Elystole's Journal

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Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:52 pm

First Entry
They said I should start a journal so I'm giving it a shot. Maybe getting these things out of my head and onto parchment will help. And I don't trust my memory anymore. The fog is too thick. I don't even know what today's date is or how long it has been. For a while there I forgot how to eat.

I keep trying to remember what she looked like and how she smelled or how she felt. But I can't. Every time I close my eyes to picture her all I see is blood. And terror-stricken eyes. I can't get the smell of blood out of my nose and I remember how cold she was.

I wish I hadn't been the one to find her.

Second Entry
I can't sleep. I haven't slept in months. I fall unconscious sometimes, but it's only for a few bells. And there's the nightmares. Someone is screaming for help, but it never comes.

This house is too empty. My bed is too empty. I've piled up some pillows next to me and covered them with a blanket, and it helps a little to fool my brain into thinking that someone's there, but when I'm awake I know better. I walk the halls and the new boards where they replaced the flooring are obvious. There are ghosts here.

Third Entry
The fog's claiming more and more of my memory. Everything since I found her is gone. More and more of our marriage and courtship are gone. The years are just disappearing. I'm desperately trying to hold on to what I can – to the way she'd walk, or sing, or try to sneak up on me. The foods she liked and didn't like. But I can't. Some days I only remember her because of the goggles on my head and the rings around my neck. I hate those days. I hate myself.

She'll be gone, really gone, if I can't remember her. Then I'll have lost everything. He'd have taken it all.

Fourth Entry

Jenaine. Jenaine. Jenaine. Jenaine. Jenaine. Jenaine.

I still remember you.

Fifth Entry
I sold the house. Our house. I'm sorry. I'm so very, very sorry.

Sixth Entry
There was another killing. Another murder. Let's speak honestly, you and I. Brown hair, fair skin, hazel eyes. Just like her. Same sort of wounds. That bastard is still out there.

I found out by accident. The Captain's been hiding it from me. They all have. Said they didn't want me to be upset. [Frak] them. I'm the best damn tracker they have. How dare they keep this from me? There's not a man alive who can hide from me. The trail was cold last time, but this time? This time I'm going to find him.

I marched into the Captain's office when I found out and just started screaming at him. I screamed until my voice went out. I insulted him, his parentage, the Peacekeepers, everything. He could have court martialed me. He should have. Instead he just sat behind his desk and took it and just sort of looked at me. I think I saw pity.

[Frak] them.

Seventh Entry
I got him. I swear, I got him. I found that bastard walking around the woods without a care in the world, and I put two shots in his chest neat as you please. He never saw it coming.

I know it was him. I've been following him for weeks and I finally caught up to him. He's been getting sloppy, thinking no one would find him. I was a little too slow though... Just a bit too late. Again.

I didn't bury the body. Let him rot.

Eighth Entry
There's been another murder. I'd say it was a copycat, but it just doesn't feel that way. His hands are all over it. Same sort of girl, same sort of wounds. I shot that bastard. Twice. What kind of monster walks away with two holes in his chest?

I'm on the trail again. This time I'll do it right.

Ninth Entry
I got him. I know I got him. I got closer this time to make sure. He saw me, but I don't care. I doubt he recognized me. I doubt he had any idea who I was or why I was hunting him. But none of that matters because I put a shot through his face. There was nothing left but blood and bits of bone. And this time I brought the body in to make sure he was dead.

That upset a few people. There was a talk about my “vigilantism,” but a mass murderer is dead so I think they'll look the other way.

I still see blood when I close my eyes, but maybe it isn't hers. Maybe now the nightmares will stop. Please.

Tenth Entry
This is impossible. I know I killed that bastard. I watched his face explode. But there's been another murder and it fits the pattern: Same sort of girl, same sort of wounds. And this time there was a message on the wall. “Still here.”

Back on the hunt.

Eleventh Entry
More murders. More messages. “You can't stop me.” “I'm immortal.” “Still here.” The old veterans are saying that the guy sounds like he's “Undying.” I've heard about it, but never actually met one. Whoever it is, he's being careful. He's not leaving as much of a trail. But I'll get him, I'll chase him all over Arad if I have to, and when he slips up I'll be there.

Twelfth Entry
The nightmares are worse than ever. There's not one voice anymore but dozens. All of them crying for help; all of them asking me why I didn't come sooner. Asking me where I was that I didn't come home when I should have. Asking me why I let her die. Asking me why I failed.

Every time I walk in on another murder scene, it's like I'm walking back into my house. I see her again and again and again. She's died a dozen deaths. A thousand deaths. All of the girls are her.

Thirteenth Entry
I found him. I wouldn't have believed it, didn't want to believe it, if I hadn't seen it for myself. But there he was, up and walking, after I had ventilated his face. He saw me and this time he recognized me. And the bastard smiled.
“You can't kill me,” he said. “I'll just keep coming back.”

So I didn't. I blew out his damn knee. He was reaching for his knife as I walked up so I put a shot through his hand too. Then I tourniquet both limbs before he could bleed out. He screamed then, which was good. I've always heard that a good tourniquet hurts worse than the wound itself.

“She won't come back. None of them will. This won't bring them back.”

I know that. I'm not stupid. But this was never about bringing her back. This was about making him pay, about making him stop, about making an example out of him. This was about making him suffer in some small way for how much he's made me suffer. Made us suffer.

I dragged that scum back to town after knocking out his teeth when he wouldn't shut up. I kept a handful of them. I'm not sure why. Mementos, maybe. Something to remind me that all of this was real in case the fog tries to take it. That I really did hunt that bastard down and make him pay.

Last I heard he was chained to the floor of a sanitarium. With his ruined leg locked out straight in front of him and eating his bread and water with his left hand. I hear they cut the bread up in little cubes and soak it in the water since he has no teeth. I hear they'll keep him there until he dies of old age. They say he cries himself to sleep most nights, trapped in his broken body, and that the sanitarium is a preventative measure. Good. Let him suffer.

I slept last night.

Fourteenth Entry
I'm leaving. People have been saying that it'd be good for me to get away, but I think they were imagining a vacation somewhere warm up north and not a one-way trip over the Wall. But there's nothing left for me in Grum. The fog's claimed all of my best memories, leaving nothing but a bittersweet ache in their place. The pain is less stabbing now, but I don't think it'll ever go away.

The Captain was pissed, but there's nothing he can do to stop me. The request came down from a Tinker: Volunteers to go over the Quarantine Wall and into the West to reconnaissance the land for a future research enclave. The idea is to find cures for the myriad horrors locked up over there before the quarantine fails and we all get killed by plague, Resen, Canim, netherim, or something else.

Once I go over that wall I can never come back. I'll be contaminated. It is, for all intents and purposes, a suicide mission. That's fine with me. There's a training and selection process at the College to explain what I'll be looking for once I go over.

Wish me luck. Maybe I'll see you soon.

Fifteenth Entry
The Tinker suggested that we go over the wall in the winter because it might make the various things trying to kill us less active. Yeah, well, it also meant I nearly froze to death. I caught something after going over the wall – not sure if it was The Plague or something else, but it may as well have been. As far as I can tell, I got separated from the others and spent my time walking around in the snow, delirious with fever, and pitching my gear and clothes behind me.

A woodsman found me mostly naked and clutching this journal to my chest after I fell into a snowbank. Thawed me out and brought me home to his family who got me medicine from the infirmary. At least, that's what he tells me. I don't remember anything thanks to the fever.

I've lost my uniform, my research equipment, my survival gear, and my long gun. I've lost everything except for the important stuff: This journal, my goggles, our rings, and that bastard's teeth, which I strung on a cord and have been using as a bookmark. And that's a miracle in and of itself.

These folks are poor. Dirt poor. And they found me with a pretty bit of gold and silver around my neck. Yet, rather than just let me freeze to death and then take the rings, or even take my things and hawk them for the price of the medicine, they just took care of me. I haven't seen anything like it in a long, long time. I kind of forgot that people can actually be like that.

They say the town I'm in now is called “Shadgard.” It's a dusty, dirty mining town. I seem to have kicked the worst of the sickness, but it did a number on me: Between cooking my brain and wasting away, I'm a shell of who I was before. I feel like I'm going to have to learn to do just about everything all over again. And I need new equipment.

Sixteenth Entry
There are good people in this town. They're honest, simple people, and I don't mean that in a bad way. They're simple in that they aren't pretentious, not that they're dumb. I've had people help me get some food or earn some riln, and someone even mailed me a set of furs so that I wouldn't freeze to death. This is far more hospitality than I expected to find in the “Lost Lands.”

The only trouble I've encountered so far is Miss Relena. She's the spitting image of Jenaine when she was younger. It was like seeing a ghost. I bolted when I first saw her; just stood there stupidly for a moment then turn and ran. I'd avoid her if I could, but she runs the general store. It's the only place in town for tools and rations.

It kills me a little each and every time I see her. Like the old wounds are still fresh.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Avedri » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:02 am

Awesome read. Thanks for taking the time to put this together and of course for sharing.

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:36 am

Kingsday, 27th day of Januarum of the year 1214.
I died today. And yet I’m here, writing this. I don’t understand.

There was some sort of disturbance at the abandoned caravan and the call for aid out went out over the network. After way too much standing around and talking, we finally pushed the invaders back. Then we withdrew. Then we went down the hole – where I knew they had to be coming from – and dealt with some weird growths. Then we went back topside before hearing of an infested bowtruckle – they’re some sort of giant beetles – brood. Then we went back into that hole.

That’s where I died. The memory is fuzzy, but I remember my muzzleflash illuminating the tunnel and seeing glimpses of shells and claws. Someone shouted “Run!” and then I was knocked down. Then nothing.

So why I am here?

I lived a good life. I served the Peackeepers and put evil men in the ground. I died holding the line against Resen-infested giant beetles in some forsaken tunnel underground, but not before putting down my fair share of infested. As far as deaths go, that’s pretty honorable.

By all rights, I should have gone on to my eternal reward. I should be asleep. We should be reunited.

Why am I here? What did I do that was so wrong that I’m denied death? What will happen to me when I finally don’t come back? Am I doomed to be just another lost soul?


I’m Undying. I’m a monster too.

Artisday, 31st day of Januarum of the year 1214
I got my hands dirty today. I haven’t done wet work since – you know.

I was minding my own business when Golyat, or “Da Gol,” or whatever his name is – he doesn’t seem to grasp pronouns – and this other guy started talking trash to each other over the network. Something about a bounty. Anyways, it didn’t concern me any until Golyat seemed to get the upper hand on the guy. Then he started crowing and said something about “Shadgard’s warrior.”

Okay, that got my attention. At least enough for me to try and retrieve the guy’s body and ask him some questions. Well, I didn’t get his body, someone else made a big fuss about that, but I still got some answers.

I ran into this templar called “Alexander” along the way and he decided to come with me to get the body since it was in the Dusklamp Tunnels. So I asked him if he knew what was up with “Shadgard’s warrior,” the bounty, and whatever else. Long story short: Golyat made an attempt on Miss Relena’s life.

I saw the guy’s name on a wanted poster in town but it simply said “assault.” What “assault” says to me is that you got a bit overzealous at a bar fight. It does not say “tried to murder a young girl in cold-blood.” That’s a completely different story.

So I convinced Alexander that we should go after the bounty ourselves. He agreed but wanted to talk about it first – I don’t know why: the wanted poster had a sketch, Golyat had announced where he was, and I’m pretty sure we saw him run past us a few times in the tunnel. It’s not like there’s a lot of people running around Dusklamp. But I’m still feeling pretty weak from the sickness so we did things his way.

We ran into Gad along the way and I asked him to join us. Then the two got to talking about plans and strategy until I finally convinced them to just try the direct approach. So we started heading back to Dusklamp. Alexander spotted Golyat and knocked him down then tried to take the bastard alive, but he up and ran. Got him in the end though. He’s not so tough when he isn’t picking on unarmed young women.

Then I took his head and dropped it on the deputy’s desk. I don’t know if they do scalps or hands or what in Shadgard, but there’s no confusion with a severed head. But of course Golyat came back. Damn Undying.

Anyways, it was a pretty good hunt. And I was pleasantly surprised that neither Alexander nor Gad said anything about running Golyat down not being “honorable” or “sporting” or some other nonsense. You don’t duel rabid animals. You put them down.

Still, Alexander said some bull[crap] about “let justice be served” or something. This wasn’t justice. There’s no justice in a world where the wicked prey on the innocent just for kicks. Justice would be some angry god striking scum like Golyat down the moment they raise their hand against someone.

No, this was vengeance. But that’s okay. I’ll take what I can get.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by faylen » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:20 am

Love it! You write very well.

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Lae » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:06 pm

I wish more people did these kind of things!
[FROM Rias (OOC)]: Jaster can now pick the lock on your bathroom door. I don't want any more details on that bug report.
You ask, "Are we there yet?"
Bryce angrily says, "I will turn this horse RIGHT AROUND."
Speaking to you, Jaster exclaims, "Compassion, Sister Lae!"

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Bryce » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:22 pm

Yeah, this was real nice. I'm gonna have to start my own.
ask jes for date
The horse thief Jessie doesn't seem too interested in talking about that.

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Makkah » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:49 pm

Very nice write-ups. I look forward to reading the next one... about today.

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:29 pm

Citisday, 1st day of Februm of the year 1214
Today was another “interesting” day. I guess there’s some sort of cult running around and trying to bring back some old, forgotten god, and of course it isn’t the god of puppies, cupcakes, and rainbows. No, it has to be the god of “blood, sacrifices, and feasts.” That last part doesn’t sound too bad, I mean, who doesn’t like a bit of gluttony now and then? But given his other tastes, I imagine he’d screw even that up.

[Redacted for IC knowledge]

Knightsday, 6th day of Februm of the year 1214
Today was productive. First I got to talk shop and local history with a long-term resident of Shadgard. I’ve got a few names to keep an eye on.

[Redacted for IC knowledge]

What is it with people attacking Shadgard? It’s not like it’s some military power menacing the region. It’s a mining town full of people just minding their own business. It’s not even snobbish like Mistral Lake.

Anyways, I know they’re good tips because later in the evening I had the opportunity to speak with Samuel Cotton, Sheriff of Shadgard, about “decorating” the jail deputy’s desk. People have been doing terrible things in town, but he hasn’t been able to find anyone to take care of it. Seems the Mercenaries are mostly talk and don’t actually take contracts if it involves a bit of risk. They might upset someone.

Well, I’ll take care of it for him. People like that deserve nothing less than bloody, painful death. And if they don’t have the decency to stay dead, you just have to kill them again. And again and again. Until they get it through their skulls to leave good, honest folk alone.

Citisday, 8th day of Februm of the year 1214
What a busy, interesting, but educational day. I’ve been running around almost nonstop speaking to various people for one reason or another. At least I’ve learned some more about Shadgard and the more interesting residents of these lands.

[Redacted for IC knowledge]

I don’t care how much she’s trying – and failing – to play nice. Some things are unforgivable.

Knightsday, 13th day of Februm of the year 1214
Golyat killed me today. And I’m still here. So I guess getting ambushed and dying stupidly isn’t the key to moving into the hereafter.

I got sloppy. Careless. Comfortable. He got me just inside the canyon while I was riding my workhorse with a loaded wagon behind me. Not exactly the ideal situation for fighting or running.

He’s taken a few swings at me since our last altercation, but I was faster than him. I’m not about to go toe-to-toe with a guy wearing full plate and carrying a big flail. That’d be moronic. But it had been a little bit since he last tried and I had even started wondering if he hadn’t taken his lumps and moved on. That’s also pretty moronic.

I thought a bit of a break after last time might do me some good. Work with my hands again and create something instead of always killing things. Maybe give “normal” a try. Well, people like me don’t really get to be “normal.” It’s all or nothing in our line of work, and deluding ourselves otherwise just gets us killed. It is past time I went back to work.

Pretty humiliating, truth be told. Maybe I ducked the afterlife just to avoid the ass-chewing the old Master Sergeant is going to give me when he sees me.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:48 pm

Artisday, 14th day of Februm of the year 1214
I am starting to hate bowtruckles. I’ve heard people say they are important to nature or whatever, but all I’ve seen is that they are particularly susceptible to virulent Resen infestations. And then there’s that “preserve” just outside of the canyon, which is just inconvenient.

There was another outbreak at the abandoned caravan and this time the broodmother went topside with all of her damn spawn. There were at least three dozen of them. We made a good first push and did some damage, but during the second push I got mobbed by the broodlings and the broodmother spat something at me. It’s probably good I don’t remember what happened next as I imagine being dissolved by acid is an especially unpleasant way to die.

Anyways, I was handing out poultice-treated bandages like they were candy before dying. That is something I don’t understand: If you fight regularly, you should always have bandages on you. That’s just common sense. And if you don’t have bandages, you should be double-timing it to the infirmary the moment you start leaking. Not standing there complaining that you’re losing vital fluids as if [witch]ing would somehow help.

“Proper planning and preparation prevents piss-poor performance.”

Citisday, 15th day of Februm of the year 1214
Second Infested outbreak at the abandoned caravan in two days. I didn’t die this time. People were standing around outside the route to the caravan talking about what to do when there was spore exposure. Then they stood around some more. I left just as they were attacking each other.

Good thing too as it turned out to be a rout. I returned to help with extraction. Sometimes the only way to win is not to play.

Queensday, 18th day of Februm of the year 1214
There was a murder today. Someone murdered Cole, the greeter at the Saucy Templar, right there in front of everyone. That's pointless, cruel, and brazen. Cristabel, who I think was his wife or girlfriend, called out over network that people should be wary of people from the Corvus Outpost. No [crap]. That’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part was that Acarin and this “Zeel” guy protested over the network that being affiliated with the Outpost doesn’t automatically make you a murderous bastard. Maybe not, but you are guilty by association. Maybe you haven’t actually spilled any blood, but you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep. Why would anyone willingly associate with known murderers if they didn’t somehow support their actions? Decent folk drive murderers out of their communities. They don’t invite them over for drinks and polite conversation.

More than a few people need to be more careful with who their friends are.

Anyways, Acarin protesting his innocence is laughable, but I don’t know if he or Zeel were actually involved in the killing. They admitted to being on site, but that’s not the same thing. I wrote Cristabel and Sheriff Samuel asking for more information. Maybe I’ll get a few more names for the List.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Sat May 24, 2014 4:27 am

Artisday, 21st day of Februm of the year 1214
People have some strange ideas about redemption around here. I can’t determine if they are foolish, stupid, or naïve. Where I’m from, people who are penitent actually act, you know, penitent. They don’t just keep doing what they used to do while talking about how much it tears them up to do it or how sorry they are.

Case in point: Kiyaani. I had it out with Matilda in the Shadgard gatehouse in front of four militiamen because Kiyaani had some sort of tiff with Alexander and threatened to come to Shadgard. So I posted myself there to help run her down. Then Matilda walked up and I asked if she had seen Kiyaani.

That started this heated talk about how Kiyaani had a “checkered past” and was seeking “redemption.”

No. Just… No. Blowing up a town’s gate so that a warlock, some assassins, and an army of demons can invade town and kill dozens of innocent people is not “a checkered past.” It’s sabotage. It’s murder. That’s not checkered; that’s dark as nether. Which she happens to use.

And that’s the thing: Nothing has changed. She still uses nether. She’s still an assassin. She’s still bat[crap] insane. And she still gets defensive about that warlock Sceptus.

If she was sorry, if she was truly penitent, she’d renounce nether-usage and join the Order. Or join a hermitage. She’d actually try to make amends – like paying for the gate she blew up - instead of simply run her mouth. She’d denounce Sceptus instead of try to defend him. At the very least she’d stay as far away from Shadgard as possible rather than repeatedly threaten to go there and stir up all those old memories whenever she gets her bloomers in a twist.

How are the widows and orphans supposed to feel when they see their loved ones’ murderer walking around the same streets she helped stain with blood? What is wrong with people around here that they think that’s a good idea? Not everyone just shrugs off death like the Undying do. For decent folk, losing a loved one to violence is traumatic.

If Kiyaani was really sorry, she’d walk west until she hit the sea. Then she’d keep walking until she felt Verungnr’s tentacles wrap around her legs.

Citisday, 22nd day of Februm of the year 1214
Rumor has it that Golyat was the one who killed Cole. I might have guessed. I can’t possibly fathom what goes through his mind that he walked into the Saucy Templar, saw Cole, and thought, “You know what? Murdering this guy in front of everyone sounds like a good idea.”

It just doesn’t make any sense. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Most of these murderous bastards have some sort of pattern, some sort of preferred victim, some reason for what they do. It may be a stupid, insane, nonsensical reason given to them by the voices in their head, but it’s a reason.

This? This is more like what happens when you give a simple child a hammer. Only in this case it’s a giganti with a flail.

Lightsday, 23rd day of Februm of the year 1214
It seems Golyat may have bit off more than he can chew. He attacked that Rook in the graveyard so now the entire Parlour is out for his blood. Including that Zeel guy – which is a point in Zeel’s favor. Even Kiyaani seemed to have gotten in on the action towards the end there.

Of course, they can’t be bothered to raise a finger when it’s Relena, Cole, or whoever else being attacked. Only when it personally affects them do they care. Hell, it was a horse that got Kiyaani upset.

As for me, Golyat hasn’t done anything to me. I’m a professional soldier; people trying to kill me comes with the line of work. That’s nothing personal. No, my death lost its terror long ago. It’s when other people suffer that I get upset.

Lightsday, 2nd day of Markum of the year 1214.
We finally got that tunnel dug. It only took more pageantry than an opera to dig a great big hole. “Overseer” and “Chief Architect” my ass. I’m not referring to Laroremas or Octavia as anything of the sort unless they smack me upside the head with a diploma from the College. And I specifically mean the College, and not one of these backwood knock-offs. And what the hell is the “Lupine Vigil?” Is that supposed to be some sort of Canim sympathizer group?

Anyways, we got the thing dug. That they managed to bore through a mountain so quickly is pretty impressive, and I’m hoping this helps those guys in Thaelsh. I didn’t get a good look around, but considering how many troops they stationed on this side of the tunnel it can’t be a nice place.

And I had a little bit of fun at Jilliana’s expense, not that she noticed. Alexander did though.

Kingsday, 10th day of Markum of the year 1214
[Redacted for IC information]

Then there was a fancy party to celebrate the re-opening of the Coalition’s headquarters after that fire. They’re calling it “Haiban” now for one reason or another. Anyways, it’s all a bit too much for me. They can’t secure the pass or drive the bandits out of their fort, but they can import marble for their buildings and statues. They even have a formal clothier and a day spa, and if that doesn’t say something about mixed-up priorities, than I don’t know what does.

The party was supposed to be a “black tie” affair, so I put on a black tie with my regular attire. There’s no way I am going to put on one of those monkey suits and let them do me like they did Laroremas. I don’t mind the ladies dressing up though, and Jilliana and Matilda joined me at the bar. Nothing happened, despite someone’s repeat attempts at matchmaking. At least the drink selection was good, but those cheapskates were still charging during their big party. I got a little drunk.

Lordsday, 12th day of Markum of the year 1214
It seems word of my willingness to shed blood on Shadgard’s behalf really made an impression on the locals. Once word spread, I’ve noticed them looking at my differently, and I’ve got a bit of a reputation. Enough of a reputation that I was introduced to the Shadgard Outriders.

I think Wyatt said it best. They’re a bunch of “vigilantes and extremists” who are sick of seeing people come to Shadgard to murder, kidnap, or whatever else, then run off into the rest of the Lost Lands where people don’t give a [crap] about what’s good or decent. Outriders hunt scum down and put them in the ground to make sure they don’t bother anyone else. They’ve got no legal authority, so they can’t go around telling folks what to do, but that also means they don’t answer to anyone. There’s no playing politics: Either you’re a murderous bastard who deserves death so they shoot, or you’re not and you’re left alone. That suits me fine.

Wyatt asked me if I wanted to sign on, and I did. I still care about Grum, but I can never go back. Shadgard is my home now, and I need to take care of it before worrying about sending reports back. That means doing what I do best: Putting “varmints” in the ground.

First thing I asked for was a refresher on tracking. That’s going to be useful.

15th day of Markum of the year 1214
Today was a disaster. The cult attacked Keth and abducted people, but they left no tracks when they left. Some sort of armored knight, a lich, cultists, and reanimated carrion fowl. I wasn’t there for the attack itself, but I headed out there as soon as I heard about it to try and follow the trail. These people just seem to have vanished, which is more than a little distressing.
And I just lost my patience with people’s stupidity today. It seems everyone just wants to stand around and talk about doing something rather than actually do anything, and if you suggest some course of action, you’re ignored. So I left and investigated things on my own. Unfortunately, it seems to be a dead-end. I have no idea what that hidden fortress is for, and there weren’t any tracks outside the cave.

At least Zeel’s copy of the Book of Murder was destroyed. He thought the cult came to Keth for it, so he gave it to the Templar Sharinas, who burned it on the spot. Good for her. I’ve been advocating that since the start.

In other news, the spring festival has arrived. Is it really spring already? It doesn’t feel like it.

Lightsday, 16th day of Markum of the year 1214
It seems Zeel’s earned himself a spot on the List. Someone named “Alden” has posted on the town boards that Zeel murdered his uncle in Morhollow then stole the body. I’ve written Alden asking for more information and written Monk Dimmes asking if Cole’s body was ever given a proper burial. Zeel was spotted hauling that off too, but said over the network he was bringing it to the church. Now I’m not so sure. I need to verify Alden’s claims before I’ll accept the death warrant.

Kingsday, 17th day of Markum of the year 1214
That was easy. Zeel admitted that he murdered Alden’s uncle to Jilliana, but, get this, he says his shadow familiar made him do it. That little nether thing that sometimes follows him around. Calls it “Oscar.” I swear, every last nether-user I’ve had the great misfortune of meeting has been seriously cracked. Whatever. Madness isn’t a defense. It just means you’re too bat[crap] insane to live.

Similarly, I learned that Kiyaani murdered the healer in Emleth and is banned from the hamlet. This was some time ago, but it was still after her “repentance” of living in Corvus Outhouse. I guess you can take the crazy [witch] out of the Outhouse, but you can’t take the Outhouse out of the crazy [witch]. Gad offered some lame excuse that Lalora and Kiyaani were “playing a game that got out of hand” with Lalora casting disorienting spells at Kiyaani who promptly flipped out and “went into a rage.” So the Utasa showed a casual disregard for other people’s well-being, which is typical of meddlesome spies. I’m just not sure who is whose pet.

And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, there was another botched outing to the crypt. I got filled in later, but I guess Kiyaani got killed by some of those bloodmist wraiths who were out by the diner. Then Acarin, Lae, Laroremas, and I think Spearhead went to the crypt to recover the body. Well, Acarin’s shadow orb screwed it all up and Laroremas got killed. Then they found Kiyaani’s and Laroremas’s bodies on the altar. So there was a fight to get them out, and they were down to one wraith left, when someone died. Those things form out of dead people’s blood, so things got nasty and it was a rout. Lae, Spearhead, and some other guy all died.

The only good thing to come out of all this is that people are taking seriously the prohibition to stay out of the damn crypt. Lae even asked Spearhead to deal with anyone who violates the ban, and he’s made a point of telling people he’ll kill anyone who goes inside. Good. Past time, really.

Because that damn “god” was talking in everyone’s heads again, and this time it said something about welcoming the new faithful and enjoying eternal life. That makes me think that this “eternal life” these shmucks have been seeking is existence as a wraith made out of their own blood. Which is kind of what I figured as soon as I heard about a cult offering “eternal life,” but what do I know? No one knows to leave well-enough alone. When you find a great big book of evil, the last thing you do is read it, and there’s no grand bargain that doesn’t have a lot of strings attached.

Queensday, 18th day of Markum of the year 1214
I finally got the chance to speak with Rasui today. He totally gives me the “absent-minded professor” vibe. Reminds me of Grum in that way.

[Redacted for IC information]

Then we got to talking about the Scarecrows that live on the farm outside of Shadgard. The way I see it, so long as they stick to their land and don’t bother anyone, they aren’t doing anyone any harm. If someone were to come to Shadgard looking to start stuff, you can bet we’d shoot them, and most people would consider that just. So why do people think they can just stomp all over Scarecrow or Hyra land, when signs are posted warning them not to trespass, and not receive similar treatment?

Anyways, it’s pretty clear that the Scarecrows are what really interest Rasui. As far as I can tell, they have a hive-like structure. Most of them are workers: They farm, mine, log, and build new Scarecrows. That’s all they want to do, apparently. The workers don’t speak, but Rasui says he’s spoken with their leader called “The Harvest Lord” on several occasions. Unfortunately, the Harvest Lord doesn’t trust people. Not since Jaren destroyed him (the workers rebuilt him) and took his scythe. Evelyn got it back though, so the Harvest Lord really likes her. I forgot to ask why Rasui is in his (its?) good graces.

Rasui says that they are, at least in part, animated by nether, which is where they probably get their sentience from. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but they have more sense than the human nether-users I’ve met, so I’ll leave them alone. Besides, with them being so close to Shadgard, I’d like to be on good terms with the neighbors. I still need to find someone to ask about the Hyra.

[Redacted for IC knowledge]

Lordsday, 19th day of Markum of the year 1214
What a night. I finally found Zeel outside of Mistral Lake and took a shot at him. I broke his little undead toy, and then he ran off. I followed him, and for a while there it looked like I had him as he was severely wounded. But he summoned some nethrim into the area, and one of them looked into my eyes and I just froze. Fell off my horse. Then I just passed out from the cold or something.

I’ll figure something out. First contact with a new enemy generally goes bad, but I’ll adapt. And it was enough to frighten him. Enough for him to make threats and lash out.

Zeel went and killed Nyel, the healer in Morhollow, and said it was because I attacked him. Just like he killed that man because “Oscar,” his shadow familiar, told him too. Everyone is to blame for his murderous actions except for him, but he’s the one who actually did it. I can’t say I’m surprised though. If he was the kind of man to accept responsibility for what he’s done, he wouldn’t be a cracked necromancer and he wouldn’t be a murderer.

If he attacked me, I could accept that. I wouldn’t even be upset; it comes with the job. But to attack Nyel? Why is it always healers? And women? I’ve seen too many [frak]ing murdered women already.

Slightly more concerning is the number of people who bought his excuse. Reminds me of the people who blamed Gad when Golyat attacked horses because Gad called him out on it. Zeel said that killing his reanimated corpse was murder instead of laying to rest a body he defiled. Laroremas tried to tell me that my killing Infested is the same thing as Zeel murdering Alden’s uncle and Nyel. Nevermind that killing Infested is a mercy, as anyone with eyes can tell, and that they try to kill you first, while Zeel’s victims were just trying to live out their lives in peace. Nyel did nothing but help people. And that is why Zeel decided to attack her. Because she was good. Matilda blames me too, but she’s likely sympathetic to Zeel considering her own history. Even Lalora had something to say, but I’m not about to take seriously the opinion of someone who follows an assassin around like a dog.

At least Nuncio, Gad, and Jilliana put Zeel down. I’m proud of her. She did good work. I got there just at the end because I stopped to bandage the wounds of a fisherman that was near death. And Zeel is on notice that his crimes won’t go unavenged, and now a few of the more sensible people have it in their minds to make sure that happens. Now we owe him for two murders.

Still, Nyel didn’t deserve that, and Morhollow is devastated. Outsiders won’t be welcome there for a long time, but I’m hoping they’ll let me pay for the burial and help put some sort of gate at the top of the stair. They’d have a good, defensible location if they did that and posted a couple of guards on top.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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Re: Elystole's Journal

Post by Elystole » Sat May 24, 2014 2:02 pm

Knightsday, 20th day of Markum of the year 1214
[Redacted for IC knowledge.]

Lordsday, 26th day of Markum of the year 1214
Today I got to speak with another Rook named “Skah” about Zeel. I had earlier seen Skah to the Deadwoods while I was trying to track Zeel, though he eluded me at the last moment and I only found a broken-down corpse, so the first thing I wanted to clear up was whether or not the two were in cahoots. Skah actually seems to be an alright guy, and he said he didn't know anything about Zeel's recent activities. He was adamant that animates are nothing but extensions of their master's consciousness and not independent beings.

[Redacted for IC knowledge.]

I asked Skah about the Undying too, since I had finally found a Rook I could speak with and they're supposed to be the “experts” about that sort of thing. He said that their souls linger longer than others, so I asked him why they linger instead of move on, even when what they want is to move on. “Perhaps the gods have plans for them,” he said. Not sure I like that answer. It seems a bit of a cop-out.

But then he said that maybe there's nowhere to move on to. Maybe we just dissipate into nothingness after true death and there is no afterlife. I'm not sure how I feel about that either.

Citisday, 29th day of Markum of the year 1214
I ran into Zeel on the road while traveling to Mistral Lake, and he didn't have his animate with him. I took a shot at him, and then he said he wanted to talk. But not there on the road. I was dubious about the whole thing, but I figured I could always shoot him later, so I agreed to let him speak. He wanted to meet in the Shattered Pumpkin.

It turned out to be a big waste of time. Like I might have guessed. He said that “Oscar” doesn't “make” him kill but urges him to do so or that he kills on Oscar's behalf, and when I confronted him with the fact that animates are controlled by a piece of his own consciousness he said that the people I had spoken with were “novices” and not aware of the “deeper connection” between familiars and the Rook's soul. I wonder how Edwena feels about that. Anyways, it wound up being a complete waste of time, not that I'm surprised. I should have just finished him off on the road. I damn near shot him in the Shattered Pumpkin but I didn't want to interrupt folks' dinners.

So I took a shot at him outside of town, but he had his familiar with him this time. That thing's more of a nuisance than when it's puppeting the animate. The corpses break easily enough and then you're done with them, but that familiar is so insubstantial that the musket wasn't having much of an effect on it. Then Zeel got me with that damn cold spell again. Something must have distracted him though as I was able to come to and get away with Rogue.

Then he said something over the network about how I was responsible for an innocent animal's suffering since he attacked Rogue. Well, no. He's still the person who attacked a warhorse that was just standing there, but, more to the point, Rogue's a warhorse. Emphasis on “war.” He's a soldier like me. Fighting and dying is part of the job. I've lost friends before, and it never gets any easier, but you can't beat yourself up for the tides of battle.

At least I learned something from the encounter. Last time we fought I was focusing on dodging his attacks since I didn't want to get any nether on me, and I did a pretty good job of resisting his cold spell. It wasn't until that nethrim froze me that he got me. I figured I was pretty resistant, so this time I went hard and fast and focused on my aim. He got me with that cold spell much quicker and without the help of that nethrim. It seems focusing on my evasion helps resist those spells, so I'll have to keep that in mind. And I'll have to get something special for dear “Oscar.”

Lordsday, 9th day of Aprilius of the year 1214
What a waste of a couple of bells. Kiyaani finally got around to personally asking me to come speak with her, instead of trying to get Jill to be her messenger, so I walked into Shadgaf's to see Kiyaani and her whole gang of Lalora, Octavia, and Laroremas were there, as well as Jilliana. Alexander was invited too and showed up shortly before I did. It had the makings of a genuine cluster[frak].

Kiyaani wanted to know what my problem with her is so I told her: She's a murderer, assassin, and saboteur, and I don't buy her bull[crap] about repentance. I told her that she doesn't act the part, that she still takes orders from Shar, that she still uses nether, that she still goes off the deep-end if she doesn't like what you say (especially about Corvus), and that she doesn't even have the decency to leave Shadgard alone. I told her that if she was sorry she'd act the part: She'd renounce nether and join the Church. She'd betray Shar and show us the entrance to their little assassin's den so that Alexander and the fine men from Valeria could clean the place out. She'd leave and never show her face around these parts again. She'd walk west until she hit the sea. Octavia seemed appalled by that suggestion.

The rest of the conversation was a bunch of bull[crap] and weasel words. She did what she did and that's all there is to it. Lalora jumped in at some point and asked me why I do what I do, but then she didn't wait to hear the answer. She doesn't actually care unless it's an opportunity for her to show off how much control she has over the situation or how much she think she knows, going so far as to tell people what they're really thinking because apparently us little people don't even know our own thoughts, and anything that doesn't fit that delusion is ignored. Waste of time.

At some point they started talking about some of the things that happened with Lae, so I invited her to join us at the diner. I figured we'd clear the air, get right to the heart of the matter, and finally have things out instead of all of this amateur subterfuge and talking behind people's backs. Kiyaani said that she wasn't invited, so I said that I'm inviting her. Lae didn't come and the conversation changed course, but when they brought her up again, I insisted she come to the diner and she did.

Kiyaani took that as her cue to leave. Apparently she's allowed to invite her whole back-up squad of Lalora, Octavia, and Laroremas to our “private” conversation, but I'm not allowed to invite the woman they're gossiping about. Run from the truth, [witch]. As if that doesn't tell me all I need to know about her.

And I think that's why I make them nervous. Kiyaani couldn't face me on her own? She had to have Laroremas threaten me instead? I know damn well that any one of them could likely mop the floor with me, and I told them as much. If they could kill me and make it stick, they'd be doing me a favor. So it isn't any physical threat I pose. No, what frightens them is that I don't buy their bull[crap]. I don't buy the sob stories and teenage excuses of being “misunderstood.” I see it how it is, and I call it what it is.

That's terrifying for people who wrap themselves in lies. It's one of the “funny” quirks about the Undying. They lose their fear of death, yet they're obsessed with the fear of being rejected. Normal people are worried about surviving, and they're worried about being popular. Like children living in a schoolyard fantasy world. I've known plenty of normal people who had everything to lose, who could and sometimes did really die, with more moral courage than people with nothing to lose.

And the Undying wonder why normal people despise them.

Lightsday, 13th day of Aprilius of the year 1214
I've finally bought a nice little house in Shadgard. I'm officially a resident now, but, more than that, it is nice to have a roof over my head. I feel like I've established myself. Now I can worry less about setting myself up for survival and worry more about doing my job. I need to send some reports back to Grum.

It'll have to wait though. Lae and Jill have have launched a food drive for the Templars stationed in Thaelsh, so I'm starting a new round of crops for them. I really don't mind helping them: They ask nicely, and they appreciate what I do. Plus I'm always willing to help the Church, and I know what a difference good chow can make. Those Templar have a bad enough assignment without eating rations all day.

Thursday, 24th day of Aprilius of the year 1214
It's been pretty quiet lately, as I've just been focusing on those crops, but today took a messy turn. This... idiot calling himself “Dara” was on the network saying something about conducting research to cure Resen. There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily, except his idea of “research” was to shout for some monk to come and cast Soul Beacon on the body of some infested carrier he dragged out of Tarueka.

A few of us tried to explain to him how that was a bad idea for a few reasons: Only the Undying are unlucky enough to come back from the dead, so Soul Beacon wouldn't even work. If that was a cure, someone would have already found it. And it isn't a cure so he's just experimenting with dead, contaminated bodies in public.

I was going to write him off as an idiot and leave it at that, but then he decided to drag the corpse into the Hanged Man's stables. At that point I told him that if that body wasn't gone by time I got there then there would be trouble. Evelyn joined me and we rode off to find him. He had moved the body, so we found him on the road north of Shadgard.

At that point Evelyn and I tried to explain to him, again, what everyone was telling him on the network. And then she buried the corpse he was dragging along, and he just threw a fit. I've never seen a grown man throw a tantrum like that, but he threw himself down on the ground and started bawling and shouting something about “wanting to go home.” So then I tried to explain to him what “quarantine” means.

Oh. And some woman showed up, stuck her nose into our conversation, and insulted Evelyn. So Evelyn picked her up and bodily threw her out of the area. Hilarious.

Anyways, I could tell that talking to Dara wasn't going to accomplish anything, and I was long sick of wasting my breath. So I just told him that he and his particular brand of terminal stupidity could stay far away from Shadgard lest he cause trouble for the townsfolk. His response to that was to shout, “[Frak] you!” and ride off, and, well, I wasn't having any of that. I wanted him to know that I meant what I said.

So I rode him down, and Evelyn followed me to watch. Rogue trampled him underhoof, and everytime he got back up, Rogued trampled him again. I took the opportunity to try and explain a few things to him, and we could have left it at that. Like how it isn't “a free country” despite his beliefs to the contrary. It's the Lost Lands, and authority springs from the barrel of a musket. I don't work for Samuel, though I respect the man, and I doubt Wyatt would care that I rode Dara down. From what I can tell, the people of Shadgard would agree with how I handled the situation.

Finally, he told me to “bring it,” and so I did. It wasn't a fair fight. It wasn't much of a fight at all, but I'm not a duelist. I don't do this for the glory or the excitement. He got better, though, and had an earfull – mindfull? - of words for me on the network, so I'll likely hear about this later. And someone started saying that I shot Kalimn, but I didn't so I don't know how that rumor got started. Kalimn rode past while Evelyn and I were standing over Dara's body, gave her a dirty look, then rode off. That's the last I saw of him.

So, yeah. Today was a messy day.

Citisday, 26th day of Aprilius of the year 1214
What an utter waste of time. Lalora came and found me while I was harvesting my crops, then proceeded to yak at me for two bells. The woman just doesn't listen. She asks questions, but she doesn't want to hear the answers if they don't confirm her biases. She just wants people to confirm she's right.

First she accuses me of having a black-and-white morality and condemning everyone from the Outpost just for being from the Outpost. Then when I correct her and say that I don't, and that it isn't my fault that everyone's who's been murdering innocent townsfolk lately have been from that hole, she accuses me of being inconsistent. So which is it? What does she actually want?

She says that I won't hunt anyone from Mistral Lake or Shadgard, and I tell her that's because I haven't heard of anyone from there doing anything worth hunting them over. If she's heard of something, then she's welcome to tell me and I'll look into it. She doesn't though. She'll just drop vague hints about knowing something that I don't. Fine. But that shows she isn't actually concerned with people getting what's coming to them. What she wants is to show off that she knows more than me, or at least she wants to act like she does. But I don't have time for that nonsense.

And then she got to the point and threatened me. About time. She said that if there's another incident like with Zeel, where some nutter goes off and murders someone, she's going to come after me. I wonder if she applies that same backwards sense of responsibility to the Emleth healer and holds herself responsible for Kiyaani murdering her.

Is it any wonder that Shadgardians don't trust Utasa? They do nothing but skulk about, pry into people's private lives, and meddle in other people's business. They cavort with assassins and necromancers. Then they have the nerve to act like they know people better than people know themselves. Folk still support Gunther's policy of banning Utasa from town, and Lalora's a big reason why.

[Redacted for IC knowledge.]

I'm sure the kids will be thrilled to get their rocking horse back. I just know that to one of those children that rocking horse isn't just a toy but their friend and adventuring companion. I have to wonder what kind of sick bastard steals toys from orphans. It isn't what I'd expect from a “brave, tough warrior.”

As if today wasn't full of enough good news, I also heard that there's been Infested and Canim working with the Blood Cult. I'm not sure what they promised them, but it can't be good. There's even been Canim scouts spotted near Shadgard, and they were better equipped and trained than the usual scavengers. They attacked, bound, and killed a few people. If I ever find where they're coming from, I'm going to burn that place to the ground.
You overhear the following rumor:
"I saw one of those Shadgard folk come barging into Grif's and shoot one of the patrons on the spot. Shadgard must be a pretty rough place with such outlaws running rampant."

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