Soon after the incident with the dragon, the warden requested Silverbender’s services once again, this time as a diplomatic escort for an emissary from the dwarven city upriver. As an exile Silverbender was hard pressed to accept, especially since diplomatic sensitivities forbid the exchange of services for pay. Nevertheless, when prompted with a minor title and after ingeniously suggesting promise of a sold then re-granted parcel of land (minus serfs), Silverbender accepted the charge. The only remaining issue, however, was Silverbender’s charming new ward.
Silverbender suggested that the ever curious and ever adorable Silvergem be found a new place of care, or at least a temporary babysitter within the town. However, after learning of the child’s powers, the warden would have none of her. Short negotiations decided she would stay at the river abbey of Teneh, several days north of the town, along the Yudan River, under the care of Abbot Dayan.
The journey to the Abbey was peaceful, warm and uneventful, and certainly full of conversation. Luckily, Silverbender’s famed endurance held true through this trip as well, and Silvergem arrived happy and well, having chattered and probed the entire way to the abbey. The monks were a friendly lot, and Abbot Dayan assigned a Brother Samuel to keep track of her. Samuel was a large, jolly, and well-fed figure whom Silvergem took to immediately. The Silverbender and his boys left the Abbey with almost wistful hearts (though they’d never admit it aloud) and promises to return as soon as they were able.
The trek to the beginning of the escort point was uneventful as well, though a few days of traveling near the singing waters of the Yudan was restful, and much needed before what would prove to be the most harrowing event of the week: meeting with the Dwarven emissary. This figure came as a bit of a surprise; she was one of the most attractive Dwarven women he had yet met. Unsurprisingly, she was familiar with Silverbender, once a celebrated hero, and in spite of his practiced etiquette, was less than pleased both with his presence and for the need for an escort at all. His presence was fortuitous, however, as a powerful band of dwarven pirates attacked the ship, first clouding the area with a dense mist, then magically opening holes in the ship’s bottom. Though Silverbender’s three boys were incapacitated by absorbing the brunt of the following magical assault, Silverbender was able to singlehandedly slay three of the pirates (including two dark clerics) and capture one. The remaining pirate fled by swimming downriver. The emissary revealed herself as a favored cleric of the Dark Maiden by healing some of the injured and repairing the ship so they could continue on their way.
The next dawn saw smoke on the horizon, and rounding a bend, Silverbender caught sight of the River Abbey burning. Fearing desperately for Silvergem’s safety, Silverbender requested, then pleaded for the chance to stop and help. His request was denied twice, until the emissary’s line of questioning revealed that Silverbender’s priorities lay with the girl rather than his duty. In disgust, she ordered the captain to leave him on the shore near the abbey and continue on their way.
Silverbender’s search brought him into the burning abbey. His initial frantic search revealed nothing until he came to the main chapel. In the chapel itself, he found Abbot Dayan slain, run completely through lying on the steps to the alter. The chapel itself was in deep disarray. Most notably the statue of Achan, the Black teacher, was split in twain. Silverbender fervently prayed for what was perhaps the first time in over a century, and received answers to his prayers in the form of a silver light settling over the split statue. Following divine guidance, he entered the statue and followed a black path into the same chapel, but darkened.
Opening the doors to the chapel and continuing his search, Silverbender was gripped by the miasma of the place; fear, dread, and unfocused hatred seemed to infuse the very air he breathed. Steeling himself, he nevertheless continued his search, and was rewarded when he found Silvergem sitting languidly by a pool of a bluish liquid glowing with power. Her eyes were closed and the liquid trickled from the slightly upturned corner of her mouth.
It didn’t take Silverbender long to notice that something had changed. The innocent girl seemed herself overcome with malice. She teased him and stalked him, drawing a long, silver knife and cajoling him to take her hand. Silverbender, knowing the possible consequences took her hand regardless and was first overcome with darkness, sinking to his knees, though contact left her stunned and confused as well. But he heroically took her hand a second time and led her slowly back to the chapel. She fought him before he dragged her bodily into the chapel, where she fell unconscious.
Silverbender carried her back through the statue and back to where he felt she belonged. His relief was overpowering when she awoke again, once again her innocent and inquisitive self. (Writing style needs editing, but I’ll get back to this later)