29th Erastus, 4709
What a day. My mind is practically full to burst, and I have but an hour or two before I’m off to meet Tressa! It truly is a pleasant surprise to find her here, should do wonders to relieve some of the burden of all the rest. I’ve been quite eager to see her since she disappeared from Marian Leigh, off on this adventure I suppose, but it did worry me, it was so sudden. Especially considering the tension that seemed to sit between us there. She has certainly excelled in school in a way I never quite did, but she must understand that I am as ardently in support of some of these new philosophies as she. Perhaps we’ll find a moment to discuss it tonight between other activities. I wonder if she will wish to join us tomorrow, her blade and wits would certainly aid our cause quite substantially.
Ah, but I am sure I have left you quite behind my dear reader. I am in Tamrivena now of course. The journey today could have been more enjoyable though. I forgot to mention in my entry this morning that on our return to the ships last night we found one of the ap-Blutte stone dead at his posts with not a mark to be seen. The whole thing set off quite a stir, but nothing was to be found until a few of my companions did a bit of unscrupulous snooping on the crew.
As I mentioned before, I have brought along a few companions from a favorite drinking spot in the city as advisors on this voyage. These few, Serana, Giorgi, and Marcel, are not exactly what one would call upstanding citizens. As I understand it, they have made a life of piracy for themselves, but through their growing acquittance of me are seeing the faults of their ways I believe. I made a personal point of hiring on these few. While a life of crime may be just that, a reformed man is worth far more than a dead one, and I have just the means to enact the reform of these few lost souls, along with their considerable skills. Rich as their ship may make them, the respect, companionship, and not inconsiderable pay they may find in Redcliff employ will do a great deal to demonstrate what a better life might hold for them. In any case, despite whatever past deeds they may have committed, they have shown themselves to be hard workers and wise counselors onboard.
Sadly, Sulayne and Halda did not share my point of view, and targeted them as culprits in the death of the ap-Blutte man, despite the dubious gain they would get from such an act. A few trinkets of the sort one would expect of rough men and women were found, but obviously no damning evidence. Simply put, Sulayne and Halda stole from men under my employ, and this was simply unacceptable. They tried to convince me that some gothic poetry and religious trinkets were “evidence,” forcing me to speak rather sternly. I had thought them above such things, but I suppose the minds of the lowborn are prone to such suspicions. I should not judge them too harshly though, they were doing things for the best, and to be honest we are all on edge. A search of the ship was certainly in order, I just would have hoped that they would respect the fact that I have made a solemn contract of trust with all aboard. I had no choice but to compensate Serana and the others for this slight, along with returning their property. Whatever may happen, I am a man of honor, and I shall not let prejudice besmirch that fact. Thankfully, I believe Sulayne and Halda were somewhat chagrined, and have backed off these suspicions for the time being. Perhaps it is simply an artifact of life aboard a ship, for I almost feel that a grudging sort of respect has been built between hem and my hired help. I should ask Sulayne, he knows of these matters of the sea better than I.t
In any case, with that trouble smoothed over we arrived in Tamrivena, though the welcome was not quite what I could have hoped for. I suppose it is what I should expect at this point, but the arrival of this cities heroes had only bureaucracy, impatience, and begrudging service for fanfare. The place really does seem only half held together, on the streets a quite outrageous doomsayer ranted at an adoring crowd. I wish I could say I was shocked when he turned out to be a member of the ruling council. Thankfully, they did at least do the bureaucratic part correctly, with quarters reserved for the men as well as Aetherton and myself. Not wonderful quarters, but as good as they can manage in this sort of outlier I believe, and I certainly had worse in the Worldwound, though I suppose that was an altogether different situation.
After a bit to settle in, we were of course granted an audience with the council, and they proved to be quite a cast of characters. There was of course Charidian Vanx, the portmaster that I’d been asked to deliver the countess’ message to, though I’m biding my time on that for now. He seemed quite the man of taste, recommending several excellent establishments in the city.
He was joined by the fanatical Toladda Johvanki, a church leader, and as Sulayne was discovering, kidnapper and abuser of young women. Oh, he is the “orator” I referred to earlier. According to what Sulayne found out from the Sczarni, he has been anducting young women for months, including Kiaria Mirgavos, the daughter of the Sczarni leader, Harnin Mirgavos. Apparently, Tressa herself is quite involved in the hunt for this young lady, as the two of them had formed something of a bond. All the more reason to participate in the destruction of this scumbag. I have already assigned Serana to route out information that may expose him to the people and I quite trust she will be successful. Even if not, I shall not see his sins go unpunished.
There was also Theodore Burke, a guildmaster and co-owner of the profitable and increasingly infamous Burke and Glass Antique Dealers. Alongside the troubles with a member of the council being hypocritical scum, it seems another’s key business is also the dumping ground of a serial murderer. Over the last twelve months the bodies of notable men among the city have been left here, heart carved open in the shape of a “T.” We later spoke to the Foreguard Captain, Doladmin Quin, but sadly he didn’t have much beyond the location and the mysteriousness of the whole thing to offer. We shall have to look into it, but as shall be made clear soon enough, we have bigger problems to attend to first.
The Wallguard Captain Bhalton Rhasrakin, seemed a bit more wise than the rest, though also swayed by personal hatred of orcs according to some. In any case, he spoke earnestly of the city’s attempts to defend itself from ever growing raids from the followers of the great hordes of orcs from the west. If I remember correctly, they are led by some beast called the Faceskinner. He, and the others, emphasized this as the paramount threat to the region, though they also were apparently completely ignorant of the hundreds of ghouls just a few miles off. He also led discussion of the concerns of increasingly grisly and regular hangings in the village of Ravengro, and the way the people of the region have been growing more welcoming of Barstoi fanatics.
Finally, and perhaps most interesting, was Zoenessa Thell, a recognized leader amongst the local community of well to dos, and clearly of Sczarni descent. We were in fact, through Halda, invited to her manor, and treated to a quite revealing experience. I’ve always been a fan of the sczanri’s “Tarrot” card readings, but Zoenessa was either a true master. Whether in fakery, or mystical talent, I suppose one can never really know, but whatever the case, she left a lasting impact. Since I cannot pretend to know all the impact of her words, I’m going to attempt to transcribe what I can remember. Halda took a few notes, and I’ll be including that as well. First, Halda’s reading (Sulayne sadly declined and departed, leaving us privacy for our own readings).
Halda’s Recent Past
- The Black Goat
- Described as “Shub Niggurath,” one of the great old ones
- Apparently this being has held some sway over what has befallen Halda of late
- The Black Fingered Woman (who could this be? One of the Hags?)
- She has killed eleven of the twelve (who are the twelve?)
- She waits for Halda
What lies beneath current events for Halda
- A champion has been taken and will be used to bring forth the Black Goat (who ahs been taken? Some sort of sacrificial ritual to build the power of an old god?)
An inspiration for Halda
- Blood rivers run from Tamrivena and Caliphas to the “town of Ravens” and then to “two towers in a ruin.” (this must be referring to the village of Ravensgro, and the ruins of Belkzan)
- In one the Black Goat waits (the cult of Shub Niggurath?)
- In the other the “Red Queen” waits, a secret way (who is the Red Queen? Seems separate from the “Black Fingered Woman)
The “Web of Fate” for Halda
- A necklace is waiting for her, a last gift from her aunt Valmae, who wants her to pursue her fate and choose a better path than Valmae did (I believe Valmae is dead, is she returning from the grave, or is this some other force at work?)
And now, for my own reading.
Recent influences upon my own life
- “she has never forgiven you for stealing her heart, she will take your heart and eyes, she is already lost without a miracle, but she had no hope.” (I don’t understand, I have stolen many hearts, but I can’t help but think it means Tressa, but the rest?…)
My present situations
- Two black towers (presumably the same as in Halda’s reading)
- One from a great betrayal unknown to him (who is “him”? The Tyrant?)
- The other because of a great betrayal done by man
- There is only until the swarm moon to make a choice between them, unless somehow both are achieved through great speed and valor (only eight days…)
- The Red Queen rises, but so does the Black Goat (who is the Red Queen?)
- The choice would make one rise, but the Red Queen waits a little longer (best to confront the Black Goat first)
What lies beneath my present situation
- He of the silent voices seeks three keys to escape. There is a shield, a lock, and a test. (the Tyrant, it must be, and three things that hold his spirit from this world)
- The shield is in one tower, the second in another (one of the two towers I would think, but the second as well?)
- The third we have already opened (the Tomb, I ate to think of it, but I know it is true that we unleashed a part of him there)
An inspiration and solution for me
- I must sacrifice that which is most precious to find a way through (…)
- The Red Queen will not fall without great sacrifice, just as the man who could not be wounded could not fall without great sacrifice, I must follow in the steps of my ancestors (I am fated to defeat this foe, but what must I sacrifice?)
What fate holds for me (I swear a fell mist crept through the door as this card was revealed)
- I have drawn the attention of powerful beings which are keen on my fate (one should only hope! Yet I fear the meaning here is dark)
- My decisions shall hold great weight and even greater danger, that which I fear might happen is close at hand (I shall not speak of that here)
And with that the reading was done, and Zoenessa quite exhausted. We returned to the Noble Prancer to prepare to head out tomorrow. Clearly, Ravensgro is the priority, followed by the ruins of Belkzan. We shall ready ourselves and head out in the morning, while Serana conducts an investigation here. I do hope Tressa will join us, her companionship shall be a great boon, and surely lesson the blow of whatever is to be sacrificed. And what’s this, a knock at my door? Someone does have good timing!
Postscript – alas, not a surprise visit from Tressa, but instead an old friend with some interesting advice. It sounds as if not all is well with her, but that I may yet be her salvation. I cannot imagine what could be so dire as he made out, but I’m sure things will be alright. What can’t a night of love put right?