Feast of Shadows
On the 2nd of Hammer 1479 Cionid recovered Evelynia’s Diary from beneath a ruined manor in Netheril-conquered Sembia. This is what she learned:
Evelynia has obviously received the training and education befitting an elven noble of Silverymoon. She writes in beautiful, flowing script. Her prose is often punctuated with sketches, paintings, poems and songs. Evelynia is apparently the daughter of Aloysia and Drandorium. Aloysia, her mother, was a poet and diplomat. Drandorium was a low ranking officer in the Argent Legion, the standing army of the Silver March confederacy. Evelynia’s earliest memories are generally happy and of Silverymoon. Of note are several sketches of tall elven towers and giant tree-houses connected with suspension bridges. The diary begins when she is the human equivalent of eight years old. The year is 1376.
Evelynia and her mother are beset by tragedy when Drandorium (her father) and Dranderi (her brother) are ambushed while hunting. The attack is blamed on raiding drow, but it is apparent that Evelynia suspects foul play. Evelynia’s mother soon remarries to a human merchant from Sembia named Barton Thanterim – a man who Evelynia clearly does not trust. She is nevertheless glad to see her mother happy again. Barton and Aloysia are wed. Drandorium’s remaining holdings are sold off. In 1377 the new family moves to Urlamspyr so Barton can attend to his shipping business.
Barton proves abusive and strict, both to Evelynia and to her mother. Evelynia does her best to stay clear of the man, reading and writing by candlelight in her closet. She writes repeatedly about his penchant for saying “I will not suffer this.” as in “I will not suffer your insipid reading of books. Such behavior is unbecoming to a young woman.” Evelynia hates doing the “womanly” chores to which she is assigned, and hates living among the crude and unimaginative humans of Sembia. Evelynia writes of a few heartbreaking crushes on local human boys. She adds no color to her pictures of Sembia, but she succeeds in capturing its beauty nonetheless.
In 1378 Evelynia’s mother is bedridden with a wasting illness. Evelynia suspects that her step-father may be poisoning her mother. She searches her father’s wardrobe for incriminating evidence, but finds only a peculiar necklace with a jeweled setting in the shape of a skull. She draws a picture of the necklace. She finds the jewelry macabre and distasteful, Evelynia is clearly unaware that it is the symbol of Cyric. Evelynia’s mother recovers, but remains in frail health.
By 1380, the Netheril forces have invaded almost bloodlessly. At first, life changes in only subtle ways. Laws are invoked restricting movements between districts and to and from the city. When Netheral outlaws religions other than Shar, however, a resistance forms and soon erupts into an outright rebellion. Netheril responds with horrific force… destroying entire neighborhoods with unbridled shadowmagic and magical fire. Shades and specters walk the street at night. People seldom go out of doors. The resistance is eventually championed by a company of adventurers called “The Hardest Rule of All.” The company is defeated, their bodies lashed to a building for all to see. There is a grim painting of this.
As the situation in Sembia worsens, Evelynia’s mother tries to use the opportunity to escape her husband with daughter in tow. They are caught. Barton beats Aloysia bloody. Evelynia intervenes, stabbing Barton in the back, killing him. Aloysia is mortally wounded and bleeding to death. Evelynia rushes to find a cleric at the church of Tymora, but it has been closed by order of the Shadowvar. So too is the church of Waukeen. Swallowing her heart, she seeks help from the church of Shar. They are unsympathetic. Evelynia returns home, helpless to do more than watch her mother die. The pages are blurry with tears. Following is a sketch of her mother, looking healthy and alive.
The narrative becomes erratic and disjointed, giving way to great, shadowy pictures. Horrific. She describes dead piled in the streets. Sporadic fighting. The dead rise and shamble about. Her dreams are haunted with memories of Barton Thanterim. She imagines that she is pursued. There is an implication that she is hiding with other children, orphans from the war. In the final entry, she expresses difficulty remembering Silverymoon… wondering whether or not she’d just imagined it, like a childhood fantasy. The diary spans a period of about four years, from 1376 to 1380. The book is nearly a hundred years old.