A previous entry:
I am utterly mortified.
Enque and Otso have figured out how to get onto the kitchen counter. I must commend the team effort, but the object of their endeavors was to steal a spoon right out of my hands. The little shits! I can hardly wait until they are done weaning so I can be rid of them and my household can return to some manner of peace. Odiri must have entered at some point during my charging about chasing after them, or so I was informed by her riotous laughter suddenly reverberating through my cottage. Only when she was through having a fit at my expense did she come to my aid.
Spoon retrieved, her face twisted up in some idea of displeasure as she waved and wielded it in my direction, questioning what in heaven’s mercy had compelled me to name the pups numbers. Well, yes, of course I had numbered them. They were not my pups to name. But how could she possibly know that that’s what their names means? Unless… Any humor I may have found in her farcical display of authority was instantaneously mitigated by the halting realization that she, in fact, could understand elvish. Oh good mercies, Odiri could understand elvish all this time. She laughed at me again, bolder now. “How thick are you? I grew up in the Vanyr.”
I’m…. not the brightest. I don’t really have any shame about that. No great stake was ever really placed in my mastery of anything auspiciously academic. I was destined for the battlefield from square one. I never took great interest in education beyond what I found pertinent. Having lived a long life among nobility of culture is its own form of an education, really. I am by no means wise. I will not be uncovering any great secrets of the universe in my lifetime. Even magic, save for what is practical, is beyond me for the most part. To be honest, the only reason Tannion even got into upper academia is because he got Allaya’s head and not mine. I’m not an idiot by any means. I can admit more credit than that. I’m practical. I’m a good strategist. I’ve survived this long through all I have by my wits; that speaks for something. I’m smart where it counts. But in the minutia, yes, I suppose I am a bit thick.
I underestimate Odiri far too often, I think. The elvish, for one thing. I should have guessed as much, had I really put an ounce of thought into it. I know she’s from the Vanyr. Of course she would at least have a basic knowledge of elvish! That, and I do not think I have a single note or label in the house that /isn’t/ elvish. She hasn’t poisoned me yet. And now I can only think as to how many conversations I have had over her head with the thought that she would have no understanding of them. Harmless, much of it. But other things, I’m certain they would hurt her to hear. I cannot now recall the words of every conversation I have ever had beside her in my mother tongue, but my sweet goddess, I wish I could. Just how much has she overheard?
I must be more careful about her now.
The following entry:
For better or for worse, the hellish racket my household has become forced me out to the business of adventuring for the second time in a week. I woke one afternoon to Atta and Nelde attacking Otso, Canta having dragged my dishes off the kitchen table, Enque and Lempe playing in the hearth ashes, and Mine, bless her heart, trying to clamber into the loft to wake me. Charka was dead asleep in her nest, of course, and whined at me to deal with the mess myself when I tried to wake her. Some mother she is! After a barking spat with her, I grabbed my gear and walked out of my own home, riding to the Ramshackle Manor to call on my love. I caught her just as she was saddling up to head into town. She informed me with the deepest of chagrin that her Lady was planning an expedition. Fantastic. I would tolerate even Frivolity’s antics for a chance to get out of the house.
As we made our way to the Rose Shell, already, I could sense that Odiri was on edge. She explained that Frivolity had purchased a ship and intended to take it out the next day. This was perhaps the least attractive sort of business to her. I know very well by now why it is that water so upsets her. She says it is an old pain to her, but how old can it really be to someone as young? I marvel that she is so strong as to not be completely undone by it, only suffer it in the most delicate of melancholies. A fear of water is only the lightest of possible consequences…
But of course, as her Lady’s servant, she would be obligated to accompany her on whatever high seas adventures she whimmed to fruition. I certainly wasn’t going to let Odiri go alone, so I too was conscripted into the business.
We joined Frivolity, Albion, Z’embre, and Soveliss at the teahouse, cramming ourselves with festive drink as we discussed the specifics of the venture. Frivolity wished to investigate the strange island that had supposedly beached The Lulubelle and her crew. Or, rather, that was the excuse she gave. I suspect that her real intentions were to have a bit of a pleasure cruise and drag the rest of us unfortunate fellows along for the ride. Not that it would have changed much; even on a totally benign outing, I am certain the company would find itself in some sort of spectacular bullshit. What is it about signing the charter that turns everyone into a beacon for danger?
I don’t entirely recall what I’d said, as I was more than a few drinks deep by that point in the conversation, but I had spoken a little too loudly with Odiri, reminding her chidingly that I’d offered to teach her how to swim before she was forced into something like this. Soveliss scoffed and sputtered, practically laughing at the idea that she couldn’t swim. He immediately changed his tune, however, to offer his own “help” in the matter. Though she laughed bitterly and spat back at him with her displeasure, I caught the disappointment in her eyes that I’d dare say such a thing. Goddess, I’d rather she be angry with me. I felt like a right prick. I knew better, yet still I said it! I don’t mean to be such an ass, and this isn’t the first time. I have always practiced the most minute control over all my faculties, but lately I am entirely out of line with myself. I’m violent. I’m crude. I’m some version of myself I didn’t know I could be. And whatever self-righteous pleasure I did derive from this state of personhood before, I don’t want it anymore. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’ve got to get it together.
Albion attempted to lighten the mood, intentionally or not, with the proposition that perhaps a life jacket of some sort could be constructed out of inflated intestines. The whole table roused up in cries of disgust and laughter, suggestions for improvements on the construction thrown about. The initial point of the matter was lost to conversation (for the best), and the rest of the evening went smoothly.
The following morning, we met at the Rose Shell once more, geared up, and headed down to the water. Avoiding thoughts of what had occurred the last time we were at the docks, I did my best to placate Odiri with frivolous conversation. I cannot say it helped her much. She visibly shook with the force of her nerves as she crossed over onto the ship’s deck. Before I could even make the suggestion that perhaps getting away from the sight of water would ease the journey for her, she dove into the quarters below and did not come up again for hours. Soveliss attempted to coax her out by turning all the drink below deck to water, but not even the sweet lure of alcohol could drag her up.
The rest of us took our positions for the journey, Albion squarely at the ship’s helm. I know only a vague history of his people, but it still strikes me with surprise every time I am reminded that, yes, in fact, minotaurs are seafaring. Z’embre, too, seemed to have a decent handle on things, taking to the rigging immediately. When it came time for someone to go up to the crow's nest, I was summarily volunteered. As much as I do truly value the gifts I am granted by nature of my race, I sorely hate being used for them. Soveliss’ snide remarks to what he perceived as a fear of heights /encouraged/ me to climb up, just to show his smug ass that he was most certainly wrong. I convinced myself to stay up there with the thought that I was fulfilling something of a duty (really, how many times in my life…).
It is not that I am exactly afraid of the sea. That’s not it at all. Frankly, it is my lack of experience that bothers me. Sure, I am a fair swimmer. It was a requirement that I learn in academy. I know some basics of sailing, if only because Allaya’s father had a passion for the stuff and took some bizarre joy in teaching me whenever we visited Lake Orphea. Beyond that, not a thing. Before I came to Shore Blossom, I had seen the sea exactly twice in my life. The first time when my mother sailed West into eternity, the second when I boarded the vessel that brought me to this place. Even having resided in this town the better part of a year, having made more than a few journeys to the shore beyond the wall, having come to port multiples times in a week to call on Master Heng, I still have not quite gotten used to the sight of open water. It makes me think of death. That really strikes it on the heart of the matter. I cannot see the sea for anything but an omen of the unknown. Beautiful, but undeniably unnerving.
From my high perch, I really should have been more carefully watching the water. But hours passed of us clipping along steadily with nothing but the empty vastness of the ocean and the easy breeze licking at my cheek. The ongoings on deck below offered a bit more sensory stimulation by comparison. Everyone else seemed to be doing more or less something useful, chatting away to pass the travel time. Of course, with the anticipated exception of Frivolity, who had taken to sunbathing, using some bizarre mirror to aid her. Pleasure cruise.
I hate that I’ve become such a snoop, but I haven’t the will nor the desire lately to actively block out what I am certain to hear anyway. I overheard Z’embre dig into her rations at one point, mooing (is that racist? Is that still racist if it’s accurate?) with great pleasure over how much she loved cheese. It reminder her of her mother. Oh goddess. Soveliss must have heard my inadvertent yip of disgust, as came up to join me and confer that, yes, indeed, Z’embre had some mommy issues to work out.
We passed the time arguing over what exactly the difference between a gulf and a bay was, until the shape of an island broke the line of the horizon. It would be at least another hour before we might reach it. As we conferred whether or not this was indeed the island we sought, I spotted a few large wooden crates floating out in the water just out of our path. Soveliss flew out over the water to inspect them, finding them hideously waterlogged but otherwise seemingly harmless. Even Odiri had come up from below to see the commotion for herself. Roping the crates up and dragging them onto the deck, we found the contents of them to be essentially benign, if a little bizarre. Supplies, for the most part, that one would expect to find on a ship making a long journey. Sacks of wheat, a cask of vinegar, molasses, boxes of powdered lead. And some stranger items as well: a chest of wigs, an entire piano, 8 pan flutes, 11 glass rods, a magic wand, and a snowglobe.
I don't quite know what came over me when I saw it. Snow is another of those ancient experiences that seems to me almost a constructed memory. Winters, bitter as they might've been, were never cold. Always, warmth. Her rosy cheeks. His tender hands. Was that really my own life, or something I'd once read in another man's memoirs? Perhaps it was the loss of situational awareness that seemingly goes hand in hand with deep nostalgia that compelled me to shake the globe so carelessly, if only to see that silly artificial hail of flakes and try, just try, to remember what the real thing felt like.
Suddenly, the world titled. Bright, blinding light. The sensation of my diaphragm being pulled out through my throat and turning over. Then, the familiar finger-nipping cold of frost. Floorboards. Walls. Dim, white-filtered light. We were inside a cottage that, for all the glance I got of it, seemed identical to the one inside the globe I had been holding not even a second before. Heaven's mercy, what had I done?
The tight darkness of the room immediately unsettled me and, the more and more I took in of what it was that surrounded me, the less and less real it felt. The hum began to sizzle beneath my skin, rising with every creak and groan of the wood in conflation and confusion of my senses. I felt almost as though I were vibrating as I stepped—were these my feet?— towards the window, flattened my palms against the cool— solid— glass. Unmarked sheets of snow cut up by broad, coniferous firs, like dark and jagged streaks of paint against an open canvas. We were trapped. The snow was too high. The door would not open. The firs were too dark, too streaky. We shouldn’t open the door. The others were talking, yawping in disorientation with their tempers. I was responding with words—apparently words. The more people spoke, the harder and harder it was to hear. Everything was coming to me like through thick glass bowl clapped over my head, muffled and spread thin. Oh hell, not this, not now.
My mind sought out Odiri. Even in my own extraordinary subjective state, I could see that she was distressed. Snow, the snow, she didn’t like the snow. Her people starved. She told me her people starved once. The snow was starving. Shit, she was moving, fast, frantic. Circles, pacing circles. Shit. I wanted so desperately to reach out and grab hold of her hand and clench it in mine and not let go until the epidermal shaking subsided and I could think again with any clarity and help her stop and help me stop. But I could not move, eyes flittering, scanning silently and catching every single stimulus. The slightest motion out of place, the faintest noise, threatened to set me off, that the hum would take me and I would cease to think. Carefully, forcefully, I clenched my teeth and willed myself to step, calculating circumferences, into her path. She freighted into me, stopped by my body, seeping into the space under my arm against my side and ceasing the vibrations where she breathed into my clothes. It was just enough, just enough a guide, for me to count the ribs that she pressed her cheek to. Okay. That’s something. That’s enough to think.
Z’embre shuffled ahead though a door to the side and the company followed. I do not know if she tugged me, or I tugged her, or if the force of fear of left behindedness tugged I or her or us both, but we followed after, crossing behind everyone into a room where everything was swathed in dusty black silks. Odiri melted from my side, zipping away like a clap of manic energy as her heat remained on me lingering, sucked dry slowly away by the brittle, artificial air inhabiting the magic house. She flashed around the room, her lightning hands tossing the silks into the air before her thunder footsteps even reached me. Beneath one, a spinning wheel, threaded with sinew. Sinew? That was definitely sinew. That’s what sinew looks like. On the wall, limp hung behind it, a woven blanket of pink flesh. The sinew. Meat. It was fucking meat. The last of Odiri’s warmth dissipated and in the sacred place that it had been, the vibration started up again. It was a blanket of fucking meat. My eyes traced the lines— a mistake— and they thickened into guts and the humming rose again and I hadn’t realized I was grinding my teeth but I was grinding my teeth and then grinding the bones of those poor boys, my men, stripped of their intestines and hung like garlands on black banners and fuck, I needed to stop looking. I needed to stop looking right now. My eyes caught on the motion of Odiri shredding another silk into the air and jolted over in desperation on that point in space beneath it, meeting the beady eyes of Tiefling hunters, standing proud over their great horned demonic catch. Their beheaded prey did not seem dead to me. He could be blinking. I was not blinking. No, please, no more of this, what the fuck. Z’embre lumbered out, slats creaking beneath her hooves, overwhelming to my muted senses enough that it registered through the haze of hearing and reminded me that, yes, okay, I could walk places. I could walk out of places. I could leave the room. I left the room, stepping in the echoes of her hoof-falls and letting the weight of her forward motion move me along behind her.
Her hooves led my feet to a ladder, and in an instant of repeated clicks and clips, she was somewhere in the atmosphere above me. No sooner did I raise my boot to set it up after her that I heard a bovine yowl and a massive bone— a femur, a femur is part of the leg, a femur is part of the leg is part of r e m o v i n g t h e l e g— come clattering down from the open, creaking attic door. It must have bounced. It must have bounced because the laws of motion say it must have bounced, but it hit the floor and stuck to it as though glued the first moment of contact. The possibility of letting go of the ladder seemed like death, but I managed to convince myself to step back enough that Z’embre could come down, keeping myself perfectly perpendicular with the ground because if I titled, it all would tilt with me. The bone began to ooze viscous, burgundy blood, sweating it like a mechanism of defense. Demon bone. They had skinned down demons and taken their bones. Okay, charming, I told the hum that it’s not any different from what I do, even if my bones don’t bleed. I was trying to reason with the vibrations simmering beneath my skin, the promise of logic tethering me down. Ridiculous. Odiri’s voice piped in from somewhere, I couldn’t tell where. her words bumping up against my legs, lost on their path to my head. There were three fiends in the woods. The slats come in threes. The long dark slats of umber wood come in threes. We shouldn’t open the door. We need to get out. Soveliss pressed past me and moved up the ladder. We weren’t going to be getting out.
I counted the slats and then counted the people and shit, Z’embre had disappeared. Odiri was pacing again, but not circles this time. I couldn’t figure out her path. There was no sense to it, or was it me that wasn’t making any sense? The slats come in three dark slats, three light slats, then three dark again. The pattern is off in one corner. Knocking steps and rustling as Soveliss came back down the ladder, reporting that there had been a clay mannequin clothed with the bright splats of color in his arms. A far, far too iridescent crush of fabric, and green boots of snakes— see, the hunters make clothes. They make boots, perhaps. They make thread. They make meat thread. They make meat blankets. Meat blankets. Intestine banners. No, no, okay, key in, key in, Soveliss was saying something. He rattled off the magical properties of the things, the knowledge, the facts would give me something to grip. The glittering poncho could catch any ammunition that whizzed past it. The shoes would grant the wearer mastery of any dance. Odiri seemed… upset by them? She tsk’d lightly, but it pierced me through the haze like a well slung arrow. I couldn’t place the look in her eyes. But everyone moved and her eyes left my eyes and my feet followed.
Clattering in fellowed march of steps, we went into the basement, full of glowing— were they really glowing?— foods, preserves, cheeses, bottles. Z’embre groped her way along the walls, dumping cheeses— dumping mommy issues— into her satchel. Everything sang with magic. Everything I touched my hand to put a different frequency into my fingertips, warbled with a different color.
And then all the colors ceased. All at once. And then brightness. And the full length of my diaphragm being shoved back into my body by means of my esophagus. The sting of salt in my eyes. The wind. Churning, splishing water against wood. Solid wood. The ship. Oh sweet goddess, we were back. We were back on the ship. In my hands, the snowglobe.
I’d never hummed like that before. The glass bowl sensation— I knew that. Excessive violence, overstimulation, shocks to the system, that would put me there. A sort of instinctual state in duplicity with total removal. Myself, at an arm’s length. Numbness of judgement. It concerned me once, but after seeing the use of such a mental state in the hot slush of battle, I learned some control of it, as much control as could be had of such a thing. A method of the brain to protect itself, I think. I never spoke of it to anyone on the vague suspicion that it somehow wasn’t right. I once had known how to navigate it. Swim in the fog until it was the right moment to come up again from the heady water and breathe, engage. But the vibrations, the overwhelming buzzing of my skin, left me limp, unhinged. It pushed me away and loosened my grip so that reeling back, pulling on that arm on my own shoulder and coming back to myself, became impossible. I… am unsure how to proceed. What if there comes a time that I cannot pull myself back? That I am lost to the hum? What then?
My jaw sizzled with the force of grit finally releasing me. The hum was subsiding. I felt the snowglobe being taken from my hand, Soveliss inspecting it. The winding mechanism on the bottom would change the time spent inside the globe when it shook. A person could be trapped there for a month or more. We had been gone only an hour. An hour? If we had been gone an hour, we should’ve hit land already. The coherency of sound was coming back to me, and I gathered that Soveliss was suggesting to give the snowglobe to Adi for him to study. Sure, Adi. Let him get his hands on it. If something ever were wrong in the world and needed fixing, Adi was the man. I might’ve spoken my thoughts aloud, because I saw in my periphery Odiri’s offended, pointed glare. She stepped back from me, and in some act of instinct, I went to step towards her.
I did not get the chance to even question it as the whole ship suddenly shook with a ferocious lurch as the hull was scratched by our ear-splitting collision with the sandbar, throwing us off balance and off our feet. The whole deck tilted up and rolled us into a heap against the starboard railing. When things came to a dead halt, our fabulous cruise vessel having run totally aground, I got to my feet and helped Odiri to hers. We clambered off the ship onto shore, inspecting the damage done. It could be repaired, but it would have to wait. There was the matter of our ~island adventure~ to attend to…
Albion, who’d wandered off from the group, called out that he found a message in a bottle. A cry for help that obviously didn’t get far. Something from the stranded pirates, saying they were trapped and their captain had gone mad. I didn’t get much of a look at it before we were ambushed by a troupe of giant, black-bodied crustaceans.
I felt the hum rise again for a split second and just, fizzle out in confusion? Lobsters? Really? I couldn’t take it seriously and laid into the task of dispatching them with a page ripped from Albion’s gleeful approach. The whole thing was over in minutes as legs and antennae went flying, and Soveliss unleashed a storm of fire onto them, effectively flash frying them. Upon further inspection, they were indeed cooked to perfection. Z’embre ripped a claw off and tossed it to Odiri, who struggled to catch the thing as it was almost the entire size of her. Some coconuts were easily located, and we all sat down a moment for a bizarre feast.
I don’t know quite what came over me. Perhaps it was just the absurdity of the whole thing. But I began to laugh wildly. Perhaps it was the total emotional whiplash of the past few hours of my long existence coming full circle. First like a bubble in my throat, then like a torrential rain that I could not control. What had even happened just there? What was still even happening? Why was it that I, a man who began his life in the cradle of dignity and civilization, who witnessed in brutal color the fragile death of said dignity, was now standing here, on this unmarked island halfway around the world, cannibalizing lobster men? The laughter only subsided because the sheer ridiculous force of it began to tug at my scars and cause my chest and sides to ache. I cracked open another coconut and walked it over to Odiri, who picked at her cache of lobster with absolute bewilderment. The absurdity of it all could not be explained, and trying to put rhyme or reason to the course of the matter was as irrational as the matter itself. Perhaps it was then the best course to not try and explain anything at all. Perhaps life would be a little easier to bear without the grand illusion of control. I tried to put into words what I had just come to understand, but her quiet nodding left me wondering if she had really heard me at all.
As we gathered our bearings and prepared to scout the island, I reached out to sense what sort of fauna inhabited it. The answer came back lizards. A lot of fucking lizards. And a lot bigger than they should be. I informed the party as much, to mixed responses of confusion and concern. Soveliss flew ahead of us as we trekked into the jungle, scouting from the skies. Upon his return, he described to us the massive scale of the place, hundreds of miles across with more than one volcano rising up from it. Curiously, the mountains seemed to be fresh, as did everything else. The patterns of weather seemed not to exist; nothing was eroded, not even by the sea. It was as though the whole island simply came into existence in an instant. It was truly virgin territory. The deeper we went into the jungle, the more evident this became. It was young, seemingly untouched by man or beast for the most part. I could only guess as to what some of these plants were. Odiri was having something of a meltdown, so I kept close to her side, keeping as much a keen eye on her as to our supernatural surroundings.
After some time, we came to the incredible sight of an entire ship, wrecked among the trees. Tall palms had pierced the hull of it, as though they had suddenly grown beneath the vessel with such speed and force that the whole construction was lifted up with them. On the side, it touted itself as “The Painted Lady”. Oh, so this was not The Lulubelle? What had happened to that ship then? There couldn’t possibly be another of these islands, could there? Ah, there I go again, trying to inject reason into perfectly unreasonable circumstances.
Odiri quite suddenly left my side, ripping out from under my protective hand, running towards Albion with the last words I wanted to hear come out of her, “Throw me!” Albion exuberantly obliged her, hoisting her up and chucking her full force in the direction of the ship. My heart leapt into my mouth as she hit the side and scrabbled for purchase, the ship already shifting from the initial impact. She clambered up onto the deck and immediately began to scream, the ship beginning to move in earnest. Soveliss flew up and pulled her off the thing as it came down screeching, cracking through the treeline with a hideous breaking of vines, and crashing into the brush, wood snapping and sailing off in all directions. The moment Soveliss floated them both back to the forest floor, I scooped Odiri up into my arms and carried her far enough away that I felt safe letting her down again. I said nothing, but shot her a withering look. I can’t believe she’d do something so goddamnedly reckless. Soveliss is not the person she should be relying on. When the group caught up with us, Albion and Z’embre were laden with gold and jewels from the ship’s split open belly. I have yet to decide the moral character of using the bovines as pack mules, but I won’t deny the usefulness of them in that regard…
We pressed onward, though we did not make it far before again being stopped. Z’embre found a shrunken head. I think I may have been more unsettled by it had it been found earlier in the day. But by that point, I think I was just burnt out. Yes, okay, it’s a shrunken head. Upon further inspection, one eye was plugged with a cork and liquid seemed to slosh inside its skull, which… was smaller than even a halfling’s… curious… Albion took it from Z’embre’s hands and swigged it heavily, to seemingly no adverse affect. At first, anyway. After a tense moment, his gut rumbled threateningly and he belched with an impressive force, expelling a puff of thick black smoke in the vague image of a face, not entirely dissimilar to the face of the shrunken head itself. But still, no adverse effect. In fact, he seemed a bit more impossibly invigorated.
Another hour of travel brought with it the rain, in a heavy tropical torrent that did not relent for nearly three more hours. The warm, fat droplets soaked me through, weighing me down and plastering my hair against my neck. The floor of the jungle quickly turned into a thick mixture of mud, and when the dirt could absorb no more, it began to flood. The longer we went, the higher rose the water. So much so, that Odiri found herself waist deep at one point. I stopped our travel for a moment so we could strategize this better. Z’embre hoisted Odiri out of the water and stuck her onto the trunk of a tree, which did rather successfully keep her from drowning. If the monsoon kept roaring on, the water was certain to keep rising. We might have had to get into the trees and wait it out. As we spoke, however, I could tell we were being watched. In the distance, one of the lizardfolk I had sensed before had stopped moving, observing us from its perch upon tall stilts. No, we would need to keep moving. I delicately removed Odiri from the tree and hoisted her up into Albion’s horns. As much as I would have happily carried her myself, she’d be safer up there.
Eventually, as the monsoon dripped to an end and the water began to subside, we came to the edge of a clearing. In it, a group of fifteen or so pirates, having a funeral of a sort. Attempting to have a funeral, in any case. A few of them stood about a headless corpse, barely shin deep in what was more of a divet than a true grave. They tried to dig it deeper, but the soil was so soaked with water that the moment a heap was shoveled out, grey sludgy mud slithered into the space and closed it up again. My tongue felt heavy in my mouth at the familiarity of the sight. When our battalion had passed through the valley between the high mountains, the thin silt of the soil slipped so easy against itself that it had taken hours to put a hole deep enough to bury our fallen. When my men tired from the exertion in the parched summer air, I climbed in myself to dig until my bones gave out beneath me. They were my dead. They deserved what I could give them. Everyone deserved their rites. Everyone. Even Aster, whose tiny grave I put out of the marshes because the marshes would drown her in the peat.
The pirates themselves looked to be in terrible shape, as though each could easily replace the corpse. Their skin was ridden with pus-filled lumps, open sores, holes made by burrowing bot flies. A truly pitiful, ghastly sight. We had not really discussed in detail what we would do once we located the pirates, but doing anything now but try and help them seemed wrong, even if they were pirates.
The rest of us hiding in the moist brush, Soveliss went ahead to try and talk to them. They were hostile, at first, but warmed up to us once they understood that he did not mean any harm. They were, in fact, the crew of The Lulubelle, and had been on the island for nearly a month. As the bottled message had read, yes, their captain had gone quite insane. Their prize had been a golden ziggurat full of untold riches, which the captain has purportedly found and now “guarded”. At this point, Soveliss explained that he was not alone and motioned us all over. After they got over their initial shock, the pirates welcomed us over and continued to explain that the temple was of a tentacle faced god. Soveliss whipped out his chain of multitudinous holy symbols for them to point out what they had seen, only for them to indicate the sigil of Cthuotonos. Oh boy.
Conferring that we would bring reinforcements and aid them, Frivolity presented them with her mirror, saying that their safekeeping of it would be their freedom. We waited out the rest of the evening until the midnight hour, when the mirror opened up into a doorway. A portal to take us home! Brilliant! But, entering the mirror, we were met with the unsettling sight of a hallway. The walls were splattered with thick brushstrokes of blood, dried and crumbling off the many shadowy windows. Corpses and broken things lay against the jambs, in such a quantity that Frivolity had to push them aside to clear a walkable path. She seemed entirely unfazed as she navigated us to the other side of the hall, through an identical door, and out into Elder Yen’s shop parlor. After all of us came through, the doorway closed up and returned to its mirror state. I could breathe again.
I don’t want to adventure with Frivolity anymore.