Qatana’s Journal for – Pharast 12 – 26, 4713

Toilday, Pharast 12, 4713 evening
The Spirit Forest

We met a gnome in the forest today and he is following us in his wagon of many smells.

I’ve only known one other gnome, Elias, but from even the short time Zos has been around us I can tell he and E are as different as kale and cabbages.

Or cheddar and brie, as Timber suggested. Yes Badger, or gouda and parmesan. Or chevres and… guys, I think you’re getting side tracked on cheeses again. But yes, it is true: we did not bring nearly enough cheese with us on this expedition.

Where was I?

Right, we had not gone far this morning when we heard the sound of combat from over a rise before us. Kali, Ivan and I flew over to see what the trouble was and if it posed a threat to the caravan. We saw a group of hobgoblins attacking some people making a stand next to an over turned wagon.

Ivan swiftly placed a pair of arrows in one hobgoblin, while I created a pair of giant anacondas that began to throttle two of the attackers. Kali cast Slow on another.

It would have been better had we arrived sooner. Human bodies (and a few dead hobgoblins too) lay about. One of the humans took a blade to the head and toppled as watched.

So we stepped up our own attack. Kali caught one of the stinky hobs in a sticky web. Ivan used a telekineses spell and pulled another over by him, and Olmas and he treated it as a pin cushion. I closed in and bashed another senseless.

Soon the hob gobs all lay dead, but unfortunately all of their victims were no better off. Ivan used Deathwatch to see if there were any survivors, and that’s when we discovered our new gnome friend hiding behind a tree.

He suggested that righting his wagon was a priority because it might explode. I tracked down the horses that pulled his wagon, and soon Zosimus (“Call me Zos”) was explaining why he was in the forest with his now dead fellow travellers.

They were here to get something, or do something. Zos wasn’t sure. He was just a hired hand, who now wanted to get out of the forest alive. Thus when we said we were passing through to Minkai, he eagerly asked to tag along. Safety in numbers, and all that.

Zos has light blue skin and purple hair, in contrast with Elias’ green skin and complete lack of hair (I never thought to ask if this was natural or by choice). There were a fair number of gnomes in Magnimar, but I seldom went to the parts of the city where they dwelled, and so I cannot say if Zos is typical of his kind or not.

Huffy liked him right away, and that’s usually a good sign that someone is trustworthy.

It looks like we’ll spend the rest of the day and some of the next working on his wagon to ensure it (and he) can keep up with the rest of the caravan.Wealday, Pharast 13, 4713 morning
The Spirit Forest

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…”

This is how my morning began: with my friends singing to me. McLovin remembered. He’s good with things like that. I seldom remember on my own. For a while Kali used to do something with me, but then I went away and it’s been years since.

Wealday, Pharast 20, 4713 midnight
The Spirit Forest

We had another spirit visitor. This one was in the form of an angry man who materialized next to Dasi. Ivan cleverly used a mass curative spell, which visibly weakened it. It then menaced Kali, at which point I channeled energy a couple of times and the fade faded.

If nothing else these acts must in some way end the apparent suffering of these entities.

Moonday, Pharast 25, 4713 evening
The Spirit Forest, Kami Clearing

The forest has become more dense over the past few days, but only slowly such that if you were not paying attention you might have thought all of a sudden you were in a much darker and forbidding place than just a few hours before. The limbs of the trees are so close and interwoven above that the ground is bare of undergrowth and even snow. I rather much like it.

By mid day Miyaro had led us to a large circular clearing. A dense thicket of plants clustered around the forest’s edge, creating a barrier as effective as any wall.

On the near side of the clearing was a gate, and as we made to pass through we heard a voice say, “This is the place of the Kami.” Suddenly a warrior stood before us, blocking the way.

“Hail travelers. What is your business?” he asked.

He seemed put off by our answer of “Traveling south to Minkai,” and suggested the road would be a better choice for such a journey.

I countered that the road was controlled by the Oni, and that they had been harassing us. “Oh, why should they do so?” he asked. “Because we attack them when we find them.” I said. “Do you oppose the Oni?” he asked, becoming more interested in us. “We more than oppose them,” I answered, “we actively seek to end their control of Minkai.”

He then bowed and said, “You may enter.” But he did scrutinize each of us as we passed through the gate. As I did so a sensation of peaceful watchfulness washed over me.

Miyaro was delighted, and sitting down said, “Let’s remain here for a while.”

The day was only half done, and normally we would push on, but it was nice to escape the confines of the dark wood for a while, and clearly this place was special. We circled the wagons and made camp early.

Gradually we began to hear whisperings and chanting, but all Miyaro would say was, “It is the Kami. This place is sacred to them.” And then she flashed that smile of hers that could mean either everything or nothing.

Darkness fell and the voices of the Kami increased. Small animals crept to the edge of the clearing and gradually circled their way inward, along with small stones and bits of wood that seemed to roll in on their own. Small creatures peeped out from these creatures and objects. The Kami had arrived. One stepped forward and began to speak.

They wanted to know if we would assist them with an urgent matter concerning the Oni. At one time the Kami held the Oni imprisoned in the House of Withered Blossoms. But one hundred and sixty years before the Oni found a way to escape.

The way of the enchantment of their prison was such that as long as the Oni were present, the Kami could not enter. The Kami still could not enter, and so they knew at least one of the Oni remained.

“Enter this place and destroy the Oni such that we might enter and discover by what means the others escaped. In this way you will also aid your own purpose, for we know why you tavel to Minkai.”

The House of Withered Blossoms was some distance from the clearing, and we agreed to begin our journey in the morning.

Toilday, Pharast 26, 4713 evening
House of Withered Blossoms

It felt good to move about on our own two feet, although it meant the trek took all day. Miyaro led the way, as usual.

The House sat in the middle of a decayed patch of forest. The trees gave way to a corrupt garden of dead things and broken statues, and rising up from the middle was a tall pagoda made of white porcelain. Decaying petals of purple flowers littered the ground about it.

Dead vines clung to the building’s sides, but it looked like there were no windows at all. One large door was in front but we saw no other visible way of entering or leaving, except through the large hole in the golden roof.

Miyaro said that this was as close as she could come, and that she would return to the clearing. Before leaving she loaned us her fan, which was a delicately beautiful device that allowed us to send a message over a great distance, as well as making the bearer more persuasive.

Dasi gratefully took the fan, and then we got to work.

I cast True Seeing on Kali, and she used Darkvision and then created an Arcane Eye. Down through the hole in the roof, and past thick matts of giant webbing she sent it, passing by several half spider/humanoid creatures. Near the main floor was a human wearing filthy silk robes. Small spiders crawled over him and he plucked one off his arm and ate it.

And then the eye reached a door and could go no further. Kali sent it up and out and around to the door. Many small holes faced outward, but most were filled with arrows (“Poison arrow traps,” she murmured, “lots of them!”) before the spell finally expired.

Well, through the roof it is. But not until morning. Fortunately all of us can watch the house throughout the night to see if anything comes or goes. We had been told about the spider creatures, but also warned of hobgoblins, of which there had been no sign… yet.

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