To my great joy, Starlark has returned to us. I can barely believe it has happened, and while my happiness is tempered by his state of health and mind I am glad to have him back.
For his physical health, he bears a number of cuts and bruises along his body that prove he faced the same trials and horrors of the Akari Grasslands as Balthandar and I. His ankles in particular are in poor shape, I assume from the rodents in the tall grasses, but he is still able to walk without great difficulty.
Still, he refuses to speak of his journey back to us. In fact he physically shies away from most of our questions as though afraid we might strike him. Apparently the recollection alone causes him physical pain. We have managed to gather a few details over the course of the day, but most of his experience remains a mystery to us.
It seems he was forced to hide in the jungle for the better part of a week in order to avoid what we assume was the KoraKora. How he left the Deadwood and where exactly he came out, we do not know. He said at one point that he was hunted, followed, and continually checks behind him as if he is still being sought. Even as we walked through the empty streets of Senida, he would hide behind corners and slowly peek around them towards the direction from which we had just come.
He seems paranoid well beyond reason.
When we offered him Mortuga meat he seemed shocked. He asked us where we had found meat, and we explained that it came from the monsters on the plains beyond the golden waves. He looked blankly at us for so long that Balthandar finally asked him what was wrong. Starlark simply said he had seen no such creatures after crossing the blood river.
We asked about the giant worms, the hawks, the wraiths. He didn’t answer any of our questions, but remained silent until we let him be and resumed our cooking.
Something in Starlark is broken. He is exhausted, afraid, but in ways that I have never seen him before.
We found him early in the day and stopped asking questions shortly after as it proved futile. We simply tried to help him feel safer. He certainly has calmed down, though it seemed to take him most of the day just to believe he had truly found us again. Even after returning to our rooftop sanctuary, sitting with him and eating a meal, I still don’t fully believe it myself.
I hope we can get more answers out of him, even if Senida refuses to give us hers.