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.