New song: "The People Together Shall Change the Gate Forever"
Commissioned by the Campaign to Elect Ulder Ravengard

Every political campaign needs a great theme song. This one is inspired by the defiant folk songs I used to hear the grizzled old sailors from Amn sing when they were in port in Caer Westphal. With my crew and my family both missing, it is comforting to be reunited at last with the vihuela my father left me. It is as if I am whole again for the first time since being separated from Los Libertadores.

Much as it shocks me to say it, Ulder's political awakening seems genuine, and this bill he is announcing will be a great boon for the people of Baldur’s Gate — and, of course, a golden opportunity to perform in front of a crowd of thousands of cheering Baldurians!


Arise and sing! The people of the Gate!
The time is ours, no longer shall we wait!
Advance and fight for all that’s true and right
And soon they’ll see our song belongs to ev’ryone who
Works and toils to bring a better world.
Ulder’s decree will make us truly free.

The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!

Arise and march! We never will relent
Until we have a People’s Parliament!
Four councilors and they shall all be ours.
No more will we be ruled by patriars who do not
Heed our call: the Gate belongs to all.
Ulder’s decree will make us truly free.

And now all my brothers and sisters in the struggle
We fight for our city as in the Time of Troubles!

[FLUTE SOLO during chant]

The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!

Four councilors and they shall all be ours.
No more will we be ruled by patriars who do not
Heed our call: the Gate belongs to all. 
Ulder’s decree will make us truly free.

The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!
The people together shall change the Gate forever!


A Murder To Solve, With Only Our Ragtag Group To Do It
Can the heroes solve a murder without really being heroes?


Ashryn is homesick.

Dearest Oloster,

The moral rot of the Sword Coast continues to appall me. These people love their rules and their laws and have more kinds of law enforcement than I can keep track of, and yet basic decency and virtue are often impossible to find. 

My companions in the Grumpkins School of Heroes and I bore witness to a murder most foul, of a man named Abdel Adrian. He seemed a good-hearted, if somewhat misled man, drawn out of moral certitude to call for a more democratic system of governance. (Alas, from what I've seen, these people cannot get it together to govern themselves.) But while giving this speech, he was brutally murdered by some kind of magic or potion and turned into an evil undead demon that we were forced to kill. 

We are now in the midst of an investigation of this murder, and what I have learned is disheartening. I agreed to a meeting with Adrian's right hand man in the Flaming Fist, Oldar Ravensguard, out of the belief that this man would be interested in solving the horrible crime that took his compatriot's life. 

No such luck. Ravensguard immediately proved to be a insipid, small-minded hypocrite who is too busy nursing his pathetic grudge against the Guild — which appears to be a loose confederation of two-bit, mostly vice-oriented criminals — to pay serious attention to the real threats to peace and safety in Baldur's Gate. He immediately blamed the Guild for Adrian's death on these people, even though his evidence — if you dare even call it that — amounts to little more than assuming that because people like to gamble and carouse, they also like to murder. 

He would faint to see what sun elves get up to when they want to let loose in Leuthilspar. 

As for the hypocrisy, well, the Flaming Fist likes to hold itself out as a champion of the small folk and a high-minded institution of law and order, but in reality, they are shaking the citizens, especially the poorest, down by forcing them to pay exorbitant fees to travel about in the city. Not that the City Watch is better than this lot of gangsters, as their only apparent goal is protecting the nobility while leaving the common people to hang. 

Honestly, now that I think about it, perhaps democracy isn't such a bad idea. It can't be any worse a system than what they have now. 

Eh, what am I saying? If they try to create democracy in this hovel of a country, it's bound to fail miserably. In a generation, these people will likely be rallying around some orange-hued clown with bad hair who promises them he'll build a wall to keep the gnomes out.

So we are trying to solve Adrian's murder on our own. I think we have an interesting lead, as we interviewed one of the Dukes of Baldur's Gate, who is severely disabled due to what appears to be a stroke. But speaking to her, I have the uncomfortable sense that it's not a stroke at all, but that she is being magically controlled and her attempts to resist it have created serious and perhaps permanent damage to her body. 

Right now, I feel the two major suspects are Torlin Silvershield or the Grand Duke Dillard, both of whom might be wiping out their competition in an effort to seize all the power for themselves. 

That said, I am also concerned about our acquaintance — I dare not call him friend — Coran, who enjoys playing the role of an indifferent observer, but is clearly more invested in amassing power than he lets on. 

I do worry about our team's ability to get to the bottom of this. Only one other member of our group — Otto — seems to really grasp the moral necessity of solving this murder and obtaining justice, but he has overly rigid notions of how to go about these things. He has a naive faith in following the law, when it is abundantly clear to me that the law in Baldur's Gate has no relationship to justice and, most of the time, is working against it. I believe he has gone off to pray over his concerns and perhaps will gain some clarity through spiritual ruminations. Not that I can really imagine that guy ruminating much beyond a hearty steak and a pint of ale. 

Penance Journal, Page One
Sorry about all that, Tyr

Sometimes, a great man can backslide a bit. And it appears, though I'd never admit it to my erstwhile team of do-gooders because they look up to me so much, that I am one of those great men.  But if I am to realize my destiny to become a great knight (the best knight?) for the Holy Order of Samular, I must accept responsibility for my failings and beg the great and wise Tyr for forgiveness. 

Even though most of this wasn't my fault. 

We took on a mission that seemed quite wholesome: seeking the missing associates of a Mr. Slahoot. The first turned up dead, a fellow named Dungarth. Upon the insistence of my team, I reluctantly agreed to lie and pretend to be this Dungarth. I know that was not very Tyr-like. However, that did lead us to discover the dead body of the second associate, Sutha, and hints of a terrible conspiracy (serpent tattoos, a lot of expensive gems). So perhaps those things balance the scales! But it did whet my appetite for spinning yarns, which unfortunately I am incredible at doing. My bad habits were returning; it was wrong of me to try so hard to help my team.

A meeting at the Flaming Lizard led us to follow a man who appeared to know a thing or two about the missing third associate, a Dragon-type-person named Nissa. We made our way into an underground fighting pit, where this Nissa was made to do battle with a terrible beast. Before that, though, I told many lies as I made friends with Korin, an elf seeking investment opportunities. Now, this contact may bear fruit in a future quest for justice, so perhaps these things balance the scales! But even though that was a noble end, and we were able to save the Dragonborn due largely to my courage, I can accept that I should not have lied. 

Unfortunately, I had become so comfortable being the Otto of my younger days that I told a lie that had no balancing justice: I told our client that the gold he provided us for expenses had been spent. I kept his money on false pretenses, meaning this could be considered theft as well. That is not the kind of example I should be setting for my impressionable team. 

For this, I must do real penance. O just and mangled Tyr, I await your sign for how I can right this wrong. In the meantime, I shall redouble my efforts to walk the path of justice, and I will ensure my team does the same, for I know that I am destined to be more than their leader: I am destined to be their conscience, as well. 

Onward, to victory and glory! For justice! Huzzah!

Conversations with Otto Arundel, Part Two
An ongoing series

“The Power of Tyr compels you: Enlighten!”

“Otto. You have to stop doing that.”

“I said: Enlighten!”

“My friend. I know you are excited that The Maimed God, in his infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow you to channel his divine power. But you can’t keep trying to cast that damned spell on us. I believe we have all made this quite clear. Besides, you know as well as I, it only works on the weak-willed.”

“It worked on you before when I made you bark like a dog on stage, didn’t it? Ha!”

“Yes, indeed, you caught me unawares. Well played, my friend! I… did mention what I’d do if you ever again pulled a prank like that on me in the middle of a performance?”


“You do believe me when I say I will slip an enchanted singing worm in your ear while you sleep, yes? You recall which song it will…?”

“Yes, yes, ‘never during a set,’ I gave you my word.”

“Besides, if you have questions, you don’t need to cast a spell of command. You can just… ask.”


“So… what exactly is it you want to know this time, Otto?”

“The devil-kin lawyer.”

“Amor de Cosmos.”


“… you have a question.”

“Those… I mean… we didn't have those. Where I’m from.”

“Ah, of course. Tieflings are a young race.”

“But I thought, maybe this is just the way things are now. Maybe all the lawyers in this era are devil-kin. But when I asked the priests of Tyr about this, they looked at me funny.”

“I can imagine.”

“Look, I’m due to take my oath soon and I don’t want anything screwing it up for me. I need to know whether it’s okay for me to be seen with this devil-kin. I mean, I like the guy and all! But I need to know if he’s cursed or whatever.”

“Well, you’d not be alone in thinking so. Tieflings are hated and feared across the Realms. And you can scarcely blame folk for being apprehensive. I mean, they have devil’s horns and tails and pointy teeth.” 

“I know, right? I’ve seen some comely ones down in the Lower City. One of them beckoned at me with her tail. Imagine what she could do with… wait, it’s not contagious, is it? The curse?”

“It’s not a curse, Otto. Well, not exactly. But tieflings do bear the blood of Asmodeus.”

“What? The Lord of the Nine Hells?”

“He’s the God of Sin now. He ascended to divinity during the Spellplague when he, uh… ate Azuth, God of Spells. ”

“So all these devil-kin are his… children.”

“In a manner of speaking. The songs tell of a dark rite performed by a coven of thirteen warlocks, about a hundred years past, infusing them with the blood of Asmodeus. They became the first tieflings.”

“So they are cursed!”

“No more than you or I. Tieflings are as free-willed as any human. Some may decide to pledge their service to their… ‘father,’ but many choose to serve another — or choose not to serve.”

“And who does… he serve?”

“Come now, Otto, you’ve seen enough of Amor to know that he serves no man… nor devil. That one values his freedom as much as any pirate.”

“… I’m not sure the priests of Tyr want me associating with pirates either, come to think of it.”

“I’m sure they don’t! The acolytes of the God of Justice tend to frown on those who scoff at lords’ laws and take to the seas to seek fortune and freedom. But as my shipmates aboard Los Derechos del Hombre were wont to say, ‘a Pirate’s Life be the only Life for a man of any Spirit!’”

“But you’re an ex-pirate, yes?”

“For the time being, I find myself with neither ship nor crew.”

“You’re not going to… start pirating again before I take my oath.”

“Who can say, my friend? Who knows what Tymora has in store for any of us? Baldur’s Gate could be assaulted by dragons before we see the next dawn.”

“Just so long as it’s not mind flayers again… [stupid mind flayers… ]. But, ah, speaking of dragons… that big dragonspawn we rescued from the fighting pit.”



“… yes, Otto?”

“We didn’t have those either.”

“Ah. Of course.” 

They’re not cursed, are they?”

“No, Otto.” 

“Because she seemed to have a thing going. With the client. Ges whatshisname.”

“Geswanouth Slahoot, I believe. An unlikely name, even for a human.”

“So… humans and dragonspawn… they can… well… ”

“Otto, I’ve been a lot of places in this world. It’s my experience that humans will fuck anything, given the opportunity.”

“… you’re… not exactly wrong…”

“As to the… fecundity of such unions, I’m honestly not certain. ‘Dragonborn’ is a bit of a misnomer. My understanding is that they hatch. From eggs.”

“Ewwww. But… um…”


“The… fertilization. Is it…”





“They rut. Dragonborn pairs do, at least. I’m not sure about interspecies intercourse.”

“Oh, right. So, uh, how did these dragonspawn get started? Another ritual?”

“You remember the nation of Unther? Out in the east, past the Bay of Chesenta?”

“What of it?”

“During the Spellplague, it was… well, crushed.”

“By what army?”

“No, I mean… literally crushed. A fragment of another world materialized in the sky above Unther and… fell on it.”

“… another world…”

“A place called Abeir. Sort of a twin world to ours, it seems. It is said Aebir was home to the race of dragonborn, where they toiled as slaves under the yoke of their merciless draconic masters. Until the Spellplague somehow brought them here. There didn’t seem to be any way for them to return home — nor were they anxious to give up their newfound liberty — so they founded the free nation of Tymanther amidst the ruins of what was once Unther. Dragonborn are a clannish bunch, so most of them stick close to Tymanther, but occasionally you’ll find one such as Nissa making their way in the realms.”

“And what of the Untherians? I remember my father had a trophy case full of ancient Untheric relics — vases and such. Boy was he every angry when I… well, never mind. So you’re saying the Untherians are all dead?”

“Well… it had seemed so, yes. But just six years past, in the Year of the Nether Mountain Scrolls, the Sundering returned the people of Unther to Toril. It appears they had somehow… traded places with the dragonborn?”

“But now they’re back.” 


“And I presume they’re none too happy to find what has become of their former lands?”

“‘Death to the godless lizards’ is a popular Untheric rallying cry, I understand.”

“… You’re sure these dragonspawn aren’t cursed?”

New song: "The Downfall (They Sold Their Souls For Nothing)"
Commissioned by The Legendary Grumpkins' All Purpose Heroes Agency

Listen, WIlvyn, it's not easy writing songs about ordinary townsfolk who decide it's a good idea to kidnap babies and feed them to hags. Even if we did manage to put a stop to it, we couldn't save poor Ella's baby. Or Ella. Or the town. Best I could come up with was a cautionary tale of sorts.

Where the roads cross
They sowed
And reaped downfall
Chanting for their home
Their young
They went too far
The children in their beds
The visions in their heads
They want too much
They want too badly
They sold their souls for nothing

In this land of deprivation
The courts are like dumbshows
Don’t look behind the curtain
The jury cries
There’s not going to be a jackpot
At the end of your twisted rainbow
Not if local justice has even one good eye

Oh it's not like they were blind
They saw
But took no action
As she began to climb
It wasn't hard to guess
That the end would be a mess
They want too much
They want too badly
They sold their souls for nothing

In this land of deprivation
The judges are sleeping
But for a quick-tongued Tiefling lawyer
Who showed the rot underneath
Outside their sleepless windows
The terrified mother was shrieking
While down some smuggler’s passage ran
The most heartless thief

Oh we’re tangled in your lies
Your scheme
Your spider web
Spit-spun down in the caves
They hide
They want your head
They ate your young alive
You thought that way you’d thrive?
You lie too much
You lie too badly
You sold your souls for nothing

New song: “Even Tyr Disappears” by Bermejo Bêlit
Commissioned by the Clerics of the Maimed God

In exchange for restoring the dragonborn Nissa to health, I promised the faithful of Tyr I would compose a song in honor of their once-fallen, newly-risen god.

I must admit, even though my initial attempt to mentor her in the techniques of popular flute styles was not entirely successful, I remain intrigued by the elaborate high elvish melodies Ashryn plays to herself late at night. They are unlike any music I have ever heard. While I fear they are too complex for the common folk to ever fully embrace, I can‘t help but be influenced by their strange charms. Perhaps if they were paired with a stronger beat and some rousing lyrics?

Anyway, for good or ill I believe this song betrays a trace of Ashryn's influence. If only I had my father’s vihuela back! This song could really use some face-melting vihuela.

Oh a smile hides all your scorn for the meek
Oh it's not the magic it's the justice that I seek

Even Tyr disappears
Even Tyr disappears

Oh, the more that we struggle the deeper in the pit
If we ask for a hand then they show their fist

In this Age of Upheaval, the blind show us the way.


Even Tyr disappears
Even Tyr disappears

Oh and what about the pain?
Don't ask me to bow, we all know who’s to blame
Hey hey hey

Even Tyr disappears
Blinded, yes, but a seer

Yeah our fire has no price
Yeah we been born twice

Yeah our fire has no price
Yeah we been born twice


Yeah our fire has no price
Yeah we been born twice

Yeah our fire has no price
Yeah we been born twice


Corruption abounds in Baldur's Gate
The moral ugliness is offset by acts of true heroism


Dearest Oloster,

The past two days have been a whirlwind of emotion. Grumpkins sent us on a new mission, to help discover some missing people who had been involved in something called "union organizing". I'm still a bit hazy on what it is — for some reason, the people of the Sword Coast who actually do the labor get the least amount of money for it, and these people are attempting to rectify this problem — but the leader of this labor organization, a handsome middle-aged man named Ges, seemed like he had a heart of gold. His true love, Nissa the Dragonborn, also seemed, to all her know her, like a gallant person and a true knight who cares for small as much as for the mighty. 

Alas, these two, who are noble of heart if not in birth, were being badly misused by their "union organizing" fellows. These shameful people used good works as a cover for the most deplorable criminal behavior: Smuggling monstrous beasts into Baldur's Gate and pitting them in fights against warriors who are often being manipulated into fighting by magic. Nissa was kidnapped by these horrible people, who abused the trust she had placed in them in order to hoodwink her. 

But, as I have once heard someone say, karma is a bitch. The nefarious plot was uncovered only because the underground criminals, a human man and a half-orc woman, brought a slaad over from the gods only know where, and that slaad used their bodies as hosts to birth baby slaads, a process that inevitably kills the host. We were able to save Nissa and uncover the plot, but I fear that this "union organizing" effort has been set back a decade. 

The lessons learned from these events are hard to categorize. On one hand, I despair of rejoining a world where people are capable of barbarity on this level. On the other hand, my fellow heroes — as well as Ges and Nissa — were a reminder that many in this world have a deep sense of justice. It's ennobling and inspiring. I continue to recommend that, based my observations of the Sword Coast, we should proceed with caution when it comes to opening up our world to theirs. 

Humans lack moral clarity
It is shocking how easily they are deceived

Dearest Oloster,

Our first mission with the Grumpkins Hero Agency was awful, but also quite revealing of the moral limitations of human beings. We came to this small village of Skalkwood, which was trying to rebuild itself after being torn apart by war. But alas, they had resorted to the worst of all ways to rebuild themselves! In their weak desire to have more children at a faster pace, they allowed a hag to bamboozle them into handing over babies for sacrifice. 

The hag, who had naturally disguised herself as a normal human woman, convinced these small-minded folk that handing babies over to be murdered would somehow save the lives of other infants. I'm half convinced that she had cursed their village in the first place, causing high infant mortality and infertility. (You should send me the statistics regarding the normal rates of such things for humans. I knew it was a problem, in an abstract way, but this is the first time I'd dealt with it directly.) If so, that makes this tale all the darker, for she was selling them a "cure" for a problem she was causing herself. 

Either way, we unmasked the hag and exposed the conspiracy of baby-murder. But the grief upon these people when they fully considered what they had done was a sight to behold. I forgave them immediately. Their lives are mean enough, and I see no value in adding further inhumane punishments.  The unnecessary loss of their babies was clearly punishment enough. 

Alas, the primitive system of justice here is such that there was fear that the entire village would be hanged if the local baron was to find out what they have done. (I see now the wisdom of our ancestors abandoning the rigid lawfulness that so many humans subscribe to, a value system that puts rules above deeper values like forgiveness and empathy.) So we allowed the humans to burn the village to the ground and disappear into the night. Their time on earth is brief. I see no purpose in making it unnaturally briefer. 

I do worry that people who are capable of making such poor decisions might not cope well with exposure to our superior morality. However, they are clearly in such need of our wisdom, that I continue to believe it's worth the risk.

Conversations with Otto Arundel
An ongoing series

“So, Bermejo. You seem well-versed in lore and such.”

“Bards often take inspiration from history, Otto. You never know when a tiny detail from some ancient battle will make for a delightful song.”

“Right. So, I was thinking.”


“Your past is my future.”


“Events that were ahead of me are behind you. Behind me, too, now, I suppose. Except I don’t remember any of it because I wasn’t there.”

“You want to know what has happened since you were banished.”


“And that was in the Year of the… Riven Skull, I believe?”

RIVEN SKULL, yeah! That was a great year for me.”

“Until you were banished.”

“Look, just tell me what I missed, all right?”

“Okay, Otto. The first thing you need to know is that in the time you've been gone, Faerûn has been through three world-shaking cataclysmic events: the Time of Troubles, the Spellplague, and the Sundering. These were all very, very bad.”

“Do any of those involve Tyr? He’s the god that grants me divine power. He must still be around, because, as you have seen, my mighty blows are imbued with Tyr’s holy strength!”

“… sure. Now, listen. Let’s begin with the Time of Troubles — also known as the Fall of the Gods, or the Godswar. This all began in the Year of Shadows, which came about a hundred years after you were banished. For the rest of us, it was a hundred and thirty years ago.”


“So the Time of Troubles started when Lord Ao, the Overgod, cast all the other gods down from the heavens and sentenced them to walk amongst the mortals.”

“So Tyr came to Toril? That’s awesome! Did you meet him?”


“Oh, right, you’re not a real elf, I keep forgetting. You have that scruffy beard and everything.”

“Also, I’m twenty-one years old.”

“You’re saying you didn’t meet him.”

“Listen. The Time of Troubles was a time of great upheaval. Magic went wild, the existing order was shattered, gods died, and new gods rose. You know Bane, the god of tyranny?”

“I am sworn to oppose him!”

“Indeed. So Bane and Torm slew each other in battle.”

Torm? No! Some of my best buds worship Torm!”

“And you know Bhaal, God of Murder?”

“His followers are the worst! My order is devoted to their destruction.”

“He was — who could have predicted? — murdered. By a mortal.”

“It must have been a great hero who did the deed! Was it a Knight of Samular? Surely it was! Only a Knight of Samular could take down Bhaal!”

“Actually, it was a human thief from the streets of Zhentil Keep. His name was Cyric. He slew Bhaal with the legendary sword Godsbane, and took over as the new Lord of Murder. Then he killed Leira, The Lady of Deception, and stole her powers as well.”

“Hold. You’re telling me a mortal became a god?”

“Cyric wasn’t the only one. Lady Kaitlin Tindall Bloodhawk, leader of a small band of mercenaries, prevailed against overwhelming odds and turned back an invading horde of goblinkind, saving the nation of Tethyr from utter annihilation. Her skill and valor were so great that the Lord of Battles raised her to godhood, and she became the Red Knight, Goddess of Strategy.”

“Was she hot? She sounds hot. ‘Lady Kaitlin Tindall Bloodhawk’ — how could you not be hot with a name like that? Oh, man, can you imagine what it must be like to fuck a god?”

“Well, that happened too. Bhaal had foreseen his own death, so before he was killed, the Lord of Murder lay with countless mortal females and sired scores of progeny, all of them infused with his divine essence. One of the Bhaalspawn, Sarevok, planned to ascend to godhood himself, and almost caused a war between Amn and Baldur’s Gate before he was stopped. It’s a famous tale around these parts. Many great songs have been written about it.”

“Fine, fine. But what of Tyr? Tell me of Tyr, bard!”

“Well — in your time, you probably knew him as Tyr the Evenhanded, yes?”

“Indeed! Or ‘Tyr Grimjaws’ — I like that one. Or ‘The Lord of Justice.’ That’s my favorite. ‘BOW DOWN BEFORE THE LORD OF JUSTICE, VARLET!’”

“Uh-huh. So, the thing is, these days, most people know Tyr as ‘The Maimed God.’”

“… what?”

“That’s because his sword hand was bitten off during the Time of Troubles. By Kezef the Chaos Hound.”


“Also, he was blinded. He dared to question the justice of the Overgod’s decree, so Ao gouged out his eyes.”


“Later, during the Spellplague, Cyric tricked Tyr into killing his friend and ally, Helm, god of watchfulness. After that, Tyr lost all faith in his ability to lead his worshippers, and abdicated his godhood.”


“Having shed his divine essence, Tyr died fighting off a demonic invasion of the upper realms.”


“There, there Otto. It was a heroic death. The stuff of legend. I’ll sing you a song of it sometime.”


“… oh, also, he got better. Did I forget to mention that? Yes, Tyr returned to the Realms during the Sundering. Remember, the Sundering? I mentioned it earlier.”

“… Tyr’s not dead.”

“Not anymore, no.”

“… he’s still the God of Justice.”

“He is.”

“Oh thank the gods. I mean… you know what I mean.”

“I do, actually. Take heart, Otto. There may be a lesson in there for a young squire such as yourself.”


“Knight, of course.”

“I’m just so happy my god is back! Now that I think about it, what could be better than that? That’s so badass. Back from the dead! Tyr! And good as new, yes? He got his hand restored and his eyes restored and he’s ready to go out and kick the ass of those demons that took him down!"

“Oh no. No, Otto, I’m afraid not.”

“Explain yourself.”

“‘The Maimed God,’ remember? Also known as ‘Blind Tyr.’ Nowadays, his faithful are known to wrap a strip of cloth over their eyes to remind others of the blindness of justice.”

“… I’m not doing that.”

“That’s between you and your god, Otto.”

“… stupid mind flayers.”

My shoes are ruined
And my hair is not looking so great

Dearest Oloster,

Well, I can't say you didn't warn me that this would be hard. As much as I tried to mentally prepare myself for how rough, dirty and uncouth the underdeveloped world can be, the Sword Coast has exceeded my already low expectations. Everything here is covered in a layer of filth, especially in the cities. People dump chamber pots — unlike Evermeet, they have not developed indoor plumbing here — directly onto the street. Horses evacuate carelessly and no one seems compelled to pick it up, much less use even the most casual charm to dissipate all the dung. Even if you watch where you are stepping, which I quickly learned to do, it's nearly impossible to avoid all the filth. 

So my embroidered shoes are ruined. I threw them away and bought a common pair of boots, a choice which amused my companions.

Thankfully, Grumpkins has sent us on our first mission, out into the forest, where the air is much fresher. 

Not everything is terrible, however. The people of the Sword Coast are a diverse and merry folk, if primitive. In the most important aspects, they are much like us. They enjoy food and drink and music, even if they prefer simplistic rhythms and melodies and disdain the more intricate music of our people. I must confess, however, that I am beginning to like many of their songs. One song, "The Cowardly Squire", is especially catchy. 

I've met all manner of people here, of the sorts I've only read about before in books: Gnomes, half-elves, halflings, even a tiefling! Our group also has a wood elf, though he's unlike most who'd traveled on business to Evermeet, rougher around the edges. It's very strange. 

And then there's humans. They are everywhere! They are so tall and hairy and frankly, most of them really don't smell so great. But so far, most of them seem kind-hearted and well-meaning. 

One of the humans in our group, however, seems a bit different. He's a knight from a noble family who bathes every day, eats with a knife and fork, and pays some mind of how he presents to others. His courage and charm remind me of the brave scholar-soldiers of Evermeet, though perhaps he would do well to crack a book open more often. With men like him around, you get a sense that these people could, with some help, really develop a proper civilization. 

I have much to learn, but right now, my sense is that opening Evermeet up to this world would beneficial, especially as their lives would be so improved by learning more about how the civilized world functions. I am currently inclined to believe they are ready for us, though obviously, this topic will require a lot more study. 


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