Lynn Abbey

The Simbul_s Gift

(Забытые королевства:Nobles – 6)

From the Concise History of the Chosen Seven written by Cirian, Master Chronicler at Candlekeep, in the Year of the Blue Flame. Filed-misfiled-by Mehgrin, apprentice at Candlekeep, on a dreary day when she had a headache.

The queen of Aglarond, called the Simbul and the witch-queen and many, many other, less complimentary names, is, in fact, Alassra Shentrantra, sixth of The Seven Chosen Sisters. The circumstances of her birth in Neverwinter in the Year of the Yearning are recorded elsewhere. Suffice to say, she was not yet two years of age when her mother, Elue Shundar, died and her father, Dornal, vanished from her life. The mage Elminster entrusted her to the Witches of Rashemen for her upbringing, telling the witches that Alassra was an orphan and without siblings.

Neither statement was true, but the witches, trusting Elminster, believed him, and Alassra grew up believing the witches.

Alassra left Rashemen at the age of sixteen, leaving neither roots nor regrets. For decades she roamed Faerun in search of magic. She stopped wherever there was something to learn, and stayed only until she had mastered it. Deep in a bat-ridden cave, while she was searching for the living pearls of Mysotic, Alassra Shentrantra discovered that though she was human and vulnerable to death, she did not age as other humans did-could not age as they did.

With the pearls in her purse, Alassra returned to Rashemen, hoping to learn more about her origins. But the witches who had raised her were dead, their successors ignorant, and the Vremyonni seers trembled when she approached them in the Running Rocks. Never one to bear frustration lightly, even in her youth, Alassra took her curiosity to the Outer Planes, visiting places that no human before her had seen, much less survived. She gathered spells like apples. She became a master of magic, but she learned nothing about herself.

Over the next four and a half centuries, the unaging Alassra Shentrantra lived three-score lives, most as a human woman, but sometimes as a man and sometimes within another race's skin. On occasion, she lived in obscurity, but many of her disguised lives are remembered in song and legend. By her own accounts, given to the monks here at Candlekeep during her rare visits, she enjoyed her notoriety and was pleased by the number and quality of her enemies. Beneath her disguise, she'd lost much of her humanity, replacing it with the dross of learning and magic.

We foresaw a loneliness that would consume her and guessed that her lonely spirit would welcome oblivion when it arrived.

Then, when we and she least expected it, the Sixth-of-the-Seven fell in love. Not for the first time, of course. Alassra took and discarded lovers in all of her disguises, but it was different when Lailomun Zerad strode into her life.

Lailomun was a mage, a candle mage compared to Alassra's firestorm. But it was danger, not magic that held them together and led Alassra Shentrantra to reveal herself for the first time, and completely, to another. Now Zerad was an initiate of a magic school that forbade association, intimate or otherwise, with free-lance wizards such as Alassra Shentrantra. More specifically, Zerad's mentor was a woman who tolerated no rivals, intimate or otherwise. She owned her students outright and would sooner have destroyed a man than surrender him to another.

The scent of danger surrounded them both during the two years they trysted in secret. Then, Lailomun's deceit was uncovered.

The next time Alassra arrived at their bolt-hole, she found a rose-thorn branch waiting on her lover's pillow. She grieved-of that there is no doubt-but her grief was less than her need for vengeance. Alassra was not yet Chosen; she is the Sixth of the Seven, but she is the first with spellcraft. Beyond doubt, she could have crushed Lailomun's mentor. With a little care and planning, her spells could have destroyed his homeland. And, at that time, her conscience would have raised no objections to the loss of innocent lives.

The time had come for Alassra Shentrantra to learn that her conscience had never belonged to her. The Seven had been marked before birth by the goddess Mystra. Their immortality and their consciences belonged to her.

Mystra confronted Alassra in the planes where she gathered the reagents for her most cataclysmic spells. The confrontation lasted a month and in the end, the goddess prevailed. Alassra left the planes as one of the Chosen. She was as wroth as she'd been when she found the rose-thorn branch, but many times wiser.

Not long after that fateful encounter in the planes, Alassra Shentrantra arrived in Aglarond, southwest of Rashemen, due west of Thay where dwell the Red Wizards, longtime enemies of Alassra's one-time guardians and-not at all coincidentally-home to Lailomun's mentor. Without revealing her name-any of her names-the Sixth- of-the-Seven offered herself as an apprentice to Ilione, sister of Halacar, King of Aglarond at that time, though Ilione knew no magic that Alassra hadn't known for at least a century.

As the years passed, Alassra buried her love for Lailomun and raised it up again in the simple folk of Aglarond. The vengeance Mystra had forbidden became the just defense of her new homeland. Time and time again, Alassra directed her fury into the land of Thay and against the corrupt Red Wizards who rule there. At Ilione's suggestion, King Halacar dubbed the nameless apprentice, the Simbul, a meaningless title, so far as I have been able to determine, but one well-respected in Aglarond where it became synonymous with a tall, silver-haired woman, with lightning eyes and a temper to match.

Emboldened by his sister's fierce apprentice, King Halacar launched Aglarond's small army against the Red Wizards, but, for all her magic, the Simbul was not yet a warrior and certainly not a competent army commander. The Aglarondans barely avoided a rout. The people lost faith in their king; the king lost faith in his sister and the Simbul. For a year the very air of Aglarond was rank with anarchy and treason, until the king died, poisoned, it was said, and probably by Thayan hands-though no one looked hard for the culprits.

Ilione succeeded her brother on Aglarond's Verdigris Throne. She restored order and righteousness throughout her kingdom, as is recorded in many other chronicles. She built Aglarond's first navy and rebuilt its army, but kept it home. Throughout Ilione's sixty-year reign, her apprentice, the Simbul, oversaw Aglarond's borders and-sometimes with the army's aid but more often alone-kept them secure from Thayan incursion.

Before she died, Queen Ilione named the Simbul as her heir. By then, of course, the Aglarondans knew the Simbul was no ordinary human woman, no ordinary wizard. No noble family nor merchant faction was foolish enough to object to the Simbul's coronation in the Year of the Watching Cold.

For seven years now, Alassra Shentrantra has ruled as the Simbul. She is at best respected, more generally feared, and only rarely loved by those around her. She keeps the Red Wizards out of Aglarond, and for that she commands her realm's undivided loyalty. Notes for an examination, Written by Mehgrin, apprentice at Candlekeep, placed, by accident, in Cirian's Concise History and filed with it (The day was very dreary, and the headache very bad)

Zandilar: a goddess, maybe, called into being in the Yuirwood a long time ago by humans who lived in crude lakeside huts and hunted with stone-tipped spears. The only depictions of her from that time show her either naked and dancing or running with animals-usually horses-while hunters throw spears. (Does this mean that there were two Zandilars?)

When the Tel'Quessir came to Faerun, a tribe of the Sy-Tel'Quessir took the Yuirwood for their own. They were stronger and smarter than the humans; they had their own gods, who were stronger and smarter than gods like Zandilar. The humans disappeared from the Yuirwood after the Sy-Tel'Quessir arrived, but their Seldarine gods absorbed Zandilar and the other old human gods instead of driving them out.

According to the Sy-Tel'Quessir, there was only one Zandilar and she was always dancing. They knew her as the goddess of physical passion and romance, and when they depicted her, they depicted her with a cat, not a horse, because cats are like that. Probably she was a popular goddess, but not an important one, and the other Tel'Quessir never adopted her or any of the other gods the Sy-Tel'Quessir worshiped in the Yuirwood.

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