[[This one took a while since she had some problems in working through how she wants to put things, that she’ll be working out in play to come probably. So I had to change the format from ‘how she would present this to the world’ to ‘how she just keeps in her own diary’.]]
I’ve had a great deal of trouble moving the past few days’ worth of events into my story journals. The crux of the matter is that I behaved shamefully. And not in a dramatically shameful manner that would let me wring out drama for my deeds, make a crowd nod and see how I’ve grown. No, I behaved like some wonderstruck child and I’m unsure how to handle this. Do I erase it entirely from my accounts and lose a strong event? Do I pretend that it struck me so mildly and betray a pristine day of wonder?
After leaving the city, our travel downriver came rather easily. After the excitement of the way down it was both a relief and a mild disappointment. No rapids from melting ice, only a cool swell of summer’s calm. We travelled well and came to halt when our young priestess found one of her pulls to lead us on. We followed, with Frederick’s normal sweet grumbling and Cole falling into place to guard our backs. And soon we found.. well. Soon we found things shaken up entire.
I’ve studied much of various faiths and their wonders, and it’s left me feeling jaded. I bow head to the one god of my city because disbelief is a social anchor, at least in some circles. I suppose I do even believe in him, but what’s he to do with my life? Thank you for your wonders, now let me make mine. But to actually see a creature of magic and green…
So, a creature of living wood and leaf and berry came to us and I played the sophisticate, taking one of his berries boldly to show that I was comfortable with anything. The taste was.. I won’t go into it here. It was the best. We followed him into a place untouched by the world around us, somewhere of true magic. Animals moved at peace in their places. His home was a tree larger on the outside than the in. He seemed to casually warp space to his needs, and dribbled the knowledge of something ancient and well-knowing as if it were natural. He answered anything put to him with patience, though some things he couldn’t put into our terms. And ah, miracle of miracles, he was someone who could actually bridge both Rowan and Frederick’s attitudes, earning both of their respects it seemed.
I’m sure that if I had stayed there for too long, I’d have wanted to get back to motion and doing. But just then I was giddy and happy to while away the hours with him for days, if I’d had the chance. I spent most of the time following him about like a faun, looking here and there and taking notes of his grove.
Anyway. The practical is that he set us on a path, told us a bit about a foe that had been growing in strength daily, behind these strange changes. He had little idea how the barbarians played into this, as he had trouble telling between people. But a solid, solid lead, made bedrock solid with the loan of a relic that we could use to track it. And.. praise be.. my companions suggested I carry it without me even having to start turning the conversation that way. He gave us a path past the mountains by some magic, landing just near the barbarian camps.
And there came my shame. I was dizzied and drunk on his wonder and took his words of safety as a license to be a fool. Rather than approaching carefully, I led us in song and flirtation. Oh, Rowan in particular talked of our safety and his promises and Cole backed her up well. But Rowan knows little of the world and Cole seems to be a knight’s knight with sure focus. I am the one who should have been keeping our focus. I neglected to recall that our benefactor was a bit fuzzy on mortal matters and may not have meant our safety in how we took it. I was giggling schoolgirl and religious neophyte, wanting to prove my loyalty and belief to all.
It went badly. They saw us coming and turned tail as if we were some threat. I know that I was not at my best performance, but still, that was rather professionally insulting. Sigh. It at least let us through in peace, but it is certainly not something that I’ll put straight when I do the public version. Perhaps I’ll make them out to be such uncivilized savages that they couldn’t make heads or tails of a good song. That would sell to many, I’m sure.
The following was much less problematic for our story. We went onwards, following the relic’s pull into darker lands scattered with dramatic skulls and waste. Perfect and needing little elaboration. We fell into a terrible storm and tried to walk it out, but the darkness grew too thick and we had to make uncomfortable camp. In the small of the morning, while my watch was over and I was well asleep (I am so happy to keep volunteering first watch!), a group of some manner of wizards came upon us, challenging us and sending a bolt of lightning past my head. Well, not quite the worst way I’ve woken, but very very close.
They called themselves druids, which were a people spoken about by the forest lord to Frederick. Some people who might help his own studies and dealings with magic. He has some things roiling under the surface, some needs there he’s not yet shown. I want to find out more, but couldn’t even begin to probe when Rowan is around without it falling into another of their sniping rounds. Fun to watch but unproductive for us. Despite seeming at first like something that might have been in league with the thing which we sought, they instead were being hunted by it. The relic helped soften them a little, from gravel to grit. They still had little love for us, but at least would allow us to pass on so long as we swore to help them and free their comrades who had been taken by the darkness. Threat, threat, rumbling. Dramatic fodder for my stories, but personally annoying and certainly the image of those that Rowan speaks against.
And so we passed on, searching out the tower and caverns they said would hold their people and perhaps our foe…