Still Waiting (Bill’s Journal pt1)

So, my brother has returned to Sandpoint after his long journey.  It has been a couple years since I have seen him.  I bet he’s still carrying around that rat of his.  He was always attached to it like mother was to hers.  He never understood that it was completely unnecessary and power could be focused through an object.  Father taught true wizardry and the academy, along with patient study, has honed his teachings into perfection.

I have heard Hathus has again earned his hero title.  Fought off a band of mighty goblins with help.  Soon he may be able to fight a whole tribe of mites with an army leading the way.  Still, he is not here and out gallivanting around Varisia.  But, it does sound like he is expected to return and I plan to see him this time.

Father spoke of Hathus wearing an unusual ring and the local historian mentioned it had an ancient source.  I must know more about this.  Besides, it is always good to remind him who the superior son is.

Returning home has been a nice break from dungeon delving for father.  I enjoy the research and execution, but it has become tedious.  Do the crafters of the underworld have no imagination?  Where is the challenge and push to exceed the interlopers abilities?  Always the back room on the left behind a locked door.  Any second year Twilight Academy student could easily take what is needed without notice.  I fear my consistent use of the most basic spells may inevitably weaken my research when its answer is so close.

-Bill

Victory? (Xander’s Journal pt 13)

Hathus is dead.

I’m not sure how to take that.  I don’t know how I feel about it.

Whether he stays dead or not, will be up to him.  They intend to speak with his spirit and see if he wants to return, so that we might find a strong enough priest to raise him.

Either way, I don’t know what happens next.  I didn’t like him.  I thought his father was irresponsible, I still do.  I thought he was taking advantage of something that might not even be true.  And he was.  Not even sure what happened years ago, just that people died, he lived, and we never got a straight story on why.  Now he’s dead, and we may never know what happened.

I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want him dead.

I wonder if things would have been different if I hadn’t wasted my time on a useless spell.  I wonder if things would have been different if we had been better prepared.  If Naru had been with us, would it have been different?  What could we have done differently?  What mistakes did we make?  How do I keep this from happening again, possibly to someone who matters?  What if it had been Ko, or Osanna?

What happens next time?

Parting Thoughts (Osanna’s Journal Part 14)

Osanna volunteers to prepare Hathus’ body for travel the night before the group prepares to travel south and west towards their home of Sandpoint in hopes of preventing the small town from being razed and burned to the ground.  She removes his bloody clothing and begins to wash his body clean of any blood and filth, then begins to speak to him. 

I wish to say this to you, Hathus, now that we’re alone and you aren’t able  to lie, mislead, or insult me.  That was a very brave thing you did, Hathus.  Whisking Ko and I into the immediate proximity of that giant.  Brave…and foolish.  I never thought to see you carry out an act such as that one in all of my life, let alone one that involved me.  I wish that you could explain the thought process that led you up to casting that spell, but you can’t now.  I suspect that even if you wish to be returned to the land of the living that you’d never tell me, whether I asked or not.  Either way, I commend you on your bravery and your selfless choice to put others before yourself.  Fear is a terrible thing to try to overcome.

I also want you to know that you didn’t have to face your demons alone, Hathus, yet you chose to do so.  I don’t know the truth of what occurred that night many years ago, nor the extent of the mental turmoil that you suffered from that day until this one, but I genuinely wanted to help you find a way to be at peace and be happier in the world around you.  Sadly, every time I offered assistance or an open ear you evaded and declined.  You rewarded every act of kindness and every attempt I made to spare you from further harm with bile and insults.

She wraps his body reverently in a funeral shawl and wipes the tears from her cheeks before kissing him on the forehead.

I don’t know why you hated me so much, but ultimately know that despite your hatred for me that I never gave up hope that you’d become a better man.  It is said that words spoken to or about the dead by the living are heard.  I hope it is so.  If you choose to return to us, then perhaps you will consider what I’ve said.  If not, then I know that I have said what needed to be said before you journey to the afterlife of your making.

“Ko” (Hathus’ Letter)

While packing up Hathus’ things and preparing his body for travel, a sealed letter falls out of his rope marked with a single name… “Ko”

————-

Ko,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I am not a good man by any means and have done horrible things in my life.  Yet, you remained a friend.  I never thanked you for saving me from my attempted self-demise while at that haunted manor.  I could not find the words then nor do I have them as I write this letter.  But, thank you.

With this adventure, I hope to make up for my past transgressions and finally earn my Sandpoint-appointed “hero” title.  My greatest fear is nothing I do could possibly make up for what happened so many years ago.  The screams for help still haunt me and I wish for them to stop.  I have grown to accept that their nightly razing of my mind may continue until I meet my end and look forward to that day.

I hope you can find your loved one and release yourself from your curse.  I apologize for my lack of ability to remove it, but my memory of mother’s lessons has faded and she has long since passed.  Even as a grippli, you are more human than those we surround ourselves with.  Mother sometimes said that which doesn’t kill makes us stronger.   I have found that things that don’t kill leave scars.  May your scars make you stronger.

As for my possessions, you may take whatever you can use, Ko.  Please release my rat somewhere safe.  He has been a faithful companion.  Return the remaining items to my father along with the remaining pages of this letter.  He will know how to release their secrets.

-Hathus

<3 seemingly blank pages follow>

Courage or Cowardice (Xander’s Journal pt 12)

I don’t even know how to say this.        You are a coward.  That’s how you say it.

I abandoned my friends.    I “forgot my sword” and had to go back for it, but the truth is I was just scared.  I didn’t want to face another chance of turning on them, at least last time it was just a Black Arrow I didn’t know.

While they went to clear the dam, I struggled to get control of myself.  I don’t know what to do.  I am fine most of the time, but I wake up in a cold sweat every night after watching myself kill one or more of them in my dreams.     Like I would ever allow that.  Haven’t I stopped you before you could do harm in the past?

There has to be something I can do, some item that will shield me from this.  I can’t believe that no one has ever had this problem before.   Well, most aren’t so weak-willed.  And don’t even begin that thought that I am doing this to you again.  We both know that’s not true.

I have been pouring over the notes and books that we have found and things I got from Quink.   I guess it helps that I’m learning Giant-speak with what is going on now, but that’s about the best I can come up with.  Although, I have found some interesting techniques involving creative methods of storing scrolls other than on paper, but nothing so far on mind-shielding effects or techniques.

Tomorrow I have to face them, I only hope they see what I have learned as a valid reason for being gone, and not for the shame and fear it truly was.

Of Forts and Ogres (Xander’s Journal pt 11)

We have retaken the Fort.  There was another one of those super rare Lamias there after all.  But it fled, rather than die.  Which is worse for us I think, because now it knows us and will be better prepared.  They battle was easier than we thought, most of them were trapped in the collapsed tower or the burning barracks, and the shocker lizards surprised the rest.

I’m not sure which was scarier though, the half fiend woolly rhino running through the halls, or Samael having a force of ogres at his command for half an hour.

Once again I failed to stand strong under the effects of a compulsion.  I wonder if it has anything to do with my father’s link with me?  Does that make me more susceptible to other influence?  I don’t think he would do that purposefully, but unknowingly, maybe.  It is a strange situation we find ourselves in.

We go to the dam tomorrow, to see what we may do to stop a tidal wave of destruction, and a free path for that beast of Lamashtu to run through the lower valleys across Varisia.

I only hope I can figure out how to stand clearheaded among my allies, without fear of attacking them.

 

Naru, part 3

For all of Samael’s uninformed talk of the glories of civilization, I think he’s got it where it counts.  The fiend offered power and the Hellknight refused, only concerned with the functioning of the dam and the safety of those downstream.  Might have to ask him to refrain from opening any more doors during a battle, though.

It’s been ages since I heard that language.  I hope it will be ages more before I hear it again. Still don’t remember learning it in the first place.  I could do without the sound of another fiend’s voice for awhile, as well.  Like rocks grinding together in my skull.

That dam, that dam has got to go.  I’ve seen much smaller versions used to good effect for flood control, and for a stable water supply, but the only things this one’s got to be supplying are orcs, from what I know.  Plus it’s a liability, what with the nature of the power source.  I’m wondering if a few stoneshaped holes in the floodgates would empty the reservoir slowly over time.  Will discuss it with the others, once emergencies stop cropping up like grass after a brushfire.

I continue to be curious about my companions.  I continue to have to devote my mental strength to staying focused.  Would be nice to have a respite, a chance to talk, to listen.

For all the unknown danger we face tomorrow, I’m looking forward to being out somewhere and not cramped in a cave or a building.

 

So many holes…(Osanna’s journal part 13)

After ensuring that everyone in the infirmary is as comfortable as can be and asleep, Osanna thanks Erastil for the use of his house and asks him to look after these souls.  She then treats herself to a hot bath both to wash the dirt and gore off of her and to work some of the knots out of her muscles from the day’s fighting.  Afterwards, she lights a candle and takes a moment to clear her mind and reflect about recent goings on before getting a few hours’ sleep before dawn.

The fight against evil truly is an unending endeavor.  She smiles.  Evil is not unlike an old, deep lake with a good, strong dam built to prevent it from washing away everything below it in a mighty flood.  The dam is old, strong, and dauntless, but in time it can become leaky or riddled with holes.  So a good craftsman comes and plugs up one hole and is rewarded with another leaky hole to plug up for her troubles.  And on it goes.  The deep lake is forever pressing against the stubborn dam and its dauntless craftsman that hopes for the day that she’s finally patched the last hole.

Ogres, ogre-kin, trolls, ettins.  All foul creatures that the world will not miss as they had much to answer for, particularly for the events leading up to the capture and murder of the Black Arrows and the siege of Ft. Rannick.  But this aquatic beast…this abomination…this aspect of Lamashtu is what concerns me the most.  By our efforts and the grace of the gods, we were able to drive the beast back into the water and save what people we could.  But it’s not dead, and there are too many questions surrounding its appearance that concern me.  Had it been in the Storval Deeps all along?  Slumbering perhaps, and then awoken for a specific purpose?  Or did Lamashtu summon this monstrosity here recently in order to wipe out Erastil’s faithful?  And is she ultimately the puppeteer behind the allegedly slain runelord and these ogre curs?

The fae, now?  I admit that I’m no subject matter expert when it comes to these beings, but all I’ve ever heard of them are stories of mischief and carnage.  Yet, off we must go into the swamp to save a nymph and hopefully discern the whereabouts of the long, lost captain of the Black Arrows.  If what I’m told is true, the fae in this portion of Varisia are benign and they may be able to help stabilize the countryside while the Black Arrows rebuild.  I will see it done.   If nothing else, perhaps it will give me a chance to get to know our new enigmatic companion, Naru, a bit better.  I feel, of all of my companions, she would be able to relate to me the best.  The world is most unkind to tieflings, and sometimes the path from inner turmoil begins with an open ear.

Then, hopefully, we return to Magnimmar.  What were my brethren trying to conceal from the world?  What ancient horror awaits me when I break the seal?  Did She know that this moment would come and arrange for the horror to be imprisoned there?  Is this another test of my faith?  I will not falter.  This, like all the others, will be just another hole to plug up.

Naru, part 2

I am ashamed to think this, but I’m glad I wasn’t able to muster the courage to follow them to Turtleback Ferry immediately.  If I had, I do not think I would have retained my sanity.  Their tales of the ogre-kin’s lair..  Ashamed, because what if they had not come back out?  They did, but what if?

It’s done, they’re alive, we’re alive – after two battles in as many days.  Charinoth, your presence once again bolsters me.  I am so glad we were able to help cleanse the fort.  I shudder to remember the evidence of the butchery that had taken place within.  When will this END?!

At least I can help.  Valani, you must have blessed me in my moment of confusion, thrown by that foul ogress.  I don’t think I could’ve lived with myself had I caused the death of an ally, even if I wasn’t in control of myself at the time.  Fortunately one of our own was able to break the enchantment.

Shalelu’s comment about lifespans is confusing.  Is a sentient life worth any less consideration just because it’s short, relatively?  I hope she enjoys what she has with whomever she cares about.  Anyone can be snatched away by death.  It cares not for our desires of time.

Speaking of confusion, Xander has something going on in his mind.  I don’t know what, but the others seem to accept it, so I’ll not prod.  The gods know I’ve got enough problems of my own.

And that… thing in the water, that abomination, I was prepared to shift into the largest water-creature I could muster, and distract it long enough for the others to get to dry land, if it came to that.  The gods must watch over all of us, that we could get enough of us airborne when the situation demanded it – and all the townsfolk were rescued!  Everyone lived!  And we’ll be back at some point, to make sure it never bothers anyone again.

Charinoth, go hunt.  Eat.  We’ve little enough time to rest before trying to save the dam.  It would wipe out every settlement downstream if it gives.  At least the ogres are only mutilating stone this time, and not flesh.