Hi, this is another of my friend, His Imperial Highness', stories. It features the wonderfull world of Avelar and I am so pleased to have finally conviced his to get some of this world written down. Hope you enjoy and any feed back would be much appreciated by myself and His Imperial Highness.

Enjoy.

Elemental Pilgrimage Journal

Pupil at the Temple of Luna, Floriana

Luna, great goddess of the night,

Prepare me for my pilgrim's fight.

Guide me from the skies above,

To show the world your endless love.

To the temples I now go,

Those of elements and ancient lore.

Earth and Water are your desire,

To your brother Air and Fire.

I'll walk the world from low to high,

From deepest depths to highest sky.

At the fourth summer solstice close,

I return for my just repose.

Day 1

This is it! My first step to becoming a novice! This morning I received my blessings from High Priest Raxen as is customary for all young pupils who set out on their first Elemental Pilgrimage. I was given a staff which would help me on my way and a silver girdle which would protect me and show everyone that I was on a holy mission. After my blessing I talked a while with High Priest Raxen about the emotions I was feeling for my journey. To settle my mind we went to meditate in the water garden of the temple. The fragrant summer air, the sound of the wind in the trees and the gentle flowing of the stream really helped to clear my mind.

As a pupil about to set off on a journey, it is customary to receive a final meal at the temple before leaving. After my meditation I went to lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it since it was going to be my last in the temple for a long time, although dining alone did feel quite strange.

After this came the moment I was dreading. As a lone pilgrim in today's rather dangerous world, it would be unwise to travel unaided. Therefore, it is the duty of every temple to supply each and every travelling pupil with a guardian that would remain with them throughout their journeys. I had obviously heard terrible stories of such people and so I was not too keen to get one of my own. Though I must admit, it does give me a great sense of importance when I think that I am going to be appointed my personal protector that will lay his life down to save mine! But I must not think such dark thoughts before departing, it cannot be good to leave with a darkened mind. My focus must remain clear at all times on the elemental temples I would have to visit.

Anyway, I was led to the Grand Hall, where visitors were usually met, and was finally introduced to my guardian. I was told his name was Conrad and by the look of it he was a young but well seasoned man (I later found that he had achieved the highest rank of Holy Guardian at a very young age so I was honoured to have been appointed him as my guardian).

Custom again dictates that before departure a pupil must have some time with his or her guardian to get to know them. This is what happened to me and I must say I was very disappointed to find that Conrad was a man of very few words. Every answer he gave to my questions was direct and precise but left no room for conversation. Strictly need to know basis with Conrad I think , but there we go. This is what I was hoping not to get, since I do quite enjoy a good chat every now and then, especially now that I am heading off for 4 years! But I will say this, through his few words and sincere face I could tell I would be safe with him, despite his clear lack of people skills. If for the sake of my well being and the success of my pilgrimage, I'm sure I could survive through the long, boring and potentially silent hours which I believe lie ahead of me. Conrad makes me feel safe and I guess that is a main priority for the temple since there have been horrible stories of kidnappings and pilgrims disappearing...too late to ponder on what may become of me now, I am already on my journey and to return to the temple too soon or without having completed my quest would be the highest degree of dishonour for any pupil.

It was early afternoon when we left the temple. There was no great ceremony to see us off, as is customary, since the celebration is reserved for those who return, more as a tradition than anything else. I have already decided to aim for the Fire Temple of Etnea, which is the nearest to my temple in Floriana, and so we set off in that general direction. I have chosen this one first because I have learnt that it is the second hardest to reach after the Air Temples, which I have heard are nearly impossible to get to. I can foresee this as being a very long and arduous journey which will test all the skills I have learned to their limits. I am trying to specialise in healing magic, so a long journey will be perfect for my training to become a White Novice. There is also an element of freedom involved in practicing skills beyond the scrutiny of my tutors. I will definitely feel less restrained when trying out my skills.

In order to leave the lands belonging to the temple we would have to cross Turquin lake. We walked quite a way through the lush forests that surround the temple of Floriana. On our way to the lake we are allowed to have porters to carry our things but after that it is down to us to carry all that is necessary. Another thing I am not looking forward to. I am hoping to be able to get Conrad to carry most of it but these words must remain between me and the page they are written on! Otherwise there might be trouble!

Once we arrived at the lake, we were immediately told to board the small vessel which would take us across the misty waters of the lake and to the true beginning of my quest. During the crossing, I began to collect my thoughts and watch as my home faded away into the mists which gathered on the surface of the lake of a summer's evening. The crossing must have taken a good hour before we were told to prepare to disembark. These would be my first steps as a true pilgrim! The sheer thought of this made me very excited but for the sake of the temple, and custom obviously, I had to kerb my enthusiasm and proceed in an orderly manner, closely followed by the now heavily laden Conrad.

We have now found an Inn to stay at over night and tomorrow the true journey begins. I am quite apprehensive but at the same time very excited about going! I also found that Conrad wasn't as mute as I thought he was. After a few ales his tongue seemed to loosen enough for us to actually have a conversation, so there is hope yet! Sadly, I am too tired to make the most of this opportunity and, after writing in my journal, shall retire early to bed. Though I must say, Conrad talking to me was quite a relief since I had been worrying about the long silences there would be between us on our quest otherwise. However, I must point out that, strictly speaking, a guardian must never get drunk while on a quest lest the safety of the pilgrim be jeopardised. It is the custom of the temple, but as I had found out by talking to other pupils that had returned safely, once outside the boundaries of the temple, the strict rules tend to become more like guidelines. I was also told by other successful pupils that it was customary for a guardian to "get merry" on the first night since it would probably be a while before the next opportunity arises. It may also have something to do with the fact that this particular Inn has a tab which the temple pays...but that should stay between us too.

Tomorrow the true adventure begins!

If you enjoyed this then do not fear, I am determined to get him to do more. And trust me I am good at nagging as he knows very well.