Astrid's Journal

As armies gather around our fortress, I must look upon the events that brought us to this point. We shall prevail, of course we shall: they are mere mortals, and we are as gods to them. They are right to fear us, but they are foolish to, in their fear, strike against us and try to bring us low. An intelligent people would bow before those they fear.

We were travelling to find the golden angel who can very almost wear the skin of humans. It appears his grudge is only with the draconic ally Narwa, not the rest of us, but we work together as allies and possibly friends. Specifically Narwa denies this last part. So in our journey to find that angel and bring him down, we again visited the knights that are wary of us yet helpful, and agreed to help them in return. After all, we were headed to where we now sit, and they said a certain amount of slaughter would not be amiss. As it turns out, they barely needed to ask us.

Most importantly, before reaching our destination we encountered a lake with straight lights deep beneath the surface. I was just about used to our unconventional form of travel at this stage, though it seems the others handle it better. Narwa refused to descend into water, as I suppose makes sense, so she sat behind. This, it turned out, was a terrible decision. As the water is my domain, the lake proved to be no problem for those of us who descended: we could all breathe just fine, the cold and the pressure were no issue. I am at my most comfortable in water, but apparently the others not so much – even afterwards they needed to dry their clothes. To each their own, I suppose.

In the calming depths, we heard explosions, which are less than calming. We also encountered what could be new allies or worshippers – dwellers of the deep who possess intellect like others, but unable to speak our languages. Nonetheless, through signs and the visual illusions I can form, we learned of their troubles. For one thing, they are “cursed” to be constrained to a limited area, just in the water, and for another, their entire dwelling was surrounded by buried explosives. Despite having finesse in some aspects of life, I lack the ability to merely disarm such things. Fortunately, Vincenzo and Giorgio were both more than able, so after some time that specific woe was dealth with. And now we have a number of explosives at our disposal.

I mentioned before a terrible decision: we found the cart intact, and Narwa fine, albeit bored, but all the other surroundings afire. Flames raged all around us, which I strongly suspect is linked to the boredom of the dragon. She denies this, but she denies a great many things, including any affection for the group. Nevertheless, we all took to the skies once more.

When we arrived at this fortress, an inverted Zigurrat of sorts, we discovered multiple armies surrounding it and less than keen on one another. Furthermore, a magical warding was set up to keep us out – to keep everybody out. Such things are no issue for us, of course, so here we are. But then when the armies turned on one another, SOMEBODY, AND I WON’T SAY WHO, decided it was the perfect opportunity to fly overhead and begin raining fiery destruction upon everybody. So we ended up having to fight them, and granted, wiping out a single army of foes is relatively easy. We demolished one force, before Varvara had to grab that damned dragon out of the air and drag her back as we retreated. Now, we are bunkered in with many armies outside, including users of magic, only for a confused golem to approach us and begin talking.

Ghost Stories

When it was Astrid's turn to tell a spooky ghost story, she paused. After all, the scariest thing to her was not a ghost, it was something entirely physical. The memories of her harsh trainer, Salt Lady Lastri, flashed through her mind - any number of limbs at a time catching around her neck and choking her of both air and blood, being lifted such that her weight was supported only by the back of her neck, only to land on her head like a wave crashing against rocks, the strikes from all angles, her knees being twisted like whirlpools… no, that wouldn't make a good scary story, that was her own personal fear.

"Although I have seen creatures below the depths that would chill the hearts of many," she said, appearing to be wrapped in blankets, "eels large enough to swallow you whole, sharks that could bite ships in two, beasts that blot out the sun when they swim overhead… those things are truly mundane. After all, enough people throwing spears could eventually bring one of those ashore to eat. The true terrors of my homeland, on the other hand? We have seen small groups of undead husks. To us, not very scary. Now imagine them by the hundred, the thousand. Back in the place I once called home, there were cavernous temples full of the silent undead, skeletons striding in legion. There are many places you can go, but should the living step into such a temple… it's not that you are never seen again. Oh no, the hungry dead will overwhelm you, and soon enough, you become one of them - the next time you are seen, it is as one of the undead."

She leaned back against the sleeping Narwa, essentially using the dragon as a giant hot water bottle.

"Of course, there are the ghosts as well. The drowned find no rest, their spirits pulled from the depths and put in chains - ghosts chained to the world, the rattling of iron links heralding their presence. Should you be able to see them, you can't be free: everywhere you look, vengeful spirits float, hatred in their eyes as they long to slay the living in revenge for their slumber being denied. There is not a place you can visit where there is a ghost, no. The ghosts are there, they are around you always. And they are forced to do the bidding of the witch-queens, used simply as military assets. Like a living cannon or ballista standing next to you when you sleep, when you eat… the ghosts are always there."

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