Author Topic: A banged up, but much-loved notebook  (Read 1143 times)

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A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« on: December 11, 2019, 01:49:07 PM »
[The edges of the pages of the notebook are covered in scribblings, little sketches and almost childlike drawings which nonetheless show a deal of humour. Such as stick figures getting chased around by werewolf-stickfigures or the occasional drawing of a happy or grumpy bear-face, or a chicken in knightly armour squaring off in fights against a cat]

"Finally got my hands on one of these. And a quill. I got told I could buy them in Vallaki, but I think it's better if I don't go into the city more than I have to.

If anyone finds this, it means I've gone on the next big adventure. In that case, keep the book and keep writing on any leftover, empty pages. Empty pages in a book is a sad thing. It's like they got left out of all the fun.

I'm Cassie Redfeather ... you probably never heard of me, and for all I know, you never will. I'm not one of the tall people, I'm definitely not one of the important people and I'm easy to overlook in general. I don't even break four feet, topknot and all, so ... lots of people tend to not really notice I'm there.

I'm making some friends here, though. That's good.

Anyway, there's a lot to write down. Papa always said I should start at the middle, work my way in both directions at once, summersault over the grammar and laugh while I did it. But Papa isn't here, so I think I'll start at the beginning.

I was walking the road to Vingaard Keep. I can't rightly remember what day it was, but it was getting colder and my boots were almost worn through. You know ... that point where a -little- bit of water starts seeping into just -one- of your boots -once- in a while? That sort of worn through. I wasn't alone, either. There were others around, going both ways ... I had been to Palanthas and was heading in the other direction. I'd stopped at a roadside inn the night before and heard a song I liked, sung by a big man with brown hair.

It is a nice song. About Plain Janes and Lovable Lindas. It took me a while to remember it, but I do now.

I fell behind the caravan for a moment. I thought I saw something coming up behind us. Bandits or worse ... so I figured I might as well take a look. I could warn everyone else if trouble was coming, I reckoned.

But there was no one there. And so I turned back to catch up, but by the time I got to the top of the road and into the next turn, there was ... fog everwhere. Mist.

Next thing I know, I'm surrounded by the stuff and I have nooooo idea where I am anymore.

Booh!

And then someone hit me over the head and nicked my neat stuff! I mean, it wasn't -much-. Just a couple of bags with little things I'd found along the way, like that marble that shone so brightly or the collection of feathers I'd made ... and a few things from home.

Kiva's leather hair-string ... that one hurt to lose. Really hurt.

It won't mean anything to the meany in the mist, but it meant a lot to -me-.

Anyway ... next thing I know, I wake up and there are these amazing people wearing dozens of colours all around me. I had never seen anyone like them before and I had nooooo idea where I was.

Turns out they're called "Vistani" ...

I -knew- I should have taken that left turn at Southford ...

Maybe not. If I had, I wouldn't have come to Barovia, and I wouldn't get to have all these amazing adventures.

I've been in Barovia a little while now, but I haven't seen more than a few things, yet. Next time, though, I think I'll write a bit about some of the people I've met! There are a lot of them, already, so ... probably not all of them. But definitely her. And him. AND him. And her. And probably her. Oh, and she's pretty, she needs to go in there and SHE is -fantastic- ... and he's soooo nice ...

Right. That's next time.

Time to sleep."








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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 01:35:57 PM »
[The margins of the next couple of pages are covered in drawings of a bear flipping two people through the air, using his head for leverage. One person is quite short, has a topknot and clearly has a -whale- of a time being tossed through the air. The other is armoured, uses a shield and a mace and is flailing in panic]

"Right. I should write something about some of the people I've met. Not quite sure how to describe some of them, though ... some of them are soooo different from what I'm used to. What's this with elves being shorter than kender, for instance? That makes bum all sense! Elves are these tall, graceful creatures. Here they are short and graceful but ... -short- ... really.

And I keep getting asked if I'm a half-ling, even if I'm at -least- a head taller than any of them that I've met.

People are weeeeird. Fun, but weird.

I haven't come across many from back home. Just a couple of kender, and one of them wasn't even -from- Krynn, but from some now-destroyed kender settlement in Barovia somewhere. Which obviously means quite a few of us must've been taken over the years by the mists. Makes me wonder how many of those kender who just vanished without a trace while wandering ended up here and not in the belly of some ooglebeast somewhere.

The one from Barovia was broken, though. Lord Soth came here ... I'd heard of that already. And he'd been told to bugger off by the one who runs Barovia, and then someone dropped a castle on him or something, and he went away. Good riddance. We don't need the Black Rose here too. Apparently, Soth destroyed the kender community in Barovia and those who survived ended up broken in all sorts of ways. It's really, really sad ...

Anyway, people I've met and people I know ...

Let's start with Garec, Azshara and Eyes Like Lightning.

Garec's my big brother. Sure he's human ... and bear (bears are the best thing everrrrrr) ... and dog, cat, tiger and probably a bunch of other animals too, but he's my big brother first and foremost. He doesn't say much, but he makes me feel really, really safe. If anyone wants to hurt me, I think Garec would probably shake them so hard that there'd be pieces of them raining down over Vallaki for a couple of days. He's really good at making potions, but most importantly, I think he understands some of what it was like for me back home. I don't know exactly what he's gone through. He speaks of having done bad things, but -everyone's- done bad things. I have too. He's nice. He's a good man, even if he doesn't believe it himself.

That's okay. I'll believe it for both of us.

He's strong, too. Especially as a bear. It's like having a whole herd of pack-horses. One time he just picked me up and carried me off while I was in the middle of an argument.

"Nope, Cassie, we're leaving," he said and next thing I know, I'm nearly up in the clouds, flailing my arms around, and going in the other direction.

He may be a bear of a man. But he's my big brother, and the best bear around!

And then there's Eyes Like Lightning. He's funny, even though I don't think he realizes it. Mostly it's because he does things that he doesn't realize are funny. Like when he talks about Garec and he thinks nobody noticies how he blushes and starts to smile in a goofy way. A few days ago, I finally told him to tell Garec ... it took me -three attempts- to get him to understand that he was in love.

Men.

You can't live with them ... and you can't live with them ...

More than that, he knows that finger-wriggly-wobbly-wibbly-stuff that people in Barovia don't like. So I'm not going to write it here, because if I don't, then even if someone finds this, they can't use it to come after him. Nyah! It's a -lot- of fun though. Lots of explosions and loud noises and bones flying everywhere when he hits skeletons with it. Once, a skull landed in front of me and clacked its jaws a few times, like it wasn't quite happy with what had just happened to it. I picked it up and mimicked a grumpy old man, grumbling about finger-wriggly-wobbly-wibbly-stuff not being quite the same as it was when he was young.

But what I think I like best about Eyes Like Lightning is ... he says he doesn't care about people, but he -does- care ... he just doesn't know it. He cares enough that he wants justice in a proper way, when someone he cares about gets hurt, but the point is ... if he gets things his way, it'll benefit pretty much everyone. Sure, he'll say that's not why he does it, and he doesn't really care, mumblegrumblemumbleblahblahmumble ... but you know what? He's a better man than he thinks he is.

If he wasn't, he wouldn't even have bothered with me in the first place.

And of course ... Azshara ...

Where to even start ...

In the bedroom, I guess, but since I haven't been there with her ... and I won't ever ... I can't really describe that unless I talk to roughly half of Vallaki's population about it ... mostly the women but apparently not -only- them, to get a description. And I'd really, really ... reallyreallyreallyreally rather not!!

I'm pretty sure I'd never be able to feel clean again afterwards. I -think- it probably involves three herrings, a cuckoo clock, two knives (one of which has to be dull), a bucket full of chocolate ice cream, VERY little clothing and some shackles.

Damn ... now she's got me thinking of these things again and she isn't even here! I -really- have to talk to her about this!

Fifteen carrots, an inflatable sheep, a suit of oiled plate-armour, a bottle of tsuika and a whoopee-cushion ...

AZSHARA!! I'm going to ...

The latest almanac, two gomes with giant fans, an elven acrobat of either gender, brown sauce and a horsewhip ...

I give up ...

I just give up ...

Apart from that, Azshara has treated me really, really nicely. She's taken me on all sorts of adventures, she's given me some reeeeally neat stuff and introduced me to a LOT of new friends ... some of them are really, really, reallyreallyreallyreally pretty too. 

Now I need a bath, I think.

Definitely. A cold bath.

Okay, I'll stop writing now and find that. Next time, I'll find something else to write about ...

Four pieces of silver with holes in the middle and of different sizes, a peculiarly large and firm cucumber ... no, make that two of them for some reason ... a bathtub full of mayonaise, a bottle of really slick oil and a swing ...

...

Bath.

Cold.

Now."









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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2019, 05:15:21 AM »
[The following pages are very, very different from previous ones. The funny drawings in the margins are replaced by ones showing humanoid, draconic creatures getting killed. One of them blows up. The people killing them are all short and armed with strange weapons. A lot of them are dead as well. At the bottom of the page, what looks like the tail of a dragon has been drawn all the way across it. Even the handwriting looks slightly different ... more urgent, somehow]

"There are bad things in Barovia.

They're not as bad as the dragonarmies back home, but they're making a pretty good attempt at it. Or bad attempt? A good attempt at being bad? A bad attempt at being ... urgh ... nevermind, as the gnomes say.

All the adventures one can have in Barovia are fun, don't get me wrong. All these new places to see that no one back home even knew existed, and all these new people to meet and stories to hear ... it's all great fun. But I don't like it when nice people get hurt.

I don't like it when friends get hurt.

You're supposed to be able to trust city guards, but the Garda in Vallaki are not nice people. I've met one of them who behaved like he cared. The rest of them ...?

When Garec got in trouble for being an overbearing bear, bearing buttloads of baggage into Vallaki one day, they arrested him. Okay, alright, sure, maybe even I can see that running around as an invisible bear wasn't the brightest idea any of us have ever had ... I get that. But it was the way the Garda reacted that got to me.

Eyes Like Lightning tried to reason with them. It was -obvious- he actually knew the law pretty well. For instance, he got the Garda to admit that the law doesn't actually say that magic is illegal ... but that "disturbing the peace" is illegal.

They had rules like that in many cities back home, and frankly, it's a load of baaz-poo to begin with. Everyone says kender disturb the peace just by -existing- back there, and yet they allow other people to do things that'd get us flung out of the city if we were -lucky-. "You're disturbing the peace" usually means "I've got permission to make your life miserable. See? My badge says so!"

And Eyes Like Lightning -got her to admit that-.

"Disturbing the peace means whatever each Garda says it means in any given situation" ...

That was what she said.

That's not -law-. That's a license to bully! If there are no rules that specify "this is allowed" and "that is not allowed", how can I possibly know when I'm doing something wrong? I stood there in the background and heard her say it ... right there, to Eyes Like Lightning's face.

People think kender never pay attention to anything ... but then they shouldn't say silly things like that right in front of us!

In the end, they beat up Garec and broke all his fingers ... tried to make it so that he couldn't use his hands anymore. He never was a man of a million words, but he's said even less since then. Eyes Like Lightning looks like he'd like to shoot lightning from his eyes any time a Garda comes within view.

The beat up Gramarye too. They killed a tiny little fluttering thing right in front of me, just for being a tiny little fluttering thing. They killed Miss Zerasé ... and yes, I know she fought them, but she fought them because -they- started hurting people in front of her.

And whenever I've asked one of them to please explain some kind of rule to me, the answer has been "Urghh ... go away, Outlander". And I've -tried-. More than once to different Garda, just to make sure.

It's like watching draconians back home ... ramming poles into the ground, hanging people from them and torturing, just for -fun-. Not because of any rules or laws, except those they make up on the spot to justify their sadism and to further bully people who did nothing to them. Laws can be cruel, unfair and unjust, but they need to be -there- for people to understand them and try to live by them in the first place. Simply saying "The law is what I say it is" and then handing that kind of power to a bunch of bullies in badly fitting uniforms isn't a way to run a city, -let alone- a country.

I don't want to see people get hurt. Not even the Garda. I think they're mean, stupid and cruel, but I don't want them to get hurt.

And then there's this ... one Garda who's a -little- bit different.

When that Red Wizard of Habledomblewank came to the temple and tried to bully me, and his big, green booger of a friend threatened me, they got tired of the prank after I didn't -get- bullied or scared. I mean ... urgh ... I thought wizards were supposed to be really smart, but how -stupid- do you have to be to try to -scare a kender-? And it's not even as if there haven't been other kender in Barovia. I met one who was -born- here!

Anyway, the green ball of walking snot said he was going to cut me in half. He had this weapon with an axe-head on both ends and he wanted to use it to cut me in two if I didn't stop shouting for the Garda to come and arrest me for the crime of being a flesh-eating, blood-sucking half-fiend ... which is what the Red Wizard of Hullaballoo said all kender were. When they had enough and left, big idiots that they were, the Garda HAD taken notice. So hard that man guarding the Lady's Rest. They all ran after the pile of steamed Goodlund sprouts walking away with his axe-thing over his shoulder and then he hit them instead. He killed two Garda, and scribbled "kindy was here" on the ground next to it.

Clearly, boiled Goodlund sprouts don't get any smarter by being stacked seven feet into the air ...

... "kindy" ...

But when I found the dead people, I went to talk to the Garda about it. I hadnt' even seen the message on the ground but there was a man there who had also come to talk to them about it, and he mentioned the message.

And then the strangest thing happened.

The Garda believed me. They said the Red Wizard of Hufflepufflegum was someone called Halvor and he had been making trouble before.

He wore all black, though ... with silver trim. And glasses. And a silly looking hat that I think he inherited from his moma. Not much red about that Red Wizard, but the Garda knew about him, at least. And the walking booger got a bounty put on him too ... Bolg or Brolg or something like that.

When I asked the Garda if I was going to get beaten up now, or if they were going to cut off my head, and if so would they please make sure to not cut my topknot in half ... he got really tired. It looked like he just wanted to sit down.

He said he didn't enjoy hurting outlanders, but that they came to Barovia, went out and found magic swords and then killed Barovian peasants with them.

... there are a lot of outlanders. I guess there can't be that many Barovian peasants left ...

Why would anyone find magic swords just to kill Barovian peasants anyway? Can't normal swords be used for that and in any case, WHY would anyone want to kill Barovian peasants IN THE FIRST PLACE?! Sure, most of them are really grumpy, but that's no reason to -kill- them. Besides, where would we get those nice sausages from that they make if the peasants didn't breed piggies to make the sausages from? Or beer? Or wine? All of those things are made because Barovian peasants make the things needed for them.

Killing them is not only bad and cruel and needless and evil, but it's really, really -stupid-!

I don't get the Garda.

But at least they believed me, and I didn't have my head cut off.

Which means, I guess, they're not -exactly- like draconians.

Not all of them anyway.

Just most of them."




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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2019, 11:35:58 AM »
[The page this time is lined with little hearts flowers. There's a bird trying kiss a bee from the looks of it and, for some reason, a salami and several things that look a lot like cucumbers]

"Right.

This is soooo weird. The whole human mating ritual thing. And elves too. I haven't seen how dwarves handle it. But humans are -weird- about it. Azshara told me that whipped cream was really important in human mating rituals. Something about tongues and being receptive. I had a rushing sound in my ears so I didn't pick up all of it.

And then someone goes and actually says they want to ... you know ... be -romantic- with me. That was strange too. A human, no less. I mean, I like humans. And elves. And halflings. And lots of other people. I see a lot of humans and elves together, for instance. I guess that's how you get half-elves although I'm not completely sure of how you take half a human and half an elf and put them together. The glue must be pretty strong.

Anyway ... Yerrith said he'd like to ... I don't even know how to put this.

See me? Court me? I didn't want to upset him when I said no thank you but I don't think it's entirely possible to avoid that, no matter how nice you try to be about it. Which is a shame ... Yerrith is a nice man.

But you know ... he's a -guy-.

I wish I had known some way of saying no thank you that wouldn't upset him, even if he was being really nice about it.

The thing is, I don't understand the whole thing anyway, no matter the kinds of people getting together. It seems so confused. She's dating her, who's also seeing her and him, who's with that one over there, who also dates -him-, who sees her and her on the side, but -she- sees the first one too.

Tall people.

It -must- be the thin air up there making them all behave weird.

Except some people who are shorter than me act strange too.

I just don't get it. I just like ... looking at all the pretty people around Barovia. There are some really, really amazing ones. Miss Gene -HAS GOT- to be a goddess, only someone forgot to tell her. Fizban's furry slippers, look at all those -scars-. All those -stories-. And she's sooooooo tall, too. Just ... -wow- ...

And there was Miss Ron. She had the most incredible nose in all of Barovia. I ... just found out she's gone. Really gone. She never got to tell me about her tattoos, and ... I never got to learn how to play an instrument from her. Or even hold a tune. She was really nice and -awfully- pretty. I think she had a lot of stories to tell too ... and now I won't get to hear them. I would have liked to. Just ... sit there and listen while she played her instrument, or told her stories. I guess they're lost now. No one will write them down. No one will hear them again. The violin is silent ... no more beautiful songs.

I'll miss her. A lot more than I think she knew.

There are lots and lots of other really, really nice people out there. Miss Ophelia and oh my goodness, I saw her without her hood on ... and she's -gorgeous-. I almost fell over my own feet. Or Miss Tamara, who -always- listens and -always- speaks really nicely to me. Or Miss Moro, who was really nice and kind, and made me want to talk to Gramarye again. Or Miss Alina, who didn't make me leave when I started singing in the Gaping Wound and who has the nicest eyes. I haven't seen Miss Dildra around for a while ... and Zerasé got killed in an awful way.

So many nice people ... so many pretty ones too.

And they all have stories, and some of them have songs too, like Miss Aibhe ...

I don't understand the whole ... getting-together-thing.

Every time I think about it, I end up trying to figure out what Azshara is doing and why it has to involve a bucket of whipped cream for it to work. Or cucumbers ...

Humans are so weird.

Maybe I'll figure it out one day.

Here's hoping."





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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2019, 12:16:15 PM »
For the record ... I don't mind people posting comments.

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2019, 03:01:28 AM »
[This page has little drawings along the edge of people hugging, people sitting by campfires and eating, maybe singing or drinking, and other simillarly wholesome images ... still mostly done as stick-figures, of course. There's also a repeated, running set of images of a cat fighting an armoured chicken ... for some reason ... and with no clear winner.]

"Everybody's told me, since the first day I stumbled out of the mists with a bump on my head, that Barovia is a bad place. The first person who told me it was a bad place was Galt ... who was the first person I talked to when I got out of the mists, at all. Galt is nice ... he's a big and loud person in every way, but he's nice. But even he said Barovia wasn't a nice place to be.

Everyone is afraid of it. I guess if I knew what fear was, I might be afraid of it too, but honestly, I think they're forgetting some important things.

I'd normally say it's a tall-folks-thing but I can't really, because it seems to affect shorter folk as well, around here. Dwarves, gnomes ... half-lings ...

Everybody is complaining that Barovia is full of people who hate them. That the Barovians think outlanders are all bad. Well, not -all- of them think that way. Yolven is getting married. He told me yesterday. Well, he told -everyone- yesterday. And he's getting married to an outlander. Never met her ... but she sounds nice, from how he describes her. Miss Antonia is Gundaraki, she says ... so I guess she's not Barovian, but from what I understand, her people don't normally like outlanders -either-, and yet she's helping outlanders -all the time-.

Lance Carrot Dimitry said he doesn't like cutting off outlanders' heads, but that it's because outlanders go out and find magic swords and use them to kill Barovian peasants. It still doesn't make that much sense to me, why anyone would do that. But I think what he meant was that some outlanders spoil it for everyone else. That Barovians distrust outlanders because -some- outlanders in the past have given them reason to.

Judging by the group is for pea-wits. Don't get me wrong ... I understand that some people are -bad-. Draconians, for example, are just awful. But I was -so- sure I saw a draconian when that dragon-lady came by the temple ... and it turns out she wasn't one at all.

I jumped to conclusions too quickly. Who knows ... there may even be a draconian out there who isn't a complete, rank bastard. I haven't heard of one, but I can't completely exclude the possibility that there is such a creature somewhere.

Would I be willing to be friends if I found someone like that?

I ... would like to think that I would. I'm not sure it'd be easy, but I know I'd at least try.

So I get it. I get that it's important to be careful and to protect yourself and that you don't trust everyone up front. I -get- it.

But Barovians judge all outlanders even though some of us would really like to help them, and would fight to protect them if other outlanders tried to hurt them. And now I see elves with black skin being treated like murderers and dirt by other, and NOT just the barovians either. But other outlanders as well. Even when they've done nothing wrong, or they've been consistently kind and helpful ... they're still treated that way. Even when people are willing to stand there and say "I know this person. I know this is a -good- person!" others will say "Nope. Don't believe you. You're wrong!"

We are few enough already, in Barovia. We can't afford to make enemies like that. Not in that way.

This is one of the areas where I don't think Barovia is nearly as bad as people make it out to be. It's an area where I think people are blaming Barovia for their -own- failings.

"It's harsh here" or "There are enemies everywhere".

Yeah well ... bucko ... you ain't lookin' much fer no friends, are ya? You sure are busy lookin' fer enemies under every rock and behind every tree!

Guess what? With that attitude, you're going to find them, even if they weren't there to begin with.

I have never had friends as good as the ones I've had since coming to Barovia. Never. I've learned things about myself and how people work that I might never have learned on Krynn, and I get to see the most unbelievable sights, here. A few days ago, we went to Dvergeheim ... it was just before the whole collapse-thing.

I saw -fantastic- things in the deep places. And icky ones, but mostly fantastic.

Memo to self: when I get a dog, don't get one of those with a brain for a head. They were mean and made Gramarye talk funny for hours.

That reminds me of another example of people helping each other. The next day, I learned that Sir Vorag had gone to help the dwarves. He'd fought alongside them. An outlander, helping locals.

My point is ... every evening, I see people sitting in the Lady's Rest, or around campfires in the camp beyond the mist, or in the Blue Water Inn or that -weird- inn in Barovia Village which is bigger on the inside than on the outside ... people sit there and talk. They drink, they eat, they tell stories ...

They laugh together.

They fall in love sometimes.

And they don't see it, themselves. All they see is that Barovia is awful and horrible, and that everything is bad and out to kill them.

Everything is bad and out to kill them in lots of places where they came from too, I'm sure. It sure was like that on Krynn at least.

We make our own happiness. A little piece of happy-pie here and there. It's never as big as we'd want it, I'm sure.

But -I- see it.

The friendships. The kinship. The love.

I don't think Barovia is nearly as bad as everyone else wants to think it is.

Nowhere near.

It's Yule in a few days. I got a present today, and I don't think any of the others knew what Yule is. I celebrated Thanks-a-lot-day earlier in the month, but I think everyone has different calenders where they come from. I guess Yule is something we only have on Krynn.

Oh well. I'll just have to keep it in mind myself.

Happy Yule.

It's wonderful to be alive."


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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2019, 01:47:43 AM »
[The drawings in the margin of this page are devoid of humour. Instead, they depict more draconic creatures fighting shorter ones. There's a tree-stump with dead, short people around it and something that looks like poles rammed into the ground with chains on them]

"I remember the war.

I remember it clearly. There were so many dead, everywhere. I saw a lot of it, too. More than I should have, I guess, but that's what happens when you wander as much of Ansalon as I managed to do before the mists took me.

I didn't know what war was, before the white dragons came to my home. I thought it'd never happen where I was. How could it? I mean ... no one ever cared about the kender before. What threat were we to anyone? But they did come. And people did die.

When I began traveling, I saw things that no one should have to. Whole villages put to the sword, just for being in the way. I saw a couple of battlefields, too, ravens everywhere, pecking at the dead. I even saw a flying citadel in the distance, just once. I can't even imagine how much magic it takes to create something like that. I saw some good things too ... like that time I saw a bronze dragon with a Solamnic knight on its back, wielding a dragonlance. That was one of the most incredible sights I've ever seen. I can understand why people think of them as heroes ... dragons and knights both. He looked like he could take on the world. The dragon looked -powerful- too. And good. There was just this feeling to it. I don't even know if it was a male or female dragon ... I can't tell the difference.

And I saw the Golden General. Just one time, mind you. And I wasn't up close. But she was amazing. People would die for a woman like that. A lot of people said so, too.

I always thought that was strange. Isn't it better to live for someone than to die for them? Dead soldiers don't really do much for an army.

Sometimes, I wonder when war is going to come to Barovia. I don't think it's a matter of -if- it will, just when. There are enough people who hate it there. And enough people who hate outlanders.

I don't understand blanket hatred like that. It seems ... pointless.

"One outlander did something bad, so that means they're all bad" is such a stupid way of looking at things. Someone did tell me that magic was universally bad, because it leads to "Womb-freaks". That's a really, really nasty word, by the way. They're called calibans. As far as I know, a lot of them go bad, but who wouldn't when they get treated awfully from the moment they're born? That's the most confusing part. That people don't seem to understand that treating people badly will make them go bad.

Yesterday, Miss Ann tried to get me to turn on my friends. Or more precisely on Garec. She wouldn't listen to anything I said.

I don't think she cared.

She kept saying -I- wasn't listening, but she was talking about a person she doesn't even know ... and -I- -do-. She was telling me that he was awful, that he was "abusing magic". She kept saying it wasn't that she thought what he did was "lewd" but then, two seconds later, she'd talk about how he could sneak in as a cat and watch her pee. I mean ... what is -that- all about? Garec doesn't like most people. He's far more comfortable in animal form. I tried to explain that to her, but she didn't care. He was a human and should be a human, she kept insisting.

Why?

When it doesn't make him happy, and he doesn't like that form, then why should he? He has fun as a cat. He has fun as a bear. What's so wrong about him being a cat and a bear?

It's not like he's going to have caliban children anyway, even if that -did- matter? Now that Miss Aishi and Azshara have explained how the whole process of having babies works, I -know- he can't have children. Eyes Like Lightning is a man too, after all, and clearly, you need one of each gender for having babies.

Sure, she kept saying she didn't hate him but if she didn't, she made a pretty damn good attempt at it. I've never heard anyone who didn't hate someone be that hateful, at least. To the point of her telling me that I "deserved better" and that she thought I shouldn't "do anything with him or have anything to do with him at all". I tried telling her that Garec saved my life on -many- occasions, and what was her response?

"I've had my life saved too. It doesn't mean the people who did it are without flaw!"

When did I say Garec was without flaw? Of course he isn't. None of us are.

None of us are.

None of us are.

None of us

I don't

None

No

Can't

I'm not sure

Where did the book come from?

Nevermind. I can use it. There's a village back across the hill. At least fifty corpses. There was a piece of green scale armour torn loose and left behind, so I guess the green dragons came through. Someone must have fought back. I don't think it made much difference. The oldest body I saw looked at least seventy. The youngest was still held by his mother in her arms. I told Arngrim to go back. He's not as fast as the rest of us. I guess that means he'll get word to the army slower, but Calinas and me move quicker ... and we'll have to find the tracks of the enemy army. If we get spotted, we stand a better chance of escaping than Arngrim does.

I hope he'll be alright. It's at least four days for him, but I don't think the army knows the greens came through here. The bodies were still fresh. It's cold here ... that'll have kept them from going smelly for longer, but not -that- much longer. It can't have been more than two days since it happened.

People are talking about Neraka as if we're on the verge of going there to end this but I don't think we'll be able to for several years yet. We're going to win this ... I know that. We've got the lances back, and men like the knights to wield them. So we're going to win.

I just wonder how many more villages we're going to find like that one ...

If someone finds this book, I

Maybe I'll

What

Theres a

The draconians have

I'm not sure why Miss Ann is so angry at Garec if they haven't even met and talked, but I'm almost completely sure they haven't. I thought she was nice, but then she tries to make me abandon my friends, because she doesn't understand and because she can't accept. She's Vistani. She should know better than to judge like that. I tried telling Azshara. She got angry, I think. But Gramarye was nearly dead. I think that ... made it hard for Azshara to focus on anything else.

I don't blame her.

Now they say I was the one who got Gramarye to come back.

I didn't do anything.

I don't want them to say it was me. Or that I at least helped.

This is not my story.

It's Gramarye's story. And Miss Moro's story. They're on stage. They get to sing the songs. They get to speak the lines. They are the important people in this story. None of the rest of us. Not me. Not Yolven. Not even Azshara, though I think she might have a hard time accepting she's not the main character of any story she comes across. But not even her. We're bit players. We're the ones who get to walk across the stage holding a vase full of flowers, looking busy, sometimes.

That's okay. That's how it should be.

I shouldn't have spoken in the cave, when Gramarye was talking to Sir Meneltir, either.

Stupid kender.

Stupid Cassie.

Stupid.

Stupid.

At least Yolven understands. Everyone thinks I'm a good person. He's the only one who understands that I'm not.

Get out of my head.

Get out.

Get out.

I should get some sleep again.

Just get out."
« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 04:24:52 AM by ClosedGame »

ClosedGame

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2019, 08:39:56 PM »
[The borders of the following pages are -covered- in winged hearts, pictures of smiling faces and, for some reason, a -surprisingly- accurate depiction of a hummingbird with its beak buried in an orchid]

"So ... that's what it feels like.

I never imagined. I mean ... I did, but I never got close to reality. And here I was, thinking I had a pretty good imagination.

This was like trying to imagine a bonfire and coming up with a sputtering tallow-candle. Like thinking I knew what a full orchestra sounds like but actually hearing a wet kazoo ...

She's beautiful.

I wanted to count the scars, but ... I didn't have time. Not this time anyway. I will some other time. Next time. Or the time after that. Skin like silk, muscles like -steel- just beneath it. Hair like red hot iron, before a blacksmith's hammer ...

Fragrant.

Safe.

I don't know if anyone will ever read this, except myself. No one has to. But I will never forget this. Not ever. Kender can't do magic ... we don't have it in us. There was this -one- kender, I think, who learned how to. But this ... -this- was magic. In fact, I can't imagine even -that- being near as wonderful as this.

I didn't know how she'd react. I don't think I've ever felt so dumb as I did, trying to explain what I felt, either. I've heard other people being afraid ... but I was just confused. I kept thinking "if I say things -this- way, it'll make sense" only for my tongue to do a double summersault, while my brain did cartwheels, and before I knew it, I wanted to say "oogleboogle" and ended up going "blargledergh" instead.

... okay ... that made more sense in my mind before I wrote it down. Oh well, no one is going to read this anyway.

My point is ... she listened. She's -always- listened when I tried to talk to her. She was the first person I talked to about what happened back home. The first person who didn't judge me, who didn't push me away, call me bad names ... the first person who -cared-. I hadn't even told Azshara or Garec or Eyes Like Lightning about those things yet, by then. I should still talk to Garec and Eyes about it, in fact. At least more than I have. Garec has seen me when I was at my worst. And he cared. He held me and made me feel safe.

But this was different.

This was like climbing to the top of the tallest mast on the largest ship in the harbour of Palanthas, and then throwing myself off, expecting to hit the water ... only to learn that I could suddenly fly.

I never knew.

Aishi and Azshara had explained it, but ... one thing is an explanation. Words are ... words. But when she actually listened, when she didn't get angry, when she didn't run away and ... Fizban preserve me ... when she didn't -laugh- ...

It was different.

And then she took my hand. I wasn't sure if she wanted to. Or if she was worried about it. But ... she did. She took my hand and she held it, and we talked and talked and -talked- ... all through the night. People walked past us ... I think I even heard a werewolf in the distance. But it didn't matter. Nothing mattered right then and there, except that she was there, and that she was talking to me. That she wasn't angry.

I never knew it would feel that way to be kissed. That gentle.

That wonderful.

I nearly forgot how to breathe. That would've been spectacular, wouldn't it? Passing out from lack of air, mid-kiss?!

Even by -my- standards, that would've been a -colossal- display of "oops"!

I want to hear every single story. I want to know every single scar. I know some of them will be bad stories ... painful, even. I know that. She told me one. About the wasps. About how one of them had stung her. How it had pierced her heart with its stinger.

I promised Aishi ... I promised Azshara ... but most of all I promised -myself- I would be honest. That I would tell her. So I did. I told her that I remembered seeing her in the tower, and how the place made her feel. I told her how I had nearly been unable to focus on the things trying to gnaw my legs off, because I was so focused on her. I wanted her to not be afraid. To feel safe again.

I told her we'd gone back ... about a week later. We cleared out the whole tower. Even the queen.

I'd crawl through a hive a hundred times that size for her, if it meant keeping her safe.

It's really that simple, isn't it? It's not even all that complicated, in the end. It's such an enormous feeling ... it's so big, so powerful and so uncontrollable that someone the size of a kender shouldn't be able to even contain it ... but there you have it.

She's free. It's one of the most beautiful things about her, really. That she doesn't tie herself down. That she doesn't want to be bound, hand and foot. I told her I didn't ask for promises. That all I want is her, the way she -is-. That what makes a good person a good person is the sum of their experiences, -even- the bad ones. That in the end, all the awful things and the good things -and- the great things join together to make us who we are.

And who she is ... is -amazing-.

I was so sure she'd be upset. Or that she'd say "erhm, no thanks but ..." or something along those lines. I didn't want to bother her, and I certainly didn't want to make her angry or waste her time. But I -promised- I would be honest.

Well ... kender are honest folk.

And it pays.

I've danced in the embers of her bonfire, and all I want is more ...

Life is beautiful.

And so is she."




ClosedGame

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2019, 09:42:30 AM »
[The drawings around the edges this time seem to be made by someone very angry with someone. There are images of a small person jumping up and down on a taller, armoured one with two hair-buns. The smaller person has little thunderclouds over her head. There's also an image of a bear and a bald man walking away from the same short person, and finally, there are images of the short person making really, really obscene gestures in the direction of a woman with wings, a tail and horns ... the latter ones being surprisingly detailed and accurate]

"Life -is- beautiful, but sometimes people are complete and utter idiots!

Right now, Azshara's one of them. I mean -really-. REALLY? REEEEEALLY?!!?!?!?!!?!!??!??!?!??!????!!!?!?!??!?!?!!???!?!?!

I'm going to drop AT LEAST two of the exploding rocks I bought from the wizard in the tower into the seat of her trousers when I find her! And while she's running around looking for a bucket of water to stick her bum into, I'm going to give her a piece of my mind. AND THEN another piece. And maybe even a third!

How -dare- she?

Because -she- wants to do the pillow-polka, she's getting her friends in trouble ... uuuuh, I'm going to -so- explode her metal britches ...

She might want to do the humpty-dumpty-dance with every living soul in Barovia (except yours truly and thank goodness for that), but when her boudoir-ballet gets her friends in trouble, she needs to have her bum kicked. Hard. Twice! MAYBE even five times.

It all started with the dragon-lady. About a month ago. Outside Vallaki.

Wings. Horns. Tail. How by Fizban's snotty nose was I to know she wasn't a draconian of some kind I hadn't seen before? If the mists can take a kender, why not one of them? So I wanted to know, right? That's hardly strange. If there are draconians about in Barovia, I need to find them and put an end to them. Every last one of the bastards.

So Azshara went to have a teensy-weensy-itty-bitty tiny little conversation with the dragon-lady, right? Juuuuust to ask her a friendly question along the lines of "excuse me, ma'am, but I'm reliably informed that you may be a draconian in the service of Takhisis. Could you confirm or deny this!?"

Except that's not -exactly- how it went. Five minutes later, the dragon-woman crooked her finger at Azshara and oooooooff they went.

-Together-.

Dammit. I should've figured it out already then.

Anyway, Azshara saw a pair of red boobies and ran off like a unicorn on blackwater, leaving ME to take care of HER stall outside the walls of Vallaki.

EXCEPT I DON'T HAVE A FLIPPING LICENSE TO SELL STUFF, DO I?!

So hoooours later, the Garda comes by and they take a look at the stall and go "Who's selling stuff here?" and I answer them, telling them it's Azshara, but that she's left for some reason. So I start packing the whole place up as best I can, because ... well ... clearly Constable-Choleric Dimitry doesn't like it -being- there, right? Except what happens then?

HE BLEEDIN' ACCUSES ME OF STEALING THE STUFF IN THE BOX!!

So -I- nearly get arrested for that, but fortunately, I manage to explain that it belongs to Azshara, and that Azshara's my friend and that I'm trying to PREVENT this stuff from getting nicked by someone. There were people around who could vouch for me ... thankfully. Or else I'm pretty sure I'd have ended up on a pole with whip-slashes across my back.

Rotten gits.

Anyway ... it takes MOOOORE hours before Azshara comes back, looking like the walrus who just found the salmon-school ...

"Ooh no, she's not a draconian", Azshara says. "She's something else, but she's not a draconian".

And stupid, STUPID Cassie stands there like a flippin' lemon, eating up the bovine poo being -spoonfed- to her.

DUMB kender! BAD! NO lockpicks!

Should've remembered that unless Azshara sees a potential for hopping under the sheets with someone, she's -hugely- unlikely to spend that much time with them. But all I thought was "great, no problem then". Gah. Anyway, I did tell her ... I DID TELL HER ... that if she saw that dragon-woman again, I wanted to talk to her. I had some questions of my own. Nothing bad, mind you.

"Oh, no problem. If I see her, I'll ask her," Azhara went, and once again, cow-patter on Cassie's plate ... omnom EW!

Dammit ...

Bleedin' abyss. Anyway, I heard nooooothing for the next month, right? Not a flippin' -peep- out of Azshara. I did see the dragon-woman a couple of times and eeeevery time I try to approach her, right? And eeeevery time her response is "No!" and then suddenly, she's invisible. So clearly, she's a massively rude dog of the female persuasion under all those scales, and clearly she could do with a bit of common manners and -clearly- she's about as socially adept as your basic, average hobgoblin ... BUT SHE'S GOT BIG RED BOOBIES AND STUPID CASSIE DIDN'T PUT ONE BOOBIE AND ONE BOOBIE TOGETHER AND GET AN AZSHARA-MAGNET!

GAHH!!

Okay. So suddenly, there are all these wanted posters around Vallaki about the dragon-woman. ENORMOUS bounty. Thirty thousand fang AND a house or somesuch.

Aaaaand suddenly, Azshara starts getting scarce. As in -really- scarce. And suddenly, Cassie-the-blindingly-braindead-kender starts getting reduced to a set of portable lockpicks. Oh, sure she's nice enough when I actually -see- her but the point is, I -don't- really ... at least not all that much because noooo, Azshara's off somewhere doing -secret- things. I even asked her if she could take me to meet some of her friends so I get to know them too.

"Suuuuure" goes Azshara and Cassie-the-forty-three-inch-imbecile goes "Yay! Great!"

AND NOTHING FLIPPIN' HAPPENS!!

Anyway, next thing I know, the dragon-woman is back at the outskirts of Vallaki, right? And -again- I try to talk to her and AGAIN it's "No!" and poof, invisible, from the soddin' sack of sour socks ...

I wanted to kick her, good and proper, for being so rude. But anyway, later that same evening, THEEERE she is again.

Except this time, she's trying to stare a hole in Vallaki's city walls ... and guess who's right there with her, being all smoochy and lovey-dovey?

Azshara. Because -of course-.

Because -naturally- she hadn't said a flippin' thing for a month. Because -naturally- I don't think she's even remembered to flippin' ASK the dragon woman BECAUSE SHE'S BEEN STARING HERSELF BLIND AT A PAIR OF RED, JIGGLY MELONS FOR A MONTH!!!

FIZBAN have PATIENCE with the woman!

Because mine's wearing about as thin as your average gauze bandage!

So ... anyway ... -apparently- one of the dragon-woman's friends got killed in a really nasty way. Which is horrible and nasty and of course I want to help. I -offer- to help. Not to the dragon woman because I'm fed up with "No!"-to-"Poof" from her, but I tell Azshara, because AT LEAST I expected -her- to listen. But what was the answer?

"No. You can't help".

Except I can keep an eye out for the body of the dragon-woman's dead friend and haul it back to safety if I find it, because yeah ... sure ... I'D DO THAT ANYWAY!!!

But it doesn't even end there. Because -of course- it doesn't.

Next thing I know, Miss Arshtat is there, and Sir Elvith. I got angry with Sir Elvith. That wasn't nice of me. I -have- apologized to him. Anyway, they talk about going to a safer place. Someplace I never heard of before. Because -of course- I didn't. Anyway, Miss Arshtat takes me there, because she wants to talk to me, she says. Miss Arshtat is -really- nice ... I think she's incredibly sweet, so of course I'd love to help if I can. So I go with her, and wouldn't you know who won the flippin' pony, there's a whole village full of cool elves RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM VALLAKI?!?!?

NOBODY TOLD THE KENDER!!! ARGH!!!

And Soth was there. But Soth sucks elder red dragon bum. Thankfully he's gone, but it seems he really made a mess of that place when he -was- there.

Miss Arshtat took me to an enormously cool inn. Built around a tree. A REAL TREE! With beds covered in soft leaves. It was -so- cool!

And then she wanted to talk to me. About some really, really serious things. She's in love, and she's really happy and I hope she'll -continue- to be happy. She deserves it. She looked happy ... all glowy and stuff, but she was really worried and I tried to help. I hope it worked ... she seemed less worried afterwards.

Then I went to sleep. I was tired, I was cranky and I needed to get out of my wet clothes because of course it was raining again because this Ba-sodden-rovia ...

Plus I had wolf-gunk on me after we got jumped by some of -them- on the way there ...

But I slept well. Really, really well. That bed was amazing.

So what does the blindingly-naive-kender do after waking up and eating brekkies?

Tha'sright! She goes back to Vallaki because perhaps there are news.

OH BOY ARE THERE NEWS?!

The whole place is -wallpapered- with wanted posters all of a sudden. And GUESS who's on it, for three thousand flippin' fangs?

THA'SRIGHT!

AZSHARA!

Miss Oh-look-a-pair-of-enormous-red-balloons-and-I-forget-all-about-being-careful-because-omnomnomnom herself!

Three thousand stupid fangs ... for hanging out with the dragon woman ... Selyth, her name turns out to be. You DON'T get three thousand fangs on you just for standing in line next to someone to see what Connor is selling! So suddenly it -all- falls into place, right? She's been bonking the draconic damsel, the saucy scaly, the badonkadonk babe for AN ENTIRE MONTH!!!

And here's the kicker ...

Who do -you- think is listed as people of interest on the wanted poster?

THA'SRIGHT!

Garec and Eyes Like Lightning, and the language IS NOT VERY NICE! The Garda don't even take prisoners anymore. They just -kill- everyone. And they already had their claws in Garec once and it nearly broke him. He's been even quieter since and neither he nor Eyes are around anymore, really. They just don't seem to want to hang out anymore. I've seen them once in two weeks or so. Well, twice in Garec's case. And talking to Eyes is like trying to lead a conversation with a rock nowadays! But they're my friends. They're like my big brothers, and now they're in trouble BECAUSE AZSHARA CAN'T KEEP HER CLOTHES ON AROUND BOOBIES!

The wanted poster didn't mention -me- but how long is it going to take before the Garda figures out that Oh-right-the-pitic-kender-thingamabob-dumb-cow-of-a-locksmith hangs out with Azshara as well and then -I'm- going to be strung up on a pole to be whipped to the bone.

Never mind that. I'm not afraid of the stupid Garda, even though everyone says I should be. But Sir Everith saw Azshara hurrying off to the east, he said.

So -I- had to go east.

At least I managed to find my way to the camp on the other side of the mist, but I -swear- once I find Azshara, I'm exploding those metal-trousers of hers, AND I'm boogediboo'ing her until she collapses in a puddle of yuck!

Really -sticky- yuck, too.

Grr!

And you wanna know the -worst- part of it?

When I find her, she's going to explain it -aaaall- away, because nooooothing is ever Azshara's fault.

I wonder if she is -capable- of saying "I'm sorry". I don't even want her to say it to -me-.

I bloody well want her to say it to Garec and Eyes, because they are in danger now, because she had to do the moan-marathon for a month with the dragon-woman.

Dammit.

I wonder when I'll see Tamara again. Apparently, she doesn't even come to this camp.

I need to find someone who's going back there so I can send her a message.

-Dammit-!"

ClosedGame

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2019, 09:44:55 AM »
[There are repeated images of exploding trousers in the margin of the next page. There are also images of a short person with a topknot shouting obscenities at a tall person. Then the tall person chases the short one, catches up, and the whole thing ends up with the short person waving her arms around while shouting more obscenities at the tall person who's now on her knees with a shocked look on her face. The handwriting is shaky, like the author has been exhausted when writing it, and there are a few smudges from what looks like tears]

"So I exploded her trousers.

It felt -good-. And -damn- she deserved it.

There's no willingness there to accept any accountability ... no matter -how- small. She won't lift a finger to help people she's spent ages proclaiming to be her friends. Oh no, because if she goes near them, she says, she puts them in -danger-.

Oh spare me the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou horse-manure, Azshara. You -already- put them in danger because of your constant insistence on taking your clothes off around anything with a -pulse-.

Heh ... probably without a pulse too, if it's pretty enough.

Fizban ... it felt -so- good to see her jump four feet in the air when those rocks went off. She chased me down, caught me and then I told her. Oohh yes, I -told- her. She didn't even know she was wanted. Would you -ruddy- believe it, she didn't even know and when I -did- tell her, her first reaction was "Wait, they put a bounty on me for sleeping with someone?"

Not "damn, is everyone alright?" or "Where are the others, are they safe?"

Nono, she -had- to think with her crotch first, as -always-.

Grow up, Azshara. Just ... -grow- up.

I know it's hard to understand at times but the whole world doesn't circle around you, no matter how much you think it should. No matter how -damn- unpleasant it is for you to accept, this is not Azshara's story. It's -all- of our stories, and you're a bit player in it, who thinks everyone acknowledges that she should be centre stage ... and the world watches and giggles when she prances up to the edge of the stage to prattle off a line or two.

Nobody -cares-, Azshara.

And you know why they don't?

Because -you- don't care. You don't care about anyone except yourself, deep down. Oh you -tell- yourself you care, but as -soon- as it becomes inconvenient, as -soon- as it gets dangerous, as -soon- as you have to stick -your- neck out in any meaningful way to save people you spend -so- long talking up as your friends ... then no.

You'll hug them. You'll grope them and fondle them and make lewd little gestures and shower them with innuendo until they're so dazzled that they'll fall over into your bed and then you'll -use- them as you use everyone. And discard them and be on your merry way to your next conquest.

All the while telling yourself that you've done nothing wrong. That you never promised them anything. That they went into it with open eyes, and because of that, nothing she does is wrong in any way.

But people -feel-.

She can be intoxicating. I've -seen- it. I haven't felt it and I'm grateful for that, but I've -seen- how she works on others. She dazzles them, pours wine on them, showers them with compliments, serves the most incredible food, laughs at their jokes ...

Charm charm charm charm CHARM ...

And then they're not interesting anymore. And someone else replaces them.

Oh, she'll say "hello" if she meets them in the street. Toss them an off-handed compliment, like the noblewoman throwing scraps from her table to the beggars starving outside her window. Give them a fingerwave, call them something endearing.

Once in a while, she may even see if she can't squeeze a few more drops out of them, but she moves on.

It's callous. It's selfish.

People warned me about her, early on. Now I know why.

I've been so blind. I wanted to believe her so badly that I allowed her to blind me. And now that I see her ...

It's like looking at a great mansion, but the gilded wallpaper is flaking, there's mildew in all the corners, the food has gone off and the servants are only kept around as long as they are fun in bed.

... I went back to Vallaki. Even though Rein told me not to. Even though I didn't think I would, but I did. Azshara tried to give me -instructions-, the flippin' -nerve- of her. As if she has -any- right to talk to me about what -I- should do, when she doesn't even have the guts to do the right thing and go back to save her friends -herself-.

Load of bollocks, I say.

I knew I had to do something, and I wasn't going to take -her- orders about all this. She -caused- it. I knew already that she was a conceited ponce, but to think that she was -dumb- enough that I would actually take -instruction- from her after this? She really must think herself an infallible being of utter perfection, comparable to the gods themselves.

Urghh ...

Anyway, I escaped, made my way back towards the carts and then she overtook me, to stop me before I boarded, I'm sure. Fortunately, Miss Ellen started talking to her, so ... she turned her back to the cart for a moment. I snuck up there, dropped the coin on the ground, hopped onto the cart, clanged the bell and rode back as fast as I could, before she could jump on it.

I managed to get back to Vallaki. I've spoken to people there. Friends. Yolven, Simona, Aishi, Yerrith, a few others ... left messages for Garec and Eyes if they should come back without knowing they're in danger.

Some I spoke to were shocked. Some were angry. Some were disappointed.

And then I went back to the camp beyond the mist. I hoped I'd find more friends there to tell them what had happened, and lo-and-behold ... I find Azshara and Rein in a tent, all snuggled up. Rein was crying ... I don't think it was anything other than her being incredibly upset, and from the sound of it, it was because what happened with Gramarye ... but wouldn't you know who won the -flippin'- pony, the -moment- she woke up after having passed out ... she started talking to me about how she had given Azshara an earful, but how Azshara didn't deserve it anyway and I just knew -right- then and there, that I might as well just leave.

Why bother?

Yet again, Azshara manages to -wriggle- her way out of responsibility, accountability or accepting -any- kind of blame for the problems -she- creates for others.

No thanks. I don't want to sit there and listen to another sob-story about how it's really not all her fault anyway.

Here's the simple, basic, down-to-earth -fundamental- facts of this:

Azshara is a grownup.

Azshara's actions got her into trouble with the Garda.

Because of her being in trouble with the Garda, several of her friends are in -very- real danger.

And she will not accept that she has a responsibility towards them.

Pure ... and ... simple.

I don't even really care if the fact that she got into the trouble with the Garda or not is right or wrong. The Garda are a bunch of murdering, self-righteous -sadists-. There's nothing good or laudable about them whatsoever, and I'm PRETTY sure the core would be a -much- nicer place if they all suddenly just fell into a tar-pit and drowned in the morning. So for all I know, the dragon woman may not deserve the bounty on her head, and by extension, Azshara doesn't either.

But Azshara is an adult and she -knows- how these things work around here. And she -still- got herself into that scaly slimeballs bed.

And she did so knowing perfectly well that when someone gets their name on a wanted poster, those peoples' friends tend to get arrested -too-.

That's where her blame lies. Right there.

In -not- -caring-!

She could have warned us all -weeks- ago. Told Garec and Eyes that she had gotten herself involved in a boinky-boinky-party with the dragon woman. WEEKS ago. She might ... Fizban forbid ... even have dropped this teensy-weensy-tiny-itty-bitty-insignificant-miniscule-bitty hint in MY direction about it too. So we would have had any chance at all at ... oh I dunno ... PREPARE for this nonsense!!

But no. Not a peep. Not a word.

She gets involved with someone with a thirty thousand fang AND A HOUSE bounty on her head, knowing -perfectly- well how the Garda handle things, and -not- -a- -single- -word- -of- -warning-.

The saddest part of it all?

If she'd told me, I would've done anything to help keep her safe. I would've gone to the end of the world to help her, I would've bent over backwards so far my -spine- probably snapped.

But nothing.

That's how you know you don't actually mean a damn thing to your "friends". When they do something that puts your life in danger, and they don't even bother to tell you.

No point in talking to her about it, though.

She'll deny everything again, prevaricate, make excuses, hop on her tongue backwards through caltrops and swear on a -mountain- of assorted holy scripture that she's -completely- innocent and come along and let's have a drink and you look hungry and oh, I found you this new neat thing ,and what were we talking about again, oh I can't remember but let's talk about our next adventure!

No.

See? I can do that too, dragon woman.

No!

*poof*

Invisible

Exploding trousers."

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2020, 04:48:37 AM »
[The images on the next few pages show a short figure with spirals above its head, as if it's dizzy. It also shows a short figure running at a sprint from wolves, angry and rather adorable slimes and a pretty anemic-looking werewolf. It also shows a drawing of three women with wings and tails. One of them is wearing a helmet. The other two don't. They are detailed enough that it would be easy to identify them as Selyth, Rhen and Bes'lyth from the drawings themselves]

"And -so- the world turns.

Fizban's frizzly beard ... things get turned upside down in record time.

First things first. I have set up a business. The KFC is now a thing.

Kender Foot Couriers ... plural, just in case. So far, there's only me, of course, but it never hurts to be prepared, just in case. Uncle Trapspringer always said so, and now here we are, with me actually performing a public service.

So yeah ... the KFC is in service and open for business.

Then to eeeeverything else.

I met with Azshara. We talked. A LOT. I think it was necessary. No scratch that, it -was- necessary. It was also a huge ... huge surprise. No, scratch that ... it was -several- huge surprises. First of all, I think she's falling in love. Don't get me wrong, I don't think she'll -ever- admit it. She's too proud to do that and frankly, she's too stubborn and too set in her ways. If I -ever- hear Azshara say she's in love, I'll consider cutting off my topknot. -Consider- it, mind you! But I think she is. She's behaving -very- differently around Selyth than all her other ... well ... conquests. In this case, I'm not really sure who conquered who but it doesn't actually matter. What I've seen of them together is weird. Selyth doesn't want to kiss in public. Azshara just accepted it. Selyth asked if "everyone knows we're a couple" and Azshara didn't correct her. Azshara slipped an arm around Selyth ... AND DIDN'T GROPE HER.

I live in an age of miracles ...

More than that ... I actually got her to apologize. I mean, my head nearly fell off. She said the words "I apologize" to me. I NEARLY asked her to repeat it, but I don't think I could've gotten it out of her twice. So I took the one time I could get her to say it and banked it. She apologized for leaving me out of the loops and guessing, and that was appreciated. And I apologized for getting as angry as I got. But ... and I know this might look petty ... she was the first to apologize. I think that's important. It wasn't a quid-pro-quo at that point. She didn't know what I'd say next.

So far so good. I do think there's some rebuilding to be done with her and me but ... alright, we'll rebuild. It's probably going to be easier than most would think. The reason why it hurt the way it did was because you don't expect your friends to hurt you in the first place. Friends. That's the important thing.

More than that, I've met Selyth. And two other dragon-ladies. I haven't met any male ones yet. Maybe they don't exist.

Selyth apologized too. -Twice- even. Firstly for having treated me rudely, and she was very earnest about that. I ... believed her. I think Azshara might have talked to her about me beforehand. She seemed to know at least a few things about me.

I can take an apology. Absolutely.

And she apologized when I gave her an earful about what she had done to the gates at Vallaki. Not because I don't think she has a right to be angry ... the burgomeister is a small mountain of horsemanure stacked up high enough to pass for a human ... and the Garda are going completely bonkers by now, but she broke down the gates to a defended city, waded in with a flaming sword over her head, shouting that she was going to kill someone, scared the civilians half to death and left.

With the big, intelligent werewolf running around outside the city. NOT to mention all the regular werewolves. She tried to say that the gates weren't all that strong to begin with, and she also said that there were already wererats in the city, but I point out that whether they were strong enough wasn't the point. She made things -more- dangerous by what she did. And that wererats wet themselves in terror at the sight of a werewolf.

And she agreed ... and admitted she'd let her anger get the better of her, and that she shouldn't have put innocent people at risk that way.

That -meant- something.

I don't want to get involved in the fighting and the struggle. I've made that clear to everyone. But if I can somehow help in ways that'll keep as many innocent people safe as possible, I'll do that, and that doesn't just go for Selyth and her people ... but for everyone. The Garda, the Red Vardos ... anyone.

The way I see it, all these different groups want to hit each other over the head with swords and axes, they want to shoot arrows and crossbow bolts at each other and there aren't enough fireballs in the memories of all the wizards in Barovia to satisfy their need for flaming doom & destruction.

And the -first- people who are going to get flambeed are civilians who have no business being in sight of a battlefield, but who are there anyway because some over-eager git decided to make the -city- a battlefield. There are Barovians, Vistani and outlanders all over the place who have nothing to do with this and who wouldn't last five -seconds- if violence broke out.

The problem is ... as long as all these different people don't talk to each other, everything is going to escalate, -constantly-. It'll only get worse and worse, because they'll all rile themselves up and get more and more angry at each other.

Enter Miss Rhen ... one of Selyth's people.

I offered to help keep people safe, making -very- sure to say I didn't want -anything- to do with any kind of fighting any other groups out there becuase I already fought my war and I didn't want another one. And then Miss Rhen stepped up and told me she had a mission for me. If I could take a message from her to Sir Marcello of the Red Vardos, that might help.

So I did!

I ran all the way back to Vallaki, found Sir Marcello and delivered the message. Next thing I know, I'm talking to two of the Garda, who tell me to take a message to Azshara. And an Ezrite who really wanted to convert me, who also had a message for her. So I run all the way back to the camp on the other side of the mist and I deliver -those- messages, while letting Selyth know that the first message has been delivered for Miss Rhen.

And lo and behold ... the KFC was born.

Hopefully it'll help keep just a -few- people safe from harm. Hopefully. At least I'm trying. I make sure to not get told anything about anyone's plans because if I do, someone else is going to see me as a threat and then I can't do my job. I just take the messages back and forth.

Eventually, someone's going to to a point where they think I'm a liability anyway. I know that. And then it'll be time for my next big adventure. But it'll be worth it if I've kept just a couple of people safe. Everyone tells me that it's too dangerous and that I need to be careful. Well I -am- careful, but it's not too dangerous. Someone has to do this and nobody else is stepping up and volunteering.

It has to be me. Everyone else can go around doing heroic stuff. This is why I think the mists took me from Ansalon ... for this reason.

I told Yolven that when it happens, I don't want anyone to get violent about it. Not over me. I'm just one kender and I'm -not- worth killing people over. I just want them to burn my body so there's nothing left to raise a skeleton from, drink a toast to me once in a red moon and then let me go. He wasn't happy about it. He -really- wasn't happy. But he promised he'd do so. I don't think I can get the others to promise me the same thing but I'm going to try at least.

Until then I'll keep running. I don't charge people for the messages they want delivered but if those who receive them want to pay me, I'll take it ... sometimes it costs money to go on a vardo or by ship and it'll help cover the costs. Sir Karaz paid me a small fortune for delivering some messages about people needing his blacksmithing-services, and that'll keep me going for a little while at least. Plus I can pay back what I borrowed yesterday with interest. It'll help the sanctuary in the city, and they do good work to help poor people too.

The world -is- moving.

I don't know if it's moving in a good direction but ... I'm trying to nudge it in that direction in my own small way.

No kender ever changed history. I doubt I'll be the first.

I just want to keep people safe.

I wonder how long it'll be before that next big adventure comes around ...

I'm not afraid.

I still don't know what that feels like."

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2020, 11:30:30 AM »
[the drawings on this page show a short person with a topknot in front of a long line of bottles, most of which are empty. The short figure doens't look best pleased. It also shows a person in a kilt, a person with a braided beard and a person in armour and a cloak, recognizable as Connor, Yolven and Simona to those who know them, getting pelted by what is apparently rotten fruit by the short person as they try to read from some kind of parchment. They all show extremely sanctimonious facial expressions. At the very end is a grizzly, horribly detailed drawing of a strange looking knight with a barrel-helmet on his head, apparently glowing eyes and with black roses all around him. Including an engraved black rose on his chestpiece. It's a large, rather detailed drawing and easily recognizable as Lord Soth]

"Urghhh ...

Just when you think the world is getting back to working properly, your friends turn out to not be your friends anyway.

This is getting a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit tiresome, world. Stop this!

Okay, so here's the deal. Azshara's in hiding. She's been in hiding for about a week now and there's plenty of reason for it, obviously. She's still wanted, and while it doesn't look like Vallaki is going to go down in fire and flames -tomorrow-, OTHER problems have popped up. Because of course they have! It'd be too much to ask for a couple of days of sunshine so we could all go down to Lake Zarovich, have a picnic and catch some sun, wouldn't it?

Instead, we've got Soth coming back. Lord of the Black Rose himself, the man who could've stopped the Cataclysm on Krynn and who didn't, because someone lied to him about his wife and child. NOT the proudest moment of the Solamnic orders of knighthood, ladies and gentlekender. NOT their proudest moment!

And now he's coming back, it seems.

Yay! Wonderful. Great. Let's wave some banners around.

Yipee.

Hooray.

Yahoo!

Blech ...

At least most people seem to be pulling in the right direction on -that- one. How very nice of them to -JUST FOR ONCE- get their heads on straight about something, and actually -work together- instead of against each other. I'm sure there are still -some- gits out there, Red Wuzzards of Hazard probably, who would loooove to ride this into doom, gloom, the endtimes, another cataclysm, an apocalypse or two and getting scolded by their moma for being bad boys, for all I know.

"Never try to reason with the insane," Uncle Trapspringer always said. "It'll just make them even madder."

Consequently, no one should ever try to reason with the Red Wuzzards.

They're not worth the time or effort.

In any case, as I wrote ... Azshara's been in hiding for a week or so. And she's nooooot gonna be happy when she comes back. Sure, she's going to laugh at it all and -pretend- it's all funny but unless the woman has taken complete leave of her senses ... and I'm pretty sure we're not -quite- there yet ... she's going to be upset at -this-!

Because who woulda thunk it ... turns out Simona, Connor and Yolven are a trio of -right- puddin's ...

People I -liked-. People I've spent LOADS of time with. People I've called friends and who have called -me- their friend.

Riiiiight.

If that's what they do to their friends, I guess I should be relieved they didn't call me an enemy, because whoa, there's gotta be -laws- against what they'd do then, EVEN by Barovian standards!

First ... I get a letter. "Please Cassie, I need to talk to you, it's really important!" from Simona.

So ... I go to find Simona, -right-? Because -she's my friend-. I figured she -might be in trouble-. So I'd -want to help-.

RIGHT?!

I find her. And Connor. Together. Talking. And oh sure, they really do need to talk to me. BOTH of them. Should've smelled the three-day-old trout at this point, really. But noooo, stupid little Cassie always has to walk into these things with her eyes open like a flippin' lemon, right?

Bother.

Anyway ... get a key to a room in the Lady's Rest, and we go upstairs to have a bit of a chinwag ... nothing major, right? Just them being all super-serious, with faces like grandma had died or somesuch.

We get into the room, the door is closed and OUT comes the flippin' parchment. I mean ... sheesh. Huge piece of parchment, it was, too. And Simona starts telling me that they've learned a lot of awful, terrible things about Azshara's religion. About the "Pallid Princess".

SHOULDA WALKED OUT THEN AND THERE, CASSIE!

Gahh ... dammit ...

Look, before I go on, I'm not as stupid as some people think. I figured out by now that there's got to be something really fishy going on with that religion, because Azshara -did- mention how they weren't popular on Golarion. So I put two and two together, see? Everything Azshara does is fun and great. She eats too much, she drinks too much ... and somehow manages to stay slender, the -git- ... and she bonks anything with a pulse, right?

So unless Golarion is a world of the worst kind of snogglefonzes and babblefnats, there's no -way- she should be persecuted for that. At most she should have had half the world's population running after her for tips on how to lose weight while stuffing your face with cream-cakes.

So CLEARLY something fishy is going on. Again, I'm not stupid.

But I recently had a pretty -spectacularly- uncomfortable conversation with an Ezrite and that reminded me very definitively of "sects".

So when Simona started talking about how Urgathoans are trying to live the lifestyle of the lich and famous, and how they ritually kill the people they do the humpyhumpy with, or how they force people to eat so much food that their bellies explode and they die in agony, or how they force the families of those who died in such a way to then eat their now-deceased loved ones and a whole lot of other disgusting -toss- like that, I was -stunned-.

I couldn't flippin' believe what I was -hearing-!

So I asked if they would let me answer, and I asked that if they -would- let me answer that they let me finish speaking -before- they interrupted me. They said they'd listen.

I started talking. I got ... a ways into it. Then they interrupted me.

I SHOULD HAVE WALKED OUT THE DOOR AT THAT POINT!

-Stupid- Cassie. Stupid!

Anyway, I told them to be quiet and let me talk instead, because they -promised- to hear me out.

I looked straight at Simona and told her that the evening before, I had been informed that I was apparently wanted by the Garda to the sound of twenty thousand clinking fang, for attempting to murder a garda with someone called Morrigan in the Krofburg Mountains.

First of all, I have no idea who Morrigan is. Secondly, I was in Barovia Village in the Blood an' Vine where AT LEAST fifteen people saw me get sloshed and singing silly songs ... memo to self: stop drinking tsuika, Cassie, it's not good for your dignity ... what little you have left.

Oh, thirdly, incidentally, I'm not into killing anyone. Everything I do these days, I do to try to avoid people dying. So obviously, I'd gone to talk to the Garda to hand myself in. Lance Controversy Dmitry was nice about it. "Oh, so someone is making up silly rumours about you? Congratulations, now you know what the life of a Garda is like!"

Except he isn't Lance Conception Dmitry anymore. He's Corporeal Dmitry, because his sister got fired or something. Miss Sorona is a lot nicer when she doesn't have to wear that uniform, anyway.

So I told Simona about this, right? Looked her straight in the face and told her I was clearly a murderer, and that someone wanted to pay twenty grand for me. She looked confused for a moment, and I pointed to the parchment, saying "that's what you have there. A rumour!"

Wouldn't you know who won the flippin' pony, though? She went -right- back to reading more atrocities off the page that Azshara was probably guilty of.

I was getting angry at this point. I told her and Connor flat out, that while I actually do believe that some people in Azshara's religion are probably capable of doing horrible things like that, that doesn't mean Azshara is. This felt like I was being told ... AGAIN ... to disown a friend, to stop interacting with them and to stab them in the back.

WHO DO THESE PEOPLE THINK I AM?! WHAT KIND OF CRETIN DO THEY TAKE ME FOR?

I'm not a Solamnic knight ... this isn't about -honour-. It's about caring about your friends!

DAMMIT!

Okay, anyway ... I tried to explain that there are different sects in different religions ... I mean, Simona is a Morninglordian, SHE OUGHTA FLIPPIN' KNOW ABOUT THIS! This shouldn't be news to her! This shouldn't be something 43 inches of Kender should be informing her about! This should be the first thing she got told after joining the temple school "Hello Simona, here's your scourge for self-flaggelation, your hair-shirt, your robes of discomfort and your sixty pounds of bare-essential-prayerbooks, and that icy cold cell over there is where you'll sleep in a fetal position for the next five years, trying to not get pneumonia and die, oh and by the way, THERE ARE SECTS WITHIN THIS CHURCH!"

'E GODS!

And that's when she pulled the dumbest move in the history of dumb moves:

She stood there, rolled up the scroll and said "Alright, I'll shelve this investigation. I don't think she's a bad person".

And I thought "Oh thank goodness, they listened to reason!"

And then she continued "But if she IS, there isn't a place in the Core where she can hide!"

Aaaat which point aforementioned 43 inches of Kender had just about had enough horsemanure for -one- night. So I got up and declared I was going to get drunk, and marched out.

If she doesn't think Azshara is a bad person ... she doesn't -flippin'- need to qualify her statement with such a load of hogwash! Urgghhhhhhh!!

All the while Connor stood there smiling like a walrus after someone tells it where the herring-school is located ... biggest, dumbest, most -vacant- smile on his face imaginable. He didn't speak up -once- to stop the outrage. No, he was part of it, there to support Simona it seems. I have no idea why -two- tall people had to be present to inform FORTY THREE INCHES OF FLIPPIN' KENDER of something like this. Wow, I must be threatening and dangerous somehow.

Anyway, I went downstairs and bought as much beer and tsuika as I could carry ... yes, yes, I know, lay off the tsuika, Cassie ... sat down by a table and proceeded to get drunk because dammit, no one should have to listen to that kind of bollocks from their -supposed- friends.

Azshara is a lot of things. She's arrogant. She's too convinced of her own inability to make mistakes, most of the time. She's -completely- incapable of not throwing her clothes to the wind at the first sighting of anything -vaguely- attractive or at least -remotely- -interesting-, and she's a bit of a git in general.

But she's also incredibly generous, kind even to strangers, willing to help out and willing to put herself in harms way for those she cares about.

She's -not- -evil-.

Call her a cow to her face for all I care. Say you don't like her. Say you think the way she lives is amoral, disgusting or wrong ... that's a difference of opinion and that's your right, just as it's her right to summarily ignore you.

But accuse her of -cannibalism-?

Of plotting to murder people she sleeps with?

Of carrying out atrocious sacrifices against people in some cLICHé attempt at gaining immortality?

No! Just -no-! Enough!

I've talked to her several times about what she and I believe in. Mostly, it's about death. I think of it as the next big adventure. Azshara thinks it's the end. Full stop. Nothing. Not even darkness, just nothing, forever.

I think she's terrified of it.

So she celebrates life, by doing all the things she likes doing only thrice over. She likes good food? Okay, she'll buy the best and eat till she drops. Like good wine? She'll buy every bottle of a vintage she enjoys. And so on.

That isn't evil.

There are enough sects even in the local religions in the Core that the fact that some people can't understand the concept is -pathetic-.

But it's not even over yet.

As I sat there at the table in the Lady's Rest, wondering whether to start throwing empty bottles at the wall, the door opens and in walks none other than the Purple Pirate himself, Yolven.

I figured "Okay, at least there's someone I -can- talk to!" only to have it followed up with "But I don't really want to talk to anyone right now" and then "I want another beer".

But he sat down at my table without even getting invited and he looked like someone had killed his hamster.

Why do I have this feeling that his hamster would be named Boo?

Weird.

Anyway, he asked if I was okay, which I clearly wasn't, and then he asked what was wrong. So as opposed to Simona and Connor, -I- at least have enough integrity to not hang them out to dry in the middle of a public forum, so I told him that it wasn't particularly nice to learn that some of your friends may not be your friends anyway, and that I had just come from a situation where someone had accused someone I liked of some truly awful things.

"They're telling the truth about her, Cassie" was the first thing he said. "It's true, you know. I'm sorry."

And at that point I got up, said "Bye Yolven" and walked outside. He followed and I told him to sod off. He asked what I'd do if he didn't, and I told him there wasn't anything I -could- do, but I was -asking- him.

At least he had enough flippin' manners to take that hint with a clue-by-sixteen and walk back inside.

The saddest thing about the whole miserable affair is ... I would've helped them. In a -heartbeat-. If they had come to me and said "Cassie ... someone is accusing Azshara of some terrible, terrible things. We need to talk to her ... figure out what's going on. You know ... get her side of this whole thing" I would've jumped up, saluted and I would've been on the road to Mist Camp right then and there, even if I'd had to sprint all the way there in the pitch black with Blackpaw coming after me. I'd have done -anything- to help clear that up.

But that's not what they did.

They -accused- her.

This wasn't a "we need to talk to her" ... this was a "You shouldn't talk to her anymore because she's a horrible cannibal". This wasn't "We don't have all the information yet", it was "We've been told this, and we believe every word unquestioningly".

This wasn't even a -trial-.

This was -judgment-.

And they can take that and shove it so far up their derrieres that they'll be spitting parchment for a month for all I care.

Bollocks!"


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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2020, 01:52:45 PM »
[lots of little hearts and images of an archer in the margins of these pages ... the archer occasionally shoots arrows through the hearts. There's the by now well-known figure with a topknot with a goofy smile on its face, holding out arrows for the archer, too]

"It feels like everything has changed since I came here.

Eyes Like Lightning is gone. I don't think he's dead ... but he went far away. No one knows where, it seems. Garec was here briefly, but I think he's gone too. I'd be happy if they came back but at this point, I don't think they will.

And now Azshara's all but gone. Sure, I saw her in Port a Placid recently, and we hung out for a while, and talked and even visited the market in the sewers, but ... I don't think she'll really be back, either. Not really. I think she's going to retire with Selyth ... even if Selyth isn't going to retire ... probably ever. She's too busy for that.

I did get Azshara to admit that she was in love. She doesn't like the word but "Yes, I am affected" and the smile on her face while she said it ... she's in love and she's said as much. It's okay. She deserves to be happy, no matter what anyone thinks of her.

It also means I'm sorta sans all the friends that helped me when I just arrived here.

I've talked to Yolven again. And Connor. We're good. We're on talking terms ... back to being friends. Not with Simona. But at least she said she wasn't going to persecute Azshara. I don't think I'll get back on talking terms with her anytime soon, though. What she said and how she said it ... hurt.

Yolven is in a bad place. I need to be there to help him if I can. He's lost his wife ... murdered, not coming back ... that was a blow to him. Same to Arshtat ... same woman, too. They weren't married to each other, but each married to her. I don't always understand other people's marriage-rules but then ... I don't have to.

I could've ended up really lonely.

Fortunately, I avoided that.

I have friends. Aishi and Naris are bringing me on lots of adventures these days. They're incredibly nice to me, and I feel like I'm useful to them. Actually useful, and not just along to stand around and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for a lock to open. It's a good feeling, and they are incredibly kind to me. Plus it's nice to see them happy together. There are enough sad stories like Yolven's and Arshtat's around ... it's good to see a happy one for a change.

Long may it last.

There's another bit of news to add, as well.

Tamara's getting trained in some kind of fancy archery by a man named Dana. He's really clever and he can do some outrageous things with a bow and arrow ... which is really cool. And he wants to train her, which is even cooler! She needed to learn a few songs and tricks first, but she's got that pretty well underway. She's asked me to teach her a few songs from Krynn, too. I'll definitely teach her the kender trail song ... that's a given. And the one about getting drunk and six moons and so on.

Thing is ... I asked her to marry me.

I think half of Barovia heard her when she shouted yes ... it was that loud.

[There are more hearts drawn onto the paper at this point]

It won't be for a little while yet. Tamara has to do some kind of ritual with Dana, and she was worried I'd be upset. It's some kind of emotional-brain-feeling-thing where they'll share what they think and feel for a while, and in that time, he'll pass all his knowledge to her. She worried I thought that'd somehow make her leave me or something.

Thing is ... I trust her. I've met Dana, he seems like a nice man.

If he comes running for a kiss, I'll jump up and down on his ingrown toenail, sure, but he seems like a nice man. But the bottom line is that I trust Tamara completely.

I found her a wedding gift. I hope she'll like it. It'll help her come back safe when she's out on the road, hunting.

So when that ritual is over, Naris has said she'll do the ceremony. I don't know exactly what it involves, of course ... but I'm pretty sure it'll be amazing. Naris is a great friend and she'll make it a wonderful day.

Everything is great, right now.

Someone even killed Halvor Hadiya.

Life is good."

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2020, 09:10:24 AM »
[There are images around the edge of this page, showing a top-knotted, small figure sitting around with its head in its hands, looking intensely bored ... throwing pebbles at anthills and sleeping with nooothing going on around them]

"First of all, I thought elves were supposed to be smart.

Don't get me wrong, some of them are, but Lorelei, out in Degannwy, has to be the dumbest elf in the history of elves.

Halvor Halfwit hasn't been killed after all. Or rather, he was, then someone brought him back to stand trial ... which seems REALLY redundant to me ... and then Lorelei in her boundless, unfathomable stupidity decided that a fitting punishment for the most disgusting piece of pseudo-intelligent slime to ever disgrace the core with his putrecent presence, was to be turned into an animal in the forest, with his ability to use magic taken away from him, but with his intelligence intact behind the eyes of the animal itself.

Or somesuch.

First of all, if animal cruelty isn't already against the law, it should be, and Lorelei should be up on charges.

Secondly, that anyone could be so unfathomably -daft- as to think that such a puny curse could ever hold a colossal carpet-wetter as Halvor Halfwit ... it beggars belief. Needless to say, his loyal henchmen quickly found him ... I think it was ... oh, two days, maybe three ... and brought him back to Halfwit-land where he was promptly made into whatever usually approximates human form in his case.

Personally, I think he's a blancmange in a robe and a basket-case of the first water.

He'd do the entire world a favour by having a fatal heartattack five seconds ago. Or spontaneously combusting. Or failing in controlling one of those demons whose legs he's apparently so fond of humping, only to have the damn thing attack him and eat him in tiny little pieces while he screamed with every bite.

Failing that, they could cut off his hands, remove his tongue and hogtie what's left of him while they drive him to the place of execution where they could let every person he's inflicted loss upon have a half-sharpened knife and let each of them make -one- cut.

An animal in the forest. That's the last flippin' time anyone should trust Lorelei to make a decision about anything ... including supper. I've heard of incompetence before but that one really wins the prize.

...

Apart from that, life's pretty boring these days. I spoke to the Garda ... still haven't heard back from them on whether Azshara can pay a big fine and be allowed back in Barovia. It's not as if she's actually done anything to harm the place, after all, plus she scarpered as soon as she was told to. Alright, some Ezrite got hurt in the process but a) he shot first, b) he used an illegal weapon and c) every Ezrite I've met has been a socially deficient moron who doesn't know what the word "no" means.

I'm not saying they're all like that. I'm saying it's a bleedin' koinkidink that I keep running into those that are!

I saw Naris and Aishi, but they were at that poetry-thing at the Bell, and there were too many people there for me to keep up, so I paid my entrance fee and promptly left.

Yolven wanted me to join. That'd have been spectacular. I have the singing voice of a wounded warthog.

I've noticed something.

People are often really unapproachable. Outlanders and locals alike, people are standoffish and not particularly keen on talking or getting to know new people. Sure, some are ... but there are a loooooooot of little cliques around the place, where everyone seems to be entirely happy just wearing blinkers and staying within their own little circle.

It's easy to blame people for that, and I nearly did, until I gave it some more thought.

Barovia is not a friendly place.

If you come through the mists and end up in Barovia, it's a really rude awakening for a lot of people. Being treated like scum and outcasts. Good grief, anyone not looking like the perfect specimen of humankind is looked askance at, and if you're outlandish enough ... you'll be hunted across the fields and possibly killed.

I suppose under those circumstances it makes sense not to talk to a lot of strangers.

Crying shame, though. You miss out on meeting a lot of people.

I wish more people would open up a little, though. More adventures to be had that way. More fun. Good reasons to get out of Vallaki for a little while. I'd suggest going on holidays in sunny Degannwy, but not only isn't it particularly sunny ... it's run by a comnplete, raving idiot.

Here's hoping things pick up again soon.

Now you can't even go through the mists, so visiting the camp isn't an option either.

Bleh.

On Krynn they'll tell you that the most dangerous creature in the world is a bored kender going "oops."

Oops."

ClosedGame

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Re: A banged up, but much-loved notebook
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2020, 04:01:53 PM »
[The drawings along the border this time are different, mostly of monsters and awful things ... all of them wearing the distinctive beaky helmets of the Garda. Dead people lie on the road ... some of them quite small and frail looking ... like children]

"I don't even know where to start anymore.

I haven't sat down to write in so long, and yet it feels like the world is such a different place and I should have taken down many more notes since last time. And yet ... something's always gotten in the way.

Simona is dead.

Everybody except me and ... well ... probably Halvor Halfwit ... is mourning her. At least it's for different reasons.

I remember when I came here. Outside of Azshara, who's left and I don't think she's coming back ... and Garec, who at least is still around sometimes ... and Eyes-Like-Lightning, who's been gone so long now I'm -sure- I'll never see him again ... Simona was one of the people who made me feel okay. She's sit with me in the temple and talk for hours, sometimes. She smiled a lot. She was kind.

Friendly.

Healed people who needed it, even brought the fallen back free of charge for folks. Helped people with rations and advice, made sure even the most bumbling newly misted adventurer wasn't going to run head-long into a werewolf and die instantly.

I thought she was probably the most selfless person I'd ever met.

I miss that Simona.

I'll always miss that version of her. Not what ... she became later. When she led a witchhunt based on hearsay only, where lying became acceptable ... where she cut me off and called me untrustworthy, because I wouldn't help condemn one of my friends to death without a -shred- of evidence.

I just came from the funeral. People were crying everywhere. Talking about her heroics and how fantastic her gifts and abilities were, and how many enemies she laid low and so on. It was all very impressive, sure enough ... but ... the locals hate outlanders enough as it is, and the Core is drowning in heroes of the normal sort, swinging big weapons around and lobbing magic left and right at a whim.

Nobody ever celebrates kindness.

Or the one who smiles and offers a bowl of soup and a kind word to a poor man, or steps in between the Garda and the innocent when they lose their minds -again-. Who would sit down to comfort a broken-hearted man from somewhere in Faerun or a distraught dwarf from the foothills of the Daargard mountains on Krynn, who just realized they'll never see their families again ... their wives, their children ... everything they know is gone.

There are not enough of that kind of hero around. That was the woman I knew once. That was the Simona I first got to know.

It wasn't the woman I knew at the end. The witch-hunter, the one so convinced of the infallibility of her own goodness that no argument to the contrary could be countenanced.

Did it start like that for the Priest King of Istar, too? With a good person who forgot that they are not infallible, somewhere along the way?

We'll never know. Simona is dead and not coming back, and people are weeping buckets for her. Except for me, because the Simona I'm mourning died months before the one everyone else is crying over.

"Thus passes the glory of the world" as I heard an old, Solamnic farmhand say once ... moments before he died.

What else has happened? Oh, right ... Halvor Halfwit is -at it again-. Because what would the Core be without its favorite, inept villain to make a royal pile of rotten dung out of everything he touches? Apparently he's gotten himself turned into some kind of devil-demon-fiend-flubbediblop now ... and I think it's the one who spoke to me out on the road that night. Weeeeird thing.

Scorpion tail, skull for a face, legs like the hind quarters of a mangy dog, arms so long he's -finally- achieved his life's ambition of becoming an -actual- knuckledragger ... and of  course, it hasn't made him any smarter.

"I grant people's deepest desires" this thing said to me.

Ehm. I already have my deepest desire. I'm marrying her. Well, I didn't tell him that, but I told him I wasn't looking for anything.

"Give in to that dark fragment in your soul! Everyone has it! The Core brings it out in people!"

As I informed him, there are deities ... plural ... out there who are really, -really- sick of the fact that Kender don't -have- that "dark fragment"-thingamabob. And that besides, I'm not dumb enough to fall for that kind of sales-tricks. I know a bad contract when it's placed in front me, and this one had entire pages worth of fine print attached to it. So no thanks.

"I can grant you anything you wish!" it promised. "Just whisper my name next time you draw blood from someone. Just whisper my name from lips to lips. Whisper my naaaaame!" and then it wandered off into the darkness.

First of all, whispering his name from lips to lips sounds both awkward and incredibly invasive and REALLY icky, because why would I want to whisper the name of some yucky demon-thing against the lips of someone I love? And if it's not someone I love, what the hell are my lips doing on theirs in the first place?!

And besides ...

He walked off without ever actually saying what his name was in the first place ...

Y'know what ... I believe it -is- Halvor Halfwit.

He's the only one dumb enough to make that mistake.

What a colossal -twonk-.

I just had a conversation with Gioia, too. The quartermaster from the Red Vardos. It's nice seeing him again ... he's been gone for so long. He's always been very, very nice to me. He said I had changed. He made sure to make it clear that he didn't feel like my heart had changed in any way, but that something -was- different. I think he's right ... enough people have died and ... gone away ... and enough bad things have happened that the elation I felt at first, at having escaped the war has been replaced by something else.

I've grown up since coming through the mists.

I still believe in the same truth I did when I got here. I still have the same values, for the most part ... and if anything's changed in that regard, I've simply gotten to understand them better, myself.

But I'm not a child anymore.

For the most part, I think it's a good thing. I appreciate little things more, nowadays. Things I used to take for granted seem far more important now. The way Simona changed would've never even registered with me, before. Now it makes me feel angry at what she became, and sad for what she rejected in getting there. And it makes me value who she was before that, all the more. I don't wolf down food anymore in the same way I used to. I enjoy it more. When winter passes and the grass gets green again and flowers start to sprout, it's not a given and I take time to stop and smell the roses.

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower ...

Freedom ...

Well, I guess I can't escape writing about this. The Garda have lost their collective minds again. Things were going so much better for a while. They seemed to be -reasonable-. You could -talk- to them. Some of them even felt like they could be ... half-decent people underneath their beaky helmets and diarrhea-coloured uniforms. You know?

-People-.

Now they're torturing children and letting them freeze to death. Or very nearly children. That elven girl ...

And Yolven.

I think if anything changed me, it was Yolven getting murdered by them.

I don't care what they say ... I -know- the story, I -know- the alleged crime he committed. But even if it was true ... even if we assume for -one- single second that he knowingly and willingly pulled a woman out of the Charnel House who had committed some of the most atrocious crimes in the past, including sacrificing a child to some demon or other ... even -if- we accept that ... then how does cutting his head off and putting him in the charnel house instead POSSIBLY make things right? Now he can't help catch the woman he helped set free, for one thing and the Garda sure as Hiddukel's sour smallclothes won't lift a FINGER to find or catch her. Unless she comes running at them, screaming like a constipated banshee, trying to kill -them- specifically, they won't give a damn or involve themselves.

So basically, Yolven got played ... -massively- ... and the Garda got played ... EVEN BIGGER ... and Yolven is dead because of it.

And I can't even show people how wrong I think it is, because if I do, the Garda will come down like red dragon on a bad digestion-day on the Broken Bell.

The Garda doesn't represent law and order. They're not there to protect people. They're evil. Raw, undiluted -evil-.

And the fact that idiots like Hypatia in all her self-righteous, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, singleminded -imbecility- still defend them and still try to shift blame for -their- horrors onto innocent people is disgusting. At least I made it clear I had heard enough of her -nonsense- and walked away. I'm not going to stand there and let her defend torturers, child-killers and murderers to my face. If she's that enamoured with them, I'm sure they have a spare torture-rack she can vacation on if she asks them nicely.

In the meantime, decent folk with half a heart and two functioning brain-cells will be trying to pick up the pieces from their latest travesty and transgression against common dignity and morality, and putting them back together again.

I was such a fool to think I could make friends with them.

I guess that's another area where I have changed. Gioia does have a point, I guess.

I know now that not every stranger is a friend I haven't met yet. And that people around me can't be swayed by me trying to be a good, helpful, decent person towards them.

The moment you put a Garda-uniform on, you reject any semblance of decency.

And stupid, -stupid- Cassie would still defend every one of them if someone like Halvor came after them, because while they are evil ... at least they're the lesser of two evils. But I'd bet you any amount of Fang they'd arrest me afterwards, string me up in the Citadel, flay every inch of skin off my body, beat what's left of me to a bloody pulp, stomp on me for a few hours with their big, stinking boots, then take me outside the city, chain me to a post, flog me until my ribs were visible and my spine had shattered, and then leave me hanging until I die from exposure ... for having pulled a weapon to help defend them.

Because that's -Garda- justice.

Yes.

I -have- changed.

Because before I would have done this and been surprised at their actions.

Now I'd do it and -expect- it."
« Last Edit: March 06, 2020, 04:10:46 PM by ClosedGame »