Oathday, 21 Gozran, 4716AR

Following a final day to prepare, we travelled to the temple this evening. Joined Jhod in sunset prayers, and following this entry I will make myself less dangerous to my comrades – by ritualistically smashing my head against the stones until I go unconscious. It may seem extreme to the uninitiated, but such rituals have long been part of Falayna’s orthodoxy. Moreover, it would be shameful – and counterproductive – if I rid myself of this curse only to pass it on, or killed someone outright.

Sunday, 17 Gozran, 4716AR

Have been training with Kesten and his men for the last three days to help toughen myself up. Kesten has just gained a fourth companion – in addition to Frick the Unslain, Frack the Fleet and Scooby Sirathini, the new man is a ranger named Marcus Jagaro. They have dubbed their company “the Free Irregulars.”

Tōgg continues to work at crafting magic items. I am looking forward to a set of magic bracers to help make myself more resilient in combat. We also have learned a bit more about the other charter companies in the region. While we originally thought their areas overlapped with ours, it turns out that we are truly working in parallel rather than in competition. Oleg’s represents a joint point of departure for all of us, and may provide an opportunity to meet with them in the future in the interest of collaborating. The groups include the Iron Wraiths, Maegar Varn’s Mercenaries, and an official Brevic diplomatic delegation.

The Iron Wraiths are in the Glinnabon Uplands, and are charged with purging the hills of the Tiger Lord Barbarians and establishing diplomatic contact with the Pitax. I seem to feel an involuntary sympathy for the Barbarians. My own people have suffered the indignity of being driven off their own land. That said, I do not know the specific history of this Barbarian Tribe, and it is entirely possible that they tend less towards nomadic warriors, and more towards predatory raiders. As such, I cannot fully wish luck to the Iron Wraiths, but I will keep an open mind on the subject if it bleeds outwards towards us.

Maegar Varn’s Mercenaries are charged with peacefully dealing with the Centaurs in the Gnomen Heights. I am not fully convinced of the wisdom of sending a large company of mercenaries if peaceful engagement is the objective. It is possible that the Centaurs will only agree to treat with those who show strength. But it could also be that they are less interested in genuine peace than they are in using diplomatic engagement as a pretext for a massacre. Again, I will keep an open mind if the subject bleeds over into our charter area.
The final group of Brevic diplomats has been sent to the region called the Hooktongue Slough, along the eastern branch of the Sellen River. They also have a large group of soldiers in tow. This makes somewhat more sense, as they are charged with keeping the trade route safe and open.

Several of our specialty orders came in today, chief among them a wand of healing that may save our lives out in the wild. The fleshgem spikes I requested also came in today. Based on the time involved, I would guess they came from somewhere on the far side of Brevoy. Perhaps the capital city of New Stetven is home to some Oreads? The mountains seem the other likely possibilities. Either the Ice Rime Peaks in the east, or the Golushkin Mountains in the west.

Ce Me No was happy to help with implanting them – perhaps a little too much so? At the same time, pain can be purifying, so it is hard to say whether I owe him my thanks or a good boxing about the ears. Probably both.

Oathday, 14 Gozran, 4716AR

Returned safely to Oleg’s this evening. They seemed as happy to see us as ever, so we take that as a good sign concerning the work we are doing. I do make an effort not to isolate myself too much while we’re staying at Oleg’s, but my dietary restrictions make it difficult. Eventually, ordering “scotch and soda, hold the scotch, flatten the soda” may cease to be seen as “charming.”

Wealday, 13 Gozran, 4716AR

We changed our plans and travelled back to the temple early today. This helped facilitate Tōgg’s magical crafting, and also allowed us to finalize our upcoming plans with Jhod. We will remain here until tomorrow afternoon, at which point we will return to Oleg’s. In the meantime, we are also continuing our prerogative of naming the sites we encounter. The pond that formerly housed the giant crawfish sits almost on the temple’s doorstep, and is fed by a spring that comes up from deep in the earth. As such, we have dubbed it “Erastil’s Font.”

Toilday, 12 Gozran, 4716AR

I shall suffer no troll to live, but would see them all drown in their own foul blood as it burns.

We were set upon by a trio of trolls last night while Ce Me No and I stood guard. I was able to get a hold of one, but between the three of them I could not withstand the fury of their onslaught. The rest of the party was able to get to its feet and rapidly fell back and blasted them as well as they could. With a great deal of help and sacrifice on the part of our animal companions, they were finally able to put the beasts down. Nishi’s healing magicks revived me towards the end of the fight, just in time to see the magnitude of that sacrifice. As my head reeled, I watched the poor wolf being torn apart – when all was said and done, there was not even enough left of the poor creature to bury. We burned what little remained, separate from the already smoldering remains of the trolls. As I watched my friend burn and prayed for its spirit to find peace, I came to realize several truths.

First, in our short time here, we have bonded with the woodlands and meadows of the Green Belt. By virtue of this bond as well as the authority invested in our writ, we must act as wardens and stewards of this land.

Second, the land is inhabited by a few good people, but also many fey and animals and even creatures of pure good who have a place here with whatever civilization we bring to the land – a relationship of harmony and synergy. We have met numerous creatures who were willing to put themselves on the line for us. We should risk no less if we are to reconstitute the prophesized Kingdom of the Plains.

Third, the land is also home to numerous vile creatures, whether mere bandits, foul practitioners of necromantic magic, or monstrous superpredators or rapacious abominations with whom no harmony can be found. By their very presence, these creatures threaten the goodly humanoids, fey and animals that can be woven together to form. We are clearly not ready to tackle all of them yet, but we should strengthen ourselves and improve our techniques as quickly as possible, work at refining our tactics to act more effectively as a unit, and actively seek to eradicate such threats from the Green Belt.

Fourth, among the vile creatures, the trolls are especially deserving of retribution. The hill giants who slew my qual-leh and my sisters in arms have left me with trust and less love for any giant blooded creatures. But whereas the hill giants are big and dangerous but also slow and stupid, the trolls were more formidable in other ways. The creatures were formidable foes, but also the worst sort of monster. Dangerous, relentless, and unstoppable unless put down hard and for good, and even then fire or acid is required to keep them from regrowing from even the most pulpified mass of dead flesh.

I mean to be one who puts them down hard and for good. I intend to do so by training as hard as I can to improve my techniques, my tactics and my toughness. Legends of our order speak of enchanted robes that could kiss fire into the tissues of any foe one grappled, and this has an appeal. But the legends of those with blood such as mine also speak of the oreads harnessing the limes of the earth within the gems implanted in their flesh, and turning them into caustic kisses for any unlucky enough to fall into their embrace. I must also continue training to be able to more quickly pin down such creatures, lest they continue to scratch me off like a dog with a tick. If I come across a creature whose blood I mean to draw, then I mean to draw all of it.

I swear here and now that unless the life of Morrigan or an innocent under my protection is imperiled by engaging, the life of any troll I meet is forfeit, and that I will kill them without pity or mercy. It is folly to fight with blind rage, but a mighty warrior holds onto anger in a way that makes it useful. Bury it within the heart and stoke it, and it becomes a powerful engine. Vent it often while retaining the ability to achieve serenity through regular meditation, and it becomes the most powerful weapon in a Tetori’s arsenal. May my anger at the noble sacrifice and senseless loss of our dearly departed wolf friend be just such a weapon.

As a group we must also refine our tactics, learn how to better play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and inclinations. My impulse is usually going to be to go for the biggest, most immediate threat and try to pin its ears back. And then possibly ripping them off. Finding ways to fit that impulse into the group’s strategy for dealing with foes is essential. A one woman front line is no line at all, but merely a single point. My fellows may be less suited to standing in the front line. But there must be a way to position them so that they are ready to slam down against a foe who is caught at a disadvantage. Or to have them ready to shift our formation if an adversary seeks to turn our flanks. In particular, Nishi’s lizard and Ce Me No both have great potential for synergy. While I have a foe in the clinch, they are easier to hit. They also cannot swipe errantly at my friends as they seek to maneuver into better position. Nor can they then easily move out of their new and more imperiled position. This is especially useful for combatants like Ce Me No. His style may not be the height of honor, but it becomes undeniably more effective if he is able to stab a grappled or pinned foe in the kneecap or the groin. If we face more magically inclined foes, it may become more effective for me to bypass the enemy frontline in the interest of pinning down a contemptible finger wiggler before they can roast my companions alive or even “Finger of Death” them.

After cleaning up the carnage, we set about repairing the bridge and harvesting the Fangberries. We then rode the rest of the day to return to Bokken’s hut and Oleg’s trading post. We kept south and east of the woods as we moved. We reached Bokken’s as night was falling. He was overjoyed by the Fangberry bounty, and my fellows now have a 25% discount on his potions for the next month.

We returned to Oleg’s thereafter, selling what we had collected during our travels, save for a ring I took off of the werewolf who bit me. Perhaps it bears some link to my own curse, but in the meantime it serves to protect me by occasionally turning aside cruel fate, and I mean to harness it. All together this last foray netted each of us 235 gold crowns and two silver links.

I am suggesting to my companions that we remain at Oleg’s until the day before the next full moon, at which point we will make for Jhod and the temple. This downtime will allow time for Tōgg to craft magic items, for Ce Me No to work at refining his alchemical craftsmanship, and for the rest of us to toughen ourselves up by sparring with Kesten. It will also allow time for my fleshgem spikes to come in, along with any other specialty items we might now wish to order. A set of manacles seems quite appropriate…

On that same front, a further foray against the bandits should probably be delayed until my curse is dealt with. I do not fear to die battle. But it would be unwise for us to risk taking on more than we can handle and then be thrown into whatever dungeon the bandits might have, only to have me devour my “cellmates” on the night of the full moon…

Moonday, 11 Gozran, 4716AR

Lovely day today – we headed northeast and sighted another unicorn (B11). It would seem that there are others in the land despite the horrific death of the one we found. We should seek to protect them if at all possible. Doing so will require a better understanding of their rangings, and probably some direct level of interaction and trust. If we may be so blessed.

Following the tracks southwest, we came upon the growth of fangberries Bokken wanted (B12). We intend to harvest them tomorrow (some 15lbs should suffice) before bringing them back to Bokken and heading back to Oleg’s to resupply. We also came across a relatively deep gulch between two hills, with a rickety bridge crossing them. In the interest of making the bridge serviceable again, we have camped beside it and our more magically inclined companions will use mending magicks on it in the morning while the rest of us pick fangberries.

Sunday, 10 Gozran, 4716AR

The situation is graver than it first appeared. Falayna and Erastil were indeed with us as Jhod cast his spells. Unfortunately, it seems that the curse of lycanthropy is only susceptible to such magic while one is in the throes of the transformation. As such, I will be purchasing a well-made set of manacles and a full-face helm upon my return to Oleg’s, and then returning to see Jhod on the evening of the 22nd of this month. With any luck, both his cures and the restraints will work well, and this affliction can be put in the past.

According to the priest, it is possible for an extremely disciplined soul to resist the transformation, but an outright cure seems safer. The poison wolfsbane also has the possibility to burn the affliction away – but even if it did not violate my dietary vows, it is said that the poison is as likely to kill as it is to cure. But should it come down to that, it would be better to pay the price of my own life than to allow myself to kill the innocent when I am not in control of my own body. The possibility of murdering the prophesized Great Soul is almost too terrible to contemplate. But I will come to grips with that choice if I must.

Following this disappointment, we put ourselves back on the road. We headed southeast into a more lightly wooded area, coming across an old road at several points (B9). We were also somewhat mystified by the presence of tracks which appeared to suddenly stop and start – in all likelihood they belonged to some sort of flying creature.

We continued in the same direction, coming upon several old huts that were likely used by trappers (B10). By all signs, they had been abandoned for some time. We also found more of the same strange stopping and starting tracks. Without a way to effectively track the flying creature, we encamped for the night.

Starday, 9 Gozran, 4716AR

In the end, yesterday proved more spiritually informative than I first thought. Following his two failed entreaties to Erastil for magical help, Jhod sat and prayed with me for a long time, and eventually began to share his own story. It would seem that I am an opportunity for him to either redeem himself, or have his past transgressions all play out again in front of him, more painful than before.

Like the boggard Gorum and myself (and Kesten as well, I am guessing), Jhod is an exile as a result of a disgrace in his past. In Jhod’s case, he led the lynching of a man believed to be a werewolf responsible for several local murders. The culprit turned out to be a worg instead, and Jhod would likely have been excommunicated and imprisoned as a result. However, the man he had lynched turned out to be an enemy spy (though he didn’t know it at the time), and so he was sent into exile. The irony is palpable – first leading the murder of a werewolf who wasn’t, and now trying to save someone from becoming a werewolf and being unable to.

I was reluctant at first, but given his admission, I felt compelled to share a little of my own past disgrace, and to impart the same lesson to him that my sisters have always tried to impart to me, that Falayna seeks to impart to all of us – our failures only define us if we do not seek to redeem ourselves by learning from and improving upon them. With the blessing of Falayana and Erastil (and a bit of luck), a day of prayer and meditation for both of us, and a good night’s rest, hopefully we’ll have greater success in the morning.

Fireday, 8 Gozran, 4716AR

Sigh. On the one hand, joining Ce Me No on his watches has proved a somewhat wise decision, as the last several nights have been more peaceful, and even last night’s uninvited guest was not a total surprise. On the other hand, Falayna seems to think I need more toughening up, as I keep taking more licks than I dish out. Discipline and hard work may help eventually, but for now there is little to do but brood on my failures and pray that I do not become an unstoppable killing machine bent on murdering her companions the next time the moon turns full.

We were set upon by a lone werewolf who wandered into our camp. Ironically, he came upon us on the night one would least expect, as last night was the new moon. My friend the wolf immediately went belly up in his presence. I was able to grab a hold of the creature and hold him immobile until the rest of the party could put him down, but I suffered several bites for my trouble. Following this, my companions informed me that the bite of a lycanthrope is accursed. In the absence of timely herbal remedies, clerical magic is essential to prevent the curse from taking hold, and so I rode through the rest of the night back to the Temple of Erastil. I communicated my plight to Jhod Kaven before his morning prayers, but a pair of magical attempts to remove the curse both failed. He will be able to try again tomorrow, but until then, we may well all be in a considerable amount of danger come the next full moon on the 22nd.

Oathday, 7 Gozran, 4716AR

Jhod Kaven wasted no time in coming – he reached our camp before we broke it. He must have travelled at speed through the night to reach us so quickly. But he shared our revulsion and disgust at the murder and despoilment of a good and noble creature. He confirmed our layman’s opinion about death magic. He told us the spell that killed the unicorn is called “The Finger of Death.” It is an incantation only mastered by exceptionally powerful necromancers, or the occasional dark Druid who takes an especially dim view of humanity. The horn was almost certainly removed after the unicorn was dead, and it seems possible that this was the motive for the murder. According to my fellows, necromantic magic can be made more powerful if fueled by the corruption of the souls, bodies or “parts” of the manifestly good.

We burned what remained of the unicorn as a precaution (the area itself may require further purification if we are to do anything with it in the future). Afterwards we headed east until we came upon a waterfall on the Skunk River (B7). The area seemed especially lush (more “prime” real estate), and was covered in thousands of little purple flowers called “Phlox.” As such, we have decided to rename the river in its honor – after all, it might have proved difficult to encourage people to come and live in an area named for skunks.

We continued east until the woods thinned somewhat, and came upon a pair of ruined stone buildings in a marshy area. They proved to be home to a frog-like creature (a “boggard” I am told), as well as a second also vaguely frog-like creature called a slurk. The boggard is the more intelligent of the two, and he introduced himself as Garum. He confided in us his status as an exile – or so I’m told. His language is not one I speak, and neither does he speak our tongue beyond a few words. Apparently he challenged the ruler of his tribe for leadership, and lost badly. This is a familiar enough event among the Shoanti, though it would seem that he was luckier than most Shoanti who fail at a leadership challenge, he lives as an exile instead of having died in the attempt. He says he wants to be left alone, and in the absence of any outward hostility, this seems reasonable. He probably bears keeping the occasional eye on however, as his failed coup indicates a certain level of ambition.


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