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Library: Things Are Not Always as They Appear

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Author: roark
Date:Jul 28 2005

     Once upon a time there was a very happy, but not terribly good looking
adventurer.  He was happy because though he did not have much money, he also
did not have too little.  He had friends to confide in and a family that loved
him.  In all things he was complete, save one.  He longed for a romance that
would finally bring his restless days of adventure to an end.  He was ready to
settle down and get a cushy merchant job in Bat City.  
     He set out from his home near Old Bat City to wander far and wide in
search of the woman of his dreams.  He traveled southward, towards Calythien,
and made his home there amongst the townsfolk who were used to restless
wandering adventurers seeking true love.  He met many strange and wonderful
people in the town.  One day, he received a message from the far north city of
Shadowkeep.  A merchant who he had been acquainted with had a daughter who
expressed some interest in meeting him.  
     The young adventurer set off to the south of the city, towards the
closest portal, and paid a high price to transport directly to that fair city.
 Upon his arrival, he met the merchant who escorted him to his home.  Waiting
for him, with open arms, was a toadish looking young woman.   Despite her
appearance, the adventurer found that she was quite pleasant to be around, and
enjoyed her company for many months.  He learned a lesson, and didn't even
realize it, nor would he remember it until much later:  "Things are not always
as they appear."
     Eventually though, the young man became restless again, and decided that
he had not found what he was looking for.  Quietly packing his things, he bid
farewell to his new friends and headed west from the city, choosing to take a
free ride back home rather than walk the many LONG miles back to Calythien.
     Nothing had changed much in the young man's absence.  Life was hustling
and bustling around the Church in Calythien, and everyone seemed to be
genuinely happy to see the young adventurer all safe and sound.  He met a
woman in Calythien, and thought, "Perhaps I can find happiness right here",
but that woman only nagged him to pieces so that he quickly decided to head
back out from home, after only one or two moons.  
     While he was packing, he met a young girl from the southern city of Lor. 
She was a fair beauty, and seemed to be of an even temperament.  This pleased
the young adventurer, and immediately took a liking to the girl.  It was to
his great surprise when he discovered that the maiden was an adventurer of
sorts herself, and had come to Calythien to get a good Church education before
traveling the world.  She was an aspiring bard, and wanted to learn the proper
way of saying things so she could record her experiences for all posterity. 
But this story is not really about her.
     They set out together and had many great adventures in and around
Calythien.  The adventurer thought, "Now this is what I needsomeone who shares
my interests and who enjoys my company and likes me for who I am".  He even
visited with her family, in Lor, and met her younger brother and slightly
older sister, who for all the world looked very much like the young bardess. 
He thought, "This is the life.  I believe I could be very happy with the
bardess maiden".  
     However, the young maiden had other ideas.  The adventurer noticed that
every time a pretty elf was around, the maiden paid him no attention. 
Understanding that his physical appearance just wasn't enough to keep the
maiden interested, he tried to explain that he'd discovered that things were
often not what they appeared, and that it's what's on the inside that counts. 
His orations fell on deaf ears though, and the adventurer resigned himself to
return to Calythien.  He bid the maiden's family farewell, and he could tell
it made the maiden's sister sad.  As he hugged her goodbye, she whispered into
his ear "Have faith!  Things are not always as they appear." And with that,
she squeezed his hand, gave him a quick smile, and bid him adieu.
     He traveled back to Calythien, crossing land and water, choosing to take
the long meandering way home.  Why had the maiden not been happy with him? 
Was there something lacking in him that he was unable to feel contentedness
with his lot in life, and was he unable to spark happiness in other?  He hoped
that the answers would be forthcoming.  He decided that he would stray from
the road a bit, to see what lovely things he could find on his way home.  
     He wandered into an old ruined hall and found great horrors awaiting him.
 After doing battle with many of them, he staggered out, bruised and beaten
but happy, having overcome the horrors that lay within.  He marked them on his
map, and was about to leave when he was approached by a woman adventurer. 
Draped all in neutral colors, and carrying no weapons, he did not hide from
her approach.  He silently prayed that she meant no harm, and was pleased to
discover that she possessed some healing powers.  The mistress healed most of
his physical wounds, and agreed to travel with him for awhile, and shared a
story of great distress.  
     She had been through hell and back, and had set out into the world,
alone, in an effort to find a true meaning for her life.  She wanted power and
strength and peace for herself, and claimed to have found them.  The young man
took great joy in her company, and began to wonder if true happiness could be
found simply within oneself.  He enjoyed himself so much, that he forgot one
very important thing:  Things are not always as they appear.
     One night, after setting camp for the night, the woman sat cross-legged
in front of the fire that the man had managed to start, despite an obvious
lack of talent at it.  She began to rock back and forth and meditate. 
Suddenly, she opened her eyes, and lunged at the man, swinging punches and
kicks, and uttering such horrible curse spells, that the man knew he was in
terrible danger.  Grabbing for a short sword, and singing a quick song that he
knew had some power to it, he managed to drive off the witch-assassin but
barely survived the encounter.  Once again, beaten and broken, and now
convinced that he must endure this life by himself, he resigned himself to
going and staying home, never more to roam.
     He arrived in Calythien and went straight to bed.  He entertained himself
by playing the music that he'd learned while in Shadowkeep and around the
realms.  He strummed the lute fairly, and many people in town requested his
presence for parties and events.  He'd found a purpose for his life, but he
was sad and alone.  
     Finally, a great day had come to town.  The Church Academy had announced
the graduation of its finest students, and on the list was the young bardess
from Lor.  A glimmer of excitement passed through the young adventurer, since
he had not seen the bardess or her family for some time.  He was pleased to
receive an invitation to join them for a banquet afterwards.  When he arrived
at the banquet hall, he was placed in a seat of honor, between the graduated
bardess and her lovely sister.  Try as he might, he could not rally the fancy
of the bardess, who only needled him with insults and with barbs of disdain. 
Crestfallen, he turned to the sister, who encouraged him, and apologized to
him for her sister's naughty behavior.
    As the family left the banquet hall, the bardess's father announced that
he was taking the entire family to the great sea south of Atlantis, for a
moon-long vacation.  This pleased everyone but the adventurer, for he would be
alone again, and also the sister, who was very fair skinned, and did not like
the sea coast so much.  She decided to stay in Calythien for a few days more. 
This pleased the adventurer who was starting to very much enjoy the company of
the sister, since she helped to take his mind off of his loneliness.  It was
not long after the family departed for the coast that the young woman
explained, "I have long waited to be alone with you.  I have loved you from
the moment you first graced our home.  From the moment that I first heard you
sing your songs from far off places, and from the very instant that I heard
the wonderful stories that my sister would tell of your adventures.  I know
that I would be very happy with you, if only you would be happy with me."  And
the adventurer knew it to be true.  And he knew that he was happy with the
sister, and that she stirred in him a spark of happiness and great
completeness that he had not felt in many many moons.  And he also now knew
that what he thought was simply encouragement and kindness from the sister,
was actually a much deeper feeling masked with subtlety.  Indeed, things were
not always as they appeared.
     Many months later, and after great negotiations with the family, the
adventurer and his new-found love were engaged to be married.  The adventurer
packed up all of his meager belongings, and started on the long trip to Lor,
where he would live happily as a merchant all the rest of his days.  But of
course, he took the long roadafter all; there are many adventures to be had on
any road you choose to take.



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