What gentle dream?

Pneumonia: Come along save the world with me.

Welcome to my life. There’s no turning back. Even while you sleep. You will find me acting on my best behavior, feel the wind that guides my nature, all I wanted was to see the world.
It’s my own design. It’s my own remorse. Help me to decide. Help me make the most of freedom and of pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever, all I want is still to see the world.
There’s a room where the light won’t find you; holding hands while walls come tumbling down. When they do I’ll be right behind you. So glad we almost made it. So sad they all just faded. I’ll always want to go and see the the world.
She can’t stand this indecision, married with a lack of vision, all she wants is death to the whole world.

Play with it while you have it.

Dust settles cities turn to sand.
Time flies make a statement take a stand.
Soar along now, soar along now with me. Soar along now, soar along you’ll see; what it’s like to be free. Run along with, run alongside me and I’ll ease your pain Run along with run alongside me and let’s seize this day. Run along now, Run along with me.

Look out, get clear, I’m so close. Friends are foes, that’s how it goes.
Pierce like the thorn of a rose. Slime dies take a statement make them pose.

Soar along now, soar along now with me. Soar along now, soar along you’ll see; what it’s like to be free. Run along with, run alongside me and I’ll ease your pain Run along with run alongside me and let’s seize this day. Run along now, Run along with me.

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Cedric: A Third Letter Home (Entry 20)

Dear Sophia,

I hope this letter finds you well. It feels as if it has been mere days since I last wrote you, although I know it is closer to nearly a month. Very much has happened between now and then, but let me ask first: how have you been? With autumn soon approaching I imagine the University is quite busy, and matters at the estate equally so. Some time before I left I remember that father had predicted a good harvest, given the rain we had; I hope he was correct. I hope also that your studies are progressing well. It is still astounding to think that this is your final year there. I am certain your skills will serve you well, whether you set out adventuring or seek an appointment at the University or a court within Aundair. I’ve no doubt you will make our house proud.

My own travels have been equal parts trying and triumphant. I have been able to serve my liege lady faithfully and with great success so far; I believe the task she is seeking out is near completion and I have kept her safe throughout. However, I will be saddened when it is finished and I am released from her service. I have grown personally fond of her and consider her a friend, in addition to the great respect I held for her from the start. It would be unorthodox for many reasons, but perhaps I might find some way to remain in her service after, if she would have me do so.

To speak of ladies still, there is another in my life that I have come to care for deeply. The circumstances of our meeting were unusual, and she is not of noble birth, but she is kind, gracious, and beautiful. I have hope her common blood will not cause undue conflict with the family. I understand mother’s ambitions to raise our house’s standing, but I hope that she will come to understand my reluctance to marry for political gain; she herself did not marry someone of noble birth.

Although I wish I could say otherwise, despite the friends I have made and the successes in our journey so far, things have not been entirely well. Today one of my companions, Anna, sacrificed herself in battle to save our comrade Deth. When last I wrote I had told you I was questioning Deth’s motivations for aiding myself and the others; as you may no doubt surmise there is no longer any reason to do so, and has not been for some time. I believe of all our companions, he, Gareth, and my liege lady have found Anna’s death the hardest to bear. Between all of us we were able to give her a funeral to suit all our faiths’ traditions, with some modifications. Although I believe she is was a follower of Onatar, given her love of crafting, her death was a warrior’s and her sacrifice will be honored by Dol Arrah. The Sovereign of Sun and Sacrifice will watch over her spirit, I am certain, and bless her family as well.

Furthermore, circumstances have arisen that have begun to make me question myself and my resolve. I do not wish to worry you, but lately my sleep has been troubled and when I dream, I feel the demonic pull of my blood more strongly than ever. Thinking on it I can hear again the pounding in my ears; the thrashing beat of slaughter. Giving in to the temptation only makes me want to shed more blood. For the first time in my life I am worried I may truly loose con am not as resolved as I ought to be. How did mother and all our other ancestors make it through the countless battles of the Last War? Surely not by faith alone: we both know mother is hardly what one would call devout. Perhaps I would have been better served to be a cleric of Dol Arrah; I only truly feel at peace within her temples’ halls.

But perhaps then, too, this suffering is necessary for my growth. I must strive harder to call upon the goddess in all things, and change the blood I have been given into a weapon in her honor. I only wish these dreams would cease.

I do not mean to end my letter on such a despondent note. I am certain things will improve in some capacity, soon. It is simply a matter of seeing them as such. I wish you well in my heart and look forward to seeing you and the rest of the family again.

Blessings and light go with you,
Cedric

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Memoirs of an ex Vento Mortis: Sally

A real shame. All those years of training to be the best, and I still can’t read that little brat. Sadly, I think my beloved sister has outlived her usefulness. Getting rid of her is going to be a pain. I honestly hoped she would see things my way. It really would have been be easier that way. What is a girl to do? I do look forward to having a body again; never was much for sharing. It will take some getting used to, but I’m sure I’ll have it up to par in no time. I’m reminded of what master used to say, “If you can’t have what you want, take what you can get.” Besides a meat shell is a meat shell. The only real problem I forsee is Sarah. Sarah is not going to be happy losing her pet. I really wish I was there to see her face when she heard her baby got hitched to some bruiser she barely knows. I know somebody died a very painful death that day, and there really is nothing quite like good old fashioned murder to relieve stress; or to celebrate a happy occasion, like the joining of two fools. Bound to the eternal wind so their spirits can meet in the afterlife. I think I’ll just stick with living forever and leave the sentiment to the dead.
Killing someone from the inside out will be a first. She won’t make it easy, she’ll fight. I still have a few tricks she doesn’t know about so I’m not terribly concerned. If I’m lucky I can catch her by surprise. She is very confused right now. It is an opportunity I may not get again.

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Pneumonia: Bug Catcher

This week we are on safari. I need a hat to keep out the jungle sun. There were some elves playing in the forest with the clankers. Their party was crashed by giant Gareth and Cedric was sad cause he wanted to play with them. Then there was some giants that we all made friends with and let us sample some of the local cuisine. We explored some old ruins where we met Chuck the Fifth. Chuck the fifth almost ate Gareth. Gareth should try harder not to get eaten. Getting eaten is no good. After visiting with Chuck the Fifth we met up Old Willy the giant Ghost. Willy was grumpy as usual. Taz got scared of Willy and ran away and hid on the stairs. Eventually we robbed an old lady while she was sleeping. I don’t think she is going to miss her stuff much. She said she was sleeping for a really long time. She told me how to use the magic doohickey that beats up the baddies. Then Anna died but we had places to go, so it was back to our safari for us. Taz has been getting funny lately, not haha funny, the other kind. We ran into more clankers on our safari and Cedric made friends with one of them. The others didn’t share the sentiment. The really big clanker seemed to be particularly begrudging towards us. So I put her in my pocket. Later on we can talk about the civil way in which a lady should act towards strangers. Stepping on people isn’t proper.

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Taz: The Demise of an Untimely Opponent is a Cause for Celebration

We headed back through the jungle, only to find that our warforged stalker was still after us. Cedric decided that he should be the one to talk to him (her? it?), although I’m not sure why. He’s really not very good at talking to people. I followed along in case Cedric said something offensive.

I attempted to examine the warforged’s construction, but he noticed before I could get too close. Ced scolded me, which was really quite silly, since I was only saying admiring things about him. He had such a nice design; I would have liked to examine it further.

The warforged said that his name was Rapier, and that he was in the jungle on an “archaeological” expedition. Unlike Warmonger and her other companions, he seemed less interested in the diadem and more interested in the discoveries to be found in the jungle. He didn’t seem to DISLIKE us—at least, he said we weren’t bad for flesh creatures. The important part is, he was looking for technology. And he found it.

His words were guarded, but he didn’t seem to be lying. He said that they were searching for potential upgrades and weaponry for themselves, presumably to help in the fight against the flesh creatures. According to him, they found quite a few things, most of which was compatible with them. His exact words were “some a little too compatible.” Now we’re getting somewhere.

He mentioned that there was a theory that the warforged originated in Xendrik and the technology was stolen— appropriated and put to use — by the Cannith family. He also said that Warmonger was among his group, and that she’d been difficult lately. Fantastic. She’s “Warmonger Omega” now. Apparently she decided to go for something grander than numbers after her latest upgrade. What a dramatic.

Alas, Rapier left before I could examine him properly. :-(

Research note: Perhaps I could make a suit out of warforged parts…rather like armor, but mechanical. It bears looking into. Excellent idea. We already have some of the necessary parts. If I draw up some schematics and claim the technology that these creatures have found, I won’t need to return to my family empty-handed after all. Further research needed.

We headed off to find Warmonger, on the premise that an expected battle now is better than an unexpected battle later. And indeed, we found her. She was with a group of other warforged, clearing away the jungle. A fight broke out.

It was difficult to maneuver through the jungle. I moved to where I could see better. Drank 1 shield extract. Before I could do much of anything, WARMONGER HIT ME AND IT REALLY HURT. THAT BITCH. I HATE HER. Drank 1 cure moderate wounds potion. 1 usefulness point to Jaela for healing. My ice arrows were not as effective against them as I’d have hoped; I’d thought that perhaps the cold would freeze up their joints, but apparently not. 1 usefulness point to Deth for killing the stupid Warmonger. 1 usefulness point to Pneu for catching her soul-chip thing so that we don’t have to bother fighting her again. I hope.

I have collected a decent amount of parts now; I shall begin plans for the warforged suit soon. Perfect.

In summary.
Day 40, continued: The death of an old foe. Most excellent.

Money obtained: None.
Loot obtained: Warforged parts. :D

Ranking of companions:
Jaela: 1 usefulness point.
Pneu: 1 usefulness point.
Deth: 1 usefulness point.

Ranking totals to date:
Pneu: Usefulness- 26 points. Entertainment value- 30 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 10 points. Entertainment value- 7 points.
Gareth: Usefulness- 27 points. Entertainment value- 15 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 20 points. Entertainment value- 18 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 22 points. Entertainment value- 9 points.

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The Unbreakable Oath

-I could kill him, you know. Kill him and take over.
-You? Don’t be stupid. I could do it, maybe.
-But you wouldn’t. Pawn.
-Look who’s talking.
-…
-Mastered those knives yet?
-I’ll master them on you, bastard.
-You could try.
-Shut the hell up.
-/laughter/
/a scuffle/
-Told you.
-I’ll kill you someday.
-I look forward to it.
-It’s not a fair contest.
-Of course it isn’t. I’m better than you.
-You are not, you stupid bastard. You just know my face.
-And secrets are currency. Telling them is power…
- …but knowing them is a greater power still. I KNOW.
-You’ve never forgiven me.
-I never will.
-…
-I could leave. I could do it. Vanish into the crowd somewhere, not come back from a job. He’d never be able to find me. I could escape from him, and you’d be stuck here. Who’d be winning then?
-You wouldn’t even get out of Sharn.
-Yeah? Want to bet?
-Yeah.
-What, then?
-An oath. A Deal.
-What Deal?
-A blood bond.
-/shove/ Who’s being stupid now? We’re too young for that.
-Not that kind of blood bond, idiot.
-What kind, then?
-If you do get out of here…if either of us decides to run for it…
-Yeah?
-We take the other. We escape Father Reaper together.
-You wouldn’t run anyway.
-I might.
-…fine. It’s a Deal. A blood bond. I’ll take you if I run. But you’d better not slow me down.
-Shouldn’t that be my line?
-That doesn’t mean I won’t kill you.
-Well, you’re the only one who’s allowed to now. Which means I’ll live to be very old.
-Bastard.

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Taz: The Ultimate Theft is Breath

Negotiating with the giant ghost (literally) was clearly useless. He seemed to think of us as ‘slaves.’ What a silly civilization that must have been. Perhaps people our size were less intelligent back then. We ended up fighting him, predictably. Used 1 bomb.

Then things turned upsetting. Suddenly, I was overcome with a tremendous wave of fear. I’ve never felt anything like it. In that moment, it was all I could do to turn and run in the opposite direction. The ghost hit me on my way out, but I barely noticed in my panic. You showed weakness. You must not do that. The white-haired assassin understands. Emotions are only strengths if they are facades.

The others came to find me soon afterwards. I’d scrambled up the steps in my haste to escape the giant. Cedric came up to tell me that they’d gotten rid of the ghost, although Jaela said that we should hurry because it would probably be back. I told Cedric that we needed to talk, thus beginning Plan Alpha.

We opened the door and proceeded down the steps. Gareth chucked a rock into the darkness to determine how long the passage was, but it told us little other than the fact that it did end. I requested a pause to prepare some things—translating those damn runes gives me a headache. Prepared: 1 shield extract. 1 comprehend languages extract. This proved to be a good choice, because there were more runes as soon as we entered the next room. They read: “The crown of worlds shall push back the nightmares.” Probably the diadem.

Anna had run ahead, as she is wont to do. Upon happening upon some giant suits of armor, she seemed to think that it would be a good idea to begin climbing them. The armor started to move as she touched it. I tried to assess what they were, but couldn’t manage to find out. Cedric said that there were zombies inside the armor. How fantastic. Not mechanical. Not a discovery. Not relevant. Must you persist in being ENTIRELY useless? One usefulness point to Cedric for healing. Electricity seemed highly effective against them.

Anna, meanwhile, had gotten herself surrounded by the things. Grand. One usefulness point to Deth for badassery. Used 1 bomb. One usefulness point to Pneu for badassery. We finally killed them all and proceeded down the hallway. When we came to the end, we found a locked door—or a door that would have been locked if there wasn’t a rock embedded in the lock. One entertainment point to Gareth.

In the room, we found a sleeping giant and a lot of loot. Anna thought it would be a good idea to SHOUT to wake the GIANT UP, but fortunately she proved quite a sound sleeper. The giant, that is, not Anna. The runes in this room read: “Our sleeping mother holds the key. May she fight forever in her dreams.”

There was nothing useful here either. You have wasted my time and broken my word. So? It wasn’t a Deal or anything. You said you’d try. YOU said I’d try, you impertinent brat.

There were a bunch of huge gold coins, which we promptly grabbed as much of as we could carry. Gareth had the ingenious idea of taking one of the pillowcases and filling it with coins. One usefulness point to Gareth. Obtained: 8 gold coins, GIANT. :D

Since the room had exhausted its usefulness, we were at a loss for where to find the supposed information that was supposed to be here. The giant wasn’t waking up. Unfortunately, it seemed that we’d have to go into the dream world to find her there and ask her ourselves. Deth would be able to guide us there, but since the entire Quori race is now gunning for him, that was…problematic.

Deth agreed to take the risk. Sentimental fool. One entertainment point to Pneu for snarkiness. She also prepared us a nice sleeping tea. And with that, we went into the dream world. Jaela stayed behind in order to watch over us.

It was a singularly fascinating experience. I would like to be able to do this myself. Deth said that they couldn’t teach mortals to do this, but I can’t be sure if he means CAN’T or WON’T. The tentacle Quori would know. But we can’t exactly ask him, can we? (You could, but you are afraid. Afraid that he has the upper hand. Who is the paper tiger now?) That was uncharacteristically unkind.

We went through a door and found a banquet hall, with the sleeping giant seated at it. She was not sleeping here. This dream felt odd somehow, less vivid than the others I’ve been involved in. It felt very old, in a way that I couldn’t explain. Worn out. Tired.

The giant seemed a bit dazed, surprised to see us. She said that no one has been in this dream for quite some time. Centuries, unless I miss my guess. Korash Nagos was her name. We explained the situation to her, which she understood, having faced a similar one before. Deth said that the “shift is supposed to happen,” and made a comment about how the Quori get when that happens. The last shift would be the fight the giants were involved in. So what does the dream become when this ‘shift’ occurs. Fahrezz indicated that the Quori would all be destroyed, but it is possible that they all continue on in one form or another. Further research needed.

In her day, Korash sealed the giants away by trapping herself in the dream world. You could go. You could go and never be found again. You could stay here forever, where reality is malleable. That would get boring. So is this. At least this changes. And there are people to play with. She said that destroying the diadem was possible if we had all the pieces, and that there was one additional stone that ties it to this world. She called it the Worldstone. Such creativity. It was on her head the last time she saw it, but as it is not there anymore, her guess was as good as ours as to its current whereabouts.

Throughout this exchange, Sally had been prowling around the room, taking advantage of her existence in the dream world, no doubt. She attacked the walls, but they soon reverted to their initial state. She then decided to attack Cedric for science, to see if his wounds would heal as well. Korash didn’t much like that; she proceeded to smack the shit out of Sally. It was pretty funny. Although Sally can be amusing at times, I can’t say I like her overly much. She is too much of a wild card. I’ve known people like her, who enjoy causing pain above all else. They cannot be trusted to form logical conclusions. It struck me that now would be an excellent time to eliminate her, when she was already wounded.

Cedric had the same thought, clearly, but no sooner had he raised his sword than Korash stopped him. She said that she wouldn’t have fighting in her dream. It seemed a bit late for that to me, but we weren’t in much of a position to protest. Korash showed us a command word to turn the dream energies on themselves. It poses the same risk of being trapped in the dream world. This dream is part of the One Dream, apparently, but no one seems willing or able to explain what that means. She also gave us a key phrase. The alignment of the gems is important: the earth gem must be in the center.

And then….

GANATARI’RAN SHOWED UP. FUCK.

She was as creepy as ever, had eyes swirling all around her. She said that Deth’s usefulness had run out, time to eliminate him. Familiar with that pattern. I tried to get out of the dream- you can’t fight her, you know -but no luck. Bad. Bad, bad, bad.

One of the eyes shot at Deth, and Anna jumped in front of it, deciding to be a big damn hero. As soon as the eye hit her, she collapsed. And the dream ended.

She was dead when we got back.

This upset everyone else considerably, save Pneu, who seemed more intent on the mechanics of a decent burial, or what is a decent burial in her culture. It was very nice, except she wouldn’t let me put the coin in Anna’s mouth. I used a paper one instead, like if she were a pauper. Somehow, I don’t think that Anna will have much trouble talking her way into the Underworld anyway. She doesn’t need the silver.

I set one on the ashes after she’d burned anyway. Sally tried to play, but no one was in the mood. It was not the right time for my talk with Cedric. Damage control will have to wait. Deth kissed me on the cheek, surprising me greatly until he said it was from Fahrezz. Had he contacted him? He also said that I had “some things to tell him” later. Fantastic. More damage control.

We held a funeral for Anna. She made her choice. It’s no business of yours. She was hardly more than a child. (She was a hero.) She was a fool. Can’t she be all of them? We have to head back to Anna’s home to pay her relatives the blood debt. I wonder if she has a lot of them. I wonder if they’ll miss her. Cedric seems to think that families are units where everyone cares about each other because they are related by blood. I have no one related by blood. What does that mean? Enough. These thoughts are pointless.

I’m holding onto Anna’s journal until we reach her relatives. It has some interesting schematics that I’d like to look through. I feel a bit melancholy, since everyone else is feeling melancholy. I’m sure it will pass soon. (I mourn when I lose one of my crew.) But Taesaria isn’t you. She handles things with less emotion. She will mend.

I don’t understand. Why would she do that? It was a very foolish thing to do; she can’t have anticipated surviving it. Perhaps she just wanted to strike a blow at Ganatari’Ran. Perhaps.

But it still doesn’t make much sense.

In summary.
Day 40: A nap and a death, but it wasn’t me. Still moving forward.

Money obtained: None. Sort of.
Loot obtained: 8 giant gold coins.

Ranking of companions:
Anna: Usefulness- 3 points(posthumous).
Pneu: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 1 point.
Gareth: Entertainment value- 1 point.
Deth: Usefulness- 1 point.
Cedric: Usefulness- 1 point.

Ranking totals to date:
Anna: Usefulness- 23 points. Entertainment value- 17 points. (Final tally.)
Pneu: Usefulness- 25 points. Entertainment value- 30 points.
Gareth: Usefulness- 27 points. Entertainment value- 15 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 9 points. Entertainment value- 7 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 19 points. Entertainment value- 18 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 22 points. Entertainment value- 9 points.

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Pneumonia: Sisterly Advice

Everyone is upset now. They all seem so sad.

Dearest sister you have much to learn of outsiders… Their weakness will lead to their downfall, just as it destroyed that foolish child.

I wish I could have helped.

You have no reason to concern yourself with their lives… This is only the beginning, many more will die… You see, carelessness leads to death… Death has taught me a great deal about my errors in life… If I was more cautious I would not have lost my body… I need a new one… Focus on this task… Tears are a waste of precious time neither of us have… You can only sustain me a couple more years as you are now… We need to find a way to get my body back…

We need their help, they are fr… companions. We shouldn’t abandon them.

Not, if I am revived… You know how to destroy my murderer now… We have the answer we were seeking… Together we are unstoppable… Soon they will serve no purpose to us… Unless perhaps you can trick them… Yes, they can help us restore my body… If any of them survive this… We’ll destroy those dreaming freaks and restore my beautiful self… Then I can, have my way with them…

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Cedric: A Prayer (Entry 19)

Blessed are you Dol Arrah, sovereign of sun and sacrifice. As your humble servant I ask that you bless the departed, Anna Renae Debra-Wellington Applefield, and protect those she left behind. May you and all the Sovereign Host hold her family and grant them boons; let her memory be honored as an artisan and friend. Let her sacrifice be rewarded and remembered; may her soul be united and guided to peace.

Blessed are you Anna, woman that gave your life for the sake of another. Your death was a warrior’s and your life was an honest one. Your sacrifice will not be in vain; those you gave your life to protect shall continue on and honor you in doing so. Know we will carry out your final request, and be at peace.

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Cedric: Entry 18

As we continued to travel, the others noticed a warforged was following us. I was unable to see him until Gareth pointed him out to me, leading me to wonder if I ought to purchase spectacles of some sort for myself when we return to Stormreach. Pneu went after them in the hopes of convincing him to speak with us, but they disappeared when she got too close. I had hoped to garner some information from them, but no matter. It is likely for the best that they were not brought here, given many of my companions’ penchants for unwarranted violence.

We eventually made camp, and I took the time to ask Deth a few questions about the nature of the realm of dreams. He was rather rude in his responses, but I think I may have unintentionally embarrassed him with my questions. Regardless, Gareth wanted to know why I was asking such things and I simply told him I had been having nightmares, which is true. I did not wish to burden him with undue details, as I do not think it would do any good. I reluctantly went to sleep after my time keeping watch was finished.

When Fahrezz arrived he looked like Shel again. I refrained from snapping at him, but told him to take another form at least. In truth I dislike it when he looks like anyone I know, but I told him instead that doing as such shows no creativity—which is true in its own right. In response he turned to a strange, almost formless state. I reacted with disgust, not because it was inherently ugly but because the prospect of sharing a bed with something looking as such only detracted appeal from an already miserable situation. Fahrezz seemed to find my reaction infinitely amusing (as he often does) and said I would “hurt someone’s feelings one day”. I cannot help but wonder what he means by that, especially as he did not answer me when I asked for clarification.

Regardless he changed to a different form, this time a blonde woman with red eyes. I paused and genuinely considered this new form, to see if I could think of anyone I knew that it looked like. While it did vaguely resemble Shel, at the time I did not think much of that and when he continued speaking I kissed him hard to make him stop; carnal activities seem to be the only way to stop his taunting.

When it was all said and done, he made his usual comments of Taz being “better” and then said I would not enjoy from where he got the idea for his current form. Against my better judgment I pried, and he told me it is what he imagine Shel and I’s future daughter might look like. I said nothing to that, and instead focused all my will into pulling Sally into the dream. If there is anyone I know of that could kill Fahrezz, it is her. Unfortunately he was able to block my attempt, and he made some snide comment in response. When I began to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of attempting to slit his throat with Dawnslayer, he taunted me for being indecisive and “thinking too much”. I responded tersely that there is nothing wrong with making sure a decision is a good one before acting, but of course he seemed to think otherwise, calling it “boring” as he does most things. He asked me what “right” and “wrong” are anyways, and although I feel I gave suitable answers he seemed to think otherwise. I told him that no matter what he thinks there is still a distinct different between us, in that I am fighting to save this world while he is fighting for the goddess only knows what.

He laughed at this, and in response challenged me to think about the nature of dreams: even if a dream is repeated, are the things within it the same? Quori culture only goes back a comparatively short amount of time, he claims, and their scholars believe that before that they were still Quori, but in a different manner. Apparently their current form is that of “nightmares”, while the prior one was more pleasant. As creatures of dream, their natural life cycle is dependant on the waking and dreaming of, if not mortals, than something else. He mentioned that if the Quori have their way, all mortals will be asleep forever, to keep the dream from “changing”. Through this he claims he is fighting to save his entire race… and that Deth is, by nature of fighting against him and the other Quori, suicidal. I will need to speak to him about this, and many other things.

Fahrezz went on to ask me if I would fight to save my own race, if I knew it would die soon. I told him truthfully that I do not think I would much be able to save it if a catastrophe of that magnitude was fated to occur, but he was not satisfied with that answer. In truth I would fight, but not if it came at the cost of other races’ survival. I told him that his race’s death, while unfortunate in some ways, is part of its natural life cycle and he should learn to accept it rather than fight the inevitable.

Of course, this prompted him to comment on my demonic blood. I restrained a snarl and told him that there is a difference between morality and physiology. He took on the likeness of Tasgall once I remarked that the entirety majority of my family has successfully fought against our baser, demonic impulses. While seeing his image was unsettling, I did not let it affect me overmuch. Again I insisted that there is a difference between he and I. While we may both be fighting against something we were created with, he is still evil and I am still good, and unwilling to harm others as I fight.

The argument concluded in my mind, I turned away after this, and he draped over me—this time in a female form I am entirely certain I have never seen before. I shook him off and pushed him away, enduring his protests with gritted teeth. I would pity him and his situation, were he not so unashamedly a monster. I believe he picked up on these thoughts of mine, as he mentioned offhandedly that even the other Quori dislike him. According to him, his “boss” as he put it, would not mind it if he were to suddenly not come back from a mission. That was all the motivation I needed draw Dawnslayer and invoke its bond. Upon seeing this he threw open his arms, egging me on to strike. I thrust my blade through his chest and was surprised to see him grin, even as he coughed blood onto himself. It is an intoxicating shade of red. He conceded that it actually hurt, but said I was good to finally act on impulse. I was more than prepared to finish him off, but he disappeared before I could do so.

I dislike this new game he is playing.

In the morning when I awoke I promptly rolled over and vomited to remember all that had transpired. Gareth was kind enough to give me water without asking further questions, a kindness I appreciated. Shel was also worried, and with no small sense of dread I stepped aside with her to explain all that was going on.

I started first with my behavior from days past, when I left for the temple. I explained that Rebecca had been a friend of mine that I was forced to separate from due to her social standing, and that seeing her again brought up anxieties about Shel and I’s current relationship. I still dread the day when I will bring her to meet my family, if only for my parents’ reactions. Shel was nonetheless understanding, and assured me we would find a way through things. I appreciate her constant optimism and assurance more than I can properly put into words.

I then turned to even more unpleasant matters, explaining what was happening with Fahrezz and how I had asked him to come back if only to protect her and the others. Although she did not understand the matters entirely at first, I clarified until I was sure she did understand and then begged for her forgiveness, as I feel monstrous and as if I’m betraying her each time he visits. I could not even bring myself to return her embrace as I spoke, I was so ridden with guilt. However, Shel was quick to assure me that I have not betrayed her, and that the situation is not my fault. Although she admitted she is far from happy with the situation, she said it is all right and that she will be here for me. Only then did I hug her back, flooded with relief. I still marvel at her ability to comfort and give me strength as she does; even now I am not afraid to face whatever may come, knowing she is with me.

After packing up our camp we continued traveling. Eventually we came upon the ruins, but there were three giants… Eating dead elves. I asked Deth to establish a mental link with one of them, as none of us spoke Giant, but he claimed to have already done so for the day. I can’t imagine a reason why he would have, but he seemed sincere and I have no reason to think him a liar. I asked Whitepaw to go and listen to what they were saying, and after paying him to do so he left. He suggested that while he did so we go and find food as means of a peaceful offering, so with Gareth and Pneu leading us we did so.

After a short while of traveling we found a large, sleeping dinosaur. After a good deal of discussion, during which Anna was uncharacteristically vocal, it was decided that Pneu, and Gareth if necessary, would kill the beast while it slept. Despite her reluctance, Pneu was easily able to kill it. Gareth then proceeded to butcher the carcass and we all dragged what we could back to our former location outside the ruins. In her eagerness to prove herself Shel attempted to carry more than she ought have, but Deth picked up her portion without comment while Gareth and I were busy telling her not to overexert herself. He cares more about people than he lets on, and it saddens me he does not feel comfortable openly expressing it.

Once we returned Anna again took the lead, and organized us so that Gareth, herself and I brought the food out while Taz attempted to communicate with the giants, as she was deemed the most likely to have the necessary linguistic skills. The others in the group stayed back at various distances. Before we approached Taz wisely chose to imbibe a potion that changed her appearance to that of a human.

Communicating with the two male giants was all but impossible. Despite Taz’s best efforts, they did not seem to understand anything we said. However, they were not entirely inclined to try and eat us, either, and eventually they woke their female companion who proved much more apt at communicating. At first Taz spoke with her, explaining that we needed passage into the temple. The giantess was extremely concerned as to our mental state when we expressed a desire to enter. She warned us that it was inhabited by a god, “Chak-chak-chak-chak-chak” that ate anyone who entered. It was at this time that I noticed the symbols adorning her tattered clothing bore striking resemblance to the holy symbols of Dol Arrah and others of the Sovereign Host. I showed her my own symbol of Dol Arrah, and while she immediately recognized her by a different name, I do not doubt we spoke of the same sovereign lady of sun and sacrifice. She asked if we had been sent by her to kill Chak-chak-chak-chak-chak, to which I answered yes, albeit indirectly. There is no doubt in my mind Dol Arrah meant for me to be a part of this journey, and if killing a supposed god is part of that, so be it. Taz then had the audacity to say that the goddess speaks to me, and I rushed to assure them such was not the case. Honestly, the woman’s ability to casually blaspheme in such a way is nothing short of astounding! I made sure to pray for her the following dawn, for this and other reasons.

Regardless, Taz and I’s words seemed to be enough to get us through. I thanked the giantess, and after asking Shel to stay behind with Whitepaw we began our ascent up the stairs of the temple. The inside was covered in spider webs, and before long many spiders of varying degrees of largeness ascended the staircase from the center of the temple. As we worked to clear them out, the largest spider I have ever seen came up, making the noise from which I am certain it acquired its name. It was a fierce battle, but we eventually emerged victorious. After a number of less than dignified antics following the spider’s death, we cut off its legs and Gareth dragged it out for the giants to see. The poison had regrettably, but thankfully temporarily, stolen Lady Jaela’s ability to walk, so I carried her alongside her hero. The giants were all suitably impressed, and I was pleased to report that Lady Jaela and I’s gods had won.

Of course the giants immediately made work of eating the fallen “god”, and the giantess said we were welcome to camp with them for the evening. Lady Jaela, who had been worried for Gareth during the entire battle and continued to be so now, made great efforts to remain by him as much as possible. He eventually took her from my arms and soothed her worries as best he could, in his own way. Although I do not want to encourage her infatuation I let them be; I know well the futility of attempting to discourage infatuation. Instead I watched Taz craft bombs for a short while, and spent the remainder of the time with Shel. Although this leg of the journey has been particularly unpleasant, I am grateful for the small blessing that is the chance for us to share a bedroll, as the others are still near by. Simply having her beside me makes it easier to fall asleep, even knowing what waits.

This evening my fears were unfounded, for the most part. Instead of Fahrezz I found only a note reading “Off to bone Taz, talk to you later ♥~” This leads me still to wonder about Taz’s safety and mental well being; she has not acted as if her dreams have been plagued. She is not a woman that is prone to sharing sorrows—this is in part why I have not asked her about such things, in addition to the lack of time or privacy to do so—but still I wonder if something more is not occurring. Time will tell, goddess willing.

After eating with the giants, I helped Lady Jaela restore some of her strength. She must learn that it is acceptable for her to rely on us as both protectors and friends; I fear she tries to take on too much on her own. Regardless, Gareth carried her as we searched through the temple. Upon closer examination we found occasional warforged parts in the spider webs, but nothing else of interest on the top level. While climbing down the stairs Taz was able to roughly translate the ruins on the walls, reading, “They came from nightmares and we fought them”. No doubt they speak of the Q’uori. After reaching the bottom of the stairs we found the entrances to four rooms, two of which had collapsed doorways.

Heading into the northernmost room, we found a large corridor with a pressure plate that had the opposite effect of what one would expect: stepping on it with the appropriate amount of weight prevented the trap from being triggered. We moved across as a unit, but not before Deth jokingly suggested that I carry him. Deciding to humor him I did so, slinging him over my shoulder; he was most surprised. At the end of the hall was a large lock, which despite Pneu’s efforts we could not pick. We decided to move South to find a key, but not before Taz found markings on the wall she translated to “Those who fell slept forevermore and dreamt one dream.” I asked Deth to clarify, and after some pushing he admitted it was something he “used to wish for” but refused to be more specific. It seems Fahrezz’s words hold weight after all, at least in some matters.

In the southernmost room we found a large room with guard equipment and a large key on a hook. Anna attempted to lasso the key, but it moved the moment she did so, and a ghost of a giant appeared. Upon seeing it I was surprised to find that my phobia of spirits has disappeared entirely; where I would once be afraid, now I merely feel assurance and excitement at the prospect of battle. I am certain we will fare well in this venture, as in others.

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