Unsung Heroes

Ghost in the Shards . . .

Aryasatayadukhasamudayanirodhamarga
1.38.430.74.98.79-2
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“no . . .” the whisper tears itself from your throat, “why would they.”

The capsul in your hand continues its Eldish message inexorably [ . . . force penetrated the entire heath the first day. there has been no leak in the cordon, so we must assume that cornu losses must be heavy. a council is being convened to discuss disciplinary/punitive . . .]

FUCK disciplinary!” you snarl, throwing the delivery capsul across the desk. It rebounds and lands on a shelf, tucked between an enemy spirit pouch and a large spiral-shell pendant. You gather your implements of aether and ether manipulation. There is only one image in your mind: Irga, laughing at your clumsy jokes, teaching you to make love, learning the nature of the universe with you, leaving for a short visit with her clan now of all times . . .

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Ghost in the Shard ...

Aryasatayadukhasamudayanirodhamarga
1.38.422.85.98.79-2
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“Those doddering fools, " you rage, " can’t even see the opportunity in front of their faces!"

“They did have a point, Ary, the nexus would fail if used as an energy source instead of simply an amplifier of aether. You can’t expect them to understand the difference between the ways Aether and ether are generated. After all, " Irga points out, " we are just learning how to effectively harness ether ourselves."

You sigh, resigned and look around your study. The walls are lined with shelves displaying artifacts sacred to various peoples—stonekin gems, displayed next to eld diamond cores, human fetishes, idols and symbols, Kaldan treatises on religeon and religeous history, and Nyssa’s cornu seminal piece all have their place of honor in your haven of peace.

“You are right, of course, but now it will be more difficult . . .”

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Ghost in the Shards . . .
From the Diamond Core of Aryasatayadukhasamudayanirodhamarga

Aryasatayadukhasamudayanirodhamarga
1.38.421.43.98.79-2
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Irga smiles proudly at you, “That was simply astounding! I’ve never seen an eld progress so far past the theoretical when it comes to touching the Ether.”

“What a difference a vowel makes!” You groan, closing the religeous tome before you and placing it gently to the side.

“Don’t tease, Ary! I know what you’ve given up to attain even acolyte status here at the temple, " she replies, " I honestly don’t know if I could give up immortality just to, well, feel."

You sidle close, taking the cornu woman into your arms. “Some things are worth any sacrifice.”

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The Battle of Zerhun
Plants and Fire. What could go wrong?

So, the purple lights go out in Zerhun. Man, I hope that does not bode ill for our team.
We head our butts over there, and and discover that Eva is under attack by man-sized bushes.

Time to get back to business.

These bushes look like bears, but not like topiaries. Weird. As Raharjo guns the engine, I
take aim with the crossbow, burying one in the bear. Raharjo brakes and Nihm goes flying with a fierce meow. She digs her claws in, and leaves smoldering claw marks in its trunk, splitting the thing in half. Ricky makes his move, but I can’t quite make it out.

One of the tree people actually picks up Eva and it looks like it tries to eat him! One of them strikes out at Nihm and whiffs completely. I see that they’re trying to dismember Eva now, but the Eld does that himself.

Trying to come to the rescue, I run up the hill and toss a grenade that explodes right beside them, and splinters fly everywhere. I’m not convinced that I’ve really done anything, though, but Raharjo tosses one himself into the thick of it. He seems to have fared better than I did, blowing one all the way to Kingdom Come.

I see Nihm run and jump onto the altar and jump onto a tree. I lose sight of her, and I see that Ricky utterly destroys another bear tree. And suddenly, the very last tree standing sprouts another head and another leg, and grows to about four times its size. It smashes Nihm (and itself), and Eva tries to drag her away.

With Nihm free and clear, I toss a grenade at it, and I make it count. It blows a giant chunk of the tree completely away. Raharjo finishes it off, thankfully.

A sigh of relief. Nihm helps Eva find his limb, but is too far away for me to hear clearly what he says. Oh well. We’ve done what we came here to do. We’ll be off once again.

Nihm seems a bit tired, and almost has Raharjo drive right into a rock. He swerves, and dings the axle…

We continue on, and a couple of Dragonborn salute us as we check in on them. They’re okay, but they need fire. They also give us a message, containing a ring.

So, off we go to get these draconian gentlemen some fire. We drive the long way around to the camp and park, choosing to not destroy the jeep any further.

We get to the ammo dump…and these guys look like they’ve got roots in their hands!

I shout, “These guys are rooted!” Not a second after, Raharjo does the same and snatches up a flaming stick as I miss one with a crossbow bolt. Another picks up a grenade and tosses it. Somehow, the shrapnel avoids both me and Ricky, but Raharjo takes a bit of it.

I get up and run, putting another crossbow bolt into it. It doesn’t seem to do much, but I might at least draw its attention. I do get my wish as another burst of flame comes my way, and I get away with not getting hit- just as another grenade gets lobbed! I try to snatch Raharjo out of the way, but instead I place him in front of me as he takes most of the damage.

And that’s when I hear it: There’s a lot more combat going on, and I get the idea that there’s a lot more combat going on- we’ve been flanked!I separate from Raharjo, further getting this guy’s attention and I hope that Raharjo has better luck. I can’t quite see what Ricky is doing, but it’s not well. I can hear gunfire going on way over there. I get a little cocky, and I get a little burnt, too, as the flamethrower guy totally sets me on burning, stinging fire. With all the fire in my eyes, I completely miss putting another crossbow bolt into him. The guy points his gun towards the munitions wagon, and Raharjo springs forward, making sure that the stream of fire goes straight up instead of into the ammunition.

The purple light flickers back on, and we gain the advantage.

“Can you direct us to the front lines?” one of the purple lights says, "I believe that we’re

expected there." And one of them begins to sing?

We direct them forward, and they give us fiery enhancement. Either way, we gather them up in a pincer movement and take ’em out!

I feel a bit charred, but I’m alive, and so are we all. Thanks to Raharjo’s quick thinking, the

day is saved. I breath a sigh of relief.

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Rampaging Vegetables, Part 1
in which many things were set on fire and blown up

After playing messenger a bit, we helped Eva set up his mobile (and likely highly dangerous) nexus point. Our job is to keep the enemy away from Eva so he can do his job. Here I was starting to delude myself into thinking this would be easy, when a pack of bushes come charging at us.

I took a shot from a distance, as did Kam, while Ricky closed with them and dealt with them up close.

I think battle fatigue must be setting in, because I’m starting to have a hard time concentrating on the details, and most of my comrades’ words fade out of focus, along with the sounds of battle. Yet I feel lucid for now; if nobody asks me to think too deeply, I think I will be fine. Everyone seems to be doing their jobs well.

A distinct scent of ether prevails throughout.

Hmm. Right, back to business. Necklace. This necklace was important. The jewels come right off though. Do I throw them? That sounds right. Well, playing baseball was always fun.

Wow. Fireballs. Useful.

Now the catgirl is ranting on and on like a preacher at a revival meeting. It’s more blood and guts than fire and brimstone though, so it works.

Not as sure about my lucidity anymore…

I hope this is a fever dream. Ricky looks like he has two large mouth shaped holes in him.

Whoops. There goes the other gem. Why couldn’t have been this good of a pitcher back in school? At least this one helped even the odds more. Kam is a vicious shot. I would not want to be that tree. Ricky throws half a dozen haymakers at the tree trying to get past him, and it disappears a puff of woodchips.

Eva’s glowing purple now. I hope this is all part of the plan.

I think it worked. I shot at another one and the entry wound flashed like the powder pan on grandpa’s old hunting rifle. Ricky knocks the one in front of him a hard one. A hard right straight, a lightning left hook, and a burning uppercut. Jareth, Kam, and Ricky go to search the woods to make sure nothing else is lurking about. Eva keeps on glowing until a purple light shoots out of his mouth straight into the sky. Kind of pretty. Also looks kind of dangerous.

We go back to HQ. On the way, we spot Coryn leading a bunch of Eld with bazookas. That’s terrifying. It’s also very like him. Tasya’s pleased with the outcome of our mission and sends support back to Eva.

Night is coming on, and we’re about empty of fire spells and abilities, so Tasya sends us out to get necklaces of fireballs and six vials of alchemist’s fire. We get news of a flanking maneuver coming up from behind our lines. We go out to intercept the bastards. Long story short, we run right through our fire gear and ammo, and the reserves find us lighting up our smokes on top of a pile of dead plants.

I’m starting to feel like I missed my calling in life as a lumberjack.

The battle goes on for another two hours before the purple lights go off. I hope that’s only Eva getting tired.

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An Impending Battle
Not really sure about this...

All right, so we got all of our stuff, and I’m wearing a backpack full of pitch. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure I had something to do with this. We have our battle plan, we have our equipment, and we know what we have to do- though Cam looks at me like she wants to kill me.

Fair enough. I did get us all into this mess.

On our way out towards the enemy line, we stop by the lake and make sure that there are no tree people in it, but when Nihm gets there, she sees nothing. We continue on, and we do find a bunch of wavy bushes- but there’s no breeze. We stash the Jeep and hike around the bushes, and we come across the thicket. Raharjo goes over the plan. Those bushes advance on us quickly, and we book it back to the jeep. Raharjo guns the engine, and we get down and start this mad experiment.

We set the lines down, and now we’re doubling back- and I nearly fall off. Thanks to Cam I don’t fall off the Jeep, but if there’s a retreat, I tell them to leave me- I have alternate means, after all. Cam tosses the Alchemist’s Fire, lighting it up.

We watch the line light up…and I’m a little disappointed. They just keep running through the fire, and they keep going. Damn it. But they’re affected just a little bit, and that might be good enough for me. I think we can do this. I tell Raharjo to take us back, and I’ll drink my potions (of Ant Haul and Fly), and get this thing started. I take the barrel, Nihm gets on my shoulder, and we’re going after these bushy bastards. Cam goes with me, leaving Raharjo and Ricky in the Jeep.

In the air, we fly towards the front, only to have the Jeep that Raharjo is driving ride on up and he tosses his bottle of fire. It lights up a few of them, and he pulls a U turn and rides away. We drop pitch and fire on these guys, and they just keep coming. I manage to put a spin on a bottle of fire myself, and it collides with several of its flying pitched brothers, and setting them aflame. They fall into their less mobile brothers on the ground, setting them on fire, too. We’re being set upon by the other flyers.

Bring ’em.

We’re all getting swarmed, and I sound a retreat. We’re pretty banged up, but I’m pretty sure we can make this. We fly towards the outer line of these guys, the flying bushes chasing us all the while. These are stinging little guys, to be sure, but we’re okay. Well, I don’t feel very good, but I’ve still got some hope here. We do see Raharjo and Ricky cut around and keep pace with the charging bushes I think about the Jeep feather token in my pocket, and see the tree line (ha ha) fast approaching. I think we can do this.

Suddenly, Cam drops that pearly acid thing, and then drinks a potion and vanishes. Good. We’re still being swarmed, and Nihm begins using her fire claws on the closer ones, and they start smoking. They catch fire, and spiral down into that moving thicket.

All I can do for the moment is hold Nihm and keep moving, and that’s what I do. I can see the bare part of the hill not far away, and I’m hoping I make it out of this, even as I feel this poison working into my system. I’m feeling a little woozy, though, and the Jeep is getting closer. I think we’ll be okay. Cam descends into the Jeep below us, and we’re not far behind. We drop, but we’re still covered in these bushes! The important thing, we’ve done our job, and now I’m hoping that we can beat a hasty retreat and get away from these monstrosities. They’re everywhere though, and it’s not looking good (or, it could just be all the blood in my eyes). I hear gunfire, screaming, and swatting, and the engine of the Jeep roaring to life. We’re back to bouncing around in the vehicle. Nihm takes a bounce dangerously close towards the outside of the Jeep, and I grab her by the tail to keep her from completely. She retreats under the seat of the Jeep (good move), freeing me up to activate my Healing Belt and draw my dagger. I hope that these bushes get clear after Ricky pours on some more speed.

There’s another bump, and these things are just stinging the dickens out of me—-

—And suddenly, someone is slapping me, and I feel a little bit better. Nihm uses some kind of kit to open my veins and take the poison out. Raharjo fist bumps me, and I’m better still. I feel like death warmed over, but I just might make it.

I thank everyone for saving my life, but I don’t think this snafu qualifies me to be the leader. Nihm tells me that this is war, and we can’t always expect a smashing success. It’s okay, though. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get busted down to grunt, and I don’t think I’d mind that.

In the meantime, I’m in the infirmary, and I’ll feel a little bit better afterwards. I’m pretty woozy, but after twenty minutes I feel right as rain. They give us a potion of lesser restoration, and everyone looks right at me- so I take it.

A young Kald boy tells us to report for duty, and that’s what we do. Atasia tells us that we’re on delivery duty! We’re to deliver some parts to the graveyard, and Eva greets us. They’re building some kind of machine, and he asks for some help. Well of course, they’re needing our help, but we do have other orders.

Of course we’ll be happy to help!

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The Plant Brigade
Death on the petals of daisies

By the time we reach Zarhun, we’re barely awake. The good news is that there seems to be no signs of battle. Looks like we made it ahead of the killer plant …things. Our jeep is almost out of gas, and this town doesn’t exactly have a gas station where we can fill up. I really don’t want to have to hoof it. The Garrison is our first stop. We arrive at the gates Raharjo begins to SLOWLY tell the guard that there is an army on their way.

“Oh my god, why didn’t you ask to speak to the commander right away!? he screams.

“Um, can we speak to-”

“Oh for the love of… go, GO!”

We head toward the Commander’s post. The guard at the door sullenly asks for Raharjo’s name and rank. Once the information is supplied, the guard wipes his nose and mumbles something like ‘…oh. Those guys. Okay, go on in I guess.’

Raharjo begins to, once again slowly, tell the Commander about what went on and then finally tells her that there is an army of hundreds of plant monsters on their way. She doesn’t exactly look convinced, but we finally manage to get it through to her that we are in fact very serious.

We are given emergency ration gas and told to try and find an army division that passed through town three days ago. It is decided that Ricky will drive since he doesn’t need to sleep and we very obviously do. We head over to the Monastery first. It only takes about thirty minutes to get there and all the ‘little Ricky’s’ stare at us as we drive by. We pull into the middle of camp and begin our search for Tasia and ‘upload’ the latest information. He doesn’t say much, just kind of looks at us and a couple of other Eld come over, and then leave again. As we get ready to leave we notice that a lot of the Eld are …changing out limbs?! O_O It’s sort of macabre and yet I can’t look away. I look at my own arms and try to imagine what it would be like to have a gun instead of an arm. I suddenly find myself with vague images of a spiky haired guy and a large sword… I shake my head. I must be more tired than I realized.

Ricky drives us through the night narrowly avoiding potholes and roots and we notice that there are trampled sections of the road. It definitely looks like an army recently marched through here. We thought perhaps we should try to get some sleep. ‘Try’ being the key word. Ricky has never driven before and though as a Eld, he picked up the basics fairly quickly, he doesn’t yet understand some of the finesse it takes to drive without jarring the less Eld occupants of the vehicle. It is very early in the morning when we wake and Jareth figures that the army division is about a half a day’s march ahead of us. We should reach them in almost no time.

Jareth has the brilliant idea to get on the radio to try and convince them to stop marching so that we can catch up faster. However,we don’t exactly have a code book, or know any codes with in which to comminucate our intentions.He somehow manages to convince them to stay put and that we should reach them in about an hour. We arrive even sooner. It only took about fourty-five minutes to reach them and we are met by a few mounted men. Raharjo gives them a note from the Commander, and they go back to the group and then return with a General. We give him all the info we have, which is admittedly not much, and he starts to command everyone to unload exactly what might be needed for the upcoming ‘battle’. A lot of stuff is going to be left behind and there will be a contingent of men to guard the supplies and everthing else left behind. Trucks are unloaded of gear and reloaded with men. Our jeep is laden down with many supplies and the drive back to Zarhun begins.

On the way we look through a bag of items and divvy up some healing belts, armor, and other items of maiming and exploding. This is going to get ugly and I’m surely going to die. Better to try and take out as many of the enemy as I can.

As we reach Zarhun we can see that the fortified castle and the hill behind it have essentially become a military headquarters. A group of sentries meets us and leads us to the would be front lines. It doesn’t yet look like anything has attacked so that’s a good sign so far. The men we brought back with us are exhausted. We are set out to help set up camps/tents/barracks so the soldiers in the trucks can hopefully get a few hours of much needed rest.

we get near to finishing and a young half kald boy comes to us and says that we are needed at HQ. He looks excited and self important and salutes with much enthusiasm. It’s a strategy meeting.

Jareth, the bastard that he is, bluffed his way into convincing that we could bottleneck the oppostion and then we would go behind them and somehow get them that way.

The meeting is adjourned and we will report back here either in six hours or when scouts return with news. Tasia pulls us aside and tries to ask in depth what our exact plans are. Jareth tells him that he wants to get some gas to drop onto the plant things while I myself use a flying potion to rain down fire on them. He really has no idea. I can’t do much more than look on in horror. It’s the only plan we have and I may have said it before, but I’m going to die. We’re all going to die. And I’m going to kill Jareth when this is all over if he isn’t dead already.

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Jareth's Journal, part 8
Learning the ways of the Eld...the hard way.

So we’ve learned how to manipulate this aether, and we’ve been told that we are the first people to do so. It’s an amazing process, really- it’s the ability to share a combat experience, and make each other better by sacrificing a little bit of our own ability to aid someone else’s.

We’ve spent a little bit better than a month learning this stuff, and I’m not sure if there’s any more we can learn here. At any rate, the fearless Eld leader receives a message from a chipmunk, and it seems pretty dire. Apparently, there’s an Eld who hasn’t been heard from in quite a while who might be causing trouble. There’s a lot of technobabble here that I don’t really understand, but apparently this guy destroyed a quarter of the Kaldan army. The basic idea I’m getting is that this guy is missing but might still be alive. Perhaps these Eld need our help?

It looks like that’s going to be the mission: To maybe find this guy and his odd power source. We might only need to be pointed in the right direction. We also get some supplies from HQ, and I have five dried out vines called tunnel creepers, and a wand of fly with 10 charges on it.

So, we set off on our mission. Along the way, we begin to see burnt out patches of land, well contained and well planned. At the center of the char is a plant or a bush that someone has put there.

Knowing that we’re in enemy territory, we get ready for trouble, sneaking around as quietly as we can. Nihm takes to the trees and has no better luck. We take our time picking through the brush to make sure we don’t screw this up.

And speaking of that, Nihm falls out of the tree, with a bunch of bushes flying at her. I see them out of the corner of my eye, only to see more incoming. I try a crossbow bolt; it goes right through. I see Nihm drop down and squash a fire with a sleeping skin, and I see that Raharjo does the same. Our new Eld, Ricky, fires a frosty bullet at the swarm of bush-like creatures, and gets swarmed. I shoulder the crossbow, and get one of my leather blankets ready, only to have Nihm jump out of the tree with one. Raharjo tries something similar- I think- and falls down and hits a tree on the way down. Ricky continues to be swarmed. I ready the blanket and toss, snatching only one of those bushy little bastards up. I hold on for dear life, not knowing what to expect.

Nihm takes another swipe, and Raharjo continues to roll around on the ground like a crazy person. I don’t know if he’s trying to put the fire out or if he’s having a seizure- but it works. The fire is out around him, and I hope he didn’t get burned too badly. Ricky does some kind of funny little dance, and the flying bushes swarm over Nihm. I try to smash the bag I have into the others, only to almost dash Nihm right in the skull with it. Nihm doesn’t smash the others either, and Raharjo stands up, having put out all the fires. Ricky is still doing the spider dance, and I completely miss the swarm attacking Nihm’s face (which is good for my well-being). Nihm finally finishes them off though, and Raharjo looks like he’s going to try to put the fire out, along with Ricky. He’s done about that, and I take the bag of bush and try to bash it.

It stops moving- and starts again! I show everyone else this, and I’m not sure that they know what to do with it. Nihm takes a closer look, and she looks like she may have an idea brewing in her head. Like we’ve observed, fire kills it, and we just set the tent on fire. Nihm also tells me that she fixed my pants- and I tell her that I had thought that the Pants Fairy had fixed them. She climbs off of me and onto Ricky, pouting. I just thought she didn’t like me.

Anyway, we forge ahead, and come across a badgermole hole, and Tecouny. We try to get his attention, but he isn’t very receptive. Nihm climbs on him and begins digging into the bark-like substance of his flesh, but doesn’t seem like she’s making much progress. She somehow gets ejected off the guy’s body, and the tree person strikes her with his club. We spring into action.

Nihm climbs the guy, and I rush forward with my crossbow. He laughs, speaking in Eldish, and bursts into flame, catching Nihm on fire as well. Ricky is quick to grab her and put her out- but by that time, the druid is ash. I’m not sure what was going on, but it’s perfectly clear that whatever he had to say to us, he’ll take it to his grave.

Ricky does know what the tree-person said in Eldish, and he is led to believe that some outside force took over the druid’s body. Nihm sifts through this guy’s ashes, but there’s nothing much for me to do here. She does happen to find a rune on his quarterstaff, and Ricky understands that the rune means “Sessation”, which may belong to the crazy Eld that killed all those Kald a few years ago. Whether it’s purely by chance or by design is in question, but I don’t believe in coincidences. Raharjo notes that the nearby cave could be his lair, and we decide to go in.

Inside, we see roots poking through the walls, and Nihm seems to think that they may not be Deathroots. Nihm mumbles something, and runs out of the cave. I focus more on the branches. Not that I’m an expert on Deathroot, but I think she’s right. I turn and look, and she’s still scampering around outside. However, inside we don’t find anything at all.

I argue with Nihm about tossing the staff, and Raharjo thinks we should take it out to a field and burn it (I like that idea, by the way). I do see everyone moving forward, and that’s when I discover that there’s a rune on the wall- how could I have missed it before?

In the portal, we do hear movement, but we can’t figure out where all that movement is coming from, but it seems like Raharjo has a bad feeling about this. The dirt beneath our boots become mud, perhaps moving over pebbles. We hear a loud rustling behind us, and whirl around, seeing nothing. When we turn back, we notice our exit is gone, and we see a hole in the ceiling. Looking up, we see an Eld- perhaps the one we’re looking for?

He says something in Eldish, but I don’t understand it. I think we all look at Ricky, who just stands there like a bump on a log. Eventually, we do get his answer: The vines in this pit of death turn really sharp, and shoot up from the ground and try to kill us.

I don’t understand- this guy is a robot; how can he command plants?! A moot point, and I see Raharjo dash out of the way. Raharjo is trying to reason with him, and I think the we might be able to salvage this situation. I’m too busy trying to dodge spikes to say anything, but I’m seeing a clear path out, and I’m pretty sure I can take a chance and roll out of this mess.

Meanwhile, Arya casts a spell- a robot! Casting a spell!- and a creature that looks like a human made out of tree roots appears right in front of us, and heads for Raharjo. It attacks, and misses trying to hit Raharjo. Nihm flips and rolls, and I think she might be telepathic- or just desperate enough to try a daring escape. I can hear her trying to talk to this guy, and I’m really hoping that this is going to work- considering that everyone else is talking to it. I nimbly dash out, but I think I’m a little shaken from the tumble and stumble over my words. We are soldiers, and we are trying to put an end to the Eld, and that he should hear us out.

I’m pretty sure we’re making progress- which is when the Eld attacks, it takes me by surprise. It shouldn’t have, though. This guy started off trying to kill us, and there might have been very little chance of actually succeeding. Oh well…time to draw the weapons.

He goes after Raharjo, and appears to have some martial arts training. Arya roundhouse kicks Raharjo and suddenly our guy sprouts a bunch of quills or thorns- I can’t tell which. Nihm runs over to the wall and sets the whole place on fire, and I get the trusty crossbow ready. I fire, and strike home. Ricky climbed up to face Arya directly, and they seem to be fighting. We’re all stuck down here fighting the replica, and I think that’s where I’ll change my strategy. Raharjo looks like he might be in trouble, and he’s being quite defensive, taking a step backwards while trying to take a shot at this guy. He misses. I hear the shot, but I don’t know where it landed.

The thing that looks like Arya strikes out at Raharjo, who sort of gets lucky there. The eye that’s trained on the real Arya turns into some kind of giant bear, and charges towards Ricky, and fails. This is getting ridiculous! The fire spreads, and I tell Nihm to stop trying to kill us, and try to find us a way out! Instead, she tries to grab a flaming vine, and gets the business end of it.

“Why don’t you stop trying to kill us and find us a way out of here!” I scream at Nihm.

“You’re the one with the Wand of Fly!” she yells back at me.

Needless to say, I facepalm. I know she’s right, and I know I should’ve thought of that sooner- but there’s no time for that. I fly towards Nihm and yell, “Do you know how to use this?!”

“Uh, doy,” she replies, very mocking of me. Whatever.

“Get Raharjo out of here,” I say, wanting no more of her insolence. I fly out of the hole, and see Ricky and Arya still engaged in combat.

I can still see Raharjo engaged with the smaller, faker Arya, and he looks like he might be losing. I know we’ve got to take this guy out and fast- or we all might not make it out of here alive. Above, I see Arya’s new bearclaws digging into Ricky’s metal body. This is very strange, a bear with an odd root exoskeleton. I see Nihm make her move; she can fly. However, I can’t wait any longer, and I take a shot at Arya that just bounces off of his root exoskeleton. I drop the heavy crossbow and fly up behind the bear, hoping I’m not doing something supremely stupid. I think he’s about to turn, and Ricky assaults Arya, covering for me.

A moment later I see Nihm fly out of the hole, with Raharjo close behind. Just ahead of me, I see a strange bear-creature stamping the ground like a crazy person. I ask Ricky quickly if he thinks we can salvage this, but I’m not convinced. I plunge the dagger into his armored hide, and I think Ricky is trying to talk to him. Arya screams out a name that I recognize as Kaldan- Alach- and I see that he’s fully enraged now. That’s good, in a way- no more half measures. Ricky thinks we can destroy the body and remove his core, and we’ll try that. This thing tried to hurt what I’ve come to accept as my people, and I’m not about to let it get away with that.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Raharjo fly out of the pit, and the Arya copy flies up next up the rifleman. My concentration lapses, and the big bear slashes at me. The claws are sharp and they shred my skin. The blow takes away most of my energy, and I’m feeling pretty lethargic now.

I see Nihm fly around and try to grapple the carapaced bear, and I think she’s going to get the worst end of this raging robot-bear-thing. She doesn’t have a chance, but like a good trooper, she tries anyway. She’s talking, but I’m not sure that he hears her. I don’t think I’m making the right decision, but I do try to talk the bear down. He seems less crazy and more despondent, while Ricky also tries to help us hug it out. Amazingly, it seems to work…and Ricky seems to be vibrating?

Raharjo tries to lure the mini-Arya away, and it works; it poofs out of existence. I think Arya is crying and mumbling. At least Ricky knows what the strange Eld is saying, but I do wonder aloud if they can feel love. Certainly, it looks like Arya is feeling something. Ricky is sure he’s experiencing some kind of critical failure, but I’m not sure what’s going on in full. He might just be crazy, and he sighs out that name again, and shudders one last time.

I’m pretty sure that Arya is dead.

Ricky reaches into the Eld- presumably to snatch out his core- and the shiny diamond inside shatters into three different pieces. Nihm seems to think that this Eld had a broken heart, but I think that may be too…simplistic an opinion. We need to know what Arya knew; he was willing to visit destruction on an entire race because of this! He said he wanted to save someone named Jaen and doing away with someone named Alec.

It becomes clear that we’ve got to find out why Arya was trying to do all this before whatever reinforcements he called reaches the villagers. I’m not sure what’s going on, but we haven’t time to go all the way back to the monastery.

Nihm has the idea to use our fly charges to get out of the thickest part of the forest, and it’s a good one. We take that, and we do get out of the forest in record time- but come across the type of devastation that could only be a lot of people with little regard for their tracks. Nihm is sure that somehow her foot is telling her how to get ahead of this army (I guess).

We follow Nihm’s foot to a track wide enough to accommodate a vehicle- and Nihm is not a graceful winner. I tell her to throw the Jeep down and the feather token turns into a land vehicle with a full tank of gas. We hop in the Jeep, and take off.

It doesn’t seem very hard; operating the vehicle is pretty easy. Everyone rests while I drive. Not far ahead, I see the town of Zerhune…and I hope that we’re not too late.

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Ricky's Log 1
Fleshies (and furries) in the Temple

Rigvajramaiyu
1.38.477.43.83.97:2
Rlog.exe
Initializing…
Authenticating…
Loading entries…
7,489.25-004.txt

Greetings, Log Program!

I do not yet know why writers of log entries traditionally address their log files directly, but it seems customary, so I shall do so! The current solar cycle has proven quite interesting. Apparently, I have arrived at the monastery just in advance of a herd (proper term? Flock? Gaggle?) of fleshy-bots. And one furry-bot (new term!). They have just arrived, and met with :unit designation: “Eva”. Eva welcomed the guests, and introduced them to Soha and Mao Myo Renge Kyo. Fleshy-bot “Coryn” soon left for individualized “debugging and reformatting”. I was formally introduced to the group, and it was explained to me that I would be joining them. I find this agreeable. These fleshies seem quite interesting, and I am already learning very much!

Soha initialized a training program for the fleshies. Strangely, they did not know how to make use of their safe mode! What an amazing thing! Such interesting beings they are. In some ways, fleshies are much more resilient and easily upgraded than Eld, yet in other ways it is incredibly difficult for them to upgrade. They seem to have the most problems with hardware. “Hardware” in this case seems to be something of a misnomer, as the fleshies themselves are quite soft. I have discovered that some of them possess additional hardware features called “breasts” that act, in some obscure fashion, as external batteries. I wish to learn more about breasts, as my passive biometric scan of the fleshies indicates a 79% probability that there are additional layers of meaning to which I am currently unaware. The fleshy-bot called “Kam” has a pair that protrude numerous centimeters beyond her torso proper. Manipulating them is apparently quite tricky. Perhaps they do not know how to properly calibrate them? Unknown. I shall ask. Also, furry-bot “Nihm” has multiple, smaller, exterior squishy batteries. Perhaps this is more efficient by facilitating multiple connections? I digress. There is so much to process!

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Nihm's Journal
Getting a little...catty.

Yeah! We’re finally leaving the swamp. I was getting very tired of the muck getting between my toes and gettinhg stuck on my fur. I don’t mind baths but-

Whoa, what was that?! A bush just moved. I think we should kill it. Coryn points a gun at it and tells it to state its business. But upon closer inspection, I don’t think it’s a bush. I think that it might be a part of the skunk family.

I tell them that that we should leave it alone. Jarenth argues with me. As we watch it starts tilting over on it’s side. Once again Coryn demands that it explain itself. Then we see that it looks like its corrupted with the same roots that almost killed me. Coryn sees it and immediately uses his flame thrower. And now that it is dead, it appears that Coryn has set a forest fire. Jarneth, Kam and I attempt to put the flames out. I would never let a forest fire take control. Luckily, we managed to put the fire out.

Coryn is getting dirty looks from everyone, but standing his ground that the bush deserved. We stop at the lake to wash off. Luckily we now no longer smell of smoke. We decide that this is a good place to camp for the night. I head up into the trees to find a nice comforable place to sleep. Coryn is sleeping during first watch. Kam, Jarneth and I are taking first watch.

There are a few more dirty looks towards Coryn. I’m trying to keep my inner peace, but sometimes he makes it hard. Now after he’s supposed to be sleeping, he wakes bolt upright and heads for the coffee. I think he might be having another nightmare.

I go to give him some comfort. It takes him a while to relax. Ok, so he doesn’t. I have to try something a little more drastic. I lie across his lap and purr. He gets alarmed and asks if I really have to vibrate there. It gets a little uncomfortable. But, I’ve seen this reaction before. Poor guy. Ok. So after that, I do feel a little dirty, but I’m pretty sure despite his outburst of not dating outside his species, he should be relaxing a little.

He actually asks if I like him. Not knowing what to say, I pause. For a while. Then say, “Yes?”

But he still looks pensive so I decide to spend the rest of my watch and his watching over him. And now I’m beat. But that’s ok. Kam’s shoulder is always comfortable. And it has the added bonus of being out in the sunshine.

The day is uneventful with the exception of a dragonborn merchant train. They seem pretty snooty so Jarenth gives them the queen wave. I would have liked to give them a one finger wave, but that would not be nice, and I’m trying to be nice.

Now that we’re down for sleep, we get a thunder shower. And once we wake up the winds are blowing viciously. So between the wind, the mud, and the rain I almost feel like we’reback in the marsh. Minus the blistering heat. Riharjo tries to be cheerful, but I just want him to shut up and leave me to my misery. But Riharjo reminds us that we’re going to learn how to be spies and more useful to the war effort.

Now during watch, I can see Coryn having another dream. I wonder if I should go and wake him up. Before he gets violent. And reaches for his flamethrower. I worry about the disagreeable guy. But he’s kind of like one of those kids from my forest. You know the kind. They don’t fit in. They’re kind of slow and hairless. You just have to watch over them lest they hurt themselves.

Coryn wakes up shaky, sweaty and disturbed. I guess the war is really getting to him. I know that it must be when he says he doesn’t want to shoot anyone. He starts gathering his things as if he’s moving out. So I do what needs to be done.

At first I just lay on his stuff, then I give him a hug. Jarenth comes over and gives both of us a hug. But Coryn freaks out. He goes on a rant and seems convinced that he’s going to kill us or get us killed.

I ask Jarenth if I can talk to Coryn. He agrees and decides that he wants to give Kam a hug. She refuses, but resigns herself to a fist bump.

I decide that I need to be honest with him. Maybe it will help if he knows what I’m going through. I tell him these things to see if it will help him, not because I particularly want to talk about it.

I have to watch him closely because I don’t want to make things worse. I try and remember when I noticed his bad dreams starting. It seems that they started the day after I woke up.

We have a rather intense conversation in which Coryn screams out that he’s murdered his parents. But he doesn’t know why he’s killed them. I can only guess that they did something bad. But I don’t fear him. I trust him.

Riharjo only wakes up to Coryns confession and spends the rest of the day casting nervous glances around. We convince Coryn to at least get to the eld before making any serious decisions. He makes me promise that if he ever wakes up with blood on his hands that I will put him down. I promise and we move on.

We come to a new town that looks more like a military post filled with Kald. I keep twitching and reminding myself that not all of the Kald are evil. They keep talking about telling the eld that we don’t have any ports. Im not a sailor. It shouldn’t be a problem. So we head up the path carrying about thirty pounds of ore that the Kald wanted us to deliver to them.

Eventurally we come to a gateway into an openn courtyard. There is a strange looking eld standing in the middle of the courtyard. He’s fairly seamless with a huge sword arm. He introduces himself. Then he starts freaking poor Coryn out. Coryn starts looking himself over looking for vines and viruses.

Irritated at his superior attitude I have to introduce myself. In best Eld standard. I am NihmQuillofthegreatforestsofthegreatQuatarsoldieragainsttheKaldarmy.

He seems impressed. My work here is done. Although Kam appears irritated.

We come into another courtyard where there are a group of creepy looking eld. We meet the leader who calls himself Tausia.

He seems to be graceful towards us at least. He explains why we’re here. He tells us that the Kald were actually rather peaceful if anally organized people. He doesn’t seem to understand why they are so aggressive now. He keeps staring at Coryn and muttering about debugging. But then he isn’t the only one. It’s starting to look a little worrisome.

Now we get introduced to Soha. I don’t think I like this Soha. If someone calls me a fleshy one more time I’m going to get angry. I’m not a fleshy. I’m a furry. Then he demands that Coryn come with him. He says that a Kalden virus has hold of him. It makes sense in kind way. With the way that Coryn has been acting. He says he’s going to help him and it only sort of makes sense, maybe Soha will help him.

Coryn yells out loud that he doesn’t have bugs.

Tausia tells him that he can help him without making him suffer. I tell him I’ll stay near him so that he won’t be alone. Finally he agrees. Tausia suggests that we get a good night’s sleep, but considering his nightmares, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Getting my meaning when I shake my head, he says they can start tonight.

Kam and the others are offered raw food. Kam asks for wood for a fire. They lead her to a bunch of green saplings. She goes looking for some dry wood and has to steal it from an old beaver dam. Kam looks highly irritated when after spending a couple of minutes with a flint to light the fire, he extends a finger like a lighter.

In the meantime, Coryn and I are led back to Soha. I try to lead him to the circle thinking that they’re going to deal with Coryn. Instead he gets a weird look on his face and starts asking me strange questions. Luckily he turns back to Coryn.

I try to get Coryn to relax by purring. It doesn’t seem to help, so I do the only thing that I can think of to get him to relax. I punch him in the gut. After about six hours, Coryn seems to relax more than I’ve seen him in weeks.

Soha says that he needs to work with Coryn alone for the next few weeks. After some distrust, Coryn agrees. Next thing we know, the cat comes back.

I think it’s time for me to exit stage left. Coryn goes with the cat. Next thing I know, Coryn disappears. I become upset because I just thought they were going to walk a little ways away.

I become a little snarly, but Effa says that he will help me watch over Coryn from afar. I’m not sure that I trust it, but it’s the best I can do for now. I have no choice but to agree. GRRR.

We end up eating veggies. Soha is standing over us when we all wake up two hours later. He has given our training deep thought. I know he is trying to help us, but somehow it comes out that we’re the doopy children born backwards with our heads stuck inside for too long without air. I was NOT born backwards. And I don’t like to talk about the other. So we’ll see how this training goes.

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