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Oct. 22nd, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Five

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Being this close to the blighted area, nothing bothered us, which was a good thing because the both of us slept like the dead. We woke deep into the next day.

And a glorious waking it was. I had such a contented feeling. The only flaw in the day was the hunger that gnawed at us. I was able to heal us, finally. Bob was so shocked that he cried. I don’t think anyone has ever been very nice to Bob.

We were running out of supplies, but we had our weapons and I had my pack. Cook pot intact, journal, ink, quills, and wrapped in a bit of scrap cloth at the bottom was the potions and scrolls, along with some gems I’d kept out of the treasure Liz and I had hidden after the dragon attack.

I was laying out all my gear, unwrapping each potion and setting it carefully on the soft ground and taking stock of things when Bob let out a quiet exclamation.

So, idiot that I am, I had one thing that we needed without knowing it. Bob pointed them out for me, explaining their history. I had two vials of what I had thought were poison. There had been a time of bleakness and despair when I had tried to kill myself, if you recall.

Well, I was near enough to starving to death with disease, vermin and pestilence overwhelming my otherwise good mood. Recall when Kithri asked how I had not withered to skin and bones?

These vials did not hold poison, they held emergency rations. I know, Brother Durham may have called this one correctly. Some days I am a menace to myself and everyone around me. Bob took the vial that I had been drinking in an attempt to kill myself, and poured it into a pot of boiling water. There was only a third of the vial left at that point, so the pot was enough to contain its suddenly explosive growth.

There was serious magic here. The pot wasn’t filled with the drabs of chewy potion diluted with water, instead the pot filled with a rich stew redolant with chunks of beef, carrots, onions, and thick potatoes.

One vial would feed an army for three days. One-third of a vial would feed the two of us for weeks. It boggled us both once we started eating. I have not eaten so much since the same festival that saw the demise of Sister Edna. The potion had a way of replenishing itself. We would dish a bowl of stew and before we reached the bottom, the pot would have refilled itself.

Bob had utilized these potions before so knew what to do. Once we were sated he removed the pot from the edge of the fire and let it cool. Magically the stew shrank to a congealed lump slightly smaller than the one we’d started with. I was able to pour this back into the vial and cork it for when we needed it next.

I wish we’d had something like this that winter when I was nine. Those were hungry days. Was that the first year we had ritual meat as part of the high holy days? We lost so many that winter. I still have nightmares of all those who died. But we survived somehow, eh, Father Mulcahy. I’m sure it was due to the prayer and gentle blessings of Kithri and Semaunya (may she keep her people fed).

Bob and I debated our next course of action. We needed gear and supplies. Apparently you can only live on the potion meal for a few days before it starts to negatively affect you. Good enough for me. We could make for Morden’s Gate, which was his preference, but I wanted to head back to where Liz had vanished. I refuse to believe she’s dead. Bob does not argue the fact, but I can tell by the look on his face that he doubts the possibility. I thought about the monsters we’d fought so far, and facing them nearly naked was not a happy thought.

I didn’t want to go all the way into that town, no matter how great an idea Bob thought it was. In the end we compromised. He knew the general area where he’d been captures and the merchant caravan he’d been help protect had been attacked. There was a chance we could scavenge some supplies from there. I didn’t need much beyond new robes, but Bob needed boots and clothes. He also suggested we could use some armor which was an intriguing thought since I’d never really worn any other than the grieves and vambraces. They were destroyed, alas. I was feeling a tad vulnerable now that he kept arguing about all the things that could happen to us. He was pretty persuasive.

We decided to stay here by this clear lake for one more night, rest up, fill our bellies once more and set off at the crack of dawn. I gathered fire, and he gathered water. It was a quiet evening with neither of us talking much. He took the first watch and I curled on the soft ground while he hummed a tune so quietly I could barely make it out.

About this Entry
Oct. 22nd, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Five

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Being this close to the blighted area, nothing bothered us, which was a good thing because the both of us slept like the dead. We woke deep into the next day.

And a glorious waking it was. I had such a contented feeling. The only flaw in the day was the hunger that gnawed at us. I was able to heal us, finally. Bob was so shocked that he cried. I don’t think anyone has ever been very nice to Bob.

We were running out of supplies, but we had our weapons and I had my pack. Cook pot intact, journal, ink, quills, and wrapped in a bit of scrap cloth at the bottom was the potions and scrolls, along with some gems I’d kept out of the treasure Liz and I had hidden after the dragon attack.

I was laying out all my gear, unwrapping each potion and setting it carefully on the soft ground and taking stock of things when Bob let out a quiet exclamation.

So, idiot that I am, I had one thing that we needed without knowing it. Bob pointed them out for me, explaining their history. I had two vials of what I had thought were poison. There had been a time of bleakness and despair when I had tried to kill myself, if you recall.

Well, I was near enough to starving to death with disease, vermin and pestilence overwhelming my otherwise good mood. Recall when Kithri asked how I had not withered to skin and bones?

These vials did not hold poison, they held emergency rations. I know, Brother Durham may have called this one correctly. Some days I am a menace to myself and everyone around me. Bob took the vial that I had been drinking in an attempt to kill myself, and poured it into a pot of boiling water. There was only a third of the vial left at that point, so the pot was enough to contain its suddenly explosive growth.

There was serious magic here. The pot wasn’t filled with the drabs of chewy potion diluted with water, instead the pot filled with a rich stew redolant with chunks of beef, carrots, onions, and thick potatoes.

One vial would feed an army for three days. One-third of a vial would feed the two of us for weeks. It boggled us both once we started eating. I have not eaten so much since the same festival that saw the demise of Sister Edna. The potion had a way of replenishing itself. We would dish a bowl of stew and before we reached the bottom, the pot would have refilled itself.

Bob had utilized these potions before so knew what to do. Once we were sated he removed the pot from the edge of the fire and let it cool. Magically the stew shrank to a congealed lump slightly smaller than the one we’d started with. I was able to pour this back into the vial and cork it for when we needed it next.

I wish we’d had something like this that winter when I was nine. Those were hungry days. Was that the first year we had ritual meat as part of the high holy days? We lost so many that winter. I still have nightmares of all those who died. But we survived somehow, eh, Father Mulcahy. I’m sure it was due to the prayer and gentle blessings of Kithri and Semaunya (may she keep her people fed).

Bob and I debated our next course of action. We needed gear and supplies. Apparently you can only live on the potion meal for a few days before it starts to negatively affect you. Good enough for me. We could make for Morden’s Gate, which was his preference, but I wanted to head back to where Liz had vanished. I refuse to believe she’s dead. Bob does not argue the fact, but I can tell by the look on his face that he doubts the possibility. I thought about the monsters we’d fought so far, and facing them nearly naked was not a happy thought.

I didn’t want to go all the way into that town, no matter how great an idea Bob thought it was. In the end we compromised. He knew the general area where he’d been captures and the merchant caravan he’d been help protect had been attacked. There was a chance we could scavenge some supplies from there. I didn’t need much beyond new robes, but Bob needed boots and clothes. He also suggested we could use some armor which was an intriguing thought since I’d never really worn any other than the grieves and vambraces. They were destroyed, alas. I was feeling a tad vulnerable now that he kept arguing about all the things that could happen to us. He was pretty persuasive.

We decided to stay here by this clear lake for one more night, rest up, fill our bellies once more and set off at the crack of dawn. I gathered fire, and he gathered water. It was a quiet evening with neither of us talking much. He took the first watch and I curled on the soft ground while he hummed a tune so quietly I could barely make it out.

About this Entry
Oct. 21st, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Four

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Woke hungry today with nothing safe to eat as far as we could see. This area was beyond devastated. Honestly it itched of Chaos. Capital letter there, if you didn’t catch it. Like I expected to see crazy things like Brother Ignatius used to warn us about. Remember that time he stood on the table during Spring Solstice and began chanting something that scared the living daylights out of Sister Edna? Boy, I sure do. I remember how you and Brother Durham tried to pull him down from the table, but were knocked backward. And most of all, I remember how the entire room felt when the world split open and that demon reached through the breach and snatched Brother Ignatius off the table, bit his head clean off and flung his spurting body into the fireplace in the great hall? If I recall it took several of you working together to close the breach and send the nasty thing back where it came from. I think I wrote down what Brother Ignatius said that day, but I don’t remember where I laid those notes down. The library maybe. In the East tower before it collapsed, perhaps. If you find it, hold it for me. I also wrote down a list of Sister Edna’s favorite positions for worship on the flip side of that page.

Yeah, that’s how this area felt, though. Tingly and crackly and setting my teeth on edge. It was not a happy feeling though it did make my fingertips tingle. Sooner started, sooner home, Bob mentioned once I was up and ready to go. It was a good thought, so we started out as the light of the day was just gracing the world.

Bob led the way, holding my spear across his chest. Twice we fought off things that rose up out of the muck.   Rotted things like zombies maybe, but meaner and smellier. The best smell here was sulfur, which is not something pleasant as you know.

Once Bob stepped into a sinkhole, but I managed to grab him before he got any deeper than his knees. On the second time he threatened to have me lead the way, which I offered to do. I think it hurt his pride though, so he led on.

Just after mid-day I got another jolt of divine and knew we were on the right path. This area may be a weak spot between our plan and the Abyss. I think that would explain the feeling of Chaos. Either way, the Material Plane seemed to be growing steadier and the divine was whispering in my ears. I liked it.

The land started rising soon after, and we knew we were home free. We stood on the ruins of an old road, trying to stay out of the muck, when we came to a point where we could see the edge. Only thing was, between us and a long sloping hill which rose toward freedom, was a long stretch of muddy plain swimming with pools of murky water. In several places the mud boiled or frothed with acid. It’s like the chaos was fighting the encroachment of normal swamp.

Unfortunately for us, the road began to break up here, with stones only rising above the muck every few steps. The last dozen rods or so was bordered between a shallow black lake on one side of the old road, and a long acidic pond on the other. We studied the distance out of the Chaos which ran between the acid pool on our right to the dark waters of the lake the our right. Between the two was a no-man’s land of mud, bones and rot. We moved to the last spot on the road that remained above the muck and surveyed the scene. The mud between the two barriers steamed and sputtered with tendrils of green steam rising from the erupting bubbles that boiled on the surface.

Bob and I both wore leather boots, his a little sturdier than mine. But his legs were shorter and the visible stones were frequently beyond his easy step. “Nothing for it but to try,” he said to me and took a deep breath. He tapped the spear against the sole of each boot, knocking off the mud and began to move out into the final stretch.

Good thing his boots were as thick as they were.   Because as he hopped from oen stone to another, he lost his balance and squashed his right boot into the muck close to the acid pool. He made the next stone with a single hop and kicked out his right leg. Smoking mud flew through the air, but his boot started steaming.

He hopped onto the next rock and looked back at me with a shrug. I nodded for him to go on, but instead he swung around and dragged the smoking boot into the black water on out left. Maybe he thought to dilute the acid, or wash it off or something. Alas, it mattered not.

Slime covered bones rose up from the black pool and latched themselves on Bob’s boot. He nearly fell, but managed to keep his balance and swing the spear down, butt end first and smashed the skeletal hands that held him. The bones were brittle and shattered easily enough, but skeletons began to crawl from the water.

I so had this. I held my holy symbol in one hand and the mace in the other, concentrated as hard as I could on the slim trickle of divine and pushed outward toward the undead. Several of them stumbled back, but my connection was not strong enough. I could feel them pushing against my best effort.

“Run,” I shouted to him, jumping from stone to stone in an attempt to catch up with him. I guessed he wasn’t as dense as I first thought because he turned and launched himself forward, staying on the stones as best he could, but missing as often as not. By the time he made it to the high ground on the other side his boots had been eaten away and his feet were blistered.

While the skeletons shied away from me, vapors from the acid pool to the left began to solidify into a ghostly form. On the plus side, it swept over the skeletons, dissolving bones in its wake. On the downside, it turned and floated toward me. I reached for the divine and felt for the tiny thread once more. I was going to take a page out of Wizard Tim’s book. With what little divine I could manage, I was able to fortify myself against acid and plunged forward.

Everything blurred as I blasted through the apparition. Bob yelled for me to run faster and I cracked my eyes open, making sure to dance across the stones. Luckily for me I had a longer stride than Bob did an I avoided nearly all the nasty mud.

When I scrambled up the rise toward Bob, the acid mist surged forward.   Bob’s eyes widened as I neared him and he turned to run, hobbling as fast as his injured feet would carry him. It wasn’t enough. For a brief moment the world swam green as the apparition swept over us. The world burned in that moment. Every inch of me flared in agony. Bob had no protection and surged up the hill, his beard smoking and his anguished wail reverberating in my head.

Still, we managed to crest the peak of the rise and the mist fell behind us.

On the far side of the hill was a lake with living plants on its banks. Bob and I made for that water, running and screaming as the clothes on our backs dissolved and our flesh burned.

Later, after we waded out of the shallows of the lake we fell onto the soft grass along the shore. My pack lay on the ground before the lake, mottled from the acid but intact thanks to the thick leather. Unfortunately our clothes were in tatters.

Cresting the hill I had felt a clear resurgence of the divine. It was like a cool drink on a hot day, the first moment of mutual collusion when worshiping, or the first bite of fresh bread with butter and honey.

We lay in the light of the day, a high hill between us and the Chaos valley, marveling in the joy of living. I was able to cast enough healing to prevent any scarring and ease the pain of our burns, but there was no way I was mending the clothing.

So we lay in the sun more naked than not. Well, I had my boots and Bob had a thick belt. Other than that, we were not hiding much from the eyes of the world. But the relief of being out in the sunlight, out of the acid wastes and back in the embrace of the fair Kithri (may she bring me bread soon) and Semaunya (whose scales would prove really awesome about now) was near to overwhelming. So I did as I was taught and shared the joy with Bob. Our worship was frenetic and exhausting, but lovely and satisfying.

I now understand Bob’s issue with my use of gender pronouns. Ever wonder why you never saw a female dwarf? Wonder no more. I have plumbed those depths and the truth is both amazing and eloquent to behold.

We slept afterward, exhausted by our trials and overwhelmed by the worship.

About this Entry
Oct. 21st, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Four

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Woke hungry today with nothing safe to eat as far as we could see. This area was beyond devastated. Honestly it itched of Chaos. Capital letter there, if you didn’t catch it. Like I expected to see crazy things like Brother Ignatius used to warn us about. Remember that time he stood on the table during Spring Solstice and began chanting something that scared the living daylights out of Sister Edna? Boy, I sure do. I remember how you and Brother Durham tried to pull him down from the table, but were knocked backward. And most of all, I remember how the entire room felt when the world split open and that demon reached through the breach and snatched Brother Ignatius off the table, bit his head clean off and flung his spurting body into the fireplace in the great hall? If I recall it took several of you working together to close the breach and send the nasty thing back where it came from. I think I wrote down what Brother Ignatius said that day, but I don’t remember where I laid those notes down. The library maybe. In the East tower before it collapsed, perhaps. If you find it, hold it for me. I also wrote down a list of Sister Edna’s favorite positions for worship on the flip side of that page.

Yeah, that’s how this area felt, though. Tingly and crackly and setting my teeth on edge. It was not a happy feeling though it did make my fingertips tingle. Sooner started, sooner home, Bob mentioned once I was up and ready to go. It was a good thought, so we started out as the light of the day was just gracing the world.

Bob led the way, holding my spear across his chest. Twice we fought off things that rose up out of the muck.   Rotted things like zombies maybe, but meaner and smellier. The best smell here was sulfur, which is not something pleasant as you know.

Once Bob stepped into a sinkhole, but I managed to grab him before he got any deeper than his knees. On the second time he threatened to have me lead the way, which I offered to do. I think it hurt his pride though, so he led on.

Just after mid-day I got another jolt of divine and knew we were on the right path. This area may be a weak spot between our plan and the Abyss. I think that would explain the feeling of Chaos. Either way, the Material Plane seemed to be growing steadier and the divine was whispering in my ears. I liked it.

The land started rising soon after, and we knew we were home free. We stood on the ruins of an old road, trying to stay out of the muck, when we came to a point where we could see the edge. Only thing was, between us and a long sloping hill which rose toward freedom, was a long stretch of muddy plain swimming with pools of murky water. In several places the mud boiled or frothed with acid. It’s like the chaos was fighting the encroachment of normal swamp.

Unfortunately for us, the road began to break up here, with stones only rising above the muck every few steps. The last dozen rods or so was bordered between a shallow black lake on one side of the old road, and a long acidic pond on the other. We studied the distance out of the Chaos which ran between the acid pool on our right to the dark waters of the lake the our right. Between the two was a no-man’s land of mud, bones and rot. We moved to the last spot on the road that remained above the muck and surveyed the scene. The mud between the two barriers steamed and sputtered with tendrils of green steam rising from the erupting bubbles that boiled on the surface.

Bob and I both wore leather boots, his a little sturdier than mine. But his legs were shorter and the visible stones were frequently beyond his easy step. “Nothing for it but to try,” he said to me and took a deep breath. He tapped the spear against the sole of each boot, knocking off the mud and began to move out into the final stretch.

Good thing his boots were as thick as they were.   Because as he hopped from oen stone to another, he lost his balance and squashed his right boot into the muck close to the acid pool. He made the next stone with a single hop and kicked out his right leg. Smoking mud flew through the air, but his boot started steaming.

He hopped onto the next rock and looked back at me with a shrug. I nodded for him to go on, but instead he swung around and dragged the smoking boot into the black water on out left. Maybe he thought to dilute the acid, or wash it off or something. Alas, it mattered not.

Slime covered bones rose up from the black pool and latched themselves on Bob’s boot. He nearly fell, but managed to keep his balance and swing the spear down, butt end first and smashed the skeletal hands that held him. The bones were brittle and shattered easily enough, but skeletons began to crawl from the water.

I so had this. I held my holy symbol in one hand and the mace in the other, concentrated as hard as I could on the slim trickle of divine and pushed outward toward the undead. Several of them stumbled back, but my connection was not strong enough. I could feel them pushing against my best effort.

“Run,” I shouted to him, jumping from stone to stone in an attempt to catch up with him. I guessed he wasn’t as dense as I first thought because he turned and launched himself forward, staying on the stones as best he could, but missing as often as not. By the time he made it to the high ground on the other side his boots had been eaten away and his feet were blistered.

While the skeletons shied away from me, vapors from the acid pool to the left began to solidify into a ghostly form. On the plus side, it swept over the skeletons, dissolving bones in its wake. On the downside, it turned and floated toward me. I reached for the divine and felt for the tiny thread once more. I was going to take a page out of Wizard Tim’s book. With what little divine I could manage, I was able to fortify myself against acid and plunged forward.

Everything blurred as I blasted through the apparition. Bob yelled for me to run faster and I cracked my eyes open, making sure to dance across the stones. Luckily for me I had a longer stride than Bob did an I avoided nearly all the nasty mud.

When I scrambled up the rise toward Bob, the acid mist surged forward.   Bob’s eyes widened as I neared him and he turned to run, hobbling as fast as his injured feet would carry him. It wasn’t enough. For a brief moment the world swam green as the apparition swept over us. The world burned in that moment. Every inch of me flared in agony. Bob had no protection and surged up the hill, his beard smoking and his anguished wail reverberating in my head.

Still, we managed to crest the peak of the rise and the mist fell behind us.

On the far side of the hill was a lake with living plants on its banks. Bob and I made for that water, running and screaming as the clothes on our backs dissolved and our flesh burned.

Later, after we waded out of the shallows of the lake we fell onto the soft grass along the shore. My pack lay on the ground before the lake, mottled from the acid but intact thanks to the thick leather. Unfortunately our clothes were in tatters.

Cresting the hill I had felt a clear resurgence of the divine. It was like a cool drink on a hot day, the first moment of mutual collusion when worshiping, or the first bite of fresh bread with butter and honey.

We lay in the light of the day, a high hill between us and the Chaos valley, marveling in the joy of living. I was able to cast enough healing to prevent any scarring and ease the pain of our burns, but there was no way I was mending the clothing.

So we lay in the sun more naked than not. Well, I had my boots and Bob had a thick belt. Other than that, we were not hiding much from the eyes of the world. But the relief of being out in the sunlight, out of the acid wastes and back in the embrace of the fair Kithri (may she bring me bread soon) and Semaunya (whose scales would prove really awesome about now) was near to overwhelming. So I did as I was taught and shared the joy with Bob. Our worship was frenetic and exhausting, but lovely and satisfying.

I now understand Bob’s issue with my use of gender pronouns. Ever wonder why you never saw a female dwarf? Wonder no more. I have plumbed those depths and the truth is both amazing and eloquent to behold.

We slept afterward, exhausted by our trials and overwhelmed by the worship.

About this Entry
Oct. 20th, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Three

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Cold rat for breakfast: not the best thing in the world. Ranks with vomiting, rat bites and anything to do with Brother Durham — in that order. Not happy making.

Still, I ate the cold rat just to keep Bob from being upset. Seems like Bob was a person who spent a lot of time disappointed at others.

Case in point. He was shocked. Shocked, I tell you, that I would insist we made for the surface without mapping a single cavern, corridor, river, or collapsed tunnel. Bob’s estimation of “a few days” apparently was related to the painstaking care with which he expected us to map every nook and cranny we traveled through. Caution before speed was his motto.

I explained that if spent one more hour in the cold and dark bowels of the earth for no good reason that I was going to stop being his friend. I would’ve loved to see the look on his face, but the fire was gone and I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face. I was cranky and in no mood. At his feeble protests I stood (careful not to smash my head) and demanded he take me to the surface in the quickest and most efficient method possible.

It was a novel concept. The idea that we’d never return to these warrens nearly brought us to blows. Good thing my arm was in a sling and my head throbbed. With the mood I was in, I thought I had a fairly good chance of kicking his arse. That may have proven to be delirium and bravado. Truth to tell, he is quite a stout fellow. His entire body was ripped: muscles on top of muscles. Sister Agnes would be drooling at the thought of him. I wonder if she’d ever worshipped with a dwarf before. She wasn’t that tall herself .

Bob was in no way comfortable with us moving through the tunnels without mapping them, but he acquiesced in the end. Which is why we trudged out of the darkness today.

The last climb to the surface was up a muddy cut in the earth where the swamp had broken through the rocky caverns beneath. By the time we reached the full light of day again, I was so caked with mud that I couldn’t tell where my robe ended and the mud started. I welcomed the light. Of course we found we were in a fairly horrid part of the swamp. All around us were quagmires, boiling hot springs, acidic pools and death — everywhere death. The plants were dead an decaying. Pools were littered with bones and rotting flesh of animals.

Bob did NOT like this place. I agreed with him but for one thing. Once we broached the surface I could feel a trickle of the divine. Not enough to heal myself or anything, but a tiny sprinkle of hope. I closed my eyes and turned slowly, feeling outward for the strongest connection and opened my eyes. If we skirted around the nastiest, bubbling pools, avoiding the rotting things that looked like horse or cows, we would find the strength of the divine increasing.

I led the way, my shield over my back on top of my pack, my right arm in a sling, and my left held the mace. I agreed with Bob, there was something really not happy about this place, but we needed to move. Standing around here would not get us anywhere.

This place was hellish. I realized we were likely near the dragon’s lair, but we saw nothing that the beast would use for a lair. The amount of death and decay spoke of a spreading plague. Made Bob nervous. I had gone stoic.

There were ruins here as well. Sunken buildings, broken walls and shattered towers. I know we were nowhere near the city of my dreams, so this must’ve been a sister city. How far did this swamp go? How much of the world was falling to the decay. Was that my ultimate mission? To turn back the tide of decay? I hoped not. All I knew was I needed to get to that city and everything would be revealed to me.

In the meantime, we began to search for a place to camp. One of the broken towers looked promising, but Bob said it was not structurally sound. Apparently he knew anything made from or in stone. Useful skills to have. In the end we passed seven likely camping spots before he would allow us to enter one building that rose a full story above the wrack and ruin of the land around us.

We climbed to the roof, as the interior was flooded, but found good dry ground. There was nothing to burn, and we had no food, but we were alive. I began to explain to Bob about the precepts of our faith and he proved an eager audience.

Later, as the last rays of the sun fell over the horizon Bob told me of his family and how he came to be out in this part of the world, away from the mountains holds of his clans. It is not a new tale, I can assure you. Younger son of a merchant, off in the world to make his way while the older sibling inherited the family trade. He wasn’t bitter, but I could see a longing in him. He wanted a place to fit in. There was a need in him I had not seen before, except maybe in myself. A kindred spirit.

Maybe it was the exhaustion, or the head wound, but I was starting to like Bob more and more. Now that I had a chance to look at him without demon gates and battling Trogs, I could see how young he was. Forty by his own words, but a young one, like myself.

I took first watch and he slept hard. I watched the way his face relaxed and wondered at the pain in this young dwarf.

About this Entry
Oct. 20th, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Three

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Cold rat for breakfast: not the best thing in the world. Ranks with vomiting, rat bites and anything to do with Brother Durham — in that order. Not happy making.

Still, I ate the cold rat just to keep Bob from being upset. Seems like Bob was a person who spent a lot of time disappointed at others.

Case in point. He was shocked. Shocked, I tell you, that I would insist we made for the surface without mapping a single cavern, corridor, river, or collapsed tunnel. Bob’s estimation of “a few days” apparently was related to the painstaking care with which he expected us to map every nook and cranny we traveled through. Caution before speed was his motto.

I explained that if spent one more hour in the cold and dark bowels of the earth for no good reason that I was going to stop being his friend. I would’ve loved to see the look on his face, but the fire was gone and I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face. I was cranky and in no mood. At his feeble protests I stood (careful not to smash my head) and demanded he take me to the surface in the quickest and most efficient method possible.

It was a novel concept. The idea that we’d never return to these warrens nearly brought us to blows. Good thing my arm was in a sling and my head throbbed. With the mood I was in, I thought I had a fairly good chance of kicking his arse. That may have proven to be delirium and bravado. Truth to tell, he is quite a stout fellow. His entire body was ripped: muscles on top of muscles. Sister Agnes would be drooling at the thought of him. I wonder if she’d ever worshipped with a dwarf before. She wasn’t that tall herself .

Bob was in no way comfortable with us moving through the tunnels without mapping them, but he acquiesced in the end. Which is why we trudged out of the darkness today.

The last climb to the surface was up a muddy cut in the earth where the swamp had broken through the rocky caverns beneath. By the time we reached the full light of day again, I was so caked with mud that I couldn’t tell where my robe ended and the mud started. I welcomed the light. Of course we found we were in a fairly horrid part of the swamp. All around us were quagmires, boiling hot springs, acidic pools and death — everywhere death. The plants were dead an decaying. Pools were littered with bones and rotting flesh of animals.

Bob did NOT like this place. I agreed with him but for one thing. Once we broached the surface I could feel a trickle of the divine. Not enough to heal myself or anything, but a tiny sprinkle of hope. I closed my eyes and turned slowly, feeling outward for the strongest connection and opened my eyes. If we skirted around the nastiest, bubbling pools, avoiding the rotting things that looked like horse or cows, we would find the strength of the divine increasing.

I led the way, my shield over my back on top of my pack, my right arm in a sling, and my left held the mace. I agreed with Bob, there was something really not happy about this place, but we needed to move. Standing around here would not get us anywhere.

This place was hellish. I realized we were likely near the dragon’s lair, but we saw nothing that the beast would use for a lair. The amount of death and decay spoke of a spreading plague. Made Bob nervous. I had gone stoic.

There were ruins here as well. Sunken buildings, broken walls and shattered towers. I know we were nowhere near the city of my dreams, so this must’ve been a sister city. How far did this swamp go? How much of the world was falling to the decay. Was that my ultimate mission? To turn back the tide of decay? I hoped not. All I knew was I needed to get to that city and everything would be revealed to me.

In the meantime, we began to search for a place to camp. One of the broken towers looked promising, but Bob said it was not structurally sound. Apparently he knew anything made from or in stone. Useful skills to have. In the end we passed seven likely camping spots before he would allow us to enter one building that rose a full story above the wrack and ruin of the land around us.

We climbed to the roof, as the interior was flooded, but found good dry ground. There was nothing to burn, and we had no food, but we were alive. I began to explain to Bob about the precepts of our faith and he proved an eager audience.

Later, as the last rays of the sun fell over the horizon Bob told me of his family and how he came to be out in this part of the world, away from the mountains holds of his clans. It is not a new tale, I can assure you. Younger son of a merchant, off in the world to make his way while the older sibling inherited the family trade. He wasn’t bitter, but I could see a longing in him. He wanted a place to fit in. There was a need in him I had not seen before, except maybe in myself. A kindred spirit.

Maybe it was the exhaustion, or the head wound, but I was starting to like Bob more and more. Now that I had a chance to look at him without demon gates and battling Trogs, I could see how young he was. Forty by his own words, but a young one, like myself.

I took first watch and he slept hard. I watched the way his face relaxed and wondered at the pain in this young dwarf.

About this Entry
Oct. 19th, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Two

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

I couldn’t call the divine. I woke the next morning bloodied and bandaged, but devoid of any connection with Kithri of the golden bread, or Semaunya (may she pay closer attention to her worshipers).

We were sixty-three feet underground, according to Bob, and in a room that slanted north to south with an average grade of four percent over six rods. He was pretty insistent I got those figures correctly noted, though I’m not sure why. He was quite indignant when I wouldn’t give over the journal so he could map out the room we were in. He said it could save our lives later, but I didn’t budge. Is everyone crazy? Made me fear for my own sanity.

Bob had been captured from a merchant’s wagon several leagues north and west of where we were currently. There’s a village there called Morden’s Gate which served as a crossroads and got a lot of traffic. He said he had relatives there who would be missing him and if we could get out of this region without being killed, we could go there for resupply and allies.

I assured him I was not leaving here without Liz.

Of course, this puzzled him, so he wanted me to tell him everything about how I’d met her. I don’t think Bob has many friends. The thought of having someone who you trusted like Liz was apparently not in his realm of experience. Bob was an odd egg. He explained how he became a warrior because as a kid the others picked on him constantly. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Bob just needed to be needed. I hugged him and thanked him for saving me. I think he cried a little, but did my best not to notice.

He showed signs of neglect, cuts and bruises from his captivity and a few bumps and abrasions from dragging me through tunnels that were collapsing.

Yep, we were trapped underground. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was.

We had no food and no water, but Bob felt like he could get us out. He knew stone work like nobody’s business. He was like a savant. (the comments earlier about the grade of the floor should’ve been a clue).

The fact I couldn’t connect with my deities was pretty disturbing. We had no healing, no light and very little hope. After six hours or so I learned that Bob could see in the dark and had neglected to share that fact with me.

It was at this point I asked him if he could lead me back to the surface and he agreed. Six hours after I’d come to. Bob needed a little prodding. I guess having no real friends led him to a lot of inner dialog and not much interaction with others.

And he’s like fifteen hands tall to my nineteen. It made quite a bit of difference. What we ended up doing was him leading with me following behind, both of my hands on his shoulders. That way, I wouldn’t fall over things.

That was the theory.

Every now and then he’d say something like “pit to your left” and keep moving. “dead drop to your right, seventeen rods deep, spikes at the bottom, instant death.” It was so very comforting.

Then I knocked myself unconscious. See, I was very tall compared to him, which I had to explain when I woke up a few hours later. My arm was also in a splint and I hurt like a Trog had been gnawing on my leg.

Nope, not a Trog. Giant rat. I hit my head, knocking myself out, fell to the right, down a steep incline, rolled down into an underground river and floated downstream for almost half a league. I have no idea why I didn’t drown, but I’m not questioning the fates. Bob took a bit to notice what I’d done, being the most observant of friends, and finally found me washed up in a room with a giant rat about to chomp on my leg.

Bob killed the rat, I got a bite taken out of my left calf. And when I came to, he had me bandaged, but I was soaked to the bone, shivering and feverish. To make matters worse, still no contact with the divine. It was like someone had set a shield on top of the world and no connection could be made. Not something I ever want to experience again, I’m telling you.

Lucky for me, when I hit my head I dropped my pack and shield. The mace was looped to the pack as well, so all of that hit the ground behind Bob as I tumbled arse over teakettle down into the inky darkness.

I hurt in ways I didn’t know I could hurt, but insisted that Bob get us to the surface. Unfortunately we were nowhere near the surface now and he figured it would take us a few days following the river upstream before we could get out.

On the plus side, Bob butchered the rat and found enough wood that had washed up on the same bank I’d ended up on to make a fire. Roasted rat is not the best tasting food I’d ever eaten, but it filled the belly.

Tomorrow I will give Bob explicit instructions on what to do as he’s leading me out at half pace due to my wound. And for the record, I have a lump on my forehead the size of a goose egg. Tender to touch and throbbing.

Bob is not my favoritist person at this juncture. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Short of dying, I’m not sure how it could get any worse.

That was not something I was willing to tempt, however. I said my prayers and tried to dry out by the fire. I was pretty miserable.

 

About this Entry
Oct. 19th, 2015 @ 06:00 am Cleric Journal: Day Seventy-Two

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

DearFatherMulcahy

 

I couldn’t call the divine. I woke the next morning bloodied and bandaged, but devoid of any connection with Kithri of the golden bread, or Semaunya (may she pay closer attention to her worshipers).

We were sixty-three feet underground, according to Bob, and in a room that slanted north to south with an average grade of four percent over six rods. He was pretty insistent I got those figures correctly noted, though I’m not sure why. He was quite indignant when I wouldn’t give over the journal so he could map out the room we were in. He said it could save our lives later, but I didn’t budge. Is everyone crazy? Made me fear for my own sanity.

Bob had been captured from a merchant’s wagon several leagues north and west of where we were currently. There’s a village there called Morden’s Gate which served as a crossroads and got a lot of traffic. He said he had relatives there who would be missing him and if we could get out of this region without being killed, we could go there for resupply and allies.

I assured him I was not leaving here without Liz.

Of course, this puzzled him, so he wanted me to tell him everything about how I’d met her. I don’t think Bob has many friends. The thought of having someone who you trusted like Liz was apparently not in his realm of experience. Bob was an odd egg. He explained how he became a warrior because as a kid the others picked on him constantly. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Bob just needed to be needed. I hugged him and thanked him for saving me. I think he cried a little, but did my best not to notice.

He showed signs of neglect, cuts and bruises from his captivity and a few bumps and abrasions from dragging me through tunnels that were collapsing.

Yep, we were trapped underground. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was.

We had no food and no water, but Bob felt like he could get us out. He knew stone work like nobody’s business. He was like a savant. (the comments earlier about the grade of the floor should’ve been a clue).

The fact I couldn’t connect with my deities was pretty disturbing. We had no healing, no light and very little hope. After six hours or so I learned that Bob could see in the dark and had neglected to share that fact with me.

It was at this point I asked him if he could lead me back to the surface and he agreed. Six hours after I’d come to. Bob needed a little prodding. I guess having no real friends led him to a lot of inner dialog and not much interaction with others.

And he’s like fifteen hands tall to my nineteen. It made quite a bit of difference. What we ended up doing was him leading with me following behind, both of my hands on his shoulders. That way, I wouldn’t fall over things.

That was the theory.

Every now and then he’d say something like “pit to your left” and keep moving. “dead drop to your right, seventeen rods deep, spikes at the bottom, instant death.” It was so very comforting.

Then I knocked myself unconscious. See, I was very tall compared to him, which I had to explain when I woke up a few hours later. My arm was also in a splint and I hurt like a Trog had been gnawing on my leg.

Nope, not a Trog. Giant rat. I hit my head, knocking myself out, fell to the right, down a steep incline, rolled down into an underground river and floated downstream for almost half a league. I have no idea why I didn’t drown, but I’m not questioning the fates. Bob took a bit to notice what I’d done, being the most observant of friends, and finally found me washed up in a room with a giant rat about to chomp on my leg.

Bob killed the rat, I got a bite taken out of my left calf. And when I came to, he had me bandaged, but I was soaked to the bone, shivering and feverish. To make matters worse, still no contact with the divine. It was like someone had set a shield on top of the world and no connection could be made. Not something I ever want to experience again, I’m telling you.

Lucky for me, when I hit my head I dropped my pack and shield. The mace was looped to the pack as well, so all of that hit the ground behind Bob as I tumbled arse over teakettle down into the inky darkness.

I hurt in ways I didn’t know I could hurt, but insisted that Bob get us to the surface. Unfortunately we were nowhere near the surface now and he figured it would take us a few days following the river upstream before we could get out.

On the plus side, Bob butchered the rat and found enough wood that had washed up on the same bank I’d ended up on to make a fire. Roasted rat is not the best tasting food I’d ever eaten, but it filled the belly.

Tomorrow I will give Bob explicit instructions on what to do as he’s leading me out at half pace due to my wound. And for the record, I have a lump on my forehead the size of a goose egg. Tender to touch and throbbing.

Bob is not my favoritist person at this juncture. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Short of dying, I’m not sure how it could get any worse.

That was not something I was willing to tempt, however. I said my prayers and tried to dry out by the fire. I was pretty miserable.

 

About this Entry
Oct. 18th, 2015 @ 06:00 am The Making of Cleric Journal Part Four

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

Okay, tomorrow we start back with the second season of Cleric Journal: The Further Adventures of Useless Lump.  What will happen next?  Will our hapless hero find another to worship with?  Will he find out the fate of his friend, Liz?  Who is this dwarf Bob?  And what’s up with that enigma Wizard Tim?

Season one has wrapped at just over 60k words.  I’m in the process of having this portion professionally edited.  Then I’ll clean up any copyright issues, get it formatted and find a cover artist in the inevitable publication of an EBook.  Depending on how this works, I may also release a paper copy.  There are folks who have expressed an interest in getting a comprehensive collection of the existing daily posts to make it easier to read.  So, that’s what I’m doing.

Going forward I’m strongly considering a Patreon account (feel free to chime in here with your thoughts).  I will continue to post daily for this next season, but will collect each 2-3 week section into individual episodes for the Patreon backers.  Then when I reach the 60K mark again (and a terminus in the story line) I’ll release another EBook (and possibly paper).

Depends on how well the Patreon thing goes, I may also write some new short stories highlighting in full detail certain events during each season without the somewhat unreliable narration of Useless.  What really happened in the island tower and just why did that island explode?  What happened with Sparkle/Lilith left Liz and Useless?  I’m open to other requests as well.  Which portions of the story would you like to see more fully rendered.  Leave suggestions, you never know what will strike my fancy and feed the muse.

This is all an experiment in delivering story to my fans, keeping the words flowing in a way that is entertaining to me, growing my footprint out in the wide world and perhaps, making some money on the side.  As much as I love to write, it’s very critical to me that I pay my mortgage, buy groceries and help put my kids through college.  It’s a madcap life.

Stay tuned for further news of the Patreon account and gear up for Monday’s next installment of Useless Lump.

 

About this Entry
Oct. 18th, 2015 @ 06:00 am The Making of Cleric Journal Part Four

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

Okay, tomorrow we start back with the second season of Cleric Journal: The Further Adventures of Useless Lump.  What will happen next?  Will our hapless hero find another to worship with?  Will he find out the fate of his friend, Liz?  Who is this dwarf Bob?  And what’s up with that enigma Wizard Tim?

Season one has wrapped at just over 60k words.  I’m in the process of having this portion professionally edited.  Then I’ll clean up any copyright issues, get it formatted and find a cover artist in the inevitable publication of an EBook.  Depending on how this works, I may also release a paper copy.  There are folks who have expressed an interest in getting a comprehensive collection of the existing daily posts to make it easier to read.  So, that’s what I’m doing.

Going forward I’m strongly considering a Patreon account (feel free to chime in here with your thoughts).  I will continue to post daily for this next season, but will collect each 2-3 week section into individual episodes for the Patreon backers.  Then when I reach the 60K mark again (and a terminus in the story line) I’ll release another EBook (and possibly paper).

Depends on how well the Patreon thing goes, I may also write some new short stories highlighting in full detail certain events during each season without the somewhat unreliable narration of Useless.  What really happened in the island tower and just why did that island explode?  What happened with Sparkle/Lilith left Liz and Useless?  I’m open to other requests as well.  Which portions of the story would you like to see more fully rendered.  Leave suggestions, you never know what will strike my fancy and feed the muse.

This is all an experiment in delivering story to my fans, keeping the words flowing in a way that is entertaining to me, growing my footprint out in the wide world and perhaps, making some money on the side.  As much as I love to write, it’s very critical to me that I pay my mortgage, buy groceries and help put my kids through college.  It’s a madcap life.

Stay tuned for further news of the Patreon account and gear up for Monday’s next installment of Useless Lump.

 

About this Entry