It’s amazing what a few days can do. Time, and the cleric types, have us all back to fighting fit, and we’ve had a chance to assess what’s happening with our fortress in our absence.
First off, an entire detachment of men has come to find out about the God of gods, all following some guy calling himself Verachenk Jaln (is he actually after something else? Not sure, but I’m glad Miss Dree knows how to take care of herself). He says he heard about this place, and just convinced more and more men to come with him as he made his way here, all to learn more, and “protect the Arbiter” (meaning Ezekiel).
Also, a couple druids have come to follow Mikael; they say they see some flaws in the whole circle system, and they’re looking for broader ways to serve Obed-Hai.
When Lydia grabbed Sirion to help us out, word must have spread, as Ragni and Agni were also gathered in the fortress library with Usin’s battalion. They brought a big, burly man with a huge beard with them (his name is Keiran). When they introduced me, I thought he was struggling with fierce disappointment over my appearance, but turns out he was just mad that King Snuri almost took off my arm. And he’s not even the one who fumbled the block…
Ragni and Agni took me out south of the lake, where they’ve set up a tree house in a position overseeing the entrance to the valley. The ladder lets down into a palisade, so Madam Whiney and Master Chestnut can be included. Master Chestnut says they’ve developed a routine for patrolling, and all the activity seems to be keeping most wild animals away. (Not all of them, though – they shared some sausage that Keom made from venison they caught.)
The druids have mostly finished their grove in the copse near the road, and now they’re helping Keom and Ronhass plan out some fields and gardens in the rest of the valley (since we keep getting more mouths to feed). Oh, yes, Keom and Ronhass have some more aspiring monks that found us and are eager to learn under Raven. (Ronhass said they tried to hand off some dragon responsibilities, but the dragons get attachment anxiety if he and Keom are gone too long.)
As for Keiran… He says he hates undead – that they get stuck under his nails – and he traveled from Ten, which is mainly Flannish. When he speaks in Flan, I can basically understand what he means…but it’s a bit like when Uncle Yurgen got theological and suddenly he wasn’t using normal words anymore.
He said almost nothing while I was telling the story of the giants, and while Ragni was telling his follow-up story of when Madam Moonwhisper and Master Guil of the Glen first showed up (that’s the two new druids). He doesn’t look discontented…but it’s kinda hard to tell. Sirion seems at ease with him, though, and Sirion’s come through for us enough times that should count for something.
Part of me just wonders what Ehlonna is preparing us for, bringing all these extra hands to us…
Ezekiel told us a long, involved story about how he and Aliana took Agnar to investigate a cave hidden behind a door in their bedroom. They found some kind of creature, but Ezekiel got bogged down trying to describe it. Aliana called it a “shadow creature.” Apparently it can change its appearance, but it always looks like a shadow of something else. Ezekiel is going to put a ward on the door, as we don’t know if it’s friendly or not (but Ezekiel, who is friendly, wants it to stick around or at least come visit again).
He also said there’s “holy water” dripping off one of the stalactites in that cave – it’s shimmery, milky white, and if you drink it, it heals you. I’m not sure I want to know how they found that out. He and Aliana investigated it more thoroughly after the “ceremony” – but they haven’t had time to tell us the whole story…Ezekiel is too giddy.
He did officially induct Master Jaln and Sister Lysa with a ceremony in the chapel (and with Raven and Aliana’s help). He told me I had to come and wear something nice. I’m always wearing something nice. Sirion said it felt very Heironian, which is only natural.
I tried to scry the giants’ fortress to keep an eye on what the survivors are up to. The first night, someone had started laying out the bodies, as though preparing them for funeral/burial. By the next morning, all the lights were put out along the walls. I asked Sirion if he knew how to use the crystal ball, and he said he would try. He didn’t see the fortress for very long, but he said he found it, and they’ve started to move the bodies out (starting with the king and his men). He thought one of the hallways had a barricade of spiked wood, also.
It’s probably just as well Dame Clatrial insists she’s coming when we go back. She lectured Ezekiel that he was not taking proper care of Lady Aliana, and she needs her bodyguard with her from now on. Clatrial is a paladin, so I don’t mind.
Ezekiel called me and Mikael in to have dinner with the others in Haven’s great hall, so he could tell us all his big story. Yesterday he and Aliana followed the trickle of healing water up through cracks in the mountain until they reached the peak, and discovered the source – a Gold Dragon (one of the Good ones) lying in a cleft of the mountaintop. Ezekiel says he is old beyond belief (just his mouth is bigger than Mikael’s pirate ship) and is sitting there, waiting to die…but he’s been waiting there for lifetimes on lifetimes.
So Ezekiel did some nerdy gushing, and the dragon was tolerant and said he chose this spot to die because “his king’s King” would be founding a fortress here some day. Naturally Ezekiel has been over the moon ever since, and even Aliana looks like this isn’t something she’s seen before. Sirion looked thoughtful.
Anyway, they stayed up on the mountain until this morning when Ezekiel had another windwalk spell (that explains why he wasn’t around when I wanted to tell him about the giants’ barricades. Lydia said he and Aliana were working on a “project” in their bedroom, so we left it at that).
I did get her to mirror me and Agni to Mitrik so I could buy more healing potions. They sure come in handy when the clerics are busy…more handy than gold and gems, at that moment. Agni said he’s never been to Mitrik before and wanted to sketch some of the cathedrals, but we had to get to the meeting place for Lydia to pick us up.
Ezekiel has some people wanting to be healed of diseases, and then he says we’re returning to the giant fortress tomorrow. About time…we’ve given the surviving giants plenty of time to heal up and organize their defenses, and Aliana says she thinks some drow got away, too. And they can be even more dangerous than giants in some ways.
Anyway, I can just about land an arrow in the pass at the entrance to the valley from the rampart of the tree house, but Leomas says I should really warn the druids if I’m going to be doing that kind of thing, but I’m really not sure the arrows had that much power anyway, especially when her limp and the way she was holding her side were so obviously fake (although she kinda took Agni in, for a minute).