Our Guild-master and his escorts led us into the baking desert of a street and immediately down a side road, moving at a brisk pace that suggested no wish to tarry long in this withering heat. We kept pace, asking no questions. Our group was complete, except for Dusty and Lunk; Reece and Spiritz, BOB, Pulp, Xel’Xaran (who seems to be having issues with his ears – I must remember to offer my medical expertise), Gord, Alex, and myself.
Not five minutes later, as we marched along a vacant section of Callia’s residential district, Gavin suddenly turned down a narrow and unremarkable alley. There was a merchant at a push-cart in this narrow defile; the man nodded slightly to Gavin as our Guild-master strode past.
Then the merchant eyed each of in turn, seemingly committing us to memory. There were goods displayed on the merchant’s cart but he hardly seemed interested in selling anything; not this far removed from what would be better visibility of the main thoroughfare.
The alley turned and turned again, leading us past shuttered windows. It felt like someone was watching us from behind them. Then our path opened up into a most remarkable place.
We found ourselves in a town square, a circular fountain at the center with thin trees spaced around it. On all sides connected houses bordered the cobblestone, and there was a large common-house. There were but two narrow alleys leading out besides that path by which we came in, and though we were only a half city-block from the main street, this neighbourhood seemed entirely private. It even smelled nicer here than in the rest of Callia. Gavin had led our group into some mysterious hideaway tucked in a corner of the city, between the outer walls and the Guild house. Still we had no idea why he brought here.
Our group followed Gavin as he led us to a particular building of narrow row-houses. I was distracted by one detail that caught my eye; it was a cup on the edge of the fountain.
The fountain itself was elegant and tiled, and contained water even in these parched summer conditions. I was struck more by the glittering, polished golden chalice on the low, broad ledge of the fountain. At first I did not take its meaning. It was simply an odd artifact, a precious ornament or treasure carelessly left beside a pool in a public square, unobserved and unattended and waiting to be lifted and spirited away by miscreant hands. It caught my attention because it really had no place being where it was.
When I looked closer, I saw our Guild’s insignia and colors etched in the fine workings of the cup and stem of the chalice. I remembered an old, old story. Then I knew what that chalice represented, and why it remained where it was, unmolested. And I knew what this place was.
Gavin’s intent in bringing us here was to reward us. For our efforts on our mission, we were each of us was given a small apartment in our Guild’s protected neighbourhood. Our houses were connected, side-by-side, in a row down one side of the public square; a broad window and a heavy wooden door fronting each unit. Numbered keys were pressed to each of our hands, as we stood in shock and considered our most unexpected good fortune. Right then I don’t know if we knew how to react.
Journal of Dr. Marcus Grant
Healing Cleric of Pelor, Order of St-Jude Academy (Silabrek)
20th Day, back in Callia, territory of Ælim.