Linora Mondragon, for no one called her Sister Linora yet, walked south along the dirt road in contemplation. A creek trickled along the road sounding like the little artificial waterfall of the abbey, except that this was real and that was the point. She watched the energy waves around her, all real, all around her, and all beautiful. The yellow from the plants looking like grain blowing in the wind, the blue coming from the creek in circular ripples, the red from the dirt road looking very straight and solid, and the white everywhere else coming and going in spirals. All of them emananting from their sources and then mingling with others until it all seemed a murky brown. It was so different from the abbey.
The abbey, built of stone, had line after line of red, almost pounding from the ground and from the walls, crossing each other and making blocks across the white of the air. It got to the point where Linora just shut her eyes to the weave. How was she going to learn about the weave if she was consciously blocking it out?
She spent hours in the courtyard staring at the few trees that were there and at the waterfall and small creek that had been constructed so that there was water flowing through the courtyard as well. Those few trees and that man-made trickle of water were there to help her learn about the yellow and blue weave but it all seemed so phony to her.
She had complained many times about it but was told, over and over again, that this was the best way to learn. These “focuses” would help her to pick out the weave that she wanted to use for her magic.
She looked up at the point where the weave started to turn brown and, not that she would admit it to the Rector, it did look like a jumbled mess to her. Still, all she had to do was turn her head this way or that and focus on a source and she could find the weave strong. It was still mixed with the other weaves and all weaves were but each was stronger near a source.
She had no destination in mind. She just needed to be away from the abbey for a while. The rector had obliged her wishes. The abbey was an open place where people could come to study, meditate, or just take a break from the rest of the world. They could come and go as they pleased. All were welcome and all were wished well when they left. The rector hoped that Linora would find what she seeked and told her that she could always come back if she found herself lost.
A couple of months of wandering, of going wherever the roads went, and she found Winterhaven. Meaning to only stay for a night or two, as she had done in all the other places, she found something here that she hadn’t found in the other places. A need. A need that she could fill, or at least try to fill. The keep served as a centerpoint for a large logging community and there was no healer here. There was a temple but the people said that it had been empty for over a year. The previous healer had left, urgent business he had said without a clue of what that business was, and no one had been sent to replace him. The people had done what they could but were excited about the possibility of having a healer back in the keep.
Linora met with Lord Pedraig and was quite honest about her inexperience but also very sincere in her desire to serve the people. Pedraig dismissed all comments about her inexperience with a wave of the hand and a “We all start somewhere.” He gave her the keys to the temple and told Salvana Wrafton that “Sister Linora” would be the keep’s healer. Salvana would make sure that the word was spread. Not that she was a gossip but just that her inn was the hub of the keep. If anyone wanted to know something, all they needed to do was pay a quick visit to the inn.
To be sure, Linora’s lack of experience was a frustration to her, as she struggled at times to help people and fell short too often for her own liking. Most of the people were thankful for any help that she was able to give. Where Linora failed in magic, she made up for in sincerely caring for the people under her care.
She was frustrated too by how slowly she learned new magic. She was teaching herself and it was slow going as she practiced weaving the waves of magic around her. She had no illusion that she would learn any quicker in the safety of the abbey. The fastest way would probably be a mix of real world experience and lessons at the abbey. She planned on making routine trips back to the abbey for lessons but it always seemed like there was too much to do in and around the keep for her to leave for a couple of months. She kept it in the back of her mind but her magic did continue to grow stronger and the urge to return to the abbey became less and less over time.
Lately, she had been wondering if this was all there was going to be to her life. Not that it wasn’t enough, mind you. She was a valuable part of the community and had helped dozens of families over the last couple of years. Still, it seemed that something was missing. She felt it, just as she could feel the weave around her. It was an uneasiness that was always there in her stomach. It would recede when she was busy helping her people but at night, when she was alone, it would inch its way back to the center of her gut. There was something that she was supposed to do.
Then the strangers arrived. Strange indeed. Not even from this world. They told their tale to Valthrun and her about how they had arrived here in Winterhaven. She felt honored that they trusted her with a story meant for Valthrun. After hearing the story, she thought that maybe what she was meant to do was help these strangers return to their world. She helped people in need and these people were certainly in need. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be torn from her home world and plopped down on a road on another world. Scary, for sure. Valthrun told them that he could probably help them but they had already accepted a job from Lord Pedraig. Valthrun said that he didn’t want to interfere with Lord Pedraig’s plans so he was going to withhold the information until they had finished their quest. Truth of it was Valthrun didn’t trust adventurers in the least and while it seemed he believed the story of the other-worlders, his old habit of non-trust kicked in. Linora knew the strangers would have to prove themselves worthy before Valthrun would help them. Linora did what she could though, in healing them each time they returned to the keep. If her job was to help them return home and they had to finish their quest first, she would continue to heal them until they succeeded.
Then the strangers returned with information about Kalarel and Orcus. This was her true calling. This was the feeling in her gut. She was here to help the people of Winterhaven and Kalarel would end up destroying or enslaving everyone if he succeeded in his plans. She didn’t know what his plans were, really, but she knew that any plans from Orcus would not be good for the people of Winterhaven. She also knew that just healing the strangers would not be enough anymore. She was going to have to travel with them and help them more directly. She told the strangers that she would be traveling with them in their quest. It was something that she had to do.
The morning that they were to leave, she was early at the gate. Not eager but anxious. She nervously fiddled with the three-sectioned staff as she waited. She greeted Leisha with a quick smile when the elf arrived. The elf would be a great help in the trees and said that she was a fair shot with the bow. They were going to need all the help they could get if they were going to defeat any priest of Orcus. She smiled more broadly when the strangers arrived. They were new to this world and new to the ways of this world. Talk about inexperience and yet they seemed determined to get the job done. “We all start somewhere,” she thought to herself and followed the strangers out the gate.