Sunday, 16 February 2020
The seasons roll on around us or over us. Once again we have entered the time of Winter’s Warming. The weather is cold. Piles of snow lie around ready to bar our way, though those same mounds might sometimes hide a small treasure. Many use the drifts to build snowmen, a pastime that can often lead to an unexpected outcome. Stars shine bright and clear in the cold night air and during the daytime marcs the ‘rifter flies low in the sky, its brilliance muted for a while.
Eternal bonds of friendship hold us together and help us endure the season of long dark nights and short days. Parties and games see us through the darkness:friendship and generosity help us understand that the ‘rifter may be dimmed but comradeship and companionship are not.
I was reminded of this a couple of turns ago. I went to visit the tallyman to pay my taxes – I was a few turns late in doing so – and discovered that some kind friend had already attended to the matter for me.
Their generosity heartened me. As often happens that friend wished to help me without mentioning the fact they had done so. I can only hope that in the future something I am able to do will repay the kindness of that unknown benefactor – although I may not be directly aware of the fact.
The lands which we call home exist as mountains and rivers, villages and towns. But they exist to a greater extent in the hearts of those who walk them.
Thursday, 30 January 2020
I wrote this a while ago, after making some preparations at my hall for the recent festive season. But what with drowning in mud and sleeping overlong, I’ve not had opportunity until now to copy it into this journal.
I rose early, kissed Ellyana on the cheek and left quietly so as not to disturb her sleep. I set off to the forest, pausing at the woodpile outside the cabin to pick up an axe. The sky was beginning to brighten as the ‘rifter – small and cool as it seems this time of year – began to rise. I had already selected the tree I wanted. A youngish one, not so tall that it wouldn’t fit into the Emerald Mooon, and not so thick that I would have trouble felling it.
I’d had a cloak wrapped tight around me to keep out the morning chill, bit after the first few swings of the axe I removed it and carried on with my task. At last the tree fell and I got a good grip on the cut base of the trunk and hauled it back to the hall.
There was a barrel ready at the Mooon for the tree and soon it stood in the corner of the tavern, bedded in bucketfuls of good earth from the gardens. I had spent much time in the previous cycle cutting out and colouring pieces of parchment. Many were plaited into streamers which I hung along the walls, while others were cut in the shape of candles and those I attached to the branches of the tree. They had a thin coating of crushed crystal scattered across them, and the reflected light of the fire gave the tree an appearance of being decorated with real, burning candles.
I laid out dainties and snacks on the tables and the bar, and real candles were put out too on the bar and the tables. I strolled to the bank, and retrieved a number of gifts I’ve been keeping safe and stacked them beneath the branches of the tree.
Once all was done I sat near the fire sipping a glass of wine, satisfied all was ready, waiting to hear the voice which to me is the sweetest sound in these lands.
Sunday, 08 December 2019
It was a cycle ago that I spent some time - two or three turns - at the roses. It was spent, as is my custom, in reflection and meditation. A time spent alone except for hope and memory.
I thought of the words which govern my life, and words which I hope the princess will always remember. My eternal pledge to her.
I made a note here of those words during the time I stood my vigil. For a while it seemed I was writing an epitaph for myself, leaving the thoughts for which others might perhaps remember me should my course in these lands reach an end.
I thought perhaps I would leave a note of the words with the keeper of the graveyard, but I did not. Another hand and mind, more gifted than my own, wrote words for me.
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Never give up.
Never give in.
Monday, 11 November 2019
Sunday, 10 November 2019
Wednesday, 06 November 2019
The lady of that dark and desolate poultry farm to the west of Milltown is now at peace.
Bifrost must have sensed dark shadows gathering around the farmhouse. He asked adventurers to join him in a search and several gathered outside. I often enter the farmhouse, hurrying down to the cellar when I need access to my tunnels, but this time the atmosphere felt different. It was darker, more oppressive somehow. Something was sucking light from the house, and a dank mist rose as we checked the rooms. And then we heard a prolonged, piercing scream.
We dispersed to find the source of the sound, and down in the cellar I saw a figure in the corner. I called for others to come down, slowly and quietly not in a great rush. The only response from the woman’s figure when asked if we could help her was to once again let out that scream.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I stepped slowly and softly toward her. I held one hand outstretched, in an offer of assistance. She in turn took a step toward me, holding out a hand as though in a mute plea for help. Our hands almost met – though I don’t know if I would have felt anything if they had – but at that moment the entire house above us began shaking, and she disappeared from our sight.
We returned up in to the house itself. There’s a rocking-chair in one room, and it was moving. We gathered around, weapons at the ready, trying to see what caused the chair to rock in a violent manner. Some malevolent spirit hurled itself from that chair and attacked us.
The shade was despatched, and again we looked around the house. The shaking had ceased. We entered the kitchen. The room, though dilapidated and disused, was full of the sights and smells of baking, and we could hear someone humming in a content manner as they went about their task. The atmosphere was that of a busy, happy household, the lady of the house going about her life in a carefree manner.
We had achieved something good that turn. After some talk we dispersed.
Later I sat in the Emerald Mooon with one of the guild cats on my lap. JJ stirred with a loud hiss and his hair stood up. I looked around for the source of what had alarmed him. At first I saw nothing – after all, cats are more sensitive to unhuman visitations than we are. I was able to soothe him as a feeling of relief and happiness bathed us. Looking around once more I saw a glow in the fire, and the air of the tavern was filled with joy and contentment, and the echo of someone humming a jolly tune. And the delicious aroma of fresh-baked bread.
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
Some places seem to never change. We made our way to the temple in the desert just about a marc before the doors would open for us. Aliona was excited at the thought that very soon she too would be one of the rogues of Valorn. At the due marc, we entered.
I looked around, and saw that all was as it has been for some time. I have made many journeys to that temple. It always feels to me to be a pool of tranquillity in a land where things can alter in the blink of an eye. But there we found time to sit and talk quietly for a while before we began the ritual.
In due course, Aliona’s face drifted in the skies above the lands, a sign to all that she has taken her place. It has been my honour and privilege to help such an able student set her feet on the path she has chosen. I know she will become a valuable addition to the ranks of the rogues, and to the population as a whole.
When we parted after leaving the temple, I found myself, as ever, in a mood of contemplation. I sat in the hall, reflecting on what I do, and why I do it in a certain way. Not the only way, for sure, but the methods I have taught myself have always stood me in good stead. I try to pass on my ideas and ideals to those I mentor, though of course the decision is theirs to make how they conduct themselves.
There will be a small celebration soon to mark the change of season. Time rolls on, and rolls over us as we continue our labours in the defence of the lands we call home.
In a few turns, we will return to Ryn to continue the work of cleaning and cleansing the city-stronghold. Once more, adventurers of all strengths will congregate and arrangements will be made for all to pass safely through the Reborn Zone. The work at Ryn may take a while, but it’s a project well worth the efforts involved.
On a lighter note, one of the front sheets of this journal seems to have fallen away. It holds nothing vital, just a drawing of me. Although I call the journal ‘the Book of Change’, I like to keep things the same as much as possible. I think I have another copy of that drawing somewhere, so I will search for it when I have a chance.
Monday, 26 August 2019
It’s been a fairly busy time recently. Not that being busy is in any way a bad thing. Keeping active keeps our wits sharp, gives a reason to keep our blades keen and – in my case at least – holds off a strange tendency my armour has to shrink if I sit around the hall for too long doing nothing!
Aliona’s training is just about complete now, and pretty soon we will make our way to the temple, and there will be one more able member of the ranks of the rogues of Valorn. It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to usher initiates onto their chosen path, to help them learn the way of the rogue, both before and after visiting the temple.
It takes more than signing a parchment to set somebody into the way they have chosen. That is how it seems to me.
A long time ago I saw a rogue in Milltown, and asked him I could become one such as he.
‘Follow me,’ he said, and led me to the temple. Once inside he asked for my apprentice papers, and signed his name to the parchment. ‘There,’ he said. ‘Now you are a rogue.’
I left the temple with no clearer idea of what I should do than when I entered. In the turns and cycles that followed, I learned the ways of my profession. Just about everything I know is self-taught, learned through often bitter experience.
I made a vow that should I ever be asked to sponsor a would-be rogue that I would never leave them in the position in which I had found myself. So my students are faced with lessons, during which I talk probably far too much in the hope that they will remember some of what I try to impart. There are small quests to hone skills in information-gathering, and instruction in the art of fighting with two blades rather than with the sword-and-shield combination they have used previously.
While I speak of the profession and of what skills we can use for the benefit of all, I invariably find myself reflecting on how I do certain things in a particular way, and the reasons I chose that way to operate. That will sometimes spark an idea for me to improve my own methods.
The students are, naturally, free to choose their own ways once they leave the temple. But I can take some satisfaction from knowing they have had a thorough grounding in the basic knowledge they need. Many may have become impatient, though they hid it well. Most have stayed the course. They are, I am sure, more knowledgeable and more confident as they take their first steps on the path than if I’d merely signed a piece of parchment for them. They can take pride in themselves, and I can be proud of them as I follow their progress.
And there maybe might be just a little pride left over, for me, knowing that someone looking for a teacher and sponsor has been told to speak with me. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks my way, hard as it might sometimes appear, lead to a competent and honourable rogue, well-versed in the ways of the profession and aware of how their skills can be used for the good of all.
Saturday, 17 August 2019
It’s been almost a full cycle since the expedition to Ryn but it’s taken until now for the horror to subside sufficiently to allow me to write of the affair. The attack was planned as the first of a series of such incursions, in which we will cleanse and reclaim the city.
The journey went well. All those wishing to join the expedition met at Dundee, and then at a quiet command the enchanters set about their work. Portals appeared and adventurers stepped through, to emerge at the Algal River south of the reborn zone. I’d been able to produce a guide, a few words of advice, for those who had never before traversed the Zone itself. In such an area, it is vital that all work together. Group after group made the crossing – all in safety so far as I am aware – and we all assembled in the Tainted Nexus. There’s a Life Monument there, which long ago in an earlier invasion was purified by the gods, and all were advised to tie there.
And then we set off through dark twisted passages, the ground beneath our feet still soaked in blood, heading for our first target – the kitchens and storage areas.
One of the clerics from Bran had developed an affinity with a holy ring infused with power from the Dark Staff. Phoebe was able to cast a shield which protected areas from demons once they were clear of any already there.
The fight was long and earnest. The sights we saw were grim. Particularly heart-breaking was the sight of children’s remains, discarded in dark corners of store-rooms.
Topaz asked if those poor children might be the ones whose souls were inside the balloon which had accompanied me for some time. There’s no way to know for sure. I had, in my wandering, visited Ryn wondering if there would be any change in the children’s song which was continually in my ears, but I could detect no such fluctuation. I asked the clerics who were carefully, reverently, collecting the remains so they could be interred in a fitting manner. Their answer was the same as my thoughts – that there is no way to tell. Whether or not they are the same children, it is at least heartening to know they are now properly buried, and are finally at peace.
The kitchens and storerooms cleared and cleansed, we withdrew from that dark city. But soon we will return, and in time the light of the ‘rifter will reign where now there is only darkness. When the turn arrives, I – and my blades – will be ready, and eager to face the challenge.
It may take a while. But so long as we work together we will prevail.
Thursday, 01 August 2019
Sometimes the seemingly trivial can become rather irritating. I don't drink to excess, only when at a gathering of come sort, or sitting with friends for a chat. But when I do so, I appreciate a decent glass of wine.
I had to forego wine, and drink mead or ale for a few turns. Ale, I find, is rather too bitter for my taste. And mead is too sweet. I needed something in between the two, but never found anything to my taste.
Eventually I resorted to drinking water!
Thankfully my penance has passed. The first sip from a glass was a delight, as I savoured the flavour. I can get back to fully enjoying gatherings again!
Monday, 22 July 2019
Have you ever heard somebody use the phrase 'I wished the ground would just open up and swallow me'? It's usually said by someone who has made a silly error in full view of others, or has another cause for a feeling of severe emnarrassment and they would like to simply disappear from sight.
Last turn we played 'Smites and Cannons'. The game was, as ever, accompanied by much hilarity. And then I made a slip and stopped on one of those Smites. Sure enough the ground did open up and swallow me. Not only swallowed but chewed - and according to others it sounded as though the ground enjoyed the experience far more than I did!
I must in future remember that other old saying about being careful what you wish for ...
Wednesday, 05 June 2019
Desperate situations require desperate measures, or so I’ve been told. And the decapitated body of Cody, sprawled across the floor, showed just how much peril we were in.
There had been a few raids by demons and for some reason many had appeared at the hall of Serendipitous Resurrection. We managed to clear the attack, and many of us dispersed. A marc or so later frantic calls came for help. A titanic demon was loose in the hall. Those who could hurried back and attacked the creature. At last it was brought down. Cody said he’d heard the sound of cracking stonework from the direction of the kitchens. More creatures appeared and after they were dealt with we went to see what was happening. In a room below the kitchen was a hole in one of the walls, and the sound of creatures scrabbling their way toward us. Another massive demon appeared and once again we were fighting for our lives.
We decided, after catching our breath, to use the corpse of the demon titan to block up the hole. That would at least buy us some time. While we laboured, the sound of demons once more drifted out of the hole.
I recalled an event my own guild hosted at the Building if Glass which became the target of a sustained attack by innumerable zombies. During the defence I’d started knocking the top off bottles of wine, stuffing a rag into the neck and setting it alight before throwing it at the approaching horde. As I though of them, my ‘Dundee Cocktails’ Now, looking around the room in the SR hall, I saw casks of spirit and thought maybe we could try the same tactic on a larger scale. Tip spirit into the hole, and light it up with fire or lightning.
I wasn’t planning to burn down the hall – but when a light was shone into the hole we saw only a seething mass of demons heading for us, so there seemed little else but to attempt the plan.
As Bebhinn had warned, there was some damage to the room and occupants when the fire blew back at us. The wall is damaged but can hopefully be repaired fairly easily. But we did, in the moment, wipe out the foul demons trying to force yet another entrance into the lands we labour to defend.
Saturday, 01 June 2019
Some time ago, a cleric who was standing near the amnesty booth in Branishor approached me. He could, he said, remove the balloon which had looped its cord around my throat more than a full cycle of the 'rifter prior to that turn.
I must admit to some reservations at first. The children, or their voices, or their souls - whatever was held within that balloon I was concerned as to how they would be dealt with. But Barnet eased my concern, assuring me that they would be safe and well looked after.
It's strange how we can become accustomed to things. To begin with, it was a strange feeling to be constantly surrounded by the sound of children singing. But when the balloon was taken from me there was a certain sense of loss. I had become used to the voices, and many was the time that they were a soothing sound, quietly ushering me to my rest.
Now that the balloon is gone I can once again wear a protective amulet. And that means I can now venture into the Reborn Zone without sustaining the fairly serious injuries I suffered in my last few trips there. The lack of an amulet had weakened me to the point where the creatures roaming the zone could hurt me badly. But once again I can enter the area without taking too many injuries - and that may be useful very soon.
Even so, in many ways, I miss the children and their never-changing, never-ceasing song.
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Each time I wake I go for a stroll, chatting with a few traders. I enter the tunnels to reach Branishor where I can hunt down Haggie and see what bargains he may have.
The voices of the children echo strangely as I traverse UnderValorn. Although the voices rebound through the tunnels some of the tone is muted by the surrounding rock and stone. I don't tarry below ground in case the diminuition of their voices leaves the children in some distress.
When I go to rest the children's chorus is quite soothing and helps me to drift off to my dreams. Those dreams are, for the most part, pleasant. Though there is one I recall which was rather unsettling.
I was roaming the swamp, though in that dream I had no clue as to why I was there. The stench of the place filled my nostrils, sickening me. And then a familiar scent came to me on a slight breeze, cutting through the odours of rot and decay. The aroma of Ellyana's perfume caressed my senses, and the voice I hold dearest in these lands spoke my name. I looked around but could see no sign of her as the voice and scent faded. As for her voice - when she spoke my name was it in greeting, or a cry for help and comfort? I had no way of knowing.
I woke feeling anxious, but the feeling eased when I saw the princess sleeping, so far as I could tell, soundly and safely.
Monday, 12 February 2018
The sky of a cold night was displaying its first sprinkling of stars as we made our way to Caer Laleldan, to attend the ceremony which would mark the passing of Winter's Warming. There was snow all along the Royal Road from Milltown to the Caer. Several had arrived ready for the ceremony when a messenger-bird found me. There was also snow in Dundee, and a few people were unable to get through the deep drifts which blocked their path. I mentioned this fact, and left the meeting-place to give what assistance I could.
True to the spirit which infuses the adventurers in these lands, many followed. I was told that Dundee had been cleared by those able to do so. The only obstacle now was the length of road leading to Caer Laleldan which needed to be cleared so that all who wished could join the ceremony.
The work was long and hard. Piles of snow lay all around, and many aggressive snowmen lay in wait for the unwary. We shovelled snow when we could, fought when we must, went crashing to a life monument from time to time. But slowly we gained ground. Enchanters strengthened those in need, clerics healed those who were injured. With all working together, eventually the path was clear. By unspoken agreement, the snow lying in drifts in the gardens were left untouched for the ceremony.
Torches flared across the gardens, their light reflecting off the snow piled around. Ice crystals glittered in the shifting light as we wrote messages on small pieces of parchment. The messages - our hopes, dreams and prayers for the coming cycles - were attached to lanterns. And then, when all were ready, the torches were doused and the lanterns released. They made a fine sight, the flickering fires within the lanterns shining in the sky amid the brilliant stars. And all the time the light from above illuminated the snow scattered across the gardens, sparkling and glinting off the tumbled mounds. All-in-all it made a wondrous sight. I watched as the lanterns slowly drifted across the night sky, and eventually out of sight. The lanterns may have disappeared from view, but the content of the messages I sent flying are still with me, in my mind and in my heart.
Wednesday, 31 January 2018
The 'rifter flies low in the sky during the few marcs of daylight. The days are short, the nights long and cold.
The stark winter has come.
I've been largely shut away in the hall, sleeping and scrawling notes on parchment sheets. But I have been getting out and about more of late. It's either that or visit Denion to get hold of some larger armour!
I've made enquiries about the balloon which still loops its cord around my throat and the children whose voices are heard from within. I've visited a few sites where children have been seen or heard, or where they have been lost. And searched out spots where signs of children have been seen. So far I've not obtained any definite information, though there have been a few suggestions about things I could try.
Winter's Warming is upon us, another reason to stir myself from the loft where I've slept for too many turns and marcs. Time to get out into the lands to seek out friends and festivities.
Sunday, 31 December 2017
I've passed a few marcs on several occasions farming in the gloom of the N'Rolav tombs. It's long been my favoured place to go when I need to collect some coin. After I next visit a trainer the tombs will be closed to me. That's the reason (or rather, one of the reasons) I have for darting past the trainers, while they just cast a level gaze and a quizzical smile in my direction!
I took a tour around the lands, listening out for music. I thought that perhaps finding music might help commumication with the ghostly child voices within the balloon which attached itself to me a couple of cycles ago. I've discussed the matter with a few people, but so far I've not found a way to free myself of the balloon. Not that I'd be willing to do so without being sure the children would be safe, and in a position to find some peace. And I distributesd a few scrolls while I roamed.
The rest of the time I've still been sitting around the guild hall, sending out my messenger-bird and attending to the responses brought by others.
Thursday, 30 November 2017
I've spent far too long lazing around the guild hall since the end of Fall Festival. The season was enjoyed by all who took part thanks to the efforts of those who arranged events. A companion attached itself to me at the end of the season and I've been practising my drawing skills so that I can decorate it. But no matter how much I try I can't disguise the fact that some people find my follower slightly unnerving!
I passed a couple of turns, as is my habit, at the roses. It's a beautiful place, full of memories which never dim.
I've spent the time since FallFest mostly scrawling on pieces of parchment. I only hope I can read them if they're needed at some later time! And I've been looking over a few parchments which need my attention.
It's time to be out and about in the lands once more. The 'rifter flies low during the turns of daytime. But the night skies are glorious, the stars shining as brightly as my lady's eyes.
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Sand-fever. It's a terrible affliction, well-known for affecting those who, as the name suggests, spend too much time hunting in the desert. Althea grew more and more horrified as I listed the symptoms, and I suspect she was trying to work out whether or not she had been affected by the condition.
Those symptoms became more uncomfortable, more outrageous, as I carried on speaking. At long last I mentioned the habit sufferers develop of constantly searching out stray particles of sand lodged in their equipment or stuck to their person. It was while I explained an observer would think the sufferer appeared to be afflicted by lice that I was unable to hold the laughter in any longer, and Althea realised I'd been teasing her all along.
Fall Festival has come around once more, bringing revelry and fun with it. The season has been long-awaited, anticipation rising in recent turns. As ever the banditos run around the lands, appearing everywhere except where I happen to be. And I hear there's an alligator somewhere it really doesn't belong!
Saturday, 30 September 2017
Seasons turn, as is their way, unconcerned with the doings of mere mortals. They have their moment, their allotted span of time. As do we, I suppose, with the length of our lives and the durability of our aspirations bounded by forces often beyond our control or understanding. Fate may at times be benign, giving reason for joy and laughter. And at other times may treat us more savagely.
The turns are upon us when the 'rifter does not fly so high in the sky, nor is it seen for so many marcs. The nights are darker, longer, colder. And yet even this time has its own beauty, and brings promise of brighter and better times that lie before us.
Saturday, 26 August 2017
I'm not too sure how - doubtless by the intercession of the gods - but the townsfolk have returned to Dundee. Whatever madness affected us as we followed the bronze one around the town must have distorted our senses. There may have been a few scuffles but then the folk presumably found places to hide and we thought, as we could see no sign of them, that we had killed those poor innocents. There's still some cleaning-up to be done as far as I understand. I helped for a few marcs at the ruins of the Building of Glass but that was a while back. I've hardly set foot in Dundee since that turn.
Come to that I've hardly set foot out of the guildhall recently. I've been sleeping quite a bit, waking to chat with any of the kin I see. And still I watch over the princess as she continues to sleep off the effects of her misadventure.
I have ventured over to the reborm zone. If I sit around at the hall for too long my armour develops a tendency to shrink for some reason!! The remedy is for me to run around for a while to make the equipment behave itself. The creatures who inhabit the zone had clearly decided I should have a warm welcome. I was faced at one point by a polyp and two of the huge fallow worms, an encounter which I barely survived. When all three were dealt with I took a break to catch my breath and swallow a lot of health potions and set off once more. And I walked into another of those worms, this time accompanied by a swarm of sea stars. All in all, it was a lively visit to the zone, and certainly one that kept me awake and moving fast! Just what was needed, I think. It did me - and my armour - some good to be up and doing.
I returned to the hall to check on Ellyana. I work on parchments when I can, sleep when necessary. Mostly, when awake, I stay here in the hall sitting quietly. Watching and waiting.
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Marcs and turns go by; the seasons pass; the 'rifter rises and sheds its light on joy or tragedy.
One of those seasons has just come to an end. Summerfaire was, as ever, a parade of fun and festivity enjoyed by all. The usual common thread linked together the various light-hearted contests, that thread being the fact that participation is more important than winning.
I was walking the lands handing out prizes for the guild lottery, and my task took me to the holding of the Blade and Staff. I waited at a campfire to meet one of the winners, and my eyes fell on words carved above the entry to the hall -
'That which we hold closest to our hearts we protect by any means'
Those words dug deep into my conscience as I recalled the events that had taken place in Dundee the previous turn.
The bronze false god stalked through the town, turning all colours to bronze. The building of glass shattered and fell in a torrent of shards as his temple erupted from below, and as he passed he took the minds of the townspeople. We tried to reason with him, tried to cajole or threaten, but all to no avail. And then the townsfolk, by then completely under his control, attacked us.
We had no choice. The only thing to do was to defend ourselves from these people, most of whom we had known since finding the lands. There was no joy in the fight such as might be found when dealing with a raid. The thrill of battle I've often felt when in combat with demoins and the like was missing. Just a deep sadness as, along with others, I fought against Jolan, and with Jaymes.
We are supposed to protect the lands - that is why we have always fought against evil. We should safeguard the people of the towns - but that turn, in Dundee, we slaughtered them all ...
When all was over, the bronze one's power was gone, his followers had abandoned him, and his temple was collapsing around us. If not for the 'chanters and their portals we would have been trapped and crushed beneath the masonry falling from the ceiling. He should hopefully not bother us again. But we have paid a heavy price.
Miranda attempted to comfort us. She laid the blame and responsibility for what had occurred on the bronze one. Her words were welcome, and probably true, but at the time it made no difference to the feelings of those present. Whether we acted correctly or not, and irrespective of where the responsibilty lies, all I know is that what happened did not feel right at the time. And as I look back, it still does not seem right.
The events flickered through my memory as I read those words above the guildhall entrance. They may possibly carry a grain of comfort. We did save the townsfolk from an eternity of enslavement, we did protect them from an extended life during which their minds, thoughts and words would have been comtrolled by the bronzed being. They would have existed, but not lived.
Maybe they're better off. It's something to think about as I, along with others, try to understand the events that transpired on the bloodied streets of Dundee. At the moment all I can say for certain is that I must find a way to deal with the memory of what I did. And I pray that I, and all involved, will find that way, and that we will pass throough darkness into a brighter turn.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
I wrote in this journal on the subject of dreams. I mentioned that some are pleasant, some less so, and that the worst are those where we dream of a loved one in peril and then wake to find that is true.
Some time back all was not peaceful at the guildhall. Ellyana was sleeping, though restlessly. She turned and stirred continually, and from time to time she'd murmur something, though not clearly enough for me to catch her words. I sat watching over her for marc after marc, brushing hair away from eyes that were sometimes closed, sometimes open though unseeing. I spoke to her though I had no way of knowing if my words entered into her mind or dreams. Certainly it seemed I could not soothe her, and after a time I just sat holding her hand.
It had been a busy few turns, and I must have drifted off into a light sleep. There couldn't have been a worse time to weaken ...
I dreamed that Ellyana woke from her fitful sleep and left the loft where we usually rest. I saw her wander the guildhall but couldn't work out if she was searching for something or trying to escape anything. In my dream I heard things she probably didn't. The creatures of the meadow and the swimming-hole as she roamed there; the sounds of fire and water as she passed by the rock pools. And the unmistakable sound of a stopper being removed from a glass vial. The sound came once more, though I wasn't sure if it was echoed or repeated. Silence for a while, then the babble of running water. Silence once more, then the sound of something falling into water.
I started awake, and looked to the couch. Ellyana had gone. Cursing the human frailty that had made me sleep I ran over my own dream, trying to work out the path she had taken. I flew down the stairs from the loft, on out to the meadow and the swimming-hole beyond. True, I saw signs of her passage but no sign of my lady. Again at the rock pool I saw her trail. I hurried past, trying to recall the next phase of my dream. Water ... not a lake, for the water I'd heard had been running. I searched outside the Mooon, walking the banks of the stream. And sure enough the dim light of the moon and stars revealed a flash of colour in the water. There Ellyana lay, floating face-down in the stream. One foot was tangled in a tuft of grass at the stream's edge. That must have been why she fell. Though why immersion in the cold water hadn't woken her I couldn't tell.
I freed her foot from the tangle of grass that could have proved fatal before wading into the stream to pull her out. The only movement was that of her hair and robes, weaving in the shifting flow of water. I lifted Ellyana and took her to the bank of the stream. There was no sign of breathing - I could only pray I'd found her in time. I was much relieved when my fingers, laid upon her throat, felt the faint flutter of a pulse. Rolling my lady onto her stomach, I pressed repeatedly on her back. Water dribbled from her mouth, then ran out more freely as I increased my efforts. Hearing a slight choking cough, I muttered a prayer of thanks as I rolled her onto her back once the water stopped flowing from her nose and mouth. I leaned over to blow a breath into her mouth and noticed a distinctive odour, the smell of the potion she sometimes takes to help her sleep. And from the strength of the aroma, she must have taken two doses in her confusion. I carried on squeezing, to get her breathing, blowing air into her mouth in between. Another cough and a low moan were my reward. Her pulse was stronger now, though pitifully weak compared to what it should have been.
Up in our loft, after the tricky ascent of the stairs with Ellyana in my arms, I wrapped her in warm blankets and made her as comfortable as possible on the couch. Her breathing, though shallow, was more regular and she drifted into what seemed to me to be a more natural sleep.
I sit for marcs watching her, making sure she's warm, checking breath and pulse, holding her hand and talking softly.
I've been venturing out fom time to time, and bring back tea and soup for Ellyana. Sometimes a small amount has been consumed. She wakes occasionally for a couple of marcs, but most of the time she sleeps. As yet there's been no chance to find out what troubled her in that sleep which could have been her last. Time enough for talk when she recovers. For now, I can offer warmth and sustenance. I can only hope that somehow, the words I speak softly are heard, that she hears them in her ears or her mind, ans knows I am there to care for her.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
Two rejoicings, and a warning
We gathered in the temple at Milltown, wearing fire amulets, dressed in any red clothing we had. I laid down an amulet as an offering in Ellyana's name, leaving in my own name red flowers. Others brought orange shards, torches, candles and fireworks - all the things so beloved by Miranda.
We told tales of how she had assisted us, spoke of how we loved, honoured and supported her. And we prayed for her return.
Our prayers were at last answered. The goddess appeared in the temple, brought back from wherever and however she had been imprisoned. True, at first she appeared disorientated as our prayers liberated her and brought her back to us from whatever strife she had been involved in but as she spoke she was recovering, and asked after Zeric. At the time there had been no sign, but she was heartened to hear that we planned to return to the temple in an effort to call him back to us also.
With her thanks for our honour and support, she set off, looking for sign of the Ridder.
The next turn we returned to the temple. This time bearing coins or dice, staves of lightning, and carrying or wearing blue. We told our tales of Zeric, of the times he had aided and supported us. And as we spoke thunder began to roll, a wind rose, and it began to rain.
Fireworks used in the celebration for Miranda had damaged the roof of the temple, leaving a hole. At first water dripped through, starting to form a small puddle. As prayers were spoken and offerings made - I left a lightning staff for myself and one for my lady - the rain increased and soon it was getting wet inside the temple as well as outside! But none were disheartened and the ceremony continued. And sure enough, Zeric appeared to us arriving in the midst of that storm. After a while he left us, intending to seek out Miranda.
The gods who have always protected and guided us, are free once more. The united love and will of those present, as well as that of those who could not attend, has brought them back to us, back to these lands they watch over.
The following turn, again at the temple, was a gathering in support of the bronze one. His name should not be spoken, apparently that strengthens him. Naturally I took no offering, going along with others purely to observe. Those of us who did so made no attempt to disrupt the proceedings. The bronze one did not have to be freed, unlike Miranda and Zeric, as he was already so. Prayers were spoken, offerings laid down, and he spoke. He did not demean himself to appear, just spoke of his forthcoming ascension. No thanks for the support of his followers, just a few orders. And the last of his words stays in my mind - 'All those who are loyal will be saved'
I think the inference is obvious for those with ears to hear. Those who will not submit to him will be destroyed.
The following turn, the bronze one unleashed an attack on the lands.
So, yes, we have two reasons to rejoice. And one threat which must be faced. And standing up to a threat in order to remain free is a duty the adventurers of these lands have never shied away from.
Friday, 30 June 2017
Training goes well. Not my own, I should add ! Udele will be a most worthy additiion to the ranks of my profession.
I've been trying to meet a challenge, but I'm not too sure if I can now succeed.
Summerfaire will soon be upon us, and hopefully the festivities will lift the spirits of those who are low.
Sunday, 28 May 2017
... such stuff as dreams are made on ...
We sleep. Some less than others, and some so little they think they do not sleep at all. Sleep might be taken as a reward after the labours of the turn, or taken grudgingly if perceived as marcs wasted which could be used more fruitfully. And when we sleep, we dream. Again, some more than others. Some recall their dreams when they wake, others may not.
I wonder where they come from, these fantasies of the sleeping marcs? Maybe our mind sorts through memories of the turn just ended. Or perhaps it carries on considering ideas that had come to us, continuing to lay plans which we'd thought of in our waking marcs. It may be that there's a portion of our mind that never sleeps but sees all the turns and marcs of our lives, noticing all and forgetting nothing, putting memories aside in a place where our waking self may be unable to find them.
Whatever these dreams may be, wherever they come from, they can reflect our waking thoughts and act as the mirror of our life. We may relive the joy of pleasant times, recall visits with friends and acquaintances. Or they may grant the gift an extra opportunity to spend precious time with those who are dearest to us.
Others dreams, of course, are less pleasant. The terrors of the night, played out before our sleeping eyes as we relive darker events, times of loss and separation. Or perhaps they dwell on anxiety for the safety of loved ones.
And worst of all are those where we see the one we love in mortal peril - followed by the crushing realisation that this is no dream, and that peril in which we find our loved one is all too real.
Sunday, 30 April 2017
I've been thinking about food, and diets. There are a couple of reasons for what might be thought an odd subject for speculation. There are two meanings of 'diet' There's the one meaning - how much we eat, and the other meaning - what food we normally consume.
The first came to mind when I put my armour on last turn. I've spent much of the last cycle sitting around the guild hall, except for short forays into the reborn zone hunting for lucent shards. And I've noticed over that time that my armour seems to be shrinking. It's not a lack of exercise - well, I don't think so. Just some sort of flaw in the construction of my armour. I'll have to get Denion to take a look at it next time I end up at his smithy. And maybe eat less in the meantime!
As for the second use of the word - the term diet can be used to refer to what we eat. We humans can eat a fair range of foodstuffs. We can eat meat - though some choose not to - and we can eat plant matter of some kinds. Vegetables, fruits, herbs to add flavour, and so on. It struck me that many animals don't have the same choice.
The bos, for instance. They usually eat grass. They might kill us with an attack, but they don't chew the remains as human flesh is outside their normal diet. I heard that once an experiment was tried, feeding bos minced-up portions of dead bos. The poor creatures developed a terrible disease which was also passed on to people who ate the affected animals.
Even if animals stick to plant products there might be problems when they try nibbling something unusual. Bunnies apparently suffer some sort of reaction to anything novel. Many people have recently been taken unaware by bunnies, assuming they could fight the creatures. But the bunnies have been raiding supplies of cocoa beans. Although the beans can taste bitter, perhaps there's more sugar in them than the bunnies' usual food, and it's driving them into some sort of frenzy. They grow strong and aggressive, and the result can be alarming - if not fatal - to those who usually hunt bunnies. I can only presume this is a result of the bunnies gorging themselves on a type of food not normall eaten by them.
I'm not too sure if there's any conclusion to my rambling thoughts. Except that perhaps I need to keep an eye on how much I eat. And what other creatures eat!
Saturday, 08 April 2017
Does form define function? I've been puzzling over the question for the last few turns, ever since a meeting was held to discuss ways in which the cracked pillars of the enchanters' nexus might be repaired or replaced. The main problem is that apparently no-one is sure how they work, and there are some who are now preparing to research the subject. It's hoped that the Council of Ryndall can be persuaded to release any information they have on the matter. This lack of knowledge as to the how of the pillars' workings is clearly an obstacle. That obstacle will delay any repairs that can be carried out.
When we assaulted the dark fortress to rescue the High Queen, we found a tainted life monument and tainted pillars. The gods were able to cleanse the monument so that we could use it during the prolonged battle. It isn't known if there is any way the pillars can be similarly cleansed. And if that can be done, how could they be moved? - though perhaps they might be transported to the nexus one by one, by moving them adjecent to another pillar and using its power to do so in the same way it might transport an enchanter to the nexus. Of course, there is then still the small matter of moving the last one.
Which leads me to the other option discussed - replacing the pillars with new ones. Without knowledge of how they work, or how they were first produced, this might be subject to the same delay as repairing the old ones until that knowledge is revealed. And it led to my musing as to whether it is the shape and form of the pillars that makes them work. We all know of places or buildings that feel welcoming, safe, and comfortable. And other places where the opposite is true. Can the atmosphere of a building be produced in some way by the shape, size or design of the building itself? In the same way, the thought crept into my mind that perhaps there is no obscure power which must in some way be incorporated into the production of those pillars. Perhaps the power comes from the structure, thre physical form, of the pillar itself.
If that were the case, then it would be expected that there are some differences - minute perhaps - between pillars the enchanters use to get to different locations and it was suggested they be examined for any such differences. Also, if ti is the case, then producing an exact copy of a pillar should produce a structure which exactly repliactes the function of the original. Having said that, I'm well aware that I understand very little about the pillars - certainly less than the enchanters who use them routinely. But who knows? A wild idea may reflect at least a part of the actual state of affairs. Dealing with magic means we have to expand the possibilites we consider, maybe far beyond what might seem likely or reasonable.
Friday, 31 March 2017
An expedition set out to the ashes of ruined Fartown, hoping to learn the fate of the townspeople. The Order dispatched groups of adventurers, depending on their strength and ability, sending them fanning out across the grasslands. Slowly reports came in, mentioning signs of some sort of evacuation of the town.
A couple of areas of the high grass had been flattened, as though groups of people had rested for a while. A few items of clothing were discovered. One point revealed signs of fighting. A dagger was found covered in blood and not far off a rough grave where one of the villagers had been laid to rest. An arm still protruded from the pile of earth, and we dug down in order to retrieve the unfortunate one and lay them more fittingly to their sleep. The townswoman had been stabbed in the back - a cowardly blow to be sure. Words were spoken over the woman, and we gave her a proper burial.
The body of Roland the innkeeper was discovered and he too was laid to rest within the remains of the town he had served so faithfully over the cycles and seasons.
A piece of cloth snagged on a branch led us in amongst the soaring trees of Verthedge Forest. A bandit, apparently some sort of lookout, eventually let slip the way we should go and after another short search we followed a path through a fallen hollow tree.
The encampment is, all things considered, well-built, quite substantial. And to our relief most of the inhabitants of Fartown are there, living in some safety.
An odd point has been playing on my mind. The dagger found amongst the high grass was either the one used to slay the poor woman we found in her rough grave, or one very similar. And it seemed to be of a type used by the grassland bandits. And yet we came across one acting as a lookout to warn of people approaching New Fartown, and there are bandits acting as guards at the encampment. Has there been some sort of split amongst the bandits, I wonder - some helping the townspeople, protecting them from another group responsible for the destruction of the town? Or was the attack on the town and its people carried out by another, unknown, group which was joined by one portion of the grassland bandits, while the rest joined with the townspeople in their flight? It would have been a strong and terrible force, it seems to me, to make the fiercely-independent bandits decide to join. Or maybe the truth of it all is something totally different from the suggestions made at the time.
As so often happens, events have left just as many, if not more, unanswered questions than those answered. As for the truth of what occurred, I presume time will reveal some, if not all.