I asked Lady Jaela about the ethics of putting the witch in power instead of the chief’s son. She said so long as it was for the good of the people, and as long as we avoided death where we could, there was nothing wrong with such. I was glad to hear it, as I think the witch would make a much more compassionate and effective leader than Fiq. I asked Deth to investigate the chief and his hut tomorrow, and to bring Gareth along, as he was strangely absent from where we were staying. Pneu was as well, and as it turns out she was helping him with… something. At the time I did not think to go find him, as it is Gareth and he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself, jungle or not. Likewise, Pneu is capricious and to find her missing is nothing unusual. In retrospect, I should have sought him out. I am fairly certain he was distressed.
Regardless, Taz and I took turns keeping watch over the meat that had been gathered. The chief at one point saw us and waved, taking a portion inside for himself. I… am reasonably certain my armor gave us away. (I may need to learn to be more judicious in my decisions to wear it, but I do not trust these people and I did not want to leave Taz and myself unprotected in the case of a fight or an attack by a stray beast.) Although our attempt at keeping watch over the meat was largely fruitless, Taz did tell me about the man from the leech pit. His name is “Ribbalt” and he is a cataclysm mage. Apparently this means his of an order of mages that specializes in drawing power from the world’s cataclysms, and that they believe such a cataclysm is going to occur very soon. I could not help but think that they may be speaking of the diadem, should we fail and its pieces fall into the wrong hands. Dol Arrah willing, this won’t happen. Taz also mentioned that he’s meant to marry a witch from the tribe.
In the morning, I decided to attempt to seek out Pneu and ask her to investigate things with the pit and the meat for me. After many failed attempts at looking for her (some of which required Deth bodily walking me over to where she’s standing—is my eyesight truly that poor?) I went out a few yards from the village and spoke with her. She told me I should simply ask the chief and if that fails, she will do it. She also said that if I needed to find her again, I needed only to walk back out into the forest and she would find me.
So, I set out to speak with the chief. Deth was already there outside the hut (Gareth still had not shown himself.
I should have worried… Deth mentioned that he had been having trouble, and was working it out with Pneu—not se carnally, either, surprisingly enough. I still should have worried.) and said that his piece of the diadem had not reacted. Still, we decided we’d approach the chief together and question him about the disappearing meat and the pit itself. He claimed that “spirits” (messengers of their gods, the dragons) eat the meat so they don’t eat the people. Deth confirmed my suspicion that he was lying. He also claimed that they came when people weren’t looking, which explained why Taz and I didn’t see them, as it was rather obvious we were there. When I spoke of the pit, the chief offered to take us out to see it. I worried for a moment he might attempt to push us in it, but all he said is that he was digging to find “truth”, after receiving a vision of a silver dragon telling him to dig. He did not say he knew what this “truth” was, only that he’d know it when he saw it. Apparently this is part of an experiment of some kind… This would agree with the witch’s claims that the chief is smarter than he was before. Deth and I both agreed he seemed to be hiding things, and being dishonest. However, the chief did say Gareth and I would be free to help dig if we wished. I volunteered, wanting to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.
During our discussion with the chief, Deth mistakenly referenced me as a paladin of the Church of the Silver Flame. In retrospect I am glad Lady Jaela was not around to hear me correct him, as I was quite terse in my response.
I… cannot imagine it is any good for her to hear her knight speak ill of her faith.
Regardless, Deth surprised me later by asking what my faith actually is. I told him about Dol Arrah and all she stands for; he seemed genuinely interested. I think we are making progress with our trust in one another, and may even become friends. He is straightforward in some ways that I can respect. When I asked about his religion in turn, he said he follows the way of “il-Lashtavar”, more a belief system than a deity. He didn’t wish to speak of more than that, but he was very polite in saying so. It apparently relates to his kin. I worry that he does not speak of them freely; family is not something one should need to hide.
We later went to go find Gareth and ask if he would dig with me. (Deth is… less than suited for manual labor, although he was later quite nice in bringing Gareth and I both water and meals.) He seemed fine, which surprised me mildly. I thought there was no reason to bring up any issues he may or may not have been having, and so we spent the rest of the day digging. The chief told us we would likely find “truth” tomorrow when we finished, and then went to the ocean to wash off. Deth and Taz joined us, and we found Pneu at the beach. I do not think I will ever be fully adjusted to the idea of bathing alongside women, but it was not horrible. It was mildly embarrassing when Lady Jaela showed up, however, if only because she seemed somewhat scandalized by our collective nudity.
Lady Jaela had apparently had spoken with the chief on her own time, and confirmed what Deth and I knew: he is lying a lot. She made an analogy about puzzle pieces: as if he’s handing us them in the wrong order, and occasionally upside down. She also has a bad feeling about what’s at the bottom of the pit. Gareth, Deth and I will be particularly cautious tomorrow while we dig.
Later we returned to the hut, except for Gareth and Pneu once more. I was exhausted and so I went to sleep, but was later awoken by Gareth dragging the largest boar I have ever seen in my life back to the camp. He was also bleeding quite badly, although he seemed strangely relieved. I healed him, although I
finally worried about the fact that he had been feeling off. To get up and hunt in the middle of the night… That is not normal behavior, for humans at least. I made a note to speak to him about it later, as he fell asleep readily afterwards.
Unfortunately, Lady Jaela could not say the same. She said she’s having trouble “adjusting”, which is understandable although I fear this may not be everything. I wondered if she was having nightmares, but it’s neither that nor her dreams being bothered by Quori. She said being home in Thrane would help, but only marginally. I believe it may have something to do with her connection to the Silver Flame being severed, but… I fear there is precious little I can say to comfort her. Perhaps if she were a cleric of Dol Arrah, I might be of some use… I suppose the most I can do is continue to protect her, and make sure she knows I will listen, should she ever chose to speak. It bothers me greatly to see her upset like this; I want to make things better for her.
In the morning I set out to start digging; Gareth said he’d join me after his “date with Deth”. (His name truly is an unfortunate homonym.) Once he returned from speaking with Deth, I broached the topic of why Gareth had felt the need to go hunt a boar in the middle of the night. He said it was better for him to kill a boar than the people in the village, which is… less surprising than I would care it to be. I know very well what it’s like to want to tear a foe apart; to watch them suffer and bleed before finally snuffing out their life. Such desires are inherent in tieflings. Yet, when I pressed further he said I didn’t need to know. I insisted that even if I didn’t need to know, I could still understand: a demon’s blood flows through my veins. But—he only laughed in response, and waved me off. Such a reproof stung far more than I expected.
It felt rather as if I had offered my hand, only to have it bitten.
I worry, too, if he is truly having trouble keeping control. I will have to continue inquiring after this… Fortunately I was given little time to sulk, as shortly after the chief told us we had dug enough and the “truth” would soon be found. Gareth, Deth and I pulled ourselves from the pit, armed, and stood back to see what would happen.
The chief began to speak in an odd language, brandishing his stone. The earth began to shake and then an enormous “crack” was heard from the bottom of the pit. It was at this point Deth asked if he could shoot the chief and I told him not to. A moment later his voice changed and monsters flew from this pit. It was at this point I told Deth that yes, he should shoot him.
Please. The chief swatted the bullet away, and we decided that was the end of any more attempts. I wondered briefly if it wouldn’t be wise for Gareth to attempt to wrest the stone away from him, but given he did not seem to be controlling the creatures with it, I decided against it. This was a wise decision, as it later turned out.
The monsters were from the underworld, according to the chief, and had something to do with the prophecy. They were great, cloak-like things with the ability to screech in such a way that Gareth and I both keeled over vomiting. While I was vomiting I witnessed Lady Jaela attacked by three of the beasts as she tried to heal a man covered by them; they knocked her down and she began to bleed horribly. My heart stopped until I remembered that I could take the damage for her, but… I felt no such chance. I thought at first the amulet was not working, but then Taz was attacked and I was given the opportunity to take damage for her instead. If Lady Jaela had given her the amulet, I think she would have informed me. That means she must have stolen it.
I was livid.
That Taz would not only steal such an amulet from Lady Jaela, but that such actions nearly lead to her death is unacceptable! I later demanded it back and returned it to Lady Jaela, but I will have to keep a closer eye on Taz from now on. Now that I’ve calmed, it… saddens me, almost, that she’d do such a thing. It’s confusing as well. Why would she throw herself into the sea in an attempt to save me, only to put a child at such a risk for nothing but her own sake?
The remainder of the battle was taxing. Lady Jaela, Anna, and others nearly died a number of times, and I spent more time healing them than fighting. This mattered very little, of course, because eventually the accursed things were killed and we were able to confront the “chief”.
As it turns out, he was still uninterested in telling us what he wanted to accomplish. He claimed that we would not reach his understanding of the prophecy without having studied it for over a thousand years. I wondered perhaps what he meant by this, but it was soon obvious—he is a silver dragon, and a large one at that. (As it turns out, Gareth is terrified of dragons. He had no qualms about hiding behind me during our discussion with the beast.)
Fortunately for us, I feel, the black dragon from the Star Peaks arrived to chase the other off. At this point Gareth was scared beyond his wits and ran back to the boat. I followed only to make sure he would be all right, as Deth assured me he would relay to me what the dragon said. (Apparently, the “Chamber” is a fraction of dragons that has no reservations about interfering with the prophecy; most of them are young and impetuous. The silver one was a member of this faction.) Regardless, once Gareth and I reached the boat and I was assured he’d be fine, I returned to the village to be sure things had settled. Fiq was made chief given the death of his father, and Deth insisted we all leave as soon as possible. I thought this strange but turned to go regardless; when only a few yards from the village I heard and saw the flash of a spell. Our friend the witch was challenging Fiq for leadership; I ran back to make sure she would not lose. My aid was needed, as it turns out, as she was sorely wounded early on. After an initial attempt to join her in the fight by striking at Fiq (which proved fortunately fruitless, as otherwise she would have not held leadership by winning in such a way) I healed her. This proved enough to turn the tide of the battle, and eventually she won. This apparently was enough to keep the villagers from attacking us, as Fiq had apparently ordered them to do so. Ribbalt stayed behind in hopes of wooing her, and we finally returned to the boat with some sense of certainty.
I am slowly realizing that many of my
comrades friends are less honest and straightforward than they seem. I… have lived a sheltered life, in retrospect. Nothing is as clear-cut as I would like it to be, and sadly people are rarely forthcoming about things that matter. I wish I knew how to make things better for them, in a number of ways. I think I will need to be more active in pursuing an understanding of their characters and, more importantly, problems. I hope I will not make things worse, some how. Perhaps their unwillingness to speak and be open is partially my own fault, as I do not make enough attempts to engage them.
I suppose the only thing to do for the moment is to continue forward… And have faith that things will improve.
On that note, the boat was fixed and we departed without further trouble. Whatever lingering irritation with Gareth I felt faded as we waited, keeping one another entertained as we’re wont to do.
We both found that Pneu gives excellent massages… Taz spent much of her time avoiding me and teaching Lady Jaela to fight better with a dagger—an unfortunate necessity, but perhaps also her way of making up for her earlier behavior. I also spoke with the Captain; it turns out he plays Conqueror simply for the fun of it. He called the Blood Wars a “base conflict” and I agree; fortunately he did not find my curiosity rude. Regardless, for the moment I am simply glad to be moving forward with our quest once more. I already fear we may have neglected the madstone for far too long.