once he caught on to the joke. It is not that my father was not paying attention, quite the opposite I learned afterwards – but there is a sort of trust that a person finds in rude country that one does not find in court. Sir Guillaume was ever near and so too was Painbearer Alidh, so I was never quite in any real danger, but my father let me wander as I pleased. Again, I cannot blame him. I was likely safer among the Hullack men than I have often felt here in Tethyr, among the men who cling to their noble titles and defend them to the death, not knowing true nobility even if it were to bite them in their arses.
If there is true nobility, noblesse oblige as it happens, it is in this; that the rude men of the Hullack are meant to roam its borders, that knights are meant to ride, that even peasants can be wise in their craft, and that it is a noble’s job to patron them and keep them safe. I went into Hillsfar as a willful eight year old, and when I was called back to my mother’s side at fifteen, I rode like a woodsman. It embarrassed Malveer, and pleased my father. Maybe he thought I reminded him a bit of his first wife, who was as carefree as I feel I must have seemed. I might never know, because he just laughed when I asked, and I don’t have the heart to ask again.
Now, my mother, Lady Selas, as I mentioned before, was a stickler for appearances and played the court intrigues like a snake writhes through swampwater. It isn’t that I do not love her, because I do, and you must imagine that I have my tongue in my cheek when I write this. Whatever station she held before meeting my father and beguiling him, Selas is suited to the little dances of intrigues that nobles play with each other and with other classes, and I sorely miss her insight. Still, she had called me back to court to introduce me to a Lord Adrian Huntsilver, of Thunderstone. As I understand it, his father governed Thunderstone over my own Father, who only possessed a fief in that domain I have never visited, and Adrian was set to inherit the full wealth of that old family on his father’s passing, and his father was very old. On paper, I am sure that this seemed like an excellent pairing to my mother. When she saw me with my hair bound back, I thought she might have died on the spot. She threw such a livid fit!
It pales beside the fit I threw, but it’s another one of those things that I now regret. She was doing her best, in her own way. Another duty of the Huntsilver family was similar to my father’s interest – that was, trimming back the Hullack Forest. I listened to my mother when she told me about how Adrian had done this, or that, and I capitulated after only a little prodding. This is the second time, I realize, I have wrote that word ‘capitulate’. You must understand, dear reader, that I had to learn how to stand up for myself; I’m not a natural at it. Actually I think that if you asked anyone in Suzail whether I were going to run away from my mother, as effective as she was at imposing her will on others, even my father, I think that they would be surprised to find I did.
As I do not wish to recount my uncle, I also do not wish to recount Adrian. If he earns notoriety elsewhere, through his deeds, it will surprise me. I could not stand the man's company. My mother doubtless thought that if she set up an elaborate betrothal scene that I would be forced to concede, but she never quite managed it. Suffice to say I did not like him.
I left for Berdusk before she could succeed. The rest is traveling, over plains and forests, ever southwards across the great expanse where men ride horses with uncropped manes and screech wildly at the wind. Down through the caravan roads where Amnish and Calisihite alike wear silks and satins and smoke pungent aromas through fine, pale briar pipes. Sir Guillaume arrived before I, in Brost, for he rode hard at it. Alidh had tracked me as I wagoned south through Amn, pawning as I went, so that when I arrived where I had meant to go, I discovered my father had planned ahead for me still. He wasn't about to let his beloved first daughter escape completely so soon after becoming a woman.
Maybe if I had not come with knights, I would have lived more peacefully in Brost. But, seeing how dire the county's situation is, I do not think I could have kept my mouth shut for long enough to live as an adventurer here. Perhaps what I know, how I have been raised, and the weight of my name, can be of service here. Perhaps it's Tymora's luck, or some trick of fate. Though I now seem to walk this alone, with Sir Guillaume missing and the Painbearer, my beloved nan, dead, I still feel a pull to this place that I cannot quite account for despite the pain it has caused me personally.
I think that even without them, I might have ended up the vassal of Lord Ibyn al Agis. I am told that when Westhaven was granted to me, it was because there was 'no one else suited to it', and I reflect on that sometimes when I stand atop the keep and watch the western horizon. Five stewards have preceded me here, and I am told we have come further than all five. The gates are manned. We have repelled their attacks, and stood our line. There is hope growing here, with the late planting, and every day there are more soldiers. I only wait now for my marshals to make their preparations to ride westwards.
I think that my father will understand and I hope, if he ever hears of what I am doing here, that he will be proud of me.