Olympus RPG Blog

Olympus Role Playing Group Blog

This part of the multi-phase operation to find and recover our missing crewmen was to be a simple canvassing of the locals in and around the bar where they were last seen by other crewmen. XO Matthews and Crewman Park volunteered, in the event that they might recognize the suspicious persons that had tailed them, earlier, in the marketplace. ChEng O’Malley also volunteered, and as Crewman Prudhomme was on duty at the time, Flight Officer Parsons volunteered to drive the air/raft. With a full cart, I decided the remainder of the security team should stand-by at the ship. Violence was not expected, although I did expect to have to move quickly to recover the missing crewmen, by force; I ordered all members of the security team to be fully armed, and wearing nanoweave body-protection, at minimum, opting not to proceed fully-armored, to reduce the likelihood of resistance by the locals we intended to canvass.

We proceeded to the establishment indicated by Crewman Reid via A/R1. XO Matthews and Flight Officer Parsons elected to wait in the vehicle, while I disembarked with ChEng O’Malley and Crewman Park, and proceeded inside. I engaged the bartender, who, other than requiring “monetary incentive,” was cooperating, when Crewman Park recognized the boy from the market, immediately pursuing him out of the establishment, on foot; another patron of the bar was observed attempting to trip Crewman Park as he passed. As the XO and Flight Officer Parsons were waiting outside, and could assist Crewman Park in his pursuit, I decided to continue my conversation with the bartender as if nothing of interest had occurred, listening to comm-traffic relating to the chase.

After some time and difficulty, the boy was caught, and the vehicle returned to the bar. At that time, I exited the bar to discuss the matter with the others and aid in the boy’s questioning. I enquired whether XO Matthews or Crewman Park recognized the man in the bar (hereafter referred to as “Trippy”); Park re-entered and confirmed the man as having tailed them at the market. I decided we should wait for the man to leave the building, to question him. Some time later, “Trippy” emerged, and upon seeing the team waiting, immediately retreated back inside. I ran to the alley to observe the facility’s back-door, and again, “Trippy” emerged, and upon seeing me watching, ducked back inside. During this time, the boy had indicated that they did, indeed, kidnap the missing crewmen, though he did not know their present location. A few minutes later, a group of armed locals approached the area. They boy indicated that they might know the crewmen’s location, and now expecting violence, XO Matthews allowed him to flee. One of the locals entered the bar and emerged with “Trippy,” clearly working together. XO Matthews attempted to convince them to give up the crewmen’s location, but the locals only blustered, and turned to leave, with “Trippy.”

Although I am loathe to fire first in situations such as this, these men were our only lead to the crewmen’s whereabouts at the time, and would not easily be tracked down if they left the area, and, as we could not know how much time we might have to recover the missing crewmen, I ordered the team to “shoot to cripple,” and we opened fire. The locals dove for the nearest cover and returned inffectual fire; at the firefight’s conclusion, two were mortally wounded, and the others greivously injured but living. There were no injuries amongst the members of the security team, though A/R1 was holed multiple times. I immediately called for Crewmen Ekala and Prudhomme to come to our location with the crash kit, to give emergency medical aid. Having fired first, I did not wish to remain long enough to be confronted by the local authorities, so I ordered the team on the ground to provide minimal first-aid to the injured, and we would return as many as possible to the ship, for further care and questioning. A crowd of locals were gathering, some of whom were becoming belligerant, in spite of our attempts to persuade them that we were giving aid. The leader of the locals, and “Trippy,” were moved to the vehicle, and I called to warn off the other vehicle, but Crewman Ekala insisted on providing medical care to the wounded, in spite of the danger. Remi expressed confidence that he could provide security, so I reluctantly agreed to Crewman Ekala’s request; as we left the area, we attempted to draw off the more-belligerant locals with us. Fortunately for the wounded, Crewman Ekala was able to stabilize them all enough to transport them back to the ship’s medical station, even convincing some of the mob to help move them.

The operation was a “technical” success, though it certainly did not “feel” like one. All the involved civilians survived the incident, to our credit, but all of them had been crippled beyond what local medicine could repair. To add insult to this injury, we would later determine that the armed band was not actually a part of the kidnapping operation, but a gaggle of co-workers called up by “Trippy,” who was trapped in the bar. The use of deadly force was authorized, but in retrospect, non-lethal weaponry should have been brought along (this will now be considered SOP); cornered as we were, we only had lethal weapons, normally meant to combat troops in heavy armor, to use. The potential for loss of life amongst these civilians is certainly regrettable, and should always be avoided at all costs, but I remain convinced that we had no other sufficient alternative at that time, given the information we had.

Crewman Park has not been a part of security operations this entire voyage up to this point, but for the one instance, when the ship was captured by the Vilani cruiser. All of us were surprised at his impulsive, and apparently, bloodthirsty behavior. The more life-threatening injuries sustained by the civilians are believed attributable to his actions during the engagement. I am reminded of Crewman Prudhomme’s earlier similar behaviors, and as such, I am inclined to be lenient; at the least, he should train with the security team as his duties permit, so he can learn to better work with the team. As he is not in my direct chain of command, I can only make a recommendation to the XO, who will decide whether or not he is to be disciplined in any way.

Crewman Ekala’s actions were as self-sacrificial as any military war-medal recipient I have ever heard of, and were this a military command, I would certainly recommend him for commendation. That said, I stand by my own reluctance to authorize his actions, as they could have easily deprived us of one or more key members of the security team, and the crew in-general.

Command Section

Image Image
Image Martyn Brierfield
Captain
GMPC
Image Daniel Matthews
First Officer/Navigator/Loadmaster
PC

 

Engineering Section

Image Image
Image Oliver O’Malley
Chief Engineer
PC
Image Susan Taylor
Technician
NPC
Image
Image Eric Adler
Mechanic
xPC

 

Flight Section

Image Image
Image Derrick Parsons
Lead Pilot
PC
Image Cronus Magnus
Communication/Sensors
NPC

 

Ship’s Troops & Gunnery

Image Image
Image Jaret Vik
Chief of Security/Master-Gunner
PC
Image John Reid
Security/Backup-Gunner
xPC
Image Image
Image Remi Prudhomme
Security/Gunner/Raft-Driver
xPC
Image Darzamis Mashani
Ekala Sec./Cbt-Medic/Bkp-Gunner
xPC
Image Image
Image Kimball Quaid
Gunner/Security
NPC
Image Cal Vander
Gunner/Security
xPC

 

Cargo Service Section

Image
Image Anthony McGee
Cargo Officer
NPC

 

Medical Section

Image
Image Dr. Anya Lindstrom
Chief Medical Officer
NPC

 

General Service Section

Image Image
Image Park Dae-Jung
Deck-Hand/Cook
PC
Image Justin Kennedy
Passenger/Acquisitions Specialist
xPC

My frustration at Auqui continues to mount and I pray God to grant me strength. Again he has disobeyed me and thrown himself into what he is ill prepared for. I know that at his age I was no different – young boys are rash and headstrong or they would not be boys at all – but I have little doubt his foolishness will lead to his death. It is past time to set aside the role of big brother and don the mantle of maestro. My first step was to chastise him – verbally and before others – for his foolishness though I suspect some of my fellows have acted the fool themselves and sought to undercut my authority. They I will speak to in private.

My second step is to take away his blade. This will anger him no doubt but until he acts worthy of it I will no allow him to carry steel. I had hoped that the death of his father would have struck home the point: this is not a game. To those unfamiliar with the forms it may look a dance but in this dance men die. I will not see this boy die because he thinks himself better than he is. Too long have I spared him the necessary discipline that Father drove into me – that must end now. This boy will not die while my student no matter his foolishness.

So help me God.

In my anger, in my frustration, I have neglected my own forms this day and the heat of the Desert only worsens my mood. I feel baked no matter that I was but hours ago drenched by the torrent that we carried over from the Otherside. It has been nigh on three months since last I was in this Desert and I had forgotten how much I mislike it.

The portal carried us through as intended and flooded the exit point with water sweeping many Vasar aside. Talon was struck from the raft and I dove in after. Together we retrieved the beacon and rejoined the others whereupon Pachacuti crafted a second smaller hole to carry us to an outcropping of rock many miles distant. Three of the Warriors came upon us then and Rainald and I fell upon them as Dane and Talon sent arrows upon them. It was here that Auqui sprang forward intent of joining the fray against my express wishes and were it not for the speed in which Rainald and I dispatched the beasts I expect the boy would have been injured.

I have been remiss in my composition of this journal and I see now that my my memory oft times conflicts with what I have written. Also my keeping of time has been poor so I mean to correct this. By my reckoning which I will admit is not something that one can rely on this day marks the fifty-eighth day since we first crossed through the portal underneath Ferrier. It was May the Fifteenth in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Five which would make this day to be July the Fourteenth.

This entry and Auditore’s attempt to narrow down the date is often referred to as a starting point for all calculations, although experts generally agree with him that he is an unreliable source in this regard.

Upon the morrow we set forth to return to Yrth and I find myself strangely hesitant to leave this place. It is of little concern – we all must do what must be done no matter our personal desires. These Huallapans seem so ill prepared for the dangers that face them and I fear they will not long survive our departure should things go ill. It is a worry that must be set aside for now.

My concern for Auqui grows by the day, though I fear there is little I can do. He must grieve for his father in his own time. He listened to my own tale and I no longer think it wrong to take him with us. Here there are too many opportunities for a boy maddened with grief to throw away his life in a senseless gesture against the Vasar and I at least know his heart for it seems only yesterday that I was taking lives to avenge my own blood. I only hope that I am able enough teacher to help the boy progress beyond this madness.

In recent years, the Aybara Institute of modern Caemlyn has tentatively identified no less than twelve Church documents dating from 2007 BCE that seem to indicate Auditore may have adopted the “Hooded Man” identity he is strongly linked to in so much common lore due to misunderstandings between Auqui and Yrth authorities, especially clerical ones.[101] Two additional elven documents from the time period have been translated to common vernacular and lend credence to the current theory that Auditore is the basis for the “Master of Blades” cycle of stories that were so prevalent in the 2100’s [102], especially given the common link – a furious swordsman alternately hunting for or seeking vengeance for his lost apprentice.

After consideration I have extended an offer to both Lord Wallace and Radskyrta to provide addition instruction on bladework. Radskyrta already eclipses his master and his technique is more than adequate if sloppy and very much indicative of a guardsman but Wallace himself is barely better than Auqui who first picked up a blade not four weeks ago though the man thinks himself better than he truly is. He relies too much on might and I suspect his instructor knew not how to teach a man who is left-hand dominant as is Wallace. I will continue to press and have wondered if I can arrange to cross blades with him to show him how much work he truly need. Luck has been the man’s surviving grace though relying on such rarely goes well as luck tends to run out.

This last is especially ironic, given Wallace’s eventual fate.

The raft and Yrth await us tomorro[w]. Lord shelter and guide us.

One of the few whole journal entries, this section has been surprisingly overlooked by most historians of the Age. In recent years, though, there has been a recurrence of interest in this era, especially as this is one of the very few firsthand accounts of what was later called ‘The Battle of the Wooden House.’

Much has transpired since last I touched quill and ink, and I fear my recollections have dulled because of that. As with so many things, time seems to be the true enemy – between the time I spend with Auqui, or alone with my blade and the forms, or speaking with Malcolm and Radskyrta and Rainald and the hours, there ne’er seems to be enough hours in the day. No sooner have I risen with the sun to work the forms than it seems the day is ending and I must to bed.

But I digress. This has been a good day for our forces, though at a heavy price. Even now, the sounds of merrymaking are loud as the Huallapan celebrate a major victory against their Vasar overlords.

Where to begin? At the beginning as my Father always said. So…

The Bear Clan sent warriors as promised to aid the ‘People of Wood Houses’ but they were truly barbarians and ill understood the concept of private ownership. Many times we saw them simply take that which they desired from Viracocha’s people, and he came to us with many complaints. Magnifico and Mendel both declared to speak with the clansman battle leader and I accompanied in case bloodshed became inevitable. As before, Magnifico showed poise and guile, never as much as when he asked Mendel to call forth Light to cow the savages.

And in that Light, we saw Vasar. I sprang forth without a mind for my allies, shouting out an armcry, and fell upon the scouts with terrible fury. Others joined – Rainald, Malcolm, Dane and Talon – but my blade was truly an extension of my arm and I felled seven before the battle ceased. After, I found that my allies were all battered and bruised, though I eluded injury entirely, and even young Auqui had joined into the fight – against my orders, again, which leads me to the difficult realization that I must find a way to force him to obey. Mayhap a threat to cease my lessons?

Again, I digress. Many torches were seen at a great distance and it was decided that I and Dane would scout forward. We ran through much of the night, he and I, before reaching a Vasar camp. There was no denying that it was a warband, numbering some three hundred strong, with half Huallapan slaves. Many egg-like containers were withing that camp though we knew not what was in them even if we suspected they may hold Controllers. Back to the village Dane and I ran, reaching it many hours later, and we reported our findings before retiring to recover.

A full day was lost in preparation and I did not learn until after I rose that Magnifico averted a complete loss of the clansmen. As I saw nothing of what happened, I cannot say how he accomplished such a task, but the warriors remained when they sent their women and children to safety.

It was decided that standing idly by was no choice at all and an ambush was planned. Once again, Dane displayed great skills as he planned and we – my companions and the Bear Clan warriors – set upon the Vasar as they crossed a small creek. Our attack took them by surprise but they rallied well enough and we retreated, leaving many of their numbers dead or dying. Back at the village, our numbers swelled with the Huallapans so desperate to remain free and the Vasar could not breach our walls. Magnifico and Mendel combined their guile and skills to erect a magickal illusion of our wall weakening – I know not which of them did what, only that they conversed and it was done. The Vasar thundered forward directly into our strength and they fell back in disarray. We pressed them then, throwing our full numbers at them, and they were broken.

Auqui … I cannot be more proud of him were he my own blood. He is but a boy and yet in our final push, he was there at my side at the van. Thrice I saw him break blades against Vasar and ne’er did he hesitate to seize fallen weapons and press on. His form was perfect – I daresay I have ne’er seen Two Hares Leaping done more perfectly. He took wounds that he should not have were he more skilled but his bravery is beyond question. The Clansmen too look at him with new eyes though I fear his fellow villagers now treat him as if he is no longer one of them.

There were losses though, none more terrible than Auqui’s own father. He fell protecting children and I saw with my own eyes the grievous wounds he accepted so they would not. Is there a better death? The Church teaches us that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” and Auqui … again, I could not be prouder of him. He held his father’s hand though the man was already lost and whispered words I have not heard. “The last embrace of the Mother welcome you home,” he said before asking for my aid to lay his father to rest. Even now, he twists and turns in his blankets, lost in his grief.

This do I swear to the Lord my God: I will take this boy not as a student, but as a brother, a son, an apprentice. My blood before his shall be my oath and I will train him to be the greatest bladesman of his generation. This I swear.

Exertion and the long days behind me take their toll and I must abed. We shall see what the morrow brings.

The below are the Wheel of Time Sword Forms converted to GURPS Techniques as Gabe will utilize them. Due to the sheer size of this, I’ve utilized the cut.

continue reading…

The next legible journal entry by Auditore is clearly some time later and references events not recorded elsewhere (save perhaps over-the-top dramatizations in the Song of Rainald, which experts in all fields agree is very unreliable.) There are later indications in his various writings that Auditore himself may have destroyed some of these pages, though no one has yet offered a valuable explanation for why. Some theories indicate hold that Auditore was infuriated by the eventual resolution of the Huallapan crisis, while others – generally those that take a more cynical view of his personality – believe that he eliminated as much evidence linking him to the broken promises that eventually led to the Second Great Riftwar. In any event, when Auditore’s journal resumes, some time has clearly elapsed.

Experts have poured over this particular entry repeatedly, with many offering approval for his attention to detail, especially in light of the eventual fate of the Huallapan clans during the Second Riftwar.

When we arrived, we beheld an impressive host of barbarians, all colorfully attired and painted. They smote their weapons upon their crude shields which made a terrible noise but we could tell that this was some sort of ritual declaration of strength. I looked to Rainald to lead us through such uncivilized behavior but the gleeman Magnifico stepped forward.

This I saw with my own two eyes and had I not, I would have called the man telling me thus a liar. The mightiest of these Huallapan clansman stepped forward as if to greet us but hurled a mighty axe at Magnifico. It was an impressive throw – I have seen Rainald hurl a spear that distance and accuracy but with some effort – and we feared for the gleeman, but he stepped aside and with swiftness none of us had before beheld caught the axe by the haft. The clansmen went silent as did we and Magnifico returned the gesture by hurling one of the Vasar glaives we brought as tribute. It was light and well balanced and flew true and the clansman caught it in much the same manner. A great hue and cry went up and the painted man held the glaive aloft to great adulation. We each of us looked at the gleeman with shock and I daresay he seemed as surprised as we.

A new clansmen stepped forth then and we took him to be the headman or chief for he towered over even the Huallapan who had thrown the axe. He and Magnifico spoke. I remember not the exact words that were said but record them as I recall.

‘What business have you with the Bear Clan?’ the Huallapan asked.

‘We bring glad tidings and an offer of friendship from the People of Wood Houses,’ Magnifico answered. ‘We seek allies in a struggle against the Vasar and so seek out the strongest of the clans.’ The headman and his warriors stirred at that though in approval. At this the gleeman gestured for some of the gifts – more Vasar glaives taken from the fallen; the bread we had brought was to be offered later, during the hoped for feast in hopes that the headman would react with pleasure as did the clansmen we had captured – to be presented and the headman approved. More words were exchanged – these I cannot recall as I was watching closely for treachery – and another approving cry was raised which we learned was the chief’s agreement.

And then we were feasted.

We beheld the Bear Clan in their glory and it was a spectacle of barbarism and uncivilized behavior. Every male amongst them carries an axe or crude club and without those weapons they are never seen. Their axes are carved from stone or rough hewn dragonglass. Clubs are decorative but appear to be taken from the bones of giants or from animals I have never beheld. The women too are armed though they oft carry broad knives or short spears. From the tips of the fingernails to the neck, each of them were adorned with painted tattoos of things I did not recognize.

They are also the filthiest race I have ever had the misfortune of knowing. With my own eyes I saw many of them go to stool in what appeared to be a designated spot and then resume feasting without bothering to wash themselves. Twice I saw a warrior void themselves and then rut with a nearby willing woman immediately after. I thank God to have been spared such an upbringing.

The food was raw or burned but edible. There was nothing resembling order in the serving – the animal was butchered and placed upon a spit over a fire and one simply took what one wanted. As one would expect, in such chaos brawls were frequent and brutal. I saw three warriors beaten near to death and left in the dirt. The headman laughed and cheered along with everyone else and once wrestled a younger Huallapan for a leg of something. As we hoped the bread was received with great delight.

I must admit that I ate little and never fully relaxed. The clansmen watched us and I stood out in my white cloak only less so than Magnifico in his coat of many colors. Thrice I rejected offers to rut with filthy clanswomen though I did so by feigning a lack of understanding – none appeared insulted and quickly found other suitors. I know not if my companions refused such offers as well.

When the dawn came

The entry ends in mid-sentence.

 

This morn finds us within the walls of the Huallapan fort we helped erect. I have neglected putting my thoughts onto the page for nigh on three days – much of that was spent on foot as we escorted those we liberated from the hive to the cliffside village where we first met the Huallapans via the magickal portal erected by Viracocha’s father, Pachacuti.

The spelling of this Hullapan’s name remains something of a mystery as Auditore uses several different versions throughout his retelling. In some instances, the name has been crossed out and respelled, almost as if Auditore himself was unsure how it was meant to transcribed. For the ease of translation, we have used the most common iteration of the name.

The villagers met us with pitchforks and wonder when we arrived, a full dozen stronger than when we departed. The reunion between Viracocha and his father reminded me of how I last saw my own sire and I looked away from the moment. To the Lord God I pray that Viracocha must ne’er give his father the mercy stroke as I did.

Auqui was present and eager. Again I fear that instructing the boy was a mistake – with Pachacuti present we are not long for this place and an ill-trained swordsman is as much a danger to himself as to others. Auqui quickly sought to show me that he had practiced and indeed I saw an improvement so slight that few would notice. His stance is better and he flawlessly assumed The Cat Crosses The Courtyard when I named it. Would that I had met this boy in better days for I do not doubt he could become the best bladesman I have e’er seen with more instruction and time.

But Time is the Enemy of us all.

Much of the day was spent in rest as the rescued villagers joined with those we had already saved. When his chores permitted Auqui was at my side and I pushed aside my own weariness for his sake. Again we struggled in comprehension – my mastery of Huallapan is broken at best and he comprehends Anglish not at all – but through demonstration I expressed myself well enough. Rainald joined us later, once more wishing to experiment with his ridiculous fancy about merging Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind with his spear. As before I lamented over his insistence on brute strength – my Northern friend understands precision not at all I think – but he is graceful for such a large man. I sought to encourage other forms – The River Undercuts the Bank is a better choice with such a long weapon and Arc of the Moon is closer to what I think he wishes – but he was insistent on the sort of spin-twist that only Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind is capable of. Cat on Hot Sand might

Auditore appears to go into further detail regarding his exercises with the warrior Rainald but the before-mentioned water damage has ruined much of it. Several additional sword forms are referenced, many of which appear to have no modern analogue in any of the traditional sword techniques. When the narrative resumes, it picks up mid-sentence.

retired to the meeting hut. Twelve of us there were in this council of war: Malcolm, Lord Wallace, and myself; Brother Mendel and Rainald; the mage and clown, Magnifico was there; Radskyrta, Dane and Talon as well; Viracocha and his father, Pachacuti; and one other Huallapan whose name I know not. Auqui was present as well though he thought we were oblivious to him as he was atop one of the new-set rafters that supported the log roof. We spoke long into the night though in truth my participation was limited and I offered little for I have ne’er had a head for strategy or tactics. In the end our course was set and it was Dane the Archer who showed the most mettle in planning: Pachacutal would weave a portal back to Yrth using at its centerpiece a waterfall and this hole would flood the hive on Yrth with rapids. We would ride this tide upon a raft and then scatter in the chaos. As the hive was located in the Great Desert we would then ride to Caithness to rally swords to put the Vasar to the torch. No small feat that but it was a bold plan. I only fear

The rest of of the journal entry has been lost to time.

I write this by firelight. The night is calm and quiet which matches my thoughts. There is much to put down, many thoughts that I must deal with lest they be forgotten or lost.

Today is … I have no idea what the date is. It has been nigh thirty days since we crossed over into this land, which means exactly nothing as I overheard Magnifico and Mendel musing about whether time flows the same way here. Far more importantly than the date is the fact that today, we have won a great victory against the Vasar, one that can not be denied. We have rescued Viracocha’s father from their clutches.

But I get ahead of myself. Start at the beginning, Father always said, and continue to the end.

Brother Mendel used his art to burn the fields of the crop these creature sustain upon, and in the confusion, we removed to the Hive, whereupon we discovered a great host emerging from, including Viracocha’s father. He was, as expected, Harnessed by a Controller, and well defended by the weaving bugs and the warriors, so we remained in concealed and discussed our options. They were distressingly few – charging forward was not an option as we would be overrun and crushed simply by the force of bodies, but knowing that hewas there, so close, and that only he could get us home … it was difficult.

By fortune smiled upon us, thank God. He cast a powerful spell that seemed to stop all around him – I recall seeing a nearby hummingbird; when Viracocha’s father was done, the bird’s wings were slowed to a point that the thing should have fallen to the ground! Among his host, only he was moving normally and he went to shake one one of allies awake. I recall several of my companions’ voices in that moment, but I had already thrown myself forward, intent on reaching him. I recall the whisper of noise that were arrows – Dane and Talon – and Viracocha’s father fell, a shaft having pierced the Controller’s tiny head without harming the Huallapan. I know not which of them loosed upon what, but the nearby weaver the old Huallapan had awoken staggered as well.

Among my companions, I am the swiftest – I am burdened by neither armor as Rainald nor of a bent back as Magnifico – but even I could not cover the distance quickly enough to prevent the creature from waking others. It took a moment for those awakened to act, so it became a deadly race to see if we could slay those awakened quickly enough to prevent being overwhelmed.

Never before have I felt so attuned to my craft. My blade was an extension of my arm and where I sprang, Vasar fell. I am no fool – I know that by engaging them as I did, singly and without warning, was oft the reason I felled them as quickly as I did, but nonetheless, the feel of the sword, the flawless way the forms felt … this was a good day.

We removed from the field, leaving behind a halfscore of dead or dying Vasar amongst those yet frozen in place, and carried the unconscious Huallapan back to the group we had earlier liberated.

The following journal entry is of a more familiar sort – an actual review of what Auditore had previously done that day, combined with a stream of consciousness discussion over his bladework.

The ambush was sublime. We struck from concealment – Brother Mendel’s skill with magery is a wonder to behold; he concealed those in heavier armor under a carefully crafted illusion, while the archers and I pounced from the opposite side – and the battle went ill for the monsters. My own contribution was limited, though the extra focus I have placed in my blade of late bore much fruit. Floating in the Void where all concerns – emotions, thoughts, even concerns of life and death – allows me to perceive the present moment in perfect clarity. My technique was imperfect, however, and I must continue my work. Still, it was adequate enough to evade injury. My focus my remain on grip – the steel must become an extension of my arm so I do not lose my hold on the weapon as I did to my great disgust. It is The Grapevine Twines – that form continues to elude me in an actual duel no matter that I know it flawlessly. The final twist of the blade that is intended to disarm the opponent requires a sharp rotation of the wrist and a light grip on your own blade – too firm and the form has not the necessary fluidity to succeed; too light and you risk being disarmed yourself – and I continue to struggle with the correct balance. Tonight – no, tomorrow, when I have time to study once more, I will re-examine my grip.

I thank the Merciful Lord that Auqui was not present to see how badly I performed The Grapevine Twines. No student should ever witness their instructor looking a fool.

I have little memory of the conversation afterward as Brother Mendel and Magnifico interrogated the former slaves principally because I was reviewing the battle in my mind’s eye to isolate my failure. There was some magery involved as they sought the location of Viracocha’s father – we learned he was Harnessed and instructed the beasts in spellweaving – but I was little involved and glad for that task that Malcolm, Lord Wallace, gave me and Dane. The rescued Huallapa were destined for nearby fields and the archer and I were to investigate.

Never have I smelled a crop so sweet. My crude representations do this thing thing no justice. (Editor’s Note: The sketch of the plant has been lost due to water damage.) We stole away in silence, burdened with these things, and returned to where our group was hidden. There it was decided to set fire to the fields to draw out the monsters from the hive whereupon we would use this chaos to enter.

We go now. Lord save and preserve us.