Letter 52/53

*Written to include two sessions because a break in the letter didn’t make sense where we ended the session before this.

Kjære Herkus,

Jeg tenkte at det kunne være morsomt å trene gnomish for en gangs skyld. Det har vært et par lange dager. Et VELDIG par dager fylt med mange oppturer og nedturer. Å skrive på språket ditt får meg til å føle at du er i nærheten, og jeg skulle virkelig ønske at du var i nærheten av meg akkurat nå. Jeg kan dessverre ikke holde på så lenge. Hånden min vil få et krampeskrift på morsmålet ditt1

Where to begin? Well, things slowed down briefly only to ramp back up again. I’m so tired. First let me say, we are all safe. Bruised, battered, and worn out but otherwise fine. I wanted to write after the events of last night but there was neither the place nor the time to put my thoughts on paper.

We met up with Kalista, one of Torag’s sisters. She’s one he didn’t know about previously but it’s nice he’s finding family I suppose. She led us down below the city where the aqueducts are. I was glad for all the clean water around because I had used up mine from my waterskin to help Rendu clean off all that blood, and I needed a refill. That water cantrip you told me I should learn when I was young has really been helpful. I’m sorry I did not take your advice until now. 

I won’t bore you with the details of our travels underground. We met another demi-god who knew too well that he is attractive. His name is Phasis.  He is very, um, what’s the word? I have Gnomish in my mind so I guess you could say he’s ostentatisk2. I don’t mean that insultingly. He is meant to attract attention through his work so that’s good. If anything he was a good distraction for me trying to distract myself from another demi-god. 

These past two days have been an exercise of embarrassment. It wasn’t all at once but it seems to have compounded itself into the pit of my stomach and I have no clue what to do about it. 

I’m still bothered by what happened in the font of blood. Sometimes I close my eyes and the image will flash before me. It makes me angry and worried. Then there’s my reaction later to it. I invaded his personal space, hugged him and then shoved him away telling him how stupid he is. Oh great, Briar, that’s really going to endear you to people. Later on it was coming back from a nasty run in with a mimic (I know you hate them and you don’t really hate anything.) He was the one to bring me back, although I will admit that was a joint effort from Actaeon and the Ox as well. I need to find a good way to thank them all. And lastly was our afternoon together today. I have NO clue what to say on that. I tried to speak to Clio about it briefly, but she has her own dilemma she is dealing with in that field, so neither of us were much help to each other.

I just don’t know how I can look at the last two days and feel alternating bursts of embarrassment and exhilaration. Like I want to run away from him and everything that happened but I also want to be around him because he is genuinely funny, and fun to be around. I am happy that we were able to talk more and clear the air so to speak about what happened in the temple.

So I’m currently at a stand still right now and trying not to dig myself into another hole. And yes I mean that literally because I did that as well, after I read out-loud the note Leef helped me write so I wouldn’t fumble over my words. I believe you called it being histrionisk3. Will I ever outgrow that?! He probably thinks I’m unhinged. He’s probably not wrong. The note wasn’t even able to save me from myself, but I knew I needed to spend some time with him regardless of my awkward nature. I can speak to everyone in the group as well as look them in the eye except him, and that will not do. But I’m getting off course here.

Anyway, after meeting with Kalista’s contact we went into the area she could never get past because of death dogs. Herkus, I love all creatures. I mean how much I care for Torag should illustrate that. Just joking. Sort of. No really he’s great and I also owe him my life. Anyway, these monstrosities had nothing redeemable about them. But I was able to help by calling upon a familiar like you had taught me. It is a very helpful skill to have. We were able to use my familiars to scout as well as distract our various enemies. I should find out what everyone’s favorite animal is and call out that form for them from time to time. 

Because of this we were able to “get the drop on them.” That’s a term I learned from Torag. Although I think he meant it literally. Like he could jump super high and drop on them. He didn’t do that this time but I’m not gonna lie, it would be neat to see. Please don’t repeat that I said that. It might encourage him to do something reckless and I just can’t handle that right now.

We were also able to locate the door that we thought the children might be behind. Between Leef and Actaeon, they made short work of it. Seriously, is there anything they can’t do? There was a tunnel that Leef also covered with the wand of webs that Actaeon had given him. I’m so glad for it because down that tunnel there were more death dogs. But with the door gone, we only had a moment of calm before it opened, revealing a cerberus. 

This creature of Khar’shan wasted no time in acting and spewing molten lava at us. It hurt but for the most part we were okay. The battle that ensued afterwards though was very tough. Death dogs got through Leef’s webs and attacked. Torag and Actaeon took on the three headed monster, and Rendu and Shadow alternated between the smaller beasts and the large one. Clio and Leef were doing their best to keep control of the battlefield. Children were crying behind the cerberus. It was madness. 

I had my familiars to help me with some of the damage control but, I was hurt pretty badly and restrained by rock. Do you remember Druid Elen we met that one time? The one who could move earth easily? I’ve been practicing that cantrip as well as one to shape water and I’m so glad I did. I cast it and was able to get out of there.

I had to run to safety. I feel terrible that I did. They must think I’m a coward. All I could think was I need to get out of here and regroup so I can be of help and not hindrance. I feel like I abandoned them. Things were escalating so quickly. If not for the others all would be lost. I didn’t see the final blow dealt by Rendu to the cerberus. I did see Actaeon clean up the remainder of the death dogs. I finally had a breath and did some healing on myself before offering more to others.

Torag went down again during this fight. He wasn’t conscious, and there wouldn’t have been much I could do because I was held in place. Clio’s fast thinking kept Torag and several of the others alive. 

The children were terrified and the sight of them broke my heart. They aren’t very old. I would wager none have seen past eleven summers. They were frail and malnourished. The worst of it was the pile of bones behind them. It was the remains of their parents, one child told me.

I wanted to comfort them. I wanted to reassure them but I didn’t know what to say. When I lost my own parents I had some closure at least. I was there to witness that they had their way paid to eternity. These children don’t have that. I spread some flowers over the mass of bones and promised I would send their family members off as best I could. It was heartbreaking. I can’t even imagine the horror that these young ones witnessed. 

Unfortunately upon looking closer I could see the signs and knew that their parents were a sacrifice for Khar’shan. Their lives were forfeit and there was no way to bring them peace. Some offerings volunteer but I would wager my last gold coin that these people did not offer up their bodies willingly for the Lady of Dreams. I am well aware that sometimes a deity requires something more than an animal of sacrifice.

I wonder if I should explain to the others some of the varying tones that different gods require in their sacrifice. I’m sure everyone thinks the only difference is the words offered during the ritual but that isn’t the case at all. Intent is just as important. I worry they will see this type of sacrifice and feel appalled at any kind. I don’t judge other deities and their sacrificial rites, as that isn’t my place, but I do admit to some unease and sadness to this particular type. It is brutal and saturated in terror and pain. It is so different from the loving rites of Eos. Until the last bit of life is given, her sacrifice knows no loneliness or fear. They are only to know gratitude and connection to the one issuing the rites as well as to the earth and Eos herself.

I’ve learned the words for the sacrifices to Khar’shan just as I have learned them for Amalj’aa and Eos. I want to learn more prayers because I think it will make me a better person. I have yet to learn the language used for the Five, when sacrifices are offered to them. I need to amend that. Maybe next time I am at the library I will look it up. I also need to discover the words for the sun god Helios. Oh yeah, we met him. We are actually resting at his shrine right now. He is very shiny. He aids Eos so I am more than willing to learn more about him if possible. Leef also felt a kinship to him and because of the Morninglord that he serves.

Once the others started leading the children out of there Actaeon, Torag, Rendu and myself went to check the other rooms. Vlad had shown me some treasure. I hate to admit it but we do need the money. So much of our group has debt. But more than that, if we could somehow find something to fight back the titans from their own coffers, I say all the better. 

But like most things it involved a trap. Two of the chests were mimics. One clamped onto Rendu’s foot and I was going to help but another came out of nowhere. It struck so hard and fast I saw stars, then nothing at all. But I briefly had a moment flash before my eyes as I passed out of all of us dancing and laughing at the Sour Vintage. We were all safe and well. Then darkness. 

I don’t know what happened after that. I was told that Actaeon pulled me to safety and blocked the path of the monster from coming at me again. Then Torag patched me up quickly with the kit I had given him. It stemmed the flow of blood from the artery in my leg the creature had hit. But when I opened my eyes it was neither of them in front of me. Rather it was Rendu, in his full winged glory. I was sure I was dead, and seeing part of the beyond. He is just that stunning in that form. The three of them gave so much of themselves on my behalf. I was humbled, and more than a little ashamed at putting myself in a position that forced their hand. Although now maybe they know how I feel when they get hurt. I really do have to get stronger so I can protect them but also myself so they don’t have to worry about me. 

We were able to get the children to the palace without issue. We reported to the queen our findings and were exhausted as we all just wanted to get home to sleep. Some of us did stop by the bathhouse (a second time in one day for me) because of the gore and smell that covered us. I slept so hard last night I don’t even think I dreamed. Clio was with me and she was gracious enough to let me rest my head on her shoulder.

Today was really a tonal shift from yesterday. I woke up and started baking breakfast muffins. You know the ones with the nuts and fruit, (and a few specially hidden vegetables.) The first batch was a bit on the burnt side but Actaeon took them. He said he would either eat them or use them for targets and went to work out for most of the day. Torag didn’t take one as he raced out the door. I set a batch on the table and then went to find Leef because he is usually hungry in the morning but he was busy talking to Rendu. 

And they were both acting so odd. Something seemed to be bothering them although I’m not sure what it was. Eventually they joined us at the table, and I finally asked Rendu to join me for a walk and lunch.  Good news is, the script worked. Bad news is I am a spaz. (Thus the remark earlier about digging a hole for myself.) It’s not even worth mentioning really. But he agreed because he’s gracious and we went a bit later.

We found an overblown and overweight halfling who spoke predictions through the gift of Kiora. We each asked a question and got decent answers. That was the ONLY decent thing about this person. Troglodytes have more manners! 

Rendu made me laugh at some of his jabs at the creep. Like, really laugh. I don’t remember laughing that hard in a long time. It was nice. I still got flustered and often couldn’t look him in the eye but at least I was getting better at talking to him. Then we went to lunch. 

We ran into Leef and Clio who were there but on a date maybe? I have learned that a date is an outing between two friends who might be attracted to each other and want to get to know each other better. It is not just something on a calendar. I learned this because Rendu said we were on a date. But that can’t be. When did that happen? I thought were were just, I mean, I’m, and he, you know we aren’t, and he’s so, and I would, but I’m not- Oh no I must have made a noise of frustration while writing this because Leef is looking at me funny. Forget it. You’re probably not the person to clarify this all to me anyway.

Anyway we talked about a lot of things. It was nice. He pointed out the disconnect of our group when fighting together. We discussed how he loves the spotlight but I don’t, and he is competitive. I think because of this he’s going to do wonderfully at the games. I’m going to do my very best to support him. We also talked a little bit about Clio and Leef and he asked if I knew is she was interested in him. He said because we are very close he figured I would know her thoughts about Leef and romance. He also asked if I knew Leef’s feelings about Clio and I fumbled trying to explain how I had figured out Leef felt more than friendship towards her. I couldn’t just come out and say why I thought that. I’m sure he was teasing me. I didn’t seem to mind his teasing. It wasn’t at all irritating like when Torag teases me. I’m not sure what the difference is. It sort of reminded me of well never mind.

Anyway, it was a really fun, um, date. I wonder if he would want to do that again. After the games or something because I enjoyed it. I don’t know what he thought, though. Maybe I was too odd or something? I suppose as long as we all continue to grow closer (not just Rendu and me, but the whole group) then I guess that’s the most important thing.

Oh, the restaurant had fish that would nibble your feet as you ate. They were adorable and you would have loved it. Although everyone else with toes did not seem to enjoy it. But I know for a fact it’s right up your alley. 

I’m going to carve some wood now. I’m working on a gift for Clio. I thought of it as I was cuddling up to her last night. She is very dear to me and my very best friend. Also I need to apologize because when I asked her if she and Leef had gone on a date, she got really concerned. I didn’t mean to make her uncomfortable. Things of that nature are so different between mortals and fey, and even within our kind. Dryads view relationships differently than a Centaur. I think the idea of courtship is more something a satyr would subscribe to. Not saying that any of us are courting! That’s not what I meant. I just mean it’s all different. Oh no, I just drew attention to myself again. Time to end this letter and send it off as soon as possible.

gaol agus gràdh,


Gnomish 1: Dear Herkus, I thought it might be fun to practice my gnomish for once. It has been a long couple of days. A VERY long couple of days filled with lots of ups and downs. Writing in your language makes me feel like you are near, and I really wish you were near me right now. Well sadly I can’t keep this up long. My hand will get a cramp writing in your native tongue. 

Gnomish 2: ostentatious

Gnomish 3: histrionic (an individual who reacts to things in an over dramatic way, i.e. digs a literal hole to hide in when embarrassed.)