Likran Treewind's Final Confession

Eryx (DM)
This document was discovered by Khaska in Codex III-Chapter 1, and sheds light on the events surrounding the Maha'i Tawru, as well as the fate of his sword, Kvanir. The only other NPCs who have fully read it are Dragonrider Gerald Reitman, of the Hammerdine Chapter of the Knights of the Silver Dragons, and Loremaster Onasus.

Khaska has shared this document with the rest of the party, but asked them to keep this knowledge in confidence.

As I near the end of my life, I thought it would be best to put down the story that defines my legacy in my own mind, if not in the mind of the Knights. I have been living out my life here in the monastery I built near Twilight, and with each passing day I find my old bones growing more and more cold. I fear my time is short, and yet my heart is heavy as I finally commit to paper the actions that will haunt me forever. May Markus forgive me for my crimes, but I feel compelled to write this story down as a confession, if nothing else.

I am Likran Treewind. Though I was born in the elven city of Dreqorun, the elven way of living was not for my tastes. Too much of my human father in me, I guess. But I digress. My joining the Knights of the Silver Dragons and rise in their ranks can be better attested by the records kept by the Knights, so I will not bore you with those details. My story here begins in 52DT.563, when the Maha’i sent me an envoy to the chapterhouse in Hammerdine. I was the head of the chapter, having established it myself and worked hard to help the fledgling city-state grow into its newfound identity. I had been assigned by Grandmaster Finnder as the chapter head, and thought his trust in me a great honor.

The envoy came as quite a surprise. Normally an insular people, the Maha’i kept to themselves in the wastes, but in this case they had discovered one of their number who seemed particularly suited to the path of a Paladin and had attained the status of a folk hero among the Maha’i. I sent one of my most diplomatic Knights down to meet him, and my envoy assured me that, yes, this Tawru was definitely one who had been called on the path of a Paladin. With no support in his own people for such a calling, we offered him a place with the Knights, which he gladly accepted. I was not there, but was told he was given a grand send-off when he came to Hammerdine.

Tawru was as pure-hearted a paladin as I had ever met. Humble, teachable, yet in combat he was absolutely fierce and his dedication to the Code of the Good Dragons seemed to be absolutely innate. Despite the handicap of racism which, I’m shamed to say he did encounter among our ranks, after several years I appointed him as my second in command. He worked hard to prove his worth to our chapter, and many in Hammerdine grew to love his kind way of speaking, his diplomatic tact, and his absolute resolution in the face of any evil or injustice. The fact that he was so humble during his tenure with us I think opened many doors—his example, as a strange person in a city not native to him, was a great boon to all of us, even if it was not appreciated by all.

Tawru’s one vice was his desire for power. I say this not out of condemnation, for he truly was of pure heart, and we all have our weaknesses. He desired power that he might be more effective in the cause of goodness and justice. Who among the Knights has not felt that stirring in their own soul? Certainly I had. I feel it still, even in this forsaken land, surrounded by those who hate the Knights. A desire to help others see the necessity of our cause! Oh what I would not give to be able to show those here in these lands of near darkness the ways of the Good Dragons! The nobility that comes from self-sacrifice! The kind of society that can come when good people work together! But, alas, I am here of my own will, and I fear that, despite my best efforts, the people in the neighboring towns think me nothing by an old doddering elf, weakened by age, unable to let go of the past. The monastery is in disrepair now. I alone tend the garden, wishing that things could be different. The Knights send me occasional brethren to keep me company, but they always request a transfer.

Tawru was no different than any of us. I fear his downfall, ultimately was my fault. I recommended him, several times, to replace the aging dragon riders as opportunity arose, but one was never sent to even meet the Maha’I to discuss the possibility. I think this may have rankled him, but I, in my blindness, did not notice at the time.

Hammerdine had grown over the years into a thriving metropolis, but its government was originally anything but stable. A king one year, a noble council the next, a warlord the next. The Knights tried to remain above it all, but eventually, when the current warlord, a good man who ruled because he felt nobody else could, proposed a constitution, a set of laws to be voted on and codified by all citizens of Hammerdine, Tawru and I both felt it appropriate to throw the weight of our influence behind it. The debates raged long and hard for several months, but eventually the constitution was approved by enough in the city that it became law, permanently enshrined. The last act of General Grishek was to step down to the ruling council that was democratically elected. Seven officials now stood at the head of the city-state, and it looked like the troubles of Hammerdine were over. Tawru and I, as well as the other Knights, were elated.

However, the Tlerian empire to the North saw that Hammerdine had stabilized. Hammerdine had never exactly been a threat before, but with trade booming, with no more infighting, with resources now going toward growth and education and city projects, and with no more military to speak of, the city was ripe for the plucking. To everybody’s dismay, the Tlerians organized their military might and marched on the city.

The Council of Seven asked for the Knights to intervene. Bound by the decision of the Grandmaster, we could not fight, though between both us and our sister chapter in Pennadharva we tried in vain to prevent the war. However, the Tlerians did not want our meddling, and the chapter in Pennadharva was exiled from the city. We did offer what assistance we could in training and organization, but we could not interfere directly. It was by the grace of Markus that the first attack was repelled. The Hammerdine military was hastily organized, but General Grishek, called out of retirement, was able to rally the troops to defend the city. A public works project of a city wall had been finished well before this time, and the defense was able to achieve a victory, if a pyrrhic one. Thus began the war between the Tlerian Empire and the city-state of Hammerdine.

It waged for several years, despite our attempts to stop it. Eventually my cries to the Grandmaster were heard and we were allowed to fight. It took many letters, visits, and ambassadors to convince the Grandmaster that siding with Hammerdine was the right thing to do, but the democracy that had taken hold seemed very much in keeping with the virtues of the Good Dragons, and eventually that won out. I am sure the fact that the Tlerians had disbanded the chapter in Pennadharva also was a contributing factor. The Knights officially threw their military might behind the Hammerdine forces, and the tide turned.

Tawru was instrumental in helping all of this to happen. He was the one who most frequently wrote to the Grandmaster, and even went so far as to visit the Fortress of Eternal Vigilance in person several times. Despite his personal feelings about the conflict and his adopted home, he always obeyed the Code of the Good Dragons and followed loyally, as the Golden Dragons would have, all orders from his superiors.

It was as we were forcing back the Tlerian armies into their own borders, a long, involved process, that he first received word of what was happening to his people. Orc raiders, allying with pirates, had invaded and captured several Maha’i tribes, and were selling them into slavery. This, of course, pained Tawru greatly, and he asked to be given leave to help his people with a contingent of Knights.

I, in my selfishness, did not want him to go. I assured him that helping Hammerdine was the right thing, and that after the war we would go help his people. I was not deaf to his pleas, nor ignorant of the plight of the poor Maha’i, but we were stretched thin as it was, and I felt we could not spare the manpower. Nor could I lose my second-in-command. I forbade him from going.

But he left. I awoke one morning to find his tent empty, and his personal assistant gone as well, a young acolyte of the Knights. Grieved as I was, I appointed another as my second-in-command, a stalwart Dwarf who had come to aid Hammerdine from his chapter in Tir’Kon, Refrun Skaggi, and continued to wage war. I also sent a letter to the Grandmaster informing him of the situation.

I will regret that letter until the day I die, though the reasons did not become clear for many months.

Eventually we achieved a great victory over the Tlerians, effectively shattering their mightiest army, and ending the war in one fell swoop. It cost us dearly, but they were routed and sent back to their empire. I hear the empire has fallen on hard times since that day, but I stand by the decision of the Knights to side with the democratic Hammerdine against the imperialistic Tlerians. Hammerdine recovered faster than I thought, and I think will be the dominant force on Gallidus for many centuries to come. However, that thought, as good as it will be for many people living in that city and its surrounding areas, does not make up for the aching hole in my heart because of what happened next.

It was then that I heard that Tawru had been successful beyond hope in his attempt to stop the slave trade. He had instituted an uprising in the slave trade city of Clefthaven, freeing thousands of slaves and driving the pirates back to the ocean to the east. Hearing this news warmed my heart, and I took a journey with one acolyte from the order to meet him. Hammerdine insisted on sending a few troops to guard us, and I allowed them their honor at escorting those who had helped their city win the war.

I came upon Tawru on his way back from the Maha’i capital of Jevereshk. He had successfully negotiated for the return of the slaves. He was traveling with a number of former Maha’i slaves and some troops from his hometown from Jevereshk. I had set up a tent and waited for him, sending my acolyte ahead to request an audience and ordering my troops back. I wanted this to be a personal meeting, with no outside interference. He also ordered his troops to wait behind as he and the acolyte came to the tent. Tawru was content to let the boy stay.

I noticed that he had new scars from his battles, and one of his horns had been broken off. We talked about our successes, and the war’s ending, and I invited him to come back to the chapter in Hammerdine, where he would be received back. All was forgiven. I should have noticed how he stared at the ground, how he answered this part of my excitement with non-committal phrases. How his assistant was no longer with him.

My assistant noticed it. I should have. This dear boy, only a year or two with the order, so pleased to be with the chapter head on a mission to reunite one of ours with Knights, simply asked what was wrong. Then this simple lad, a farmboy from an outlying city by Hammerdine, stood up, his face in shock, horror crowding his features.

“What are you?” he shouted.

I stood up, aghast at his manners, ready to rebuke him, then noticed the fear as he backed hurriedly up. The boy ran up against the side of the tent, trying desperately to get away.

I turned back to Tawru, and it was then that I saw what I had missed before. He was standing erect, his hand on his scimitar, a fire in his eyes I had never seen.

“Cast Detect Evil!” the boy practically screamed. “Cast Detect Evil!” Maybe I shouldn’t have, but it was too easy. Just a slip of the mind. I cast the spell. Just for a moment, I doubted my friend, Tawru. A moment was all it took.

The power of evil emanating from him was overwhelming. It made me nauseous. I dropped to my knees.

“I don’t think I will be welcomed back to the chapter,” he said quietly.

I was sick on the floor of the tent, and I rose, shakily, my knees trembling. I asked what had happened to him.

My friend’s eyes dropped to the floor. He was deeply ashamed. “I was excommunicated. Did you not know?”

I demanded to know who had done this. But I knew. The charter of the knights was clear. Excommunication could only be done by the chapter head of the knight or the Grandmaster. It wasn’t me. The Grandmaster had excommunicated him, had stripped him of his paladin abilities and powers because of my letter.

The first thought, the first thing that came into my head, I blurted out. “Are you a blackguard?”

He drew his scimitar, and nodded. “I couldn’t do anything. Stripped of my powers, I was helpless. All I had was my good swordarm. So I called on the dark forces to grant me renewed powers. And I was answered. And I used them! I freed the slaves! I did good with the powers of darkness.”

“But now you’re in thrall with them!” my companion shouted. He drew his sword and lunged, but Tawru was the more skilled warrior and opponent. A single blow from the blackguard’s scimitar drove into the boy’s unarmored chest. He died instantly.

I will not bore you with the details of what happened next, but I met Tawru, my friend, my companion, my ally, in battle. It was a hard fought contest, both of us calling on Markus for aid. In the end, I was victorious.

As my friend lay dying, I held him in my arms, his lifeblood pouring from the gaping hole in his chest where my sword had penetrated him. I apologized for my actions, and swore I would give him an honorable burial. He forbade me, saying that the Maha’i must never know what he had done. Ashamed of what I had done, and the actions my hand had forced, I swore that I would not reveal what he had done to obtain his powers to the Maha’i. As he died, he handed me his scimitar, asking that it be used to continue the work of the Knights, and I swore that it would. If have used that scimitar as my personal weapon ever since.

I left him in the tent, thinking that his troops would collect the body and do him the reverence he deserved. However, in my stupor at the events that had just unfolded, I forgot that the overzealous commander of my little troop contingent was exceptionally patriotic. As I rode my horse through his troops, I didn’t speak of what happened. I just continued on through the group, and rode back to Hammerdine.

Upon my return to Hammerdine, I fell into a stupor. It was only after I could be roused from my grief that Refrun informed me that the Hammerdine soldiers had taken Tawru’s body and displayed it for all to see, a warning of those who would betray Hammerdine. This made me more heartsick, but before I could march to the walls and retrieve the body myself, Refrun informed me that someone had already retrieved the body. Over the next few weeks we were able to gather information that Tawru’s children had taken the body back and slain several guards. Hammerdine officials, flush with their success over the Tlerian empire were about to launch an attack on the Maha’i, calling those actions an act of war. However, Refrun and I both informed them in no uncertain terms that if they became the aggressors, the Knights would fight them as they had the Tlerians. The war against the Maha’i ended before it even began, and to their credit, the Hammerdine council reigned in the military leaders quickly from such overzealous militancy.

All of these events drove me into a deep depression. Refrun was forced more and more to take over the day to day operations of the chapter, until finally, he was able to coax the full story out of me. Oh how I wished to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Tawru, but that would not be possible. As I told the story, I made Refrun swear the same oath I had sworn to Tawru, and to the best of my knowledge, even as Grandmaster of the Knights, he has kept that oath.

I take some small comfort in that, as Grandmaster, Refrun has changed the Code of the Good Dragons before he even became a Dragonrider. He petitioned for the change before taking the dragon orb of Khalisara the black to himself. The golden dragons are now the symbol of honor, not loyalty. We both feel that this is the right change, and it was approved by the council of the Knights. Never again will we excommunicate one who follows his heart.

I know not what the future holds for the Knights and the Maha’i. As I live out my shame in this old monastery, I hope I have atoned enough for my misdeeds. I had the best intentions, but sometimes that is not enough. I write my story so that others may know it and know of my folly, and the folly of the Knights. We ever serve the people of Jenoa, but we do not do so perfectly. I pray to Markus and all the honorable and noble deities that my misdeeds will be forgiven as I pass from this life.

Tawru, in the end, dedicated his life to serving others. I cannot condone his path to power, but he only did it in the service of those less fortunate than him. I do not know what price he paid, or what offering he made to the dark forces. As it is my fault, I have lived the remainder of my life here, in the hills by Twilight, trying to be an example to those around me. I pray it is enough, even while I fear it is not.

My misdeeds weigh heavily on my heart. I share this tale in the hopes that, someday, it might serve some greater purpose. I feel it is necessary that it be told among the Knights, if nobody else, even though only Refrun and I know of it now. I commit it to paper and will place it in my journal library. The Code demands that we tell the truth, and though I have been forbidden to tell any Maha’i, writing this story down is my way of confessing my sins before I die.

Markus, forgive me.

Tawru, forgive me.

Likran Treewind. Order of the Silver Dragons. Tawruian Monastery. 52DT.762.