The Dim Wastes
Found a chest in what appeared to be a grotto with a guardian construct and an unintentional opening to the estate cisterns. Absolutely giddy with delight to find it full of nothing but plant seeds. Bottles and bottles of seeds of all types. The containers are intact, and all of the seeds seem to be in good condition (no mold, moisture damage, parasitic infection, etc). Some of them appear to be of the same variety of plants found growing on the deactivated golem. Others are of species that I have not seen growing anywhere on the estate, although to be fair we have not completely explored the premises yet. There are also several that I can’t identify readily just from the outer seed structure. I may dissect a few samples to see if I can determine their species by visual inspection. If not, looks like I’ll be putting the greenhouse to good use for growing them. Although I haven’t had the time to catalogue all of the various seeds yet, I have at least added them all to my inventory for evaluation and classification when I have the time later. Please note, identification numbers will be out of chronological order, as I would prefer to have them all numbered in a single block.
Oh, and Tarsus might be a demi-god.
(A drawing of a stylized Tajitu. It is overlaid by multiple bisecting lines with numerical angles. Related calculations are scribbled in the margins in red ink.)
Collected leaves from Draceana cincta TE002, Areca sp. TE003, and one unknown sp. TE004
(in red ink) I need to stop touching things in haunted, undead-riddled estates. If it weren’t for Finn, I would probably still be fumbling around blindly after getting cursed by that bibliophile haunt. I owe him a beer or a sacramental wine or something. The books weren’t even that remarkable for anyone lacking a profound obsession with recondite tax law. I don’t even think Rinn would find these interesting. But I’m keeping them just in case…
(Descriptions of the physical characteristics of three rods and the experimental results of manipulating what appears to be the estate’s security system. The hand-writing looks hurried. Additionally, one note in red ink in the margins: “As a research assistant, Finn is at least three times more enjoyable to work with than Willie. Maybe four.”)
(Rambling notes about the Tulesti family, House Mugato, and Ghadir. They are not in order by either subject or chronology, as if they were compiled at random. Despite the disarray of the notes, however, the source citations are immaculately organized.)
(A list of odd, seemingly descriptive words detailing a chemical flavor profile. It is numbered CG0433. Below it, in red ink: “92% certain, based on context, that this is vampire. Really awful. Kept sample TE009 for later evaluation. Remaining vigilant for adverse reactions.”)
We brought out the Deck of Errant Destinies again, hoping there would be some sort of revelation or arcane intervention on our part. Everyone else drew a card, with nebulous results at best, but I couldn’t bring myself to open the box. Just looking at it made me feel nauseous, and I’m inclined to follow my instincts when it comes to magical artifacts. For some reason, though, everyone else is trying to convince me that I did draw a card, and that it was terrible. Tarsus in particular seems concerned. (In red ink: I feel comfortable in stating that, since he literally said, “I’m concerned.”) Zayn and Finn haven’t really said much to me about it, but they both keep giving me the same sad look that I’ve seen people give a friendly but rabid dog before beating it to death. For now, I’m just going to operate under the assumption that this is some sort of mass hysteria on the part of everyone else…
(in red ink) After all, I feel perfectly fine.
(Notes on the suspected chemical and magical composition of Sovereign Glue.)
(A folded paper pasted to the page. When unfolded, it is a sketch of a floor plan. The rooms are labeled with vague descriptors like “office” or “conference room,” and one storage room is noted as being trapped. Window locations are marked. Below it, as if it is not obvious by the inexpert linework, is the statement that “this map is not to scale.”)
(A copy of a transcript from an academic review board. The list of accusations would be mildly embarrassing to anyone with a modicum of social awareness.)
(Several pages of notes identified as being “retrieved from the office of Dir. Kaito Sanders.” The first page appears to be a supply list. The second is an encrypted memo. The third is a torn, but carefully reassembled, document detailing an apparently illicit arrangement between Kaito Sanders and an entity known only as “Bishop.”)
(A list of supplies and a range of expected prices. Next to each item is either the name of a vendor or a question mark.)
-Get into trouble with the town guard.-
Antagonize the Council.
Set anything on fire.
Blow anything up.
(In red ink) Fuck.
In retrospect, there were probably better ways to handle the dispensation of my Council-issued armor than stripping naked in the middle of a street in Aridesa. (In red ink: “Julian Carmeno in particular seemed perturbed. I expect paladins are somewhat repressed in their range of interactions, though, so I’m not taking his response as indicative of commonly acceptable social mores.”) However, it seemed like the most expeditious means of getting out from under that particular yoke at the time, and we were able to find an armorer in town to handle the actual disposal. I’m sure that decision won’t come back to haunt us.
(An intricately labeled diagram of a trimaran-like vessel called “Seachild.” The schematic itself extends over several pages, and there are a half-dozen more pages of roughly organized notes detailing different system functions, components, and procedures. There is additional notation regarding expected operational parameters, and each data point is cited to a specific member of the ship’s crew.)
(A recipe for the creation of fuel from salt peter, charcoal, iron, and minute amounts of alchemical reagents. There are notes regarding standard values for each ingredient, but additional chemical concentrations are calculated in red ink in the margins. Underneath the procedure, in red ink: “I think I can synthesize a more efficient chemical composition.”)
Collected sample of pale dune scorpion (Heterometrus pallus) venom RM004. Method of removal and handling consistent with IGG SOP.
(An incremental procedure for the removal and replacement of the alchemical fuel cells that power the “Seachild” vessel.)
(A segment of text titled “Story of Sayoni of House Tanje, as related by The Journeyman.” It is written in red ink. In black ink, immediately following the final passage: “Unverified source and dubious historical accuracy. Recommend for additional research at earliest convenience.”)
(Notes from a religious text on the goddess Mah Hari. The source is cited as being unattributed and without a title. However, the text itself is noted as being likely 1800-2000 years old, based on lexicon.)
(A hastily scribbled transcript from an incitement speech attributed to Oxyr Shalis. Even for Guild approved short hand, it is difficult to read, and words run off the page as if the note-taker were not looking at it as he wrote.)
(A charming anecdote about the “mating rituals” of heavily armored and weapon-festooned human warriors. It is written in red ink.)
(A list of odd, seemingly descriptive words detailing a chemical flavor profile. It is numbered CG0428. Below it, in red ink: “Water elemental. Virtually indistinguishable in taste and texture from pure water, other than a slight thickening similar to that imparted by agar or gelatin..”)
(In red ink) I wish things would stop trying to fucking suffocate and/or strangle me. I’m really not into this.
(A sketch of a bovine-type creature. The commentary in the magins indicates that it is some type of statuary or modified construct, capable of dispensing powerful flames. There are various hypotheses about its internal mechanisms and activation method. A corner of the page is slightly darkened, as if exposed to great heat.)
(Notes about the size and design of a sarcophagus. A folded paper is pasted to the opposite page. When unfolded, it is a charcoal rubbing of the text along the sarcophagus, sealed with an alchemical fixative. The details are perfectly preserved.)
(A drawing of an ornate gorgerine labeled “Blazing Sun” and an eerie humanoid effigy labeled “statuary of Ahriman”. Even when rendered inexpertly in charcoal, the effigy instills a sense of unease in the viewer.)
(Drawings of various nautical flags, colored vibrantly with crushed pigment. There are several scribbled notes on semaphore in the margins, each cited as being related by different crew members aboard The Wandering Bard.)
(A procedure for the evaluation of camels to ensure physical and temperamental integrity prior to purchase.)
(In red ink) The decision to part ways with Rinn at the cusp of the Inland Road was difficult, but I’m certain my destiny lies in the desert. Also, I have to confess that I’m somewhat relieved that she didn’t witness me nearly getting crushed to death by a sea-snake (Eunectes avium). I lost samples RK021 and GA007, as well as multiple vials of reagent, to constriction. A note to myself to buy iron vials instead of glass next time. Finn’s healing assistance was vital, even if he did tell me to “stop whining and walk if off.” I love the guy, but he can be an asshole sometimes.
(A stylized sword and torch bundle is drawn over a hastily scribbled conversation. The speakers are not identified by name. In many places the sentences are crossed out and re-written in slightly different syntax or lexicon, as if the transcriber worked from incomplete recall.)
(Several pages of extensive notes, including experimental procedures and results, on specimen GA002. Although its obvious that the data was collected over several days, all of the pages appear to have been written over the course of a single short session, as if they were copied hurriedly from another source.)
(A description of Rosaga external anatomy. There are a number of illustrations, including a basic figure drawing and numerous examinations of various appendages. What the illustrations lack in technical proficiency is rectified by accurate, detailed written description. Three different proposals for taxonomic classification are noted, with various potential arguments for and against each one.)
Collected sample TV008, approximately 2.5 mL of blood from Fari Sivoi, Asad voting delegate.
(Columns of numbers. Some are listed with units of time, concentration, or density; others are assigned more esoteric designations or lack context all together. There is no written procedure, but “Using IGG SOP for toxicological eval.” is scribbled at the top of the page.)
As near as I can tell, the toxin is what would formerly be called Widow’s Kiss. I place special emphasis on “formerly,” as I was under the belief that this substance is impossible to reproduce in modern times. I consider myself lucky that there’s even documentation available for diagnosing it…
(A number of pages have been carefully but inexpertly removed. Two pages have the beginnings of writing on them, but the words are scribbled out. The paper is deeply gouged, as if the writer were angry. The page that follows has only this written on it, in red ink: “I can’t sleep. I’ve never had to compromise my ethics before. It kills me that my all of my work could be called into question over this one decision, but I have to accept it. I did it for her.”)
(Two folded papers are wedged between the pages of the logbook. When unfolded, they are intricately drawn instructions for carving bas relief into the side of a bell. They appear to depict historical scenes, and the style is similar to art seen on southern Riyaqan tapestries dating from 200-500 years ago.)
(A detailed description of the deleterious effects of nitric acid on bronze.)
I made the decision to drop a nine hundred pound bell on a Herlite citizen. I couldn’t wait for him to move; the alternative was risking setting off a chain reaction that could have enveloped the entire town in sand shambler toxin. Maybe. I know it was the rational choice, but I still can’t shake the suspicion that what is right and what is rational are not always the same thing. The man survived; Tarsus shielded him from the worst of the impact and was grievously injured himself. (In red ink: Tarsus was forgiving, but I still feel terrible about it. I’m trying my best to ignore the guilt and doubt, though; just going to bottle it up, like I do with the insecurity and crippling loneliness.)
I’m never going to get that tour of the olive farm now.
Collected sample of sand devil toxin RH002.
(Diagram of the layout of an olive farm and possible irrigation methods. A note is added in red ink: “Khalid brothers have promised to give me a tour of their farm when we have a few free minutes. My companions seem strangely disinterested.”)
(A description of a sky burial dedicated to Anahita, as related by high priest Ambo. On the opposite page is a sketch of a building labeled “main temple of Anahita – Herlish.” Although it would not be considered artistic, there is nevertheless attention to detail and a competent use of linear perspective.)
(A list of odd, seemingly descriptive words detailing a chemical flavor profile. It is numbered CG0427. Below it, in red ink: “Local alcoholic beverage of unknown type, Sand Devil Herlish. Basically just ethyl alcohol and water. I don’t know where it gets the dark brown color, but at least it isn’t urine this time.”)
Collected sample RH004, from outside of the warehouse on the south side of Herlish. Possibly the same solution that is linked to the
zombies sand shamblers. Will require in-depth analysis later.
(A faithful reproduction, in sepia ink, of an arcane glyph. A note below it reads “trigger device as identified by Finn, priest of Rustum.”)
Of special note, immolation seems to render the sand shambler toxin inert. Cite as evidence the lack of contamination after burning down a warehouse and a barn, the latter in particular containing a supererogatory quantity: thirty-one barrels containing approximately 159 liters of the toxin. Tarsus initiated the conflagration in the warehouse for a change; I was impressed. (In red ink: Our guide Finn did not appear to hold Tarsus’s display of arson in the same high regard. He’ll get used to it.)
Session 06 Addendum
Anton fell in battle today.
“Fell in battle” implies that it was some sort of noble sacrifice, something impassive and sterile, something that you might read about in a history book or a field report or a religious text. That’s not what it was like at all. It was just brutal and pointless and terrible and soul-crushing.
I hate everything about what is happening.
At this point, I have to disclose that I have elected to join the Grand Council Operatives Guild. This wasn’t a choice that was made lightly. (In red ink: I think it’s the only way that I’m going to survive long enough to find my family, since I now seem to have a proverbial target on my back. I want to stay with my companions.) I have no intention of staying with them permanently, and there is absolutely now way I will ever go to the Grand Terrace for training. They say that they are going to interrogate us… Anton said that he’s concerned for me safety. (In red ink: I’m terrified.)
(The following creed is recorded in very tiny script, as if the writer was attempting to hide his note-taking.)
When called upon, we act.
Where power has corrupted, we act.
While others debate, we act.
We are the focused will of all people, brought to a cutting edge.
The time is now.
(A list of odd, seemingly descriptive words detailing a chemical flavor profile. It is numbered CG0425. Below it, in red ink: “Some sort of chemical compound with both a slight analgesic and soporific effect. Makes shank and beet root soup taste off.”)
(A description of the effects of a Suffocation spell. Despite the impassive, analytic tone of the writing itself, the penmanship is shaky and uncertain.)
(An incremental procedure for the creation alchemical cartridges. Chemical concentrations are calculated in red ink in the margins, and the weight of each ingredient is notated to the nearest gram. Underneath the procedure, in red ink: “I enjoy working with Emine. Maybe I can convince her to leave the mercenary guild and join the IGG.”)
Hansen is in ruins and overrun with sand shamblers. We intercepted Hansen’s former IGG station chief Rinn Kulanov along the coastline. We’re giving her and her considerable library safe passage on board Talia’s Vengeance in exchange for a few copies of the gas mask that she designed. (In red ink: I feel a little guilty for hiding the fact that I’m working alongside the Grand Council, even if it’s in a temporary capacity. But right now, my focus is survival. I’ll deal with the fallout later.)
Session 05 Addendum
(In red ink) There is an IGG office at the consulate. It is the size of a closet and smells strongly of dust and some preservative agent. There are light, rectangular patches on the wall, as if there were once pictures hung on the wall that have since been removed. The single desk in the room is not large, yet still monopolizes the floor space, and there are sedimentary layers of paperwork on it. The door only opens halfway; its swing is arrested by the edge of the desk. I tried to ask the guild member on duty about my parents, but she just kept insisting that I had to turn in my paperwork. She wouldn’t even make eye contact. I really hate anthropologists.
(What appears to be a short conversation is recorded immediately afterward. The handwriting is different than appears elsewhere in the logbook. The letters are large and looping, as if made by an unpracticed hand.)
Do you have any reason to think your guild is hiding something from you?
No. I think it’s just laziness. Or incompetence.
Maybe you should utilize your new authority. You have a symbol of your station for a reason.
(in red ink) I’m sober now. I must have been desperate to have gone to him for help.
(A list of uses for goblin corpses, all apparently related to the identification and springing of traps.)
I accidentally killed Tulat by setting the room he was in on fire. He died from smoke inhalation. It wasn’t my fault he was too stupid to leave a burning room. Everyone seems to be an uncomfortable mix of relieved that he won’t be stabbing us in the back and worried that Ducet is going to be displeased. He wanted a live captive…
(A copy of the papers found on Tulat’s body. One of them is in an unknown language. Although it has been duplicated as faithfully as possible, its quality is still dubious at best.)
Ducet ripped the face off of Tulat’s very dead corpse and fucking talked to it. I’m done here.
(A list of odd, seemingly descriptive words detailing a chemical flavor profile. It is numbered CG0424. Below it, in red ink: “Local red ale from Lacy Death Gol Asad. Suspicion is that it contains an unacceptable level of urea. Tastes like piss.”)
(in red ink) The ease with which Teegan and Tarsus integrate into their surroundings is impressive. Ten minutes in, and both of them could be mistaken for regulars here. I guess I’m a little jealous. I feel completely out of my depth…
(Spore print from a small mushroom cap. It is labeled with Pluteus cyanopus. Notes below it detail expected results upon consumption versus experimental results. The tone seems dejected.)
(A description of the effects of mutagen poisoning on a non-alchemist.)
Collected specimen GA002: unidentified botanical specimen. Likely dicot. Leaf structure is aristate, reticulate, and entire. Color is pale nacrous.
(A hurried diagram of a float valve. Below it, in red ink: “Probably would have drowned in a water trap if not for Emine. Her knowledge of engineering and ability to remain calm under pressure is commendable. I think there is a lot that I can learn from her.”)
(Hastily scribbled notes on what appear to be either a poem or song lyrics, regarding an illicit love affair, a murder, and betrayal. In the page margins, there is a note in red ink: “Anton’s ability to captivate and turn a crowd is impressive. Even I was entranced, and I don’t care that much for music.”)
(A strange diagram of runes in a circle. Each element is annotated in both a strange language in sepia ink and an Imperial Common translation in red ink. It appears to be some attempt to decipher arcane markings. There are copious notes on the nature of the runes involved.)
(A folded paper pasted to the page. When unfolded, it is a charcoal rubbing of the outside of a bookcase, sealed with an alchemical fixative. The details are perfectly preserved.)
(Two pages of intersecting grids approximating streets. Only about a third of them are named, in both Riyaqan and Imperial Common.)
I’m making a note to thank Lib. Decker for the recommendation to carry a bag of chalk. I owed Tarsus a favor for skull-cracking the cultist that attempted to eviscerate me on the skiff; repaid it by chalk-bombing an invisible assassin positioning to take him out.
Reached the Consulate and returned The Book to Magister Ducet. (in red ink: I wish that I had recalled that he was the headmaster of necromancy.) Also transferred custody of S001 to the same, under the condition that IGG is to be informed of all results obtained from its analysis. (in red ink, in much smaller script: Doubtful.)
(Several sketches of undead corvids in various states of decay. The anatomy is accurate, but the linework is tremulous, as if drawn with a shaky hand. They are labeled “Corvis corvax immortui.” In red ink, below the drawings: “I can’t tell if his aesthetic is meant to be serious or sardonic.”)
The password is “I have returned with a task.”
(A sketch of what appear to be goblin footrpints. The reverse side of the page is dirty, as if it were laid on the ground in order to trace accurately over the track.)
(A subtle reddish mist and one large, oxidized splash of blood mar the page. The writing is neat, but shaky.)
Lost samples RE110, RE111, KLL028, and FE067 overboard. Salvaged others, but I am concerned that exposure to the humidity will cause premature rotting. Making a note to verify integrity of specimens daily.
Collected samples S001 and S002 in original containers. Pthalocyanine green solution, viscosity 99.3%. Suspected toxin, potentially linked to Sutif disaster.
(Speculation about the chemical make-up of two alchemical explosive devices that were found to be plated on board the skiff. Notation about the method of removal – mechanical alteration of the gunwale with improvised woodcarving tools – and Captain Arndt’s incredulous response.)
Also almost died. I was attacked by someone who, from interviewing other passengers on board the ship, may be a member of a cult called the Children of Ahriman. If my iatrochemistry studies serve me correctly, he missed my liver by a fraction of an inch to the right. A merchant-bard named Anton patched me up. (in red ink: He’s quite charming.)
(in red ink) I don’t know what I’m doing.