Dear Diary…new construction

Lydia joined us by evening, with some workmen and the Honerable Raunnd Vol to help us organize things. A born preparer, she also brought rations to keep body and soul together while we wait for the Caravan.

The Grand Duke is sending a caravan of men-at-arms to transport, and guard, the treasure…so it can fill a better purpose than sitting in a heap under some mountain. Ezekiel and Raven are traveling with them, and apparently so is Aliana and her squad, who were waiting in Gorna for them. Lydia said she took longer than she intended to return because she was giving instructions to Ronhass and Usin for boxing up all her things in Gorna and bringing them in the mind-cart. She says Ezekiel has gotten word about his temple “Haven” – and they’re going to build it at the lake south of here, by Cloudcatcher Mountain.

Luckily Sirion and I had gone back to strategize how to get the dragon out of the tunnel, so we could help Lydia and her party climb over the corpse and down the ledge. Sirion says he and Mikael can help the workmen tomorrow at building a ledge so the Caravan has an easier time getting down here (and we have an easier time with the dragon).

The look on their faces was so worth it when they saw the hoard. Even Master Vol had to stand and stare for a full minute just absorbing the sight. The brazier is still lit, so it’s definitely magical – and it throws a warm, bright light on the gold and gems and precious wood and cloth all around.

We have a collection of magic items in the portable hole, but that can wait for tomorrow. Or the next day. Plenty of time, and plenty to do.

****

Got some good work done today. With all of us, we got Flame’s body out of the tunnel, and Sirion and I started our skinning work. It’s going to be glorious. Lydia already claimed the brain…everyone needs a hobby. I have to trust Heiron to intervene if she starts Marquessa-ing around.

Mikael and Sirion found a robe that lets you camouflage…Mikael has to stand still for it to adjust, but it even works against a stack of gold, or the side of the pirate ship, or the stone wall. It doesn’t radiate magic, so Raven might even be interested…if that’s not giving him too much power.

Had a long discussion over dinner over the morality of eating dragons. They eat us, and eat other, but we don’t eat people…or orcs. Monks and druids can talk to animals, and we eat them (animals), but which category do dragons fall into? Anyway, it passed the time; I’m not sure the workmen had ever considered the question before.

****

Packed the knights’ remains in coffin-substitutes with their gear so they can go back to Fort Gellsblood more-or-less dignified. Master Vol has a whole list of potions and what he thinks they do, based on decorations on the bottle, their color and consistency, etc. I asked why potion makers don’t put clear labels on their bottles so people didn’t have to guess so much.

****

Ezekiel and the others arrived today. They came via Lake Mala, so their time in the mountains was shorter. Ez mentioned some huge statues he found very striking – there’re a man and a woman on either side of the path in one place, and a much smaller girl sitting down about a day’s journey away. All carved from the mountain, it seems, and Raven says the adults are at least 100 feet tall. This is the path that was only recently discovered, so the representatives from Lake Mala didn’t know anything about them – except that the scouts also noticed them. Ez much intrigued…wonder if he’ll want statues of his own at his temple.

Aliana and Sirion seemed to know each other, and Ezekiel wanted to hear about the magic items we found.

I think my favorite is a ring that Master Vol said had something to do with lies and truth. When I tried it out, anything I said came out as the absolute truth…and when someone tried to tell a lie, it sounded all squeaky and high-pitched to me. It’s going to be fascinating to discover how often we fudge the truth in the name of humor or politeness.

So relieved, the Caravan brought plenty of sacks and pack animals. I got a satisfying sample of the reactions to the dragon hide, and Master Vol got busy organizing lines of men to fill their sacks with gold and start hauling this mess out. (We packed the crown and scepter in their lockbox for safer transportation. Sirion thinks it’s from a noble house that doesn’t exist anymore, which I’m glad about because then nobody can get mad at the Grand Duchy for supposedly snitching their royal accessories or something.) I still hadn’t made any progress in repairing the carriage, but Commander Morandraj sounded hopeful. Maybe the roads to Lake Mala are good enough, it can help bear some of the load (after someone who knows what they’re doing looks at it). Mikael says he wants the pirate ship, but I have no idea how we would make that work.

Oh…so Aliana says she interrupted a ritual in the Shield Lands, and defeated some undead…as in, she didn’t kill them, she defeated them, and when they surrendered she commissioned them to gods of Good and sent them off as part of their church (the God over all gods’ church). Raven doesn’t seem convinced he likes this.

There’s enough bustle and people here now, we’re mostly in the way, so we’re heading down to Cloudcatcher Lake tomorrow.

****

When we arrived here, there was already a company of dwarves from Deepholm bustling around the valley, digging here, chipping stone there, surveying another place. Ezekiel got right to work, showing them the plans he and Raven have drawn up, taking their suggestions, and getting things started. Lydia and the druid types threw up some walls of stone to form a kind of stockade around the instant fortress and the work zone, so we can more easily control the passes into the valley and protect ourselves while the work is going on. One of the foreman said it would take “no time at all,” but he didn’t clarify if that was “no time” for a dwarf, or “no time” for a human.

Most of our forces are in the north of the valley, north of the lake near the big mountain, so we’ll need to keep an eye on the south trail (and all the unknown trails that fire giants can use, I suppose).

Agnar moody today.

**

I tried to cheer Agnar up by taking him on patrol, but I’m not sure it helped. I’m not a very good talker, and we didn’t find anything to fight.

We did meet an impressive party among the trees along the road – four humans, two centaurs, and a treant. The leader introduced himself as the Arch-Druid, and asked to see Mikael…so I convinced Agnar not to fight them and we told Mikael they were expecting him (the druids preferred to stay outside the stone walls, and I think at least for starting out everyone was more comfortable that way).

So Mikael took his disciples to greet the Arch-Druid formally, and Raven took Agnar off my hands by asking him for a training bout. Hope this depressive swing doesn’t lead him to drink an entire cask of ale again.

The other thing that happened involved me much more. The two centaurs walked into camp and straight over to me, and asked for me by name. They said they wanted my “help” – but I am still not really sure what kind of help they’re looking for. They say Sirion sent them a message suggesting they would like to meet me – which is very complimentary of him, after all we haven’t known each other that long – so they traveled with the Arch-Druid’s group. (The Arch-Druid noticed Mikael was growing stronger in Obed-Hai, and so he came to test Mikael so that the best man possible would hold the position.)

The centaurs say Sirion joined them on a hunt a while ago (they didn’t say if centaur “a while” and human “a while” is more similar or different), who maybe they want me to help them hunt?? I explained I have to stay here – at least for the time being – while Ezekiel sets up his Haven, and so we set out to get them some “mountain gear” (for their feet).

Their names are Chestnut Who Paces the Bounds, and Whinny Mother of Ten (she told Raven she used to be Whinny Who Dances in Moonlight; and I’m sure her outfit is perfectly normal for centaurs…but they look more like slave clothes than anything I’m used to seeing). I wonder if they will need armor? They are both very tall, even without the horse part, but when I asked what they’ve hunted in the past, they mentioned goblins, deer, and boars. Mikael might know more, but he’s in no condition to ask – he’s pacing outside pulling his hair out. Still, they seem very nice, and have taken to kneeling down when we have a long, involved conversation, so we are closer to eye-to-eye.

They also don’t seem as comfortable in Common as they’d like, so maybe I can help them with that, too. Madam Whinny was trying to explain centaur culture to me, and kept asking Master Chestnut for words.


Find the previous entry here.

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