Sunchasers DH

A whole year older

As I write this, I can honestly say, this has been the best birthday ever!! And it is because I am celebrating it with my family, my Auntie Helga, Vari and BonnyAbby! I guess I never shared that bit of good news, turns out, something that completely slipped my mind, but I was 6, can you blame me, my Auntie Helga was way up north when my village was attacked, but I was so scared and confused, I totally forgot. Turns out she is now a sort of guardian along a well traveled path here in the Black Peaks, rarely any goblin sightings.

So, I decided to go to her place to celebrate my birthday. I figured the others barely noticed, they found some kind of ancient library, boring stuff as usual. But I am a whole 20 years of age, the big 2-0! Vari had gotten me a music box that plays the tune of the song me and Auntie sing together and Auntie gave me this big, thick, beautiful blanket to use on my bed back at the new base, I can’t wait to sleep under it!

Other then feeling my temper get worse at times, things have been going pretty well. Found out Vari has family, though to really reunite them, we have to take care of a major goblin threat. I welcome this challenge, because if I can kill off that particular tribe, then I know my village can finally rest in peace and I won’t feel that Daddy giving me this amulet wouldn’t have been in vain. Though….it has been looking a bit strange lately, a bit warped. But magic items don’t last forever and Auntie did say it’s been in the family for generations, so maybe time is finally taking it’s toll.

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Wish I knew

Today was a very trying day for me. I honestly don’t know what has come over me, but I just feel so impatient and angry all the time! I am sure the others will explain in detail all that we have accomplished, but fighting those goblins brought back such bad memories. It’s hard to make the others understand, to see that it isn’t so easy to just let go. To let go of the anger, because if I don’t have that….what am I to the world?

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At the Beginning of New Things
Log of Jessaila, unknown date

I feel I need to compose some thoughts on parchment. Today we collected the Dawnbringer fragment of Snowblade’s scroll by entering the temple in the wild magic zone of the swamp. I got some incidental effects where I’m now leaf-covered and no longer breathing. But that will fade… as today’s discovery shall not.

The temple was guarded by two magical guardian statues. All the Avvists got in by saying “Hail Avva!” The statues either replied “Greetings, servant of mighty Avva” or "Depart, thou who servest not the eyes of heaven.” (Grok clearly failed to get in, hence we know what they say for those situations.) Well, we had to get in to finish the mission; so I approached the statues and said “Hail Avva.” I hoped my doubts, driven by the discoveries about the Unknown God, would not result in the statues barring me entrance.

I think it nearly did. The statues started to say “Depart, thou…” and then… they stopped, and got a guilty expression. Movement that shouldn’t have been possible to a statue. Then they replied “Welcome, thou servant of the Most High!” Isabis then challenged them by saying “Hail to the Most High” and they let her in, too – looking even more disconcerted. The Dawnbringers present were shocked and nearly apoplectic.

How can I describe this day? Has it confirmed our discoveries? No, but I think it’s changed my state of mind. The magic in Avva’s own temple, cast to prevent all but his servants to enter, saw me not as a follower of Avva, but as a servant of the Most High. And still they let me enter. The Most High: know there’s a title worthy of that which I seek. Above every other, without peer or equal. The guardians of Avva’s own temple cannot bar me – the power of my master compels them to stand aside.

I am a servant of the Most High! The philosophizing Isabis and I have done – ideas based on our evidence, scant as it may be to convince others – it pales to this revelation. Isabis and I prayed to the Unknown God, asking to learn his name and know him. We’ve gained evidence of his existence… but today, from the mouths of these statues, we were recognized as servants of the Most High.

If HE were not there, if HE did not listen, then the statues would not recognize us as HIS servants. And if HE did not hear us and did not accept our prayer, then we would not have HIM as master. It means we have a relationship with HIM, a living and Most High God.

Why me? I suppose I understand how HE might have reached out to Isabis… she’s a scholar, from a noble Matha house, a princess. I was raised in a swamp with scant wealth to the family name, then I was taken for a mad elf’s slave. Certainly not the worst captivity, but one of the most degrading. At the lowest point of my despair, when I embraced Logair’s lies, justification for my race’s arrogance… that was when the Most High sent me a message, the poem I’ve burned into my mind. It challenged me to find the truth – but moreover, to start walking stumbling steps toward a relationship with the Most High.

Isabis speaks occasionally of inference, drawing results from known events. What then may I infer about the nature of the Most High?

The Most High is the highest power of existence. Even Avva and Moru must bow to HIM.
The Most High heard us when we prayed – HE listened, and responded.
The Most High is the Master of Circumstance – HE preserved the small clues to lead us to HIM.
The Most High showed mercy – HE called me when I was at my darkest, as far from HIM as I could be.

Most High, I am your servant. You know how far into darkness I have descended, just as the Crone dragged men down into slavery. I don’t know why you chose to show me a glimpse of yourself, but I want to chase you until I know who you are.

If you are the highest power, the creator of all creation, what can I offer you, even as a servant? I am nothing, and I know it. With the mercy I know you have, please take the nothing I am. It is all I have, Master.

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Spot of Trouble

Sitting here on Vari as the caravan is moving along and I felt I should record what happened. Ran into a spot of trouble as we made our way through the hills, plains goblins decided to attack us. To me, this isn’t anything new, goblins seem to attack any kind of caravan to get the supplies for themselves and kill off anyone who gets in their way. But this time it was different. The goblins here are being paid to raid caravans looking for a specific piece of cargo with a symbol on it.

Of course, this has all been told to me. Arm is still pretty sore and it is probably good I didn’t interrogate the goblin leader either, I’d probably end up killing it anyway.

…..I haven’t really felt like I have been part of the group as the days have gone by. Everyone else either can command magic or have powerful connections or come from a powerful family. Me. I’m just a girl from the Black Peaks with her drake. Maybe I should go back to doing guard duty back in the Black Peaks. At least there I am useful outside of a fight….

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How I Know It's Time to Publish
Log of Isabis Estolin, Cadulemet 17

It’s time to start publishing my travel journals. How do I know? Because that dratted ogre has found a bard and paid him to broadcast Grok’s version of the story. We got a sample earlier this evening when he presented it to the Sideways Sun in the “Bragging Right” circle. Grok’s version of the story doesn’t even mention what we were searching for, or what we found; it just has him defeating unrealistically large hordes of enemies while the rest of us “manage to stay alive” in the background. Oh, an apparently Grok thinks he’s the leader of our group. Argh.

On the plus side, his version and mine may be so different that people won’t even recognize them as being related to the same circumstances. I can only hope.

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Never Have Time to Write
Log is Isabis Estolin

Cadulemet 1

We took the job. We’re to go find “anything written” in a ruin sandwiched dangerously between gaunt territory and the salt weep. Should be exciting. So far, it’s mostly a long day on foot though.

Malaina was really upset earlier, but Jessaila talked to her privately and now she seems better.

Cadulemet 5

River travel is faster but boring. Having not much to say here, I’ve been working on my natural history notebook instead.

Cadulemet 11

Found the ruin today. They were full of scraps and fragments of runes, and we found a some serious treasure in the highest storeroom! There was a djinn imprisoned in a bottle, and there was a midget korret living on (literally on, as though it was a nest) a book of magic. When Thurirl looked at the book with mage-sight, it almost blinded him! It has a fascinating poem in the front, too:
“This book bears the blessing of the shining moon,
her power rising as a boon,
once for destiny and once for desire,
and twice for the will of the high.”
The original is in Kamil of course, like the rest of the book. This bears some serious reading, especially since it might have some bearing on the search for the name of the hidden God. Interestingly, the korret – his name is Fragment – had a quote from something else that was even more relevant:
" “Dragon Kings live on the Mountain of Smokes, Stars live in the skies. The Mountain Builders live in the earth, and Rebells live wherever they hide. Soreg, they hide in the twisted lands, and Ruul live by the seas, and Lyss hide among those who listen to them, and the Insia hide ’mong the trees. The wardens of power live each in their place, and passes down his decrees. But sad is the state of foolhardy elf who never looks higher than these.”
Jeshalaam Forthrunner, 718 – (living) "
I really should try to find whatever book that came from.

However, having spent maybe a couple hours searching, we barely escaped the place before it was overrun with A) gaunt elf lunatics and B) evil cronist mercenaries led by one of the 99 Knights! I think it was one of the castlebane division – he was big like the ogres he was babysitting, but he didn’t bother to really lead them. The groups were fighting each other, but it seems they mostly wanted whatever we happened to have found inside, so when they realized we weren’t inside (thanks to Grok, drat him!) they chased us. It’s been a long, long day. It’ll probably be a long day tomorrow, too. I just hope we survive to get some proper rest afterwards.

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What do you call a day when...

Log of Jessaila, Assimet 33 (?), 228

What do you call a day where your perception of the world is changed?

It’s taken me four days to ask Isabis my question about that puzzle-poem, but the answer she gave me is worth the wait. Not only did she agree with my interpretation, but she knew a similar piece of work – a song, the actual words to the song I used for my duck rhyme. We’ve both come to the same insane conclusion: there is some sort of mysterious god out there, someone my ancient ancestors honored as not just a god, but the God-Creator. And someone is trying to ensure this god is not remembered. Erased from the universe, expunged from the memory of mortals. But can a God-Creator be so easily exterminated?

It’s at once exciting and terrifying to ponder. But the truth of it all must be out there somewhere…

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Travelling Is Boring - That's Good
Log of Isabis Estolin: Assimet 36, 228

Well, it’s the end of the month, and my legs are sore. I’ll never understand why my companions were determined to through the passes. I think maybe Jamshid and Grok don’t like water for some reason. Still and all, it’s hardly the first time I’ve walked up and down a few mountains, and Grok and the drakes and the horses did all the serious hauling. We actually sold every piece of armor we took off the bandits, all three horses (we might regret that, I’m still divided in my own mind on the subject), all those blades we took off them…for a few hours I was rich beyond the wildest dreams of scholars. Then I paid off my latest debts, stayed in a hotel fancy enough for entertaining my cousins, chipped in for Vari’s feast of cows, did a little feasting of my own… where does all the money go?

Grok spent some of his on a fine cannon, which he apparently intends to wield in battle like some sort of exploding crossbow. I’m glad he didn’t have it a week ago, he would have besieged Norn VenVellesin’s house with it. From what I heard around the bar at the Fleeing Sun, that would have been a bad idea. Apparently lots of sunchasers have been through her little test, and while any amount of shouting seems to be taken as par for the course, everyone who got physical with her claims to have ended up on some sort of “grey list,” where the jobs are less interesting and more dangerous. I’m not sure what that means for us. Didn’t Grok try to set her house on fire? Still, if rumor has any truth in it, angry test-ees have in the past gone so far as to attack the foundations with elementals, throw giant boulders, poison her well – I hope that idiot got taken by the authorities for poisoning a water source! Anyway. Maybe we’ll get some benefit of the doubt on account of not all helping Grok with it. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, someone in the royal armory got the idea that I sent Grok there to get his weapon – as in, officially. I forget how much power there is in saying the name “Estolin” in Caskenneth these days. I still don’t know how Grok knew that, or even if he really did, or whether he just tried to tell someone I’d given him directions and they jumped to conclusions or what. Needless to say, Rayan was insufferable. Well, let’s be honest, Rayan is Always insufferable – someone needs to remind him that just because his father won the kingship doesn’t make him anything special. He’s such a spoiled town-clown anyway. His face when I brought out the Morning Sunrise! Priceless. I’ll never know how the bandits found a tin, but it’s obviously reached the point of being worth its weight in gold up here again. Between that and convincing both of his sisters that I really didn’t know about Grok and the cannon in advance, he finally retreated into faux politeness, and the rest of the visit was almost tolerable.

The temple managed to be almost-tolerable too, but they wouldn’t let me show Jessaila the Kamil/Vidoss codex of the book of Avva, not even just the usual open page through the glass. Someday, I’m going to actually get uncle Orran to sign an endorsement for me and come down and pull House on them, and see what’s on the pages they don’t leave open for everyone to see.

I wonder if Seiankornai could get them to open it up? He’s some kind of priest too, right?

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Grok encounters elf

Grok está intrigado co engano practicado por Norna. Quizais o costume Ogre de arrincar de linguas podería ser aplicada eliminar ese defecto de carácter desa cultura. Grok entende que os elfos non son resistentes e fortes, como ogros, entón quizais este é un camiño para a súa supervivencia. Grok buscará para saber se esta é unha característica innata dos elfos ou non.

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Notes to Self

Log of Jessaila: Assimet 30, 228

First, Notes to Self:

  1. Don’t piss off the ogre.
  2. Even if he (it?)’s being childish.
  3. Actually, especially then.
  4. Don’t get hit by poisoned arrows.
  5. New companions have very poor (read: violent) reactions to being deceived.

We had a bit of excitement last night after going to sleep. We did not find it necessary to post a guard. In retrospect, this was a mistake which I don’t think we shall soon repeat, for our camp was attacked in the night by bandits. I slew four, though I took a bit of a battering in return – and got nicked by a poisoned arrow. I’m still a bit shaky, though Isabis says she can probably work up an antidote and that it’s not lethal. Though I didn’t make out too badly from the fight, the younger of the dragons, Vari, received fairly serious injuries, and it set Malaina all aflutter with anxiety.

When we returned to our employer’s home, we then discovered that this entire ordeal – minus the bandits – was a test to screen good sunchasers from the pretenders. It seems the wolves we killed in the ruins are permitted to live there, led by a vargr; and, as we so efficiently destroyed his pack when it attacked us, he informed the bandits in order to get revenge.

Once this was made clear, my companions (Malaina and Grok in particular) were particularly offended by Mistress VenVellesin’s test, her explanation of that test, and the midnight misadventure with the bandits that it spawned. Several of them stormed out of the house, and Grok tried first to tackle Mistress VenVellesin (come to find out she was represented by an illusion) and then tried to burn the house down (come to find out it’s warded against that).

Malaina’s response, having nearly lost Vari, was understandable – though logically, it was not part of the test and more of an incidental event than anything else. It was the vargr’s fault for summoning the bandits, but that was not part of Mistress VenVellesin’s test. Some of the others, though, not so emotionally endangered, had near-tantrums of their own, as I noted. It’s almost like they’ve never been deceived before!

Maybe I’m just jaded from life, but I can’t seem to work up all that much outrage towards Mistress VenVellesin. Annoyance, certainly; but…

DOH! We forgot to pick up our pay!

Forehead-shaped imprint

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