The Forest of Spirits (Alpha Group)

Teak's Journal: Entry (10)

Well. It’s been an interesting few days.

At the castle, we found a tentacle monster thing that was more than a little difficult to defeat. I didn’t do much damage to it, and neither did Kaleth, which was disappointing.

But Kaleth grew! We woke up after taking a nap in the dungeons and BAM! He was bigger! It’s great! I can ride him around now and he’s so much stronger! It’s wonderful.

Anyway, we defeated the tentacle thing and we found a bit of treasure. Afterwards, we discovered that there was a staircase that went downstairs to a place we hadn’t been yet, so we explored it.

That’s when things got interesting.

We were told by a wraith to take the treasure back to Ameiko and take her to some big city a couple weeks’ travel away. As soon as we opened the warding box, we all passed out, and visions came to us.

Long story short, we’re now all scions to the throne and Ameiko is the only living heir. Also, opening the warding box revealed an item that gave away our location to the army of Oni, so we had to run.

Now we’re in some city just below a forest with some dragon in it? Or something like that. I’m sticking close to Tallus — I do not like cities at all. They make me nervous and put me on-edge.

But Nate got lucky! He was snatched up by this really strong, burly, handsome man and taken to bed with him. Hoooooooo boy, he’s gonna have some good stories to tell. (Tallus and I are extremely jealous, and the two of us have now bonded over gossip.)

I’m going to write a story soon with Nate and that strong guy in it. Tallus wants to read it. I’ll probably let him.

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10

Note to self: Opening secret magic boxes generally doesn’t lead to much good and gives you way more responsibility than you could ever really want.

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Roux: A Defeat of Barbarians

[continuation of previous letter]

Our castle explorations proceed. When last I wrote, we were planning with the harpy Ziaobe to defeat the oni Kikonu. At first, the plan went exactly as expected. She brought the oni Kikonu to us, and we attacked him while he was still monologuing about our inevitable defeat. Such a tiresome individual.

It was going quite well; Sophie-tzu pinned him to the ground so that he could no longer summon giant wasps to attack us—she may be uncouth, but Nate-rao likes her and she is good at what she does. I only wish that she would confine herself more to kicking the things that we need kicked, and less to adopting peculiar beasts. She brought a GIANT LIZARD back to the caravan; really, this is untenable. In an effort to understand her, I have been carefully attending to the odd language she speaks to her duck; I believe I now understand the basics of conversation. It is a most peculiar tongue. I have never heard anything like it; it is, I have concluded, her own invention.

Regardless, I have meandered around my point long enough. The harpy Ziaobe proved herself to be an enemy, not an ally, and attacked myself in the middle of the fight. I was thus distracted from Kikonu by her, and was forced to devote my energies to defeating her. Fortunately, the others were more than capable. The oni Kikonu was defeated.

The harpy Ziaobe became very badly injured, and attempted to surrender, and thus presented me with a quandary. On the one hand, accepting a surrender in good faith is typically done; however, she broke her sworn word that she was on our side, and therefore nothing she said from that point could possibly be trustworthy. Moreover, the others do not have dispositions of the sort that would allow her to live. I cast a final spell upon her, and she collapsed. Nate-rao aided and finished her off.

I gifted her bow and arrows to Tallus-tzu. He will make more honorable use of them than she.

We descended into the basement, only to find many corridors, a very nasty phycomid, and the most peculiar jailer I have ever encountered. He was an ogre called Slugwort, and he was oddly jovial, if somewhat…vacuous. He demanded that we enter his cages, and the others, for some incomprehensible reason, all decided to play along. We attempted to convince him that Kikonu sent us, hoping to get him to release the captives he was holding, but he was too obtuse for such stratagems. I melted the lock of the cell containing myself, Teak-tzu, and Kalleth without his noticing, but I did not attempt to leave, as the others were speaking with the captives in the other cell.

I decided that this was as good a time as any to get some rest, and so I did. When I awoke, the ogre Slugwort was asleep. We attempted to sneak out, but Teak-tzu tripped over something and made a dreadful noise. We were thus obligated to fight him, and defeated him soundly. It was almost a shame to kill him, as he had been as genial a host as could be expected under the circumstances, but it could not be helped. We could hardly have stayed in those cells forever.

The other captives, once we were all freed, proved to be most intriguing. One of them was a woman by the name of Kelda, from the north. She was somewhat reticent at first, but has agreed to accompany us for the time being. She seems to think she owes us a debt for freeing her from the cell. Kelda-tzu is quite skilled with her ax and will likely prove to be a valuable companion.

The other captive was a young woman, most striking, who said her name was Jaela, and that she had come from very far away. I inquired, but she named her homeland as Thrane. I have never heard of such a place; have you? I shall have to look into this further. Perhaps it is another place like our fair city, which does not like to make itself too known to outsiders. Her words were most curious. She said that she had come to Brinewall solely for the purpose of meeting us, and cryptically spoke of ‘history being made.’ She seemed to believe that we are on a path to become part of the books. Her faith in myself is appreciated, but that is no reason to become complacent. If it is indeed true that we are casting more ripples into the pond than we believed, so to speak, then I must redouble my efforts. It would not do to shame your honored self, my family, or the Most Serene City with anything lackluster.

Jaela-rhes is a most interesting personage herself. She knew all of our names, saying that they came to her in a dream. When I attempted to detect magic, her aura nearly blinded me. She gifted us with a peculiar substance in a vial, which she referred to as “holy fire.” Try as I might, I could not recognize its composition. She then spoke of “business to attend to, countries to run,” and vanished.

We have not yet discovered any new information on Ameiko-ren’s condition; however, Jaela-rhes assured us that we will be sure to find something if we are thorough in our search of the castle. I do not know how she could know this, but it is good to receive a message that we are on the right path. I certainly hope we come across her again. Arcane interest aside, it is reassuring to meet a foreigner who understands proper courtesy.

I remain, your devoted student,

Azelise

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Sophie: They see me smashin', they hatin'

This place is giant waste of time. This is all the witches fault, if she hadn’t been messing around all the time, with the hocus pocus, we wouldn’t be having such bad luck. Mom always said, “witches are bad luck.” As Cortez likes to say, “brujas ser puta y le puede costar su riqueza, mejor simplemente club de ellos y dejarlos en puntadas.” Also, Tallus was being a big crybaby because some kid was picking on him. The kid was kinda creepy, also a liar, but there really wasn’t any reason to cry about it. Maybe being old makes you sadder and more pathetic. I’m going to be awesome when I’m old, I’m not going to be a sad Tallus. I feel like I’m forgetting something. Right! There was this huge bat that almost stole our midget! Honestly, everyone knows you put short people in bags first, before you steal them. I got a short thinger in a bag. I’m going to wack something with it. That’s what you do with them once you put them in the bag, you sneak up on someone and wack them with it. You can also use a goat. A goat in a bag is an acceptable alternative to a short person, or short thinger, as the case may be. Once said thing is in the bag you wait for opportune moment then, Bam! Right in the bum! and they fall over. That is what they call, practical. Sadly, there is not many people for wacking. Noisy birds everywhere, but no people. They need to get some exterminators out here, these birds are a real problem. No matter how many you clobber they just keep popping up. I can’t even bust down a few doors in peace with all the screeching going on. Accomodations are seriously lacking overall. They don’t even having a doggy bath for Nathan. This castle needs more class and I plan to complain to the owner.

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Roux (reflections)

Exploring this castle is most interesting, but I would enjoy it much more were Ameiko-ren’s condition improved. Although not enough time has elapsed and not enough has been accomplished to justify a report, I nonetheless feel the need to set down my thoughts.

Sophie-tzu was almost felled by a corbie priest today. I am sorry for my impatient thoughts about her, particularly since Nate-rao is so attached to her. He, too, is more than he appears. We spoke. He has the most fascinating abilities, and even let me inquire as to their nature. It seems that he has not been well-treated in the past when people find out what he is, which is quite sad. I will never understand why people fear things that are different, rather than reacting to them with wonder. There do not seem to be many Lao Rhi—whom they call Irori—devotees in these parts, but even among those of the path…no, I cannot be surprised at such a thing. I am fortunate to at least have my family; what has Nate-rao had? He seemed astounded when I referred to him by -rao, once he’d inquired as to its meaning. I hope that my small efforts may make him feel somewhat less alone. He has done much to raise my own spirits, not the least because I now know there is at least one among my companions who does not view me as a fragile child.

We reclaimed a box from the corbie priest that apparently belonged to Spivey-tzu, which Nate returned to her. She has agreed to join us on our journey. I also discovered some undamaged books, which I shall have to peruse later.

I had several other conversations over the course of the evening, after we returned to the caravan. Haugen-tzu shared his wisdom on the concept of leverage and using one’s strengths to compensate for one’s weaknesses. I grew concerned about Shalelu-tzu, as she had not taken any rest due to her worry over Ameiko-ren. I spoke with Sandru-tzu about it, and we formulated a plan to allow her some rest.

He also inquired after my own well-being. After the assurances that I was quite all right, in the usual manner, he would not leave the topic. I confess, it was somewhat of a relief to be unguarded for a time and admit my concerns. He gave me a hug, which I have seen is a common custom here, but it was still a bit of a shock. I was unsure of how to participate. Does this mean we are friends?

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Teak's Journal: Entry (9)

It felt like this evening took FOREVER. After we encountered the White, we explored some more. But the next couple monsters we met ended up taking quite a toll on us, and we decided it was smarter to head back to the caravan for the day.

The last monster, a female corbie, knocked out Sophie, which angered Nate. That lead into him using a special ability he has, covering his arms in acid and stabbing the thing, finishing her off.

Now that I’ve learned a bit more, I realized just what was going on. So, when we were back at camp and he was on his own, I approached him.

The conversation went surprisingly well! I kind of expected him to get angry with me or something, but he really didn’t! I pointed out that I knew, and told him how cool it was, then we planned some pranks and talked about how he met Sophie and became friends with her, and he asked a bit about me, and it was really nice. We have a lot more in common than I thought we did!

I think he left the conversation a little upset, though. I noticed that he was tearing up at the end before he jumped off the tree branch. I really hope that he’s okay, and that I didn’t hurt him or anything. I didn’t mean to, if I did, and I feel really awful.

Kaleth followed after him, though, so I think it might be alright. Kaleth’s pretty good at comforting people.

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9

Note to self: Having people on hand that are good at healing is a generally good idea, especially when you have a knack for getting into trouble.

Be careful.

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Sophie: What the heck am I doing here

Let me say this, there had better be treasure here cause I am seriously getting bored of this place. There are annoying bird things everywhere and dead people that aren’t dead that like eating Nate. Seriously, why does everyone think he is so delicious? Sometimes he smells funny and does glowy things that can’t possibly be healthy to ingest. He is so difficult to take care of sometimes. They should eat Tallus, he is like a pretty cockroach, he’d probably survive being eaten and come out more glamorous or something ridiculous like that. I wouldn’t eat a witch though, that would probably give you a stomach ache, but Teak is small and colorful she might taste fruity. I think if I don’t find treasure soon, I’m going to bring down the house, with fire and malice and a big hammer.

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Roux: An Excess of Explorations

[continuation of previous letter]

We have continued our explorations of Brinewall Castle. Our most noteworthy discovery thus far is that it appears to contain a haunt in the basement. Some of the others do not believe this to be worthy of investigation, but it would feel wrong to leave it behind for unwary others to stumble into. I suppose we shall see; I do not as of yet even know how we would put it to rest.

Unfortunately, all the inhabitants of the castle we have found recently were unkindly disposed to us. We encountered a quickling by the name of Buttersnips, who wanted to make us all into aesthetically displeasing taxidermy exhibits, and a wight wearing the armor and helm of the commander of Brinewall. We put him to rest, although not before he affected Nate-tzu and Teak-tzu in a rather horrifying manner. They both seem rather shaken by the ordeal.

The former commander spoke of “men in robes” who attacked the castle in the night. I do not know who these individuals would have been or what their objective was, so I cannot know whether they achieved it.

No hints yet as to Ameiko-ren’s condition.

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Teak's Journal: Notes (8)

We explored the first floor of the castle. It was largely uninteresting, outside of the quickling we met in a room on the other side of the courtyard. Her name was Buttersnips, and while she was cute, she was horrible and sadistic and awful and I did not like her one bit. I stole her dress after we’d killed her.

I just become more and more certain of my dislike for the undead as the days go on.

Note to self: soul-rape is not fun. I feel violated.

On the up-side, my flaming sphere was what ended up killing the White. After it soul-raped me and Nate, of course.

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