April 8th, the year 751 BC (continued)
April 9th, the year 751 BC (was a new day previously)
May 2nd, the year 751 BC (as it turns out this is continued)
“Cue the weapon show.”
I wasn’t wrong. Kraj was thrilled to be in the presence of his wagon. He eagerly encouraged us to partake in his wares, immediately talking of serving as his employees. I brought Arden over to sit against the wall while he relaxed. Esera was looking around but I called her over so we could talk.
Tent would go inside in the corner. Esera looked over Arden. Clearly he’s in shock, but how bad not even Esera knew. She apologized for her rashness. That’s acceptable, I said it was fine. It was a very difficult situation. I can’t expect everyone to handle it as well as I. I suppose what I subject myself to just makes it all easier.
I’m not crazy.
Kraj has a wagon, filled with things and covered in canvas. Two horses lead the large wagon with seating on each side. It’s rough old wood but quite sturdy. The porter was gone but the dogs were still there. I believe it was Thex, Vax, Dur, and Ot. Charming things, I hope they’re trained hunters though I’m not interested in fox.
The clearing we’re in is about 280’ by 160’ or so. It varies somewhat. Clearly no one’s been here or used this – whatever it is – in a long time. Esera and Kraj check the path while I write. It’s overgrown and hasn’t been used. Esera looks around a bit more than Kraj I think, he’s more intent on setting up a solid, defendable camp. Quite admirable and useful really.
The tent goes up and a campfire is done eagerly by Kraj while Esera gets her armor off and eventually starts gathering wood. I’m eager to get out of this outfit but I don’t want to leave Arden sitting her dumbly. I don’t think the other two would pay attention if he were to wander off or choke on his own tongue. No, you’re welcome, I’m going to take care of him. I may run wild but I’m not heartless.
Arden’s eventually coming to. Esera came over, watching him as I was eager to help with firewood. Or did that come after? It’s hard to tell now. Things have gotten confusing. It’s getting later but Arden’s talking. He wasn’t sure what was real, talking about the second play. I’m trying to talk things out with him. I don’t want to upset him with the wrong words. He doesn’t remember Frederick at all.
I got the spit set up, that was likely before. Esera wanted more firewood. The lass has a mule’s carrying capacity and the attitude to match sometimes. Surprisingly considerate, Kraj took to grooming, feeding, watering his animals. Esera even made water, literally made water in a bucket. It was quite cool and refreshing. Even I can still be amazed by this world sometimes. I understand magic can be horrible (evil plays and terrible duplicates for example) but it can be useful.
Arden is trying to get his head straight. I remark about the trees, much fuller here than Dimentlieu. The slight breeze and warmer weather implies farther south and perhaps more time has passed than I expected. The birdsong is sweet and common in the trees, nothing too strange or mysterious. Here’s hoping it’s all real, right? As I’m trying to stress to my traveling companion, it doesn’t matter what’s real but what you have to deal with to continue on. Duplicates or no, here we are and we believe we have to handle this so let’s not die while we’re at it.
Back to how we are together, mistled and all. Kraj wants to hunt some real game. I think we should get our cover story together first in case he meets someone or we do. It’s important to use half-truths. I would tell them more but they can barely process this concept. We’re going to be employees for Kraj fine but I want him to pretend to be Lily’s bodyguard. I go to fetch her guise in the tent.
They seemed surprised and I didn’t mean to bother them… They’re upset by Liliana, whom Kraj calls Lily. I like it. Very pretty and I’m glad Kraj can be my bodyguard, even if I have to work for him. I offered to go with Kraj but he said no. I asked for the rapier he grabbed, but apparently he didn’t. I thought he had taken one in the underground. No, he says, no dainty weapons. Did I just imagine that? I’m sure I was just mistaken. I know he took the longsword… I’m a bother already.
Dusk has fallen and while beautiful, it’s tragic. We don’t know where we are in a darkening wood. I put a couple logs in the ring and snap my fingers over them, eager to see the fire dance and spin. It burns easy though Kraj seems upset by my magic. I was only trying to help… I look away as he looks to me.
Esera goes back for more wood. Should I have gone to help her? Arden has to go to relieve himself. I don’t know if he tells me he wants someone with him, so I ask, and he said no so I think maybe he was just telling me so I know he was gone but I’m not sure exactly if that’s a warning or a trust exercise. I hope he doesn’t run. I think he’s still just as confused, maybe not as much as us but I really don’t know.
It isn’t long before Esera returns and a few minutes later so does Arden. Arden seems a bit more relaxed, hopefully as relieved as whatever he needed to do. I’m glad to have them nearby though I’m not sure they would say the same of me. I think I’ve ruined all chance of that unfortunately. I hope they understand.
Esera takes her dress into the bucket of water, scrubbing a way. Here again I can help. I hum and pass my hand over the garment, cleaning it like I do all my things. She thanks me happily and I’m just as happy to help her. It’s so much faster too!
She lays down to rest as Arden and I watch the fire. It’s getting dark so I hope Kraj gets back soon. I’m feeling a little restless too. I’m worried because Kraj isn’t back yet and we don’t know where we are. He took his dogs but the wagon and horses are here. He wouldn’t leave us.
As I pace, I retrieve my flute. It’s been a few days – right? – since I played. I’ve missed it so but the sound rings true as I play one of the more haunting, slow tunes. We speak only briefly of a few details more of the night prior, including how Frederick couldn’t leave but we could go. I’m glad we did, though I wish I could have convinced them to tell us more. Kraj was so eager to leave. It wasn’t like him. And now he’s gone off and probably gotten lost.
I summon some lights and look around. I call out for him with the resonating sounds. Nothing at all. He must be so far away. I think we have to find him. Thankfully Esera looks nearby and finds the tracks. I’m glad for that but Arden thinks we’re leaving him. I promise I’d tell him if I was going off, maybe anyway. We have to go though and I encourage him to come with us. Esera has to put on her armor while I load my crossbow. I’ve got it ready just in case.
After forty-five minutes of slow pacing through the dark woods, Kraj came bounding up to us. He ran into werewolves! I thought it might also be wolfweres but it sounded like werewolves! I’m so glad he’s okay! I hope he knows how much I-
Fucking hell, I should not have allowed a dwarf to go off alone in the woods. He was saved by some red-robed fool whom I have to agree with Arden likely commands them. They were afraid of his mere presence? That does not bode well for us. I tell them to be quiet, ranting and raving. Do they want to draw the wolves down on us?
We’re likely in Verbrek, known for wolves and no settlements. I’ve skirted the woods as I tell the others. If they would only shut up and listen. I’ve no desire to fight a werewolf, but I keep the silver dagger ready. Kraj tells us this old man gave us the handkerchiefs. He told Kraj we’d see him tomorrow and Dorothy is this woman involved.
That’s when the twat tells us the woman she met was Dorothy. Esera met a Dorothy on the road, that was the woman she met. And that wasn’t important to you? That didn’t seem a likely link to D.G.? How foolish… If she wasn’t strangely so keen of eye, I’d expect it easy to sell air to this girl. Apparently I’m mean. No, I’m just direct and you’re an idiot.
Back at camp, I tell them to sleep. I will watch over us. Just go to bed so I can rest sooner rather than later. If I hear one more complaint I’m going to tie them up and gag them. Things get quiet…
When I wake up Arden he doesn’t fuss. Good. I tell him to wait four hours til about dawn and wake up Esera. That’s when Kraj should be waking up. I hand over the silver dagger. I just need to relieve myself behind the wall. Piss and shit, I want the sewers back…
I’m just glad to finally sleep. I hope Arden will be okay up alone. He’s gone through so much. I slip into the tent next to Kraj, keep a dagger in hand just in case, and lay down on my stomach. Sleep seems dangerous, closing my eyes. Kraj will protect me… He’s strong, he cares.
When I woke up, I was eager to relax and clear my head. I do so through an upbeat tune on the flute and munch on some of my rations. I would like some real food, hopefully our camp when we meet this man will be near some settlement or he’ll have food for us. I offer the dagger to Arden but he’s going to use an ax. I’ll have my crossbow out and ride on the wagon’s side seat. The camp is cleaned and we go, following the overgrown trail.
Not even thirty minutes, about twenty, and there’s a red haired young woman in her early twenties seated at a crossroads with her wagon. She’s slight and freckled, seemingly wholesome and lovely with bright blue eyes. Why of course She’s Dorothy Guir but she’s never met Esera? Wait, what does that mean? Who is she or who did Esera meet?
I’m scared, worried and I urge Arden to stay with us if she’s going to lead us to this AuBen man. If she cares and trusts, then she’ll understand. She doesn’t seem to have any idea what we’ve been through though. I hate to keep my crossbow on her but we have to be careful. I hope she understands. This is making me nervous. Those that seem nice and trusting usually want to play or use you after all.
We have to follow her on a half day journey. I hope it’s a smooth trip, which it turned out to be. I watch carefully, even get a sign against darkness and evils from a farmer we pass. Over hill and over dale with some neglected, half-cultivated fields reveal a slight state of decay on these farms. We’re still in Verbrek but it’s dark now.
There’s the moon as we head through a thicker wood and thicket, carved out to reveal a drive up to an old manor house. The stones are worn, some of the building run down and neglected. I don’t want to go in. It’s frightening looking. And I know this Dorothy is going to think I hate her even more. I don’t, really! It’s just this whole situation is frightening but Arden and Kraj seem eager to trust. I ask if there’s a way we can meet this AuBen outside first, but no.
((OOC: The following is a picture to give you an idea of what the manor house is like. It is not a true representation of the building.))
We go in and it’s large and opulent and nicely decorated though I don’t know when the last time was they really put gold into fixing up the place. Toby outside seems deaf and took Kraj’s horses to stable them. Dortothy at least seemed considerate but I know she thinks I’m not happy. She keeps apologizing and I can’t calm down even as we start to get a tour. The greenhouse outside and the backyard I want to see as soon as possible. I’m such a mess I could cry but I know the others will be angry at me. I’m getting more upset and ask about a terrace outside but that’s all in the front apparently.
We have to take bedrooms and wait for dinner. I can’t do this. I don’t know where I am, whom these people are or anything. We’re shown some old room upstairs, they even have separate bathrooms for the men and women like a nice manor house. I only question why it’s wait out here where no one would come. There’s strange lamps and old artwork. The bedroom is beautiful and shows a nice way outside in the back with a garden. Yes, that’ll do.
I announce I’m going outside. I eagerly head out and take that walk around, noting all the exits and the windows and the layout as best I can guess. I record it eagerly here.
I’m sorry it’s not closer but I’m just now calming down now that I’ve had a moment to relax outside alone. The others must think I’m a terrible ungrateful person. I don’t think they’ll ever listen to me now. Maybe they’ll walk with me on the balcony later and we can talk. I really need to talk with them. I hope it’s not too late.
Eventually Esera calls from my window to come in. Dinner is ready. Has it been half an hour already? I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to the time. It’s much more comfortable out here. I don’t want to go inside. The open sky is freedom. Inside is a trap, a trap set by people we don’t know.
I go into the lobby and Toby scares me. He came out of a servant’s passage but I wasn’t prepared for that. I already feel myself growing anxious but I follow him. There are large statues of women. Does this AuBen trap beautiful women? We go through and into the dining room. It’s beautiful.
I sit as close to the doors as I can and next to Kraj. He’d understand if I told him but- No one seems to care. Of course Dorothy does but more so that she’s being a bad hostess than what’s wrong with me. I’m breathing erratically and have trouble focusing. The salad is good but I keep watching behind me. I don’t know what could happen or from where and I know I’m feeling confused. I’m scared. I want out of here.
Apparently Dorothy got her necklace from Mordent but has lived here her whole life, some 22 years. Is that really important? I find it more odd she’s lived with AuBen this whole time and also won’t tell us what she needs. She keeps putting it off. Just answer me, please! I would feel so much better if I knew what was going on. I keep trying to relax but it’s so difficult. Maybe I’m just working myself up.
The lamb is good but I don’t eat as much. I barely touch the dessert. Arden wants it, which is fine. I’d rather talk to AuBen who comes in with white hair, a long mustache and a dark crimson robe. He does feel powerful and apparently that’s all he cares about. He said he seeks power, that’s his profession, it’s all that matters. That’s terrifying! That isn’t what I expected to hear, which is maybe a good sign. Who would lie about that if they wanted to use you? But it’s still unnerving to hear from someone who has manipulated you!
I can’t get him to answer me and he keeps talking about control, self-control. Is he mocking me? He likely knows so why mock me? He’s being difficult. Is that on purpose? He says I can’t get information out of people but I charm him! Did he let that happen? Is it a trick? I am getting so frustrated and upset, what I am going to do.
At least they’ll go outside. We grab some liquor and some smoke weed, but I don’t want any of it. I’m upset enough, let’s go outside. We can talk more in the gardens, yes please!
I’m catching my breath as we go. Apparently AuBen is a man of psychic power, feeling out sympathetic vibrations that resonate through all existence at all times. Our minds all called out. He just knew we’d be in trouble and come here which is why he set this all up. Okay, I can accept that even if I don’t understand it. It certainly seems to have come true.
Esera wants to talk about what happened to us, but we’ve barely done so. I keep trying to cover that with the mists. We need to talk first. I want to hear more from AuBen anyway. Dorothy has barely anything to say. He claims he gave us the notes 6 weeks ago but it’s the 3rd of May apparently. Wouldn’t that make it 4 weeks ago? Does it take two weeks to use psychic powers? He says all the world is malleable. Even the notes are fake.
I can read Arden’s note though. It talks of a deeply personal matter even I won’t talk about now. Suffice to say I understand, the poor young man. I could almost cry. Now I understand why the necklace is important. Poor Arden… This AuBen doesn’t understand us as well he thinks.
He says my pride must be wounded that he just wanted Arden and we happened to be alone, that we helped keep Arden alive. That’s not it at all. What I am is angry! I never would have sent Ellelana off to the play had he not given us those notes, though Dorothy did claim to have written them. So how real are they?
The conversation is ending for the evening, but I insist we talk about our private matter before we turn in. Esera keeps trying to share about private matter… Doesn’t she understand it affects more than her? The others seem agreeable to talking. I’m so very thankful for that. I hope they know that. I’ll tell them. I wish it was easier to talk but I can barely look to them. Every time I look at Kraj or Arden, I can feel myself blushing. Esera, I’m confused about. She keeps talking about things any smart person would know better about. She even interrupted me, and I told her not to but she kept going. I’m not sure she cares.
But should I be angry? They’re dealing with a lot just like I am. I don’t know what’s going on. No one wants to give me straight answers. I’m confusing the very people I’m asking to work with me. I barely understand what was real down there. I can’t comprehend the magic involved. I know nothing of this sympathetic vibration other than it makes sense when I think of my own power. I hum and it reverberates within others…
I have to think of that tomorrow. But it’s this place. It’s the moon. It’s going inside. It’s the woman. It’s sad Arden. It’s confused Kraj. It’s angry Esera. AuBen wants something. Dorothy needs something but won’t say. This old building makes no sense and why here of all places?
The most terrifying is that with all I thought I knew there’s clearly so much I don’t. Everything I do to try and survive, to protect myself. It’s falling apart and I’m afraid I’m going to cry. I can’t cry in front of these people. I have to catch my breath. Here in the garden, we can talk and then I’ll try to sleep.
My nightmares will be nothing I’ve experienced recently. It doesn’t matter what they are. I need to help the others…
Frederick, Lemot… What have you done to me?