“Well met Balder” Smendric smiled as he took the dwarf’s hand. More than twice the size of his it was dry and calloused, a warrior’s hand still possessing great strength despite the dwarfs advanced age. “It’s always a pleasure to meet a native of Toril. I would be interested in hearing your opinions on the state of the realms I don’t have the opportunity to make it back as often as I would like. I am glad you agreed to attend. I think you may be able to share a unique perspective on this evening’s discussion.”
Balder shook the hand of his overly excited host with regard. Shar had only briefed him on the wizards he was to palaver with this evening. However he had purposely forgone specific details as to avoid coloring any first impressions. He now stood eye to eye with what could only be described as a human child. Standing only a few inches taller than Balder he couldn’t have seen twenty winters. He briefly wondered if this was an attempt at humor from the drow, but quickly dismissed the idea as the wizard continued speaking.
“This is a just a dinner party and a light hearted discussion among friends”. Smendric smiled as he nodded to the large dwarven war axe strapped to Balders back. “You won’t need that and you certainly don’t need to stay fully armored”.
“I am not fully armored” Balder said without hesitation. “I wore half plate, it allows for greater mobility and comfort”.
The smile slowly faded from Smendrics lips as he realized the dwarf was not joking. “Well as long as you are comfortable master dwarf. Shar will introduce you to the other guest”. As Smendric moved past the drow he whispered “get him a drink quick”.
“Excuse me gentlemen sorry to interrupt my name is Sera”.
“I didn’t expect you until tomorrow Smendric grinned as he moved to Sera’s side. Everyone meet my wife Sera and soon to be first born.
Jerit McCaugh chuckled at the thought of the Traveler putting down roots.
Shar and Myrddin Og exchanged glances, while neither of their facial expressions seemed to change they both knew what each other was thinking.
“No this is for real guys, in fact that’s one reason I called you all here. I am officially retiring from the road. I plan on spending the rest of my days compiling all my memoirs and building a strong family base.
Sera interjected, “Now Smen they did not come all this way to listen to you preach your new found family values. Unfortunately I can’t stay, but I won’t make you guys suffer through my husband’s cooking. Uttering a phrase the large oaken table was covered with a heroic feast. The unseen servants will take care of all you menial dinning needs, as well as all the clean up.
Myrddin failed to hear the remainder of Sera’s farewell. Her incantation had triggered a forgotten memory deep within the ancient elf. Though he couldn’t recall the specifics he was certain it was important. As he focused on Sera he was unable to glean any information beyond what she was willing to give. Her body language, speech inflection, nor facial expressions hinted at anything other than a gracious host. He was unsure if she was a master of deception or if his centuries spent removed from society had caused him to lose his edge. Either way her incantation was beyond that of a normal hero’s feast. He set down the wine, no reason to handicap himself should there be need for action.
Shar bowed deeply to the lady Sera as she exited the small cottage. Turning to the large round table he glossed over the magnificent feast to focus on the tables new center piece. A magnificent hour glass, held in place by a trio of dragon heads on each end. While the drow did not sense the presence of evil in the artifact it radiated extremely powerful Transmutation magic. He stood unblinking, fixated on the piece for what felt like hours trying to identify some clue as to the crafter or realm of origin but could find none. “Interesting piece” Jerit said breaking Shar’s focus. “Seems out of place considering Smendric’s history with dragons”.
“Agreed” Shar said as his fingers traced the detail on one of the dragon heads. “Though he always had a penchant for style.
After dinner Smendric stood to address the group. “Friends as you all know I have traveled vast distances in search of knowledge. I can tell you that in all my travels I haven’t come across a more accomplished group than those gathered here this evening. I would like to purpose making this meeting an annual event. Once a year we gather to pool our resources and perhaps solve problems that cannot be solved by others. I believe our group could have a lot to offer all our worlds if we decided to offer it. You have all put extreme efforts into your own research and objectives. And while everyone has secrets and differing agendas the thought of spending centuries in isolation seems wasteful. I thought tonight we would start with a simple discussion centered on the concept of destiny. The question: which had the greater impact on the man you are today your heritage or experience? Balder since you are the guest of honor you can go first”.
Balder stood and met the gaze of every wizard in attendance. “I was born to be a champion of The Father of Battle. Clangeddin chose me; while my experiences certainly played their part my heritage was the basis for who I am today”.
The half-elf nobleman stood next. “The McCaughs have been pact mages for generations. That alone has greatly impacted my studies from youth. My family has always strived to become the ultimate source of magical knowledge in all the isles. A mantel I have worn over the last few hundred years. I would say my heritage has had the greater impact on who I have become”.
Shar arose after taking a moment to contemplate his answer. “Do I believe I was destined to become what I am today? I believe each one of us has the potential to be great but to admit I was fated to become the mythic spellcaster I am, then I would be no better than a puppet on a string or an actor on a stage. We each change with experience trying to become the best of who we are using the skills we were all given; the difference between good and evil is that those of us who are moral and walk in the light unselfishly defend the powerless, spread goodness, and empower the weak while evil only serves itself and forces its will on others.”
Myrddin looked to the drow “ Well I am in favor of walking in the light. I also believe the choices we make are what define us. Had I been faced with different choices, I most certainly would not be here today.
“Wait what”? Smendric interrupted. “If you were faced with different choices, what do you mean”?
“Yes” Myrddin nodded in agreement. “Different choices would lead to different temptations. That could radically alter the chances of survival. There is the very real possibility that if we had made other choices not only would we not become who we are we may not have survived at all.
Smendric smiled “so based on what your saying if I were to go back in time and remove baby Og, Shar, or any of us from his home and delivered him to a village on a remote island”.
Myrddin immediately tried to calculate the havoc such action would cause. “That would have a catastrophic affect on multiple worlds”!
“Relax” Smendric said with a chuckle” this is all hypothetical you know academic”.
Jerit leaned in and whispered to Shar “the hourglass”. The Monitor of Magic gazed upon the glass its sand frozen mid air as if time itself was holding its breath.
Smendric began to circle the table as he continued. “I have to say with the greatest respect I disagree with your opinion on choices. I believe in destiny, I believe we were predetermined for greatness. While our choices may affect minor details of our existence, from birth we were destined to become what we are today.
“And what is that “the Og asked.
“Legend” Smendric said with a smile.