A Troubled Economy

A Time of Doubt, a Time of Respite

“Zionil!” Pak-Pak squawks.

“Wonderbringer,” I reply, repeating by rote what he has taught me. “His portfolio is artifice, craft, and smithwork.”

“Good! Good!,” he trills. “Curna!”

“The Wise Goddess. Gives inspiration and knowledge.”

And so we continue with the gods most known in these lands. I still do not understand all that these words imply, but I repeat them back to the bird just as he has taught me.

I don’t know where he himself learned these things. His knowledge seems to come in fragments, fits and starts, as if he too is learning, but from whom I do not know. Sometimes I ask him questions, inquire after deeper knowledge of the subjects he has me rehearse. Usually he ignores me. It is in those moments as if he were just another bird; I, a madman for talking to a dumb beast.

But this land, at least – and a quiet moment to repeat my lessons – is a welcome respite from our troubles. Our most recent encounters have been with folk either helpful or indifferent, the fey creature who gave us healing mushrooms or the walking tree who questioned us only to seem unconcerned with any of our answers. There are wonders in these lands, and shade trees and cooler breezes besides, which is no small thing.

It was a hard-earned rest for my companions. We faced demons and Enalda suffered a grievous wound. I called upon the spirit that indwells all things to heal her, but I could barely soothe the pain much less knit the wound. It seems I remain too weak a vessel. She and her brother both were also infested with some sort of fiendish infection that could not merely be scraped away. I shuddered when I thought of the mango worms that would infect the dogs who scavenged among the trash heaps alongside us in Ormpé.

The foreigners Danjo and Shino suffered an even more grotesque transformation, though thank the gods it too turned out to be temporary. A formless, roiling beast emerged from the sands as we traveled, and its touch transformed them both, for a brief time, into shapeless horrors.

Nonetheless, we survived, and now we’ve had a few days to recover. I would take it as a good omen that we have met with no new terrors, but my companions are shaken with doubts and I fear our fellowship may soon fracture. I am not confident, however, that they will fare any better in Assur. I know well that cities too can be as cruel as the deepest wilds, that man can visit upon his fellow man horrors equal to the worst of fiends. As we walked, I asked them to consider what it is that we seek.

“Is it safety we want?” I asked. “Last we were in a city, we were shot, shackled, nearly burned alive. It seemed scarcely safer. Is it coin perhaps? I have never had so much coin,” I said as I jingled the coins in my belt pouch, “and this found beneath a bush in the wild. Food and drink and supplies? I’ve seen children begging for food next to merchant stalls overflowing with plenty because they lacked coppers enough to meet the merchant’s price. And in this time of scarcity, who knows what the prices will be? And these fey we’ve encountered, they seem to have found food enough here in the wild.”

But I confess, I was attempting to summon a confidence that I myself scarcely feel. I have faith that if we align our will with that spirit who dwells in all things and with the benevolent gods, that we will do well. And, thanks to Pak-Pak, I know their names, at least, and can pray for their aid. But the heavens remain unmercifully silent. I can only hope that our aims are noble and our hearts pure and that the gods will reward our efforts.

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Unnatural killers

8 Eleint 1372
1852 days have passed
20 days have passed since the Drow incident

There is something more than a minor disturbance in this area. Ghastly, otherworldly beasts of chaos roam this desert. Beasts that we are ill-equipped to fight. I do not know which was worse, the vicious birdlike creatures, or the horrifying nightmare sludge.

It started with the bird creature. First, one flying by itself lazily overhead as we were camped. We kept an eye on it as it circled us. I blinked and there were suddenly two. At first I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating from the heat, but sure enough, they landed a short distance away. Tuck had conjured an illusion of some giant ballista, but they weren’t convinced. The idea was good, the execution, poor.

Once they touched down, they began some weird dancing ritual. We all looked at each other trying to figure it out when the purpose exploded all around us. They had the ability to detonate explosions from their bodies at a considerable distance.

Sahil began by cloaking us in mist, then turning into a tree. I could somewhat understand the mist, though I’m sure that would not have stopped the explosions. I could not figure out the tree thing, however. Perhaps his mind had lept back to the tangle vine and he simply did what worked last time. Regardless, it was not helpful, but I couldn’t be too upset with him.

I stood at the edge of the mist, able to just make out their forms when soon there were many of them. This seemed different from when the second had joined and it made me suspect an illusion of some sort. Calling Hoar’s guidance to identify chaos, the illusion was ineffective to me. This creature would soon feel pain.

Danjo, Shino, and Tuck stood outside the mist, lobbing ranged attacks to no effect. I knew I had to stop the creatures as my companions were not making any headway. I charged into the first one and, pleading to Hoar, struck the beast to its core with my hammer. It shrieked a horrible sound, some language I didn’t understand, and I shouted back.

Enalda has joined me shortly thereafter, bringing her trusty shield arm to my side and fending the second from my flank. She called the aid of her god, and stood diligently by my side. And I needed her for the beasts’ assaults. One after another, the two rapidly tore into my body. As Danjo’s blade bounced off their flesh, Tuck’s arrows missed, and Shino’s flames only barely singing their ass hairs, it was clear the beasts were not concerned with anyone aside from my sister and I.

Twelve times. Twelve times I had nearly succumbed to my ravaged body only to be pulled back by Hoar himself. In the midst of all this, my sister suffered a gruesome wound to her throat that I treated as best I could immediately. As if it wasn’t enough, the beasts showered us in some sort of spore that cause vines to burrow deep into our skin and further peel the flesh from my body. I surely thought we were dead. Once Enalda and I fell, there would be nothing my companions would be able to do to them and they would be picked off easily. I knew they were trying, but they were entirely outmatched, and it was only divine intervention that allowed me to stand up to these things at all.

I made swing after swing at the beast. The second one disarmed me of my hammer, so I pulled the sword from my back and continued. Hoar guides my arm and hand, not my weapon. After another swing, one beast grabbed my hammer and vanished. Then the other followed. I nearly breathed a small sigh, the beasts were gone and my hammer was the only casualty. While I had grown fond of the weapon, and had worn grooves into the handle that fit my hands just right, it was not overly sentimental to me. My dagger would have been a different story.

As I was halfway through the aforementioned sigh, I was cut off by the vines pouring out of my body. I could see Enalda beside me, similarly entangled and worse, she couldn’t breathe still. Our companions helped cut the vines off, even tried burning them, but that only hurt us more and didn’t seem to phase the vines. We stood next to each other, calling forth the last drops of healing we could when the vines finally stopped. They were cut off shortly after, but we were horribly scarred from them. We had these disgusting growths all over and Enalda still couldn’t speak. I tended her wound with all the knowledge of first aid I could. I was able to open her airway at the very least, and get her to breathe fully. Her vocal chords were still wounded, but with proper care, I think she will recover.

The following day, we encountered another living nightmare. A semi-solid, tentacled monstrosity. This…thing did not hold a shape or form for long, as it rolled along the ground like a disgusting wave. Hoar told me right away that this thing was another agent of chaos, and a fierce one at that. It burst from the ground beneath Danjo and Shino. I stood my ground, ready to do battle when I witnessed a most unnatural event. Danjo and Shino had become a boiling pile of screaming sludge. It was completely horrific. Not only had they melted from just a simple touch from the beast, their belongings were seemingly gone as well. I had no way to fight this thing if it melted everything by touching it. If my sword melted, then I would effectively be unarmed, and I couldn’t punch it without melting myself. I had to cut the loss of Danjo and Shino and flee, before I fell to the same fate.

The creature was relentless, it would not stop chasing us. Thankfully for us, Tuck had discerned how to use one of our new magical staves to emit bright explosions of burning light. What a fantastic item, I thought, as long as it holds out. I knew staves only had a limited amount of power in them, and I hope it had enough.

As luck had it, the staff was able to destroy the creature after several blasts. Even better, Danjo and Shino were able to recover somehow and we even found most of their equipment. I cannot fathom what those two went through, but there is no way that this creature is natural to the desert.

We moved North after that, into the hills where we came across some Grigg Sprites. Curious and playful, it was a nice respite from the bloodthirsty demons we had been encountering. Even a small brownie came to greet us and we learned about the surrounding land. It was quite pleasant, a small wooded oasis, really. We even ran into a moving, talking tree who blocked our way, asked what we were doing and where we were going, then told us he wasn’t interested and that it didn’t matter to him. Curious, but no threat.

I had been picking at my vine pods that night when the memories of the bird demons rushed back to my mind. Seeing my sister’s pristine and caring face marred by these disgusting things and her throat slashed so I could not hear her soothing voice overwhelmed me and I lashed out at my companions, blaming them for this. I voiced that we should head back to Assur, that the things we are facing, we are not prepared for. I knew Assur would have it’s own problems, but I don’t feel like they would turn me into a humanoid puddle.

I was met with disagreement, Tuck and Danjo even had the gall to say I was afraid. Afraid! Had Hoar not brought me back from the brink of death TWELVE times, those demons would have had their way with you, you smug assholes. This isn’t fear, you ingrates, this is knowing when we are outmatched. I sought Sahil and Shino’s advice. I knew them to be the calmer, wiser voices in the group. they did not agree with me either, but Sahil did point out that our current locale was much nicer than what Assur would be, or Lastarr, or the desert. I couldn’t disagree with that, but we would not be here much longer.

I made my ultimatum: if Enalda and I were to be stranded in another fight like that, we were leaving back to Assur with or without them. You see, Hoar had rewarded my valor the previous day with a glimpse of his magical power. Magical power I could call my own. Magical power that would grant us passage through the desert. Enalda and I had a path back to Assur if we wanted it, and we weren’t keen about this suicide mission.

It’s easy to be tough and fearless when you aren’t being butchered.

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Daemons of all forms
A test of our resolve

We gathered our loot from the killer vines. There was a pleasant pile of platinum, and a goodly gathering of gold.  Best of all…magic wands, scrolls, and potions! Now THAT’S what I have been waiting for! The REAL wealth I see adventurer’s laden with!

We started on our way, traveling up through the foothills toward the mountains. One day as we broke camp and prepared to set out I spotted a bird bigger than my mule. It seemed to be watching us as it flew hundreds of feet in the air. Suddenly a twin to the first bird appeared. Hmmm… summoned? Too far off to tell. The birds circled us. I conjured an illusory ballista and aimed it at them. OOPS! Here they came! They teleported to the ground nearby and started a bizarre, arcane dance. Their dance ended with a loud boom and a wave of force that emanated from them so powerfully that it killed my poor mule, Jando!! Poor Jando!!

Then the birds created mirror image duplicates of themselves, which I immediately recognized. Setibyr and Enalda attacked with melee weapons, while Danjo and I used our bows and Shino used up charges from a brand –new staff of Fire!  We whittled away at the mirror images while the siblings battled toe-t-toe with the daemon birds! Oh, how I admire their strength, and skill at arms!! Horribly, one of the birds cut Enalda’s throat! Sahil could do little against the injury! Then both Setibyr and Enalda were enveloped by a cloud of spores. I’ve seen mushrooms in the underdark do something similar, but the spores took root in the flesh of the twins and began to grow grotesque, twisting, choking vines. Shino’s fire spells seemed to help, somewhat. The daemon birds were getting wounded and suddenly one of the birds took Setiby’r hammer and they teleported away. We did what we could to remove the vines growing from the armored warriors, Setibyr and Enalda, but the vines resisted all attempts to heal or remove them. Eventually they stopped growing and we were able to cut them off, but grotesque stubs of them remain, like barnacles on a ship’s hull.  I can barely stand to look at them, and my heart breaks to see their beauty marred so!

We traveled on, and suddenly we were attacked by what I first thought was quick-sand, or some sort of sand monster!  However, with blinding speed the sand creature dissolved Danjo’s mule, then Shino, then Danjo!  By the Umberley’s throbbing twat, that was terrifying!! I was reminded of the large slimes in the underdark. I’ve seen a whole chained up crew of slaves devoured by one huge slime. My master laughed at the horrible screams, for the slaves did not belong to her! I saw and experienced other cruelty by my master and her cursed folk, and that was not the worst by far.  Still, I was greatly pained to see my companions brought to such an inglorious end.  Setibyr, Enalda, Sahil and I just ran. We ran and ran. Somehow, by some strange trick of fate, Danjo and Shino reformed from the dissolved blobs they had become! Shino was unconscious and Danjo tried to carry him away. He was going slowly so I cast  my spell for running fast on myself and on Danjo and we ran. I also blasted the attacking monster with our newly acquired Staff of Light. We kept running, but it would not stop and eventually I had to blast it repeatedly with the staff of light to destroy it. Thanks to Tymora! Her coin landed face-up for us, when we found that magical treasure!

Still, we continued on, as we must do. We are small creatures in a big world, and we have no choice but to toil on… Speaking of small creatures, we came upon some grig sprites! They at first seemed delightful and playful, until one of them obliterated my water skin!  It also gave over some bits of mushroom which aided the healing of Enalda’s neck, it seemed. I don’t trust the little bastards, though! The next time I saw one I got out my bow and it disappeared!

We met a talking tree. As you might expect, it had no interest in us.

We walked a ways past the talking tree man, and Setibyr marched in silence. Suddenly he stopped and rounded on the party. He bitched us out for leaving him and his sister to fight the daemon birds alone, and the more he talked the more I realized, he was scared shitless.  I can’t blame him. He is young and like I once was, ignorant of the horrors of the wide world.
He came very close to losing his sister to the daemons and he saw two companions dissolved by a relentless beast from which we only barely escaped with our lives. He said he wants to return to Assur, give them our information, get paid, and end our job. I like the idea of getting paid too. I’m not convinced that it will ever happen. I recall the church of Lucha offered to pay us in crints. The last pox-brained lout who paid us in crint was a filthy drow who tried to kill us, and the crints were fake anyway. Maybe this whole, messed up situation is some sort of elaborate drow plot, and we’re just pawns anyway! FUCK!

So far we have only managed to survive by working together. I think splitting up will be a mistake.

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Dangerous Battles and Difficult Decisions

It is by the grace of Lucha that I am able to write again today. We have had a very trying few days, and I fear that things will only get worse. The first horrifying incident came after a period of rest. We had set up camp under a copse of trees and had rested relatively safely. The peace was not to stay long, as seems to happen to us quite frequently. Some mystical birds began flying over our camp, but were not acting aggressively. Danjo thought it might be a good omen. It was not. The birds landed not too far from our camp and our day took a turn.

Their first act was to dance to create a magic that would send an enormous blast at us. Setibyr and I were able to withstand the explosion and soothe our wounds. Shortly after, the bird creatures created mirror images of themselves. They were far more clever and more dangerous than they looked – and they already looked fairly formidable. I tried to shoot at them, but once Setibyr raced forward, I was off as well. These creatures made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. There was something very much off about them. Surely Lucha would not have permitted something this awful to have been created in our world. Setibyr began attacking the one to my left. As usual, I attacked the other, hoping to draw some of the aggression off of my brother. My brother is a very strong man, but alone against two such creatures, he’d surely be grievously injured, if not killed. I had faith in Lucha and in our companions to support us and help us vanquish these bird men. Lucha protected me. Our companions did not.

Almost immediately, the bird man in front of me sliced into me, rending open my neck. Blood burbled in my throat, cutting off my air and muting my scream. I tried not to panic. I knew this could be a mortal wound, but I trusted in Lucha to keep me alive long enough to defeat these foes and protect my brother. I tried not to let on how dire of a situation I was in after that wound. The last thing I needed was Setibyr going into a frenzy and getting hurt as well. While I was struggling to breathe, the bird men opened their wings and spores flew from them, coating both of us. Danjo, who had gone to help Setibyr with his bird man, was untouched. It seemed fitting as he was unable to wound the bird man as well. The spores took root on us and started carving into our bodies. I was unable to even cry out in pain. A disgusting bubble was all I was able to manage. Setibyr continued furiously attacking the bird creature in front of him. From the back, Shino shot fireballs at the creatures, dispelling the illusions. The actual creatures seemed hardly harmed by the fire. I wonder if Shino would have been more effective fighting physically alongside us rather than using so much magic. Partway through the battle, I felt some healing relief come from Sahil. I do not know what Tuck was doing to aid us. He was nowhere near the front of the fray.

The battle was going poorly. To my surprise, one of the creatures stole Setibyr’s hammer and disappeared. The one he had wounded disappeared as well. For all of our efforts, we had nothing to show but our lives. Even those were almost lost to us. I still could not breathe, and the vines were sapping the last bit of strength that I had. Through Setibyr’s efforts, he was able to repair my throat well enough for me to breathe again. Sahil and my lady Lucha healed me enough that I would not die that day, but nothing could remove the vines. Nothing short of cutting the dozens of them out of our skin, which we could not survive.

The horrors we fought then would not compare to the creature we’d encounter next. The only way I can describe it is as some sort of sand ooze. After it had dissolved Shino, Danjo, and Danjo’s camel, we fled. I’ve never been up against something that could melt you with a single touch. I was still wounded and knew there was no way we could fight something that could melt our weapons and armor as well as ourselves. We ran. I’m not proud of it. I knew we were leaving Shino and Danjo behind. To be fair, we had seen them disintegrate. I had no way of knowing they would re-form later. I ran faster than I had ever run before. I made sure to keep Setibyr beside me, afraid he would seek revenge on the ooze. Thankfully, he must have seen how futile fighting this abomination would be as he kept pace with me. After we were a distance away, I heard the screams of Danjo and Shino. Over my shoulder, I could see them re-form – naked as the day they were born. I felt a great surge of guilt. They were back with the horror, and we had left them there. The horror had been chasing us, but went back after them. I watched in disbelief as they dissolved and re-formed over and over again until Shino collapsed and Danjo grabbed him and ran.

Tuck worked some of his magics and Danjo ran faster, catching up with us. It was quite a sight, and not just because two naked men were coming fast as can be across the sand. Had it not been such a dire moment, I would have been rather embarrassed as that was the first naked man I’ve seen. I’ve seen many shirtless men and men in their underthings, but never like that. I’m a bit embarrassed now, to be honest. That aside, I was able to redeem myself some for abandoning them as I healed Shino. He was able to run on his own and we kept ahead of the ooze horror. Tuck made himself useful this time and blasted the creature over and over with some of the magic we had found earlier. Thank Lucha it worked. It looked like it would never stop chasing us until we died.

Once it was destroyed, we went back to see if any of our gear was salvageable. Setibyr and I lent Shino and Danjo some clothes. I shudder to think what kind of full body sunburn the desert would have subjected them to. We recovered the majority of our supplies and continued on. What else can we do but continue?

The foothills of the mountains seemed more hospitable. There was certainly more greenery than we had been seeing. Some forest creatures spoke with us and gave us directions to Assur, though I don’t know that I believe them. We even spoke with a large tree! Thankfully, none seemed to want to harm us. We set up camp that night and discussed our plans. Setibyr and I want to continue to Assur and be done with this awful job. The rest of the group wants to explore the shrine. A suicide mission.

Setibyr and I discussed amongst ourselves the events of the last few days and our survival options. He was very angry. He felt that the rest of our party had abandoned us during our battles and left us to do all the fighting while they hid in safety. I can certainly see his point. Despite all of the others having more battle experience than us, we seem to always be the ones doing the brunt of the fighting. Setibyr told me that Hoar had come to him with a blessing, giving him some minor magics. He said that some of the magics he was blessed with would allow us to survive in the desert if Lucha would also bless me. I will pray to her tonight and offer her my thanks for my continued survival. If she finds me fit, hopefully she will bless me as well. My prayers will have to be silent, though, as my throat is still in a bad way.

Setibyr is not good at keeping his anger tamed these days. He confronted the group and told them that we were heading to Assur, with or without them. He told them what we had discussed about their lack of aid during our fights. He was rather harsh. I admit, I am not happy about being injured so frequently. Truly, I watched my brother almost die at an assassins hands. I can’t say that hasn’t shaken me. I know he hurt some feelings and wish he hadn’t, but I suppose something needed to be said. He knew that if we were blunt about going off on our own, that they would either have to go with us or die on their own. Without our defense in battle, they would not survive. I hate drawing such a hard line, but it is not our job to save the world. Our job is to get information for the Lady so that she can send a group of heroes that CAN save the world. We’re just a strange group of travelers and are ill equipped to handle such a thing. Most of our supplies are gone or destroyed. Setibyr and I still suffer from the after effects of the vines. We have exhausted much of the magical items we have found. Why die at this shrine when it isn’t our job to fix whatever plagues these people?

Once we get back to Assur, I hope to convince Setibyr that it is time to head home. If I cannot convince him, then perhaps he would be willing to take on some less dangerous jobs. We cannot continue like this, no matter what the rest of the group thinks. Now we just need to pray that the way back to Assur is clear and the city is not in ruins. Lucha protect us.

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The Man from Iiso Remains
I melt I reform I remain myself

Fiendish Predators
and yet something worse still came
after that but sweet music

I am still coming to grips with recent events even after feeling myself shake off any lingering cobwebs of that foul curse. Though I know I am digressing prematurely I feel getting it out and onto the page will do the world rather than letting it fester in some corner of my mind. We continued on into the foothills Mr. Arbuckle his usual sociable self a Tanuki in the guise of a Hin. The twin celestial the Typhoon and the cleaning rain. Sahil the boy blessed by the Kami and his avian friend Pak-Pak. My second the formidable and well spoken Shino Fumei his eyes still burning with that fire of inner vision I first saw in him so long ago and I a warrior atop his trusted desert mount. We had been well into our rest when those on watch alerted us to a peculiar winged creature making It’s way into our midst. It flew with a predatory calculated grace as It lazily banked around toward us. I blinked and suddenly there were two of them and seemingly just as quickly they had landed. The pair stood nearly seven feet tall on strong legs ending in wickedly sharp black talons any beauty the creatures could have had was tempered by the rapacious looks in their beady red eyes. They spoke a language I could not understand that brought my hackles up as they seemed to seek and their movements took on a mocking dance.

The blast shook all of us and It’s a wonder we weren’t all felled instantly. However with grim grit we set to work to battle them. The twins sallied forth to do battle Setibyr alight with righteous anger and his sister striking true. The Tanuki’s short bow fell short to strike the enemy and Shino blasted them with fire from his mystic staff. I for my part stood shoulder to shoulder with those two forces of nature the twins and found my sword unable to strike true. Lost in a forest of illusions was my blade amid a foul flock of demon birds. I heard the Typhoon roar as he drew from his back a blade and struck his foe across the chest and after a gasped squawk the two were gone whisked away by magic. For their part the twins found themselves entangled by fines that seemed to blood from their very flesh It was all the rest of us could do to try to keep them at bay. Minutes later the vines receded and I saw the reason for the typhoons roar his sister had been raked across the neck and It was only his own gentle ministrations that kept her breathing. Never the less we packed up and continued onward and It was a few days before something I had not considered occurred a waking nightmare from which It took great pains to escape and that nearly consumed us all.

We were walking making our way up into the mountains as we had done ever day since we reached the foothills. A moment forever burned into my memory that of my second and most trusted friend as his form distorted and became like rubber. His scream shook my bones as I saw his posture slump and his limbs congeal like drying blood under the sun. I screamed and I am sure I did not stop as my mount Al-Shamlal screamed and buckled himself suffering the same fate. I reached for my sword to draw It and strike the horror that was rising before me. The color of bile a mass of slime and tentacles and jagged teeth. It’s form constantly shifting eyes and mouths appearing and disappearing in an instant It was too late and I found myself consumed. My sword fell from my hand as I felt my body collapse into Itself. I tried to scream but there was no sound I tried to move but there was no change I tried to see but there was naught but dark I tried to listen but there was only silence..for a moment. I saw myself in a million million fractured disjointed moments a speck of experience like sand on a beach. I heard myself scream only for the voice to dissolve into nothing again I saw as if a living avalanche roiling toward my remaining companions. Time lost It’s meaning and I found myself in my memories reliving past moment. Countless battlefields. Swords striking armor and flesh as the moments flitted past. I saw friends family loved ones and hated enemies reliving each moment before they all came crashing to that same blind silent blackness. I felt myself focus as the wave took me again and miraculously I was able to manifest. My body growing from the bile colored monsters upper side naked as the day I was born. I called out my voice cracking from the volume of my exaltation. SWORD SWORD SWORD SWORD SWORD. My surprise at being whole had meant I was unprepared for proper discourse and before I was able to speak anything clearer the blackness took me again. More flashes my wedding day, Master Matsunaga’s death, my son. Then I burst fully formed from the monster still naked Shino at my side. We sprang up and ran running as far and as fast as we could. Splitting to circle around the monstrous mass It lashed out and struck Shino he fell to the ground still fully formed. I stopped and sprinted back to retrieve him throwing him over my shoulder I kept running. I could see my allies off in the distance and felt some wellspring of vigor move my legs faster than I’d ever run before. I eventually caught up with them sputtering and shrieking for Enalda her throat still ravaged to heal him. She did so and he took to his feet. We all continued to run but the beast showed no signs of stopping I looked back to see Tuck Arbuckle the Tanuki Hin Wielding the seconds staff we had found and blasting the slime with brilliant beams of magical sunlight. We Kept running and more blasts followed and eventually the nightmare was reduced to a stain on the ground.

We stopped running. I felt numb I felt nothing not even the pain from my bleeding feet from running. Setibyr and Enalda learnt shino and I some spare clothing while we went back to recover our gear and supplies if any remained. Miraculously everything survived apart from Shino’s backpack but It’s contents were unharmed. I re donned my clothes and armor and helped shino to pack his things into my bag. My camel the brave the beautiful Al Shamlal the only casualty to the nightmarish creature. I will weep for his loss in time. I must confess the numbness has not fully left me though as we continued onward I felt bits of myself returning to normal as a land slowly thaws after a harsh winter or more accurately as nature slowly reclaims a land scoured by a volcanic eruption. It first came when the sounds of the forest reminded me of the music of small kami from my childhood. wordlessly my second and I took out our instruments and began to play. The harmonious sound intensified as out of the green came small flying fey creatures intent on playing with us. this continued building until a small green man came to greet us and after a very friendly conversation and a trade of tea for mushrooms he gave our group direction to Asur the city before retreating into the forest again. We continued on and were stopped by a tree who after an even longer and slightly less friendly conversation we made camp and began to discuss our next step forward. I know I am not fully recovered from the ordeal and I can only guess as to how my second is feeling from It but I am hopefully that with time all will be well again for despite It all we remain ourselves.

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A Motley Crew

23 Eleasis 1372
1837 days have passed
5 days have passed since the Drow incident

These past couple weeks I have grown to know my companions a little better, and I feel the need to document this in the event that one of them turns on me.

Tuck Arbuckle:
A worldly Hin standing approximately 3 1/2 feet tall. Average build but with a slightly vacant look in his eyes. This worldly traveler is a master of disguising himself, becoming completely unrecognizable to the untrained eye. He is very focused on his personal gain, but he does not seem as though he would abandon an ally as long as it does not cost him anything. That said, He values more than just coin. He seems to value experiences as well – including but not limited to recreational drug use and prostitution. He is very sly and very witty and has a sharp mind that has helped us numerous times. However, I feel like that would give him the greatest edge over me in the event of betrayal. He is skilled with some basic magics that enable him to turn invisible, put people to sleep, and even run at a great speed. However, the only combat prowess I have witnessed so far has been with a small shortbow. I don’t know if that is all that he can do or if that is all that he has let on. The man can read Drow. He does not seem to take well to the Drow race themselves, though I cannot blame him. Seemingly positive at all times, I feel that Tuck could be a great ally or a terrible foe depending on who is holding the money.

Sahil:
Sahil is a quiet and gentle young man. I feel that he poses zero threat to me now or in the future. The man walks with a peaceful demeanor and only fights when it is his last resort. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen him fight at all. The man is gifted magically. Healing and aide spells protect us from this blistering heat and repair our injuries as necessary. He is a very sheltered youth. I feel that Sahil would never betray anyone as long as he wasn’t being forced to. I feel that were I to cross him, he would not seek vengeance and at worst would simply ignore me and walk away. I respect him, not only for his abilities but for his calm demeanor and his coolness under pressure. He’s a fairly frail human standing approximately six feet tall and maybe weighing 125 lbs. He is very lean. He prays to the adama in its entirety. He does not seem to focus on the worship of one specific deity.

Shino:
Shino is a lean, graceful, and muscular man from the land of Wa. Shino follows Danjo as some sort of indentured servant or perhaps as repayment for some sort of debt. Maybe even as a teacher/student relationship. I’ve witnessed Shino utilize a multi-section staff – likely a weapon from Wa – as well as conjured magical flame. His abilities are not limited to just offensive as he has also been a key part in our magical protection from our environment. Shino is a human roughly six feet tall of Wa descent. He has dark hair and is approximately 200 lbs of very lean muscle. He is younger than Danjo, but I feel he holds more composure than his master. He seems to be wise, calm, and collected with the capability to fell mighty foes. Shino’s alliance seems to purely be with Danjo, though I would like it if he would remain my companion for future adventures. I feel that that is entirely dependent on where Danjo goes. That said, I don’t feel like I have anything to worry about from him given that Danjo does not turn against me.

Danjo:
Danjo is an older man of Wa. He also stands about six feet tall and weighs roughly 200 lbs. I have witnessed Danjo wield both a long bow and a foreign Wa blade that he refers to as a katana. Danjo is a mighty warrior and if his words are to be believed, he has seen a lot of combat in Wa. Danjo gives the impression that he is no longer welcome in his homeland, though he has not specified why. That said, Danjo has made very little effort to not stand out in a crowd. This has become a bit of a hindrance to our group as Danjo goes out of his way in every shape and form to show that he is not of this land, that he is a traveler. Normally this would not be such a problem if we did not have Drow and Barghest trying to assassinate us. Furthermore, Danjo has proven unable to act rationally in some situations. Case in point, the event at The Eye where we knew that an assassin was watching our every move. Danjo ordered the strongest drink he could. A drink that he should have had no question about how strong it was. And even in that situation, Danjo felt it was a good idea to chug this drink as fire crept up around our lodging. Needless to say, Danjo did not remain conscious shortly after, forcing Enalda, Shino, and Sahil to fend off the assassin after I had been struck. A man of his strength and experience I feel should not have made such a foolish decision. He knowingly and willingly put our entire party at great risk in a time of desperate need. Despite his poor judgments, he has proven to be an asset at times, particularly in combat with the beasts of the desert. I feel that Danjo, though he may turn against me someday, may not be a huge physical threat. I do not see any capabilities beyond his skills with weapons, and I like my chances in a fight, which, funny enough, he has asked to spar with me should we get a free moment. Hahahaha.

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The Loss of Friendship

The first time I realized we were different was around our seventh year. I was used to everyone at the tavern telling us that we were beautiful and thought little of it. Our mother would brush my hair at night and tell me how pretty it was. There was no one else in our town besides my brother and I with such light blonde hair. There was plenty of black and brown, and I knew that we had unique hair. I didn’t realize how unique we were in our little city. Not until the children our age started to point our our differences.

Early on, I had had a friend, Arabez. Her mother was a seamstress, and she lived four houses down from ours. Arabez, Setibyr, and I would play in our tavern during the day when business was slow. She didn’t seem to mind that Setibyr and I were always together. She had no other siblings her age and was always underfoot at home. She was the last of five children and was often shooed out of the shop.

It was during our eighth summer that Arabez started to act differently around us. One morning when she came over, she was very quiet. I tried to get her join us in a game sticks at one of the tables, but she seemed to not want to come fully into the dining room. I asked her why she didn’t want to play.

“Ma says that both of you are not like us. She says that you’re different and that your pa left you cause you’re strange. I don’t want to be strange, too, and have my pa leave me so I’m not going to be your friend anymore.”

And, just like that, one of my only friends besides my brother walked out the door. Our mother rushed to tell us that our father had not left because we were different. He didn’t even know that we had been born or she was sure he would love us just as much as she did. It did little to ease the stinging of Arabez’s words. Setibyr and I became closer than ever. We were each other’s only friends.

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A Heart of Wood and Pith

I haven’t always been able to make letters. Pak-Pak had to teach me. Prayers, at first, were all he taught me. He scratched out the letters with his beak in the dust. I copied them with my finger. When I got them right, he would whistle with delight. When I got them wrong, he would ruffle his feathers and squawk, “Again, again.”

I quickly learned to form the letters, but the words seemed strange. They were words for priests in golden temples, not for a child of alleys and trash heaps. After I had learned to copy, he said I should write my own thoughts. “Write your thoughts,” he said, “and they may outlive you.”

I wished to be a tree yesterday. Monstrous vines had ripped us from the path as we walked. They crushed the wind from my lungs. My vision turned dark and I saw a dusting of lights like the Tears of Lucha when they pass by night.

And in the darkness, I saw the children of Ormpe, sick with hunger. I saw the bodies of those we found in the desert, abused and burned. I saw the woman of Lastar clinging to our garments as they wailed and demanded news of those they feared lost. I saw the dwarf whose throat was cut to the spine. I saw our camels snatched aloft by great talons. I saw their eyes huge with fear. And in this, I wished to be a tree.

The adama dwells as assuredly in leaf and bark as it does flesh and bone, yet trees are insensible to pain and terror. So, even as I felt the signs of death upon me, was it really so strange a wish?

My hair turned to leaves and drank in the air that had fled my lungs. My legs that had trembled with weakness grew stiff and immovable. My feet turned to roots and sank deep in the soil. I ceased to struggle, and the vines which threatened to crush me grew suddenly slack. The spell, however, did not render me completely insensible. I do not understand how the magic works, how I could still hear without ears or see without eyes. But I could see my companions wrestling to escape the vines’ grasp. I could hear the sound of vines being crushed and ripped by Danjo’s blade as he struggled to free us. The sights and sounds seemed muted and distant, as in a dream that is only scarcely remembered upon waking, but I could not escape them.

I could see the hin who mutters in his sleep and dulls his memories with women and drink. The easterner and his servant rejected from their homeland for some reason they seemingly fear to confess. The pale Halruuan who bears a palpable burden of hate and his loyal sibling who forgoes her own desires to help him carry the weight. I could see them all and I managed only to preserve myself. They survived, all of them, but not through any help that I had rendered.

In former days, I could fill a cup with water or cleanse the spoilage from a heel of bread and ease another’s suffering. But now, when lives hang in the balance, the best the adama grants me is to turn my heart to insensible wood and pith.

I understand now at least one prayer that Pak-Pak taught me. “Illuminate my path, Lady of Silver, as I navigate the terrors of night.” Indeed, may all the gods, and the spirit which dwells in all things, preserve our paths.

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The Man from Iiso goes into the mountains.
beasts of the air elves in the trees.

six fled into sand__
two lost camels on the way
treasure gardening

Lastar is behind me and my allies and I’s entrance into the Curna Mountains has been bought with the loss of two of our pack animals each grabbed by two colossal flying beasts. The first was an amalgamation of a dragon a man and another monster called a Manticore. Through use of magic and my own attempts at archery we were nearly able to deter the creature. However It proved the victory even though having noticeable difficulty in carrying the camel away. In a shock of good fortune the camel who had been taken was not carrying any of our supplies as we had just set up our camp. However this may have been merely a respite before yet another loss another of our camels. I must digress for a moment for something truly sublime I had seen one night during my watch with my second Shino Fumei. By the light of the moon and stars a strange truly alien winged beast flew over our camp It’s pale skin taking on a silken quality in the moonlight and Is visage was eyeless this moonlit hunter was blind. I felt my breath catch in my throat before I sat in silence. I saw It turn It’s snout as If to regard me even from It’s perch in the sky before the moment passed and some far off scent or sound drew the creature away. Shino later told me of the creatures fantastical powers over sound meaning this creature could have sounded It’s call and blasted our camp and us all into the next world. Now in regards to the loss of our second camel came in a flash of shrieking of sound and a gust of wind as he was snatched like he most succulent desert peach by some cousin to the thieving Tengu a Wyvern. I permit my choice of words in that this camel was laden with the bulk of our stores and supplies apart from my personal gear which has stayed with me atop my personal mount Al Shamlal. I will make a point to a treatise on him soon.

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Out of the desert, into the footlhills
Beasts, giants, elves oh my!

We continue to travel east-ward toward the Curna Mountains. Travel in this desert would almost be tedious, were it not so deadly. This wasteland is the exact opposite of the tunnels in where I once was enslaved, but it is in many ways the same. The confines of the underdark versus the wide-openness under the sky. Perpetual darkness exists down below, but it’s never dark here. Even in the middle of the night, here there are many stars, and Selune, and her tears. Yet, danger surrounds one in both places. Powerful beasts roam both, lack of water is a danger for those unfamiliar with the underdark, much like this hell. My main worry in this desert, is that the roaming bandits will find us. I know I have stalwart companions, and together we will survive!

We noticed some creatures watching us from a great distance. We tried to close in on them and see what or what they were. They eluded us, except for what appeared to be an obvious trap. At one point they anticipated our path of travel and left a message in dethek writ with chalk on the stony ground. Our extreme predictability has once more become a liability. We took evasive actions to hide our travels, and we changed directions for a few days, and I think we lost them. We have seen no sign of them these last 5 days or so.

We have lost two camels to great, hungry desert beasts. First we were set upon by a mantimaera. It was three-headed like a chimaera. It had a head of a man, a goat and a dragon, and it had the spike-throwing tail of a manticore. Certainly some wizard concocted this mad beast. Either way, the Yondalla-damned beast took off with a camel, a tent, and a barrel. Then a form of dragon, it had wings, but no fore-legs, flew down among us and made off with another camel. Now, I’m glad it was the camel and not one of us, but it’s damn annoying!

Finally we entered the foothills and started climbing in elevation. It got somewhat cooler, especially at night. However in the foothills, we have encountered more deadly foes.
Twice we almost stumbled into a band of hill giants and dire wolves. Thinking quickly we were able to hide and avoid detection. A hill giant is an ignoramus, but if he’s too hungry, it could get awfully dangerous. I think I could trick hill giants to avoid the stewpot, but I’d rather avoid them completely. Maybe they can be used against the elves we met. Have I mentioned the elves yet? I do love elves, but these were not that sort!

Finally we came upon some wild forest elves. At first we could not see them. They warned us off with a volley of arrows. Not knowing if we face elves, or the troublesome bandits, we retreated a distance. I used some camouflaging tricks I from my youth in Luirwood, and was able to creep in behind the elves. I used an illusory Tuck on a mule to distract them. I made it back to the my companions and they wisely agreed we should not force a fight here. We have no quarrel with them and no need to start bloodshed.

As we trekked through the forest, looking for the path to the Valley of the Shrines, we were suddenly attacked by enormous vines that were able to grapple all my companions! I tried in vain to cut the vines, but soon saw that my party was being pulled to their doom. Luckily that resourceful Sahil was able to change into a tree! I used my magic to light up the area and we saw how truly huge the creature was!! Then Danjo, with a very impressive display of martial prowess, saved everyone by slaying the attacking plant-monster! The plant beast was forty feet across and it must have been centuries old. I couldn’t imagine the number of poor souls who lost their lives to this insidious menace! Danjo mentioned that would should look for treasure, left behind by previous victims. We spent several bells searching around and we got quite a haul in platinum, gold, silver and crints! We even found some magic items. Now this is more like it!

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