Dear Father Calen,
The latest addition from the lamp has been entertaining. I think I like him more than Qasim, and nearly on par with your august presence. Odd to compare you and he, for where you are undoubtedly noble and right, Eulummachus is… well, colorful is the best way I can think to describe a priest whose prayer rituals include masturbation.
Iz and Kumori rejoined us. Kumori did not take the news of recent events well, but Iz was pretty well adjusted about everything, having been involved in the fight that made Dusky leave, though she took greater offense to Eulummachus than Kumori. I am not sure what he did to offend her – he was no more loutish than the average man, especially the Espagian men. I don’t know if he’s typical of the Ionian culture but he’s perhaps within a shade of average in his views towards the fairer sex, and likely above average in some ways in what he could never, ever condone or accept.
Shortly before Kumori appeared, I was in the room with Eulummachus asleep (dead drunk) in bed and I heard a voice inform me, ‘When you’re asleep, I have you’ – given the sounds I’d heard previously, an invisible creature seemed possible, but the door made noise, and this lies in the flaw of the arcanist who was taunting me – for even before I opened the door, the sound of the echoes was wrong. Even a very young dwarf would recognize those echoes as more characteristic of marble and the door was far from that quality.
Having explained what had happened to Kumori and to a lesser extent Iz, our new friend shared an idea – we get a wagon (his pronunciation was dreadful – I had to correct him several times) and some hay and he would nap during our travels. The part of the day which he’s actually awake for is closer to the latter half into the wee hours, and this slowed us but also gave us assured healing, which is fantastic.
During the process of that and reuniting Kumori with his horse, it was revealed that my horse was branded with an arcane mark, and when Ian examined me, he found one on myself as well. The mark on my horse read ‘Target’ and it was pretty clear that whatever was pestering me was trying to unnerve me. I heard the sound of crunching hay, while we stood still, as if someone invisible were stalking us. Again, though, the sound of the crunching hay was again off – the cobblestone would have lent a duller sound to the reverberations.
I asked Ian to dispel the marks but he could not, and when we asked about an arcanist, we were told they were all in service, so we set out to talk to them, but it soon became clear that we were being surrounded and apparently they in fact wanted to talk to us. They were trying to not alarm us, but figures in cloaks carrying the weight of armor in their step, especially figures in cloaks with the heat, even at these altitudes, defy logic and common sense.
Shortly, I saw what appeared to be a man draw a knife behind me. Knowing it to be a trap, I debated yelling fire, but I decided to get the attention of the crowd and test the honor of the military men who surrounded us by yelling ‘Thief!’ The thief appeared to lunge at me and then step back, but I did the smartest thing that I believe I could, which was to use my hat of disguise to change my appearance and step back as well.
Since I did not fall for this trap, the illusion on the man wore off, and he was seen to be an innocent who would have been my victim had I misjudged the situation. However, the guard all around us tried to stop the party and claim us as criminals, but were stopped by two key points:
- Kumori having destroyed the crowd’s interest in observing the bloodshed with his yell, ‘I am Sonoda Kumori. If you do not seek death or worse dishonor for you and your ancestors, leave now.’
- The ruse of a thief stealing from me that I perpetrated called back to their honor and duty
They spoke with us, and it became clear someone was harassing us all. Kumori asked me if I could name any new suspects, and he didn’t understand that I should be a tribal leader – isn’t that how these human societies work? It took Smriti to tell him that no, really, the only new foes we have do not seem inclined to arcane tricks and were more pissed at Sir Assclown than the party as a whole.
The next bit of travel was interesting in that we met a Espagian woman we had previously seen, though she was of negotiable virtue. She claimed that having failed to help her to get into the town that she, in turn, was raped and discarded. The party as a whole was suddenly somewhat keen to turn around and get justice for her, but she asked only to travel with us for a ways.
We set her in the back of the wagon with our lusty but honorably randy friend and rode on a ways. It was at the last stop of the Empire that she and he both made a bit of coin – well, I assume there’s some coin in that toga somewhere, or maybe it’s just a part of his duties as an Apostle of Zheenkeef to throw parties on everyone else’s dime. Either way, she and he both crept in well after dark and closer to the sunrise.
Sometime during the night Iz was sucked into the lamp, but since she was not happy about Eulummachus, hopefully she gets to hear from people who have known him and can see the better sides of his nature and behavior.
So close to being outside the Empire, we went a little further, but just as the wagon turned around a bend in the road, we found we had walked into an ambush. A phalanx of soldiers and a captain awaited us, and suddenly, in the back of the cart, there was no Espagian woman. Smriti had sensed something off about her, but I’ve always assumed that if you weren’t from the lamp you were going to kill me… well, ever since we were so cursed or blessed to be part of it. Anway, they demanded surrender or death, and asked Kumori to come forward in a ruse that was thinner than the arrow that Smriti batted away for trying to go with Kumori. I tried to go with Kumori, and they tried to get me to back down, which ultimately led to battle.
The captain had some tricks, and so suddenly there were giant men with massive shields and incredible reach, and we all got into positions to try to meet the advancing foes, but for Ian who had no need to advance. Kumori called to Ian, in Kaidanese, to use his lightning bolt, and apparently the captain called to his troops to attack the wizard – which instantly put Kumori on edge.
The battle was tough, and I swear I nearly died, but our new friend saved my life and likely Kumori’s and Ian’s also. He also managed to defeat more of the foes in a single spell than Ian with his good use of confusion on the enhanced foes.
Ultimately, the captain was invisible, and Smriti and Kumori were boxed in practically, and I was in the middle with the cleric when the invisible captain attacked Ian. Seeing Ian in trouble, I rushed forward, but even one of my best swings missed, since he had previously put me in the grips of a crushing despair. Then, his sword flashed and cut Ian, but Kumori rushed across the field to the greater threat and issued a steely cold challenge to the captain. Unfortunately, the strike missed the captain, so it was likely that he’d be able to hurt and likely kill Ian with his next swings, until Smriti used her Ki to jump through the air and land on top of the foe, knocking him unconscious.
Once he was unconscious due to violence, his form shimmered, and he became some sort of goblin-dog hybrid. Kumori, seeing the creature, made an x of his forearms and sliced true, cutting the head of the thing off, revealing the magical items inside it.
The phalanx gave us, and a truce was established to allow them to return and carry their wounded with them – I believe the dead are getting the same pyre treatment that Julius’ men got, but I didn’t feel like staying around to help, and the dead were few – most did not take their mother’s advice to come home with their shield or upon it, and fled.
All told, Ian was a massive star, and the rest of us sort of swung and missed fairly often. Eulummachus, though, gets top honors, and we’ll have a good bit of stuff to sell, such as his armor, or use, such as the sword he carried (once we figure out what his sword is or does).
Between Eulummachus and Ian, they figured out the creature was some sort of cousin to a barghest that could polymorph itself into human instead of goblin, and maybe it was the beast we heard about from Villa Vilcosa. That it was so intent upon our destruction and could speak Kaidanese suggests it is from that land, and possibly the curse made it even stronger than your typical greater barghest.
Ah well. We’re outside the empire, I’m figuring out what we have in goods exactly, and we’re not too badly hurt all things being considered.
I hope you are well,