Entry 197 – Day 321

Entry 197 – Day 321

Inifra says that she has sent for help. I’m unsure how she did so, but she seems to have called for aid through the river itself. The tasks before us call for greater preparedness, she said. When she speaks, I find that I hear only flat words from a distant place. Presumptuous. She seems to have taken the mantle she wears too seriously without having received the necessary humility.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. I couldn’t help but think like this today as we packed up and left the fishing village on the banks of the lower Nanten River. We left instructions with the people in case my companions arrive after we have gone. They are ingratiated to Inifra after she discovered the root of the illness that befell them.

The gourds they used to carry water had begun to rot, though in a way none of them had ever seen before. The rot was subtle but, introduced through their drinking water, it was causing the children and elderly to fall severely ill. A few days of clean drinking seemed to clear up most issues.

How does she do that? Everywhere she goes, Inifra unearths something to fix. She reaches out and lives are saved. Even mine. She saved me from the KoraKora months ago when they would have overcome us at the height of my own fever. She saved me again from the depths of the Nanten River. She is something altogether separate from the rest of us in ways both good and bad. How much of her humanity is left to her? Though that is all I see on the surface, beneath I know there lives a Dread God for which I should have a base fear.

Entry-197-Quote unnecessary

The stiffness has yet to leave my bones from the impact, both the explosion and the final contact with the water below. My shoulder has mostly healed from the wound inflicted by the Chief of the KoraKora’s blade. My armor and Kinesthetic training proved ample to keep me alive, and Inifra’s ministrations did the rest. Still, I feel sluggish. Sore. I can’t remember the moment that the bridge exploded. Not really.

Salisir wanted to leave first thing in the morning but I couldn’t handle that. Whether I needed the extra rest, or simply wanted to spite the old man, I don’t know. Realizing that my friends might not have much time was what finally moved me to action, to agree that we should leave the river’s edge, but I took my time in packing. Still, even as we marched mere feet apart, I managed to speak less than a complete sentence to him all day. I simply don’t know what to say and am too angry to risk it. The bastard has the gall to treat me with a similar level of disinterest.

How can I arrive here, deep in the heart of the Nanten, and he doesn’t ask me even the most basic of questions? I would find it difficult to answer in any case, but his lack of curiosity infuriates me even more. Am I so inconsequential? Are the lives of my friends only worth what he thinks they offer as cogs in his wheel?

Gods, how have I become so petty?

Inifra has stopped trying to convince me to join him. Perhaps I truly am unnecessary here. How could I have been such a fool to have cast my heart so heedlessly at the feet of this woman? I look back on the past seven months and see everything streaked with grief. The open pit within me craved filling. I killed Lystra, my greatest passion. Then I discovered that Naline, the only woman who ever deserved my love, died just before my exile.

No wonder I have been so reckless. The realization slackens the sails of my soul yet further.

We successfully found our way back to the Broken Circle with little difficulty today. What I found most disturbing was how quickly we came to the trailhead at its edge. It was not far, nor was the path difficult. My companions should have found us by now.

We arrived at nightfall, so will have to investigate further tomorrow. Still, the distance couldn’t have been greater than twelve miles. Where are they?

Entry-197---Map-of-the-Nanten

Share on Pinterest
Entry 198 – Day 322

Entry 198 – Day 322

There are signs of struggle everywhere. The morning light revealed gashes in the trees and large rocks overturned. Broken ferns lay scattered all around the area south of the trail across the Broken Circle. Whatever happened here was messy, and carries on further south from the trailhead.

The gashes appear from a mix of sources but, if I were to guess, many looked like the result of Whips of the Wind. Dionus left his mark, and there is plenty of blood to prove it. But there are no bodies. I did find Balthandar’s Klotian blade, the one I promised Timber I would teach her to use. So far it’s the strongest physical evidence that my companions were involved.

Entry-198-Quote-Evidence

Salisir is making his own final sweep of the area before we move south. He was looking for something. I finally asked what, and all he said was, “Evidence.”

Obtuse, stubborn, spiteful old man.

We need to move. If this blood belonged to any of my friends, their time was short when this happened. We have been separated too long already.

Salisir did finally ask me a question, although it was about the key I wear around my neck. To be honest, I had forgotten it and I found it odd that he would even notice. I explained how we had saved Bantish’s village from a group of Mentalists in the early days of our arrival in the Nanten. I told him I wear the key we found on one of them next to the turtle gem I received from Inifra’s people. Together they serve as reminders of the dual nature of this place.

You never know what you will find in the Nanten, treachery or kindness.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 199 – Day 323

Entry 199 – Day 323

Woads. Gods help us, but there are Woads in this jungle.

The ascent of all Demons is precluded by any number of signs. The combination is never the same twice, but some are more common than others. Woads are so common to history that I can barely write the word and contain the fear that threatens to overcome me. I am shaking.

Salisir found one this afternoon. All he said was “This was what I was looking for.” Then he held back a massive leaf so I could see its broken body. There was another ten feet away.

Entry-199-Woads-in-the-Nanten

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me unless I could show you.” Salisir stood silently with me for some time before he began to speak at length. “I’d heard of the furry bastards, Tetrarch always talked about ‘em, but I’d never thought to see one myself. ‘Till I came here. They aren’t common, but they react to magic like sharks to blood when magic is in use. I’ve seen them more this year than ever before.”

Inifra didn’t understand why it disturbed us so. To her they looked like nothing special, perhaps black jungle cats, with stunted tails and no neck of which to speak. Shadow Cats, they’re called in the Old Empire. The ancients called them Woads.

I had to explain. Woads are a remnant of the ancient forces of the Relequim – the Greater Demon – the monster who tried to ruin the world before the Golden Era. When he failed, he left nine Lesser Demons to follow in his footsteps. When he twisted his monsters to make his armies, he gave them a hunger for magic. It was his way of unleashing them on his magic-wielding enemies: the Ancients.

In the years that followed the Relequim’s defeat, his vile pets were hunted down and exterminated. But not all of them could be found.

Entry-199-Quote-Woads

Woads are infamous within the Tetrarch because they are the first to respond to strong Daedric activity. When the ascension of a Demon is near, they begin to breed. Thus we are taught from an early age what they look like and how to kill them. They are one of the signs for which we are ever watching. Still, none of us ever truly believes the vigilance necessary.

Now I’ve seen them with my own eyes. Salisir says there’s a Daedric society at the heart of the Nanten. More, there’s a Daedric Prince. The Woads, he said, were the proof he wanted to find before he told me.

They stink. Their bodies are tightly-packed, nothing but stringy meat and sinew. Over their jet-black skin is patchy, short black fur. Their legs are longer than their bodies. Even in death, they coil as if ready to pounce, yellow teeth frozen in a jagged grimace. Gods but they’re ugly.

If there are monsters like this in the jungles of the Nanten, then the use of magic will only draw them to us. I am again grateful for the discipline of masking my ability. I hope Inifra can match me in hiding her own. These things will hunt down and kill anything they sense drawing power. Has Dionus figured this out? I have yet to feel his touch on the Atmosphere. I can only hope that he has not sealed his fate simply by defending himself.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 200 – Day 324

Entry 200 – Day 324

If there are Woads in the jungle, we are facing darker times than I had imagined. The fact that they hunted my friends leaves me on edge.

Knowing that Salisir’s exile was a thinly-veiled death sentence, I never thought to take his own false mission seriously in my exile. My sense of duty was as far as it ever went. I was sent to find him and discover if there was a Daedric society in the Nanten. In knowing that this was a pretext for my own death, I never stopped to truly consider it as a real possibility. It was my drive, it was my duty, but that was it. It was hollow. I fully expected to confirm there was no Daedric presence in the Nanten and then I would make for home.

The ramifications of this are severe. My entire outlook upon the Nanten and my presence within it has changed.

Entry-200-Quote-Daedric Prince

Salisir claims that the society in Matasten is fully formed. Something that has only happened once before, to my knowledge. The last time a Daedric society matured, the world nearly came to its end. The Prince of Flames – what a horrific legend he became.

A Daedric society goes through any number of stages as it grows, but its ultimate aim is to establish itself as a nation. Klotia is infamous for its willingness to allow Daedric societies to form within its borders, but somehow no one society is ever permitted to mature. No one knows how the Klotians keep the Daedra from taking over, but so far they have proven quite capable.

Without boundaries set for them, however, the Daedra have a clear goal to create their own nation-state. Disrupting a smaller society is as simple as killing its priests and destroying its Slicks. Not that this is easy, but it is something the Tetrarch excels at. Even the Chaplaincy can handle individual Slicks without great difficulty. But once a society unites from multiple Slicks, the leadership decentralizes.

Eventually, if it grows large enough, the society becomes an organism with too many heads to cut off quickly enough to kill it. Then, when it has grown to strength, it produces either a Daemon or a Prince to lead it. In the Old Empire, Daedric societies rarely last long enough to develop. Their members remain unskilled warriors, their leaders never master any Expressions. Their activities, driven underground, are stunted from the beginning.

But in a place like the Nanten, a failed state where there is no established authority to suppress their development… as long as they could defend themselves from the Nantese, there would be nothing to stop them.

Angel’s Tears. Salisir says they have a Prince already. What’s to stop them from forming Daemons, even as I write this? And who knows how close to an Ascension we could be…

Loath as I am to ask, I need to know more about Salisir’s plan. But first we have to find my friends.

Entry 200 Daedric Prince

Share on Pinterest
Entry 201 – Day 325

Entry 201 – Day 325

We found Dionus hanging from a tree. Thank gods he was alive. Timber was nearby, hiding with Balthandar under the exposed roots of one of the Nanten’s gigantic trees. They quickly came to the realization that it was Dionus that drew the monsters to them. Balthandar found that the Woads would ignore him and Timber if they distanced themselves enough.

Since the Woads could climb the trees, the only safe option for Dionus was to loop some long vines into a loose cradle and dangle from the canopy. The Woads hadn’t reappeared in two days, but Dionus didn’t want to risk drawing more to them. So he waited in utter silence for three days.

I am simply grateful they are alive.

Their initial progress down the face of the cliffs was treacherous, putting them a day behind from the start. The real problems began when they reached the Broken Circle. The massive, armored spiders there were even larger than those that attacked Inifra and me. And unlike those that attacked us, they didn’t stop their advance at the edge of the jungle. The carnage we saw at the trailhead was the result of their persistence. Dionus said their armor was so thick he could barely cut into them.

The only thing that caused the spiders to retreat had been the sudden appearance of the Woads. Balthandar said the Woads wouldn’t have been able to do much damage to the spiders, but they backed down anyways. The pecking order among monsters doesn’t always make sense.

My friends have been doing their best to hide for a week. They are shaken and weak, all of them. We immediately gave them what food we had.

The Woads have yet to make an appearance for us. Salisir claims that they rove the jungle in a broad, arcing pattern. They may already be too far away to sense the use of magic. He said there was a good chance we would not see them again for some time, yet I cannot lower my guard so quickly. It’s easy for someone like him to hide behind men like Dionus and me.

After they had eaten, Dionus asked Salisir a few questions. My friend may have been tired, but he retained his wits. He wanted to know how Salisir planned to unite the Nantese to overthrow the Daedra in Matasten. We all did.

Salisir explained his plan in simple terms. “The Great Recess has fractured into many groups, all of whom have fallen to fighting amongst themselves. Still, they recognize to varying degrees that the powers in Matasten pose the greater threat. They are withheld only by their fear of each other, and the deficit in power of their own. I have things they need, and when the time is right I believe I can unite them to overthrow the Prince sitting on the Oaken Throne.”

What Salisir has that the Nantese need, he will not say. He continues to imply that without his diplomatic intervention, the different factions will never find peace among themselves. The only interventions I could imagine him administering involved a bloodied club.

We will give my companions another day or two to rest. Then Salisir says he wants to continue south. The wave rises to crash against the shore. The time to act has come.

Entry-201-Quote-companions

I’m not so sure I want to be swept up into his schemes. But then, where would I even begin to approach the society I am now certain exists within the Nanten? Salisir does indeed have a plan, something he has been working on for years. He seems familiar with everything that surrounds us, and I know nothing of this place.

I will hold my own counsel with Dionus and Balthandar. We will decide this together.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 202 – Day 326

Entry 202 – Day 326

Salisir says there are three nations that exist within the Great Recess who stand against the Daedric society in Matasten. The problem is that they also stand against each other, each vying to place their scrawny seat upon the Oaken Throne.

Over the past ten years, he has worked tirelessly to unite them. With the right promises, and the right weapons, he is certain he can bring them together to overthrow the would-be Arbor King. The time is ripe, and apparently we are now weapons to be added to the arsenal.

Motasta lies directly south of Matasten, a month’s march from where we found Dionus dangling from the trees. It is controlled by the Sondu, the family directly descended from the Arbor King. They are rigid people, proud, and though Salisir says they are open to reason they sound difficult to me.

Beyond Motasta, in the northeastern reach of the Great Recess, lies the city of Yatusu. Yatusu is the strongest of the three nations, according to Salisir. Its leadership is not of noble lineage, but rather rises by merit. The ruler of Yatusu is a warrior by the name of Oroun. Salisir speaks of him with great respect and says that he is a wise leader of great capacity.

Finally, to the east between the other two, are the Batsu. The Batsu inhabit no city, though their name comes from what was formerly the principal trade city of the region. They are guerrilla warriors, scavengers. Salisir says that if anyone were to survive in this jungle, regardless of the turning of events, the Batsu would be best equipped. Their leader, a woman called Nienatara, will be the most difficult to draw into this war he has planned.

Entry-202-Quote-Rule

Each of them wants peace, Salisir claims, but they all want something more as well: to rule from the Oaken Throne. Inifra said that three trees cannot stand on the same roots, to which Salisir said there were solutions to every problem. Mysterious thoughts wrapped in vague words.

Inifra pressed him for more, but he deflected and moved on. Even if I knew the full extent of Salisir’s plan, who he intends to put on the throne and who he will betray, it wouldn’t change my position. What concerns me is not the politics of the Nanten, but the Daedra at its heart.

I spoke with Dionus and Balthandar privately after Salisir laid out his plans to visit the leaders of these nations and unite them for war, a blaze he seems to think is only months from igniting. Balthandar said we were no orchestrators of war, but Dionus pointed out that we were not called to be conductors. Here, he said, we are but the instruments that play the tune.

Salisir. I begrudge him much, but what choice do we have? I told them that I am bound by my duty to end this Daedric threat. There is no finding help from home. There is no one else here who shares my duty as clearly as Salisir – and certainly there is no one better positioned to help us achieve it.

Gods help me, but I actually argued that we help Salisir.

None of us is particularly happy with the arrangement, but just because we commit ourselves to helping Salisir does not mean we blind ourselves to his schemes. We will keep our eyes open, and we will be ready for whatever plot he hides from us.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 203 – Day 327

Entry 203 – Day 327

I changed my mind in the night: we will let Salisir go his way and do what he must. I need to take no part in his games.

We packed first thing in the morning and made for the center of the jungle. For Matasten. My only reluctance came in leaving Timber behind. I promised to teach her how to use that Klotian blade Balthandar gave her. I hope one day I can.

Entry-203-Quote-Ironic

Salisir tried to tell us we were throwing our lives away. Ironic. Coming from a man who so completely abandoned his own calling.

I want to see this society with my own eyes. I have to know it’s real.

Inifra asked me not to leave, but what place do I have with her? She sees me as an ally. A soldier. I will never be a soldier again. I give my own commands from here.

Share on Pinterest