And so it is, as I near the end of my life, that I feel the need to once again take pen to paper, but, for the first time, to tell my own story. For many years, I have walked over Ebonhurst, hunting down the truth for our wise and benevolent Emperor. Before that, I traveled for no reason other than a sense of estranged wanderlust, a feeling that there was always something more important, some greater truth to behold, some greater story to be written over the next hill. But, before that, I was the simple son of a bartender. Before I was known as Sheaf, the Emperors Historian, the man with ink for blood, I was simply Joseff, the bartender's son.
"How's that stew looking?" Adem asked, the cords in his neck bulging as he lifted a large new keg full of ale and moved it to it's proper place behind the bar. He was a large, tanned man with a shaved head and a bushy, dark brown beard. He looked intimidating, some would say brutish, but there was a wisdom that shone through his dark eyes, and he was the mediator of many issues. "Counselor, ambassador, cook, historian, and guide," he was fond of saying. "If you want to open a tavern in a small town, prepare to be all of 'em. Oh, and you'll pour drinks sometimes, too."
"Should be ready in another hour or so," Joseff said, looking up from the thick tome he was reading, An Abridged History of Weatheroot: Three Hundred Years of Chaos and Progress. "I put some more onions in, since Whedon and Patrick have been eating in so much lately."
Adem frowned as he took a rag and began polishing the oak bar. "Like they really need worse breath," he said. "Still, it'll show 'em we approve of this years crop, and it's always nice to show the neighbors a kind gesture. Now put that book down and get to sweeping, son."
Regretfully, Joseff memorized the top two lines of the page he was on so he'd be able to pick up where he left off later, and closed the book. "Did you know that a lot of people think that Orodox lived in Weatheroot before he became a god?"
"No, never heard that."
Joseff picked up the broom and began sweeping behind the bar. "Yeah. Apparently, there are people that also believe that the Seven lived in the same mansion that Orodox owned after he ascended, and before they did."
His father looked at him, a stern expression on his face. "You want to be quiet about that, son. I know you don't mean any harm, but folks don't like hearing about the Seven."
"I know, but some of the stuff I'm reading makes me think that maybe they weren't as bad as everyone thinks they are. One of the things in this book talks about how a group of orcs had kidnapped a few hundred citizens of Weatheroot, back when it was really small. They were rescued by a group of seven warriors, led by a drow who wielded a fullblade, like Blaid, and this would have happened just a decade or two before the Seven ascended. One of the warriors was a cleric of Heironeous, and in Warriors of Faith there's a mention of a powerful human priest of Heironeous named Alwa."
Adem grunted. "So?"
"So think about it. First of all, the time line fits completely. We know one of the seven--Blaid--was once a drow, and he used a fullblade. We know another of the seven, Alwa, was some sort of a cleric, and he used a longsword, which is the same weapon that Heironeous used, so it's not really a stretch to think that he may have worshiped Heironeous, or at least that he would have appeared to worship Heironeous. And, this was right around the time that the drow started to vanish, so there couldn't have been that many adventurers out there that were comprised of seven warriors, two of them being drow--and An Abridged History of Weatheroot clearly states that there were seven warriors, one of which was a drow engineer, another of which was a cleric of Heironeous, and that they were led by a drow who wielded a mighty fullblade. That completely fits with the Seven, before they ascended."
Another grunt. "What race was the cleric?"
"Well, the author doesn't specify. But, Maxwell Arison--the author--is a human, and he seems to always take for granted that, unless otherwise stated, an individual is human. He's described orcs, goliaths, elves, giants, minotaurs, satyrs, dwarves, halflinsgs, but he never specifically calls anyone a human. So you could assume that anyone he doesn't specify as being a race is a human."
"Sounds like your son has a very good head on his shoulders," a strange voice said. Adem and Joseff both looked up from their respective chores to see a man had entered the tavern so quietly neither of them had heard. He wore a black set of clothes, well-tailored, but obviously worn in, and the filled scabbard of a sword hung from his hip. He raised his hands and lowered the hood of his dark cloak, and Joseff noted that the man was pale as one of the moons.
"Apologies, stranger," Adem said, quick to recover his wits and play the hospitable bartender. "I didn't hear you enter, and I usually don't expect company for another hour or two, yet. I'm afraid the stew we have isn't ready, but if you'd like something to wet your throat, I'm sure we can help."
The stranger nodded, and approached the bar. "Would it be foolish of me to ask if you have any wine of elven origins?"
Adem nodded seriously. "That it would," he said, before breaking into a large smile, "because I always make it a point to have cases brought back from Onegas anytime someone in town makes a trip that way. I've grape, apple, darkberry, and maple wine. What could I interest you in?"
"I'll take a glass of grape, sir," the stranger replied, laying a platinum coin on the bar.
Adem uncorked the bottle and poured a generous glass before spying the coin. "I'm afraid there's simply no way I can make change for that at the moment, traveler," he said. "You're our first company today, and only yesterday I sent a courier to Hearthridge to deposit most of our silver in the bank."
"No fret, friend. It's been many moons since I've had elven wine." He took a sip appreciatively. "Delicious. So." He turned to Joseff. "Been studying the Seven?"
"Um, not...particularly," Joseff replied. "They've just come up in some of the texts I've read."
"They're actually quite fascinating. And I'd quite have to agree with your assessment. I've found nothing credible that states the Seven were, in fact, anything other than very competent and heroic adventurers before their ascension into godhood. Quite the contrary to popular belief, they seemed to have been quite popular--even loved--before the Fall."
The Fall. When the Seven, the once mortal adventurers who each ascended into godhood at the same time, brought their full divine powers to bear in an attempt to shatter the world. Each was destroyed, but one survived slightly longer than the others, falling to the ground a charred husk. He was unrecognizable, and all that could be determined was that he was one of the six males of the group. He uttered one sentence, "I...didn't know...." before his death.
Understandably, people were enraged. Mobs descended on temples of any of the Seven, on libraries that held knowledge about them. Books, tapestries, scrolls were lit on fire, temples were destroyed, and now, because of all that, the truth behind the lives of the Seven was nearly impossible to track.
"I don't know about all of that, now," Adem said. "I've heard my fair share about the Seven, but not much saying they were loved. They had temples, sure, but so does Nerull, and I don't know many people that love the god of Death."
"Oh, I'm not speaking about their temples. I've read numerous texts of adventurers that must have been the Seven saving various towns, freeing slaves, and many other heroic acts. Some even point to them having embarked on a quest so important it was directly handed to them from the gods, and the completion of it was how they ascended in the first place."
Adem shrugged, clearly not agreeing with the stranger, but not being one to argue with paying customers. Joseff, however, was intrigued. "What kind of quest?"
The stranger chuckled. "I daresay it would require quite a bit of research and travel to track down the answer to that question, friend."
Joseff nodded, and extended his hand. "I'm Joseff, by the by. Well met."
"Well met, indeed," the stranger said, grasping his hand. "You may call me Sheaf."