To absent friends

With Kulthea being the harsh world it is, there are many who have been forced to leave their homes for distant parts. Some will return to delight our hearts again, others will journey to Eissa's comfort forever. And some will vanish one day, and never be seen again.

It is those last that fade into obscurity as the months and years go by. It is always painful to lose a dear companion and friend, but it is that much worse when one's friend disappears into the dark void with nary a word.

For many years, I, and others, have tried to keep the memory of those departed ones alive. It is not easy, because there are many new travellers to Kulthea to whom these names mean nothing. The bards try to keep the memories burning in songs and tales of long ago valor, but like the tapestries once woven to commemorate great deeds, these too fade into obscurity.

When I arrived in Kelfour's Landing long ago, I learned my lessons (the hard way) from Skullcrusher Hamilton and his brother Tasslehoff, Kyliri Avendar, and from Shalzarr Mulena, my first love. And Enist d'Eleni, who taught me the ways of the ranger. All are gone now, and only their memory remains, in my heart.

Ishmael Dellamar, beloved sorcerer, vanished one day, taken, some say, by an uprising of the Unlife, and it is his memory that has prompted my words. For how many still remember Ishmael? Is it only I?

And then there were those who played with powers they did not understand and were driven from Kulthea into the soulless darkness. Great tales were written about those brave adventurers. Some are tales of valor and bravery some will bring tears to even the driest eye. But all are representations of real people, your companions and comrades, the adventurers who forged their way in a brutal world and helped make things easier for those who would follow in their footsteps.

I was indeed saddened (and prompted to write this) when, during a conversation with a young ranger, over an ale in Helga's back room, I mentioned the name Vesitsa Talchild. My companion replied, "Who is that?"

Though Vesitsa still occasionally visits the Landing on her travels, she has been gone many years, lost in the study of things arcane. Her deeds are well known to some of us, but when those who keep her memory are also gone, who will remember?

There is no greater honor a friend can do a friend than to record the deeds and tales in a medium such as this one. Whether by word, by song, in tapestries, paintings or mime, we must, all of us, keep the image of our departed ones alive.

It is up to all of us, bard and nonbard, to pass on the tales of these forgotten heros and to keep their names alive in the hearts of all who walk these ravaged lands, and of all who are destined to follow after.

And, in the silence of Helga's back room, I raise my flagon to those who have gone and those yet to leave, to those whose great deeds have brought me many hours of learning, understanding and great respect. Join me here some time and drink a toast, if you please, to absent friends. Fare you well, dear ones, and know Great tales you are not forgotten.