Bolton truly is sicker than we thought. It is midday and he has yet to rise from the cot that was made for him. He shakes and sweats, but does not awake.
Bantish assures us the fever will pass but I am not so sure. He frequently burns some strange concoction of leaves and incense next to Bolton’s contorted form. To open his airways, Bantish says. To let in the healing.
The rest of us spend our time attending to our gear, much of it oiling our blades. I’m not sure if they truly need it, or the ritual has simply become one of the few links to lives we once led. A strange form of catharsis. It’s easy to pretend you’re anywhere you wish as you stare into shimmering steel.
Isn’t this exactly what I was craving when sleeping out in the wilderness only days before?
If nothing else we can get some sleep without keeping as stringent a watch, and that in itself is a blessing. Now if only we could get a decent meal.
I find myself fantasizing about food, especially as our flatbake runs desperately low. Idleness has given my stomach too great a voice. And beer. Gods I would kill for a stout or even one of Handel’s amber ales. I knew leaving civilization would be hard. I never knew it would be the hunger that would be the hardest.
Everywhere in the Old Empire there are taverns, inns. People have food. There is always somewhere to eat. Even on long treks into the mountains we only went without a hot meal for a week at most. We are discovering that here, in the Nanten, if you can’t scavenge or hunt you will starve.
To that end, Bantish has promised to begin teaching us the plant life of the area. What is edible and what is poisonous. I am able now to appreciate just how valuable such knowledge will be. Having found and befriended him will prove to be well worth our effort.
I feel reluctant to move on with our mission today. My exhaustion is lending great clout to the overwhelming nature of the undertaking. To find Brin Salisir in this jungle? We have barely crossed its borders and already we are shaken.
On the road to Blithe I was angry and fueled by it. I had notions of sweeping through this jungle, finding Salisir’s corpse, and then finishing his mission for him. I would return to the Tetrarch and reclaim my place. And all of this would be done within the year.
Now, as I pray for the slightest of breezes to pass me by, I am plagued by doubts. This jungle is dense. The creatures that inhabit it are lethal. The discovery of Imperial Mentalists carrying out experiments with Nantese Organists leaves me disturbed to no end. What else awaits within the Nanten?
We will not starve, and we will not die of thirst. I am growing certain of that. What I am not certain of is whether we will die of fever, poison, or blades in the night. What other monsters await us?
And then there is the strife between Bolton and Starlark. It is a morbid kindness to have a day’s relief from their bickering as Bolton lies ill. I must figure out a solution to their enmity before they solve it themselves.