Long Slumbers

It seems I have spent most of the last months asleep. I remember very little of hunting, though I often seemed to wake and find my dear Zo waiting.  I have been stronger every time though, and my understanding of the earth increases, and of the creatures I pursue. This would be troubling but for the steady presence of my Zo and the other inhabitants of Puddleby. They welcome me back every time, and are usually happy to form a hunt or to let me join their own groups.  Sometimes though I wander alone through the forest, practicing my technique with the gossamer blade. It would not be wrong to say that I love this weapon for its deadly beauty.

Someday soon I hope to pass the test that will qualify me for training with Master Rodnus… I know my healer friends would be glad of that.  Even more, I hope to soon be admitted to the ranks of the Rangers, so that I too can learn to transform into other creatures.  My dear Zo, after seemingly endless efforts, learned to take on the form of a Spicy Mander, adding that amusing shape to his already large repertoire of transformations.  “Morphs” as they are commonly called in the lands.

Gremlins shows his new Spicy Mander Morph

A Spicy Mander in Town Center

I was glad to be present when he was finally able to show it off.

I have also been hunting often with AkaOrka, who like me wishes to become a ranger.  He only recently qualified, with help from me and many others, to train with the gossamer blade.  Now he will spend months learning about the earth and its creatures, just as I have.  Gremlins and I have done what we can to help because we both know what it is to depend on others.  In fact I see this more and more in Puddleby, that exiles cannot survive on their own. Last night I went with a fairly large group deep into the Tok’han caves beneath the Keep on Melabrion’s Isle to help Maximilian find a lava beetle from which to fashion a lava cloak–essential gear for champions.

Though somnolence has plagued me for months, in the last few days I have felt more energetic, so I hope I will find myself hunting more often, and renewing my connections with the good folk of Puddleby.

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Underwater Metz

Of late I seem to be more energetic, spending a bit less time drowsing in the strange torpor that had been coming over me so often of late. Thanks to spending more time on the hunt, I have finally been getting strong enough to expand my range and recently was able, after a quick hunt on Kizmia Island, to go with a group a little ways onto Metzeli Island, which hosts beasts that are far more dangerous than those found on Puddleby.

The waters around the island are dangerous as well, being filled with Baltoise and Megamouths.  Even the Giant Carnivorous Plankton pose a risk because they can appears so suddenly in such great numbers that even very strong hunters can be overwhelmed.  This time it seemed luck was with us because we made it onto the island without mishaps.  During that voyage we did encounter some of these creatures, but not enough to be very troublesome.  And odd thing happened though, while we were traveling over the water. Just as we were leaving Kizmia, where we had also had quite a good hunt, I felt that my use of my Gossamer blade was starting to improve, and that it was helping me make more powerful but controlled blows.  Then, when I killed some plankton, it flashed, as bright in my eyes as a star.

I also was especially happy because my Clanmate Arutha, whom I’ve not seen in ages, wandered into our hunt that day.  Geo has been away for what seems like years, so I was especially glad to see another member of my clan and to spend time with him, along with a frequent hunt buddy, Patch Logan, Arutha’s healer friend, Brahtz, Garonor and of course my dear Zo.

We travelled along the coast lands until we reached a place where we could climb down into the water and walk along the bottom.

It was so beautiful that we were enthralled and didn’t notice the barracuda, nor our own lack of air until too late.  We were all overcome.

Garonor was too impatient to wait for help and instead departed, making the dangerous journey through purgatory.  Sadly though, it seemed his sacrifice was for nought, because minutes after, the tides changed and we were all washed back ashore anyway.

We found though, that when Garonor rejoined us that Patch and Brahtz wer beyond his powers to heal. Before Garo could summon aid, Brahtz also decided to travel through Purgatory.  Why healers are so eager for this journey, I do not know.  Once they returned, all were healed and we began hunting our way back out to the beach.  Along the way we helped Arutha finish studying the movements of Haremau Kittens and all was going well, until, as can easily happen on Metz, a sudden rush of Black Mambas and a Rudremau at once left many so badly wounded they could no longer even walk, let alone run.  Gremlins managed to catch most of us up in a chain and run to the beach, and Garo ran out as well dragging the rest, but poor Arutha had been just out of reach as the creatures closed in. Once Gremlins was healed, he bravely went alone back for Arutha, and manage to get him out as well.

After two harrowing escapes we decided to call it a day and returned to town, where Arutha and I inducted Brahtz into the Zouclougeist Alliance.  It was a wonderful day.

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A Forest Drake

On the way to one of our duo hunts in the Wetlands, my dear Zo and I were lucky enough to stumble upon a solitary Forest Drake as we passed through the Northwest Forest.  I had never seen one in the flesh before, so I was quite excited.  I was surprised, and torn between pleasure and disappointment when I found I could easily hit one.  On the one hand, I was pleased to find myself strong enough, on the other hand, that made this first encounter a little anti climactic.  Still they are quite beautiful.  Neither Gremlins nor I managed a sketch, but this one made by Azriel some years ago represents them beautifully.

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Progress in the Wetlands

I have spent years it seems, hunting in the Wetlands.  At first I was so weak that I could only go there in company of a large group, with a strong healer. Many of the creatures there look fierce and bite fiercely too, but some look little and harmless and yet bite even harder than the larger denizens.  As I’ve grown stronger, I’ve often gone wandering there with only my dear zo and a healer, and we can account for all the creatures ourselves.  Those are peaceful hunts.  Not having the same thrill as hunts where we risk all being killed, instead these are almost peaceful. I suppose that seems at odds with such a violent sport, but perfecting techniques for killing the creatures there without being wounded myself requires focus, and that focus and the repetition that is a natural part of practice bring peace.

My dear Zo teases me about being bloodthirsty, and perhaps I am, but I enjoy that peace.

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Strange Dreams

I have written before about the blanks in my experience that have sometimes disturbed me.  As the winter progressed, I was poses by dreams so vivid, they kept me asleep for many days.  And this time I remembered bits and pieces.  I found myself in rooms and places, and with people that in the dream I thought of as home, or loved ones, though they do not match my waking memories.  As often happens in dreams, events and places seemed to make perfect sense and be familiar in the dream, but looking back on them, make no sense at all, and seem utterly strange.

This might have thrown me into great distress, except that the dreams were so happy.  I dreamt I was with my dear Zo, exploring a strange city, eating the delicious food, and spending hour upon hour together.  I also saw my own children, and friends and another love, all together.  I still do not know what to make of all this, but I feel less worried about the mysterious breaks in my Lok’Groton life, if I am spending that time in this other happy realm.

When those dreams finally ended, I woke in Puddleby to find my dear Zo waiting, but was still stricken with an inexplicable sense of loss.  I still wonder what it all means.

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Wintry Frolics

As the weather grew colder and Bawkmas approached, snow blanketed parts of the islands. North of town a path opened leading to a cold and snowy region, inhabited by some fierce creatures not normally seen so close to town.  Everyone enjoyed visiting, and it was no time before one of the merchants began selling hut buttered rum and mittens up there.  Everyone should have some mittens, in order to properly enjoy snowball fights.

Snow also descended on Metz, covering several snells and allowing creatures not usually found in so warm a clime to take up residence.  As is typical on Metz, they were fierce and many, and in addition to the danger they posed, the frozen terrain itself was challenging.  One cave in particular was not only filled with snowy yorilla, it was also covered with ice so slick that any movement might send one flying across the cave into the path of a dangerous creature, or into a pool of lava.

Snow Yorilla

Even stronger fighters than I are laid low by the snow yorilla. Thanks to Guinness for making a sketch while sorely wounded.

On the other hand, if a group managed to clear the cave of all the creatures, it offered a great deal of fun as a place to skate. I only managed to visit there twice, as it was beyond my strength lest a very powerful group of hunters and healers was willing to include me.  I hope that when the cold weather returns next Bawkmas that I am better able to handle myself there, or in any area where the snow descends.

And in the meantime, I have mittens.  🙂

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Improvising a Valley Hunt

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I am not able to hunt as often or as long as I’d like, much of the time. Confronted with this reality, I try to be accepting and sanguine, but sometimes I am taken by a restless impatience and determine on a bolder course.  Such was my mind prior to this valley hunt.  Some weeks back, before the Bawkmas season started, I arrived in Town Center with my dear zo and learned that there were many healers in the lands. I also saw several fighters and mystics lounging about, clearly wanting for activity.

Two of the mystics were Melben and Vismund Cygnus; Vismund was audibly lamenting his lack of coins. As my dear Gremlins pointed out, hardly an unusual state of affair. But this particular mystic had sufficient pathfinding skill to allow us entry to the valley, a prime hunting ground.  I hadn’t anticipated having trouble finding a healer, but seemingly none of the many around that evening wanted to visit the Valley.

At this point something occurred that remains a mystery to me.  Just as it seemed our plans would come to nothing, Melben said that perhaps it was time to summon Her.  I did not understand what she meant, so Vismund explained that Melben, as a mystic could summon a goddess to enter her body, a goddess who had healing power.  Vismund clarified that he didn’t mean this in a sexual way (I think we were all a bit disappointed) but that once She entered, we would see the goddess and not Melben.

Melben retired to perform whatever mysteries were required, and soon a robed figured who called herself Pythia appeared. Pythia turned out to be a skilled healer, but certainly had some strange habits…

We headed down to the entrance, making our way through the narrow and easy to miss  crevice.  Fortunately Vismund was able to spot the path; though some discredit the usefulness of mystics, those who are trained in pathfinding or skinning are certainly valuable companions on the hunt.  Vismund, it turned out, was also able to enhance our abilities, allowing me to hit more accurately when facing a difficult creature, like the young sasquatch often found in the valley, and the cougars native there. Mystics in general are, I think, often very brave.  They join hunts in which they are certain to be badly hurt, and Vismund was no exception.  After we entered the cave that offered a passage under the mountain to the valley, he fell immediately to the vicious stinging beetles typically found there.  There were many beetles, and cave cobras as well, but with Pythia’s healing skill and Gremlin’s strength, we managed to kill them all.  Even my usual clumsiness was not too troublesome.

In fact, for some while, our hunt seemed blessed by fortunate signs;  Pythia checked the portents and they pointed toward success, toward a glorious hunt.  We found a spawn of 14 mammoth arachne, which are usually so rare! All seemed to be going very well indeed.  However, I believe Vismund may have provoked the wrath of the gods, for he began talking of strange deities of physics, and of metal boats that floated in water.  He wanted to create such things in these lands.

During the rest of that hunt, we found our selves overwhelmed.  Now it is true, our organization was a bit lax, and we often found ourselves racing to one of the caves for safety as sasquatch suddenly appeared and surrounded us, or the valley cats came in great numbers. I wasn’t sure that we would all make it out, and several times I was so badly wounded I collapsed and fed the grass with my blood, but eventually we killed all the fearful creatures and found our way out through the mines.

Since then I’ve had many more adventures, some in mysterious wintry lands that appeared suddenly and disappeared not long after. I visited a park on Tenebrion’s Island where fierce beasts were coralled and seemingly tamed for the petting.  But my greatest adventure involved one of the mysterious fainting fits that overtake me all to often, and the visions I enjoyed therein.  But that’s a long tale for another day.

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