Following our last Castles & Crusades romp, the young sorcerer-cleric Katherine once again ponders recent events in her personal journal.
Entry 39 (continues)...
Because of the evening's awkward moments, I wait for Brute to come back, for I must talk and reflect the day’s events. He is such a big brute of a brother, I give him three hugs, once for being a big brother to me, once for going to diner, and once more for being right about Trevor. My concerns lay with what the party does with thugs and brigands once they surrender or we subdue them. I reason with Brute that killing defenseless people will not allow them to explain their actions. He argues that if we don't kill them, they will just do their murdering again. However, we are not sure if the thugs were coerced into doing their actions, much like the ogre being controlled by witchcraft. Brute thinks this through and agrees to it, and agrees to talk to Kull as well. We also talk about Trevor and why Brute and Kull must protect me. Brute was fine if I liked Trevor, but not fine, if Trevor only wanted to make me like him. He states but not in that nice of a way, instead a bit more of a "brutish" sort of a way. I agree with Brute, in that I am not fine if Trevor makes me like him or if any man forces this upon me.
Trevor and I are at odds today and it has built over the past few days. The differences are with his leadership role of the group, and also with where the responsibilities lay with the children. And as the leader, he must guide the party to follow through with our intentions. We accompanied young Broderick back to his mansion, and promised to have him restored rightfully so. But we have returned twice and have done nothing with the court to have the ownership change.
The talk with Brute is good, talking about our differences make both of us aware of the other's concerns. I express my concern about Trevor, and his lack of noticing me at diner. Also, Trevor and I don't talk. If only he stated how elegant I was, in my nice evening dress earlier in the night, and talk about us. Why could he not say something? Brute suggested that Trevor was only a "business associate." I reluctantly agree.
I turn in for the night thinking of what might have been...
So much has happened this day. I find myself writing here, more and more, almost daily. A woman at death's door lies close by, as I nurse her back to good health. She is a victim of senseless destruction. And while we plan to search for more survivors in the villages attacked by goblins, Brute has a dilemma. I, however, made my decision to stay here to find out who did this act of cruelty. Let me explain how we rescue her, as it is by accident that we find her. This is the following day, on a Friday, from my previous entry.
In the morning, I wake refreshed and ready to deal with the challenges I will face. My first concern is the unfinished business. I hear voices of guards outside of the house. I peek to view through the shutters and see two men guarding the front door. There must be a reason they are here, but that one will be for a different time. Without waiting for the others to create more problems, I call a meeting of our group to tie the loose ends on the problems we already have.
My problem to handle is with my temple. And Kull and Brute want to take the children to the temple, for we found homes before for a group of children we already saved once. We all agree to this. I suggest for Trevor, with his amazing talents, to go to the court, and have the ownership of papers move to Broderick. Trevor thinks he should first find the reason why the family members were removed from the house, as maybe Broderick would be removed, too, using the same reason. Trevor suggests making a disguise and appearing as an uncle. This is Trevor taking charge, I like this, he is the leader. Next is the house. I want Boomtuck to clean the house under Uhm Uri's supervision. I also suggest that Trevor talk to the gnome about the mess he made. When I asked, the little one lies about doing the mess. I point out here in my journal, how Kull does not want me to lie, yet, the gnome, just lies so obviously, and no one tries to change that. Maybe I might have a word with Kull about that. And Trevor did not seek me out to make an apology about last night. No. That did not happen.
The children, with Brute, Kull and I walk to the temple. We make sure the children are safe. Kull shines in that moment, as much as any saint, when he bends down on a knee, and asks the children what they want. He continues to explain that we can not provide for them, and the children cannot stay with us. This is another moment, so unexpected with the group, Kull specifically. I feel the urge to embrace Kull, his action - so simple, but so correct. I later give that big brother type of hug. While we wait for the high priest to return, we discuss where we can find an armory. The naives overhear us, and suggest we follow them. They show us a place, a storage room, full of old weapons, from battles fought long ago. With a little encouragement from the Power of the Light, we find some items of exceptional qualities, and generously donate to the cause. I see a banner of a symbol from the temples long ago, when the Light and the Law were joined.
Once the High Priest returns to the temple, we conduct our meeting. The office has an odor of supreme cleanliness, like fresh incense fills the air. The priest appears as if his hair was trimmed a few minutes ago. He is dressed in his normal robes. Brute and Kull exchange glances and makes sure the priest does not see, then Kull seems upset about something and leaves to wait outside. I prepare to argue with the priest, having my support reasons, and to demand the temple to be open every day of the week, volunteering if I must. But he calms me in a second, explaining that many clerics are away to fight the goblins, and that the Law will have some Paladins check on the unopened days. I am relieved. It is almost like he read my mind, just total agreement. With the issue of the children and the temple concluded, the priest asks of my name. I state the truth, bracing for the consequences of my actions years ago - words travel fast. He mentions a brother I remember, it has been years ago since I saw him last. As we are leaving, he eludes to the reason of my departure, and the dreaded H word. I move to take my leave, and avoid another awkward moment, by ignoring the statement. This did bring back some unpleasant memories. When I left, I was never told the reason, or I didn't pay attention. I thought it had to do with my involvement with the sorcerers. I did not have a trial, or at least I was not present at it. I do know I did dedicate myself to the Faith, but that differs from the Order. For orders interpret the Faith differently where the teachings are unclear. I reference the Order of the Spirituals that believe in poverty. And they are persecuted because there are many in the temples that want to retain and get more wealth. And with wealth is power. I must be careful. I quickly leave without giving a look to Brute.
With our business done at the temple, we walk back and I move my thoughts from those years ago, to my new "business associates." I'm sure Trevor has made progress with his task, I remembered thinking, too. So we stop at the market for some new clothes, as I can not use my armor when practicing sorcery. After making sure the items fit well, and the colors are to my liking: a nice blue silken robe, cloak and green pants, Brute calls out to Kull to run. That is strange, almost like a battle cry. Brute does not move. I am startled by this, but with Brute not moving I continue to look at the wares. The strangeness: do they not want me to know or is it a guy thing? Brute gives the most strange conversations to Kull. But Brute is very kind to me; he carries all of my stuff and he gives the clerk a large tip.
I think about how I will wear these new clothes, and I wander to think about Trevor, again. I remember how interested he was with making the disguise, a new spark in him. In my sleep I mulled over it, it was just a passing thought. No, his action the night before, and no apology today, definitely says he is not interested. If I write it here often enough, it helps me get on with other things. I sure hope he thought of my actions as just business, too, for if I express any signs, he may take... No, I must not worry about that, he has no feelings for me what-so-ever, it is only my feelings I must cope with. I practically threw myself at him - nope I have nothing to worry about. Besides, it would never work out, for I am bound to my Faith, above all else. And I find we are far apart on more and more issues: like consistency and dedication, as I will explain soon.
With all of my busy thoughts, I hardly notice Brute saying we must take a detour, for Kull ran, and we must find him. We follow the path of many tired guards, for again, some strange reason they are chasing him. We follow the guards like breadcrumbs dropped in the forest to find a way back. Soon I am distracted by a most lovely tenor voice singing out a melody, accompanied by a rhythmic beat to a hammer and anvil. I slow my walk since the voice is familiar. With my eyes closed, I remove the visual distractions, and let my ears guide me. One can study the sounds while immersed in darkness better. I am swept off my heels as I listen. I move closer, I can here others gossip. It adds to the song. I open my eyes and see a group of women observing the massive hulk of Kull, bent over the anvil, shirtless, muscles flexing, ripe with sweat, glowing and reflecting the red hues of the hot coals from the forge. The girls, I can call them that, for they are enjoying the lust of their lives. But me, I see something else that they don't see. I see at first, a meticulous craftsman, taking iron ingots, and hammer shape and form, becoming a father of each creation. I look again, and see an honest and caring, gentile giant that is great with children. I also see an ideal that stands for his principles and a protector, but also an enforcer. I also see a darker man, a boy that grew old to quickly, fighting an internal struggle, one able of immense destruction. And for the first time, I see Kull, ready with voice to match any in the temple choir.
I want to tell him he has a great voice, I cannot remember if I did. I remember walking back to the mansion. Swimming in so many thoughts: of heresy, of new clothes, Trevor done with the court, finally the loose end tied, of the children cared for, new weapons, planning the next trip into goblin land. And how did Kull learn to sing so well? I try remembering the words to the tune, humming it over. The melody voice with the ping and the clack, then the hiss of the water on the hot metal - I cannot remember more, for I am snapped back to the house, Brute is talking to Kevin, who is now hysterical.
I take a few moments to adjust to the new scene. Kevin gives us gestures, his seriousness begs us to follow him to the basement quickly. His gestures also show that Trevor is in a cell, somehow this vaguely makes sense. Kevin leads us through a secret doorway behind a large fireplace in the study room. A dark passage follows, but after a little conjure of light, I can see steps leading up and down. Kevin points down and we wind down the stairs and find a cell, and this woman, which I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, is found chained inside of the cell. She is a victim of torture, and has recent wounds suggestive of a dark blood drinking ritual. Her wounds are not fresh, like made a week ago. Brute breaks the shackle from her neck and she is free. We remove the woman and place her near the kitchen, where I tended to her wounds. But my healing can not replace her tongue so she can speak, as she was silenced by her captives, too. I feel for her. How easily could it have been me. Most probably, she works in this house as a maid, and sees something, and then she is silenced in a very horrific manner.
We also check out the steps that go up, they lead up to a hexagonal room, with four mirrors, and each has a curtain covering them. Each mirror has a picture of a scene: a desert, a forest, a coast, and a cold ice plain. A wardrobe sits at the far side. At the bottom of the wardrobe are two boxes, a large box with a book of arcane magic, and a smaller empty box. We later find out that Trevor took four rings from the smaller box, that most likely control the four mirrors. Black ritual robes are inside of the wardrobe. Trevor's involvement I will describe next.
Once we are downstairs, Trevor returns to the house, bringing "...the images of shows, the wine is strong on his lips, tavern smoke is in his clothes, the dancing dwarven women, are reflected in his eyes, he just does not know how he looks, through my very own eyes..." (credit to the butthole surfers), and follows a heated discussion on where he was to go: the court, and where he obviously went: the basement, the attic and "out." I will keep the dwarven women bar scene out of this - strickly "business," from now on. What is his involvement with the secret rooms and the woman locked in the cell? Obviously, he did nothing to the woman, but why did he leave her there, and why did he go out for ...? Also, why was Kevin so upset with Trevor?
Neither do I want to defend his actions nor write an essay about his thoughts, but, I am writing the facts, and his statements, whether are true or false, must be included. He said that the business here took all day, and he was to go to the court after this was done. He thought the woman was a monster in the cell, and he did not want to risk opening the door, but he added that he risked his life for checking boxes, and found magic items. He waited for me, the cleric, to be there to dispel the monster. And when I show my frustration, he accuses me, of being slow and getting stuff at the market? But I, along with Brute and Kull, solved two matters, one with the children and the other with my temple.
The discussion continues, and with discretion, I do not write every word, for I say a few inappropriate words which I should not have - but I am furious. Still, I must apologize to him, for I am not being "business like." Am I more upset because he failed to let me know, one way or another, what he thought of me or because he risked his life for material items and not for another life? Before long, Brute steps in to quiet the discussion. In after thought, if it were a monster, having more in the party would be better. And his actions do discover this woman, who would have died had we not discover and free her. If I may be judgmental, he should have gone to the court first, like we agreed, and then return to the house, like I did with Brute and Kull, after finishing our respective businesses. Then we all could have explored the secret passage and have discovered the captive, together.
Back to the discussion, through some absurd aside, Ohm Uri walks right through our discussion, soaking wet, leaving puddles of river water where he steps. And to finish out the day, Meritie bursts in, who is still here, comments about how complicated it is to listen to us. She murmurs something about the temple, and she leaves us all. Trevor could have hooked up with that, since he has no interest in me, or is Trevor leaning... back to the matters at hand. With nothing more to say, in silence, I prepare to stay with the woman and will watch her, so she gets rest and in case she has any reactions or convulsions while resting. I begin to write and now, I am caught up with the day’s events.
To think of Trevor's actions, they are most difficult for me to accept. This, I alluded to earlier. He works secretively, usurps his own directives, makes bad or incorrect decisions, drinks every night, and forgets his duties. What was I thinking! We are worlds apart. It would only be of magic. Or is there strong witchcraft at work? This all started when we got to this house. Let me review my entries...
... Entry 34 mentions of how I recall that Trevor is amazing, something I try really hard to avoid. And this entry is after our first stay at the house, and after Trevor saw me sleep walking. This must all be witchcraft! These are not real feelings I have - I am sooo relieved. This house is affecting me, maybe all of us, is that the reason why the others were removed? Wait, Kevin is also a mute, too coincidental?