Grim Adventures on Ash Island

While many places I have hunted were remarkable for their beauty, Ash Island is so completely blighted by the evil of the Darshaks that a dark miasma hangs over the entire island, the trees are all dead, and no natural creatures are found.  Once peopled by our ancient enemies, they are now filled with ravening hounds, evil spirits and foul villains.

When I first tried to join hunts in this area, I spent most of my time either fallen, or trying repeatedly to hit things–as happens every time I get strong enough to venture somewhere new.  I have to thank Mujin for her patience with my struggles.  Both on Ash and in the Estuary, she has waited for me to study creatures in what is sometimes a very tedious process.  More recently, I fell to a Greater Darshak Liche and was so badly wounded that the three healers together could not raise me.  I feared very much that the hunt was over for me.  But Mujin not only carried me back to town where I could be healed, she then escorted me back to the hunt so I could rejoin.  My hunt mates were also patient with this long delay.

That particular hunt reminds me again of why I am so contented in this life, in spite of the almost constant danger.  My fellow exiles have proven themselves to be, almost without exception, loyal, brave, and caring.  Though I was cast up here a lonely stranger, I feel I have found a place.

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Accomplishments. :-)

Bawkmas has brought all kinds of excitement to the lands.  With winter upon us, snow has appeared and as the days drift by, snow does as well.  Several areas have become quite wintery, and the frozen ground has made entry possible to previously hidden and rarely accessible places.  One is the snowy field that can be reached through the north field’s wester hedges.  I remember when last year it was so hard for me there!  Now it is a place to collect furs, largely.  The snowy region on Metz island has reappeared, but I haven’t yet had a chance to visit.  This year ancient drakes have been sighted that are so strong, even Mujin can’t resist their bites and flames, and even she finds killing them to be a valuable experience. But some wholly new areas have been found as well, suggesting that this winter is quite a bit colder than others past.  One of these is an outpost in the northeast Savannah, set in a frozen waste.  It is quite a challenging place to hunt because the creatures are fierce and hungry, and one section is completely iced over, making any movement fraught with the risk of sliding away, unable to regain your footing and being left at the mercy of polar bears and frostbite meshra.

I hunted the snowy outpost in the Savannah quite often; some of the creatures there were clearly relatives of those I often pursue in the Southern Estuary, and studying these northern cousins helped me a great deal in my pursuit of those in the warmer climes.  Of particular value to me were the soltismander and the frostbite meshra. However, no one was more diligent than Tabatha, who camped there for the entirety of the winter and learned the ways of the Snowcats so well that she achieved one of the hardest challenges for a ranger, learning to assume the shape of another creature.

As the winter passed away, I was well satisfied with my progress.  Not only did I complete my initial study of Nocen Winders, but I also finished some additional preliminary work on these snowy creatures.  I continue to grow stronger and more skilled.  Hopefully, I will soon be strong enough in spirit to actually control the Nocens Winders, and strong enough overall to begin the next stage in learning to assume their form.  In the meantime, I have begun hunting with Mujin on Ash Island, in the barren and abandoned Darshak village, the crypt and the temple there.

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A Time of Growth

It has been long and long since I last took time to note down my thoughts. Soon after my last entry, I began an intensive study of the Nocens Winder, that should soon allow me to control these fierce snakes. I’ve been lucky to be included in daily hunts in the Southern Estuary, lead by one our most powerful fighters, Mujin-Kun.  Her hunts move fast, and I’ve had to learn how to remain alert for a long spell, always noting the arrival of new threats, and new opportunities.  I’ve studied hard with several different masters in order to make better contributions and be less burden on the healers during these hunts.

These hunts are often very exciting, because an unexpectedly large number of creatures appearing at once, or an ill-timed foray ahead can lead to near disaster.  Further, some of the creatures found in the Estuary yield valuable furs, and while the boat fare for our return is steep, I still usually win a tidy sum each hunt.

Along with these hunts, I continue to roam the islands with my dear zo, as often as I can. As I grow stronger, the places we can go expand.  Grems is unfailingly patient and sometimes goes with me to places where he will gain very little, in order that I might improve.  However, this winter season has seen the discovery of a Snowy Outpost where we both gain valuable experience, and very nice furs as well.  We hunt there often, though now my huntmate Tabatha has started trying to befriend the Snowcats there, so we often find her there, and must be careful not to disturb her studies.

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The Value of Studies

After becoming a ranger, one of the first things I did was to begin studying particular creatures in more depth.  By hunting them I learned more about their movement and became much better able to strike and kill them. I’ve spent quite a lot of time working on this and there seems always more to learn, but the way these studies improve my hunting ability cannot be overstated.  While I once struggled to hit things on Metz, for example, or in the Sasquatch Valley, thanks to my study, I can now reliably hit many creatures their.  This makes me less likely to endanger my hunt mates, and better able to really help in getting through a dangerous area, and those are great things.

Following these improvements, I’ve been able to hunt much more, with more people, and in much more challenging places, which in turn has led to even faster improvements in my skills. I have always been an addict of the hunt, but now, I can scare tear myself away from bloody pursuits and I spend much time consumed with the urge to annihilate the dangerous creatures that threaten all exiles.  I’ve been able to slake my thirst very readily, because some of the most powerful fighters and healers have invited me to join then, doing me the honor of believing I would be a help, not a hindrance.

One of these is Lorikeet, a very strong healer who has been in the lands for a very long time.  She has come on hunts with me before, as a favor, but recently I was invited for the first time on a hunt she was leading into Metz to the plateau where Gloaming Wendeckas are found.  I managed on that hunt to complete a study of Large Gloaming Wendeckas, thanks to the great patience of Lori, Shiner, and the other members of the hunt who waited and waited for me to kill the creatures. Even more gratifying, Lori told me I could join their hunt whenever I was free.

Most recently, Daimoth, one of the oldest and strongest fighters in the lands has honored me with his attention.  Not only has he invited me on hunts he is leading, but has also gone out of his way to help me continue my studies. I can’t help but wonder what would prompt the interest of such a person who is not know for kindness or patience.  But though he is very gruff and always on his dignity, I can’t help but think there is a side that is at least honorable, even if he is not convivial.  I do wonder about his attentions though; I’m not sure his intentions there, are all honorable.

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A Ranger at Last.

For what feels like years I’ve been working on qualifying to become a Ranger, and finally, I made it.  About a month or so I was graced by dreams of my dear zo, as if we were closer than ever.  He is such a powerful ranger, I felt sure it meant I was soon to be ready.  I wasn’t.  But the dreams were lovely, all the same. Finally one day I was seeing sign after sign that I might be ready.  My gossamer blade seemed to sparkle, knowledge of the earth and its creatures seemed to be pouring into my head.  My dear Gremlins pronounced me ready and we went to visit the Ranger Grove.  It was a thrill to hear Garre Verminebane announce, “Congratulations to Eirian Caldwell, who has just become a Ranger.”

Soon after, many people helped me begin studying specific creatures.  After delivering deathblows to 10 of each, I gained much greater skill in hunting Midnight Wendeckas, Young Sasquatch, Valley Cougars, Haremau Kittens, and Green Arachnoids. Now I am working on Large Midnight Wendeckas, which are both more rare, and much harder to kill.  Soon I wil need to study further with special Ranger trainers, and I must also increase my training in other more basic areas as well, to maintain a balanced program.  I look forward to learning more from Duvin Beastlore in order to study even more creatures and to eventually transform myself into them.  That study will be especially pleasant because my dear zo has achieved such skill in that himself that I will study with him directly.  🙂

The last weeks have been much work, but very satisfying.

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We Did It…

We married, my dear Zo and I.  Melben officiated and shared a very moving, though dark legend about the origins of the Black Widow. The ceremony was small, but enthusiastically attended by some good friends.  I was especially glad that Geo was present, in spite of his heckling.  🙂

We received some lovely gifts, and the reception was merry, though only a few people were so overcome by strong drink that they collapsed.  Once or twice… We took a few days to prepare, and embarked for Peaceton on our honeymoon.  Neither of us had ever been there, and we weren’t able to find any maps or much information ahead of time.  We were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the island.  We arrived quite late when nearly all the shops were closed, so we retired to the Treehouse B&B which had some very nicely appointed rooms.

Our room

Ready for bed in our room.

The next day we made numerous underwater explorations, with the help of water breathing potions. It was mostly peaceful and pretty down there, and we found quite a bit of coral and sand dollars. We also took a carriage ride and visited the hunting preserve. That was a bit tame, though profitable. On the first night though we learned that if you were lucky (or not) you might be carried off to the underground lair of some quite fierce Tok’hans.

On a later night, we managed to both be abducted and spent a long and very exciting time fighting them.  It was especially thrilling because not only could I hit and help kill most of them, they were still good experience for my dear Gremlins, and with just the two of us, we were often running for our lives!  But we fought them together…it was so romantic.  Garonor and Alcofribos did come to Peaceton with us, because they had never been, but the had their own room.  We let Garo come along on the Tok’han hunt to heal us, but he kept a discreet distance away and didn’t ruin the atmosphere at all.  🙂  All in all, it was a lovely trip.

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Happy Event

I’m feel a bit shy of speaking about this, but my dear Zo and I plan to marry in about a month, as the days are counted in Puddleby.  I hope our friends join us for that happy occasion. 🙂

We will be gathering after the Open Hunt, not this time, but next.  The place will be announced soon.

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