Looking at the spear in the daylight, it looks like this:
Today is the day we bid goodbye to the Nomads, while they turn back to continue their cycle of more magical areas, we are forging on southwards towards the rift Amaunator told me about. Goodbyes always make me sad, so I don't feel like I want to write much here, but I feel that we've made some good friends among the nomads, and hope we'll see them again in good times. To the south there is a mountain range, but there is a point we can see where the mountains are smaller, more like hills, and it's likely that it'll be easier to cross at that point.
The nightmares have been continuing, but tonight there was an odd development. Amaunator had recommended I sleep with the sword close by, and in my dreams it had also been present. There is a sense of... communication with it in my dreams. I just have a feeling that it is trying to communicate with me. At some point over the last two days I've decided to name the sword Tyrael, only now I realise that that was it's name all along, or perhaps "his" name would be a better description.
Today I made a deal with Vincent. keeping the group together is more important to doing good in the world than any individual situation, so if we have a strong disagreement on something, then we should look for another solution rather than fighting. Also, Argent and I managed to remove the sanctification on my armour, so that we could use the symbols to create a new artefact of Amaunator, and the armour could be worn by Vincent without being defiled. I made up with Vincent properly by presenting it to him today.
Last night Tyrael asked me if I wanted his protection while I slept. I say "asked" it was more a feeling I got through holding the sword, he doesn't actually speak. I thought about it for a moment, and then answered yes, at which point an area opened up around me, devoid of flame, of the burning heat that has haunted my dreams for the last month.
I swear, I've never slept so soundly in my life.
Having reached the edge of the wastes, we could see the mountains clearly enough to make a guess which way to approach them. Terry worked out that if we climbed a particular mountain we'd get a good view of the lands beyond, so we decided to head over to it. After a little discussion we determined that we'd save a day or two if we went through a small forest on the way. It seemed like a good idea until we got close to the place.
The forest was green. I don't know how to express this properly. It wasn't a green like you've seen before, but a vibrant brilliant hue of green, on a relative scale of "green-ness" I think you'd need to write a new scale to fit this on. I knew instantly that it was an elf forest, daddy had told me about these. When we reached the edge, I stoped the party and greeted it appropriately, in elvish, and then instructed the others on proper behaviour. This includes not damaging anything unless strictly necessary. You only use deadwood for fire, you don't kill animals, you only pick half of the fruit.
I think the others did pretty well for such an alien environment. I certainly haven't seen anything so beautiful or tranquil before. Argent looked like she wanted to set fire to the whole thing, but I convinced her that doing so would be very dangerous. In the middle of the forest, Terato came across a cat near a pool, a silver lynx. It spoke to him, in elvish, so he came back to fetch me and have a word with it.
The cat's name was Serix, and he agreed to guide us through the forest in return for a meal of fish, that we would be allowed to catch in the forest. This felt like a good deal to me, so I agreed, and spent the rest of the journey with him sitting in my hood chatting happily to me as we went. Anaris was a bit upset with the whole thing, and took refuge in Argent's pack. Terry caught a fair few fish, and once we'd made the edge of the forest Terry whipped up a fantastic fish stew. Serix called out, and all of his friends came to eat, then they thanked us and bid us farewell. I warned them about the drow menace, which they were grateful for. Serix also told me that I would always be welcome in the forest, which was very polite of him, but I doubt I'll ever be back this way.
From the top of the hill we can see an amazing sight! In the valley below there are villages, and farmland. Several villages. From what I can see, there are five old ruined walled towns, spread out like the pips on a die. The two furthest ones back onto a rift that I suppose must be the one Amaunator mentionned, "the great rift" is apparently several months travel away (according to the nomads) and therefore allies there would be too late to be of any use. Next to four of these ruined towns (not the south-west one) there's a village, and around these villages there is farmland. I wonder why the south-west city doesn't have a nearby village? it seems odd to me. This is the closest we've ever come to finding civilisation, as opposed to just survivors of the cataclysm, and I can't wait to meet the people here.
Today was not a good day, it nearly broke my heart. On approaching the nearest village, we saw several people working in the fields, they shied away from us and refused to speak with us. On approaching the town we say the gate was guarded by a tall humanoid creature, with canine features. Vincent told me this was a "gnoll" but he didn't know anything about them. We hailed him and he instructed us to stay where we were so he could fetch a superior to greet us.
From watching the others fight, I feel I have a familiarity with combat situations, I notice things that might affect fights and come up with tactics that the others often miss. I was surprised that the others couldn't how tell how defensible this village was at a glance. They had a palisade with archers on the roof, and a gate guarded by several guards, and hyeenas. A quick glance at the setup told me that if we were to start a fight here, we wouldn't survive it.
We had a quick conversation with someone authoritative, and learnt that this 'civilisation' is called 'Yare' and that humans are kept as slaves here. The gnolls are wary of armed humans, because they feel that they are working to cause an uprising, and were quite surprised to see us. They refused to let us into the town as outsiders, claiming that we might give the slaves 'ideas'. Terry, thinking fast, asked if we could at least purchase some beer from them, promising that we'd then be on our way, and they agreed, bringing out a man on a leash to carry a huge barrel of ale from their distillery.
I raced forward to relieve him of his burden, and he looked up at me from behind the barrel, whispering "Kill me, it's hell in there" to me. my heart lurched, there was nothing I could do, not here, not without causing the deaths of tens if not hundreds of innocent people. I put on a brave face and winked at him behind the gnoll's back, at least if I couldn't do something right now, I could give him some hope. We have to fix this.
The Kingdom of Yare sickens me, how can the most developed place that we've found in the whole world keep humans as slaves? having retreated to a safe distance and made camp we discussed the options. The others were incensed that we hadn't just started a fight right there and then, having entirely missed the archers on the palisade and the very defensible position the gnolls had. I feel pathetically helpless in a situation like this, I'm yet to develop a strategy that'll liberate these people without causing the deaths of most of them. Our current plan is to head south to the rift and see if we can find these allies. Perhaps with their help we can fix this place.
Today we're passing the nearest ruined town that exists in this area. It's obvious to me that the gnoll village is situated where it is so that the gnolls can come in to this ruin and loot it, I'd guess that a lot of their economy is based on looting old artefacts from this city, so there's probably still some items of value here. We decided to drop in and hae a look around to stop Marigold complaining that we hadn't killed any gnolls yet. I swear, all this fighting is making her bloodthirsty.
The first thing we noticed here was that there were several large temples. While most of the buildings had been broken into and stripped of anything valuable, it was obvious that several of the temples had not been touched, likely due to the continued presence of guardians or the divine. I noticed temples to several of the major gods, including temples to Mystra, Tymora and Ilmater. Argent made straight for the temple of Mystra, which (strangely) had gold-clad doors. The insides were kind of wiggy, the floor kind of shifted and gave under my step, so I decided to wait outside and keep watch. I guess I should have been more worried about the inside, since while I kept guard, a large ogre-like creature... appeared inside the temple and struck a combat stance.