The leaves are budding all across the land on the ash and the oak and the hawthorn trees. Magic rises around us in the forest and the hedges are filled with laughter and lust. Dear lady, we offer you a gift, a gathering of flowers picked by our hands, woven into the endless circle of life. The bright colors of Nature itself.
Diary, once upon a time, I truly enjoyed a wander through the woods. The Narlmarches however, in the wildness, are determined to intrude upon walks and demand blood. For a few days there, I was, I confess, despondent over the matter.
I think it is safe to say I am over that now.
Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.
-Hezekiah the Mad, Osiriani Conjurer
The tower at Candlemere was old. Walking among the reclaimed towers of Kyonin, I have felt near to such age and it always made me a feel a little smaller. I wonder if this is how humans feel most of the time? Pah, I have yet to meet anything that made humans feel their place in the cosmos was any smaller! Anyway, ancient prayers in language I identified as Aklo, chanted to the mad all-knowing Great Old One. That’s a connection I could do without. Luckily for us, no evidence remained of the god or his cult. Not so luckily, a Will-o-wisp had taken up residence. The damnable thing proved mightily resistant to my magic (something I might’ve remembered had I studied my books a bit harder!) and we were reduced to trying to hit a dancing ball of light with arrows, even as it arced electricity around us, very nearly murdering Katya. I was quite nearly at my wit’s end when…well, a miracle occurred. The other three assure me that we were saved by a dead man on a god’s horse. I would like to say it was outlandish; however, we were fighting a little ball of light in a tower dedicated to a Great Old One, so I suppose outlandish was the order of the day.
Vautilya’s Arthashastra, Book IV, The Removal of Thorns
We fled Candlemere for the moment, though I expect I shall return – the location is rather picturesque and I may soon have need of a location near to Tuskendale but perhaps not right under the watchful eyes of the overly well-meaning.
THERE are eight kinds of providential visitations: They are fire, floods, pestilential diseases, famine, rats, tigers, serpents, and demons. From these shall the king protect his kingdom
And then there were the humans. I declare, Diary, on some days, they fascinate me, on others; they could drive me to distraction. This pack of legendary minds had taken it into their heads to harvest Coachwood in the middle of the Narlmarches with no clear road to get the trees out. Part of me wants to applaud their faith in their own ingenuity; however, the rest of me agrees with Melianse, the nixie who took exception to their willy-nilly harvest. Lem, of all people, managed to broker a peace between the quarrelling factions, thought it is fairly clear the man does not care for faeries. I daresay he grossly overpaid for peace, but money is a statement of value and Lem’s values are, from the way he spends, more than admirable.
Thus began our meander through the Narlmarches. Our first encounter was a reinforced palisade of a band of Lizardmen. We made peaceful contact and introduced ourselves, although their declaration that we were wandering through “Vesket’s Kingdom” seemed to rankle folks who were looking at this property as though it might well, one day, be “Dyimi’s Kingdom.” Still, violence averted this day. I suppose I shall have to turn some thought to how one would assault such a location. Swimming the river and assaulting the gate seems an excellent way to give one’s corpse a river tour of all the Kingdoms.
Continuing on, we encountered a Hodag, a large and aggressive magical leftover. This, however, was no creature resistant to the Art, and he passed from this life thinking it was the funniest thing ever. In point of fact, so did I. I don’t think the others share my peculiar sense of humor about such things. All in all, a look through his nest confirmed that he had been a predator on local wanderers and we had done the territory a service in dispatching him.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel o menel palan-diriel, le nallon sí di-nguruthos! A tiro nin, Fanuilos! The tower of the Dancing Maiden is like a dagger that still sits in my soul, cutting and scraping with every step. Art and filigree to make one weep and to have it fallen to decay and rot and polluted by a pack of wicked fey. It makes me nauseous to think upon it. The Grim Stalker and the Dancing Harlot both met their ends in that place. I did not prove as resistant to her charms as I might have hoped; however, my comrades (as they had so many times on this expedition) made up for my lack of worth.
One of them, however, got away. A little gray miscreant, that I am fairly certain is called “Rigg.” A quickling of dubious courage and murderous intent, he played us a deadly game until he realized he’d run out of enemies to keep us distracted and then fled into the woods. Rigg, my dear fellow, I do not know your full name, but I know a part, and your face, and your type. Though it take me seven hundred years and the fortunes of three lifetimes, you will not escape me, you nogoth gwarth. You would not spare a moment for those you resided with, so perhaps you should spend time reconciling with the dead, alone with your cowardice and lack of honor for I doubt you have guilt. Avo thano ruth vi gur alfirin. Tol acharn.”
On to happier thoughts, after defeating the Dancing Lady, we travelled to see the Dryad, Tiressia. A vision of loveliness and grace, she was, dear Diary, just the balm to cast the bleak thoughts of death and pain into the fog of memory. Lem had once again swung on the pendulum from Anarchist to Totalitarian, and I foolishly rose the bait. Dyimi had to bring our argument in front of the dryad to a close. We made arrangements to replace Melianse’s trees and turned for home. I am trying to decide if Lem is an utter fool, a devious mastermind, or simply wildly capricious. I read the letters about the development of the constitution and he seemed to despise the document every step of the way. Now he stands ready to use it for Dyimi to make unilatal decisions. Actually, he stands ready to use it for him to make unilateral decisions, seeking the Baron’s approval as an afterthought. Humans.
And so it is I come to you, dear Diary, to relate these events and attempt to put them in some context. Even as I have previously whined of my lack of focus in the Art, I begin to realize that Art alone shall, I fear, prove insufficient in this dangerous occupation I have taken up. If I were to tell anyone in Hymbria or Kyonin that the greatest peril I have faced in my life was as a Master of Coin, they would look at me as though I were mad or make some pithy remark about the covetousness of men. Men’s covetousness aside, I find myself only semi-prepared for the work required of me. I think I shall have to dispatch some communication to my brother to get a copy of that blasted book of his. If I cannot be the shining knight, perhaps my Art could use some shadow for a shield.