I, Wenrick of Evendale, Master of the Ancient Cypher Square, Pilgrim of the Eight Bridges, Courier to the Court, and Guardian of The Seal of Consonance, believing that I am nearing the end of my days, wish to set down the tale of how The Seal of Consonance came to be lost. It is my hope that since I am too old and no longer fit for the quest to recover it, that a learned and stronger seeker may in good faith recover it for the final and complete restoration of the kingdom.
It is now two score and eleven years since the fateful day. I, as the guardian, was carrying the seal to Lindencroft where it was to be publically affixed to the village's petition to expand their fields into the Crown Forests. As in all past, public ceremonies, I would affix the upper left half of the seal bearing the white hand of justice on blue and the local official would affix the lower right half bearing the golden annulets of fidelity on red thus completing the shape of a shield. I had joined a small group of other travelers at the last inn. As was my habit I wore plain clothes as my official robes silenced all conversation, but still I kept the seal close upon my person.
Near midday we were set upon by a group we believed to be bandits. We were not robbed but instead bound, hooded, and led away. It was many perilous days later that I learned this attack to be the first outrage in the Sethian Revolt. Now, at long last, with the passing in death of the murderous usurper Nanuil Seth, the kingdom is returning to harmony. The lands where I was taken captive are once again safe, but I, alas, am too enfeebled to seek the hiding places of the seal that I sought in terror and haste so long ago.
The sun had just set when we were made to sit down amid a group of fragrant, young spruce and cedar and our hoods were removed. In the gathering dusk I could see a small lake to the south. We were each given a bowl of vile porridge, and while struggling against my bonds to eat it I discovered they had loosened. Our captors left to join a noisy gathering to the east, leaving two behind to guard us. Soon they began to amuse themselves with our baggage and broke into my small chest. At first they closely examined my official robes but, being dullards, cast them aside when they discovered the bottle of cordial that I carried on my journeys. The sight of my robes filled me with dread as I knew I would soon be discovered and the seal would fall into the wrong hands. I determined to escape and hide it.
Carefully, yet frantically, I worked my bonds until at last my hands were free. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I moved toward the cloaking branches of two, small spruce. Once behind them I began to crawl further away. Finally I stood and began walking carefully through the forest. Suddenly, there were loud shouts behind me, and I knew that my absence had been discovered. Panic stricken, I fled through the nearly dark forest. Thorns tore at my clothing and flesh, and I fell many times. I was about to raise myself after a fall when I heard voices nearby and nearly fainted with fear. The searchers passed less than the length of my body away. In the gloom they had mistaken me for another large rock behind the ones next to which I had fallen.
It was then that I was afforded a stroke of good fortune. As I reached out in the dark to raise myself, my hand found a crevice between two of the rocks. Here was a place to hide part of the seal. Carefully, I placed one half in the space and sealed the entrance with another small stone. Six stones there were in all, aligned east to west. Between the second and third grew a small sapling with two trunks, the crevice being formed by the third and forth. I then moved around the rocks, discovered a path, and decided to follow it to the west, away from my pursuers.
The path continued toward the west and passed near a small lake to the south. At length it ended in a corner of a greensward. I moved southerly along the forest edge, keeping in the shadows cast by the now rising moon. Then the edge turned to the east. To expose myself in the moonlight was folly, yet I had been traveling north to Lindencroft so safety must lie to the south. I watched and waited. Finally I moved carefully out into the open. I crossed a small stream near where it flowed out of a larger lake, and I followed the shoreline of the lake to the south. As morning approached, I decided to rest for a time beneath a copse of small willows.
I awoke to noises near noon and was panic-stricken. Thankfully, it was only nearby water birds. I began to walk to the southwest through a gently rising land with scattered trees and soon approached a dense forest. As I drew near, I could make out an opening into the forest which marked the end of a well-worn path.
I had followed the path for a short distance when it was joined by a second, smaller path from the left and then yet another. In but a short distance, yet another path crossed the one I was following. It was then that I decided that I must find some way to record my route if the maze of trails continued. But how to accomplish this? I had no writing materials. At length I determined to record the crossings, joinings, and forks and the direction I took by scratching simple symbols into the inner side of my belt with a sharp stone.
At the trail crossing I decided to turn left as that way seemed to be going to the south. Very shortly another path joined from the left, but I continued to go straight. After some distance I came to a crossing. My way seemed to be moving too far to the west, so I turned to the left. The trail then forked, and the way to the right seemed to again be bearing south. A minor trail joined from the left and behind, but I continued straight on. Soon another trail joined from the right which appeared to run straight west. Again, I continued straight ahead.
At length I came to a place where the path fell steeply away from me and, while pausing to rest upon a large rock, I heard faint noises behind me on the trail. I turned and fled into the forest some fifty of sixty steps to the east and lay down behind a terribly mis-shapen tree. It was not long before I heard them pass by, the sound of their armor chilling me to the bone.
I lay behind the tree for a long time daring to neither continue on the path nor go back the way I had come. Then it came into my mind that I still carried the second half of the seal. I had kept it with me as proof of my identity but now the danger was too great, and I determined to hide it as well. A hole in the base of the tree seemed a safe place, but as I was about to place the seal inside there came a snarl from some small beast inside. I made my way some thirty steps to the north and there found a large rock with a crevice under itís south side and placed the seal there. Then, slowly, my ears straining for any sound, I began to make my way back to the path. Once on it I began retracing my steps back to the last crossing. Clearly my flight to the south had been anticipated. I decided to make my way to the west before again turning south, and so, upon reaching the crossing, I continued straight.
It was not long before the path was joined by three others to form a triangle. Two seemed to be going back in the direction I had come. The third bore left to the south, and I made my way upon it. Gradually it turned to the west and came to a fork. To the north it continued in the forest, while to the west there seemed to be an opening lit by the westering sun. I made my way west, crossing a very small trail, and came to the forest edge with a well-traveled road just beyond, but, alas, not a road that was familiar to me.
Across the road to the northwest was a small grove of trees. I made my way to it and discovered a path that led to a delightful spring which fed a small brook. The path continued along the right side of the brook then moved away and ended on a small point of land at the edge of a lake. The overarching pines and spruces provided a sense of security and I fell into an exhausted sleep.
I was awakened in the early dawn with a sword at my throat. I expected to be killed in an instant but was rudely raised to my feet and my hands bound. We moved but a short distance back up the path and took another which bore to the left. We emerged from the grove through a well-concealed entrance into the western edge of a small clearing between the lake and the road. We traveled north for some distance along the road when I beheld the joyous site which nearly stopped my heart: the southern entrance to my Lord Greenfield's summer palace with the small lake and island just beyond. I was saved!