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|Wolfstone reminisces about his friend Herman.||
As written by Wolfstone in probably his 33rd spring. Some of the incidents described here happened in the Dead War, which I believe I placed in chapter 3.
It's been ten years now since the Dead War, and Herman is still troubled (and likely will always be). Herman died during one of the first skirmishes of the Dead War, and Lauren had a very tough time talking him back into his body. The strain of being pulled by the necromancers and the priestess distorted his mind. He finally did come back to his body, but the Sisters of Solara have not been able to heal his mind. Lauren and I know him as well as any soul can. He's in pain, really, in a place a bandage can't do any good.
Herman's skull reaches chest high on me, and he is slender - yet he is not one of the pale folk. He shaves his face and head once, each spring, every year. He says he feels like a spring lamb that way. These days the streaks of white and gray are getting more noticeable in both hair and beard, which he wears with pride. He wears anything that comes handy - with absolutely no loss of composure wearing bedclothes for a meal with a noble, or wearing more expensive wares to be sick in. He can be painfully vain or hideously fragrant depending on the day. We've all just gotten used to that. There's no discussion. Discussions are always pointless. He will bathe at the behest of Lauren, but not always.
People don't trust wizards - especially wizards who seem unbalanced. He can't get any comissions on his own. Lauren and I share our adventures with him and give him a share of the glory and the profits. It keeps him occupied. If he isn't occupied, then he drifts off into reveries or depressions. Sometimes even in the middle of a battle or a discussion he will sort of go someplace else in his mind - even forgetting to complete a spell he is in the middle of casting. Worse, he mixes spells together sometimes, with extremely unpredictable and sometimes volatile results.
I recall once he used his skills with magnetism to lift a ship up out of the water for some repairs. He lost track of what he was doing, and the ship began to move around and knock things over on the dock. There was a lot of damage, and the incident nearly ran out of town.
He drinks. But it is not to forget, and it is not to just be sloppily drunk. It is just his passtime. His other good friend, Zarak shares some of his troubles. Zarak is an illusionist mage who is not much taller than Herman. They have similar thoughts on how to have fun, what to experiment with, and they constantly have small contests with each other to see who can be outdone. It's usually great fun to watch, and we all end up laughing. It's one of the few times Herman can forget his pain and enjoy the moment.
Zarak and his friend Beren go with Lauren and Herman and myself on adventures. We're heading for Eaglebrook in the spring to do some service for Lord Tsanter. It's nothing urgent so it can't be that difficult.... But then I'm less familiar with the lands to the north of the Eaglebrook peninsula. There is no Alliance there, and I'm told the men are more wooly and wild. There have been raids by many men in longboats and there is lawlessness up there. Perhaps Tsanter wants to make sure it stays up north and does not come here. We'll find out in another month.
Herman has some strange ideas, but we let him explore them. He was convinced that he could make carnivorous grapes. I think he is fascinated by the idea of a cluster of hungry mouths growing on a vine. He is unsuccessful so far. Thank the gods! And he is genuinely inventive. One of the devices he made up with an alchemist friend is an old scrollcase with two enchanted coins inside - one with a light enchantment and the other with a darkness curse. When you take off one end of the scrollcase or the other you get a beam of light or dark. Quite useful, really. Perhaps he will come up with other handy things if we let him. He sometimes huddles with Elanidin the alchemist, so I know they have something brewing - if not just a barrel of ale.
I never question his loyalty though - for all his faults. He has saved my arse far too often. And, I suppose, the reverse is also true.
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