May the 9th, the year 751 BC
It’s only been a few days since I reflected back on my notes, and it seems cruel and wrong to do so now. I like to think I’ve been the best of myself I’ve ever been in a long time. Now only have I revealed the truth of my self to people, but I’ve gone against my better judgment too.
First, yes, we made it through the Tanglewood and the Hags. I was a little upset in my review… We had to endure the walk first and that was after figuring out if we were leaving the horses. We left all but one, just in case. First we fought Skulks, people who have lost themselves in nothingness. They cloak and hide, but it’s their skin that is invisible. Arathmis slew many as did I with that damned blade.
Then we came upon a goblin horde fighting trolls. I repelled the one blocking the female but trying to be as commanding as I could. We made rather quick work of the trolls. I didn’t do much but yell at one and I commend Krajkah’s attempts at strategy but it was Arathmis and certainly our deadshot Arden who took them. The goblins suffered the brunt of the dirty work.
We let the goblins go on ahead as we regrouped. We fought strange undead heads that spit seeds and poison or something at us. It was disgusting. Yet, it was nothing compared to their home with bones on the ground from all the dead, the ravens staring at us from the branches with still more heads, and then the Ladies themselves feasting on the flesh of one of the goblins. It was still alive…
I think they failed.
It was then I realized I had serious work to do. It became far more serious when the largest decided to threaten Esera and her purity. I was amazed to find myself eager to protect her. Krajkah was clever, making sport and testing the Lady’s abilities. I had even allowed my mind to be entered so as to allow my thoughts to be usable against them, but their physical strength was impressive. Krajkah went flying across the room.
We could get a tincture, maybe more, if we did chores for them. Fetch a ring they needed for their meals along with a fitting meal, give them the dagger and for free I’d have the curse removed, impregnate them while they wore disguises and I think I’m missing one.
Krajkah was fine with the impregnating. Arden was strictly against it. Arathmis wasn’t very pleased. I was willing but I held my tongue. I didn’t feel it necessary to play my hand if it wasn’t going to be an option anyway. I was however fine with getting rid of the dagger even if it probably meant it’d bite us in the ass later when the Arak got it.
So we agreed to get the ring by going through a portal inside the tree to some goblin area. We followed the cursed creature through caves where it attacked Kraj and Esera, who fell down paralyzed I believe. I couldn’t see but the others fought it in a tight area. Ring obtained.
Yet, when it came to taking one of the female goblins or a child no one was willing to do it except me. Esera certainly wouldn’t. Arden is a pretty noble soul so I wasn’t surprised. Krajkah when you get down to it doesn’t like that sort of thing. I was counting on Arathmis. I felt he knew better about the world, but face to face, he couldn’t stomach it. Knowing I couldn’t do it, except maybe kill one with that damn dagger, I went against everything I knew and said that bringing the ring back would probably be fine.
I know it was stupid. I know much better about promises and bargains. Vistani blood flows through me, whether I’m giogoto or not, I’ve traveled with them and learned. I shouldn’t have been surprised when they demanded something over the broken deal. One was going to have to be food.
Krajkah brought up the impregnation again and Arathmis was willing, but that’s when I chose to feed them my riddle. Rima said it would be helpful but I didn’t realize it’d be this helpful.
These letters two
Who annoy you
Though but one
Found under noonday sun
Y-N or Wyan. They were utterly consumed by it, distracted, and I admit I was shocked. Arathmis finally found the courage to go and sneak a tincture. Arden replaced it with an illusion but Arathmis grabbed another. We ran, though thankfully they remembered to drop off the regeneration ring.
We ran, quickly, all the way out with Kraj on horseback. Ravens sought us, but we hit and avoided them. They couldn’t have been happy but I wonder if they weren’t a little impressed. The tinctures couldn’t be too expensive for them to make, they had their ring back, and I gave them what I thought was a clever riddle. I’m not saying they wouldn’t kill us, but I bet they were amused enough to at least not kill us on sight.
So began our trek to check on Ivan, who was fine and then on to Viktal. We agreed not to speak of things in town and to call magic fish oil. Things didn’t start well. First while they went to stable the horse a group of Inquisitors came to harass us. I tried to appease their need to control and bully our desire to advocate.
Inside we started speaking with Jocelyn and the owner of the Fisherman’s Rest Inn, Greabo. He was fat, disgusting and extremely prejudiced. Apparently Arathmis thought my work involves sucking up and being sweet with ignorant assholes. He didn’t like that I was upsetting Greabo by coaxing truth from his thoughts. He started yelling at me about how these people were impossible before we’d even left the doorway.
I confronted him not only for yelling at me then and there but trying to tell me how to do what it is I do. He’s certainly not trained in it and suddenly he was leading the mission. Hardly. If anyone was, it’s Arden. He’s done this before and he’s smart. Now I’ll say Arathmis did have the right point, I found out, which was these people are fiercely ignorant. They are; it’s the edge of panic and chaos, but what I was doing was not going to ruin the town and as I also learned, the man had more info I needed.
What I will note of that moment was Arathmis not only yelled at me, but swore at me. He yelled at me to leave and no one said a word. Not a one of them stuck up for me. They apparently agreed with him. I don’t think at any other time I would have felt saddened by this but I was. It upset me greatly no one, especially Arden said anything about it. They just let him tell me off and tell me to go.
So I did. I quickly realized I wasn’t going through all this for me or for Arathmis, or even any of them though. I wanted to know the truth about Brianna. I wanted to help her and I wanted, more precisely, to help Ivan. Against my better judgment, I stuck to it and began asking around town.
People were friendly but that fierce ignorance… That was frightening. Even the slightest doubt gives way to fear and tragedy. I learned of the Elf Shot, those who lose themselves or perhaps their soul. I learned of the Mistled or Wild Walked who vanished for far longer than they thought or even longer. There were children born as changelings, mutant animals, strange haunts…
They had a right to be scared. It is scary. The Inquisition makes them feel strong, but it was too much. They are choking themselves in fear. I learned of many other details though, including that Greabo was one of the main accusers and sure to be a witness. The first event happened at his Inn.
I ran into them before the Blessing and chose to basically smooth things over. I didn’t ignore it, and Kraj tried to make a joke about it to get past it, but I admitted Arathmis was right even if he was a buffoon and a jerk, as I called him, for his behavior. They’d met with Father Wyan and had been made to speak the truth.
Following the Blessing, I had to speak with him. He knew I was a man and questioned my magic and how I hid things. I had to struggle to speak to him the truth but as I’d already said, I thought it the best approach. I think he’s headstrong but he wants to help. However, I didn’t want to tell him about the origin of the tincture or the witches. Arathmis and Krajkah apparently felt Wyan would be fine with all that. I can’t confront Greabo about gossip but that was okay?
Arden was furious but mostly kept it to himself. Poor Esera hadn’t a clue what was going on. Kraj tried to prove the tincture was fine by drinking one. Great. He could have died but Esera checked him over and apparently thought he’d be fine.
I did get the Father to allow both Esera and I to see Lorelai. I guess even though I was a liar, someone who pretends to be a woman at times, and capable of vile magics, he believed I was sincere about helping and finding the facts.
I was sincere and I think I must be crazy for all of this.
Oh, before we did that, we learned the Star of Belinas is one of his symbols that most don’t know about. This was important because for me it showed that what many know to be truth isn’t always factual. I would use this later at the trial.
Lorelai, as it turned out, was crazy. Esera didn’t notice any spirits I guess with her magic but we both noticed how detached Lorelai was. It would have been so easy to manipulate what she believed. It seemed someone else already had. She talked in circles and her own father wouldn’t even look at her…
It was clear she pitied Lorelai and was then furious when Ivan chose her. Vanity and arrogance are ugly things. It was extremely clear to me that as disturbed as Lorelai might have become it was her poor personality that invited this trouble to begin with.
Wyan said we had to be sure if we were to use the tincture on her. We weren’t. We went back to his place to find our captive from the island gone, a bunch of knives decorating the floor and lots of toadstools. We gave chase but lost the bloody path. Note: seems the same thing happened to Wyan’s first wife.
We cleaned everything all up and then I dirtied things with magic. Karston returned and Esera suggested Arathmis check on things that night. Oh yes, I was still fading. I killed a rabbit or something to eat but it was pretty clear I’d need to disguise myself well the next day for the noon day sun.
Arathmis came back but Karston didn’t. He found in Wyan’s book that he wasn’t sure about what was happening, which is why he’d been delaying. When Arathmis tried to go into the temple – where the Inquisitors were praying for the next day service – some sort of alarm went off. He seemed a bit unaccustomed to working with others as he and Karston didn’t have much of a plan about signaling or meeting up but it was an attempt.
Didn’t matter as a chameleon fey named Lhausk showed up who was a friend of a friend (Lord Cedric) of Karston’s. Thankfully he was okay. Lhausk had a gift: magical almond butter that made you see invisible things. He was part of Queen Maeve’s court apparently, which isn’t Melinda’s. So many fey, but apparently Maeve does like musicians. I was warned about that but by whom… Oh that’s right, Karston.
I had been explaining my plan for the trial. I still was going to use it just try and give Arathmis a chance to spot the fey and then dump the tincture on it. Here is my opening and closing reprinted again:
Truth is different than fact. Truth is based upon what a person believes to be true, not what actually in fact happened. We learned many things from Wyan, but an example is the star. We knew the star to be Lugh’s symbol. From our lips, the star of Lugh was truth. However, it was not factual. Wyan wisely pointed out that the star is the symbol of the light of Belenus even in the darkest of nights. What the people outside of Tepest know to be true, believe to be true, isn’t factual. Truth is different than fact.
Dark forces – fae, goblins, hags, witches – are relying upon fear and their own evils to turn you against one another. This is fact. You’ve all expressed to me the horrors and I’ve seen some firsthand. I’m sorry. The Inquisition is trying to help protect this community and all of Tepest from these dark elements. This is also fact. Lorelai has been hurt; this I do not doubt or deny. She believes that Brianna has bewitched her, but is that fact or merely her belief? We must seek true fact for Dark Forces are at work and none of us wish them to succeed here. That is why we are here. That is why the Inquisition is here. That is why this Trial exists.
The Dark forces of Tepestani are seeking your end. Autumn is their season and you can not let them keep it. Summer is the season that the sun rises highest and Belenus’s light is that which seeks not simply belief, but truth. Fact. They manipulate and torment. That is fact. Lorelai has suffered. That is fact. Did Brianna truly sour the milk at the Fisherman’s Rest? This is rumor. Did Brianna yell at Lorelai, her friend of many years, when Lorelai yelled at her at the engagement party? Yes. Friends fight, especially when there is an injured and jealous heart over romance. This if fact as all know it. But did Brianna attack Lorelai? What proof is there? Did she use witchcraft? What proof is there? This is rumor and fearful belief.
There have been accusations but there is doubt. What if one of you were accused in such a way? What if rumor turned to gossip turned to belief and you found yourself targeted? Can you in your heart trust such shadowed sayings amidst fear and worry? Justified as the concerns may be in these times, we must seek truth, the absolute truth for there can not be any doubt.
Will you let the Dark forces succeed by killing someone accused only through belief rather than fact?
I was pleased with them. My point was not to undermine the Inquisition, as easy as that would be, but to undermine the distrust of the people and encourage a faith in fact-finding over truth-telling. Someone believing they spoke the truth is just not the same as fact. I figured Wyan would respect that.
Well, I tried to undermine Inquisitior Sionn as best I could. Fynn was annoyed with me, but I don’t care. I wasn’t talking out of turn. I didn’t address the midwife, though Sionn’s logic was flawed from the beginning. She was encouraging a story that Brianna was replaced as a changeling as a small baby but then yet they suggested it was when her parents were killed and that’s why Brianna lived? The poor girl loses her loved ones and is scared forever by it and of course, she’s an evil fey.
I did prove Greabo a foolish old man. I pointed out the poor keeping and the possible age of the milk as well as that Brianna likely didn’t go near them after he’d yelled at her for her poor work. That was aside the point as Arathmis made it clear he saw the fey. It was with Lorelai, as we’d long suspected.
I wasn’t ready for her though. I made my way through the crowd, pointing out issues with the truths people had gossiped about, linking stories and trying to make others feel the pressure of the trial. It was uncomfortable wasn’t it? It should have been. They brought old food and rocks to throw at her. So terribly sad.
I made a distraction finally and Arathmis acted. I was a bit worried I was going to get annihilated by the Inquisition. I was trying to make it clear to Wyan what we were doing. Kraj caught the torch Lorelai threw thankfully and that terrified everyone. Wyan had them all stand down and we got Brianna off the stake before it could become a pyre. All were made to leave and… Well, we won?
I told Brianna I was a man once we were inside. I am trying to be more honest and I didn’t want her to disrobe in front of me and not tell her. I know it was a lot very fast but it seemed the right thing to do.
Wyan had us in to speak with him after. He offered us some succor and certainly Brianna. He’s not sure about pardoning Ivan but offered us training. His history, Lorelai’s even is a sad one with the dead wives and the torment of the fey. The woodcutter became a fisherman became the Father of the Inquisition.
This world is cruel.
Meanwhile, Esera had gone off to help Jocelyn who was going into labor. The others left to bring Brianna to Ivan. I stayed with Esera and Jocelyn, translating and even teaching to keep minds off the pain and trouble, especially with Jocelyn’s husband outside. I just hope there isn’t any fey mischief affecting her or the baby. No changelings, no evil things please.
I do wonder if the baby is born with magical talent if they’d believe that possible without it being evil or fey or both.
Arden had a reason for getting the leaches. We used them and Father Wyan used the magic of Belinas under the sun to remove the curse of the dagger. I don’t have it anymore and I’m not obsessed with its possession. I am overjoyed. I’m still fading but… I hope that will leave soon.
The others did come back just to leave to find shelter and some rest. I hope that Greabo isn’t too angry and allows them a nice room at the Inn. He probably wouldn’t want me there, but I’m going to try and not hold it against him. Maybe he learned something, but probably not.
I’m trying to write these few notes while helping Esera. I’ll guess I’ll finish by summing up:
Brianna – presumably innocent and remarkably not as angry as I thought she’d be. I guess she’s just happy not to die. Imagine that.
Lorelai – crazy, was possessed, hopefully Wyan will let Esera help her
Wyan – means well, upset and weary. I feel bad for him.
Fynn – too militant and I don’t trust his zealous behavior; Wyan doesn’t like his lack of perception
Arden – Behaves strangely sometimes but has his reasons. He’d be the hardest for me to figure out if something was wrong with him though I guess that’s when he shuts down. He’s smart, dedicated, honorable and noble but he also seems judgmental and dismissive of what doesn’t help him.
Esera – willing to learn, innocent and easily confused, frustration makes her angry. She’s avoidant but yet condescending of what she doesn’t like others doing. She’s a healer and wants to help but clearly doesn’t understand how dangerous things are. I can trust her to do what she believes is right but I won’t usually agree with her lack of action.
Krajkah – Tough and willing to fight but the magic thing… It’s getting where it’s not funny. You can’t practice what you look down your nose at. I would have thought he’d speak up for me with Arathmis, but he didn’t. I don’t think he cares that much other than his well being and profit.
Arathmis – We’ve seen he’s a sneak thief and capable of shadowed magic when wielding his swords. He’s from the Necropolis and was living here as a normal person until Ivan needed help. Either he’s hiding from something he did or he’s just hiding. It may be easy to pretend you’re a nothing, but I find it suspicious considering I know the life of disguise. Also, controlling and condescending.
= end =
I don’t know what’s happening.
As if last night wasn’t bad enough with the screams and the blood, tonight is worse. I thought finally, here we go. But no.
The flames turned blue but they tried. I guess they took too long because some little bee came out and became a wasp creature. What the hell is that? I hate bees and that’s way bigger. Fuck this shit, I wish I could leave.
The one with the loud stick was lost in the creepy shadows. I’m not going in there. Then the Wasp man opened its mouth full of needles and blades and shot bees out of its mouth! I was terrified, but I guess not as much as the one who owns this house. He dropped his knives and went running.
No, please take me!
Poor short man though. He tried to face off with the thing but it kept biting him. I don’t think he could see. He went running off, bumping into things and then falling down. Please, take me with you. I don’t want to be here anymore.
The one with the gun high tailed it, but I had a slight glimmer of hope. Short man started talking with the bee man and then this rat thing with a tiny person head showed up. Short man made a deal about the loud stick one I guess. The other one came back and the rat thing made the plants attack him.
I will never eat grass again.
They went inside and when they came out the rat thing went into short man’s backpack. No, please take me! Don’t leave me. Oh no! House owner, you have a bee on you! It’s going to sting you or shoot bees out of its mouth!
Why are you leaving me? Please get help! Please don’t leave me here again!
I still don’t even know if this place is real. How long was in the forest ruin? Was I even ever behind that theatre? At least the dogs aren’t barking all the time anymore.
I hope my sister is safe.
This Inn smells but at least it’s not raining on me. Short man left me here. I wonder if he’s coming back. I can hear bells. I wonder what that means.
Oh maybe these robed men will ride me out of here. Where is my short master? There are things attacking him? We must ride!
I hope my brother is safe. Probably not. He’s got terrible luck.
“Please… kill me…” it moaned, blood gurgling from its parched lips.
“No,” one laughed, cackling as it stroked his forehead.
“We would never,” another grinned. “You wished to serve us. You serve us dinner.”
The last clapped before peeling off the goblin’s lower lip even as it began to regrow. She slipped it between her gnarled, claw-like fingers and into the warty lips of her own mouth.
“Why do you think we left you with one arm?” the Hags cackled together.
~ End Act 2 ~
A loud yawn echoed throughout the room. “Dear, could you help me?” the man asked.
“Of course,” came a sweet feminine voice from the darkness. She appeared in the lantern light and put a hand to his back.
He set the peakcock quill back into the inkwell as he stood with her assistance. Hands rose to the ceiling as he stretched. “It’s my best work so far.”
“I can’t wait to read it.”
A wide smile spread his lips before he leaned in and kissed her cheek, “You’ll do more than read it, my dear Jeanne.”
“Who?” she asked quizzically.