Ra 24th, 111
We keep wasting good travel days to rest. I understand that this is a very dangerous place – it’s among the most hostile in all of Palladium – but we are wasting too much time! There is no ‘’time limit’’ set on us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hurry with all safe and reasonable speed! We make great time, while we travel, and I am glad my travel companions are so stout, that we can travel sun-up to sun-down, but we stop for days at a time to rest and heal.
Iana and Cava’s Axe are used to their maximum point every other day, it seems. I can see the strain on Iana, and I understand, now, why she needs ‘’release’’ the way she does. We travel, rush headlong into danger, and don’t give thought to the strain it puts on our medic. We have all been available to her, at one point or another, for healing of her sort, but I fear that if we continue like this, we will soon run into her physical and mental ‘’wall.’’
I have put thought to this today, and haven’t come up with the answer. I am told we are camping another day in this hollow, so I will put more thought to it tomorrow.
Ra 25th, 111
I have thought of it! Talismans! They are items that can carry magical spells, like scrolls, or they can even store Vim Psychicae in Potentia – Magical Energy! I don’t know where I could find a master to teach me the secrets to creating them, though. We are hundreds of miles away from any known magic guild, and there aren’t any famous Alchemists that set up shop in the boonies, at least none that are sane.
Talking to Xerx’ses, I have come to understand that there are several accomplished wizards in his tribe. Even more important is that there are, or were, extensive books from the Dwarves during the War. From my studies, I am pretty confident there will be something in them about Talismans. Dwarves are more mundane in their magical pursuits. Earthy, physical forces and enchantments are how they employed their magicks. Transformations, Enchanted Items, Rune Weapons, Familiars, and Elemental Magic drip with the residue of Dwarvish magical discovery. As such, Talismans are right up that alley.
I know we have very pressing matters at hand, but I think it would be better to take a few days, and let me learn this magic, than to hurry up and wait in a camp somewhere for another terminal eternity.
I have been feeling like a fat kid at a poor man’s barbequeue! I have hoarded so much of Iana and Cava’s healing! I plan to learn the healing arts as soon as I am able. I have also realized something. Iana is the only one that knows the art of reviving someone on the brink of death – those that would perish, no matter the amount of healing done to their bodies. What if she were to be knocked unconscious, or what if she were to leave us? We would be left to die. I need to learn this art as soon as I am able as well. I could even make a talisman, so that any in our group could use the spell in an emergency.
Ra 26th, 111
We finally got back on the road today. Bungo fainted, from lack of water, and we realized the need to find some as soon as possible. Our ranger was able to locate a small rivulet coming out of the rock, but it was too small for us to quickly fill up. We spent half the day for the important task of refilling flasks.
During the night, Bungo, Overkill and I had second watch. To break the monotony, Bungo and I rolled dice for a while, where I took Benji for his pocket coin. It’s nothing like dicing with a Lord or Duke, but it’s still fun. During our last throw, an apparition interrupted us. I did not balk at a War God’s Charge, but the other-worldliness of the demonic shade’s dripping fangs and bloody claws rattled me to my core. I could smell its fetid breath, and feel the clammy air expelled from its ethereal lungs on the back of my neck. It must have been fifty, or eighty paces tall. Its wailing moans rattled the rocks around us! It motioned with one cruel finger for us to follow him, and Bungo and Overkill acquiesced like zombies under control of a necromancer.
Needless to say, I woke the rest of the group immediately. Cava exclaimed that it was their own fault that they followed it, and that it serves them right, whatever their fate. He refused to go to their rescue. Xerx’ses and I went after them, though. When we arrived, they were burying bones, and we were pelted by rocks. I thought to use Turn Dead, but against all rational explanation, the ghostly Dead are not Turned by the spell. I need to come up with a magical deterrent for the majority of undead that the fabled flimsy flop of a spell Turn Dead cannot deter.
With the bones at rest, the spirit disappeared. We returned, and the worry etching Iana’s face broke my heart. I could see true feeling there, behind her eyes – more than a simple attraction. She was worried about my well-being. When she had mended our wounds, she came to me. I have abstained for only 68 hours, but it has felt like a veritable eternity. The void was filled to bursting with heartache and contemplation, but a void it was. The soul-deep weariness in her eyes shattered my resolve. Suddenly, the ache for her touch that I had been drowning out by chanting Summoners’ mantras day and night rushed to the surface, and breached my defenses. There was no fighting it, because in that moment, I allied with it.
I rushed her to the nearest seclusion. Even in my endorphin-soaked, passion-fueled rush, I realized the beauty of the place. A gorgeous vista of the Yin-Sloth spread out from the foot of the cliff a stone’s throw away. The western horizon was starting to get a light border, proclaiming the approaching dawn.
Practicing Blacksmithing has made my muscles hard, and rigid control has kept my tone. Iana appreciates my hard work, as I can tell from her light fingers tracing the lines and contours over my torso. So, it was not immediately that I realized it wasn’t her fist pelting my buttock. When the thought finally reached my brain, I jumped up with a yelp and ducked behind a large rock, pulling Iana with me.
Peeking around, I saw that Cava followed us. Indignation and embarrassment filled me instantly, like a wave crashing over a stone. ‘’We have talked about this! He gave me his blessing!’’ I yelled in my mind.
Then he said, ‘’That is NOT keeping watch. You should know better, Iana; Azariel.’’ And then came one of his glares. He really needs to learn life isn’t all gloom and doom! He’d glare at a song-bird if it chirped too loudly at dawn. His ‘famous’ glares lose their power after too long, though, so I paid it no mind. I just went off to bed, irritated at my lack of self-control, and at Cava’s interruption.
Ra 27th, 111
We woke early today, and made great time. The only thing that barred our way was a syvan that thought he was more than he was. And, of course my Turn ‘’Dead’’ spell wouldn’t have done a thing to him, because he’s ‘’un’’dead. If I didn’t know better, I’d say magical creatures find loopholes in the magical spells of mortals and exploit them better than lawyers do laws!
In his belongings we found a holy dagger, of all things. Bungo was the one that eventually ended up with it, though he lost the finger to Overkill. I fear for Bungo. I am not sure if his resolve will carry him through the journey ahead! It’s been perilous trudgery from the moment he joined, and his little fairy-cousin heart might not hold for much more.
One thing, though that startled me the most of all the events today was that the Holy Dagger Benji got Cured Cava of his Curse; The curse that was received of the fell box in Haven, bestowed by Gods of Taut themselves! We were all astonished. Cava was under the impression that only a God could remove that particular curse. But here, a relic off of a corpse hundreds of miles from civilization, on the top of a gods-forsaken mountain top did just that. There must be more to this dagger than meets the eye. Methinks it must needs have been forged by one.
Ra 28th, 111
Another fantastic day of travel, and the best thing is: I FINISHED THE SKULL! I started to clean, dry, and bleach the Cockatrice skull as soon as I was given it in the Jungles. I was able to start carving the Force symbols in it yesterday, and I finished tonight. Now, all I need are some fresh leeches. Those shouldn’t be too hard to find, here in the mountains. I will have to paint the carvings with mud, every morning. It’s a simple procedure, so that’s no problem.
Ra 29th, 111
Well, I was shot down with no preamble or explanation, again. Since I was the only one on a side at the beginning of the discussion, I was immediately written off as wrong without allowing me to explain. Granted, if you only look at its face, you have no reason to fathom how deep a tree’s roots go.
We wasted an entire day; sitting, and waiting, and wishing for the Giants to leave. I expect we will be stuck so for several days to come.
Ra 30th, 111
Miracle of Miracles, we only wasted the morning today! The Giants all left toward the east, to mount an offensive against the Gromek, our would-be captors and benefactors.
On our way down the road, we encountered the great horned dragon that killed our ‘escorts.’ He stopped us on our journey, asking why we were such dishonorable wretches. Through our contact with him, I verified he wasn’t evil, so he was as trustworthy as a dragon could be – he was Anarchist. He asked us, in payment for not being eaten and looted – not necessarily in that order – to get a crystal ball the Dwarves in the War took. Xerx’ses’ eyes lit up. I could see that he recognized the ball, and they positively glowed when the dragon signed his name on the agreement. Gromhuran. He recited entries of history like a nursery rhyme, and the great dragon chuckled.
‘’Why, yes, that was I, when I was much younger.’’ The gravelly voice boomed dripping with mirth.
We asked the dragon for instructions on how to get out of the mountains, and he pointed out a path we had missed a little way back. It was hidden between a sheer rock-face and some overgrowth.
We are on our way out, now. We have passed the summit. Travel shouldn’t be nearly as hard from here.
Ra 31st, 111
While we were on our way out of the vale at the foot of the hidden path, Benji stumbled across a leech hatchery – much to his disgust. The poor guy was covered in them due to a quick skinny-dip in a freshwater pond off the stream’s path. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more disgusted, or dismayed. He didn’t know how these leeches would help us from here on. I filled a jar with dead leeches, and have a small jar with live ones. Oh, this is perfect! I have all I need for the Power Leech circle.
Thoth 2nd, 111
We reached the Waste today. It is a bleak landscape, but oddly beautiful. The dirt and rocks are red, and the destroyed rocks make formations that seem like the gods were making art.
We have been hunting and dowsing every day, and I feel that we might have a quicker time in our journeys if one of us could magically conjure milk and bread. If not for our Ranger, we surely would have perished already.
We came across a cave today, and found a hidden cache. In it there was at least twenty thousand gold worth of valuables, currency and gems! We also found a trident, though the only one among us that could wield it is not here, and Xerx’ses finally has a replacement flail. It’s nothing like his old one, but it will work for him.
Then, the strangest little man came upon us shortly after we discovered the cache. He called himself ‘Old Gregg,’ and asked to share our cave for the night. I don’t trust him. He avoids questions, and has the oddest look when we talk to him. The rest of the group has accepted him, even though we haven’t done anything to verify he is a friend. When dealing with Dragons, you know what you get. When dealing with unknown species in an unknown region of Palladium, you have no way to know. But, the rest know better than I, as I haven’t lived as long as they… Oh wait.
He seemed friendly enough, though, as only the worst threats are.
Thoth 3rd, 111
The group was converted today, because Gregg showed our Ranger and Botanist a plant that would make dowsing obsolete. It was great, but even the gifts of Taut seem too good to pass up. And the price you pay always outweigh its worth. Reapers and seeds, reapers and seeds.
Cava spoke with the Shimring, and Thoth, the Godly Guardian of the Month told him we needed to make haste. Now, I am all for making haste, but not for exhausting us! He made us pack up camp and march through the night. I tried to talk to the group about the God of Knowledge knowing how dangerous the Waste is at night, and he’d assume we understood that as well, and not intending us to travel during the night. But, as I was the softest voice on the one-person side of the argument, I wasn’t heard again. These cretins were upset over Farrel yelling and screaming, yet they are just as bad as anything I have read about the other. I will have to talk to them about it. If they can hear me.
Lady Luck be praised, the idiots walking through the night, prey to nocturnal hunters, did not perish! Nothing but the Light’s own Luck can be the reason!
Thoth 4th, 111
We are resting here in the Caverns of the Etrinan before we make it in deeper. The last four hours have been fraught with danger and excitement – more missives from the Agent, an almost-stampede from a herd of Tuskers, and a Green Dwarf Sailor joins the group. I hope that we can rest, and I can learn from Xerx’ses’ masters for a few days!
We shall see.
Power to Osiris, and Glory to Ra.
>>Journal entries, from Ra 24th to Thoth 4th, in the 22nd Year of Emperor Voelkian Itomas II, from Azariel, Apprentice Alchemist. Acolyte of Osiris and the Lady Luck <<
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