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Old 06-26-2020, 02:47 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2020
Default Story so far, part 5

The next day, we were invited to eat with the Aldera family. However, it turned out that Madan was so debilitated it would be better to put them out of their misery, Lunas was still gone somewhere and the final member of the family, Mir, was a decoy, leaving us with only Isa. Where the real Mir was, was secret, but I deduced that they were somewhere to the far west. After the meal, we received word from Lunas, that they had an issue with some goblins to the north west. Goblins are similar to the orcs and also have green skin, but are much smaller, more devious and generally quite pathetic. The mountains to the north west seemed like a good place to charge the cube we had found in the tower, so we agreed to look into the problem. Looking at the stars, I got the impression that a leader had died. Interestingly, the mammals claim that rain in the month of Mitra means the king has died and it has later been confirmed that the king has in fact died.

We could not leave before the evening the next day, so the cube was placed in the dungeon to discharge it. In one of the cells was the ancient orc, Krull, whom I mentioned earlier that had seen Ashtar/Ssuxxakan but claimed they were not allowed to die. Unfortunately, this made Lunari hysterical and they ordered Grogg to forcibly drag me out of the dungeon. Most mammals are terrified of death and react poorly when reminded of their own mortality. While Grogg was carrying me out, the orc told me to tell Nujan that it was time for something to begin, which I did. Luckily, I got the chance to talk to them again later when we picked up the cube. They were familiar with the jungle to the east and pointed out the unbalanced sex ratio of the humans there and they knew about the Saplurp, claiming that it can only be harmed by attacks that can harm the dead. On the way out, they told me to tell Pakk, a troll living in the fortress, that it was time to go backwards. I believe Krull has some kind of prophetic abilities, or at least believe they have.

When the water receded from the causeway we left and traveled north west through the night in a wagon pulled by horses. The next night, we slept in a small village and there were lots of animal signs in the sky. We were woken by the animals in the village making lots of noises and wandering off towards something to the north west. After tracking them, we decided to continue on our journey, but I lost consciousnes while studying the stars. I do not remember anything before waking up from a horrible nightmare the next day, standing in a field surrounded by various animals. In the nightmare, I had been some kind of mammal and had apparently been affected by the spell that was attracting the animals. I believe the magic ritual must have been amplified by the star signs and the signs then affected me. The animals continued north west, being herded by giant ants while I slipped away without the ants noticing and intercepted the wagon with the others. A bit later, we reached a small fortified village at the edge of the Aldera territories.

In the village, it became clear that Lunari was both acting and being treated differently. They had an air of unfounded confidence that seemed to affect the mammals, making them follow Lunari's orders unquestioningly. Grogg and Nuur-Karif seemed more or less unaffected and Lunas, whom we met in the village, also seemed unaffected. Presumably because they knew the real Lunari. I was definitely not affected and I doubt it would work on anyone of The People. Through the ring, we could see some kind of spirit in Lunari's spear that Grogg claimed was a horse. It had not been there earlier and it seemed likely that some enchantment on the spear was giving Lunari their confidence. They were also more skilled with the spear and handling horses than they used to be.

Lunas informed us that the ants I had seen were controlled by the goblins through scents and the whole goblin situation was probably part of some scheme by one of the bickering noble families. Of more interest is what they told us of the wetlands. In the middle of the swamp are some hills that used to be the island capital of some forgotten mammal realm. On the far side of the wetlands, a mighty river comes down from the south. Guling is almost directly north of The Homeland, slightly to the east, and it seemed quite likely that the river is Haxiaxi. I have since found further evidence that seem to confirm this. The strange hybrid creature we fought in the wetlands is said to be the guardians of the hills and the area to the south is said to be the land of the dead. It is unclear what the mammals mean by this and they do not seem to know themselves.

After a bit of rest, I was woken by Grogg who had received a bottle with a foul smelling reddish liquid from Kra. It appeared to be of goblin origin and we speculated that it might be related to controlling the ants, which later turned out to be true. Following the trail of the charmed animals was trivial and we found a group of goblins and ants in the evening. Oddly enough, I could see both Ajaw and Amna in the sky at the same time. Lunari, under the influence of the spear, challenged their leader to a duel and won, becoming their new leader. It was clear Lunari was becoming increasingly unhinged and Nuur-Karif and I killed the goblins in the night, except one we used for information, and we took control of the ants. The goblins had cast some kind of spell on the animals that was supposed to bring suffering to the mammals under Aldera. Being of little concern to us, we left them for the Rama priests to deal with and returned to the village the same night.

In the morning, Ajaw did not rise, but Amna stayed in the sky. The mammals were panicking, screaming for Lunari to bring back Mitra, the poor creatures. Around midday, a lead star appeared in the north east, close to a sign the mammals call The Horse. This would place it above the plains to the north were Lunari's spear was from and I suspect it was connected to the awakening of the enchantment in the spear.

The next day, Ajaw was back to the relief of the mammals and we set out to charge the cube. I believed, and still do, that it would be better to do it at the hills in the wetlands, as this would place it directly west of the Azura temple and is said to be a place of power. However, Lunari was lazy, Grogg only did what Lunari said and Nuur-Karif did not care, so we traveled 2 days north into the desert. We killed the last goblin on the 1st night, despite Lunari babbling on about how the creature would teach them magic. The ants turned out to be very useful beasts of burden. Unfortunately, their meat tastes of salt, but with enough watering and the right preparation, I believe they could be quite delicious. On the 2nd night, we climbed on top of a mesa and charged the cube. This time it went much easier and I suspect we might have been too far away from a place of power. The trip back to the village was also uneventful and took 2 days. After spending a night in the village, we returned to Guling with the wagon.

By evening, we returned to the village were we had seen the animals escape from and decided to spend the night. I climbed a roof to observe the stars, but I lost consciousness again and I was woken by Grogg in an Ashtarite chapel under the ground. When I woke up, I proclaimed that I would become a mage. I have meditated on my experience and I believe I am supposed to combine the powers of the darkness and underground with the powers of the stars. I also have the impression that I would turn into a snake if I devoted myself fully to Ashtar/Ssuxxakan, but I might lose contact with the stars. I find both ideas profoundly disturbing, but also exhilarating.

Last edited by Stomoxys; 09-16-2021 at 09:58 AM.
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