Faith thought for a moment about what to tell them about herself.
Did she mention how deeply lonely she always felt, how it seemed like there was a empty place in her soul? Or how she felt she needed to be searching for... something? She wanted to tell someone but she was pretty sure that was not what Cellimas was asking her. These people just wanted to know where she came from. She put her feelings away, sorted the timeline of her short life in her head and took a deep breath.
“My name is Faith Fayrehold. I grew up in Breland, on a farm with my grandfather. My father died when I was young. I rarely saw my mother; she was a diplomat and spent a lot of time traveling. The war kept her away more than she was home.
"She was in Cyre on the Day of Mourning and was lost, along with all the others. I don't know if she is dead or undead... or if she is undead what that means... "
Faith suppressed a small sob, coughed a little and shook her head to regain control then continued. She wanted to explain why she had reacted to the warforged the way she did.
"My grandfather told me that the warforged were responsible for the Day of Mourning, the blast that killed the entire nation of Cyre. He said it was their revenge on flesh and blood people, leaving bodies of the dead where they fell, never to decompose. He was very bitter about it. He told me often how he just knew the warforged prophet, the Lord of Blades, masterminded the blast. He used to get in fights at the local tavern debating it with the others... his best friend was convinced that House Cannith caused the blast accidentally while testing a new weapon... but like I said, I’ve never seen a warforged before now. I've been taught they were built to be ruthless killers and nothing else."
She glanced apologetically at Talbron as she said this but his wood and metal face showed no expression. She felt unsettled being around him and didn't want to offend him any more than she already had.
"My grandfather died suddenly about six months ago and I didn’t know what to do. I miss him still. I don't have any other relatives. Although the farm was the only home I've ever known, I just felt I had to get away. I couldn't run it on my own anyway, so I sold it to a neighbor. But it wasn't worth much.”
Faith stopped to take a shuddering breath, to get ahold of herself. Her eyes fell on a pot over the fire and she was suddenly aware of a delicious scent in the air.
“I…I’m sorry,“ she stammered a little. “Is that food?”
Cellimas looked reproachfully at Jeets who threw up his hands and said, “There wasn’t time to feed her, Cellimas! We just got back before you did!”
Talbron was already leaning over the pot, ladling a steaming spoonful of stew into a wooden bowl. As he handed it to Faith along with spoon he said, “Braised beef stew is one of my specialties. I hope you like it.”
Faith felt even more embarrassed at her earlier outburst.
“Thank you,” she said, trying to be polite and show some interest in the warforged. “I didn’t even know warforged ate regular food.”
“We don’t,” replied Talbron. “But I enjoy the chemistry of creating humanoid food and since I do not sleep, I do many tasks around the camp to keep me entertained. Although I do not eat, I do have a sense of taste and smell and cooking is very enjoyable to me. The others seem to appreciate my efforts."
“Don’t you know it!” Jeets exclaimed, helping himself to a bowl of stew.
Faith felt incredibly stupid and every time she opened her mouth, it seemed she made things worse. She remembered a saying her grandfather said often:
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
She knew she was a sheltered, country girl but she had never felt so out of place. She looked intently at her stew as she ate it, avoiding eye contact with the others. That was when she noticed the snowflakes.
Snowflakes. Falling into her stew. Astonished, she glanced around. Sure enough, there was snow falling from the dark clouds overhead. But there was no snow on the ground… and the air was chilly but not really cold enough for snow. She had thought they were near the equator, a warm tropical place but now she was totally confused.
Cellimas followed her bewildered glance and gave a short laugh. “Yes, it’s snowing here on the tropical Isle of Korthos, the jewel of Shargon’s Teeth. “
Faith refused to ask any more questions though and reveal to them how little she really knew about anything. She decided to just listen very closely to everything and try to make sense of it later.
“Tell her about the dragon later!” whined Jeets. “You’re distractin’ er. I want to hear the rest of the story. What did you do after you sold your farm?”
Faith swallowed the last bite of stew, savoring the warmth in her stomach. She decided it would be rude to ask for seconds but as she set her bowl on the fire stones with shaking hands, Talbron silently refilled it. She gave him a grateful look.
“So, I had enough money to get to Woodhelm, the closest city to me. I decided I could find work in the city. After just a day in the city, I answered an ad in the paper looking for a scribe. I can read and write, you know. I met an odd man who told me he was a wizard and an emissary of The Twelve. He asked me so many questions and some of them really didn't make much sense. At the end of the conversation, he told me he wanted to recruit me for a mission.
"He wouldn’t answer my questions directly, but he bought my passage on the Laughing Goblin and instructed me to go to Stormreach, Xen' drik to the Citadel of the Twelve. I am supposed to see him when I get there.
"I had nothing better to do and honestly, nowhere to stay even so this trip provided me with food and shelter. I wanted to get out and see the world. I do believe the man was who he said he was… you know how powerful wizards just sort of have that look about them?”
“Yep! Just like Talbron here!” Jeets chortled and poked his friend in his wooden side. Talbron looked at Jeets for a moment, then back to Faith.
“I am a sorcerer,” he said.
“So, the wizard told me to keep to myself. I had a private room and meals on the ship. I read a lot of tomes and scrolls the captain loaned me, mostly history, to pass the time. My grandfather taught me to read but I’ve never had much to read. I’m afraid most of the captain’s scrolls were very outdated but they were interesting. I had nothing else to do, anyway.
"The last thing I remember there was a horrible jolt on the ship. There was a sharp lifting, as if the bow of the ship was pointing nearly straight up. I got out of my cabin and climbed up the hallway from door to door and ended up at the wheelhouse. Something dark and smokelike seemed to spiral around the captain and he collapsed… and then vanished. There were some dark, swirling particles where he was for just a moment… then nothing!
"Now you know how elemental ships are powered by a bound elemental spirit, right? The captain of an elemental ship uses the Mark of Storm in order to command the elemental. So without the captain, the elemental ring burst and the freed water elemental rose up for a moment, thrashing about then it just merged into the sea.
"The ship had been nearly upright and but then it crashed down onto the rocks. The last thing I remember was flying through the air and heading for something dark, very fast… I assume it was a rock or the beach.
"Next thing I know, Jeets here was dunking my head in the surf.”
“I did no such thing,“ Jeets replied indignantly. “Saved your life, I did.”
Faith flashed a smile at him. “And I haven’t thanked you yet. So thank you.”
It was the first time she had smiled since he had found her. She knew her hair was snarled and tangled and she was still covered in sand, her clothes in tatters; she must look a sight. But it felt good to smile. He grinned back.
“Anytime, milady. Anytime.”
“They didn't find the captain or anyone else from that ship,” Talbron offered. “I’ve gotten word from my contact at the village. Everyone assumes the dragon is at fault, just like the rest of the shipwrecks. Are you sure you didn’t hear or see a dragon anywhere? ”
Faith shrugged. “I didn’t see a dragon, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one there. I don’t know what the black smoky thing was that attacked the captain. I don’t know what pitched the whole ship up in the air, maybe that was the dragon's doing.”
“So everyone thinks you are dead,” mused Cellimas. “That could be useful.”