I find it somewhat difficult to express all of the emotions I have felt in the past few days. I also fear that I have unintentionally caused emotional harm to one of my dear friends. Our group was able to establish a mutual partnership with the Lady of Coins. In exchange for helping her take over Talys, the Isle of the Amazons, she will help us fight the titans/will give us access to her treasures on the isle. We also finally had the opportunity to find and save the children that had been kidnapped by the Temple of Khar’shan. We had to fight through many Death Dogs and a giant Cerberus to get to them. We barely made it out with our lives and I found myself worried for the lives of my comrades in a way I never have before. Mortals and fey working together to better the Emerald Isles and seeking to rectify all the horrible crimes and atrocities that have been committed by the Twin Titans. This is still something that is difficult to wrap my mind around, but I am very grateful for my friends. The worst part of finding the children was learning that all of their parents had been sacrificed, most likely in front of them, to the evil Goddess of Dreams. Is there nothing she views as sacred? And what does this speak of her servants that are so gullible that they believe she will actually award them for their efforts? Manipulation and destruction of joy and families seems to be her favorite way to get high off of those she deems are beneath her. I am sure the list of those she values is limited and can change as quickly as her temper.
We managed to sneak the children into the palace for safekeeping by the Queen. We are hopeful that these children will be a means of providing proof to the atrocities of the Temple of Khar’shan and will lead to judgement and punishment, particularly for that horrible priest Trellus. Hopefully it will also serve as proof to the people that they should not have any dealings with this temple.
After speaking with the Queen, we all returned to the Starfall Estate and quickly got ready for bed. Briar asked me when I had died, if I had any memories pop up. I told her that I could not remember, and to be fair, when she asked me, I could not remember. Writing this now I think I can remember some vague memory of every member of our pod smiling at me and dancing in a circle with the warm sun shining down on our faces…
Hope for possible joy like that ebbs and flows in me, but I feel it is closer than ever. While we were leading the children out, Briar, Actaeon, Torag, and Rendu went looking for any treasure and they ran into some mimics. Apparently one almost killed Briar and she said she remembered a night when our group was having fun relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. She found it weird that she did not have a memory of her parents come to her mind instead of this one. I told her maybe it’s because our group is like a family for her now. With everything we have been through I feel we have become like a family. I know our group is the closest I have felt to family since we lost our dryad pod. As proof of the familiarity, Briar then fell asleep on my shoulder with me following shortly after her. I am glad that we have enough trust in each other that we can sleep peacefully like this.
The next morning was a weird one and looking back, I feel bad for how I responded. The customs of mortals are peculiar to me and I often forget many of the things they say and do are shrouded in mystery. Leef was kind enough to give me the Ring of Spell Storing that I had asked him to fill with spells. He asked me what my plans were for the day, complimented my hair, and asked if I might want to go drink tea together later. I saw this as just a friendly conversation and Leef just making small talk. Leef is a very kind person and he often seems to genuinely care about what his friends do and what their interests are. I let him know that I wanted to go to the library to see if I could find any information about Helios, the Sun God, and Mazerik, the God of Beauty. Leef also needed to go to the library for some supplies to continue his study of Sylvan. He asked if he could come with me and if we could get lunch/drink tea together later. I told him that sounded nice and then he said goodbye and quickly left in a way that reminded me of Briar when she was nervous. At the time I thought he was just acting weird, but … I will get to that soon.
I then went to the kitchen to see if Briar needed any help with making breakfast. She had already made some muffins and they were delicious! I am so grateful for Briar, not just for her cooking skills, but how easy it is to be around her. I know part of it is because of us both being Fey, but also because of how much she cares about others. She grabbed two muffins and said she would be right back.
When she came back, she seemed off. I asked her what was wrong and she just muttered something about how Leef and Rendu were acting weird and would not be joining us for breakfast. At least, not for a while. Well, more for me. I ended up eating way too many muffins, but I couldn’t help it. They were so good!
Eventually Rendu and Leef came to the table and were also acting weird. Was the moon in the wrong alignment last night? Did everyone get hit too hard during battle yesterday? Rendu’s usual Charisma and Charm was off. I briefly mentioned to Leef something along the lines of “Did you break Rendu?” Leef’s face just got really red and he looked away. Rendu went to do his normal wink, but stopped himself. He then apologized and said something to Ilharg along the lines of he was not trying to flirt and didn’t realize he had been doing that. I told him if it made him feel better, I didn’t think his wink was seductive. Due to our experience with our pod, free love and all you know, I told him I had experience with that, although due to our trauma we haven’t thought about that in awhile. I think it may have helped him feel better? Later in the day when I saw him he seemed better at least. Soon after Briar pulled out a note and began reading it to Rendu about if he wanted to go on a walk with her to strategize the Great Games and to go to the Gardens. She added some words at the end that she meant to think and not actually read. I think it is harder for Centaurs to blush than other more fair creatures, but her face was as red as a rose. I told her she did not need to apologize for saying those things, Rendu was already used to her quirkiness. I meant it as a way to make her feel better, but I think I just made her more upset. She quickly left and dug herself a literal hole in the courtyard. I went over to her to apologize, but I am not sure if it helped. She did leave her hole and soon after left with Rendu to go on their walk together.
Leef and I left to go to the library. While there we lost track of time as we researched the Sun God and God of Beauty. I was mostly interested in learning more about them because history is a means of finding information. I have learned that the saying, “knowledge is power,” is very accurate. Clio, I am sure you are aware that knowing more about why individuals do or say things does not make up for what they may have done, but it does help us find power to understand how we can prevent future pain and suffering. Hopefully the knowledge I have gained since Novarra can help me find ways to help others.
I am sad to say we did not find much about either God as we researched. Information related to Helios mentioned the presence of shrines dedicated to him throughout the emerald isles and those who found them said they were always in perfect condition. This is interesting considering that we could not find an organized faith associated with him. We found a map to the closest shrine, about a half-day of travel northwest of here. Lastly, we found an entry that spoke of the garden of Helios and that it is associated with the fable of the Constellation of the Chariot. From what I have copied to my book, this fable explains the story of a young priest seeking knowledge and coming across the Goddess Aminatou. She blessed this priest with the ability to read any language, even those long forgotten. This was a gift to her loyal servant. But what does this fable have to do with Helios? Curious.
Leef and I found even less information regarding the God of beauty. Something about the last 500 years since the oath of peace and fighting between Ellandyr and Novarra because of a oread nymph named Ekho. We have heard this name before from an orator in the barrar. He had explained that Ekho had called for war again with Novarra due to wanting her betrothed even after 500 years and that she should really give up. Is/was her betrothed the God of beauty? I keep forgetting to ask Dia or the Queen about this. Leef said we might need to go to Novarra to learn more about the God of beauty. Just reading the name of that godforsaken city makes my skin crawl. I made some excuse about maybe we could find out more from the Queen or Dia. I also said that I did not want to go to Novarra anytime soon because of the bad things that happened to us there. I’m pretty sure most of our party knows how we feel about Novarra, but I’m just not ready to talk about it yet. I could tell Leef, but… I just don’t think the appropriate moment has happened yet. Leef was really understanding about it and dropped the conversation fairly quickly. As I mentioned prior, we did not realize how long we had been researching and I was suddenly famished. We agreed to go get something to eat and we remembered a place Shadow had recommended called The Nibbly Fish. Upon arriving there we saw Rendu and Briar awkwardly standing outside. I asked what was the matter and Briar gestured towards a sign: Please remove your shoes before entering.
I was not sure what kind of establishment this was and if it had something to do with weird mortal fetishes. Regardless, we decided to remove our shoes, with Briar reaching to take off her “shoes.” I teased her, telling her that I’m sure that’s not what they meant by shoes. We then entered and realized that the floor was filled with water and many goldfish. These goldfish quickly started nibbling on our feet. Hence the name of the place. We were asked if we were a party of 4 or 2, with Briar quickly looking at Leef and spitting out, “2.” She quickly moved with Rendu as far as she could from us and sat down. I was confused, but Briar is Briar so…
Upon sitting down Leef was having a hard time making conversation due to his insistent giggling. I quickly realized that his feet must be ticklish. I kept pulling my feet out one at a time because it felt weird. I asked Leef if mortals had weird fetishes and if this was one. Upon sitting on his feet to keep from giggling, he stated in his experience this was a unique situation and I should not be worried about more surprise food places. He explained that Altea didn’t have anything like this, at least not where we had been. I nodded in agreement and couldn’t help, but tell Leef him being ticklish was cute… which is partly why I feel like an idiot… But again, I will get to that shortly. Leef asked me if we could eat somewhere else in the future, where I would like to eat. I told him somewhere outside would be nice, since Ellandyr makes me miss the forest. Briar could help us make some food and we could go on a picnic. Leef seems really excited about the idea and I think it would be nice on a beautiful day. Maybe we will tomorrow or the day after.
After we had a few non-alcoholic drinks and ate our food, we discussed if we wanted to go see the shrine of Helios. I said I would be willing to go, but that it might be a good idea to bring our companions just in case we ran into trouble. Trouble and our group seem to go hand-in-hand these days. Leef agreed and upon leaving, we gathered most of our party to set out to look for the shrine.
On our way to the shrine, Briar pulled me aside and in Sylvan asked me if Leef and I had been on a “date.” As a fey, I really had no idea what she meant by this. She said Rendu had explained it to her. It’s when friends go out to lunch or some other fun activity together romantically. Romantically? Wait, what? I must have looked pretty dumbfounded because she started jumping around with her words, which is more common for her when she feels nervous. I tried to remove the attention from myself by asking if Rendu and her were romantically “together” now? She did not really give me a straight answer, but I was distracted by my own thoughts. Is that what Leef was doing this morning by asking me to tea? Did he think it was a “date?” This is what I was referring to earlier, Clio. Unfortunately we are not the greatest at picking up on romantic gestures, especially since we lost our nymph pod. Romance in the form of courtship is not really something we grew up with. Tìyawnit or “free love” as the best translation is more what I have experienced. I’m sure there are nymphs that court other fey or mortals, females and/or males, but that is not something we have experience with. Briar mentioned that centaurs don’t really court either, at least in her tribe “romance” is usually connected to arranged marriages and the need to strengthen the herd. It’s been so long since I have experienced any feelings like that towards another individual… I am not even sure if we are capable of it considering we do not even have the best relationship with ourselves… I feel like a fool. I know we have natural charm because of our heritage, but I never intentionally tried to charm our comrades. Maybe there really was something wrong with the alignment of the moon last night. I cannot believe I told Leef I wanted to go on a picnic with him, and I hope he did not see that as a romantic gesture… Tsahey! Meka säfpìl!1
I will need more time to process what Briar has revealed to me… and if I have the capacity to give others the emotional support they need… and more… and if I can, would I be interested in Leef in that way? I don’t know… and I feel bad that I may have underestimated my nymph charm. Key fyep!2
I’m not used to this… I have a great deal to process… Let’s get back to the logical stuff.
Leef played a beautiful elvish song for us as we traveled to the shrine. The tone of it had hope and I told Leef it was beautiful. It brought a smile to his lips, but in his eyes I saw sadness. Was it a song that Leef and his husband had shared?
Once we got to the shrine, we actually found a being of pure gold standing in front of it. He was about 8 ft tall, completely gold, with a gold tunic and cloak. We had run into Helios himself! Thankfully he was ever boastful of himself, yet honest, and he revealed many mysteries to us. He had been revered before the coming of the 5 Immortals and is as old as the Twin Titans. He had been worshiped by mortals and giants alike. Helios spoke of how the sun gives both life and light and he makes sure it stays that way. The sun provides warmth and makes sure the creatures of night do not take over. He also said enjoyment of the light is important because without that, there’s really no point in joy and life. He gives enrichment to all the children of Eos. “Waste not the light.” What he said was really beautiful in its simplicity. I wish that life was that simple… and once, it was for us. The sun shining warmth upon our face, but too often these days the sun is partially blocked from our view. But maybe reminders from others such as Helios will help me remember to focus on what good I do have in my life and how that has increased since I met my comrades.
Helios continued by saying that it had been centuries since someone has really been able to spread his light. He wished for us to tell others to bring coin or art to his shrines (anything that brings light to the world). He prefers to keep out of the mortal and fey conflicts so he doesn’t walk much with either and prefers to tend to his garden. He knows that keeping his distance though is why his followers have faded away. He found it interesting that the heroes of prophecy would find him here. He told us to tell the Goddess of Wisdom he said hello. It’s been decades since they last spoke and she tried to sway him to her side.
Due to Helios knowledge of the emerald isles, I asked him if we could identify the wooden figurine that the satyr, Loreus, had given me. He stated that it makes sense that no one has been able to determine who this figurine represents because only the Twin Titans truly know. The figurine represents Inallaara, once the Goddess of Strength and Valor. She was the older sister of the Twin Titans. Older sister? Another lie from the Twin Titans that they are the only titans. Did they kill her? Was she the true creator of the fey? If not, did the Twin Titans kill their parents who were? Many questions, but maybe the name Inallaara can be found in the library in Ellandyr.
After my question, Rendu asked Helios if he knew how to kill Estor. Helios said that there were only 3 ways to determine how to kill Estor: asking the titans, asking the Fates (although that was risky since they followed the Titans and would ask a favor for a favor), and by finding the answer in something that even the 5 Immortals did not know about. There is an entity hidden in the Emerald Isles, once a servant of the lady of dreams, before it became more trouble than it was worth. The Scaled Book of the Dead holds many secrets. Helios said this entity was well hidden since it came out of the Dead Seas. Helios said if we killed Jadaferlas the Venomous for him on the Island of the Dragon, he would give us the location of the Scaled Book of the Dead. We determined that the Lady of Coins works for Jadaferlas and we may be able to gather more information to kill the dragon through her. The Scaled book of the Dead… both Rendu and I need that book to move forward in our lives. That book is the answer to why Khar’shan hunts us and could help us kill her. I’m sure that Rendu feels the same way, but I will kill whatever I have to in order to gain access to that Book. I need answers, I need to know why I have been tormented by Khar’shan, why my pod were killed/turned into horrific creatures, why I have been both emotionally and physically tormented by the followers of Khar’shan. I need this… We need this. Fìfnetìfkeytokìl fngo’ futa kem sivi fko pxiye’rìn.3
1 Sylvan: Ah Hell! I’m such an idiot.
2 Sylvan: Facepalm.
3 Sylvan: This situation requires immediate action.