as written by the cavalier Olmas Lurecia, himself.
Toilday, 5 Pharast
Since the ninja attack on the 26th, it’s been quiet and uneventful, although that’s entirely in hindsight. Every night before we go to bed there is still this feeling that you may be awakened at any moment with a knife at your throat. Our watch system did exactly what it was supposed to do in the ninja attack, and surprise was minimal from a strategy standpoint. But the feeling of vulnerability and accessibility lasts long after the attack itself is done. Each attack serves to revitalize and underscore the feeling of danger, and make us more wary, and less trustful.
On Miyaro’s advice, we are travelling near but not on the road, on the theory that travellers here are generally unhelpful to and distrustful of “outsiders” which of course we are. It is hard to forget that in the city it was uncomfortable to be viewed as outsiders and placed on a pedestal, and outside the city it is uncomfortable to be viewed as outsiders and placed on a target. In other words, there is no time when we feel safe and appreciated. It is a subtle thing, but it wears on one. I can only hope we find some (more) allies within the forest or in Minkai when we reach it. We desperately need to feel there are others beside us who feel this is a right thing to do.
Hah, and who am I to determine the “right” thing to do? This whole journey was originally due to Shalelu suggesting, “come along, you might enjoy it” and now I am effectively the personal guard of Ameiko. Who, by the way, doesn’t really want a personal guard half the time.
At least half the time she finds it tolerable now, up from 10%. That’s a faint silver lining.
But enough of that. Today, talk turned again to how best to obtain supplies for the coming trip without exposing ourselves to risk in Muliwan. It was decided that Kali, with her hair cut short by way of easy disguise, and Dasi, by virtue of his existing familiarity with the region, would make the best choices. I was torn, as I hate to see any of the group at risk and when the group is separated there is always risk. But ultimately I decided, and I’m sure Suishen would agree if I thought it out loud (!) that my primary duty is to protecting Ameiko. With two of our party missing for a half day, she is arguably at greater risk simply because there are fewer protectors.
The group provided the two with their ‘shopping lists’ and they also took the bag of holding with the stuff we would offer to sell. I am providing them with 3000gp of my share and my cash so that I may get the ingredients necessary to have Ivan enchant Shalelu’s sword. If she is going to insist on entering the battle half blind and on fire, she can at least do so with a rapier of high quality! 🙂
With the intent to be gone as short a time as possible, Kali planned to conjure phantom steeds for the trip there, dismount, dismiss them, walk rather than ride into town, do the shopping, leave the town, and then use Teleport to get back. (Teleport wouldn’t work on the way there because while Dasi might have some knowledge of the town, Kali has none and cannot teleport to place she knows nothing of.)
And after all was said and done, it was done. No issues – everything went according to plan. Better, in fact – Dasi turns out to be quite the negotiator when it comes to trade. They were back by 5pm with all we’d asked for.
During and after dinner, we quizzed Miyaro about the Spirit Forest. “It is so named because of all the spirits in it,” she offered unhelpfully. But she couldn’t describe the number, or type, or even whether they would be willing to help us as she was. Be prepared for anything, I guess.
Oathday, 7 Pharast
It was about 5pm today when we came across a stone marker overturned along the path. Upon righting it, we could clearly read “1200 miles to Minkai” on it. Hah.
But Miyaro seemed very serious about it. “You should leave an offering,” she suggested. Soon there was a silver piece, a flower of origami, and a song sung. Much to our surprise, a small, old looking man appeared from nearby and looked over the marker. He thanked us and we had a brief conversation. “If you help others,” he offered, “you will earn blessings of the local spirits.”
[ +1 to saving throws for one week ]
We set up camp that evening after a good day’s travel. We were sitting around the campfire earlier in the evening when some of us heard a humming, in a musical sense. Except, none of us were humming. As we looked around, first subtly and then more obviously as it became apparent more than one person had heard it, I began to see the figure of a woman appearing among us. It moved to be next to Sandru, and seemed to be oblivious to us.
And then it seemed to merge with him.
Several of us tried to stop that both with weapons and spells, but the spirit sank within Sandru and disappeared. We held our breath and looked at Sandru, who looked back and said, “What?”.
Or his eyes did. His mouth began humming a now-familiar song. Dasi tried the direct approach, asking Sandru/spirit, “Where’d you hear that song?” Sandru/spirit responded with, “I’m a poet. I wrote it.” The conversation was taking place in Tien, a language that Sandru does not know. As Dasi continued the conversation, he translated for us. The spirit seemed to not realize she was a spirit, nor that she currently inhabited a man, She spoke in the present tense, but from time to time Sandru would also respond. For now, they seemed to be harmlessly coexisting, but we had no idea how long that would remain harmless.
It was Ivan who finally hit upon “dispel magic” as the means to make the effect disappear, after protection from evil, channelling, swords, and even ghostbane dirge seemed to have no effect. With the spirit gone, Sandru seemed to return to his normal self, although … I wonder if Sandru will retain some knowledge of Tien now …
Moonday, 10 Pharast
Around noon this day, we heard a birdcall. It was the first sign of life we were familiar with in some time, so it should not have surprised us when Nihali reported, “that was not a bird.” And in short order, a stone giant stood in our path and asked under “what right we came to his home.” When he made a comment about horses being tasty, Kasimir trembled angrily, and I calmed him, saying this was not his fight. I quickly dismounted, drew Suishen, and turned on his flame.
There were three altogether; two others were heaving rocks at us (fairly inaccurately, thank goodness.) Qatana quickly put a hold on one of them, and the other two quickly fell, in no small part to Ivan’s Deadly Arrows. I think the man has three bow arms and two quiver for each bow! I personally decapitated the giant who had been held by Qatana – like killing really big fish in a really huge barrel.
With a little tracking, we quickly found the giants’ residence. Inside were 20 cargo units of salted and preserved meats! But we have room for but a little more than 3 on our downsized caravan. We also took
 25′ woven tapestry (about 300gp)
[459,460] white tiger skins (about 500gp each)
 3 barrels of sake
 2 bolts of fine silk (about 150gp each)
That evening, I was able to accept Shalelu’s finished weapon from Ivan and formally present it back to Ameiko as a +2 rapier. She seemed pleased.
Toilday, 11 Pharast
We had barely gotten started for the day when a giant tiger approached us, roaring and snarling. However, it stopped a good 30 feet away from us instead of closing and attacking.
Miyaro observed this tiger was not acting right; Radella tried using all her ranger skills to befriend it. Dasi said, after some concentration, that he sensed grief. The tiger finally turned around and loped away.
Radella followed it. Qatana ran after her. I was a bit concerned about them, but also concerned that this could be a ruse to distract us before attacking the rest of the party. Radella, however, broke into a run. Ivan joined in, so Ivan, Qatana, and Radella were now hunting a large tiger.
Regardless of the tiger’s intentions, this just seemed like a bad idea. But my hands were tied – Ameiko and the majority of the party had to remain my primary focus. Off the three went.
Upon returning – they did return – they told us how in short time they noticed the smell of smoke in the air. Trying to locate it, it wasn’t long before they noticed the translucent form of a female human appear and move next to Ivan. Remembering Sandru, Ivan promptly ran away. Qatana’s channeling positive energy had a noticeable, deleterious effect upon it. It kept moving towards Ivan, though, and Ivan could easily keep away from it. A second channelling, though, caused it to fade away, leaving a smell of acrid smoke. There was clearly a story here, but we’ll never know it.
Twenty minutes later, they did find the lair, or rather home, of the tiger. There was a dead body in the cave, but it was not dead at the tiger’s efforts. Still, weren’t these things supposed to be immortal or nearly so? It appeared to be the figure of a small creature not unlike the one whose marker we righted.
Radella offered a small amount of food to the tiger, which hesitantly accepted it before seeming to relax a little. The three of them, upon the advice of Miyaro (via sending) took the body out of the cave and gave it a proper burial.
Miyaro expressed concern about all this, and said she would mention it to the Kami,