The Journal of Garthuul, Druid of Surefall


I'm starting this journal for Baelith, my mentor. Lest anyone get the wrong impression, I want to say quite clearly at the beginning of things here that he is one of the greatest and wisest men I have yet known, from whom I have learned greatly, and I would urge anyone who reads this, regardless of race, class, creed, or anything else to make the journey to hear some of his stories sometime in your life, for they are truly one of the blessings of this world, and you will learn much from them, and I have no doubt should this testament outlive not only myself but many generations beyond, if you look you will find him still, vibrant as ever, teaching young pupils in the glade in Surefall on sunny afternoons..

That having been said, however, I feel I must, by way of explanation, mention that, as all those who have been around him for a long time will surely know, there are a few pet subjects on which Master Baelith can become (how shall I put this) a bit repetitive.. I have nearly lost track of the number of times he has remarked to me on the loss of knowledge: "It is a true sadness how many pieces of precious knowledge have been lost to the sands of time on our beautiful Norrath, perhaps sadder still that we cannot even know for certain how much is gone." Many a time I have listened (or, I must admit, on some occasions only pretended to listen) as he has gone on and on with one of his long lectures on this subject. Once, early on, I was even so foolish as to remark to him "isn't chronicling and accounting a thing for bards?", or something of that nature. I must admit I no longer remember the question precisely, but I will never forget the answer:

"WHAT!??" The normally calm man leapt to his feet, and I nearly fell over backwards with the unexpectedness of it all, "How can you, one of my most promising students, utter such words?? Why do I even bother teaching you to read and write? Next you will be telling me that healing is only for clerics, and protecting the helpless is a job only for town guards! You are a druid, my son, or will be, if you don't keep saying silly things like this. Everything you have learned here so far, what has it been? Knowledge! The spells that will keep you alive and guide you in your life? Knowledge! The battle skills you have been and will be taught, the skills and trades that bring you food to eat and clothes to wear! Knowledge! Everything that makes this world what it is, that helps people prosper and allows us to work for a better tomorrow, it's all knowledge! Without it we would be animals in caves, and don't you forget it!" (that last coming with a prodding of his finger on my chest so fierce that nearly knocked me over backwards once again)

"Indeed, the noble bards are known far and wide for the work they do to preserve it (and for that you must always give them your respect and assistance, do you hear me boy?), but such a critical thing as this cannot be left to just one group! Protecting and preserving this most vital of treasures is everyone's responsibility, including me and you. ESPECIALLY me and you! Do you know where the world would be now if all the lost bits of knowledge through the ages hadn't been lost? Of course you don't! Nobody can! But just imagine what it COULD have been.. You of all people should know how powerful knowledge can be. You can look around you at these great druids of our Glade, at how powerful they can be, and you know that even in their great lives they have only been able to study a small fraction of what is to be known. Just imagine if there was even more! Imagine if everyone had even more!"

He slammed his fist on the table, "And THATs what I'm talking about! Look where we could be even now, and then look at where we are, all because of a few misplaced bits of information! It all adds up, my son, and even the greatest bards in all the world can't keep track of everything. It's your job too! Don't let anything you know fall through the cracks like who-knows-what has before! It's your duty to future generations to keep it for them to use. It's your duty to yourself to not let your contributions and discoveries disappear when you're gone, just because a bard didn't happen to be around at the time."

That was a long time ago now, but should I live to be a hundred I doubt I will ever forget it. As my studies progressed over the past years I even came to understand some of it a bit better. Master Baelith says there is nothing too insignificant to risk losing. I still don't know whether I completely agree with him on that point, but I have learned so much from him, and he has been so wise in so many other ways, in the core of my being I find it very hard to doubt him, so as I find myself nearing the point at which it is time to leave this peaceful glade which I have called home for so long, I have decided it is time for me to start keeping this journal.

Master Baelith, as repayment for all that you have given me, I write this and all that follows for you. And for our great world of Norrath, may some part of it, however small, enlighten those who come after me, and make their lives in some way better for it.

Well, start at the beginning, I suppose..

The earliest memory I have, well at least the earliest clear memory I have, also happens to be the reason I am here today, writing in this journal, so it seems a good beginning. Well, first I suppose I should give a bit of background. I grew up on a farm in the western part of the Karana plains. For anyone who's grown up on a farm that should say just about everything. For anyone who hasn't grown up on a farm, well, this should pretty much sum it up: it's BORING. Well, not boring in the sort of sit-around-and-watch-the-grass-grow sort of boring (actually sometimes I wouldn't have minded that sort of boring) but more in the way of tend-the-crops-feed-the-livestock-start-at-sunrise-and-the-chores-are-never-quite-finished-but-tomorrow-you-get-to-start-over sort of boring. I think this may be part of why I don't have many memories of my younger childhood, actually. There really wasn't anything worth remembering. Ok, reading what I just wrote that probably came off a little worse than it actually was, so don't get me wrong, there are some things I'll miss about the farm, and growing up there, and Mother and Father weren't really the slavedrivers that makes them sound like, either. Even though it wasn't easy for them to run the farm with only the three of us and I did have to help out a lot of the time, there was some time to play too here and there. Not that there was really a lot to do for play, but it's funny how you can make do when you're young..

That's not to say I didn't get into trouble looking for a bit of excitement from time to time. One day I saw an opportunity and ducked out of my chores a little early to go exploring. Mother and Father never let me go very far unattended, and never much beyond the farm itself, and I really really wanted to know what was out there. I had snuck a little bit of food into my pockets earlier that morning, so when the time came to make a break for it I was all ready to duck around the back of the barn and head off across the field into the bushes! I had made it! I waited for a few minutes to determine whether they had seen me, but nobody followed. Garthuul, the great explorer, was going to find out what the big world (well, the part behind the north bushes at least) had to offer!

Everything went ok at first, if a little disappointing. There were some trees, a few big rocks which were rather fun to climb upon, and a lot of grass. I almost jumped out of my skin when a beetle bigger than I was came around from behind one of the rocks, but somehow managed to start breathing again after it decided to wander along its way as if I wasn't even there. It was at about this point that I started to remember all the stories about bears and lions and lots of things that eat little children that wandered around the Karanas, so I decided to take things a bit more cautiously from then on. I actually saw a bear in the distance at one point, but it didn't come close enough to see me, which I decided was probably a good thing.

I walked some more, and found more trees, more rocks, more grass. It was about the time that things started getting darker that I realized exactly how far I had really gone from the farm, and how late it was getting, and with a sigh decided that if I wasn't going to risk getting lost in the darkness, I really did need to start back home. Then I got distracted by a little willowisp floating right by me! I had seen them out in the fields from time to time, but never been so close to one before. Father told me never ever ever to try to catch one, but that they were safe if you didn't bother them, so I decided to watch it for a little while. They said if you ever managed to actually see a willowisp through the glow, it meant your life would be filled with wonder and adventure! I peered and I peered but I couldn't see anything but dancing light. After following it for some time, I finally gave up and turned around to head home, and froze.

There was a young lion only twenty yards away from me, and it was coming my way. I had heard about lions. They were big trouble. Never get close to one, because they like to eat anything, and if one decided to eat you, there wasn't any way a kid was going to get away from it. And this one looked hungry, or at least it did for all I knew, and I didn't want to find out whether I was right or not. I had to get away before it saw me. I wanted to turn, to run away, but my feet wouldn't move. It was coming closer. It just kept coming closer. Why wouldn't my feet move?? I had to keep it from seeing me!

It saw me. I'd heard people talk about glints in monsters' eyes. I thought it was just storytelling, but I saw it that day, I swear on my life its eyes glinted when they fell on me. It saw me and it wanted to eat me and even if my feet were working I couldn't get away now. I was petrified and I was close to hysteria and all I could think was how mad Mother and Father would be that I'd gone and gotten myself eaten without their permission and I had to DO something!

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye. There was a shape coming around the rocks in the distance. A human shape! It was a man, strolling along, I thought I could even hear faint whistling. I'd heard stories of bandits out here too. Was this a bandit? Who else would be out here alone at this time of the evening? I'd heard really bad things about bandits. Some said they ate children too. Was being caught by one of them really better than being eaten by a lion? Did I really care? I decided whoever it was, more than anything right now I just didn't want to be eaten by a lion. I called for help.

Well, I tried to call for help. You know that problem with my feet? It was now in my throat. You guessed it, nothing was coming out. I tried harder. I tried with all my might to say "HELP!", but only got a slight croak out instead. The man must have had incredible powers of hearing, because somehow it was enough. "Hello? Is somebody there?" He turned around and looked back and forth. By this time it had gotten quite dim and I was really afraid in the darkness that he wouldn't even see me. The lion was now only a couple of yards away, crouched. I could see all its muscles tightening. I didn't know exactly what it was doing, but I knew it wasn't good. I prayed to Karana like I'd never prayed before. Please let him see me! Please let him help!

The lion sprung. Everything was moving so slowly. I could count every tooth in its mouth. I could see its claws shining in the dwindling light. I could see its smooth, careful arc unfold as it leapt with an incredible precision and grace straight at my throat. I was going to get eaten. I was going to die. All I could do was watch it, slowly, carefully, come.

All I could do was watch it, slowly, carefully, FOOM! The lion, inches from my face, suddenly exploded in a billion little red fireflies. I heard a brief yaulp and smelled something burning and something incredibly heavy fell on top of me and knocked me to the ground and I lost consciousness.

I came to only a few moments later. Something was definitely burning, and the foul smoke in the air made me cough a bit. Something was definitely very heavy, and it was definitely on top of me. I tried to see what it was but something was also very wrong with my eyes. I couldn't see anything. I blinked. I blinked a few more times and things slowly started to come into focus again. In the dim light I still couldn't see very well what was on top of me, but it smelled really bad. I heard footsteps and somebody say "Hello? Are you alright? Here, let's get this thing off of you," and the weight started to shift.

He managed to move the weight off of me and I started to figure out that it must be the dead lion. I think I managed to tell him I thought I was ok, I'm not really sure. Apparently I managed to point the way home, but I don't even remember that. The next thing I remember was being carried up to my front door, and then I fell asleep.

I suppose I probably don't have to say that my parents were extremely happy to see me alive. I probably also don't have to say that after they got over being happy I was alive they got rather angry that there had been the possibility that I might not have been alive. There were the typical punishments, and whenever I wasn't working I wasn't allowed out of the house. For at least a week afterward they made me promise them five times a day I would never ever go wandering off on my own again. Of course, they didn't have to make me promise. Frankly, I was rather relieved I had to stay inside so much.

Later, I managed to find out some of the missing details. As you probably guessed, I was very lucky and the man I saw wasn't a bandit. His name was Falon, and as it turned out he was a member of the Surefall druids, who happened to be returning home after a long time away exploring the countryside. After dealing with the lion, he carried me home to my parents, and even helped to heal my cuts and bruises when he laid me in my bed before continuing on his way. Mother and Father tell me that they even offered him the few platinum they had managed to save up in repayment for saving my life, but he wouldn't take it. Apparently, he just wandered on into the night and we never saw him again.

From that day onward, I have known, undeniably and with every fibre of my being, what I wanted to do with my life. I spent the next few years doing little more than biding my time until I was old enough to make the journey that would start me on my way. I really didn't want to leave Mother and Father, particularly with the farm and all the work that they'd have to do without me now, but deep down I couldn't be swayed. I knew I had to do it. They didn't want me to go either, and I know Father was disappointed I wasn't going to be a farmer like him, but ultimately they couldn't argue with my decision, not after what had happened.

So when that fateful day came, I left the only home I had ever known to begin the rest of my life. Together, we all made the familiar trip into Qeynos, but this time it wasn't to sell our crops or buy supplies. First, a visit to the bank. I hadn't even known Mother and Father had a bank account. Wasn't that something for rich people? They withdrew everything they had, which it turned out was only a few platinum pieces and a small bag of gold and silver, and then Father pulled from the vault a scimitar and handed it to me. The now-fraying handle fit well even in my young hand, and faint indentations of a pattern scrawled along the blade. In its day it must have been beautiful, but it had obviously seen a hard life. Dinged and rusted, someone had once apparently tried to sharpen and clean it up, but it could never really be new again. "It's not much," he said, "but you will need something. Some years back a man gave me this as payment for some of our food. I'm not rightly sure why I didn't just sell it, but, well, here it is. I suppose I had some inkling some day it would come in handy."

Then it was on to buy some new clothes. Mother said I should look nice when I meet all the new people I'd be encountering, and she wanted to make sure I had nice warm shoes (you know how mothers worry). I didn't really think it was worth the bother, but I went along with all of it for her sake. I must admit, there have been a few cold nights since when I've been glad of the shoes. Then to a tavern where we met a man. I didn't really understand exactly what was going on at the time. Mother and Father did most of the talking, and they gave him some money. He wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to them. I couldn't read at that point, but they explained I should give it to the person in charge when I got where I was going.

Finally, the moment came that I had been waiting for. We went to the bard hall, where we got directions to find a guide who could be hired to take me to Surefall Glade. We said our goodbyes (Mother tried very hard not to cry), I turned to the road ahead of me, and I was off! With little more than a tarnished old sword and some nice comfy shoes, and the letter of introduction from the Surefall representative in Qeynos, I was going to begin a new part of my life! I was to train to become a druid!

I've now spent several years here in Surefall Glade, in my training. To this day I still have never met Falon of Surefall, the man to whom I owe my life. At last report, he was staying with some friends in Rivervale, which I am told is a very long and dangerous journey from here, so it may yet be quite some time before I ever do find him, but some day I promise I will meet him, and I will walk up to him, and I will shake his hand, and I will thank him, and I will tell him this story.

About me..

The thought occurs to me that perhaps I should say a bit about myself for those who might later read this journal. I do this not out of vanity, but because it seems it might make easier some tasks of understanding should you know the perspective from which I write these words.

Let me see, well, first of all, my name is Garthuul. You probably already knew that since this is my journal, but as Master Baelith has often said, it never hurts to be specific, so there it is. My Mother and Father are Leana and Tarun. They are farmers, and they live in the western part of the Karana plains, on the farm where I grew up. They do reasonably well with their farm, although things are harder now, what with the strange sicknesses and poor crops of late. I do worry about them sometimes. I hope the clerics in town can make things better out there soon.

But I digress, let me see.. I am a follower of Karana, The Rainkeeper. Most of the people around here worship Tunare, so it can be a bit awkward sometimes. I mean no disrespect to the others, and I certainly wouldn't want to anger Tunare, as I've seen the power of some of those who follow her, but frankly I just can't come to really understand her deal. I mean, Tunare is the mother of all, right? And sure, that seems like a good thing, particularly for us druids, but if she's the mother of all, then isn't she the mother of all the bad stuff too? Why would a good god be the mother of bad stuff? It just doesn't make sense to me. And if we go out and fight that bad stuff, are we fighting against Tunare? See, that would be a problem for me. Now Karana I can deal with. He's in charge of something specific, for one thing. "Everything" is just a bit too big a thing to be in charge of, for my taste, but with The Rainkeeper, you know where you stand. And what he does is definitely a good thing, too. I mean rain is the bringer of life. It grows our crops, gives us drinking water, and even cleans away some of the dirt from our world every so often. And if there's anybody you don't want to piss off, it's the guy who controls the water supply. I mean, just look at what a storm or a drought can do to you if you get on the wrong side of somebody like that. No disrespect to Tunare intended, but I'll stick with Karana, thank you very much. It just seems less confusing that way. Anyway, I like the rain.

I am human. Fully human, that is, as far as I know (Father says he thinks there was some elf in Mother's line, because of the way she bewitched him with her smile, but I think he's just being dramatic). I'm not saying that to be snooty. Actually, I sometimes wouldn't mind having some of the eyesight or quickness of some of my half-elf friends here in the Glade, but what can you do? I've heard many people remark that humans don't make good druids, but I honestly don't know why. I do as well as most of my classmates (better than some). Some say that humans just aren't as good at the particular trick needed to grasp druid spells as, say, elves are. That may be true, I suppose (I haven't seen many elves here. I'm told their home is a long way away, so they don't travel out this way much.) The half-elves here don't seem to be that special, though, and even Te'Anara says I'm pretty good at it, and she's even been to the elven cities to teach there. People also talk about halfling druids, but I haven't seen any of those. I think I saw a halfling once when I was younger, in town, but I don't remember very well. I'm told they have hairy feet.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I am a man. I don't know if you already figured that out, but once again, it never hurts to be specific. Some people still call me a boy (mostly the elders here in the Glade), but I'm going to show them that I am truly a man soon enough. It is only a few weeks now until my training is finished and I get to go out and make my way in the world, and I'll do it well! Nobody will then be able to call me a boy.

I am fifteen. You're probably asking the same thing I do: How can anyone still call a man of fifteen a boy? Well, I don't know, but somehow they do. It just shows that the wise men here in the Glade aren't always completely wise about everything, I guess. I have been here in Surefall Glade for six years, training to be a druid. Well, training is a rather loose term. Most of it's really just doing chores. For the first three years that's about all I did, actually. It hasn't been until recently that I've actually gotten to train in some of the fun stuff, like combat and spells. In a couple of weeks it'll all be over, too. I don't know whether I've learned enough yet, though. The trainers seem to think I'll do ok, and I hope they're right.

That's about all I can think of for now. I'll write more if I come up with it later. I hope this helps people understand who I am and where I'm coming from with all of this.