Friday, 27 May 2016

Kampi's Saga: Break The Spell

It's been rather quiet on the blog front these past couple months, but that is not because there has been nothing to blog about; quite the opposite, I've been too busy to have time to write about all that's occurred!

I have so many half-completed entries sitting in my drafts; it was my intention to complete them in chronological order but as more time goes by and current events drift into the past I'm finding that prospect difficult to do. I try to record notes and details on the latest event before I forget them, but now I'm beginning to think it'd be better to complete a full current entry before I attempt any past ones, else I may forget important specifics.

This last Saturday's entry at least isn't fully reliable on knowledge of prior recent events to follow, and where such do arise, they can be seen as tantalizing details to future entries on the past. And this latest mission was memorable in Kampi's development so I wish to record it in full before it fades from memory.

When I do begin posting entries on past events, hopefully the break in chronological order doesn't cause too much confusion: mind the dates for the entries. I may create a side page that lists all of the entries in chronological order for ease of reference rather than relying upon the Kampi's Saga link.

Without further ado, here's Break The Spell

Ajax & Kampi, with Shiny stalking in the background

The Fourth Day of the Sun
Month of Flowers
Local Year 5316

Rune: Ingwaz
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis

It has been a fortnight since I was in Dagger Deep; my time hence was spent south in Helm's Deep, making true on my offer to use my prentice skills as an armourer repairing the worn brigandine of the bishop of Ithus. As I hammered new rivets and adding patches of leather where needed, I ruminated deeply:

Until half a fortnight prior, I had not had a chance to see me mentor since his sudden abduction from the Imbloc Ball by the orkish of hoards of Azuk'turoth and subsequent rescue. Though I had participated in the task mission to recover the bishop, to my shame I ended up being apart of the main 'distraction' force and not the small group that eventually rescued Relan.

And after the events during the Cheeba's Day Tournament on the last day of the Month of Grass, I find it even more difficult to relate to my master; either from the haunting experience from Amsel that has changed myself both mentally and physically, Relan's own ordeals at the hands of the orks, the recent abyssal crisis, or perhaps some combination of each.

As we celebrated with mead that day, perhaps in an attempt to recapture more pleasant times, had lost respect for both my mentor and myself; things were done and said that were unbecoming of us both. Though older than myself by decades, Relan was acting like a spoiled child; and my own frustration and anger at several things had begun to unnerve me.

Once I had finished my task of repairing his vestment, I had wondered if the owner of that piece had anything to left to teach me; I then briefly pondered whether to return this favour to the Ithusian in person or to pay a courier to deliver it to the locale Relan was staying at.

I eventually decided on the latter choice after an unexpected visitor called; Ajax, whom I had not seen as well since Imbolc, swaggered into my chambers and after a brief exchange of awkward pleasantries announced he had some business to do north in Uberland and half jokingly claimed he could use the company and I could use the practice maintaining his somwhat shabby armour.

After some thought and further badgering from Ajax, I accepted his offer, as I was due to check in with the Town Watch of Dagger Deep anyway. Following a night in which I spent maintaining his gear whilst Ajax talked about his most recent, mostly uninteresting, exploits, we departed for the mid-isle realms by chariot the following morn.

Our time spent in the city of Uberland was sort and we eventually made our way on foot to Dagger Deep; just within sight of town Ajax recalled something and produced a rolled up parchment and handed it to me, claiming it was addressed to me but had been delivered mistakenly to him. It's place of origin was his hometown of Shale Glacier; possibly reinforcing the belief by his family that I am Ajax's squire.

Before I opened the message I checked in with the Captain of the Guard, Milo, and he assigned me my usual Watch duties. With nothing more interesting to do, Ajax accompanied me on my rounds; we mused at the latest notices upon the town's message board, notably "Common Taunts" by the author known as 'Three Sheets'; the majority of which neither of us found particularly humorous, but the last insult about comparing a Dwarf's beard to that of a billy goat made me laugh out loud when I saw the frown upon the thinly-bearded face of my companion. Unfortunately in regards to facial hair, Ajax does take after his human mother more than his dwarvish father.

Eventually, a break was taken from my patrol and I unrolled the missive from Shale Glacier and silently read it to myself:

When my companion inquired to the nature of the message, I initially delayed answering, reading it over again before I mentioned, as casually as I could muster, that his sister sent her love. Ajax's countenance took on a suspicious look when he asked if the letter was from Nerys; I said that is was and before I could finish rolling it up and store it away he snatched it from my grasp and began to read over it, his look becoming even disapproving.

I do not wish to write the full details of the discord that followed between us, but I will touch on a few points: Ajax essentially accused me of leading on Nerys, who has an infatuation with me, at least an unrealistic romantic ideal; perhaps by association with Ajax and his venturesome nature, I am apparently some sort of a daring adventurer to be admired.

Although some may be willing to title me as such, the strife and deeds witnessed and performed at Amsel do not make me such in my own eyes. I seek not glory nor acclaim, profit or confidence. I am still unsure what motivated me to sojourn twice into the northlands; once by my lonesome, allegedly drawn by desire to connect with my homeland, and a second with Greyward on his 'hunt' for the creature that terrorized that accursed thrope...

I have become distracted.

Despite her supposed affections for me, and Ajax's ardent belief that I would be an unfitting husband for her (inwardly I agree with his assessment, but the fact that he was so verbose about it affronts me from being outwardly congruent), I find the prospect of dashing the hopes of young Nerys very difficult to bare, and one can see why Ajax is also unwilling to be the bearer of such news. Though I can also see Nerys rejecting her brother's advice on the grounds of being overprotective (which is true) and thus deepening her infatuation. Perhaps I do long to be cared for; I need to dwell long and hard on how to deal with this.

Once my companion and I had voiced our opinions and cooled our subsequent tempers, the both of us journeyed to Darkwood to look into several rumours about a strange, possibly threatening, creature dwelling therein. On our way, we passed a visiting patrol of holy warriors known as Sigmarites, whose apparent encounter with the being was peaceful (surprising though, given they tend to be ardent-bordering-fanatical in their crusade to cleanse the land of all 'unpure' beings).

A visiting group of Sigmarites

Further into the forest, we at last glimpsed the creature; hunched low as a predator, cloaked and hooded in a robe of umber and pitch, glittering eyes regarded us from a side-cocked ligneous face; aside from the two bidactyl feet it crouched upon, the only other feature that could be seen beneath its covering were several digits arrayed with large, wicked-looking claws.

The strange creature known as Scarab

Our attempts at communication with it were mostly vexing; the odd canter of its speech combined with its enigmatic questions and aloof replies, made our assessment of its nature and intention difficult. In the end, Ajax and myself decided it was best to leave well enough alone, for it only seemed a threat to those who would threaten it; for the time being we collectively decided it must be some form of nature spirit, for it did mention it had been dwelling in Darkwood for sometime. Why now it chose to make its presence known, we cannot say; perhaps it is related to its desire to locate an individual known as 'the killing knife', as heard from a second-hand encounter.

Soon after we had returned, a small trio of goblinfolk, nervously entered town through the south gate; two (female?) goblins, green as spring grass, accompanied an elder (male?) the shade of cinder (a fire goblin undoubtedly). As my duty as town guard, I cautiously approached these creatures known for their cunning, as a small crowd of concerned citizens gathered to watch the proceedings, greeted them, and requested their intentions.

This group appeared to be non-threatening and only inquired to those who would listen if and how the recent changes they attributed to this lands' recent stay in the abyss had altered the folk of this town (if at all) and how they felt about it. The goblins related some of their kin had changed into larger, brown-skinned varieties, and that some were unhappy with this change. They also mentioned many of their kin were nearby; perhaps an (un)intentional threat.

Eventually, this trio was brought before King Kasper Willumarius, who was present and holding court that day, and after being questioned by him, the goblins were permitted half of an hour to seek and obtain their desired knowledge concerning changes to their kin before they must depart these lands.

Sometime later, when many goblins had dispersed throughout town, another group of outlanders arrived and took up position around the royal court; I informed Willumarius of such and we proceeded to meet the host. There, a great pack of theriantropes of varying 'breeds', tense and agitated, surrounded the pair leading them: Silverfang, the intimidating legendary alpha of all therians, and the small-folk avatar of Gnimh, the supposed goddess of wild magic, and also the creator of goblinfolk and therians alike.

King Willumarius, in his 'polite' way, inquired to the visit, and it became known that Gnimh was seeking a lost piece of her magic staff and apparently believed it to be in the vicinity of Dagger Deep. Their discussion was soon interrupted when an eager goblin, seeking approval from the 'mother of magic' (a lesser goddess perhaps, for the All-Father Wodin is the God of Magic), lightly brushed Gnimh with a fawning hand, to which she responded by flying into a berserk-like fury, and tore its still-beating heart out from its chest with her bare hand and proceeded to devour it.

She then loudly called for the slaughter of all goblins, and her pack of therianthropes were loosed to see her will done. King Willumarius offered aid to drive the goblins out of town, for their time had passed anyway, but when Gnimh demanded the ears of all goblins, whether they be male, female, or young, the king refused, as did many others including myself. The rumour that the goblins also had the missing piece was also spread along with a reward for finding and returning it.

Not entirely trusting the motivations Gnimh, Silverfang, or the host of therianthropes, I did not aid in driving the goblins out of town and the surrounding land, nor in the barbaric practice of collection their ears; I had been commanded to guard Willumarius and that I did. The goblins were quickly routed and it became a slaughter; though Willumarius claimed his goddess Cheeba had charged him many a time with the purge of goblinfolk, never he did deal so against their non-warriors, nor with such a degree of sheer malice.

Even though Gnimh was a supposed goddess and the king's decision to turn on the goblins might have been motivated out of the best interests of the town, I could not help but silently question his convictions to his goddess; by allowing Gnimh's word and tolerating her fanaticism, he in my own mind was placing her above his own goddess.

I kept these specific thoughts to myself.

A group of us then followed 
Watch lieutenant Odez into Ork's Field, as he began to enforce the kings' order. After witnessing a skirmish between a group of goblins and therians, Ajax, in a somewhat surprising turn, agreed with my troubled assessment that this persecution of goblins was rapidly turning into a needless genocide. Perhaps after the events at Amsel, we are both loath to trust the whims of beings motivated by unquenchable hunger or desire.

Privately, we made the choice to parley with the goblinfolk, to stave hostilities, but to mostly learn if they did in fact have the missing staff-piece Gnimh was searching for. Speaking with the brown hobgoblin Commander Small-Ear, who seemed to respect my supposed position of authority as a member of the Watch, related that they did in fact have such a item and were keeping it from Gnimh on the belief that if she was able to gain such a thing, it would giver her complete control over all therianthropes, which would spell further doom to his kind. We were further told their 'red' leader was safekeeping it.

We initially mistook a different firegoblin, matching our description of the other I had met earlier, who was touting something about a great 'Chair-Man' and would gave me a bizarre small book bound in red. I still have this odd piece of literature; I feel he might have been a member of the Liberateurs movement...

Soon a tense standoff between the therian host, lead by its two figures, and a group of loyal citizens of Dagger Deep, led by King Willumarius. developed; the king believing Silverfang to be under Gnimh's control boldly attempted to slice open his throat to 'release him'. That bold action caused therians to turn on us and the majority of us were slain. Yet, despite such a daring act, Silverfang still sued for a peaceful resolution between the Deep and his goddess and pack, and those who had fallen from the skirmish were returned to life.

Following that altercation, one of the therians addressed me directly; appealing to my reason and attempting to liken their worship of Gnimh like my own faith in the Æsir, to which I responded with a question: Were they so devoted to their 'goddess' to have no concerns at all about the rumour that Gnimh would have complete control over all of them should the missing piece be found? He said that that would allow for the highest form of worship, to which I said their blind loyalty is nothing like my belief in my gods; the truest form of faith is being granted the choice not to follow them, but making the choice to do so.

Ajax and I finally met with the leader of the firegoblins and let them know our peaceful intentions; he eventually disclosed to us that he no longer had possession of the lost staff-piece, though the way he said it also told that Gnimh had it neither. Eventually the two of us decided to seek out the therian host, which for sometime had been largely visible but had since disappeared, and exchanged rumours with several allies in Darkwood:

First, a therianthrope commonly known by the nickname of 'X', related how Gnimh had exerted her control upon nearby were-creatures that were not loyal to her, bidding them to act against their own will (Ajax and I witnessed such when the local beast-man Shadow attacked and searched the body of the goblin leader for the missing piece, soon after we spoke with him; supposedly he was under Gnimh's influence when doing so); several of the resident therians aided the opposition to the goddess by staying out of the reach of her influence.

Second, the well-meaning but occasionally very naïve elven priestess, Lady Light, spoke a rumour that the staff-piece had found its way back to Gnimh. When I was able to draw Ajax's attention away from her bosom, we decided to find and confront the goddess and see if this was true. A young newcomer by the name of Ulfric joined us on our search; the less heavily laden youth made a good scout compared to the noisier pair (particularly Ajax and all his maille and plate). Alas, our search was fruitless, though we did spy Balthier travelling through Ork's field by his lonesome; avoiding Gnimh's influence or perhaps on some devious personal errand. 

By the time we had returned from our trip, I spied a familiar object lying ahead of us upon the path: Milo's spear. Just after I ran ahead and retrieved it, a group of therians appeared farther down the path carrying the wererat himself. The three of us prepared for conflict, but their leader Silverfang claimed their intention was amicable; apparently Milo had been poisoned with a deadly toxin that prevented him from being brought back to life and Gnimh's power would restore him.

Though the intentions seemed outwardly cordial, the details the lay beneath were less than benevolent (a fitting parable for therians in general I think); it seems that Milo had poisoned himself to prevent Gnimh's influence forcing him to reveal the location of the lost piece, which the now revived and compelled captain related that Balthier was safeguarding it from Gnimh. Having revealed the desired information, Milo and the rest of us were allowed to leave (further) unharmed, though it did take some convincing for Milo not to attempt any arrests.

After returning my captain to town and having a brief respite, I came upon the therians yet again in South Ork's Field whilst searching for Ajax and my other allies that had last been there; they lay dead at the feet of Silverfang's pack and before I could issue challenge, my body went rigid and darkness fell upon my eyes and deafness upon my ears.

An eternity of void seemed to pass but it must have not lasted longer than a moment, for my senses were suddenly returned with a sharp inhalation of breath, and the once still corpses were now lumbering about abnormally, imbued with unlife. I began to retreat slowly, hand on the hilt of Sváfnir, coolly voicing my concern at the situation. Silverfang claimed they had grown tired of acting diplomatically and working within the laws of Dagger Deep. He then commanded several of his pack to slay me; as I sprinted towards the rear entrance to the tavern I was overrun and slain.

When at last I was returned to life by friendly faces, we moved rapidly to defend the town from attack by the deceiving therians; Gnimh's host held the bailey and courtyard and the majority of the attack was focused on the western gate, led by King Willumarius. I opted for a strike upon the neglected north gate, I bypassed their lousy defense and distracted those inside the bailey by dashing along the battlement, before I briefly sparring with the werewolf whom I debated with on the nature of worship, before attacking the enemies' rear flank. Soon though, our initial attack force of citizen and goblin allies were routed.

Though the therians had ample opportunity to slay all inhabitants and feast upon our corpses, they instead chose to pursue the fleeing goblin forces and leave us to our recovery. Hopefully Gnimh and Silverfang chose not to return, though we best prepare for such an eventuality.

As dusk began to settle, the majority of the town did what they always did following a endured crisis: drink and feast. Though I kept from partaking in too much of drink (wary of the anger in me it brings forth as of late), I did share some mild elven wine with Ajax along with some of my vittles, as we rested our thews over a game of pip'n'tiles (to which we argued about the rules) before we departed for some air (and more food for me from Kippo's shoppe; I cannot recall the last time I was so ravenous with hunger).

Though Ajax had been lustily tolling the fairness of Odez's newest apprentice all throughout the day, an elven maiden with a name recalling pleasantly exhaling, both of us became melancholic as he pined about his lost love, Erin Westwood of Averland, and I about the meaning behind awful dreams that have been haunting me as of late. Eventually, we both took solitude seperately.

I spent my own time patrolling town, ruminating deeply, and spending time in prayer to the Æsir, asking for their guidance. Ajax and I later crossed paths and by this point he was rather drunk; wandering darkened paths alone, lit only by the full moon, singing half-remembered songs to himself. I followed him for sometime, watching over him until we made our way back to the lit streets of town.

As I resumed my patrol, I encountered the elf priestess Lady Light, and as we exchanged pleasantries my gaze briefly fell to her chest and I saw what had drawn my companion's attention earlier that day: On her cloak was two polished brass brooches, each in the shape of the noonday sun casting its rays. The general likeness to the heraldry of Averland was uncanny, and I at once knew I had a gift for Ajax that would hopefully cheer him up.

I politely inquired to purchase one from her, and offered her a hundred daen for such, far more than what she believed it worth; but I was inconveniencing the Lady by taking one of her cloak clasps and I wished to present this gift in person to my friend this evening whilst there was still the opportunity to do so.

I headed to the tavern with the brooch in my possession and found Ajax discussing with an odd fellow, named Brusjef, about sending a letter to Averland; he had previously mentioned to me how he had no knowledge if any of his letters to Erin had ever arrived in her far off realm, and I, in perhaps poor jest, suggested he have the trader Brusjef ensure delivery of such in the future. Apparently he took my suggestion seriously.

When he concluded his talk flustered, yet hopeful that he will be able to establish contact, I asked him if he was somewhat soberer, and he said he was; I placed the sun brooch on the table before him. I shan't forget the look of surprise and joy upon his face when his eyes befell that gift.

Dispite all we've been through together; the arguments, the disagreements, the hardships, and perhaps above all, Amsel:

I want to believe Ajax and I have forged an unbreakable bond. Gods know I need one.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref ' Kampi' Vandillson

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