Chronicles of Martoushca of Peltarch II
If you’ve found this book, know that this is the personal diary of Martoushca Leaffall of Peltarch. I’m writing this new diary from scratch because I get the feeling the hells will turn into a pink candyland before I find my actual diary.
As I write this I sit on the hill just south of Peltarch’s gates. I’ve just finished constructing a small cairn of stones in memory of a soldier named Bill. I can’t remember if his real name was William or Billothy or what his family name was. He was total rubbish with a sword so we taught him archery – which he was also rubbish at. Just a kid really. Joined the Legion of Troff when N'Jast began their advance. At least as an archer he would be back from the front lines. I was a part of a rank of archers deployed on this hill just south of Peltarch. The N’Jast horde had set up camp in the ruins of Jyyd and had marched over our previous outpost at Sam’s Hill. Norwick had made a treaty with N’Jast to protect herself, so we withdrew north to protect the way to Peltarch.
Bill died only moments after the battle was joined. N’Jast archers were cruel, and their lumbering constructs could launch deadly magical attacks. Most of our archery rank had fallen in the first volley. We piled up the dead to serve as cover. Eventually the Constructs broke through the front line. The General barked at me to “HOLD THEM!” so that the rest of the archers could escape the ridge. Without thinking I drew my sickle and ran at the construct threatening to cut off our escape. I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in a bonfire of damaging the thing with my sickle, but I managed to duck and weave enough to keep it busy. Once the archers had made it off the ridge I bolted after them, sprinting to the side of the hill where General Lyte had set up a healing pool.
I’m not sure what hit me, if it was a construct’s fist or a boulder from a catapult, but a massive blow hurled me against the earthen wall by the pool. While crumpled up against the wall, a construct slammed me with its forearm, crushing my body. Someone told me later that my seemingly lifeless corpse tumbled into the healing pool. They fished me out later. Turns out you can’t drown in a healing pool, and the magic of the pool kept my crushed body from dying.
General Grag gave me a medal afterwards. “Gallantry” or some such. “Bravery in the face of certain death”. Truth be told I was too scared to think. Maybe if I were thinking I would have acted differently.
Why am I starting my first diary entry with this story? I guess I’m trying to figure out why I’m here. I remember Bills frozen face staring back at me in the snow, his body a part of a wall of flesh and ice. As arrows and bolts struck his back I knew that If he hadn’t died I wouldn’t be alive. But why am I here and not him? Bill has been utterly forgotten. I think I am the only one who remembers him, and I can’t even remember his real name. I’m not a better person than he was. Not by a long shot. Some time soon I will be forgotten just as he has been.
So what good am I? What’s the point of me? I’d be a liar if I said that I knew why I was here or what I was supposed to do with my life. But I’m here today because other people are dead. What good would I be if I were to let their spent lives be for nothing?
But what am I? A soldier? Hardly a good one. A gardener? More like a keeper of dying grass. The sacred flowers I once tended in Peltarch are all dead now. I struggle to think of a single goal I have had in life that hasn’t come to a pointless dead end.
So the reason for this diary - I guess is to reflect on my life. To find some kind of point to it if there is one.
If nothing else, I hope this diary will some day provide interesting reading for whoever bothers to read it. May your god bless you._
The penguin darted through the water; it’s back barely skimming the surface of the Icelace. She had been away from home for too long, and her desire to be back added haste to her movement. She wasn’t really sure how long she had been away for. From her point of view it could have been around a year, but she had entered into an astral trance while paying homage toward the Mountain of St Jerrick. Time can pass strangely when in such a state.
The penguin dove a little lower into the water, before sharply changing direction upward, bursting through the surface and flying up onto the dock. Upon landing she staggered a little, her flippers and fins tired from having swam so far. If her beak could smile it would have, her heart being overwhelmed with joy when feeling the familiar, splintery wood of the dock beneath her flippers. But her feelings suddenly sank. Everything was wrong. The smell of acrid smoke filled her nostrils, and many of the buildings so familiar to her were now in ruins.
“Qua Quark qu-”
[translation – “Holy Sheelah, …. what the fu-“]
A titanic shockwave tore through the docks, shaking the ground and shattering windows. The penguin was knocked off her feet. A cloud of burning dust erupted from what used to be the courthouse, as debris began to rain down onto the street.
[translation – “SHITE-SAUCE!”]
The dazed aquatic bird clumsily got to her feet. She gazed in despair at what remained of her home’s justice – a rising cloud of dust and falling, shattered stone. Like a tempest, all the fears of her past crashed up against her soul. Before long she could hear shouting and battle. She dived onto a commando roll, tumbling into nearby ruins. She pressed her back up against a broken wall as a running battle surged past her. She would have joined in the fight but had no idea which side to fight for.
Once the din had passed, he penguin’s skin began to bulge and boil. One bulge grew into a large hump on her back and transformed into a backpack and bedroll. Another erupted out of her shoulder, sprouted a blonde mop of hair, and grew into a head as the penguin head retracted into the new head’s neck. One of the flippers stretched into a circular shape and became a shield. A white daisy was painted onto the front of the shield, while a host of scabbards housing throwing blades, darts, and other cruel looking throwing weapons lined the back. The penguin’s skin began to darken and became a suit of black, dark blue leather armour into which the body of a halfling woman inflated into shape.
Marty peered out from behind the wall she had hidden behind. The coast was clear. She made her way stealthily through the streets, hoping to find someone who could tell her was the hells was going on, and maybe reconnect with the Legion chain of command … if that was still a thing?
It has been a month since Bane's Bane fell to the goblins. I would be lying if I said that my grief was over. But it has dimmed enough to allow life's normal routines to resume.
I have been on foot for so long I almost forget what it feels like to have a saddle between my knees. I have put off partnering with another horse lest I "replace" Bane's Bane. That is nonsense however. The position left vacant by a fallen soldier is reinforced. Soldiers are never replaced.
So I have made up my mind to reinforce my efforts by recruiting another horse to partner with me in my military and agricultural ventures. I will go to the stables tomorrow.
In the mean time I'll prepare as much magic as I can that will let me communicate with horses. I'm looking for a comrade. I'm not interested in any of them being "sold" to me._
_I'm not saying that horse sellers are slave traders.
Not to their faces at least. But the comparison is valid I'd say. At least in some cases. I did my best to bypass the seller and connect directly to the horses.
In truth, animals don't have the same kind of mind we people do. They aren't "intelligent" enough speak. But animals have their own kind of wisdom. With them it's more about feeling and instinct. At least in the wild it is. But after communing with the ponies in Peltarch's stable it became pretty clear how well "trained" they were. Training isn't a bad thing. Gosh I train myself! But sometimes training that drive out the feeling. Drive out the instinct. Training can turn an animal into a tool. That's a blasphemy to me.
There was one pony tied to the rail at the back of the paddock. "Forget about that one" the horse seller told me. "That bastard can't be tamed. Kicked one of my saddle boys right in jewels." He went on to tell me that the apothecaries were currently trying to reassemble the lad in the temple light house, and how he would pay for the healing if he were making more sales. His pitch may have one me over if I hadn't already made up my mind to hand over gold to release one of the horses.
I made an equine greeting toward the pony. He snorted at me in contempt. I could see in his eyes that he wasn't interested in being saddled or ridden. He was just over it all. He just wanted to fight.
I used magic to communicate to him. I made him feel the wars I have fought. The friends I have lost. I shared with him my feelings about Bane's Bane. It wasn't long before he could see that we were both on the same page.
"You sure about that one miss? I'm telling you, he's a real bastard. He'll kick you off as sure as."
"Aye" I told him. "And he'll probably try to kick my head off after that. That's why he's the one."
I think it was guilt that I saw on the horse sellers face. Maybe he felt bad about taking money for a horse he was about to get rid of?
I tried to get saddle and barding on the pony, but he wasn't going to have it. He bucked and kicked at me with all his might. I ended up on my arse in the mud.
"So what are you going to call him?" the seller asked me.
It was pretty clear already who this horse was.
"His name is Bastard."_
Flanked by a panther and a great lioness, Martoushca returned from the massacre in the Howling Woods. Tiny fish darted away as she knelt down to wash her equipment in the Misty Pond. There was more killing that needed to be done, but for now there would be a lull in the bloodshed.
She noticed her reflection in the submerged scimitar as the blood and gore floated away from it. She drew it up out of the water to see herself more clearly. Her hair was matted with dried blood and pieces of goblin. Streams of it ran down her face. Once red, the goblin blood that stained her face was now almost black and beginning to crust. But past the horror that marred her face was a visible bitterness. It came out through her eyes. Eyes through which once shone the light of her Goddess, now lifelessly glared with contempt.
She remembered the oath that she had hastily taken when forging the blade. She remembered the love that drove her to take that oath. But something was different. She had lost something. She had fought against goblins countless times before. Fought against so many other foes. But never like this. Then Kayleb's words came back to her. Was the archon right? Was she on a "darker road"?
She looked deeper into her reflection. Love once drove her to fight. It drove her to protect those dear to her. But she was no longer a protector. She was a killer. Her slaughter wasn't to make the land safe. She was now a storm of fury and hatred.
She was what she once fought against. She began to feel herself being humbled by the hound archon's words. It was true that her heart wasn't right.
She stood, continuing to gaze at her own reflection in the scimitar's broad blade.
_Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth,
thou art trapped by the oath you have taken.
Deliver thyself as a doe from the hand of the hunter,
and as a bird from the hand of the fowler._
With all of her might Martoushca hurled the curved sword into the Misty Pond. With a relieving splash it broke the surface of the water. She watched the gleaming of it's blade dull as it sank down into the depths. She continued to stare until the ripples she had created in the pond were almost gone and the pond was still again.
Finally Marty broke the silence. "C'mon," she said to the two great cats by her side. "Lets go home."
Puchat and Gubbernut squatted around a tiny fire they had just lit, cooking spiders and beetles skewered on twigs over the small flame. The moon was full, but their hunting had been fruitless. They muttered to each other softly in the dark.
"Spellyapper says good days ahead for us!" said Puchat as he turned his bug kebab slowly over the fire. "Hmm … good days."
Gubbernut wasn't as optimistic. "Always they say that. They say 'shed the bloods and fight till yoo die and we see good days'. I start to think in my brain that there are no good days."
"But the brain of yoo is the substance of poop."
"Skumchaka jew!" squealed Gubbernut as he dropped his cooking bugs and raised a fist to strike Puchat. He suddenly froze however, ears twitching as he picked up the sound of terror in the distance. Both goblins rose to their feet to peer over the tall grass. Over by the misty pond they could make out the forms of the other members of their hunting party. They were fleeing for their lives with four great cats on their heels. Two of the great cats were enormous lionesses. The other two were jet black panthers.
Gubbernut drew his rusty dagger. "We FIGHT! You hold in the front while I move to FLANK!" He turned to see Puchat had already begun fleeing for his life. "KA BOUNAH!" He cried, rushing forward to meet the cats. The lions had stopped momentarily to maul a fleeing goblin. As he ran at the closest panther, the great black cat leaped into the air. Mid pounce, it's form began to crack and distort as the panther turned into a furious halfling woman. She drew a scimitar from a scabbard across her back and brought it down through Gubbernut's head as she landed. Thoughts of fury at Puchat's betrayal were brutally interrupted as the blade passed down through the goblins brain, cleaving the entire skull and neck in two and lodging in the creature's sternum. Martoushca kicked the goblin's chest in an attempt to dislodge the weapon but it was firmly jammed. Abandoning it, her hand flashed back and forth from her bandoleer to unleash a volley of throwing blades. The first struck Puchat in the back. The rest cut down other fleeing goblins.
Mystical runes began to circle around one of the lions as the magic used to summon it began to wear off. The fight was far from over. Muttering in frustration to herself, Marty raised her hand toward the night sky as the lion disappeared and cast another summoning spell. A towering hound archon appeared by her side, the tip of his great sword sinking slightly into the undergrowth as he rested his hands on it's pommel. Marty drew a cruel looking sickle and a bowie knife. "Let's go Kayleb!" she called out to the celestial as she ran forward. Kayleb simply stood and watched as the crazed halfling charged into combat. She hooked the sickle around the front of a fleeing goblins neck and yanked it back, thrusting the top of the creatures spine onto her bowie knife. She looked back briefly. "What are you waiting for?"
Marty swung her sickle around again to disembowel another goblin, and then delivered an upward thrust with her bowie knife under it's companion's chin. The goblin quivered and twitched as the blade penetrated the base of it's skull. She turned again to see Kayleb simply standing there, leaning on his sword. She simply shrugged at him.
"I answer the call of the righteous." he finally said. "I am summoned by the good to fight against evil."
"Yeah?!" Marty was truly baffled now. The panther continued the slaughter as she stopped to converse with the hound archon. "Well how about you get to it then!?"
"It is the good who may summon me halfling woman! You walk on thin ice. Your heart is not right."
Martoushcah waved her dripping sickle over the field of fleeing goblins. "How about the hearts of these bastards!? Listen," she pointed the blood soaked bowie knife toward Kayleb "if it's your job to smite evil shite then how about you start swinging that sword of yours eh!?"
"You are motivated by hatred."
"I'm motivated by LOVE! I LOVED Bane's Bane." Marty took a few steps forward toward the hound archon in an almost menacing fashion.
"They killed a horse, and now you seek revenge."
The sound of great cats roaring and goblins screaming began to die down as the last in the area began to fall to fang and claw.
"Halfling woman," the archon began, his tone as if he were beginning a lecture, "love is a pure motivation. But when your love becomes selfish attachment you are taken down a darker road. You will be judged."
Martoushca raised her voice again, "Judged eh? GOOD! Then I'll be able to follow these bastards down into hell to finish the job! Look, I summoned you to FIGHT Kayleb! How about you give me this lesson in morality some some other time?"
"Yes halfling woman, some other time. Until then you'd do well to examine your heart." With that glowing glyphs began to circle about him as he was drawn back into the celestial realm.
Marty looked about. Her Ultravision spell was still running and in the moonlight she could see that the cats had finished off most of the goblins. "Examine my heart?" She muttered to herself as she dislodged her scimitar from Gubbernut's body. "Examine your heart on a plate you self righteous snob."
_Today I am out of mercy.
As we were leaving the druid's glen to head north, Bane's Bane and I were ambushed by Dog Tribe goblins. She rushed into battle, and before I could call her back and rush to hear aid their rusty daggers had cut deep into her neck.
I killed them. I made the land red with their blood. But it was as if the crimson would be washed away by my tears. Bane's Bane was never just a pony to me. Never just a mount. She was my comrade. Every time she carried me into battle I always held her back, keeping her from melee that I knew she'd never be able to handle. She was an old pony almost into the days where she should be in a paddock instead of bearing a rider. But the way she charged those goblins was as if she was refusing to enter into that fate. She died fighting, and I have no doubt in my heart that she is now grazing on the Green Fields in the celestial realm, or maybe even into Warrior's Rest to be greeted by Tempus himself.
After the slaughter I pushed on north to mine a cave south of the gypsy camp. It was as if the lords of earth had swallowed up my tears and revealed to me the path of vengeance. For in the cave I struck a vein of blood metal ore. I hauled out as much as I could and dragged it back to the crafting hall in Peltarch. For the first time **I solved the riddle of steel and forged a cruel scimitar. On it's edge I swore that the tribe that murdered Bane's Bane shall perish from the face of Narfell.
I will kill them. I will kill them all.
They're dead. Every single one of them.
And not just their males. But their women, and their children too.
They enslave and slaughter animals, so I will slaughter them with animals.
I will summon the beasts of the land and from the celestial realm to join in my vengeance. The grass shall drink in their blood. Goblins of other tribes shall see the high pile of scorched, mangled corpses and be struck with terror. "What could they have done to bring this curse on themselves?" I hate them. Even those who hate goblins will pity the dog tribe when they see what becomes of them.
The edge of this scimitar shall take off the hea**_
((The writing of this diary entry seems to get heavier and heavier, as if more and more pressure was being put on the quill during writing. The entry finishes abruptly with a blot of ink. It looks as if the quill broke))
[[ [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfevBIsVG1o]OOC ]]
Thoughts are scattered right now.
Generally, waking up by the altar in a temple naked in a pool of your own blood usually means you've had a bad day. According to the bald dwarf who dragged me back to town I feel to goblins.
I do have vague recollection of a great axe. Came out of nowhere. Goblin must have been invisible?
I never really had a chance to thank the bald dwarf or even get his name.
I'm currently resting up at the Grapevine. Need to get my nerve back._
((Ugh … after checking the combat log it turned out that I died to a Goblin Elite that I couldn't see. I probably wouldn't have died if I wasn't playing half awake. And that kids is why you don't play sleepy! Was so happy after watching Star Wars, and now so sad after losing almost 9000xp that I'm unlikely to get back ever. Was sooo close to lvling too! Need to go see Star Wars again to pick myself up! One of the things I love about Narfell - the emotional roller coaster!))
His Majesty King George has opened up a position in his court for a "Voice of the People". It's a nice idea. In theory the Voice of the People would serve as an "adviser". So they'd be giving advice to the king on behalf of the people.
I feel it's may be just a token role. Something to let the people feel they still have some kind of input in their political destiny. Initially I had no interest in the position. But it became obvious that folks were assuming I'd jump at it. If taking on this role means an opportunity to "advise" that the king grant more government back to the people then it's an opportunity I'm eager to take.
The other candidates are fine folks. To be honest I'd be happy if they were to take up the role. Whether I gain the position or not, I'd still feel the burden to "advise" the king. The crown upon his brow is enchanted with power I invoked from the presence of my goddess. I am party accountable for what he does with that power. So I'm in his ear whether he likes it or not.
I've got the help of a couple of scribes to write out "Little Green Books". They're doing most of the copy work. I'm making the covers and binding them. These little books are really just a tract with a proposal for a system of political representation. Tidus had a dream - of people free who govern themselves. I'd like to believe that despite Siamorphean plots the dream has yet to be slain.
It has been many moons time since my last entry. While I could say that my toil in Peltarch's fields and other various adventures have kept me "too busy" to write, that wouldn't be entirely true. If truth must be told then it would be more honest to say that I haven't felt the events of my live have been interesting enough to chronicle.
Sometimes I feel my lost memories coming back to me. I still have no idea who stole my memories or why. But some days it is as if my past life comes back to me. It is more like remembering a dream. I'm not sure if these returning memories are actually from my former life or if they are the creations of my own imagination. I remember senate chambers, and war, and faces that I no longer see.
In one hand I have an earnest desire to regain my lost memories and for whoever took them from me to meet terrible justice. In the other hand is a simple acceptance. While whatever plot against me may have totally succeeded, I am fully convinced that I am what my current actions declare me to be. I am not what I remember. I am not diminished by what has been taken from me.
I am diminished by my lack of decent pipe weed however. My grief at the fall of the Silver Valley is magnified. They grew perfect weed in the Valley._
I have just returned form City Hall.
There are some things that "good" people don't do. They don't kill, they don't steal, and they don't lie. There may be extreme and unusual circumstances where to not do these things would actually allow a greater evil than to commit these things, but a person who does these things as a general part of their character can hardly be called "good".
I was in City Hall at the request of His Majesty King George the First. I was there with Rith Phoenixfeather, Maria and Lyca. The four of us were there to enchant the kings crown.
Seeing that I am now accountable for how the king rules now that he wears a crown enchanted with the power of the gods I serve, I am in despair.
Rith made a suggestion that the crown include an "alarm" enchantment that would be set off if the crown were ever magically tampered in any way. It seemed agreeable to everyone there so we prepared to include it.
Seeing that we were raising suggestions, I moved that the crown included an enchantment that prevented the wearer from lying to the people of Peltarch. I thought it good that Peltarch's king be honest with those he rules over. Where there is dishonesty there is never freedom. Lies enslave, but truth sets free.
Diary, it wasn't just that the others disagreed with me, the turned on me. I was derided and belittled, called "paranoid" and utterly dismissed for making such a suggestion. I have never before witnesses such passion to defend the concept of dishonesty. Despite my better judgement, I remained to enchant the crown. Seeing that I am accountable for how the wearer of this crown uses the magic within it, I made a statement against it's use for dishonesty while we were casting our magic at it. Unable to suffer such statements, Rith turned her magic toward me, to block whatever effect my words may have had upon the enchantment.
What's done is done. The crown is now upon our new king's head. May the gods have mercy upon me for whatever dishonesty the crown helps him to conceal.
From the beginning of Del'Rosa's plot to instal a king over us, and the presentation of George to Peltarch, my stomach has been churned by his plan to cast off his wife so that he may take another who may grant him an heir. The necessity to break a marriage in order to establish this throne makes it even more vile in my opinion.
And what makes it worse, George seems keen to pursue the political opportunities that casting off his wife may present. He stated to me his interest in "strengthening" Daramar's relationship with Peltarch by marrying into their kingdom.
This did confirm what I had feared from the beginning, that our new king will become a puppet, with Damaran servants of Siamorphe pulling his strings. I am in despair of Peltarch losing so much that has been purchased for her by the blood of heroes. Tidus didn't drive out the usurpers from Hoarsgate for us to hand our city over to Damara by their intrigue. The blood shed repelling N'Jast is in vain if we so easily place ourselves under the power of foreigners.
One hope remains I feel, but it will take a miracle.
Emotionally exhausted from what felt like constant war, ventures into the abyss, and her heavy sense of responsibility, Marty entered the secret grove, knelt and prayed before the glowing monolith. She raised her hands and her voice, praying in the druidic tongue
"**Lords of the natural, patrons of wind, earth, tree, stone, and all living things…. I come before you with humility.
May those who love an honour you know your blessing.
May those who defile you, and who commit abominations against you be cursed with suffering.
When they would be filled thanks to you, may they know hunger.
When they would be fruitful thanks to you, may they know barrenness.
When they would be protected thanks to you, may they know tempest and lightnings and storm.
but on those who love and fear you, show mercy.
Bless with fertility, protection, food and all good gifts.
Bring faithful servants into your fold. For the protection of your forests, for wisdom and guidance for 'civilization', and for the destruction of those who defy you.
And grant to me, the least of all your servants, wisdom and insight. Patience and zeal. Blessed Sheela, and all allies of hers, all gods who guard the balance and who govern the elements, be with me to guide and protect. Keep me in your will, as I seek to teach and guide others to stay in your will.**"
[CHAT WINDOW TEXT] [Mon Sep 15 06:19:50] Experience Points Gained: 8
[CHAT WINDOW TEXT] [Mon Sep 15 06:19:50] Your character has gained enough experience to advance a level.
"**Grant to me more grace that I may promote and protect your will. Grant my arm strength and ferocity that I may smite with stones those who oppose you.
And above all, in all things and in every way may our work in your name be a blessing not only to you all but to all who dwell in Narfell.
In the name of Sheela Peryroyl, Chauntea, Silvanus, and all patrons of nature,**"
A breeze began to swirl about the stone, gradually gaining speed.
"May it be so. "
The swirling breeze became a whirling vortex. A bolt of lightning shattered the peace of the glen, exploding the ground just in front of Martoushca. Thrown back from the blast, partially deafened and blinded, she was barely able to make out the form of a towering figure now standing before her. When she saw the visitors canine features her hand instinctively darted for her dagger, but before she could draw the archon had, with a single swift movement, drawn his greatsword and brought the tip of it to rest on Martoushca's shoulder.
"The locusts have no king," the hound archon began, speaking above the whirling wind in a deep, authoritative voice, "and yet they advance together in ranks."
What's that supposed to mean? Martoushca thought to herself.
As if the archon had read her mind, he continued, "I don't know that that means. I'm just passing it on. They've heard your prayers." With that he seemed to implode out of existence as he teleported away.
((OOC: Most of the above is a copy and paste from when the IG chat log. It feels a bit masturbatory to be posting a record of solo RP, but it was a bit of an event for me. Marty is finally back to where she was before she took the non-combat C Token about two years ago. She lvled up during a solo prayer moment in the druid glen - which I thought was very cool. This lvl Marty gained a point of WIS and the ability to cast 4th lvl druid spells. I'm looking forward to finding out if they're any good.))
(this diary entry is written in shaky handwriting. There is almost no punctuation, and some words seem to flow into each other.)
_I have just returned from inferno In the final push of our campaign against the Gnoll threat we created a diversion so that a strike could penetrate intotheir territory toclose their demon gates delrosa gave us information about the their leader thrice born he told us to offer a surrender to him but we all felt his death would be for the best we pushed into their land down into the caves and found thefinal gate from which demons were coming intothis world thrice born was there we ordered a surrender but rejected it we fought against him and many demons he diedonce but then rose again in a larger he snatched delrosa and fled through the gate into hell we followed I thought I knew horror having fought in wars and battles I have seen the worst a person can do to another and the limits of hatred and suffering or so I thought i could not havebeen more wrong ftan im tkasha
(There are indications that more was written onto this page in halfling, but it has been torn diagonally from the centre of the edge of the page down toward the base of the spine.)
After a day resting I feel as though I have recovered some from my time in the inferno. We dove into the infernal realm to rescue Del’Rosa from the clutches of the “Thrice Born” leader of the Gnolls.
I have difficulty putting into words the horrors we encountered on the other side of the infernal gate. It was a place where the air stank of sulphur, burning the lungs throat and nostrils as if the air itself were fire. The stone on which we stood was a maddening twisted nightmare. It had a form that no force of nature would sculpt. Rather, it looked to be the formed from the insane imaginations of the most corrupted being.
But worse than the landscape or even the creatures we fought there was the very nature of the place itself. Again, words fail me, but it was as if countless tortured souls screamed silently at me. Waves of hatred and spite, of selfish lusts and empty envious despair washed over me like suffocating bile. As hard as I tried to stay focused on our mission to rescue Del’Rosa and to destroy the Thrice Born, my mind kept going back to my last conversation with the dread-knight Shallyah. She stood against me in the commons, tearing down my beliefs with cold, heartless logic. Her quest was to convince me that there was no such thing as love, that the very concept of love was not real, and that love did not actually exist. Her heartless, pseudo-intellectual words seemed devoid of wisdom and reason to me at the time. But now – I have returned from a place where her words are true. I have seen with my own eyes a world where there is no love. A place where there is nothing but ambition and lust and hatred and pride every other kind of evil. And in that place, it was as if hope was snuffed out of my heart like a candle flame in a gale. Above all the horrors I encountered in that place, the memory that torments me most is that of Shallyah’s demon skin armour - of her cold, contemptuous gaze as she attempted to demolish love with her words, attempting to destroy the most sacred concept of my faith and the very foundation of all of my motivations.
The spark of love that remained in my heart turned out to be my salvation however. Without it I would simply have fled the place. Love wouldn’t let me leave. I couldn’t leave the bodies of Legs or Alv and the others in that place. I couldn’t leave Del’Rosa, or General Theaon or Raryldor or the Jonni or Elaine or the others to fight and die there. In some ways I value their lives above mine. In truth I love them. As I fired arrows into the horrific, bloated form of the Thrice Born, it was that dwindling spark in my heart that kept me from sinking into utter despair. It kept me fighting.
We only had a few moments after the Thrice Born had fallen to gather our dead and escape. I had to take the form on an ox for the strength to move fast enough to escape, a horde of demons on our heels.
They say that when we die our souls go to the fugue. There we are collected by our gods if we have been faithful in their eyes. If not, our souls wander, to become a part of the wall keeping Kelemvore’s fortress, or to be snatched by some demon or defil and dragged into it’s abode where souls are traded like beans in a nightmare realm of hatred and evil.
I wish with all my heart to be found faithful by Sheela, and to be carried away to the Green Fields. To escape the loveless prisons of the hells or the abyss. But if that was my motivation – fear of damnation or desire for paradise, will I really be found faithful? For that would be a selfish thing, and her dogma is to love – the very opposite of a self preserving or self glorifying motivation.
No, fantasies and fears of the afterlife won’t set my motivations. I’ll make love my goal. I wish that were a simple thing, to love. I only have a smouldering spark of it in my heart. Maybe it will become a flame. But in me there are selfish desires and lusts eager to extinguish it.
Sheelah, loving mother, help me._
I had the strangest dream.
I'm walking through the market place, and every second person is a gnoll. The gnolls and regular people are simply trading and carrying on as if it weren't an odd thing. Every now and then a gnoll would nod knowingly to another gnoll, as if they were both in on some plot. I met with my husband, General Del'Rosa, and he was holding our children in his arms. But all five of them were gnolls! Then he was a gnoll!
I woke up with such a start I think I woke the troops around me. What do you think it could mean?
It will be a blessing to see the end of this dam war.
Post Script: Del'Rosa is not my husband. It was just a dream._
Just returned from the underdark. Hate that place. Dark and full of freaks. I was in a party that included Shallyah. She's quite the warrior! It's like watching someone dance! Even in the dark. Like a dancer. No, more like, if monsters were trees, with that axe she's like a lumber jack. Like a crazy lumber jack. Like one of those massive lumberjacks in Norwick - the ones that smell of stale ale, sweat and moldy crotch. Just like one of those.
We come back to Peltarch, and there in the commons a man runs up. When I say "man" I mean … celestial. Seriously dear diary, the way his bare chest glistened. His body was like, sculpted. I felt such a connection with him! And I feel he may have liked me too. But up comes Shallyah, all bathed after the adventure and wearing that skimpy outfit of hers. The one that shows all that long human leg of hers. The one with all the gaps that shows off the cleavage and other lovely bits. And she's all like "Oh I'm a martial artist too! Bla bla bla I've mastered this and that of the order of pooping red falcon bla bla bla I'm such a dirty slut bla bla bla .. "
Sometimes I feel like I'm doomed to be forever alone. Especially when the likes of Shallyah start flashing their shite around.
At least the grass in the commons is all cut evenly. It's something that nobody seems to appreciate, but I know how important stuff like that is. I don't need a man to give meaning to my life. It's not like I should receive any special attention just because I am a serv_(blurred) f a goddess of love and fertility or anything like that. I me(blurred) _does a servant of Lathander get more sun? Does a servant or Tyr get more justice? So why should a servant of Sheelah Peryroyl -bless her name- get more romance? It's not like I'm lonely or anything.
((The ink in some parts of this diary entry have been smudged by drops of some kind of fluid))
I've been encamped by this bridge for what feels like years. It may have only been months, but every day is beginning to feel like its own eternity. Monotony, tedium, punctuated by episodes of the most brutal horror.
And whatever sleep I manage to get, the dreams I have are no better. I would say nightmares, but that would suggest my dreams scare me. I dream of fly blown, matted fur. I dream of gnashing, snapping fangs. I dream of howls and cackles. But its not of gnolls. I dream of my fur, my snap fangs, my howls.
My days are so full of death and hate. What happens when you become what you hate?
I went on a "scouting mission" out to the east. If Gnolls be in bed with demons then I felt it may make sense to attempt some kind of pact with the demons that currently infest Jyyd. I found no trace of gnolls, nor any tracks, but I am not exactly the best tracker. In truth though my self-issued "mission" was really an escape. I wanted to go back. Back to my veggie patch in Jyyd. Back to the old Legion hall. Back to the old bat cave where I used to shovel up guano for the flower bed. It feels like some kind of sick joke that I would be trying to cradle my feelings by returning to a place that is now a demon infested hell hole. Children used to laugh in this place. Now - shite.
I'm back at the bridge as I write this. Spirits are high. I think our frost giant allies do a lot to bolster morale. Sometimes I think it's good to know someone bigger than you has got your back. For me, I'm grateful that they're here. Some question their motives. Not me. And I'd be lying if I denied still being mesmerized by Jay's mustache.
_Beloved diary, (and I mean that)
Earlier I resolved never again to date a member of the tall folk races, taking into account the sorry mess I have found myself in in the past.
I have recently had to fortify my resolve on this matter. I won't get into a relationship with another man from amongst the tall folk, no matter how powerful his body is, or how formidable his sword is, or how mighty his mustache.
I will be strong._
Eights month of the fourteenth year.
I've doubted myself before, but never like this.
Was talking with Nilo today. He mentioned that a "copy" of me once clocked him on the back of the head with a sling stone.
I've heard that "Copy" senators were executed in the market place. When they died they turned to snow.
I used to be a senator. So I'm told.
Is it possible that I'm a copy? Am I made of snow like those things destroyed in the marketplace? I've been discussing the issue with members of the Cerulian Star - trying to find out if there's a way to spot a copy. I didn't let on that I worried about being a copy myself. They believe that a copy would remember being created, so if you questioned one at length eventually you would be able to discern if it were telling the truth or lying.
Thing is - I have a massive hole in my memory. Everything between The N'Jast war and me returning after going "missing" is just a black hole. Some things I remember, but as if it were a dream, or as if I'm simply remembering something that someone told me.
Surely I'm real! I remember the orphanage. I remember the war. It may all be a little foggy but_
The rest of the page is blank.
_Well, I’m alive.
For you who read this, I’m sorry for being so slack at making entries into this diary. It’s just that I loath to make an entry that would bore me if I were to read it.
I managed to shape into the form of a parrot and fly out of giant country without incident. But “without incident” pretty much describes my days since. From time to time I see a group of adventurers leaving on some quest, and returning with stories of great, world saving victory. It seems very obvious that they have no need of me in any of their exploits. The days when I was of use seem to have come and gone.
I’m a veteran of wars that nobody remembers, tending to gardens that nobody cares about.
I would have thought that this would make me sad or angry, but it doesn’t. I’m quite at peace. Every life goes through its seasons. If I am in my autumn then so be it. There is something to be loved in every season. I’ll be happy being a hero to lost cats and blades of grass. Better that than to mourn over glory days I’ll never relive._
this page is difficult to read. The ink runs as if the entry has been written in light rain.
It's been three days since I've slept or eaten. I have no sprig of holly, and can't build a shrine, so I can't pray to get magic from Sheela.
I'm up a tree.
Only my second entry in this diary and it looks as if it may be my last? Figures. To the one finding this diary I wish all blessings upon you. If my remains are still about I'd be thankful for them to be taken to a temple or grove to be resurrected. If not, then please tell anyone who knew me, if any of them be still alive, that I died carrying out my duty.
To explain how I ended up in this particular predicament - I ventured into Giant country up in the Giantspires to gather information about giant movements and numbers. There was talk about a possible war with the giants a while back and I thought it best to keep the Legion aware of any potential threats. I joined a skirmish between giants and Peltarch Defenders just before the beach. After the battle I spent my prepared cure spells healing the injured soldiers. Then with the help of nature's grace I managed to sneak past the manticores, giants and ogres toward the Giantspires.
I made it thorough the cave without being detected, and made it out the other end. The last time I was out this way there were rolling hills at the base of the mountainside. Now the area has been totally overtaken by a tangled forest. At first, apart from the hissing of steam rising out of a chasm, the forest seemed quiet. This terrified me. Generally I don't scare easily, but silence in a forest like this usually means that a dire predator is close by.
I pushed deeper into the forest, and came across an ogre patrol. By Sheela's grace they didn't spot me, but I knew that I was pushing my luck. I made my way back to the cave that passes below the hills to make my way back to Peltarch. That's when I spotted a lone direwolf hunting. I managed to evade it, but my heart was in my throat. The wolf was of a kind that I have encountered before. Their jaws are powerful, their teeth are cruel, and their thick skin easily deflects most weapons. As the magic that concealed me began to wear off, I encountered a dire bear in the company of an ogre armed with a stone greatsword. The bear lifted its snout into the air sniffing. I knew I had been made. I bolted as it galloped toward me. As I ran toward the cave I took a blow across my back from the Ogre's stone blade that almost ended me.
By luck or grace I managed to give them both the slip. They both charged into the cave searching for me, the bear following my previous scent. I remained in the forest. So now my only passage back toward Peltarch is being scoured by a hungry direbear keen to tear me asunder.
I dare not go into the cave with that bear in there. It will sniff me out for sure and in the cave I would have nowhere to run. So here I sit, hiding up a tree, waiting for my wound to heal. I would take the form of a bird and fly over the mountains, but with my wounded back and the rain I'm not sure if I would make it.
I'm downwind of the cave entrance. With any luck the bear will wander out, and I will be able to slip past it and head back to Peltarch. But luck hasn't exactly been with me lately. In fact, based on my current luck I am prompted to pray for my sins to be forgiven so that I may find a home on the plane of my goddess when I die. May her mercy be upon me. Amen.