The Forest of Spirits (Group Dos)

Deldubbin: Memories of Katapesh

When I was just a naïve little lad working in the armpit of Katapesh, I saw something similar to what I saw today. So, I was busting my ass polishing the fat man’s silver dish set, when I hear yelling from the store front. This wasn’t the usual banter of a couple of sweaty wildebeest attempting to squeeze a few copper out of each other over some “exotic treasure”. There was desperation in the voice of the guest. As much as I wanted to finally see that lardy bastard get his just desserts from a scammed customer, I didn’t want to be in the room when it happened. I’m not in any hurry to die for that asshole’s poor business sense.

I peeked through a hole in the curtain, and could only barely make out the guest behind the master’s eclipsing girth. He was scrawny, old, and made to look older by his obvious signs of addiction to ysdust. I didn’t know the master sold ysdust, but it comes as no surprise; he is a fan of things that can be used to manipulate others. From what I could piece together, the sad customer owed a debt, and was unable to pay and didn’t want to die. His wish would be granted: the fat master is far too sadistic to straight up kill a source of entertainment.

He grabbed him forcefully by the arm and dragged him to a dark corner of the shop. He stopped just before “the Tomb of Shia’Zarad”, a cheap, dusty relic that was far too overpriced for even its age. From that day forward I wouldn’t question the tomb’s price again. In fact, I avoided that corner of the store for the rest of my time there. The master reached his grubby hands into his pocket and pulled out some small trinket that I couldn’t make heads or tails of, and held it as close to his grease-addled heart as he possibly could. With his other hand, he pushed the customer to the ground and tore open the door to the tomb.

The store grew cold. It was almost as if someone put a curtain over the sun. The look of terror and awe on the debtor’s face is still etched into my mind to this day, as it was the last emotion this man ever sported. What crawled out of the tomb was unlike anything I had ever seen or read about at the college. What was visible of it was pale and blue, like a drowned corpse. Where its mouth should have been was a gaping void, it had no jaw and only a few wretched sharp teeth along the top. Its eyes burned with a hate unparalleled. A force rippled out of the poor addict, like an invisible organ being ripped out of his chest. If I were to guess, I’d say it was his soul. The wretched thing began devouring his soul like a snake swallowing a horse, but at an unnatural speed.

After the hideous thing was sated, it crawled back into the tomb like a bear prepared for hibernation. The door slammed magically behind it and in an instant the room was just as before. The customer, however, would never be the same. He was not dead, but I almost pitied him for that fact. His eyes were forever glazed with terror. The fat bastard lifted him up on his two feet and he stood on his own, like he was sleep walking. He just stood there and trembled, until the master nudged him towards the door. The addict just trudged slowly out the door and into the streets of Katapesh, in the same direction, almost as if he was sleep-walking. The truth was a piece of his soul was ripped from his body. Unless one has the knowledge or wisdom that comes with time and experience, this would leave one broken and forever tormented.

My view of the drifting, broken man was disrupted by the body of the master, whose face sported a grin so malicious and genuine he couldn’t hide it if he tried. That was the day I committed to leaving this horrid man’s contract, and it would be a day that I’ll never forget.

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Deldubbin: The Brinewall Lunacy

Hello, long lost friend. I’m referring to you, diary, for whom I have plumbed the depths of this caravan cargo for many an hour. Hell, I need someone to boast to about my victory, and the only one who puts up with it is chanting riddles. …I’ll embellish on that.

Seems I have found myself in a full-blown adventure! And not the kind where you get sold to slave merchants or scout out desolate plains or drink yourself half to death. This is the kind with skeletons and treasure maps and abandoned castles with monstrous bird armies. This is what adventure novels are based off of… which gives me an idea of a way to burn the time when we get back to Sandpoint.

We set off to distant lands untouched by man (or at least not touched by man for a very long time – hell, there’s a castle here). It’s a place called Brinewall, where a long lost secret to Ameiko’s family history sleeps, along with some potential buried treasure yo ho! We assembled a caravan and arrived there mostly without a hitch. As to be expected, I’m travelling with the loveable mooks I had mentioned in the previous entry. Ameiko’s not really able to appreciate the place so much, seeing as how she passed out and started babbling like an oracle the moment we arrived. She isn’t missing much – the place is old, wrecked, and filled with things that like to kill other things.

We arrived at the castle gates (cause the castle HAS to be where the treasure is – it’s pretty much a standard for swashbuckling adventure) when we were greeted by some rather charming parodies of actual birds. I say this seeing how birds usually don’t stink, aren’t 6 feet tall, and don’t eat their dead buddies. Also, birds typically don’t own or operate catapults – that was a fun surprise. They ended up killing themselves with it while trying to shoot Tam and I, seeing as how we had the high ground and were picking them off (oh yeah, lesson three: get the high ground). This lovely place also sported giant mutant ogres, spider ranchers, and an eccentric demon.

Kikonu. This guy was a character. We found him and his pompous nose and his pompous pipe in a pompous throne (plot-spoiler: my pompous throne now) where he was directing some interpretive dance. He called it a play, but honestly, there was no story – it was a dance. We took it upon ourselves to interrupt his dance “play” once they started violently interacting with the audience. The long nose bastard was getting too much of a kick out of this whole show. So I shot him. In the face. It was too satisfying. He threw a temper tantrum and magic’d away, and that was the end of day one.

Well, not quite the end. On our way back, we passed a spooky, scary cemetery, complete with invisible caretaker and magical chalice. Irony abound, it is the only place here that isn’t hostile and life threatening. We made a new friend – a magical fairy (Angel? Fairy? Mini-angel?) named Spivey. She’s a piece of work, but pretty bloody adorable if you ask me. Turns out she’s an agent of Desna who actually wants to help us. It didn’t take much to persuade her to come to the caravan with us and diagnose Ameiko. She had a bad case of spiritual possession. It wasn’t really possession though – more like unintentionally channeling a benevolent spirit to help us. One of us should have probably written down what she was babbling, but hey, I didn’t have any paper on me until now.

So, we returned to our glorious castle siege, met by more incompetent attempts at birds. Once we got in, we got the jump on a legion of nostril-offending lizard people. Tamriel and his stupid grease spell managed to halt their forces (really, grease?) while Aerika held the front lines. The rest of us strategically hid behind her like cowards and shot away at anyone who tried to slip by (and a few who didn’t even have the chance). Once the dust settled and we made our way back to my throne. Avast! Some vile bird-like temptress has stolen my throne! What will become of Deldubbin and his band of misfits? Purchase volume two of The Brinewall Lunacy.

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Si'R - Excerpt 1 from "Calling"

Some creatures in this wide world can go from birth to death never knowing the scents, sounds, and sights outside the borders of their hometown. They can detail the runes carved on every tree in the local forest, recite the eldest songs and poems ushered forth at the tavern, and guide you through the most secret places where outsiders dare not to tread for fear of being lost or injured; however, ask them the color of the fields on the other side of their valley, and no answer could you be given. They become pockets of familiarity, vast resources of wisdom should you know what questions to ask, masters of their area and occupancy. Though I’ve no intention of joining such enlightened ranks, as an intellectual and a traveler I cannot deny their utility.

Still, it is the “jack of all trades” types who I find myself most fond to listen to: those who’s experiences impressed upon them the requirements of becoming generalists rather than focusing on a specific area of discipline. Eager am I to join their ranks, to master several different fields of martial and mental study so that I might be best prepared in any given situation. Such thinking has led me to pursue combat training above that which was taught to me before leaving the Syrinx, and with instruction I find myself learning to strike with speed and agility rather than feats of brute strength. This feels more in tune with dance and craft than manual labor, and the exhilaration after performing such effortless and lithe movements has become somewhat intoxicating. Less and less do I feel the urge to sit with a tome of vast knowledge; more and more do I wish to be flying in the thin air of the morning. Should I ever have wings, dare I say I may never come down to the bare earth again.

I cannot ignore my studies, though. The small library I was able to take on this journey, along with Tamriel’s arcane texts, are as irresistible as ever. I can only fathom at the possible applications once we’ve reached our destination.

As always, I look forward to the future.

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Aerika - Day 1

I don’t exactly know if I’ll ever send these letters out; but writing them is a good start.

I’ve been working for Sandru for some time now, so here is a compiled list of who I’ve met and what they do.

Koya is the adoptive mother of Sandru. Sandru, again, is my employer and the the older brother to Ama, who runs a bar. Ama is best friends with Shal, who is the protector of this town. She has one student.

Koya’s other annoying adoptive children are Tam and Cas. Being a nuisance runs in the family.

Today I’ve been sent on a mission with a rag tag group of nutty spell casters. I’m starting to think Sandru enjoys sending me out with imbeciles to complete his work. All of them are strange, especially the ones who know each other. (Cas, Tam, and Shal’s student. ) They flock together like magpies.

After being around their lot all day I’ve determined they possess a unique skill of talking infinitely and saying an equal amount of nothing. We were instructed to eliminate some goblins off in the swamp.

DIPSHIT (Shal’s student), shot a bullet into the sky and alerted some monsters to our location. Of course.

We did find a house in the woods though, and there were monsters. I’m getting really good at fighting! You’d laugh at how quickly I cut them down. We all helped a halfing by the name of wally. (it’s not really his name, but you know me, i’m not good with long names. ) He had pet snakes!!! However not for eating…

I’m still not very good at looking out for danger though. A rather… stupid event occurred with some goblins jumping from roof tops… and flaming torches… and a bucket… and the water inside it.

I dislike goblins and fireworks more than before.

The good news is the number of ears I collected from them was worth a hefty sum of gold.

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Si'R and Aura - Dialog 3

“This is so exciting. We’re going to be on the move again!”

“Yes, I suppose we will be. This time, however, we will no longer be on our own.”

“I know! We’ll be on a proper adventure, with other travelers across wide stretches of the world. I’ve been waiting so long for an opportunity like this!”

“Indeed. I as well am greatly interested to see how things develop.”

“I think I might ask Aemiko to teach me how to fight better. I feel like I’m overexerting myself a bit too much, trying to use brute force instead of proper technique. I bet she wouldn’t mind showing me a few things if I asked her nice enough…she’s so much more experienced than I am after all.”

“I am sure you will have plenty of chances to do so, as you did plan with Tamriel to sleep in the same wagon with the both of them.”

“Oh my gosh, this will be so much fun! I spent so long packing everything, and I’m almost ready to go right now!”

“What other preparations have you to make?”

“Well, I think I’m due for an upgrade on armor; this old leather is a little dated at this point, and I feel like I’m going to need something just a little stronger in the near future.”

“Ah, so you are planning on throwing yourself into combat.”

“I just don’t want to be ill-equipped. I’d never wear something as imeding as Aerika’s armor, but any little bit helps. Ah, and I want to get a new journal with some writing materials! Someone ought to document our travels, after all.”

“I suspect there will be enough to fill a novel by the time we return.”

“Hee, I could publish it and it could be in a library and people might read it! Ah, I need to tell Tamriel; he might want to go shopping too! Wait here, I’ll be back in a few.”

“…and so, the plot thickens…”

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Cassandra: The Start of Something New (More Skeletons!)

In the morning, I met up with all the others in the tavern! They spent a lot of time talking to one another about weapons and equipment, but eventually we set out. I also learned that Del is an alchemist dabbles in alchemy. He won’t be of any help.

Shalelu came with us as a guide! I’ve known about her and seen her around in Sandpoint ever since I found my way here, but lately… I’ve noticed her a bit more. She’s very pretty~ And her quiet strength is very appealing. Maybe I’ll try and woo her! That wasn’t what I was worried about when we reached the caves, however. I was more worried about my parasol, because Aerika is very rude and tossed it inside the cave!

Once we were inside the cave no one really knew where to go. I decided to take matters into my own hands (like the brave adventurer I am~) and used a stick to decide whether to go left or right. We did fairly well, too, until we got to a room with sleeping skeletons and Aerika was stupid and smashed one. This made all the others wake up, but she and the others were able to take care of her mistake. I tried talking to them in Tien since they spoke it, but they were more interested in fighting than talking.

Soon we found a much more intimidating and more elaborately armored skeleton sitting on a chest, and he challenged Aerika to a duel! She owes me for what happened during the battle, since she fell and I was the one to revive her~ She needs to work on her teamwork, really. She’s very grumpy but needs people as much as the rest of us do.

After we beat the skeleton we took all the treasure in the room, and went to a few more places in the caves. I took a pretty blue crystal from the pile we found, and the others even fought a spider! I stayed away from that. Once we’d seen everything (we knew because Tam wisely had us put chalk marks on walls we’d been to) we left, and found Shalelu again. She brought us back to Sandpoint, where we showed Ameiko what we found.

Ameiko was very shocked by everything, especially when a letter fell out of the sword we’d taken from the most intimidating skeleton… It’d been written for her grandfather, talking about some kind of family history. About then is when my big brother Sandru walked in, and eventually we all decided we’re going to go to Brinewall on a caravan trip! With luck we’ll find out more about Ameiko’s family and their history, and have a nice journey in the process. It’s going to be so fun~ Mama Koya couldn’t wait to come with, and we managed to convince Walthus too. I have a feeling this is going to be an amazing adventure!

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Si'R and Aura - Dialog 2

“Once again busying yourself with your research?”

“I know everyone else is asleep, but I wanted to learn more about this area tonight before we head out.”

“What is it that you have learned so far?”

“The local language, for one; it’s not too hard to figure out once you start analyzing it. I guess there was a bad fire and a serial killer in the area around the same time a while back, but it looks like people have tried to play down the events quite a bit. There’s a lot more to the little town of Sandpoint than I originally gathered!”

“You certainly seem to have developed a bond with the inhabitants.”

“Who? Oh, Tamriel and the rest! They’re certainly a lot more enjoyable to be around than mad dogs in the forest. Tamriel and I have been discussing arcana, and I learned a few new tricks with his aid! And did you see the dagger he gave me? It’s beautifully crafted; I can’t believe such a thing was just gathering dust in that witch’s house.”

“Which reminds me.”

“Oh?”

“What do you make of the events that transpired today?”

“I’m not really sure. Between the weird face-rat thing you pretty much strangled to death, the skeletal ‘bone-men’ at the wrecked ship, Aemiko’s reactions to the Tienese writings, and the giant monster that attacked Deldubbin…”

“You went silent. What is the matter?”

“No, it’s nothing. We were able to gain a good amount of information from that other map. It’s just a matter of exploring that cave now. I dug up some information on underground systems, so hopefully that knowledge will pay off as well.”

“You would normally be more excited for such a risky endeavor.”

“Ah, sorry, I’m just kind of out of sorts at the moment. Tomorrow, I need to look into some more gear from the town. This newfound wealth won’t do us any good unused, after all. I’ll ask Tamriel for his advice, and I’m sure Cassandra will want to join me again.”

“And so do the bonds of this party grow stronger.”

“I guess to some extent, yes. I enjoy their company greatly.”

“The paladin does not seem to return the enthusiasm.”

“Maybe not, but Aerika’s valuable nonetheless. Actions speak louder than words, right?”

“So says the arcanist.”

“Oh hush.”

“What of the others?”

“Oh, you mean Del…the gnome…”

“There seems to be something troubling you about him. What is the matter?”

“Well, I mean…I’ve studied the forms of many creatures, but today was the first time I’ve seen the genitalia of the opposite sex before. I don’t know, it’s just…odd is all.”

“The anatomy is strange?”

“No, no, I mean I know what the anatomy entails, but seeing it first-hand. I can’t explain it, but there’s some sort of swimming hum in my head thinking about such things.”

“The matter does not seem all that strange to me.”

“Why do you say that?”

“If you were to consider your age and heritage, this would be something of an adolescence for you, would it not? You never did speak of attraction in relation to the Syrinx, but this land has many different creatures, and their forms are as varied as they are unexpected. You might find yourself caught in the throes of desire and lust as your journeys continue.”

“Wha…what? Why do you think that his has to do with…such primitive urges?”

“You should already know the answer to that. I am an aspect of the universal concept of Kama.”

“Yes, I know that. I researched that the concept involves wants, wishes, things people long for.”

“Then your research materials have not been detailed entirely.”

“…what is Kama, exactly…”

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Cassandra: Into the Swamp (Spiders, Rats and Skeletons!)

In the morning I went shopping with Tam and S’ir~ S’ir didn’t want to go looking for dresses though and that was disappointing. She’d be so cute in some of them! While we were looking around Tam told us we needed to go find an old woman who’s a magus that lives in the swamp and could tell us more about the maps we found.

THERE ARE SPIDERS IN THE WOODS AND I DON’T LIKE IT. We didn’t actually see any but Walthus said there are giant ones! Tam was a jerk and teased me about it.

Eventually we made it to the old woman’s house, which was filthy and covered in moss. There was no sign of the woman inside, and when I looked into the bedroom it seemed like her bed hadn’t been slept in for a long while. While we were looking around, giant rats came out of the floorboards and attacked. One of them had a human face and scared Tam something fierce, but it was easy to knock out once we managed to get it. S’ir wouldn’t let me kill it at first—she’s really soft—but we were able to convince her eventually.

Aerika, Tam and I explored a bit, and then the house started to shake like it was going to collapse just as we got to a room with a skeleton and treasure! Aerika dragged me out but I was able to follow behind her when she went back in for Tam, and she didn’t notice~ Tam brought treasure and a map out, and Aerika brought out the skeleton. It was weird and bird-like; I think the woman had tried to do a transforming spell and it’d gone wrong. Del also told us he’d found more treasure, but it was only a shack full of rat shit. I can’t believe I fell for it!

We took the map to Walthus, and he offered to guide us to the different locations on it. On our way we stopped so Del could use the bathroom, and then the soggy river monster attacked! I knew it was real! It almost ate Del (it knocked him out) but we managed to save him and kill it. He was really embarrassed after getting caught with his pants down (literally~).

We kept going, and got to a ship with animal corpses around it. It seemed kind of familiar, even though I know I’d never been there in my life. We found Tien writing on the side of the boat, and S’ir copied it down so we could bring it to Ameiko. She knows how to read her own language, obviously. We went to the next location on the map and found more Tien writing on it (we copied it down) and some skeletons inside. When we got closer, they came to life! I was able to turn one to dust without a problem, and everyone else took care of the others.

There was no more treasure that we found, but when we got back Ameiko told us what the writing we’d found meant. One of the boats was called the “Kaijitsu Flower” and the other was the “Kaijitsu Star”, meaning they were part of her family once! She was a little shaken but happy at the same time, because she hadn’t ever expected to see things about her family, especially like this. She asked us to look into the cave marked on the map (with a skull!) and tell her if we found anything of interest. We told her we would, although I don’t know how wise it is to court danger like that. (We’ll probably be fine!) Also, Shalaelu was very proud of us for coming back victorious~ We’re all getting stronger and she must appreciate that.

After all that Tam and I decided to go home, and S’ir asked if she could come with and learn more magic. She and I don’t use the same kind exactly, but I was happy to have her over anyways~ Tam always likes the company, too, and I think he could help her learn a lot. It’s going to be fun!

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People Notes -- Updated Tuesdays!

4/9
Aerika
• Life of the party
• Punches first, asks questions if she feels like it after punching
• Not your typical zealous champion of justice
• Strong intuition – follow her queue
• Takes to the front lines – good cover and distraction
VERY EASY TO MESS WITH!

Cassandra
• Spunky bar performer
• Knows of my drinking habits
• Good sense of humor – by my twisted standards at least
• Surprisingly familiar with combat – keeps distance
• Knows magic
• More to her than meets the eye

Tamriel
• Aloof and pale
• A little too comfortable with the dark and foreboding stuff
• The wild-card – keep an eye on this one
• Prefers off-the wall tactics
• Knows magic and uses it liberally

Si’r
• Quiet studious girl
• What’s with the fuzzy ears?
• What’s with the big ass bird familiar?
• Clearly a magic user – is it some kind of binding magic?
• Bird takes to front lines, she compliments with magic
• Least is known about her – let’s fix that

Proudstump
• Halfling who lives in a swamp
• Skilled tracker and decent combatant
• He sure does like snakes

……why the hell am I taking people-notes again? This was a one-time job, not the gods-damned war. I might as well hold on to these in case I have to work with them again, but if I’m still planning on skipping town soon, that’s not likely.

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Deldubbin: Fortune Favors the Bored

4/9

Interesting days have been hard to come by lately. So when Shalelu got wind of her best friends the goblins causing trouble, she didn’t hesitate to let me in on the action. Ameiko was looking for hired muscle to separate the goblins from their newly acquired fireworks. Thing is, it was a group project. That means split rewards, but the price was fair enough for me to jump on it. The company wasn’t at all what I had expected – it made for a good change of pace.
The job led us out to one the more scenic landscapes of Varisia. Naturally goblins would take to setting up camp in a rotten bog in the ass crack of nowhere. Lucky for us, there was a particularly proud stump that called this outdoor latrine home. However, that’s where things started going wrong, and where I was rather painfully reminded of how rusty I’ve gotten with actual combat.

Lesson one: stay out of melee. Always. When we came upon the swamp tracker’s cabin, we were greeted by what appeared to be a distraught Halfling who wanted all of nothing to do with us. We had other plans, and took lead of Aerika’s forced entry. Being the fool I was, I followed suit, since a marksman works best in a tiny shack and the guy’s rippling face was no sign of danger.

Queue the worm-mouth shapeshifting creature. It almost got Cass, til I shot it with a color spray. And by shot it, I mean missing and drawing its attention to me and my lovely face. The thing got a little too friendly and cost me a little more blood than I was willing to spend. We clobbered the poor bastard quickly enough, and found the real Halfling right after. After taking a quick break and acquiring a spiffy new coat, we set out for the camp.

Awe and despair fell to those who gazed upon the goblin fortress. Architectural genius abound – we pushed passed the wooden gate and towards the cluster of shacks supported by planks over a charming mud pit. Thing is, someone got there first, as indicated by the goblin barbeque at the front of the camp. The chieftain said something about bone-men (maybe a native tribe, or hell, even skeletons), but I’m getting ahead of myself. What was left of the mighty goblin empire greeted us rather awkwardly. However, even the finest attempts at diplomacy by ambassador Tamriel couldn’t bridge the crevasse between goblinkind and the sane races of the world, and with a thunderstone explosion to his face, the battle began.

Everyone had their own idea of how this was supposed to go down, and like a bunch of Absalom street urchins, they scattered about the old buildings. Luckily, they knew how to handle themselves, and while it was not the most graceful of sieges we still held the advantage. I took an attempt at panicking some of them with some illusionary dog noises, which brings me to lesson two: check their senses. Just as how those blind caravan guards didn’t fall for your dancing lights back in Andoran, the deaf goblin didn’t give a shit about dog growling he couldn’t hear. We cleared out the camp in short order anyway, and soon found ourselves at the last and most important shack.

Our dramatic entrance was rudely disrupted by a rather thin support beam, so only a few of us could make it up to the door. I was not one of those people – instead I found a good vantage point a few yards away. I came to appreciate this decision as our company was greeted by explosive fireworks to the face. This left them in pretty bad shape, but on the bright side I could get a clear shot each time one of them fell down. After a messy battle we bested the almighty goblin chief and milked him for all the dumb, cryptic info we could before finishing him off.

With the goblin ears and the fat chief’s fat head we made a pretty copper. I can’t say I didn’t working with this band of misfits. Going out there and running into danger like that reminded me of how long I’ve been holed up in this boring little town – 9 gods-damned years. I’m getting a little stir-crazy, and while Ameiko and Shalelu are good enough company, I’m thinking about setting trail again. I almost seem to forget at times that I’m not the sort of Gnome that sets roots in a town.

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