Wealday 17 Erastus, The Sea
Our year-long stay in Promise, on the island of Hermea in the Steaming Sea, has finally come to an end! After tedious and delicate negotiations with the dragon Mengkare, we finally recruited a small team of exiles from the island. Were these worth the the expenses — our long stay, the immense cost of food and travel, not to mention the potential for recruiting greater numbers closer to home? In exchange for what must have been a Queen’s ransom, these were supposedly Hermea’s best, but who knows what scales a dragon uses in its trades?
For the record, our company includes: Barca Sechabo, a fearless young Mwangi boy almost as big as me, and his knowledgeable companion Auctus Urdela; Kyrk Xathariel, an inquisitive tiefling wizard, and his sylph companion Keeya Olinva; Riva Tallix, a soft-spoken woman, deaf in her ears but who listens to spirits, and her young brother Ivan; a pair of elves by the names of Neleryn and Nelethiel Amakiir (these two did not address me, and their language was far too complex to pick up — perhaps in later studies); and a half dozen or so Kenabres infantry and diplomats, with whom I have *N*ever *P*roperly *C*onversed.
We departed yesterday a week after Erastil’s feast, though no one celebrates holidays on Hermea — a dour bunch, living under the thumb of that dragon. Our mode is a fantastical gnomish airboat kept afloat by fey magic, like Zarzuket’s Zeplin come to life! Some of our company asked endless questions of our pilots, but I was too overwhelmed by the simple beauty of watching sunrises and sunsets from high in the clouds, and the endlessly joyful perspective of ocean and lands far below, the tiny roads and farms and villages and cities. And the cold! Even in late summer, the high frigid winds bit deep into our ears and fingers.
Starday 27 Erastus, Orclands, Belkzen
It took us nearly a week to reach land from the distant island, and as we entered the bay we flew directly over Korvosa! From there, we must have nearly mirrored my mother’s path when she traveled from her homeland so long ago. I hope to ask her someday, and thrill the old queens with tales of my travels! I wonder if old Miravu ever traveled by airboat?
On our month-long journey we watched the moon fill and fail, and I sang the Melodies out into the open sky. Riva entertained herself with shenanigans wherein she convinced Major-General Gladbags to build her a telescope out of pieces of the airboat. Fortunately for us all, the cook did not share Gladbags’ enthusiasm.
From Korvosa, we sailed north along the edge of the Mindspin Mountains. Barca joked about needing an umbrella in the Wastes. I can only pray to the Songbird and the Protector and every other power of good — both known and unknown — that he will still want to joke after our first storm.
Gladbags tells me that we will pass directly over Urgir, and then head straight for my old home!
Moonday 5 Arodus, West Sellen, Numeria
I almost wished to jump out in Karcau, but I have given my word to Queen Galfrey, and it would have been a long fall into the lake. I will inquire about sending a message to my mother. Perhaps now that I am settled we can correspond or she can take some time for a visit.
Oathday 8 Arodus, West Sellen, Mendev
As if by design, we crossed into Mendev on First Crusader Day, and will follow the West Sellen all the way to Kenabres, as I have done so many times on foot. These last few days of our journey have passed more slowly than the weeks had passed before. From our high vantage point, I could see the sickening wasteland of old Sarkoris, and all of us — even the tiefling — spent our last week in morose silence.
Fireday 9 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev
Once again as if by portentous design, we reach Kenabres on the Day of Silenced Whispers. The holiday is a much grander commemoration back home in Karcau. In Mendev it is merely a ramp-up of daily-increasing fervor for the high holy day of Armasse.
The honor guard that met us included my colleague Draegan, and Commander Irabeth. She did not seem pleased by our small numbers, or perhaps it was the presence of a hellspawn. Tieflings are treated poorly in Kenabres — but as the curtain pullers used to say: the queerer the ears, the louder the cheers. And besides, it is inner beauty that radiates outward, not the other way around.
After a typically cold Mendevian welcome, we dug in at a civilian townhouse in the Ring District with a mission to observe: to look for any signs of strange behavior. Ivan seemed to take to it immediately, mimicking the local styles, accents, and body language with great ease, while the poor Sylph Keeya was uncomfortable as ever. I invited her to visit some of the beautiful places of Kenabres, but at this she withdrew even further. I suppose she will sing her song in her own time. She does warm a bit to Ivan, but I suspect he is merely clanging his bell to attract her, for it is clear that he does not know True Beauty.
Sunday 11 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev
We spent a few days wandering around the city, until one evening Draegan and I happened upon Aron Kir, whom we knew from the Kenabres Wolves. He was nearly dead drunk, incoherent and vomiting. I believe he had been drugged, but exactly how I could not detect with the skills taught me by old Miravu. We took him to the temple, along with the Mwangi and a few others.
Faced with typical Mendevian beaurocratic apathy I let my temper get the better of me and convinced them — rather fiercely — to remove his drunken condition. Aron came to his senses and quickly gathered us into a dark alley and asked me to cover my light, which I did not like, but the city guards passed us by. Better for them to pass a night or two breaking up bar fights than to find me with my ears steaming. I am after all a priest of the Gentle Lady — not some crass, eye-gouging Belkzen tribesman.
Aron was not in his right mind. He was obsessed with finding Horgus Gwerm, a noble who deals arms to the crusaders. But he did not wish for us to seek help. He acted like one who had tasted Ustalavan marshflowers on a new moon. I suspected that this Horgus supplied him with more than arms. After much prodding he admitted that he had been ejected from the Wolves. He asked Draegen to find a Wolf named Corain, with the message that he (Aron) would “make it right”. He would not elaborate on this.
While ranting, Aron threw his silver drinking flask on the ground, and ignored me when I tried to hand it back to him. Finally, when our party had gathered, he took us to the old ruined mansion in the Gate District. Here he had some tale that the mongrels had taken Horgus and wanted us to accompany him to the underground to help negotiate the noble’s return. Our company was not in agreement about this. The elves in particular voiced their opposition, but I could not understand their language to listen to their wisdom. Finally, Aron stormed into the old house without us. To keep him safe, we followed, and Riva tricked him into doubling back for us, at which point Barca grabbed him and we attempted to drag him out. This Aron did not like, and he gave Barca a nasty cut with his thin blades. Not wanting to hurt him, we disarmed him and continued to drag him out, hoping to give him a sober night in the barracks brig, but he escaped neatly. Kyrk sniffed the air in search of a trail, but he was gone.
We returned to our apartments, I with Aron’s weapons and flask. Kenabres is no place for a disarmed mercenary — or a sober mercenary, for that matter — and I do hope we find him soon, and in better spirits.
I suspect we will get an earful from Irabeth. I do not fear her. I have stood before the Tower. I know how easily madness can overtake a soldier, and I will do everything in my power to protect a comrade from such a fate. And with Shelyn’s luck, I will have the opportunity to lead Aron back to the true beauty.