What gentle dream?

Memoirs of a Vento Mortis: Sarrarra III

Last night, Nuahwah showed me something. At first I thought it was another one of her games, but I soon realized she was trying to warn me; in her own way. She led me down a tunnel, it was one of the abandoned tunnels of the undercity, and it had recently been reopened. After a few wiishawiish it expanded into an old store house, however it was no longer being used to store food. Heads; perfectly preserved, eyeless heads. Their mouths were opened as if screaming in pain and they stared back at me with empty pits where eyes should have been. I have seen many things, but the realism to which they had been restored brought back a feeling I had not felt in many years; pity. These poor men had been slaughtered like animals in the most painful ways possible. She probably kept them alive for days before letting them die. There was at least a hundred heads in there, I have clearly been too lenient. I need to take action against her. She cannot be allowed to lead our people, under any circumstances. I have to get rid of her before she becomes a Laaessteoo.

Cedric: Entry 11

In the morning, everyone but Anna accompanied Deth and I to the library. Gareth chose to stay outside, which was for the best given what happened later. In our attempts to search out the books necessary to help Deth, we were directed towards one of the most irksome men I have ever had the displeasure to meet. He ranks only slightly below Fahrezz in terms of his ability to be aggravating. When we asked to see his books, he (rudely) refused, and when Deth picked one up he lit him on fire. I attempted to punch him, twice, but to no avail. He did not seem to so much as notice my attacks. Perhaps even this was for the better, as eventually he agreed he’d lend us the needed books if we found him an old tome he could not get a hold of. Apparently the other elves in the city were not keen on offering him help. I cannot imagine why. He did say he would craft whatever item or spell Deth needs, however, so we will work for him. Outsiders have no rights in the city so we cannot take him to court for setting Deth on fire and have him recompense us, regardless.

The book he needs is called the “Liberstoltorum” and is a wizard’s book; its centuries old and something of an “urban legend”. Apparently, only members of the council would know about it. This is convenient, as we need to speak with the council about the madstone as well.

After this was decided I went to find Taz, who was reading one of the books we needed. Apparently she’d stolen it from him. While I appreciate it, I… Well, it is simply better to do things honestly. I asked her to quietly return the book. Not long after Gareth came into the library, bellowing at the top of his lungs in an attempt to find me. Honestly, as much as I care for them some days I feel as if working with my friends is like herding cats.

Before setting out to meet with a member of the council we decided it would be best if we found Anna. She’d wandered off while the rest of us went to the library, and we found her playing a game of what looked to be Conqueror with an elf. Surprisingly enough, she won. Gareth carried her on his shoulders as a means of congratulations, and I carried Lady Jaela as well. They both seemed to enjoy themselves, which was nice.

It’s interesting to note that Shae Cairdal has very little in terms of buildings: most of it is open air, or incorporated into trees and other plants. It’s very beautiful in its own way, although the statues of baboons everywhere is rather unusual. I wonder why they are so fond of them? They were even in the stores as souvenirs.

When we got to the city council, Councilman Theorin said there was a “procedure” to be upheld before we could enter. He warned us that it would be grueling, but assured us it would be necessary. He held out a book and said each of us would need to read from it. Gareth went first, and one glance knocked him to his feet. I was understandably worried, but I was told not to heal him else he’d have to undergo the procedure again. I went next but found it was necessary to do it twice, as it failed to wound me enough the first time. This was extremely unfortunate, as it hurt a great deal. I carried Lady Jaela after she was wounded, and we went in to meet with a council member.

In the center of the “chambers” was essentially a mausoleum. We opened the door we were directed to, and met with Ali Forquan. He was nearly insubstantial he was so gaunt; with ears so long they went past his head. I believe I understand now why it’s necessary; the council members radiate energy that heals you, and then some. I began feeling sore after a while, and even anxious. Regardless he told us about the madstone and the Liberstoltorum. The former was entrusted to the elves generations ago by the emperor who first made the diadem with giants’ technology. Apparently it was made to keep intruding planes away… One of which was Dal Quor, Deth’s home. The madstone was given specifically to an old and wise elf, “Lireen the Inscruitable”. However, the stone is “toxic” and will drive the holder insane, much as (apparently) the dreamstone will cause those that hold it to eventually become comatose. The exception is if those that hold it are from the planes that the stones are related to; this explains why Deth is able to carry it with no ill affects.

Because the madstone is “toxic”, Lireen eventually did go mad. He now exists in a tower of his own making in an area he sectioned off himself, called the madwood. He is more capricious than malicious, reduced to a sort of bogeyman parents tell their children about. He’s now called “Larri the incongruous”, and people that come back from visiting him say very little. We were given a map to find his tower, with permission to kill him should it come to that, as he’s not likely to wish to part with the stone. Of course, we will avoid harming him if possible. It’d be a shame to kill a man guilty of no more than carrying out his duty and suffering for it. We also found out that Larri is the author of the book we seek and probably still owns it, while Xavien’s sister is in a deeper part of the jungle. We also were told that Xavien and his sister are both vampires, which is why they stayed away from the city. I wonder what she’s looking for that is worth risking herself in such a way?

On a final note, the Forquan told us that the planes Dal Quor and Xoriet could “return” if the diadem is not destroyed. I am not certain what this means, but I doubt it’s good. I asked Deth if his home was in fact connected to the Diadem, and he confirmed as such. I then asked him if he would truly be alright with destroying the diadem. He… dodged my question, asking a question in return instead of answering outright. But I will continue to trust him regardless. He even went on to say that Anna and I are truly the only ones that care about family ties. A sad concept, although regrettably one that will be to our advantage if Deth is being truthful. I truly hope he is. I am genuinely fond of him; despite (or perhaps because of) our occasional squabbles he’s becoming much like a brother to me.

Lady Jaela, Gareth, Deth and I left to the marketplace while Anna, Taz and Pneu separated to do errands of their own. Gareth and I spent some time looking at jewelry; he wanted to buy Deth a hairclip made of bone and we discussed which color would be best. Ultimately we decided on a white one, as he’d already given him a purple necklace and red earring. I suspect he’s fond of Deth in the romantic sense; I hope it’s a requited feeling. I’d hate to see Gareth suffer heartbreak. Deth did seem to like the gift, which is promising.

Gareth also helped me pick out a beautiful necklace for Shel. It’s made of bone with a few studded gems and even small silver embellishments. I hope she’ll like it… And I’m grateful that Gareth was willing to help, even knowing that it’s for her. I’ve decided that I will trust her and—should she be willing, pursue a relationship with her as much as such a thing is possible given the current circumstances. I even looked for silver and cold iron daggers with Deth while he looked for bullets, but that is rather getting ahead of myself. It’s likely for the best I couldn’t find any.

Gareth bought a number of things for other people, myself included. At first I thought he’d given me a bracelet that was too small, but then I realized it was for my horns. He is such a wonderful friend! I immediately put it on and will continue to wear it with pride. He is right; I should learn to show them off. They’re something to be proud of, not just unashamed of.

In the morning we ate breakfast as we’re normally wont to do, but Lady Jaela seemed… distant. I asked if something was wrong, and she said she has merely been thinking. She has seen a number of new things, places, people and beliefs since leaving Thrane, and has been mulling over all of it. It’s causing her to question her beliefs, and wonder if there truly is only one right way. In some ways there is, of course. One must show mercy, be righteous, and help one’s neighbor. One must always must respect legitimate authority, and follow the law so long as it is good. Otherwise, society would collapse and there would be no structure in which goodness could thrive. Lady Jaela seemed to question this, however. If the “right way” causes more harm than good, how can it be right, she asked? I… did not have an answer for her. But I know that it is all right to question one’s beliefs. They cannot grow if one does not think about them. The clerics at the temple of Dol Arrah I stayed in before becoming a paladin taught me that, and I believe it’s true even for other religions. I was able to tell her that much, at least, and I hope it provided her some semblance of comfort. I managed to speak with her about her connection the Silver Flame as well; it should be possible to restore it should she return to the flame’s chamber, although it depends on just what Krozen did to sever it in the first place. That it can be restored is undoubtedly a good thing.

Lady Jaela also mentioned that she is more concerned for our safety, rather than her own. A worrying thought, although an unsurprising one. She is incredibly humble… And still a child, in so many ways. It is easy to forget at times. I think she may also be worried about the situation with Deth, and how it relates to all of us. He did not sleep well despite saying otherwise, and he told her outright that he should have killed her already. I hope we find the madstone and the way to keep Deth from dreaming quickly. Each day we delay is a greater risk for everyone, I fear.

We set out to the tower. The forest was filled with strange animals, most of which did not so much as notice us unless they nearly ran into us. If nothing else, Larri is an astounding architect. His tower was built at not one but two crooked angles, with it jutting one way and then the opposite way. Truly an impressive feat of architecture, if ever I saw one! It saddens me to think he’s likely too far gone to tell me how he accomplished such a thing.

Two large, cloaked figures—one with the head of a dwarf, and the other with the head of an elf—guarded the tower. Taz and I attempted to speak with them and find passage into the tower, but they were unpredictable and eventually outright hostile. The battle that followed was exceedingly strange. They were incredibly strong, and yet at one point Anna was able to pin one simply by claiming she was stronger than it. Each time after we hit one an odd effect seemed to take place. Among other things, Deth’s hair doubled in length, my weapon became cold and began to freeze them in places that I hit; I also shot streamers from my fingertips, somehow, and later one exploded into black ash that covered my face when I killed it. Gareth’s spoken words turned into bubbles in that shape, and Deth turned invisible for a while. Taz implied I needed to simply accept the fact that these things were happening instead of attempting to reason them out and “out-crazy” the guardians. I doubt her methods, but I will at least admit that the bubbles were entertaining, even in the thick of battle… Which was necessary, as at one point Gareth’s axe slipped from his hands and hit Anna. I was terrified it would kill her but she held up surprisingly well. I must tell her to be more careful in battle, however. That was not her fault, but she did stubbornly run to the doors and attempt to open them, even though doing so put her at direct risk to be attacked by the guardians.

To speak of lighter things, Gareth did also become temporarily beset with a fit of sneezing at one point, and Deth lent him his handkerchief. I suggested Gareth wear the kerchief in his chain shirt as a token once he had washed it, and he decided to do so. Deth is a very effeminate man, and rather delicate at that. With his hair down to the ground, it seemed only proper to imply he was Gareth’s lady.

Strangely enough, once the battle was finished Deth literally did become a lady, just as Taz, Pneu and Anna all became men. Lady Jaela, Gareth and I remained unchanged, but it was exceedingly strange to see. No one save Taz seemed to understand how to operate with their new bodies, and I was fairly certain I’d need to defend Deth’s honor from Taz and Gareth at one point. He also let Pneu cut his hair, which was a poor decision. It’s now even above his shoulders, but I suppose it does at least grow back.

Once we entered the tower proper, everyone but myself and Gareth sprouted some form of ears or other superfluous adornment upon their head. Taz apparently decided that I needed to be humiliated alongside them, and pushed my through the doorway a second time. I sprouted cat ears because of this, which Gareth wasted no time in reaching forward to pet. This caused me to begin purring, which Gareth then felt the need to share with everyone that could not hear. As if the ears were not embarrassing enough! Lady Jalea said Shel would likely be fond of the ears, however, which is a small comfort. It could always be much worse, I suppose…

And yet, I fear I will suffer a number of headaches before we find Larri.

In the Heart of the City of Sharn

-You will stay here until you can convince me who are are. Understand?

-Who are you?
-I am your daughter, Felia Underwood. I am four years old. I was born in…
-You’re lying.
- …

-Who are you?
-They call me Sage. I live by th’ docks, findin’ th’ little fish t’ sell.
-Who are your parents?
-Ain’t got any.
-How old are you?
-You’re lying. Again.

-Who are you?
-I am the third daughter of Lord Hugeth of Thrane. Who are you to question me?
-Did I pass?
-Not anymore.
-These identities must be your second skin. When you are playing a role, you do not break it. For any reason. Do you understand?
-Don’t sulk. Do you understand?
-Good. Again.

-Who are you?
-My name is Arina. My parents and I are part of a traveling circus troupe. I’m a dancer.
-Dance, then. …Very good.
-Why am I here?
-Why do you want to be here?
-I don’t. Some ugly old man locked me in a room until I could convince him of my identity.
/a slap/
-Points for wit, but you still haven’t passed. Again.

-Who are you?
-I am no one. I am everyone. I am a fishmonger and a princess and a thief. I shadow your footsteps and haunt your dreams. If you like, I can be you.
-I’m more than good. I’m the best.
-Something funny, old man?
-You sound like another of my children. Someone whom you will shortly meet.
-His name is Varick.

Taz: Exploring Magical Crooked Towers is a Recipe for Fun

Woke in Shae Cairdal in the morning. I grow weary of this town. Prepared: One (1) mutagen of dexterity enhancement. One (1) block seed potion. One (1) shield extract. We decided to go to the library to look for information on the madstone and ways to stop an individual from dreaming. I determined that while the others were occupied, it would be a good time to search for information on Dal Quor and Deth’s people. Deth has been distressingly circumspect as to this sort of information. Will you betray us in the end?

Unfortunately, I’d only opened the first book I’d found when I heard a scream. I hurried over to the others, knowing that they were the source of the ruckus. I found them having a heated argument with a very attractive elf gentleman in glowing blue robes. Research note: find way to make clothing glow. Preferably on others; it would be such an entertaining way to locate people. None of them paid much attention to me. It soon became clear that the elf in question was refusing to lend them the books they wanted. And had lit Deth on fire. Not that I can’t sympathize with that desire, but some people clearly need to maintain better control over their impulses. All in all, he seemed entirely disagreeable. Honestly, my companions have no idea whatsoever how to get information.

I took matters into my own hands and retrieved the book myself. Alas, it was not as helpful as I’d hoped. It mostly made references to a multitude of other works that were unavailable. I assume they were also lost in the elf’s stacks. I knew better than to interact with him. The fellow is obviously incurably intransigent. Points for alliteration to me~

Cedric found me as I was reading and said that they were giving up on the elf. A wise course of action, if arrived at too late. He said that we have other ways of getting information. We left the library and found Councilman Theorin outside. He’d arranged a meeting with the deathless council for us.

Anna had disappeared, so we set off to find her before meeting with the council. We found her in the park playing Conquerors with an older elf gentleman. To everyone’s surprise, she was beating him. More evidence that Anna is simply obfuscating stupidity. We shall have to play a game sometime; she would make a most diverting opponent. Pneu and I showed the elf two ways in which he might have won the game. Hopefully, he will avoid making such careless errors in the future.

When we got to the council hall, Theorin informed us that there was a “procedure” we had to go through in order to speak with the high council. He did not seem to have malevolent intent, but I still refrained from going first. He offered a book, which Garreth was the first one to take. It seemed to hurt him quite a lot. What the hell is that book? Theorin said that we needed to do this to handle the council’s radiance. The hell? Theorin refers to Deth as Master Inspired. Further research needed.

We entered the hearing chamber of Ali Forquan. Gaunt old man, not at all as radiant as promised. He had information about the madstone for us, though. Madstone was entrusted to them by the hobgoblin emperor generations ago. It helped to force away planes that were impinging on our domain, notably Dal Quor and Xoriat, the realm of madness. Forquan used to know the elf that it was entrusted to: Loreen the Inscrutable.

Forquan said that the stone was not meant for mortals and was toxic to them if they spent too long in its presence. It corrupted Loreen, and he went rogue. He now goes by the name of Larry the Incongruous, and resides in a tower in a forest called the madwood. Important note: Apparently, the dreamstone will render its bearer catatonic if held too long. WHAT. EXCUSE ME. FURTHER RESEARCH NEEDED. Larry is now the the equivalent of the bogeyman to these people, although he’s more capricious than evil. He sounds like quite an interesting individual, actually.

Cedric said we were seeking a book called the Libre Stul Torum, which Forquan said was written by Larry. His guess was that it was still in his possession, but he wasn’t sure. Further research subsequently done. He said he could give us a map to the tower.

We asked about Xavian’s sister, but he said that she didn’t get to the city. She’s in the jungle, apparently. Note: Xavian and his sister are creatures called ‘vampires’. Further research accomplished subsequently. Forquan warned us that Larry would not be inclined to give up the stone.

Interestingly, the longer we spent in Forquan’s presence, the more…energized I felt. It was a fascinating effect. I was not able to inquire as much as I would have liked, as Cedric was eager to get out of there. There were certain immolation-related risks involved if one stayed too long, but it was a chance I was willing to take for SCIENCE. Alas.

I returned to the library to do some more research. In summary.

Vampires are creatures that drink blood to survive and cannot abide the sunlight. What a fascinating concept. I wonder if Xavian needs a volunteer. Perhaps that’s what he has Shel for, but I would like to give it a try sometime.

Was unable to find much on Xoriat, but it is referred to as the realm of madness.

Libre Stul Torum: an odd treatise about insanities and the madstone, particularly how it affects people. Sounds useful.

Dal Quor: Not much not already known. Region of dreams, where your unconscious goes when you sleep. Local inhabitants are called the Quori. The Inspired are the ruling class of a land called Raidra, on the continent of Sarlona across the sea. They are supposedly living gods. Deth’s people, crossed over into our world?

Returned to the inn and met up with companions. Garreth got me a present! It was a lovely set of bone dice…not quite as useful for practical purposes as my other pair, but I adore them all the same. One entertainment point to Garreth. I am quite genuinely touched. Pneu was performing in the inn’s common room. A very…captivating performance. One entertainment point to Pneu.

One more entertainment point to Garreth for a fantastic evening. It’s not like M, but… M does not belong with Taesaria in any event. The past is a luxury. You cannot afford luxury. The others are not here right now. Taesaria is.

Morning. Prepared: One (1) mutagen of dexterity enhancement. One (1) block seed potion—replenishing last night’s. One (1) shield extract.

Found Pneu in the corner…with Sally. Well. Went over to chat. Sally is corporeal, confirmed. She was circumspect as to how she manages this, being dead and all. She said that she has a secret technique that she’s mastered from her village. Further research needed. Sally has proved to be a very interesting conversationalist. “Every coin has three edges” indeed. One entertainment point to Sally.

Old memories. Old thoughts. I haven’t mentioned him to anyone since then, not him. I must be on guard in the future. One doesn’t want to give one’s past away. Still a sore point, still a nerve. Have you grown so little in all these years?

We headed into the forest. There was something strange about those animals…odd ones every so often. Wildlife didn’t seem to notice us. Peculiar.

The first thing I noted about the tower was that it was fascinatingly built. At an angle, with the top angled in the opposite direction. Will need to inquire of Larry when we meet him. I would like to learn such a technique. We were greeted by two cloaked figures. They did not seem hostile (at first). One said that Larry was home, and one said that he wasn’t. Hm.

AND THEN THEY ATTACKED US. WELL THEN. One was an elf, one was a dwarf…their heads looked stitched on. WHAT.

One hit me. That hurt. But they carried on a decent conversation, at least. And that’s when the fight got interesting. Garreth started sneezing, Cedric’s weapon started glowing, and Deth’s hair doubled in size. It was quite entertaining. Drank shield extract so I wouldn’t get hit again. Interesting enemies, these two. Batshit insane, of course.

I wanted to bomb them, since they did me the courtesy of lining themselves up so nicely, but one of them grabbed Anna. One usefulness point to Garreth for badassery.

Garreth’s speech turned to bubbles! I really must figure out how to create some of these effects. It’d make a wonderful party trick. One usefulness point to Anna for intimidating it. She tricked it into thinking that she was the one who had it in her clutches now. Ha!

I found the key under the doormat. How drearily predictable. But it had an entire dead rabbit attached to it, which was not. Larry is therefore forgiven. I had a lot of fun with those guys. It was great to try to out-crazy them. Deth then turned invisible, depriving all of us of his lovely face. One usefulness point to Pneu for badassery. One entertainment point to Anna for tickling him while she had him pinned. We entered the tower…and suddenly I was a man.

I almost collapsed. I thought I’d lost control of it. I’d thought Tais or Talithan had taken over, and they’d seen—and they knew and they knew and they knew…

And then I looked around. Anna was a boy. Pneu was a man. Deth was a woman.

It wasn’t just me.

And then it was funny. The tower! Of course! They were all so funny, trying to figure out how to work with their new parts. Clearly, not used to this. It must be so dull, being stuck with one form all the time.

The castle also gave us new ears. I got wing-ears; Deth got dog ears; Anna got fox ears, and Jaela got antenna. I decided that Cedric needed some too, so I shoved him out the door so he could have another chance. He got cat ears.


Day 26: Entertaining. Success.

Money obtained: None.
Loot obtained: None.

Ranking of companions:
Garreth: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 2 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 1 point.
Pneu: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 1 point.
Sally: Entertainment value- 1 point.

Ranking totals to date:
Garreth: Usefulness- 22 points. Entertainment value- 11 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 14 points. Entertainment value- 14 points.
Pneu: Usefulness- 14 points. Entertainment value- 16 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 15 points. Entertainment value- 10 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 14 points. Entertainment value- 6 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 6 points. Entertainment value- 3 points.
Sally: Entertainment value- 1 point.

Memoirs of a Vento Mortis: Sarrarra

A recent turn of events has proven, unsettling. Sahloo made an unsanctioned kill two days ago. When I sent the clean up team in, they said it was messy, even for Sahloo. It looked to be a crime of passion, from their description, so I took the matter to Nuahwah. She pretended not to know anything as I expected. The other girls were more forthcoming, however I almost wish they weren’t. They informed me that Sahloo snuck into the old records and found some of the ancient trials. She thought she could show off to the other apprentices by accomplishing the sealed paths. Of all the paths to fail at, the path of the temptress can be one of the most costly. Her confidence and beauty are a great asset, but she lacks the nuance and subtlety of a refined Whisperer. She will be the next matriarch, I can sense it, and it scares me. She was fragile before and this may be enough to put her over the edge. I doubt her mind will be able to cope with shock she experienced. Her passion will drive her to our undoing. I can only hope she will grow wiser with age. If not we all may be in trouble for she may turn into the greatest master this clan has seen.

Sahloo has gotten worse much faster than I expected. It has only been a week since the incident and she has killed again. So far she hasn’t shown any signs of aggression towards her clan mates and I hope it remains that way. It could end badly if she were to turn on us. It was another sloppy kill, but clean up said it looked more intentional this time, like she was trying to make a mess. It was slow, the victim suffered a lot. I asked Ewhoo about it and he said her training kills were always swift, clean, and silent. True to a Vento Mortis. She has clearly developed a taste for death. Soon the bloodlust will take her as it has taken so many before. I’m going to send her to Cyre for a bit perhaps a change of scenery will help put her heart at rest.

Tirynna: Roads Not Taken

Oh, gods.

If it had gone differently—if they had fought, what then? What I would be there? What I would deal with the consequences? What I would mourn? Taesaria does not mourn; she picks herself up and moves on. No attachments. It’s smarter.

My heart stopped when I saw them all descend, just the way we always do, and I missed them so much it hurt. I missed being an I that could trust people, call them family, call them friends. For a moment, I thought I might cry. But Taesaria does not cry; Taesaria never cries, except as a feint, a trick. She claims it shows weakness. She has that in common with the one beneath Us, hidden away. Does that I know who she is, I wonder? It seems unfair, that the first I has no self.

Maith looked at me, seeing the wrong me. No recognition, as it should be. I have missed you, my dear, foolishness and all. Especially the foolishness.

He made that I promise. Promise to ask Tirynna to return. And I remembered what we’d negotiated—my terms, as it were. I may not always be here, but I will always love you. And I do. Oh, gods, I do. I promised. After this quest, I’ll return. Stay for a long while. A few years at least. (And if I die? Die as Taesaria? You will never know. You’ll always wonder. I need to prepare a note. Something. Something so you won’t wait forever.)

(What would happen if I did die, I wonder? Would I keep Taesaria’s face? Would I revert? That would be a shock for them.)

I watched them fly away. And I wanted nothing more than to shout after them, ask them to take me along. But Taesaria is a stranger to them, and they would not understand. He would not understand, that I can no more be comfortable wearing the same face forever than he would be in the same set of clothes forever. It isn’t safe. It isn’t safe to be one I for too long. (What would he do if I told him? Accept or recoil?)

(It is a foolish notion. I will never tell.)

They cannot possibly still be after me, that first I hiding down below. It has been years. There have been so many faces. No one remembers. That is the logical conclusion.

And yet still I hide. Still I run. Still I wonder what would happen if I stayed, stayed with Maith and the Lady Luck forever. Wonder, without ever doing, because I cannot.

Cannot, or will not?

Taz: Finally We Have Landed in a Civilized City and It Wants to Kill Us

Back on the ship. I kept examining the Conquerors board, the one the Captain uses to play his game. If I could figure out the pattern, I knew I would be able to understand what was going on.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance. One moment, the mist was descending upon the ship like normal, and the next….

They were here. The Lady Luck. They descended on ropes down to the ship, Maith and Ari and the others and——

And my heart stopped. I think I knocked the board over. I think I might have gasped. I know I lost my composure. Because that’s not supposed to happen; the lives aren’t supposed to collide; they’re not, they’re not. How do I know who to be in that case? Taesaria the alchemist? Tirynna the pirate? They’re my people, not Taesaria’s; that I does not fit with them. The only thought in my head was FUCK FUCK FUCK.

Because they were trying to take the ship. They were trying to take the ship, like we’ve taken hundreds of others, and I knew Taesaria’s group would not react well to that. They’d kill them. Maith (still playing the fool, I see, dear) and Ari with her jokes and good nature, and Kanos with his sharp-edged dignity and quiet chuckle— Or the crew would kill them, Garreth and Deth and Cedric if they fought (they would, I knew they would)—not Jaela; she’s a child, perhaps not Anna, and not me if I yielded (and what then, be a prisoner on your own damn ship, a stranger among friends unknowing?)

The Captain almost blew the ship up. I talked him out of it, asked him to let me negotiate with them. Thank the gods, he listened. May fortune smile on his endeavors. And I talked to Maith. It felt wrong; I was not the right I, but still I talked. I told him Tirynna and I are blood-bound. It’s true enough; our blood is the same, after all. He agreed to leave the ship in peace in exchange for the Captain not destroying the Luck.

He agreed, and he left.

Went to have a bath. Needed to think. I kept changing back and forth in there, Taesaria to Tirynna and back again. Focus focus focus (How did this happen? You were supposed to be shells. Always shells, only shells, guarding Taz from harm. You are who the situation requires you to be, remember? You were meant to be shells, and Taz Mai of the Heart was the deepest layer, never surfacing. What was that old saying about masks?)

I was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Garreth. I made sure I was Taesaria all over again, and answered. He’d brought wine, and he wanted to talk. He asked if I was all right. Told him Taesaria’s truth, that she and Tirynna were bonded to one another. I confessed that I did not know which side I would have taken had it come to fighting. Then I confessed that I did know. He said that he wouldn’t have wanted to kill me, which I find reassuring. I managed to move the conversation off of me. We spoke of Deth. Garreth claims that Deth “belongs to him” thanks to the fact that he’d almost killed him in the Dreamlands: the crab creature, before we knew his identity. (I’d forgotten that, forgotten it was Deth.) He trusts Deth to do what he says, which is reassuring. (Assuming Garreth himself can be trusted. He does seem to be genuine.) One usefulness point to Garreth for sharing information. Also one entertainment point for bath, wine, and food.

We arrived at the port city in Arenal, Pylas Talaear. Had to say goodbye to the Captain. It was most distressing; he’s one of the most interesting individuals I’ve ever encountered. Garreth and I each gave him a kiss in parting. He seemed surprised, but not displeased.

When Anna brought out the carriage, it looked much different than before. She’d altered part of it to be more like a chariot. It’s quite an interesting design. We talked schematics for awhile; she has some fascinating ideas on mechanizing the carriage. I gave her some suggestions. One usefulness point to Anna. Sold necklaces for 75 gold.

We all reconvened at an inn by the name of the Dancing Dryad. Cedric and Deth reported that the madstone they’re seeking is most likely in the town of Shae Cairdal. They also seemed interested in visiting the library there. The problem is, this is Arenal. Tribal elves don’t like outsiders—besides this city, they’re completely barred from the island. They don’t even like non-Arenal elves like Taesaria, so that wasn’t going to be much help.

Cedric wanted to set out right away and try to find a way to get to Shae Cairdal. I saw the look on Garreth’s face when he suggested it. No way that man was going to go another day without killing something. Deth seemed to notice it too; he convinced Cedric that we needed to stay the night here to prepare. One usefulness point to Deth.

Hell, I wasn’t complaining. Meant that we all got to go drinking while Garreth did his thing, and I even found someone pretty. :D One entertainment point to Zila of the lovely hair. Been awhile since I’ve been with a woman as a woman. The night passed quite pleasantly for both of us.

Morning. Prepared: One (1) extract of bomber’s eye. One (1) block seed potion. One (1) dexterity enhancement mutagen. I’ve had the recipe for awhile, but never got around to trying it. I decided that today would be the test.

Garreth seemed much more cheerful today; it would appear that he’s taken care of his problem for the moment. How often does he have to kill? Every week? Every two weeks? Not every day…further research required.

We tried to convince the guards to let us pass, without much success. Fucking Undying and their lack of susceptibility to normal bribes. (I’m sensing a theme here.) No sooner had we looked away from the gate than we spotted a familiar figure in an alley. It was Shel. Holding a baby.

Cedric turned white as paste upon seeing her—honestly, Cedric; it’s only been a week; unless Shel has the gestation period of a fly, that isn’t going to be your child—and Garreth immediately grabbed his ax. Myself, I wanted to know what the hell she was doing here. It couldn’t be coincidence. Following us?

That was as far as I got in my ponderings before Deth shot her.

I thought Ced was going to kill him, straight-up rip out his intestines and strangle him with them. He immediately ran over to heal Shel—apparently he’s forgotten that she tried to kill him and broke his heart—and make sure the baby was all right. (She was babysitting. At least, that’s what she claims. It may have been a ruse to throw us off balance.) Cedric, dear, you have the survival instincts of a five-year-old’s pet gerbil. She fucked you over once—literally—what’s to stop her from doing it again?

She said that she accompanied a pair of elves, a brother and sister, here as their maid. Why here? Why now? Further research required. She was reluctant to give their names (suspicious)…said they were private and preferred to keep to themselves. According to Shel, he said he has business past the Wall. His sister went over for some reason, and for some reason he can’t go look for her himself. He’s also nocturnal. Am I the only person who thinks this setup screams trap?

Cedric wanted to talk to Shel alone. No way in hell I was leaving those two alone again. The last time I did that, Cedric ended up tied to a post over a fire. Hell if I know why he’s still lovelorn over the chick. There are plenty of other women, buddy. And if it were you? If M- He wouldn’t. End of story. Those two knew each other for a day. Not the same thing at all. Anyway, M is Tirynna’s. So I escorted them around. It was awkward as shit but at least we avoided any problems that way.

We all met up again and went out to dinner while we waited to meet up with Shel’s Mysterious Elf Employer. One entertainment point to Pneu for being a serving wench. She made quite a fetching one. ;-) There was a minimum of conversation while Garreth and Deth stared daggers at Shel while Cedric tried to avoid making eye contact as he glanced at her. I made a game of seeing how many times I could make her flinch. Chewing on the fuse of one of my bombs seemed to have the best effect. Total: Twelve and three quarters. Pneu managed to carry out all of our orders one-handed. One additional entertainment point to Pneu.

Finally headed to the house, which had dark curtains over all the windows. “Nocturnal” indeed. We were introduced to “Master Xavian,” a tall, rather grim-looking elf. Not unattractive, though. The surprise of the day was that Anna knew him. She immediately shouted, “Mr. Grumpy-pants!” and jumped on him. (Isn’t that her doll’s name? He does kind of look like the doll…the hell?)

One usefulness point to Pneu for sneaking into the house without anyone noticing. Xavian said that he and his sister came here to gain access to libraries in the city. He was rather vague about what he wanted to find, simply that he and his sister had an “allergy.” She found a way over that he couldn’t follow, but he knows the point. When I asked him why he couldn’t simply go after his sister himself, he said something about the “rules” not allowing them to enter anywhere without permission. Sounds damned inconvenient if you ask me. His sister apparently got this permission somehow. (Also, she’s the one who gave Anna the doll. Must inquire of Anna later exactly how she knows this woman.) He told us to stick to the perimeter of the city once we were in.

Pneu decided to be provoking and say she had to warn us about something, but not tell us what it was. Thanks, Pneu. You’re such a help.

And so we went over the wall. Xavian brought us up—moving unexpectedly nimbly—while Shel acted as a distraction for the guards. (Maybe she slept with them and then tied them to sacrificial stakes.) (Uncalled for?) (Nah.)

Once we were over the wall, we found ourselves in a jungle illuminated by white light. We hadn’t gotten very far when I noticed a brighter area moving closer. Guards? Sentries? Two things flew off and vanished, and there was something humanoid coming towards us. The prudent course, I judged, was to hide until it was gone.

Unfortunately, it noticed some of the others. (All four of you hid in one spot? Really? What part of that seemed like a good idea?) It headed right for them. It had silvery hair and rasped something about “prey.” Lovely. I couldn’t identify the thing, but it was definitely not friendly.

Once it came closer, I could see that it looked like an emaciated child with light coming out of its eyes and mouth. Wholly unattractive. Anna chucked a smokestick at it. It didn’t seem to like that. I imagined that it wouldn’t like darkness much either, but alas, I had no way to create either. Research note: Make more items to have on reserve in the future. Drank my mutagen and one (1) extract of bomber’s eye and shot it. Excellent! My mutagen is proving to be quite successful. One usefulness point to Deth for excellent shooting.

AND THEN IT HIT ME WHY DOES EVERYTHING ALWAYS HIT ME FUCK THAT HURT. I felt all sick and disgusting and fiery. It was wretched. One usefulness point to Anna for making it hold still. I shot it again, to better effect. I love my new bow. I love the Captain. One usefulness point to Garreth for killing it. Also one usefulness point to Jaela for healing me. And somehow there were six Pneus, which was quite fascinating. One entertainment point to Pneu. It turned out that Deth was BLIND THE ENTIRE TIME HE WAS SHOOTING THAT THING. One additional usefulness point to Deth. Cedric was also blinded during the scuffle.

No sooner had we killed the thing than we were surrounded by guards. Fucking fantastic. If they were going to catch us anyway, I might as well have used my bombs to blow the thing to hell. But the guards didn’t arrest us—in fact, the leader, Councilman Theorin, thanked us for getting rid of that creature. (Not a sentry, then.) It was apparently summoned by some outsider in blue robes who’d been messing around in the library.

Theorin said that since we’d done him a favor, he’d do us a favor and get us into the city and the library. Cedric inquired whether the library would have information on how to prevent someone from dreaming. His eyes flicked to Deth as he asked. Aha. Cedric is trying to protect Deth from his…family? Associates? in the Dreamlands. Has there been a permanent break, then? Perhaps if I cloak my inquires in concern for Deth, he’ll be more forthcoming. Theorin assured us that their blindness would probably be temporary.

He also said that he’d heard of the madstone, and might be able to help us locate it. He had not, however, seen Xavian’s sister. From what I could determine, he was being honest. He told us that he’d talk with the council about the madstone—is it really a good idea for an entire government of xenophobic elves to know we’re after this thing? Am I the only one concerned about this? He offered to give us accommodations and bring us to the library in the morning. Note: Stick close to Deth and Cedric.

Pneu took advantage of Cedric’s blindness to paint “I’m a loud, obnoxious idiot” on the back of his armor. One entertainment point to Pneu.

Day 24: Close call. Could have been worse, all things considered.
Day 25: Interesting.

Money obtained: None.
Loot obtained: None. :-(

Ranking of companions:
Garreth: Usefulness- 2 points. Entertainment value- 1 point.
Pneu: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 4 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 3 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 2 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 1 point.
Zila: Entertainment value- 1 point.

Ranking totals to date:
Garreth: Usefulness- 21 points. Entertainment value- 9 points.
Pneu: Usefulness- 13 points. Entertainment value- 15 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 13 points. Entertainment value- 13 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 15 points. Entertainment value- 10 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 14 points. Entertainment value- 6 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 6 points. Entertainment value- 3 points.

Pneumonia: The lights that stop me

We took the boat to Elfland and we saw lots of elves. There was some stuff that happened, and then we ended up running into Cedric’s lover. Deth shot her, but she didn’t die, I don’t think he likes her, and Cedric was very unhappy about the whole situation. The important thing is I got to try being a tavern wench. I made a whole gold piece for my work, it was fun. Chester was a great boss. I might go work at his tavern again someday, if I ever come back here. We met a gloomy elf named Damian who really liked the dark. He told us about the treasures that await on the otherside of the great wall of Elfland. We didn’t find any treasure, but we did find a screeching brightness. The screeching brightness is a majestic and gentle beast that Cedric angered, probably by being loud. After it attacked people it had to be put down, so Gareth turned it into magic sparkle dust. Then we met the elf captain who said he would help us find the treasures, but not until morning because apparently taverns are closed at night here. You’d think if you didn’t sleep you wouldn’t bother closing the taverns. I like the elves back home better.

Cedric: Entry 10

When I pray in the coming days, it will be for strategic insight, empathy, and continued patience.

I found Shel again. Or perhaps she found us. I don’t know

Let me start from the beginning. As before, this entry will not be as meticulous my others. She does things to me, tumbles up my heart and mind so I can’t tell them apart.

It started with us leaving for Arenal. I wanted to fish for a bit, but apparently that’s not possible while the boat travels as it does. As I was reeling in my gear, an airship appeared above us. The Captain made as if to explode it (and I do not doubt that he could), but Taz of all people stopped him. Even as they descended onto the ship, swords in hand, their captain screaming he was taking the ship for the “glory of the Cloud Ghosts”, she insisted that we allow her to handle it. She grows more and more curious every day.

Listening to their conversation, it was clear that if Taz did not know them herself, she at least knew someone that they did. Very likely it is someone that their captain—Maith, I think she called him—is very close to. I did not like the man; he was aggravating and racist against the Captain and I. Honestly, if people are going to make such assumptions they ought to at least know to detect evil, first—! Gareth kept me from snapping overmuch at him, however, claiming that it was important we keep him talking. He said we were getting back story on Taz, who is the most secretive of us all. In retrospect he’s entirely correct, although I wonder how much we could learn about Taz if her association with these people is through another person… Unless they are closer than she lets on. Maith told Taz that he wishes for the person they know to “come home”, and she looked… profoundly uncomfortable. She even said that “we” wouldn’t want to damage either ship. I… wonder what she means by such things. Perhaps she and the other are siblings? Eventually Taz and the Captain convinced Maith and his crew to leave us peacefully, after which Taz immediately left to take a bath. I had hoped to talk to her about the pirates, but there’s little to be done for now. Even if I intend to be more involved with my friends’ problems, I will not go so far as to privately bathe with one of them. I do have a sense of decorum, after all.

I went below deck to read for a bit, and ponder our current situation with the diadem. I would be lying if I claimed I was not concerned about the probability of our success, but likewise I know that worrying will do little to further our cause. I must have faith that Dol Arrah watches over all of us, and that by her grace we will succeed. During such thoughts Deth came to speak with me, which was extremely surprising. Even more surprising was how forthcoming he was about what his own plans were, and those of his kin. Apparently his own plans had—or perhaps still do—involve him gathering the items of the diadem with us, and then stealing it at the last moment to use for the same purpose of his kin. His kin’s plans differ in that they wish to kill Lady Jaela, and rather than collect the items themselves they are using the Church of the Silver Flame to corrupt its followers and gather the items. Deth had been given orders to kill Lady Jaela himself once we collected the madstone, but he is not willing to do as such, and wanted my help to avoid the inevitable backlash from his kin.

Although I was confused as to why he would betray his kin at first, I ultimately realized something important: he is much more fond of us than he lets on. It seems Lady Jaela was right in trusting him. I am so glad.

We set to work strategizing.

The biggest danger Deth will face is sleeping. He inevitably returns to Dal Quor when he sleeps, and once he betrays his kin they will find and likely kill him there. They will send agents after him in our world as well, but such threats are more easily handled by the group and not nearly as much a concern. After speaking with the Captain to ask about the library on the ship, I had the idea to ask him about a way to prevent one from traveling to the realm of dreams when they sleep. The Captain said that the Kalashtar had perfected such an art, but that it would take centuries and (another?) willing host for Deth to do as much. I then asked if it would be possible to devise an item or spell to prevent Deth from dreaming, and he said our best prospects lay in scouring the libraries of Arenal. Thus, we shall search those before seeking out the madstone if at all possible. We will need to prevent Deth from dreaming after we kill dissuade those seeking to harm Lady Jaela in order to protect him.

Of course, this still left us the task of finding the remainder of the diadem. Apparently the corrupted members of the Church of the Silver Flame have gathered much of it under the direction of Krozen. Returning Lady Jaela to power would allow us access to the diadem (to be destroyed, of course, once we complete it) and would even free Deth of his kin, as once in Flamehold Lady Jaela would have the strength to deter even the strongest of them. It was at this point in time that Lady Jaela joined us, and we began to ask her questions as to the political state of Thrane. Including Krozen, approximately five of the cardinals in the Council of Cardinals (the ruling body of Thrane) are corrupt, leaving us the majority to sway with Lady Jaela’s return. Apparently Krozen has pronounced Lady Jaela not only a heretic but dead as well. If we were to sneak her into Thrane and engineer her return in front of the council, Krozen and likely the others would be exposed as the liars they are. The only trouble is getting her into the country, as we will likely have been branded as criminals or worse by Krozen and his associates. Despite her consistent overtures of peace, I do not trust Aundair’s queen to be neutral in such matters, so I am reluctant to use my citizenship in such matters of diplomacy. Deth suggested I speak with Taz about this. This is logical, as she seems to have a new name and story for every person she meets… A true politician if ever I saw one.

We reached Arenal a short while after our discussion. I’d nearly forgotten how fond of political strategy I am; I enjoyed our discussion on a number of. We all thanked the Captain for his help and his company, and he gave Anna a jeweled crown as compensation for the trouble we suffered from the storm. I truly hope we get to see him once more. The others seemed to hold similar sentiments.

The first thing that must be said about Arenal is that elves are wondrous architects. The wall surrounding their city is beauteous; even the warnings against “outsiders” in Elven do little to detract from its elegance. The buildings inside the port city are likewise impressive.

Architecture aside, the port city was very welcoming of outsiders, despite the warnings on the walls. It is the only such city in the nation, we later found out. After agreeing to meet up in an inn for the evening, we went our separate ways. Lady Jaela, Deth and I scoured the library but to no avail; the books provided even less information than what the Captain had told us. After asking a librarian for further aid, we found out that the books we would need were in “Shaecairdial”, a city that is especially wary of outsiders. Lovely. There were also mentions of the “undying court”, elven heroes that have risen from the dead without being undead… Apparently they serve as protectors of the city. They are not ghosts, and that is all that matters. The hostility to outsiders is unfortunate, but we will make an attempt to reach the city regardless. An upfront approach is best in these situations, I believe, so we decided to attempt that first.

However, rather than do so immediately Taz and Deth both were most insistent that we stay the night instead. I am… rather suspicious as to their motives for such, but I decided not to pry for now. They were not especially forthcoming with anything but the vaguest reasons, besides. What harm could come from staying an evening in one place, after all? Regardless, we elected to stay the night and set out in the morning. Gareth left to do something on his own. This time I worried, but Deth suggested we go out to a tavern; Taz and Lady Jaela accompanied us as well. It was an all-around enjoyable evening.

In the morning we set out to the gate of Shaecairdial, which was guarded by two elves of strange complexion and exceptionally long ears. They refused us and even Taz entry, but were not especially aggressive about their denial. I had little time to think of what to do next or even so much as attempt diplomacy, as shortly after I saw Shel, walking near the wall. Carrying an infant.

I think my heart stopped.

The others saw her as well, and I immediately focused my attentions on stopping Gareth from attacking her. He had drawn his sword but I managed to convince him not to attack. He even promised he would leave her in peace for the time being. There are no words to express how grateful I am for that. Unfortunately while I was busy speaking with Gareth, Deth loaded his gun and shot her. Had I not been so concerned for Shel and the infant I would have struck him. Thankfully he did not kill her or the child, and I released a channel to heal her. I then ran to her side to lay on hands, making sure she was healed completely. I don’t know how or why I care so much for her; I fear I would have broken down if she had come to any lasting harm. During this time I managed a closer look at the child, which revealed that it was an elf. She later clarified she was babysitting in order to earn coin. Thank Dol Arrah.

I made clear to all the others (Deth especially) that Shel was now under my protection and she would not be harmed while she was with us. Deth was incredibly insistent on making verbal jabs and reminding me of what she’d done, although he agreed (for the time being…) to leave her unharmed. I made great effort to ignore him, and silence him when he nagged overmuch. I do not need him reminding me of things I know too well. Taz and I accompanied Shel to return the infant to its parents, and then we returned to the inn where we were staying for a meal. It was… awkward, to speak the least of it. At one point I wished to speak with her alone but Gareth pulled me aside before I could do so. He made it abundantly clear that I was not allowed to be alone with Shel, for any reason. Were it anyone else I would have chafed under their demands, but… Gareth only means the best for me, despite my protests. I can take care of myself. Furthermore, he stayed his blade for my sake. I owe him at least this much peace of mind.

Even still, I truly wish to speak with her on my own time, in private. There is so much I wish to ask her, but I did not think it appropriate to bring up amongst company. Furthermore, she was nothing short of terrified of the others. Not without reason, of course, but it still saddened and upset me to see her in such a state. I wanted to hold her and assure her that everything would be alright; that I would not let her come to harm despite— I drowned such worries in ale during the meal, although I listened to a fair amount of conversation. Pneu and Gareth both were good about making sure everyone was fed and given as much drink as they needed. Taz questioned Shel the most, as I could not bring myself to speak often I felt far too conflicted. Apparently she left Ravenmore with two elves that visited the town by happenstance. They suggested she get away from the cult and all its sacrificing I can only agree with this thought and come with them as their maid. She was reluctant to give their names, but also told us that one of these elves would be able to help get us into the city, as his sister had gone in a few days prior and not returned. For whatever reason he was not able to go in and search for her himself, and come night Shel said he would speak with us. He is nocturnal, apparently.

I was… rather drunk by the time evening rolled around. Gareth walked beside me to support me as we went, which I appreciate. I must find a way to repay him for all the things he’s done for me, truly. Shel’s employer—Zavier, his name turned out to be—lives in a shaded house and is apparently unable to enter the city because of an “allergy” his sister likewise suffers from, hence his worry. There is something off about him, but I cannot quite place what it is. Anna took an immediate shine to him, as he apparently resembles her doll. It was endearing to see; Anna’s enthusiasm warms my heart. He eventually agreed to help us climb over the city’s wall, so long as we find his sister. It seemed to be more than a fair trade, and so we agreed. As he helped us climb the wall Shel distracted the watch, something that caused Zavier to be genuinely concerned about her safety. I pray she will be alright. As he carried me up the wall (I do not remember elves being able to do as such…) I gave him a note to pass to Shel. It reads only “It’s okay”, and yet… I feel she will know what it means. I cannot help but forgive her, despite my better judgment. (Although, Deth informed on us to his kin and I forgave him as well with good results. Perhaps this will be the same. I pray it will; her very voice makes me heart flutter in such a manner as—) I hope we will find Zavier’s sister and the madstone quickly so I might see Shel again and know she’s safe.

We went through the forest without much trouble at first—it was oddly brightly lit—until we came across a creature that seemed to be made of light itself. We hid, but eventually it found us and proved a somewhat challenging foe. It was strangely shaped, almost something out of nightmares, and when it touched me I felt as if all my innards churned at once with a strange sense of… brightness. Deth showed amazing marksmanship by shooting it not once but twice while blinded by it. Gareth killed it finally with help from Anna and Taz, although the resulting flash blinded me as well. There were also apparently six Pneus at one point, although I can’t understand what the others meant by that. Shortly after we were approached by guards of the city—one of them named Councilman Theorin, apparently, and robed while the others were armed—who thanked us for killing the creature. Gareth served as Deth and I’s eyes, while Taz worked well to explain why we were there.

It seems the creature had been killing many of the guards, after an “outsider” that had been let into the city accidentally summoned it. He is apparently an elf in blue robes that frequents the library. This news was somewhat unfortunate, as I had nearly hoped it would be Zavier’s sister for time’s sake. Furthermore, Theorin had not seen or heard of the woman. Regardless, he thanked us for killing the creature, and as a reward promised us accommodations and the chance to research the madstone and a way to stop Deth from dreaming. We will have only a limited time in the city, but even this is greatly welcome. He also assured Deth and I that our sight would eventually return, likely after a night’s rest.

We traveled to an inn within the city (Lady Jaela and Gareth acted as my guide) and settled in for the night. Lady Jaela asked after my health; I told her I had suffered worse. She then clarified, asking how I was emotionally. I was truthful in saying that… I don’t know. I nearly wish she were older so I might ask for more advice, but as it is I will need to work things out on my own. Regardless, she says it is “good” that I don’t know. It means I am not allowing my emotions to cloud my judgment entirely… I don’t know what to think of that. I don’t know what to think of anything lately, it seems. Taz and Gareth were surprisingly adept at aiding Deth and I. I wonder if the chance to remove my armor wasn’t at least partially what motivated Taz. In the morning I found Pneu had scrawled “I’m loud and obnoxious” onto the back of my armor in elven, which… I will admit drew a reluctant smile from me. Perhaps only because I am so relieved to see again. It was easy to wash off, regardless.

Today is a new day. I only hope it will bring much-needed answers, to my heart and my head alike.

Gareth: Coming Undone, Returning to Sanity

This place. I hate it. I hate how it looks. I hate how it smells. I hate how the people stare at you funny and you’re expected not to touch them because your travelin companions are doing some sort of stupid investigation that are none of our gods-damned business. I hate the cramped tents the sickly sweet smell of all of their gods be damned meat. I hate that it’s an island. I hate that we’re stuck here. I hate that staying at the ship isn’t really an option. I hate how fuckin diplomatic everyone is bein. I hate that, no matter what I do, they notice. They see. They’d know. It’s like walking on broken glass that cuts so fuckin deep it almost cuts the pain. I can’t breathe here. I can’t even fuckin move. Not to fuckin mention how this is an island of dragons. People who worship dragons are fuckin nut-jobs. Idiots. All of them.

I stayed away. It wasn’t so bad surrounded by the trees. The smells were overwhelmed by the bark. The thoughts more focused on not fallin and breakin my neck. S’not like anyone really missed me that much anyway. We were stuck on a rock with nothin to do but interrogate people. If they needed someone to break some fingers and get some info, they coulda asked. But they didn’t. I’m no good here. No good for this kind of stuff. No good for patience or honesty or fuckin purity or whatever the fuck and I really don’t give a shit. Haven’t for a while. These people aren’t gonna make me. Yet I still doubt.

Tied to a fuckin tree in the middle of the night on a stupid fuckin island because I don’t want to break loose and get these stupid fuckers killed because they wanted to stay here. Saw a flash of white. Called out for Nu. Just a laugh. Sally. Thought I might have felt like that was better. I pulled myself from the tree and followed her and learned that she understands. She understands in a way that few have or ever will. Spent a while with her. Beautiful, strong, vicious Sally. Dunno if I could see her gone now. Feel the need to keep the ones that get it close.

The ones that don’t try to change me. The ones that don’t tell me I’m a freak. The ones who don’t say that it isn’t right because it isn’t what they fuckin believe. Who gives a rat’s ass about what they say? Why the fuck do I have to live by their standards? Why do I have to hide while they sit up on their fluffy fuckin cushions in their high life while I have to crawl around on the fuckin floor scavengin for gods-damned scraps?! Because they’re scared? Because they don’t get it? Because they don’t want to die? Because they don’t want their children knowin folk like me? Fuck them. Fuck them all.

Sally gets it. Sally understands. I can’t do this.

I can.

But I can’t.

But I need to

Oh gods it hurts.

I need it ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit ineedit

can’t have it
not here
not now
by why?

Taz found me in the mornin. First one who showed to give half of a damn. Fuckin weird. Makes me think she wants somethin from me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the woman and she’s damn fine, but I don’t trust her that much. Sometimes she seems like she would have your back then she seems like she’d rather stab it just to be on the safe side. Weasel. She’s a weasel. But she doesn’t give a fuck what I like. She actually looked like she felt bad when I told her. It was…surprising. I offered to kill some guys for her if we ever got off of this stupid rock (s’cuz me. When we get off of this stupid rock.)

Went to find Deth too. For reasons I think I get but at the same time I don’t, he always calms me the fuck down. How, dunno. Don’t think I ever will know but that doesn’t matter. He’s in trouble and I’m pretty sure it’s our fault. Well, his fault for stickin up for us but our fault for bein all enjoyable to be around n shit. But fuck them. I don’t give a shit how big and nightmareish they are. I’m not lettin him go. They can suck my dick.

Went to dig. Did lots of diggin over two days. Ced finally decided to talk to me about my absence. Honestly surprised he wasn’t the first one that tracked me down and demanded answers. Said he’d understand if I told him why I like killin people. I laughed. No he fuckin wouldn’t. He’d be just like everyone else. Maybe say he knew because of his weird blood, but he’d still want me to change. Want me to become a “better person”. What if what I am is better for me? No one ever stops to fuckin think about that. S’not like I go and pick an old person of the street and bleed em. That’s boring. No fight no thrill.

Whatever. We finished diggin the stupid hole and climbed out. Thought that the guy might just push us back in and eat us or somethin stupid like that, but he just split the thing open with some weird words and these giant bat things with eighty bajillion eyes, huge mouths, and nasty ass shrieks came out. Honestly gave not a single fuck. I was just gonna settle down and watch with said chief man. Especially after I watched him swat Deth’s bullet clean outta the air. Fuck that shit. You don’t mess with guys that can catch bullets. Arrows, those are one thing, but bullets. Hell the fuck no. There are some fights you have absolutely no chance in winnin. That would have been one of them.

Didn’t stop the flappy things from spendin their precious time screamin in such a way that made me puke up the lunch Deth brought me. Over and over and over again. I just sat there on my knees pukin in to that hole until there was nothin left to puke. Then I kept fuckin pukin. Got up in time to see the fucker messin with Deth. Went to go save him. Heard Anna shout about helpin the townsfolk. Almost laughed. My people always come first.

The fight was kinda long and not that interestin. Just kinda went around tryin to kill the things. Anna kept almost dyin. Jaela was down. Ced was freakin out. Taz kept almost gettin eaten. The mage guy was actually doin a pretty good job. Good call savin his pathetic ass Anna. Anyway. Finished the job. All of the things were dead. Captain Asshole McStandAndWatch says somethin about experiments and stupid shit. Wasn’t listenin. Wanted to leave. Then. He turned. Into a mother fuckin dragon. Promptly used Ced and Deth as fuckin shields because fuck that thing was huge and hell no I wasn’t lettin it get anywhere near me and why does this shit keep happenin and then the black one came. The acid spit one.

Life hates me.

I ran. Fuck that noise. Let the people talk to the damn dragons. I sure as hell wasn’t gonna be there when they did. Took a nice spot in the sand and just watched Cap’n work. Ced came to make sure I wasn’t coughin up my lung or whatever the fuck then went back to listen. They came back. I wasn’t listenin to what they said about the dragons. Don’t give a fuck. Let the dragons bicker and kill each other. Spent four more days on the island til the ship was fixed. Got another massage from Nu. Ced seemed to forgive me for laughin at him. He kinda looked like a kicked puppy for a while there.

Sun baths, swimmin, campin out. That was all actually pretty fun. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy as hell to get back on that boat and get the fuck out of that place.


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