Cleric Journal: Day Two Hundred and Eighty One




“Your  friend is cursed,” Blargle said to me as we rested at the end of the long corridor that ran from the village of Far Spire.  She had sat on the floor, cradling Kithri in her lap like an infant, perhaps a toddler.  “I have seen similar things in my wanderings,” she said, nodding sagely.  “She breathes but does not eat or drink, yet she is strong.”

Liz rested her head on her arms which were propped on her knees.  She looked at me askance, curious of my reply.  We had not discussed Kithri since the gnoll attacks.  We just kept moving her, keeping her safe, while she remained in stasis.

“Curse?” I asked.  “Are you sure?”

Blargle swore it was true and began telling stories of all the curses she’d witnessed in her life.  I glazed over after the fourth one, my mind wondering back to the actual events that had taken place.

Kithri had been delving into my mind, pushing me to remember the events around the destruction of the island temple.  I thought back, the events before that first gnoll attack muddled in my mind.  No, she hadn’t been concerned about the actual destruction of the temple itself.  She wanted to know what had happened before hand.  What had occurred when I went into that temple?  What had I encountered?  What were the series of events that had caused the island to explode?

Thinking of it brought discomfort.  Whatever had happened, I had blocked those memories, or rather, something had blocked them for me.  Whether as a defense, or an attack, I struggled and could not bring myself to remember exactly what had happened.

But Kithri had been pushing, delving into the memories, aligning the layers of obfuscation in such a way that I could glimpse between them, like watching a play through thick bars.

Like the bars of a cage.

Like the cage that hung above the molten earth blood

Like the prison that held one who had been made prisoner for millennia.

Pain shot through my skull and I tumbled over, holding both hands to my temples and biting my tongue.  Liz was at my side in a breath, launching herself from where she had sat before Blargle had lifted her head.

I rocked then, the pain growing with intensity.  I could feel something thrashing about in my memories, something large and sharp and loathsome.

When the screaming stopped my throat hurt beyond reckoning and I was drenched in sweat.  My eyes would not focus with bursts of light at the corners of my vision.  I rolled to my knees and vomited, aiming away from my friends.  I had to squeeze my eyes shut for the nausea to stop.  The darkness also eased the sharp pain in my mind so when Liz pulled me to her and rested my head on her lap, I didn’t struggle with her.  Instead I let her stroke my hair while I whimpered.

The sound in the tunnel was distorted, but in the madness that raked my mind, I heard Blargle command me to sleep, and so I did.

I woke immediately, or more to the point, my mind became aware of all that  occurred around me while my body slept in a magical stasis.  I was aware of a heated discussion going on between Liz and Blargle, with Liz arguing we should stay in the tunnel until I woke.  Blargle, on the other hand explained that she had seen similar attacks and thought it best if we left the immediate environs and made for the deepest wilderness they could find.  The problem of now having two to carry proved a bit of a pickle so they debated long into my slumber.

While they plotted, I found I could not care too deeply about their concerns.  I wanted to understand what was going on around me in more concrete terms.  I assume that to be some sort of defensive mechanism the mind deployed in moments of crisis such as this, but as I am a novice to such things, I could find no fault in my behavior.

So I explored the physical world around us, with an eye of one who was no longer limited to the confines of a meat shell.  It was strange to contemplate, so for the first bit I just watched myself sleep, pondering the ways my pours had clogged up long the left side of my nose, and how my hands had more calluses than I realized.

Once the fascination of studying myself had grown stale, I went to search out the exit from this little demesne.  The gate at the end of the passage could be easily opened from inside by lifting the mechanical lever that held a thick metal brace against the door’s brackets.  Once we exited and shut the gate, the bar would fall back in place, making it impossible to return to the tunnel without someone from the inside lifting the bar.

My attention was drawn to movement and I realized that Liz and Blargle had come to an agreement.  Liz lifted Kithri, taking the bulk of her weight on one shoulder and moved toward the door.  Blargle lifted me to her chest, like a mother carrying a broken child.  Even her eyes were soft with concern.

They made ready, then Liz lifted the lever, opening the door into the wilderness with Blargle following closely behind.  It took me a moment to realize that they were leaving me behind and I only managed to slip out as the final crack of the open door vanished and the metallic mechanism fell into place.  There was a finality there that made my heart lurch.  We would not be going back that way, for sure.

I turned to find the others a goodly distance down the bank of the river where they were crossing a ford onto a strip of land that kept the swamp from overflowing into the river.  I followed, drifting across the river, feeling the tug of its power, but never failing to feel the pull of my own body.  I lost track of time as I was assaulted by overwhelming input, but I was able to follow them across a bog a half a league wide and up onto a wooded hillock that rose above the fetid waters.  Luckily for myself and Kithri, we were spared the abundance of leeches that had plagued Blargle.  She was not phased, however, and set about removing the parasites while Liz set up a small, secluded fire.

They decide to rest here until sunrise and then they would execute the next portion of their plan.  As I had no knowledge of it, I settled down to watch the flames as Blargle slept and Liz kept first watch.

I think we were deep into the night, after the midpoint, and closer to the dawn when I realized something desperate.  We had no packs.  Blargle had made sure to bring me in my armor, and made sure my mace was attached to my belt, but neither mine, nor Liz’s packs had been taken from the tunnel.

It wasn’t that we didn’t have food, or the new items my friends had given me.  No, the real moment of panic was when I realized that my journal was missing as well.

I woke screaming as the sun rose over the swamp.  Liz was sleeping by then and Blargle had been on watch.  They both appeared at my side, prepared to fight whatever monster had assailed me, but both only groaned when I was finally able to utter the word, “Journal.”

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