Journal of Marsys Lightouch: Harvester 9th 636 CY
I am writing this quickly but I feel it needs to be set down. Some of the others are in Hell, saving Jack’s friend. The rest of us are staying in Dawnbay until they get back. But we are on the move now and I am not sure this is going to turn out well. Let me start with my dream.
A few hours ago I was sleeping rather peacefully until I found myself in a long set of halls. Massive stone walls with evidence of water action on the stone towered above and around me. There was a fishy smell and an overall damp nature to the place. I noticed the writing on the walls in the place was in ancient Flan. With little effort I was able to see that I was in the dungeon we will be going to on one of the Isles of Woe.
Behind me was an entrance, a massive portal. It was obviously the way to get into this place. Above it, in ancient Flan, it read: “Only once may many walk through the way. But one may carry many as the burden of a curse.”
I tried not to think of what that may mean, and my eyes fell on the decayed but still discernible symbol of Olidamara beneath it. The Laughing God. The story of the Heroes of The Key said he sided with the Archlich during the war with Vecna. His followers had been floundering without an identity for nearly 30 years. They were once tolerated and even loved. Now they were held in suspicion by all races of the Flaness. His choice in the decision was mystifying and baffling. It was one of the aspects of the tale that was odd, out of place…and still a mystery.
I turned at the sound of steps further down the hall. Removing a torch I slowly advanced. At the intersection of the first hallway with a perpendicular one; I saw one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. If I am destined to see this while waking I am thankful for the dream as preparation. Walking into the intersection, lit by wall torches, was Bartholomew. But the phrase, “shell of his former self” Was more apt than ever. To all senses the evidence before me was not of a man but a husk walking, dragging itself on two legs only in approximation of a man.
His normally immaculate clothes were covered in grime and mire, torn and frayed in a manner that did not hint at a casualty of activity but as if they were the victims of a lack of attention so great that they began to despair and decay on their own. His right hand hung taut at his side, the weight of the Codex he was dragging, pulling it backwards as he walked. His tall frame was bent over in exhaustion and almost an awkwardness of someone unfamiliar with his own body. His left hand held his mask, but it was not removed from his face. His face had…melted…like festival taffy in the sun. It was still attached to both his skull and the mask; he tried with a clumsy effort, to put the part with the mask back on his head. The result was not unlike trying to reunite a skein of yarn that had divided but remained joined by one strand between two halves.
I remember gasping. And the thing that was Bartholomew raised its face in its hand and looked at me.
A voice from behind me cut off my scream.
“It is filled with nightmare. All the things that were too vile to return immediately to Incabulos stayed with him. And the other thing…the Vestige is living inside of him.”
I turned to see our goddess Dalia Thaun standing there, looking with contempt at the creature.
“My people,” she continued, “in there.”
“Is there any way to free them?” I asked.
She nodded, “You’ll find it in a different tomb than this one. This one is really only the tomb of the group that tried to get to the altar of Boccob before you. Not much of a tomb but it only takes one corpse not really an intention in design.” She moved forward between me and Bartholomew. He looked around as if I was suddenly invisible to him and shambled on down the hall.
I swallowed hard and composed myself. “Did you send me this dream Lady?”
“I did,” she replied, “I thought you should know about the inscription and what’s waiting. After all; the better prepared you and your friends are the more likely it dies.”
I had wanted to kill Bartholomew ever since I found out he was connected to the Yellow Eye plague. That he had taken the souls of members of all the races, including my own, to form the Vestige. And that he was a monster beyond measure. I wanted to kill him in vengeance and rage for what he had done. But now, I just pitied him. I wanted him to not be like this. I wanted no one to be like this.
My concern must have showed on my face. The goddess smiled. “I understand your heart is good. I do not care child, what your feelings are when he dies…rage or compassion is all the same to me in this. He dies for what he did. That is enough.”
The world grew unstable around me. I heard noises and had to focus to remain aware of my surroundings.
“The approaching horse is waking you. The other reason I sent the dream…get up, put on warm clothing and get ready for a long trip: Spy on your friend Villius before he does something stupid. “
In a moment I was awake and heard noises outside the Seafire home. Villius and Hanna were talking to a messenger who had come. I moved onto my window ledge so I could hear better. The rest of the house, with the exception of Rutherford and Hanna were asleep. The conversation was upsetting. Something had happened in the Frost Barbarian lands. A king was dead. Frost giants were on the march and war was coming. His aunt had been responsible and few could stand against her and the evil she had allied herself with. His mother had sent for him. Villius asked why he had been sent for this late when his mother could see the future. The messenger did not know. Hanna asked about her family; the messenger lied and said he did not have news on much beyond his message. Neither Villius or Hanna saw the lie. He brought a token that would take Villius and Hanna home to help. Villius had the man wait until they could get their gear and be ready.
I moved along the ledge to his and Hanna’s room. Opening the lock on the window and climbing in I began packing their things. I had finished the first bag when the door opened. Villius looked at me. I smiled back.
“I remember the type of cold up there…so I packed extra wolly things for you.”
He shook his head. “Marsys…Hanna and I will be back; we have to go home…”
I cut him off. “I was just told by a goddess to prevent you from doing something stupid. “
He frowned. “You can’t stop me from going back.”
I shook my head, “One; when did we just start letting the phrase I was just told by a goddess slide like saying I had ham for breakfast. Two; I’m not going to stop you. I’m going to make sure we all go with you and the others join us when they are back from hell.”
He and Hanna packed while we talked.
“The token will take us and the messenger. Three total. There is…”
“We’re in the house of a guy who can move the whole town to the plane of elemental fire for a suntan if he wanted. I know you’re thinking quickly but he can put us next to your mom. All of us. Rather than just you two alone…with no backup.”
“And if our friends in hell need us?” Hanna asked, I believe already knowing the answer. I smiled back at her and remembered that the messenger lied when she asked about her family.
“Again, the guy fishes for sea bass with a Staff of the Magi…if his grandson needs us; he can get us for them. Or…he can go and do gods know what to help them.”
They looked at each other and nodded. I went to get the others who hadn’t gone to hell. Prevent stupid move…done. Shiver internally at how we get the the Isles and what is waiting for us…done. Ardes was going to hate this. He hates the cold. But frost giants…cold you can punch. That may help.