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Norfire's Journal

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA An epilogue of sorts regarding the 4e escapades of Charms yore, from the perspective of the human ranger Norfire. Ever since these sessions unceremoniously came to an end I've wanted to put together at least a little bit of closure to things, and ultimately I decided a reasonable way to do that would be to have my character recounting that time. I must warn you it does get pretty sappy about midway through. Hopefully it'll be enjoyable nonetheless, but, a fair word of warning anyways XD
The 18th day of Flamerule, 1490 Dalereckoning

I have been recounting my recent travels in writing as of late, to stave the fears of forgetting all my past experiences as the years go by, but I regret to say this idea came rather late to me, and I have neglected some of my greatest memories. Likely there is no way I could truly describe those past journeys with the accuracy that they deserve, but at the very least, on the eve of this uneventful Midsummer day, I can take a moment to reminisce the time when I truly began my life as an adventurer… before that time can fade from me entirely.

I’ve long dwelled on those days when Norfire Hammett the noble boy of Waterdeep died, and Norfire the Ranger of the High Forest was born. It feels like an anomaly that Fate has simply allowed to go uncorrected, my survival through that whole ordeal, coming out of it a different man from who I once was, with a changed outlook and a genuine purpose I had lacked in my previous life. In some ways I am grateful for it, but I have not forgotten the losses I’ve sustained… and the truths I have learned about those I thought I once knew. I cannot return to that life of noble luxury, to do so would make me little more than a hollow shell of a man. This existence, at the very heart of nature itself, for all its dangers, has brought fulfillment.

Yet, for all my training, and all my efforts to prove my worth as a ranger, I can hardly say my adventures began gracefully. From the start, when I was deemed worthy to leave the forest that had been my home throughout my adolescence, my fellow apprentice, having never truly accepted a human learning under his elven master, had been told he was not yet ready himself. This sparked an anger in him… he’d been holding onto so much hatred and spite on my account, and this was finally what set him over the edge. In the midst of my exodus, as I saw the light of the outside world, he nearly got the drop on me as I barely evaded his twin blades. I was forced to draw my own swords, despite my pleas. My words of peace fell on deaf ears, but despite the inevitability, I desperately wanted to avoid this conflict. We may have never seen eye to eye, but I had trained alongside this man, at times it seemed he truly wanted to look beyond what I was to acknowledge me as an equal, but it was all for naught. I could only defend his fierce offensive for so long, I had to fight back, and ultimately, though I emerged victorious, it cost my opponent his life. The justification of self-defense did not ebb the pain of killing someone I knew for so long, and I left the High Forest in grim spirits.

I wandered the lands for a time, eventually finding myself in a tavern somewhere, sitting alone as the sounds of crass patrons echoed around me. I had no way of knowing a number of these voices would belong to my future comrades, but as I have come to learn, many an adventure begins in an unsuspecting tavern.

First to make themselves known was a human psion, Eileen, who was putting in a herculean effort to flirt with me. As I recall, she was certainly laying on the charm, but I just wasn’t in the mood for such things, and, from how I remember it, I believed I offended her at the time in explaining my disinterest. I must admit, I have never been an expert in social affairs. Since then, she found it sporting to mess with me whenever the occasion presented itself.

Alongside Eileen was a forest gnome she had apparently befriended, Nyx. I’ll leave the details concerning her for last, but at the time she simply came across as a fairly pleasant, perhaps unassuming sort, though still quite energetic, especially in Eileen’s presence. Despite my time in a forested environment, I wasn’t greatly familiar with gnomes. Sure, occasionally one or two would allow us to see them, but for the most part they kept to themselves. It was always a treat to see one in person, and this was no exception.

The rest all came about at roughly the same time. There was Veks, a rather odd rogue with the appearance of a mustelid of some kind. He was a tad standoffish, cynical to boot. If I recall, he’d mentioned something about a curse. If such had to do with what he looked like, I could certainly understand the bitterness there, but I think that was only a part of it. This Veks fellow lived a pretty impoverished life, as do so many who take on the lifestyle of the rogue, something so often a necessity rather than a genuine choice. I think he was just used to unfortunate things befalling upon him, and likely he had very little reason to fully trust anyone for that very purpose. Considering my noble upbringing, you can guess that we didn’t really get along very well. It was especially bad back then because I was something of an uptight sort. A number of my team made this clear to me too. In hindsight, I believe their comments were justified to an extent. It wasn’t just that I was raised with that instinct of moral elitism from my life in Waterdeep, but my time in the High Forest merely pushed my sense of right to unbearably snooty levels on occasion. No one was happier to call me out on this than Veks was, especially on the occasion when I made a mistake, and there were a few exceptionally embarrassing mistakes that I made in our adventures. No one’s infallible, but that doesn’t really numb the sting of humiliation when it falls upon you.

Along with Veks there was a half-orc fighter by the name of Donovan. He was a towering chap, a real tank. I recall referring to him as a ‘meat-shield’ considering he took the brunt of most attacks at the start. Sure, that was his specialty, but I think I was being rather crude. He was far more than just a meat-shield to the group, he was a companion to us all, and probably the most level head in the party throughout his tenure with us. Hard to say if anyone really played the leader, but I feel he was the closest thing to one.

That rounds up the group I remember the most vividly, but there were others that joined our quest as well. All of them with their quirks… I recall a fierce fighter named Kira who had to part ways with us early on because of some indigestive matters, as well as a deeply religious kobold named Balasar who was surprisingly more dignified than the vast majority of the people I’ve crossed paths with, and his rat-hengeyokai disciple, Zeek, who picked up the slack when his religious responsibilities became too burdensome. For a brief duration we also took on a curious individual known as a warforged… Such a being shouldn’t have existed in our world, and the mystery of their presence will likely baffle me until the day I leave this plane of existence for good… and probably long into my spiritual afterlife as well. Identifying itself as a male, he had… trouble, regarding the varied alignments and virtues of the party. I would not draw the blame of our party’s ultimate divergence on him, but I feel he may have been the one to bring to light the fact that we were destined to go our own ways.

As for the adventures themselves? Well… They were quite the journeys indeed. We periled through rancid, dimly lit chambers of a necromancy cult’s keep, warding off the hordes of undead that threatened to engulf the nearby community. Much of the time was spent in a cavernous underground, something quite in contrast to the familiar forests I preferred to inhabit, and after the sort of misfortunes I faced in this unfamiliar landscape, I doubt I will ever pine for them in the future. Nearly drowning in a room with a flood-trap, facing near-digestion from a gelatinous cube, dealing with zombies and cultists alike over and over again… It was a constant stream of nightmares, and there never seemed to be an end in sight. Yet, we faced these dangers, the lot of them, and emerged triumphant in the end, bringing down the head necromancer by forcing him into a portal of his own creation.

Along the way I even managed to use my knowledge of wildlife to tame a deathjump spider. I named it Rowdy, as it was befitting of its energetic nature. Our kobold companion managed to tame a formidable lizard whom he named Itov, and even Veks would later on manage to get a fully grown direwolf to fight on our side. Lastly, but far from least, there was Esme, the stray cat Nyx had found, with uniquely red eyes. Our respective pets truly brightened our spirits, much as I always feared losing them in the midst of a fierce battle.

After assuring the demise of the cult and their evil magic, we proceeded to foil the plans of a group of slavers, freeing those who were held captive to their dealings. There was a greater conspiracy going on in those chambers we traveled through… but I’m afraid that was the point where the party simply could not continue. Fortunately, there were plenty of adventurers who had heard of the same incidents going on, so we made sure to inform them of everything we knew before we all parted ways… though some of us stayed together beyond that moment…

Now I feel is as good a time as any to speak more about Nyx. As I’ve mentioned prior, I did not have plentiful encounters with gnomes growing up, even as a ranger’s apprentice. Nyx was the first one I had continually interacted with for more than a few passing moments. It was somewhat surreal, honestly, that’s how rarely a gnome from my side of the High Forest bothered to show themselves. She had a similar interest to my own regarding nature, no surprise as we both spent so much time in such an environment, and ultimately from the start we got along quite well, even when the party as a whole was definitely… still finding its footing. I feel we were ultimately successful in remaining a team because of her efforts in befriending all of us. I wouldn’t hesitate to call her the heart of the team for that reason.

Still, for much of that time, as we were hardly more than strangers at first, it simply appeared we were becoming good acquaintances, perhaps friends if we were so fortunate. Somewhere along the line in the proceeding weeks though… our feelings quickly grew far beyond that. How did it start? I suppose first sparks came about the day Nyx had bought each of the party a wildflower from a traveling merchant. She’d gotten a bunch of pink flowers and a single red one as well, offering them to the rest of the party before asking if I’d like the last one, coincidentally the red flower. I happily took it and thanked her for her generosity, and… I cannot say why but… just that action alone seemed to warm my heart. It still could’ve led to nothing ultimately, but, rather, after a particularly stressful evening, Nyx and I went out to walk about the town for a little while. Naturally my stride was quite a bit longer than hers and she looked to be getting somewhat exhausted keeping up, so I asked her if she’d like to be carried the rest of the way back. Still an innocent enough gesture, I feel… though what ultimately charmed me then was the moment she leaned against me as I carried her back to the inn we were staying at… It is such a difficult feeling to describe, and I’m told others have difficulty putting it to words as well. I am no poet, sadly, but I will describe it as best as I can… It was as if my entire body had completely rejuvenated itself, as if Pelor Himself had granted me spiritual rebirth as powerful as the sun, and my heart housed an undying light. Upon our return to the inn, I let her back down, and… well… for once I acted purely on my emotions, leaning in to kiss her on the cheek. I earnestly still expected little to come out of this in return, but then Nyx tugged lightly at my cape, and curiously I knelt down to find out what she wanted to say. A part of me assumed she wanted to reprimand me for kissing her, or at the very least turn down such an advance gently, but instead… she returned the kiss with one of her own and thanked me for the walk. Even my dreadfully naïve mind couldn’t deny this was love.

Throughout our adventures, we had a few more of these pleasant little romantic moments, whenever we had the chance. Often to Veks’, well… vexation. These moments are so engrained in my mind that I can even remember some of what we had said to each other… There was the moment after our run-in with the gelatinous cube for instance… I’d stated my relief that the chrysanthemum Nyx had given me was still intact after the battle.

“I’m glad you still have it,” she said to me.

“Of course, I’d never wish to lose it, just as I’d never wish to lose the one who gave it to me,” I’d told her, smiling as she leaned over to take my hand.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I lost you… I was really scared we wouldn’t be able to save you in time,” she’d said, and I could quite noticeably tell just how afraid she was… her tone of voice quite plainly gave it away.

I raised her hand up and gently kissed it, naturally wishing to assuage her fears. “I’m fortunate, blessed even, to have companions like you, willing to put so much effort forth into saving my life,” I had said. Surprisingly to me, this had managed to make Nyx blush in quite the adorable fashion, at loss for words. As such, I merely held her close in a tender embrace.

She had grasped onto me tightly and whispered “I’m so glad you’re okay, I was really scared I wouldn’t be able to help.” She apologized for putting me in the position where I’d gotten captured, as I had been tossing her away from the cube’s vicinity when it managed to capture me. I of course, didn’t blame her at all for it. There was a good chance she would have gotten away without my help after all, I simply took the risk in assuring her safety and had gotten into trouble through my own fault.

“It’s not your fault, we had to stop that thing one way or another, the risk will be there so long as we’re exploring these places…” It certainly was the truth of the matter… Every adventurer savvy to their lot in life understands that each journey could easily be one’s last, and they may very well never see it coming. “…All I can promise you is that I’ll always have your back so long as we’re both here, y’know?... And if… the unfortunate happens, I hope you’ll at least remember me fondly.”

She buried her face into my chest at that, saying she didn’t even want to think about such an outcome. I briefly pulled away from her at that moment, wishing to give her a comforting kiss. “Then we won’t think about it,” I said, smiling to her. “Let’s keep our minds on the here and now… because I certainly enjoy this moment more than anything.” She told me then that this was one of the best moments she could have asked for… and instantly I thought likewise.

Another cherished moment of mine came after, no surprise, another of many incidents where Veks was being… very Veks-like, and Nyx wished to go for another walk with me in private just to get away from his continual bitter mockery… Usually she could put up with him, but this was recently proceeding the incident with the necromancer. Such a close scrape with death left the lot of us pretty unraveled. Of course, I was happy to oblige Nyx’s request and we went outside of the tavern for a bit.

We spoke of how grateful we were to have survived that encounter, and how we felt so at peace, now that we were out of that horrid dungeon and back at surface-level, with the stars fully visible above us. We truly felt that we had a bright future ahead of us, and could take on anything that dared to oppose us.

“We’ll be together to face whatever happens… right?” Nyx asked me as she took my hand in hers, her voice dropping into a whisper as if she weren’t sure of my response, and looking at it in retrospect, I understand exactly why she might have been nervous regarding how I would word my reply… Nonetheless, I smiled to her and ran a hand through her hair for a moment before kneeling down to kiss her.

“Right, whatever happens,” I simply said, wishing to be nothing but assuring to her.

Nyx’s smile was as bright as ever at that. “Good,” she said. “…because I wanted to give you something I had been working on.” She took out something wrapped in satin, handing it to me, and upon my unwrapping it, it was revealed to be a ring, made from an emerald gem she had acquired in our quest. “Human tradition is a bit weird to me… but I do believe it is customary to give something to the one you care about the most to prove that fact.”

This rendered me quite speechless this time. I merely stared at the ring for quite some time, before finally slipping it onto my ring finger and looking at it some more as I suddenly became overcome with glee. I was so jubilant that I picked Nyx up and spun her around in my arms before coming back to my senses and putting her back down, sheepishly apologizing and thanking her for the ring, expressing a desire to get her one in return.

She seemed to be quite amused by my reaction, simply happy to hear that I liked the ring at all, as she had spent a long time thinking about it.

It was then that I realized exactly how I could return the favor, and I dug through my pack to uncover my family ring, the last artifact of my birth-family that I had left in my possession. “I believe from what I have read in the past that it is customary in the gnomish tradition to present a cherished heirloom like this to one’s beloved… Is that correct?” I asked, as I handed her the ring.

“Yes, that would be correct,” she’d said before she realized exactly what I had handed her. “Is… is this your family ring?” she asked in bewilderment.

“The ring bearing the crest of the Hammett family line, yes,” I said, nodding in affirmation. “It is one of the very few objects I have from that time before all this. I feel rather stupid that I’d completely forgotten about it, but I suppose so many years living in the wild nearly made me forget about my identity…” Truly, I feel I may have wanted to forget for much of that time. Thinking too much about the past often brought a hollowness within. “…Still, it is very precious to me, the person who I find even more precious deserves to have it.”

As Nyx put the ring on, she looked up to me with tears clearly welling up in her eyes… and for the first time she said to me “I love you…”

She promised to treasure the ring I’d given her, just as she would treasure me for as long as she could.

I happily told her for the first time that I loved her too, and that I would very much return those sentiments, or else Pelor could strike me down. It still warms my heart to this very day knowing that we have both held true to our promise.

Even when our party was about to come to an end, most certainly for good, Nyx and I made sure we departed alongside each other, hand in hand. I recalled one last exchange quite vividly at that time. We had once more expressed disdain for spending so much time underground, how there were so many forests and woodlands beyond the one we knew, and how we both desired to see them for ourselves.

“There’s just so much to actually see out there… And we’re going to see it together, right?” she had asked me, as if she had not known what my answer would be by then.

“Of course, we’ll definitely be seeing it together,” I said, stating a fact that it wouldn’t be the same without her there.

“Good,” she whispered to me. “Because I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”

As soon as we reached the surface, we began our new journey, simply running to the first forest we could find, with Rowdy and Esme in tow. We were both quite the expert navigators by then, and managed to maneuver most troublesome encounters… but we had plenty of strength and experience to take on those that proved unavoidable… and even those scrapes with danger felt so much more exhilarating beneath the lush trees, the fresh air and the flowing rivers. We merely grew stronger as we journeyed further together, and the strength of our bond was the greatest of all. We’ve helped plenty of adventurers in need of guidance as well… we couldn’t avoid such quests, not entirely, it remains in our blood.

Ultimately, ever since those first adventures, ever since Nyx and I were brought together and became lifelong companions, I have felt something that I had never once felt before. I have felt complete. I will always crave a new journey or spectacle, such is my way, but from here on in it will all be luxury. If it all goes away, so long as I am with the one I love, it will be alright.

Nyx once told me she never wanted things to change between us, and I had promised her that it never would, so long as we both drew breath, and far beyond that too. It wouldn’t matter if we both disappeared from this realm, as the time we had spent with each other would always be ours. No spirits, no gods, and no otherworldly powers in the universe could change the fact that, for a moment, in the history of Toril, she and I shared a love that stood out beyond all others. Perhaps such a statement could be considered foolishly sentimental, but I stand by what I said to this very day.

I hope my former companions are all faring well, even Veks, much as that may bring my sanity further into question… Nyx and I have not crossed paths with any of them over these last few years, but we have always kept an eye out. Perhaps one day, some of our party may very well reunite, if the gods be willing. I look forward to that day. I met them all as I was plagued with guilt, lost in the darkness of my soul, and through our adventures, I have felt more light shining in my life than I’d ever thought possible. I owe it all to stumbling upon a stoic half-orc, a psionic fellow human, a crass, anthropomorphic mustelid, and a lovely gnome in a random tavern one fateful day. May we all bicker amongst ourselves once more someday, my friends.
  1. JadaDoesArt
    Ahhhhhhhhhh. My heart!!! Just gahhhh. Im just sitring here gushing!! This is lovely! ♥
    Sep 21, 2018
    Dwayna DragonFire and Mr.RMA like this.