We will have to tell Starlark of the danger we face eventually, but as yet he does not seem to care enough to know. It’s easier to keep someone from discovering secrets when they do not wish to hear them. Balthandar and I are on edge, which he must sense, but that very knowledge is what seems to drive him into ignorance.
What we wouldn’t give for a little less knowledge of the world around us tonight ourselves.
Today was not entirely fruitless, thankfully. Senida has begun to open herself up to us. Whatever happened to the Klotian power structure that ruled their society started near the top. We hadn’t explored the palace at length yet, but today we found ourselves in a house on the palace grounds that appears to have belonged to some sort of minister.
Every mirror in the house was broken. Most had been stabbed with knives.
The palace appeared to be free of such wanton destruction until we finally discovered the private chambers near its heart. Every mirror there was broken as well, with more than one blade still in place at their centers.
Whatever depopulated Senida must have happened at around the same time, for these people would not have left broken mirrors lying around in their own homes. Klotians are wildly superstitious people, and because they are wildly purist I assume the upper class here held more in common with Klotians than just their architecture. Why they would do this though, I cannot guess.
We also discovered a makeshift catacomb beneath the palace grounds. It appears it was originally built as dry storage with a massive wine cellar, but now it is filled with more bones than goods. This was the first actual sign of corpses we’ve found in the city this entire time. I don’t know why we paid so little attention to the palace until now, but we will spend more time there tomorrow.
It makes me wonder what else we’ve missed as we’ve explored. Perhaps we were so blinded by the fact that we were in an actual city that we could not see what was awry within it.
The images of all of those bones haunt me now, and knowing that the Makonga draws near… I see faces in the shadows all the time. My mind is playing tricks on me, and all I can hope is that the Lost Children of Senida are as bad as things will get here.
The boy Starlark shot two days ago found us in the palace grounds this morning. It was a shock to see him. He was followed by the man Balthandar had spoken to when we returned him home. We have seen no living souls within the confines of Senida until today. My first thought was that they were ghosts of some sort.
They were clothed differently today, as if they were living back in their homes in a city rather than hiding in the jungle. Their garments were loose, billowy, and very colorful. Each came to a tight cuff around the wrists and ankles with a little fringe shooting out the other end.
The man Balthandar had spoken with told us his name was Gorung, and the boy’s name just sounded like two wet clicks of the tongue, so we call him “ClickClick.” Gorung is a Klotian slave name however. He told us that he would help us however he could.
When we asked why, he simply asked if we had not come to help them. He pointed at the blue blade of the Tetrarch on my armor and said that the last man to wear the symbol in Senida had liberated the Nantese from their Klotian oppressors. He assumed that whoever followed would finish by saving them from the Lost Children.
I asked if he meant Salisir, to which he nodded and began to tell us all that had transpired.
Salisir came to Senida around fifteen years ago, after successfully curtailing the reach of Graylag’s bandit warlords. He brought with him a relic known to the people as the “Life of Graylag,” and said he was seeking another. This much is confirmed by my own notes from Graylag.
Gorung said Senida was the last civilized city in the Nanten Kingdom besides her capital, Matasten. Not until Salisir came and upended the cart, so to speak, did she come to the same fate as every other city within this fallen state. Oddly enough, he seemed to see that fate as a good thing.
It was while he was navigating Senida’s social circles and investigating her secrets that Salisir, according to Gorung, was overcome with compassion for her Nantese underclass.
I find it hard to believe that Salisir could learn to even pronounce “Compassion,” within a short five years let alone develop enough of a sense of it to act on behalf of the slaves of Senida. But I suppose Bolton began to change in a matter of weeks, and he was nearly as soulless to begin with as Salisir will always be. Thus it’s not entirely beyond belief.
In any case, Salisir was on the hunt for something so what follows next tracks better with that understanding in mind than one of fanciful altruism. Whatever it was that Salisir wanted was going to do something horrible to the Klotians in Senida, something that would make them go quite literally insane. I’m guessing some Mentalist relic. As his search continued he spent much of his time surreptitiously training the Nantese to fight, preparing them to rebel.
He also, apparently, began teaching the Nantese leadership how to operate a “just” society in preparation for the collapse of the corrupt one that ruled over them. They were treated little better than slaves, Gorung told us, and Salisir was going to change that.
Then one day word spread throughout the Nantese underclass that the time had come. Salisir had found what he was looking for and would unleash it on the Klotians that very day. Gorung said he was supposed to lead a group of fighting men into the palace grounds and ensure the royal family was dead. He said that by the time they got there, no one was still alive.
They had all killed each other, gone stark-raving mad and murdered everyone they could before they succumbed to their own wounds. Every Klotian district in the city was the same. Salisir instructed them to move the bodies to the palace grounds and burn them, but the Nantese are not the kind to burn their enemies. Instead they piled the corpses underground and threw lye upon them – an apparent insult in death for the Nantese.
Gorung said they left the Klotian districts empty ever since, and while the economy had evaporated with their former masters they were happy to be poor so long as they were free.
The last piece of freedom to attain, he said, was from the Lost Children. Now that the Makonga drew near, that opportunity was neigh. Starlark left upon hearing that, the blood drained entirely from his face. He was bound to find out eventually. Later he said he’d known all along, in his own way.
We asked where Salisir had gone, but Gorung didn’t know with certainty. Once the Klotians were unseated, Salisir had traveled north back into the Nanten. There was another relic that Salisir was after. Some third power he needed for his mission in the heart of the Nanten. They hadn’t questioned his departure. They were simply glad he had stopped to help.
Gorung said that Salisir died sometime after that, near the mighty Nanten River far to the north. It was a day they had spent in mourning as a community, to honor the man that had slain their oppressors in an afternoon.
I asked why Gorung kept his slave name if he relished his freedom so much. He said it was his way of claiming that which was evil and redeeming it for good. The power in the name, he said, was in the named, not the word itself. I couldn’t have agreed more.
I find it strange that they associate the blue blade of the Tetrarch with such incredible acts of justice, and what’s even more surprising is that Salisir is the person behind this. If for no other reason than the honor of the Tetrarch, I will stay and help these people.
As for Salisir, it feels as though I’m chasing a ghost. A ghost who at every turn evades its own demise so that I might only find it in another even more remote location than the last. Is he truly dead to the north of us? I certainly hope so, but no one seems to have believed he would make it even half as far as he did.
We must follow him north, but I see no way of escaping the Lost Children on our own if we are being hunted by the Makonga. Our fate, it would seem, is more closely tied to Senida than we originally thought.