Part 57: Water

2 to Verdant Sun, Inalis, 52 days remaining

Good news and bad news, my love! We found the secret entrance to the Firewalker fortress at the mountain. Unfortunately, the secret entrance is in a particularly difficult place. It is through the murky, disgusting water. You know, where the multi-headed turtle came from? At least, that was Clio’s thought. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so we decided to send Briar and Torag down there to investigate. Briar turned into a shark thing and Torag said he was particularly good at holding his breath.

Nope, it was a dolphin. Briar just corrected me. Stop reading over my shoulder while I write, Briar!

Funny thing, this shapeshifting thing that Briar can do. I assume it’s some form of druidic magic she learned when she was younger. She and I are quite alike, and very different at the same time. I can turn into anyone, and she can turn into anything – just as long as that thing is an animal. And yet, her animal form always has the same eyes that she does. One is grey and the other is blue. Her dolphin form had the same eye colors. That’s very neat! But she seemed particularly skittish when she became a dolphin. She and Torag don’t often get along, and the two of them having to work together perhaps bothered her. I asked Clio if she’ll be alright, and Clio seems to think everything will be fine. But when I pressed her about what would happen if Torag ran out of air, Clio just said that maybe Briar should share.

Then we started thinking about dolphin-Briar trying to share air with Torag, and we started laughing hysterically.

I’m not sure how much time went by before the two of them surfaced again. Clio’s suspicion of a path down there was correct, but it’s too far for any of us to swim without drowning. There are tiny pockets of air, but they are few and far between. Briar said she could work through her magics a bit and cast a water-breathing spell for us, but she’d have to do it in the morning after she took some time to prepare it.

We made camp just outside the ruins and meant to get some rest, but we got into another tussle with the Firewalkers. They tried to sneak up on us, but Shadow and Torag were on watch and they figured out something was wrong long before it happened. We woke up just as the Firewalkers started attacking. It was dark so I turned on a light with a spell, making it so they could not hide from us any longer. Shadow disappeared into the trees and started taking out the outliers while Torag ran up and fought a few by himself. Clio and Briar started throwing out magic, and Rendu and Actaeon took on a large brute that rose from the water.

It didn’t take long before the Firewalkers were slain. Even trying to catch us while we slept, they were no match for us. I think the big problem was the poison darts we collected for Torag. I turned off my magic light spell again and we fell back asleep.

Huh, that isn’t quite true. Even right now, Briar and I are overhearing Torag and Shadow talking while they watch. I guess Shadow’s been feeling kind of down for a few days and was wondering if he and Torag were friends. Torag took that pretty well, though, and just explained the two of them have a friendly rivalry. Torag said he intended to keep up his score and “beat” Shadow tomorrow.

Oh, lovely, my friends are making a game out of this. That would have bothered me more probably about a month ago. Right now, I’m just sweaty and tired.

Day of Verdant Sun, Inalis, 51 days remaining

Bless you, Shadow, for coming to cuddle next to me and Briar last night after Clio went on watch. The jungle gets cold at night! Briar doesn’t really seem bothered by it at all, but I sure was! Shadow’s fur is nice and warm, though.

It’s underwater time! I spent all night trying to sleep and also devise a plan to keep my journal dry. Going underwater isn’t something that books are meant to do, but Briar’s Haversack is waterproof. It would have bothered me to no end to have lost my records. Dia keeps her own, but her handwriting is too pretty and I honestly can’t read it very well.

Briar summoned a pair of octopi – she named them Inky and Blinky – to guide us through the water tunnel. Rendu and Clio clung to them, while I rode on Briar. Oh, yes! Briar turned into a giant seahorse! She’s so pretty as a seahorse! Shadow and Torag can both swim really well, so they didn’t need anything to hold onto. Actaeon got warped into Triple’s trap ball device. We left Triple out here in the ruins so he could get some food and stretch his legs. Briar made us all breathe water, and we dove deep down and out of sight.

It was terrible and dark in there. The only real comfort was Clio. She kept transmitting mental images and words into all of our minds to calm us down. Shadow’s companion, Thumble, was particularly upset at being underwater. Briar and I had made a sling for Thumble once upon a time, and we modified it to tie the poor egg snatcher to Shadow. It screamed all the way down.

I risked a bit of light from time to time so that Briar and Torag could lead us where they had gone last night. After hours, the path finally took us upwards. The water here was quite warm, not too different from a lovely bath. It opened up to a dark cavern in the Firewalker hideout.

Here, we overheard some of the Firewalkers talking. They knew we were coming and had already mobilized their troops against us. But they didn’t see us in the cavern. Clio released Actaeon from the trap device and he… well… This didn’t go as planned. Actaeon, not realizing where he was, simply lit up a torch and started down a path. The Firewalkers jumped into the water to chase him, so the rest of us had to improvise or he’d be surrounded.

To everyone’s simultaneous horror and happiness, the battle was over very quickly. Inky and Blinky kept pulling the lizardmen underwater, surprising them. Down there, Torag was waiting with a large knife. Those that escaped the octopi were taken out by the rest of us.

Oooh, funny thing! Briar is always summoning animals, right? Or turning into them. She and Shadow had a long talk a while back, and I guess Briar taught Shadow how to do the same thing? I don’t know exactly how it happened, but there was a large salmon who joined our fight, slapping the lizardmen silly until Shadow and the others could take them out (or until Briar’s octopi pulled them into the depths below for Torag). He named his salmon Quill.

In the end, we rested briefly before we’re considering where to go next.

(continued later)