The Drylands (Pathfinder)
The Memoirs of Zabirel of Farasee
2nd Entry – 23rd of Mist
3rd Entry – 3rd of Shadow
4th Entry – 10th of Shadow
5th Entry – 26th of Shadow
6th Entry – 17th of Kindling
7th Entry – 17th of Fire
8th Entry – 18th of Fire
9th Entry – 19th of Fire
10th Entry – 28th of Fire
11th Entry – 6th of Lightning
12th Entry – 6th of Dimming
The ceremony was beautiful despite my father’s presence as he presided over it. I will miss my master greatly and will strive to remember everything he taught me. I don’t think I will ever understand or respect my father, he has such a tiny mind at times, particularly when it comes to faith.
I’ve decided to leave for good this time and find my own place in the world. My own people attacking us was the final branch that broke the beetle’s back as they say. I’m going to leave tomorrow morning before the sun rises, Mimsy will be awake but father won’t be and that suits me right down to the ground.
The trek through the swamps put my nerves on edge as I was trying to be aware of any further attacks. I dressed down in clothing made by Mimsy to help me blend in, keeping my city attire safe in a waterproof sack. I was a wreck by the time I reached the coastal village of Aazel, having only slept a few hours each night with each sound starting me awake.
Aazel has a lot of potential but it’s still in the early growth phase where it’s still far too backwoods for me. I mean, haven’t they heard of offering guests hot water for bathing? I try not to dally too long here as it’s too much of a mix with of backwoods people. You get one of two looks for acting different, odd or dirty and neither sit well with me.
It takes me a day to arrange for a ship to Mog Port which makes me overjoyed as sailors love to gamble which always fills up my hours. Of course, I have to watch myself as word of me will soon start getting around and I won’t even be able to find a dinghy to take me across a pond.
A storm put us a little behind in getting to Mog Port but nothing these old salt dogs couldn’t handle.
That first view of Mog Port always fills me with an expectant feeling that gives me goose bumps. Now if only we can teach these overgrown frogs to name themselves appropriately. More than half my time here is usually spent trying to find one Mog named like a hundred others.
I’ve decided to start my adventure at the Inn my master and I stayed at every time we’ve come to Mog Port. My choice seems to be a fruitful one as Luck once again smiles down on me. An employment opportunity across town in a beginning business endeavour out in the Greenward. A less desirable place to be sure but it intrigues me and I traipse across town to find out more.
The two in charge, some bug with too many consonants and a Tamer Mogogol are doing the interviews. I was not impressed with the pair nor the fine print of the contract they showed me but it made my hands itch at the possibilities of trade. Since there is nothing else on my plate and they’re paying, I’m going to look into it more.
I feel a little like the strange bullets my mother uses sometimes made from the rubber tree that return after being shot. I find myself once more back in Aazel after another boat ride, at least it was a different ship so a fresh crew to work over. I’ve been trying to get this card game I made growing up popular among the seafaring people but it’s slow going.
Welcome back to Aazel, where the mold grows deep in the corners and optional bathing is a popular lifestyle choice. As evidenced by the grippli we find in a warehouse in the village. By his speech, I can tell he’s a DEEP inlander, from one of those tribes that resemble the Monkey Killer Tree (too much trunk, not enough branches of the gene pool if you catch my drift). Even I’m having problems understanding his speech when he gets excited. There was a musician who came through a few years ago in my village who spoke that exact same way except he had wonky eyes, you know the kind, one eye looking at ya and the other looking for you.
Poor dear is a refugee from the sounds of it, at least I think that’s what he’s saying. Something about his settlement being attacked by Bugs. Now I’m not what you might call a very patriotic person but I’ve always had a disliking of the Bugs. I think it’s the way their faces don’t show very much, mostly because they don’t have proper faces. Makes my skin crawl and I feel for the guy, so I decide to help him. The fact that his village might have items of an arcane nature doesn’t factor into it at all,…not one bit.
I called it! I so called it! We are so deep in the wet, slimy, humid, foetid, hot, overgrown, wet, swampy woods that I’m sure it will take a miracle for us to see civilization again. This guy came from the precise middle of Nowhere is what I’m trying to say but we found the remains of the village he was so choked up about.
This village that was destroyed MANY years ago I might add. He and his family lived apart as some kind of defense post but I’m talking YEARS that this place was attacked, and he’s still upset over it. I. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT.
But we found the damnable place and found some Bugs still there as well. After a little fracas with the overgrown arthropods, we routed them with no small effort on my part I may add. I may not like my father but I do enjoy the poisonous skin his side of the family gave me. Even if it wasn’t quite as effective as I would have liked.
I was tickled to see Mimsy there which is probably the only reason I joined the fight. I still don’t know these people very well and I have no reason to get hurt for them. But seeing Mimsy was a treat, she even gave me an..ahem…action toy..I had growing up that she found after I left. I thought I had lost Mr Bizzel for good.
After discovering the cache of arcane items belonging to the village, we made for the nearest coast which is apparently only two days away. Frag me for not knowing my geography very well.
I am unable to articulate exactly how much I loathe the desert. If it’s not the wind, then it’s the heat. If it’s not the heat, then it’s the sand and the sand, for dren’s sake! It gets EVERYWHERE, and I mean…EVERYWHERE. I feel as though someone has rolled me in sugar and forgot to wash it off. At night, when we camp, it’s much like sleeping on an exfoliator. I’ve gone through three skins since we arrived in this accursed desert, I swear.
Much to some other’s surprise but not really surprising me, we meet resistance to the Farm project at New Mound. I don’t recall seeing anywhere that the Bugs ruled the world but they sure do act like it. They are so forcefully protecting the Greenward that they give us veiled threats if we go there. I wonder if they’re hiding something there.
The HBIC and Togel (i’ve decided to name the Mog in charge, whether he goes along with it or not) have become interested in a..i’m not sure what the word means..one of those pinkish creatures with the bulbous noses and hideous ears. I’ve never been able to pronounce the word for them correctly and as Mimsy always says, if you don’t want another lump then stop calling your sister that. We found the..person..well enough. She’s a character that’s for sure and is sure to liven things up which is what this little get together really needs, someone with a sense of humour.
Her name is Sooooruh, or something similar and she’s just full of spit and vinegar. I like her even if she does look funny with all that hair (it makes my skin crawl to look at it).
I really am getting eager to get to the supposed Farm site.
As I write this near the campfire with the Skylights moving lazily across the heavens, I can’t help but wonder if this is punishment from my Good Lady Luck. Why has she turned from me in my hour of need?
I readily perceived at the start of this journey that my soon to be “employers” were not that bright or experienced with mercantile ways. I never suspected that their shortsightedness would extend to the actual journey to the supposed farm site.
After leaving the forsaken desert of the bugs behind, we made our way to the hills of the Rainwalls to begin our trek over them to the Greenward beyond. There was no mention made of actually traveling UNDER the mountains in the tunnels. At least none that I heard or probably cared to listen to, I can’t stand the caterwauling the bugs make and call speech. It sets my earholes on edge.
We arrived at one tunnel entrance where it became clear rather quickly that this was not the usual path the Bug and Togel take to get to the Greenward. It was locked and magically locked at that. The others tinkered with it trying to get it to open before I succumbed to an burning curiosity if my lockpicking skills which had lain dormant for a while now might still come as easily. They. Did. Not. Something I was going to have to rectify right away.
After finally getting the door open, I brought up a question as to why we were taking this particular path to the Greenward. A virtual unknown as far as stability and danger. The Bug and Togel informed me this was the closest tunnel they knew so I asked them, rather nicely and urbanely I thought given my rising ire, where the tunnel was they normally took. They said a few days farther south, to which I asked, why we don’t just travel a few days farther south. I mean its not like all the animals were going to be gone from the greenward, would they?
So we set off for that tunnel and arrived in timely fashion and proceeded on our way to the site. A slight hiccup on the way as we ran into more bugs doing something “constructive” in the tunnel but a quick response on my part got us through. I must apologize to Arc at some point for having to be rude there, no matter the situation rudeness must always be accounted for, unless a bug is involved. Yes, she may be a bug but at least she looks more like a person than the other bugs.
I can see the bright colors of the sky out the window as I write this, sitting near enough to the small fire to warm myself comfortably. My experience so far in this new venue, I refuse to call it home yet or even anything really, has been both good and bad but mostly fraught with mystery.
The “Farm” as I’m sure it will be, given a few years time is really nothing more than ruins set at the bend of a river in the Greenward. After making it through the mountain tunnel, we were informed that the Bug and Togel had the capability to grant us a small charm to protect us for a VERY short time from the prevalent mists that exist here. They are apparently enchanted to cause madness or something similar.
The Bug and Togel left to go converse with their Faerie Godmother while leaving us to explore the local environs. A stranger layout I’ve never seen and am having difficulty trying to ascertain what this place was used for exactly. The Dome was the most obvious start to our exploration, it rises above everything else. It’s construction could be pretty, if it weren’t so odd. Two circling sets of steps rise to the apex, where a hole is located. The entire structure is huge in comparison to everything else I’ve seen, not made by bug saliva and effluence.
After we climbed to the top and looked down into the dome, the other Bug, Aklethorp or whatever decided to stomp to see what happened to the noise we had heard inside. Of course, bugs flew out. I’m going to have to invest in some repellant and strong stuff at that. Fire Beetles they said, which began attacking, which is natural given we just disturbed them. If someone kicked my bed, I’d be angry too. Since the bugs weren’t discriminating about who they were attacking, I decided to help…a little. Being the only person who doesn’t resort to magic means I didn’t have to do very much and they were quickly dispatched minus one for breeding (I won’t bring up the impossible math there just yet).
After that short bit of exercise, they decided to enter the dome to explore it further. That Bug and I are not going to become friends any time soon if he continues to shoot off like an arrow on fire after everything he deems a target. Which is precisely what happened with the rat’s nest located inside the dome.
They all followed naturally, overcome by a Sheep Charm it seems. I watched carefully from the rear and approached in my own time. They really do create spectacular visual effects during a fight. It was interesting to note how much the Bug’s Spirit Guide succumbed to a swarm of things (i’ll keep that in mind). I didn’t want them to think I didn’t care about the outcome of the fight so I gave the swarm a few good swipes (Fortune! I’m out of practice). After they dispatched them, we took to exploring the interior while some others slept.
I saw the cages covered by canvas and I REALLY hoped they weren’t the cages mentioned in the contract but they were. My Lady seems to be testing me and my patience.
The cages were barely adequate and while looking around, I noticed a nook in the wall stuffed full of plaques with older writing on them. “Rakklethorn” is a name i’ve heard of before, but can’t quite place right off hand.
There was some commotion earlier when Togel brought in the other Bug who was wounded. They were attacked by Moldfolk while visiting their Faerie Godmother. Serves them right.
I seized the opportunity to discuss my signing of the contract with the noticeably inferior minded partner, Togel. I convinced him that doing it now and getting it out of the way will clear up a lot of misunderstandings and we shouldn’t really bother the Bug about any of it because I’m sure he could approve any minor changes I may want to make. I even managed to say it all with a perfectly straight face. The key is to show sympathy, make yourself accessible using body language to put them at ease and remember to place a hand on their shoulder or arm as you’re talking to denote a sense of privacy and intimacy. Works almost every time.
After a day like today, I needed a rest and a well deserved one. So I set up my bed in a place I could have a view of the entry to the dome. Rakklethorn, Rakklethorn…hmmm.
After a night of tossing and turning and not getting enough sleep due to a possibly enchanted root that kept moving on me, I awoke to the others planning on exploring the rest of the “farm” today.
We started at the remains of a structure near the dome where Sooo-Ruh and the Bug dealt with a badger situation. As in it was living there so they had to relocate it, which the Bug did just fine. When I want to settle down and become a farmer, he’ll be handy to have around to dig the furrows.
For some odd reason, Sooo-Ruh went fugue state and sat staring at a flower while Chirkel became cataleptic, a condition that needs to be discussed. We left them behind while continuing to explore the rest of the land. We started out north where the canals begin at the river. There’s a gate house there, of course surrounded by the creepy feeling associated with structures that are left uninhabited for a long time.
I, of course, was not going to go in there until we knew what was there. The Bug did a magic thing and floated a light around displaying the interior, and didn’t show anything strange. I always forget to look at the ceilings of things, being a short creature, I never have to look up at anything so when we entered, we saw the spidery cocoons on the ceiling.
The Bug messed with a few and I poked at one as well. Unfortunately, mine had a giant rat in it. The others called it a ferret but a rodent’s a rodent as far as I’m concerned. It developed a rather unhealthy attachment to me right away. I tried ignoring it while we messed around with the crank for the watergate, which took FOREVER to get it to move. But together we managed it, letting the water flow through and down the canal. It was calming to watch it flow before we remembered that the canals on the south side were collapsed and would flood the place so we had to close the gate again.
(you know, this place does have possibilities though I’d appreciate it more if I knew why it was built and for what purpose. I don’t think Togel and the Bug are telling us everything.)
After we left the gate house, I had the sudden sensation of something BIG right behind me. As mimsy always says, never look just run. So ran I did as something big chased after me, the others told me it was a giant ferret but I didn’t care. I ended up curled in a ball in the dirt still not looking as I heard a voice, proclaiming it the ferret god or some dren like that and saying that I had to look out for the rodent that keeps following me. Ugh, it’s just so. hairy.
We kept up the exploring traveling south along the canal to the next ruined tower. There had been scavengers of course, which is to be expected though I had always heard the Greenward was mostly unpopulated except for the Fae. I’m glad I brought those books along so I can keep reading about them.
It was actually a rather nice day and if the environs were a little more cultivated, we could probably enjoy a nice picnic by the canal. We made our way around the perimeter of the land following the canal and investigating the ruins as we found them. The pond at the corner was filled with water and some fish, so that’s dinner taken care of.
The last tower was still mostly intact so of course the Bug upset some other bugs inside. Crickets, of all things. Naturally while the others rushed right in, I took my time. I’ve never known a reason to rush blindly into fights, it’s poor strategy and suggests a less than stable mind.
I did manage to get in a few hits and thought I lost my dagger when the bug I hit ran off with it inside. But it dropped it not that far away. After that debacle and discovering some deliciously crispy crickets, we continued looking through the tower. The stairs came to a platform beneath a hole in the ceiling leading up to the topmost chamber. I decided to climb up to it from the outside since the Bug was horribly inept at trying to jump up to the ledge. The chamber was mostly empty, there were a few places around the hole which denoted a structure that once existed over the hole. Most likely some sort of winch system to raise things up. I found a loose stone and behind that an interesting trinket. I hid it for now, so I could investigate it later.
I recognized immediately the use of the tower as a great camp site as long as I can use some of that canvas from the cages for curtains, it would be a great shelter until a more permanent one could be built.
While glancing out the window over the grounds, I noticed a slight depression near the base of the house that had the badger. So we headed there and the Bug did what bugs do best, dig. It reminds me of a neighbor growing up who had a pet giant pillbug. The thing was constantly digging up our small garden.
It unearthed a ramp leading underneath the house which led to a wall with a stone door and a face on it. I definitely wasn’t going to touch that and a cursory examination of the two locks proved my thoughts. I don’t want to touch anything that’s magic so I stepped back and up the ramp so the Bug and Zipcord could mess with it. It. Was. Hilarious. The Bug conjured up a rat and threw it at the door, it bounced right off and hit Zipper in the face. After that debacle, it tried again and the door responded by breathing fire. I enjoyed the sun on my skin and watched a butterfly on a flower nearby while it exploded beneath.
After it cleared up, the suggestion was made to unearth more of the basement to see if there were other clues. A plaque was revealed which stated something about an Experiment. Togel and the Bug have a lot to answer for.
We made our way back to the dome to speak with them and they told us their sordid history with the Rakklethorn Company, the original owners of this place. How they stopped them from hurting the lady and she in turn protected them. It sounds like one of the “Midday Plays” you’d see late at night in Mog Port, rife with internecine strife and betrayal. I love those.
After that little reveal, I made my way back to the tower with the canvas to set up a new home and made myself comfortable. The shifting colors of the sky always make me drowsy, like they do now. Good night, little journal. Maybe in the morning, this accursed furry rodent on my lap will have run away.
Civilization! At last!
I never expected to have to deal with so much dren directly upon arriving at the Farm. Between having to clear out the creepums that inhabited the various places, dealing with a lot of misinformation from the Bug and Togel, and having a leader whose only goal it seems is to engage every thing we run across in a fight without a plan, I am completely exhausted.
We still don’t have a proper “home base” at the farm but hopefully I can arrange for a lot of home comforts here at Rock Mound. I’m glad I made a list while we were in the tunnels of everything we may need that doesn’t require weird hand gestures or bat dren to use. It occurred to me at that magical house that I seem to be the only person here who doesn’t rely on some magical ability to get by. I’d seen the stage mummers of course, perform their tricks for the crowds in Mog Port but have never really had any of the mystics in my close circle before. I know why now, of course. It is strange that the Bug and Togel didn’t try to hire at least some general muscle right off the start. I know of at least 4 mercs in the Port with nothing better to do than sit around and polish their swords (ahem).
It has grown increasingly obvious that we need better leadership, someone who doesn’t rely upon magic would be greatly helpful. I would volunteer myself out of necessity if it wouldn’t give me age spots before my time, I wonder if Chirkel would want to, though he’s shown himself to be wholly unstable.
I fear this whole project is doomed from the start before we are even able to get it off the ground if only due to poor employment practices.
I need to figure out how much it will cost to get those mercs here, and make sure we get more than our fair share of the profits for the things we collected in the Greenward. Now if I could just find a nice inn with hot mud baths, I’d be the happiest I’ve been since I left the Port.
Also, the rodent has for some reason stayed around and proven himself useful in any number of ways. Typical of mammals isn’t it, so insidious in the way they insinuate themselves into your life.
Note to self: get a magical lantern for the gnome so she stops blinding me with light in the darkness. How those round, pink things survived is beyond me.
I think if the last week has confirmed anything for me, it will be my undying dislike of the bugs, the desert they live in and their unreasonable superiority complex. One of the only good things that came out of the visit to Rock Mound was my chance to stretch my mercantile acumen. I procured some of the necessities we require to live at the farm, such as foodstuffs, lanterns, oil, and two pavilion tents for us to stay in until we get something more solid. I’ll take one tent, everyone else can have the other (at a discounted rate, of course), Pinagel’s 20th Rule – Never place friendship above profit.
After the showdown with that horrible little insect in the mound and I realized that they could probably learn how the symbol to get into the greenward, I suggested a forced march back home. The Ganome and Arc will drive the train in the daytime and Ik and I will do it at night since we can see in the dark. I’ve only had to do this once before with Pinagel, a slight misunderstanding regarding some of his rules is all it was, but business is business is business after all.
I wonder if I can return to Narafee territory if I let them know he’s dead, attempt a reconciliation as it were. They had that lovely copse of trees that can produce living steel. Pinagel himself would be ashamed if I didn’t at least try, after all his 36th law says, “You can always buy back a lost reputation”.
I miss the old man. I hope this enterprise in the Greenward makes him proud.
I don’t mind driving a wagon train in the dark of night, but in tunnels is something different all together. My journal keeps getting wet from the..things that point down from the ceiling..I forget the word for them. I don’t like being underground. But not that much farther to go.
The rodent is able to speak to me now. I scalded my lips and tongue when he first did it on my afternoon cup of lorem tea. I quickly informed him to not surprise me like that again or I’ll be the proud owner of ferret lined cape. I’m pretty sure he got the gist. I’m surprised by how much he understands. I think I’ll have to ask one of the wizardy people about it, because I’m sure it’s not natural. Though the little bugger is quick on the uptake, telling me he saw a shop that sold lanterns for almost 11% of what the other bug was selling them for. I told him when he sees something like that in the future to tell me then and not wait until days later. A almost cried a little when I thought about the money I could have saved…almost.
This wagon seat makes my butt go numb down the right side after a few minutes. Note to self-buy weather proofed cushions that can be attached and removed when needed.
If Pinagel were alive, he would smack me in the head and give me the silent treatment. My brain must have been fogged by something because i’ve been acting like a drannit the last week or so. I’ve made a mistake.
I was so caught up in the idea of obtaining wealth out here in the wilds that I allowed it to cloud my mind. Pinagel’s Rule #22 – Never confuse wisdom for luck. It had been coming over me the last few days, a nagging at the back of my mind. As if I left the teapot on the fire too long. I worked myself into a corner through my own machinations, sometimes I’m too clever by half.
We left the homestead without any form of management or leadership. I had become so accustomed to the idea of Kelkex and Tamer being there that I didn’t give any thought to going off into nature. I just realized this morning, waking myself out of a sound sleep too, that we left and there is no management there any more. After Tamer left, it was just Ik-thal and I acting as management and I didn’t leave any list of Do’s and Dont’s for those farhbots back home to manage by.
I am such a frelling shliznat.
It was during that fight at the statue and altar that I came to the realization that I’m not really needed out here. I was flying on Wooshwoozel and flinging arrows at the altar and wasn’t doing a frelling thing to it and realized how pointless it was for me to be out here.
How are we supposed to know about anything going on back home way the yotz out here? We are weeks away now and the place could be gone: destroyed by trolls, lost to that undead infection, invaded by land pirates (mimsy told me they were real and I still believe it, any evidence to the contrary is merely lies).
What the yotz am I doing out here. I’m not an explorer. A day or two away from the homestead is fine, looking for animals to breed and sell but this whole exploring ruins dren is for the farhbots who have no ambition. This is not what we were hired to do or close to what I signed on for.
The rodent has been agreeing with me, wondering why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I really need to have a heart to heart with that little yotz about bringing things up sooner rather than later.
Ugh, I feel so sick right now thinking what those farhbots are doing without supervision. Let the casters have their fun picking fights out here, it’s not for me.