Pharast 8 (evening, Forest of Spirits)
We’ve been in the Forest of Spirits for a couple of days now and it’s already been astonishing. I can only imagine what the next two months are going to be like if this is how it starts.
There really are spirits in here so it’s more than just a name. They aren’t ghosts, exactly—or at least, the one we encountered yesterday wasn’t—though they seem to be something similar. The one last night sort of … melded with Sandru. It wasn’t possession. Not like with Katiyana’s ghost. It was … different.
She was the spirit of a poet who had, apparently, died over a century ago (amazingly, Dasi had heard of her, or knew one of the poems or songs she had written) and didn’t know she was dead. Sandru was still Sandru, but he also had her memories. He could speak Tien, and was telling us her stories as though they were his own.
So what are they? They seem to straddle that line between true ghosts and manifestations—the sort that lead people to say a place is haunted. This gave us ideas on what we could do to keep them away, as well as forcibly expel them. The latter actually worked. I … was not expecting Ivan to try it out on the spot like that, but I didn’t exactly make that clear, either. It was the right thing to do, though. We don’t know anything about these spirits, including what might happen if they are allowed to stay in their host.
We also saw? met? our first kami yesterday. Miyaro explained that virtually everything in the Forest has a guardian kami of some sort: trees, animals, special structures, even geographical features. This one belonged to? was responsible for? a waymarker. The stone pillar had toppled over so we righted it. Miyaro suggested we leave a gift, and when we did the kami showed himself. Miyaro spoke with him (it?) for a moment, and then we went on our way.
The forest itself is kind of supernatural on its own, even without the kami and the spirits. The trees are enormous firs and pines that tower overhead, filtering the sunlight through their canopy. Unlike the forests around Sandpoint and Magnimar, we are hundreds of miles from anything even remotely resembling civilization. It’s still and quiet with just the occasional rustling in the underbrush from an animal foraging for food. There’s not a lot of snow on the ground, but there’s enough to dampen even the sounds of the wagons and our horses.
But it’s also isolating.
Pharast 10 (evening, Forest of Spirits)
Today, we were very rudely apprised that more than just animals make their home in the Forest.
I am kind of pissed off. All the warnings and stories about the Forest “not being a place for people”, and that we have respect the land and the spirits within, and on and on, and yet a group of stone giants is allowed to make a home—a literal, gods-be-damned home—here in order to waylay travelers. Really? We’re not allowed to just pass through, but they can move in and just kill and eat whoever and whatever wanders by? Makes perfect sense to me.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Pharast 11 (late morning, Forest of Spirits)
Personally, I would not follow a tiger back to its den. But I guess that’s a thing we’re doing now because I don’t know why. Radella, Qatana and Ivan took off after it about an hour ago and I’m just hoping they come back.
Dasi used a spell; he said the tiger was grieving. I don’t profess to know anything about tigers, but I can recognize “not typical behavior” when I see it. I thought for sure it was going to tear into us. And that we’d have to kill it. And that we’d be blamed for it. But it stopped short and just sort of sniffed the air around us.
Why chase off after it? To find out what’s wrong, I guess.
I mean, I get it. I understand what Radella is doing. It’s just … it’s a tiger. I may understand her intentions, but the tiger doesn’t.
OK. I need to stop worrying. They can take care of themselves.