Dear Diary…strangers on the road

Two and a half weeks never went by so quickly. My head feels crammed with new ways to track things in woods, new ways to kill goblins, new ways to move quietly over leaves…

The others have been busy, too, of course. Raven has been at one of the temples in Hochoch, while Mikael disappeared to some secret Druid place in the forest.

Ezekiel is babbling on about some parchment he found in an obscure library that mentioned the “God of gods.” He wants to find out more as soon as he can.

The Richfest in Hochoch was exciting; big towns do it differently than we did in Ertuli. Of course no celebration will be like your memories of how they did it in your childhood…

Tomorrow we start for Hommlet. It’s quite a hike, but hopefully the journey will go smoothly.

****

5th day of Reaping, Waterday

When we stopped for lunch, I noticed some strange tracks on the ground by the road – unlike any creature I’d ever heard about. Not comforting.

Not long afterward, we spotted a boy in a bright red shirt making his way toward us. He seemed to be trying to hide from something, but Mikael hailed him, and then he came up to us.

We exchanged the usual about where we were heading, and Mikael asked if the strange tracks were “his people.”

The boy said yes, and laughed. (He did a lot of laughing.)

Mikael smiled, too, and said they were the Wandering Folk, the Tzigane – and that all Druids have at least heard about them.

The boy wandered over to Raven and tried to swipe one of his daggers…but Raven caught his hand.

That made the boy laugh. (I’m not keen on all this laughing.)

Raven smiled and held one of the daggers out to the boy.

The boy laughed again and took it. “You’re strange Gorgio,” he said.

“Aren’t all Gorgio strange?” I asked.

He laughed (again) and said yes, and then he said that he liked Raven.

Reminds me of a brother of mine…

About that time, a little girl appeared, calling for “Nicolai.” She came up and asked the boy what he was doing.

“I’ve been working, Marta,” he said, tossing the dagger casually.

“If you were working, you wouldn’t be showing me,” she said. And she told him to come along.

He invited us to come with, so we headed off along the road. Mikael (and I) realized Nicolai probably hadn’t seen Nori, so he told her to stay in the trees out of sight. A giant, hairy spider can be a little off-putting at first.

After a ways, we split off from the road – but were still going with the trail of strange markings. (Whatever animal that is, I’m not sure I want to meet it.)

Finally, we reached a clearing with several bright-colored carriages or wagons, several horses, and men and women in clothes of all kinds of colors. (Those tracks aren’t anything like horse-hooves or wagon wheels…)

The boy introduced us as his friends, and introduced us to his uncle (also Nicolai). (The leader is a dark-haired man…doesn’t seem to like us. Not like I blame him, but keep your wits on…)

Uncle Nicolai seems like a decent fellow. He casually told us that the horses would be less nervous if our spider kept her distance…which is much calmer than that inn in Hochoch who told Mikael “no pets.”

The uncle is also a musician, and an impressive one. He asked for our story, so Ezekiel unloaded the whole saga of him (Ezie) getting killed.

As he listened, the minstrel kept thrumming his instrument (a lyre or mandolin, I think) and when it was done he sang the story back to us. So, setting poetry on the fly – that’s pretty impressive!

When he was done, he said he usually got paid for his songs…but it was our story he was singing, so how could we be expected to pay for that?

(Glad he saw it that way, since it’s a long way to Hommlet, and we might need what little cash we have.)

Raven went off to talk to one of the horses (yeah, apparently Monks can do that, now. He’s really excited about it) until the ladies called us all to the campfire for dinner.

These Tzigane people are very friendly. One blond-haired girl even tried to sit up against Ezekiel, but he smiled at her and scooted closer to Raven, so she stayed next to her brother or cousin or something.

A dog came through, and seemed to be having a deep conversation with Raven. Beside me, Mikael was watching them closely. I can see it doesn’t seem fair that a Monk can do something that a Druid can’t.

As we ate our stew, one of the women offered to read Ezekiel’s fortune if he “crossed her palm with silver” – so he gave her a gold piece (which is not silver) and she looked at his palm.

(I would make a lousy salesman. “Can I interest you in this fine leather jacket?” “Sure. Oh, you want me to pay for it? But you’re the one who brought it up!” Better stick with Rangering.)

She told him many things—

  • remember the God of Gods’ rules
  • he’ll go on a long journey, and face a demon (oik!)
  • he’ll face ill health before reaching town (what a surprise!)
  • a rich merchant at the full moon will help him

We sat around the fire all evening, until one by one we dropped off to sleep. I told Mikael I’d take first watch (setting a watch? OF COURSE. Who am I again?). Feels a lot like a party, what with sleeping in the open air and being guests “of honor,” but…well…you never know.

The firelight and the starlight are beautiful, though.

****

I must have dozed off because suddenly the dog was licking my face, and the fire had died down.

I sat up and thanked the dog, who went over to lay down by Raven (I’ll say this for Raven, he makes a splash with whoever he talks to).

About midnight, I woke Mikael up and lay down – and in the morning we were all alive and had all our belongings as far as I know.

The Tzigane started packing up, and Mikael hurried over to talk to the horse (apparently he prayed for Speak to Animals this morning, to show he wasn’t outclassed by the Monk). Raven also went over to the horses and helped with their care – maybe being able to talk to the horses helps you take care of them.

Ezekiel gave a string of pompous, flowery speeches about unexpected friendship and what-not. (Why don’t you just say “we think you’re all crooks, and are unexpectedly pleased to still have the clothes on our backs”? If that’s what you’re really thinking? Ezekiel…)

Little Nicolai gave Raven a hug good-bye, immediately after which Raven told me he’s missing another dagger.

Reminds me of a brother of mine…

Ezekiel gave the chief a gold piece…and after the chief decided to not be offended (I thought it was a toss-up for a moment there) he called for Little Nicolai. The boy appeared, steered by his mother, and they made him give Raven his dagger back.

Well, whatever else, it seems we’ve made a splash. I hope they enjoy talking about these “weird Gorgio” for a while.

(Oh, one of them told me about the tracks. Apparently it’s something they do to the ground so they can find each other in the woods, and recognize their own trails. Clever. I’ll have to remember that trick.)

We were just about to leave when one of the ladies put a “blessing” on us. Ezekiel thanked her (at length – makes me think of a brother of mine) and we parted, finding our way back to the main road.

Looks like a fine day for marching.

****

Not too far down the road, I smelled something familiar. Oh, I’m getting really accustomed (and tired) of that particular scent!

Goblins. Five goblins.

Ezekiel took one down with his mace. Nori sprang into action and bit the neck of another one.

I was excited to try out what Master was just teaching me about Giant-Class Humanoids…and sure enough, my arrows flew true and hit my targets in the vulnerable places, killing them!

It sure feels good to be effective at something for once.

Mikael helped me search their pockets, where we found a decent amount of silver – and a parchment with weird writing on it. The letters seem to swirl and pulse in a way that gives me a headache.

Ezekiel is carrying it for now, since he’s the closest thing to a scholar we have right now.

(I asked Mikael what happened to his Magic Horn of Bubbles. He said, well, there was this guy bothering his sister, so he left it behind to try to make him leave her alone.)

If the rest of the journey is as quiet as this, I will be happy. No injuries so far, no “Ezekiel sitting on a snake” incidents, none of that.

We’ll have excitement enough if we really have to fight a demon.


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time (the conclusion of the last adventure) click here.

Find the next entry here!

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5 Stages of Singleness

5 Stages of Singleness

5 Stages of Singleness — Kimia Wood — single Christian

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

So. You’re Christian. You’re single.

There’s ups and downs that go with that territory, and if you’re like me, you might find yourself going through these five “stages” of singleness (probably bouncing between them with the shifts of the wind!):

Denial

Marriage? Bah! Marriage forces you to get along with a radically different person for the rest of your life, mirroring the love of Christ for His church in your self-sacrificial service to one another.

Who needs that work?

This is the mood where you think spouses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Every story on the planet includes a romantic subplot (if it’s not a straight-up romance story), every song on the radio (no matter what station) is talking about pairing up, and every person you know is “involved,” about to be “involved,” or trying to be “involved”…but that doesn’t mean you should take it seriously. Continue reading

Being Not Achieving—What Vacation Taught Me

Being Not Achieving—What Vacation Taught Me — Kimia Wood

Some things you gotta see for yourself…

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on vacation with my family. And I’ve been sick the whole stinkin’ time.

You know how any vacation goes…the expectation, the planning, the packing and list-making… This particular time, we were camping – so the organization of “this goes in my tent”, “this smells like food, so goes in the bear barrel”, “this is only for the car ride” was intensified.

I always over-pack for car rides, vacations, etc. I had my list of everything I could get done (see below) and anticipation was especially high since this is the last extended vacation for our immediate family for the foreseeable future (four adults’ work schedules are hard to coordinate).

But God allowed something else to happen. Namely, a “sinus infection” that is still making my voice softer and weaker than normal! Continue reading

Dear Diary…the journey home

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

First thing after breakfast, I accompanied Mikael back to the lower level. We know the water will start to creep in, now that the zombies aren’t running their pump, but it shouldn’t go fast enough to cause us problems.

And he wanted to try befriending that vicious-looking bipedal lizard thing.

So while the others hauled all the treasure up to our cart in the over-world, we made one last trip to the depths… Continue reading

Dear Diary…foes and fortunes Part 2

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We arrived at the VIP quarters without incident, and while I mixed up something to eat from the late guards’ supplies, Mikael cast Detect Magic on the jewelry we’d acquired from the harpy.

He pronounced a gold necklace to be magical, so Ezekiel looked over it. He has done a lot of traveling and studying, after all.

As he looked it over, he started cackling and whooping.

“I think,” he said. “I think this is a ‘Necklace of Adaptation’ – meaning it’ll ‘adapt’ your breathing to any environment: vacuum, gas, water, whatever!”

So we gave it to Lancell to wear, at least for as long as we’re in the dungeon, since he’s our front line heavy hitter. Continue reading

Dear Diary…foes and fortunes Part 1

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

Far above where the sun shone, dawn broke. Lancell and Nori the spider were moving again, and seemed none the worse for spending the night paralyzed. Even Ezekiel had color in his face again, so we headed out in our usual battle formation.

Down the hall, about the turn where Ezekiel was attacked before, the lizardmen (trogs) suddenly melted out of the shadows and fell upon us.

We must have startled them as much as they surprised us – that, or they were consumed with hatred to hit us – because two of them cut down their companions in front of them before we could even engage.

Nori pounced and sank her fangs into one of the stinking creatures, while Mikael leaned against the wall of the passage, clearly trying not to hurl.

I launched my arrow while Raven darted forward and did one of his Monk-ish palm-punches, stunning the trog.

The luck didn’t stay on our side, though. Nori was felled to the ground with a stone ax, and I…sort of…grazed Mikael’s arm with an arrow.

Lancell was dropping trogs left and right, while Ezekiel soaked up punishment until he was leveled to the ground.

I tell you it was my bow, but somehow it slipped from my hand and came back to whack me in the eye. My next shot finally flew true, though, and nailed a trog through the throat… The enemy was defeated. Continue reading

Dear Diary…a cakewalk – NOT!

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We left the chunks of ivory with Kelsier for him to get appraised and sold off. He’ll leave our shares with Olwin at the Slumbering Serpent — we wanted to get an early start in the morning.

We also hired a cart with detachable wheels that should make lugging treasure through the swamp easier.

When we reached the swamp I was happy to see the trail seemed less traveled than before. Apparently we’ve cut down on the traffic! Maybe without E.D. goading them on, the trog population will keep to themselves.

****

The 15th day of Wielsan we returned to the dyke that surrounded the dungeon opening. It seemed less oppressive than when we first encountered it, now that we knew a little more what to expect…and now that the Big Bad was dead. Continue reading

Dear Diary…mopping up

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

We ain’t very sneaky.

After leaving the elves’ house, we sauntered down to the Golden Grain Inn. Ezekiel bought himself some wine and talked to the innkeeper (Bertram) while Raven and I examined the fireplace (strangely fire-less) and the other two spread out through the common room.

The blacksmith’s son had told us about a secret signal the cultists used to identify each other – putting your palm to your forehead – so Ezekiel did that to the innkeeper.

Innkeeper excused himself, conferred with his cook, and went back behind the bar.

Ezekiel and Lancell hired a room for the night and went upstairs with the innkeeper while Raven and I pretended not to know them and tried talking to one of the men drinking at a table. Continue reading

Dear Diary…detective work

ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”

The Cleric of Velnius took his leave and left to attend to his rainstorm or something, so we all made our own signs of respect and thanked him.

We took the chance to ask Cleric Abramo what had happened to him, and after dismissing the newbie monks, he explained.

Apparently it was Misha, his lovely female cleric assistant, who got him involved (y’know, the one whose chainmail I’m wearing…). She asked him to go talk to some of the people at the Golden Grain, and he went with her, wanting to impress her and be nice. Well, turns out his drink was drugged or something, and the last he remembered was being tied up.

They took him off to the mud pit, and Explictika did her foul magic on him. When he came back, he was forced – compelled by the magic! – to do terrible things that he didn’t want to do.

As he talked, he kept dropping his head, very embarrassed. I whispered to Ezekiel to tell him I’m glad we didn’t kill him, and Abramo returned the sentiment. Continue reading