This Place Will Get To You
So…Yeah…This one hurts
I don’t know where to start with this one. Before we reached civil I guess? I should have realized that there was more wrong than I had previously thought. So stupid of me, and all of the signs were there; a lack of too much interest in everything going on, battles and rushing places nonstop, barely concealed anger for the crystal technology while we had to use it and decipher it. But most of all there was such a deep sadness under everything else, born in large part out of longing, I think. But I guess I just glazed over them, I mean I haven’t been with this group for more than a month. But this still caught me by surprise. I really hope that the rest of the group doesn’t blame me for anything, this is bad enough as it is.
After the battle in the ruins, at the power plant, and in the sewers all in the same day, we all needed to rest. The next day Taela wanted to go to a druidic meeting place outside of the city, and she very kindly asked me if I wanted to accompany her, just that we would be spending the night. I had never been to Civil before, and so far the experience has left me feeling uneasy. If it weren’t for the fact that this is my best shot at finding the murderer of my family and taking down the organizations behind the attack, I would not be here. So of course I wanted to go with her, I needed a break to process everything that we have learned about the crystals. Before we left that morning, I made sure to heal as much as possible by sticking my hand in a fireplace. From all of the strange looks, I guess ifrits are not too common around here.
We made it to the forest and soon turned off of the road, and after the city was well out of sight for all of the trees, the noise from it disappeared. It was unsettling at first that such a bustling place could be silenced when we were walking at a leisurely pace, but then I began to hear more. The birds calling out to one another, the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees high above, the promise of running water in the distance. The first time I heard a rustling in the underbrush nearby I jumped and drew my rapier to defend us, but Taela motioned for me to be quiet and lower my weapon. The rustling had stopped, and we stood there in silence. After a short while the movement resumed and then a squirrel emerged and crossed the narrow track that we had been following, pausing once to look at her. I’m not familiar with forests, we don’t have those where I’m from, but I found myself at ease next to Taela as the afternoon wore on. She gave me pointers on how to follow tracks by using Baern’s, and gave me so many tips on what plants were good and what were dangerous as we came across them. We collected enough herbs to have the diseases removed from us by the other druids, and in the late afternoon we were able to have those taken care of.
We came to a small clearing late in the afternoon and decided to make camp here. She pointed in a specific direction and informed me that we were not far from the city, that it would really take no more than half an hour to make it back if one was determined. At the time, I dismissed this comment as a trivial fact, I didn’t realize she was showing me the way if I needed it. We didn’t light a fire, or even use tents, it would be safe with Taela and Baern. We sat there as the sun set and the stars came out, not saying much, enjoying the peace. At some point I dropped off, still so tired from the previous day. Then I heard the howls of wolves, two of them so close to camp. I jumped up and looked to Taela, but she and Baern weren’t there. Then I saw the neat pile of items with a note written in bark on top. I could see her elven tracks going toward the city in the direction that she had pointed, and wolf tracks on the way back. I followed the tracks to the edge of the clearing, heading towards Frigus, and I knew that Taela had left. I sat down and eventually went back to sleep, I knew she wouldn’t leave me in danger. The next morning I read the note and gathered up the items and slowly walked back to the city. At the tree line I looked back to the forest, and noticed a mark in the bark of the nearest tree. I didn’t know what it meant, but as I touched it I had a feeling that it was from Taela. With a sigh I let my hand fall and I trudged back to the guildhouse where I knew that my news would devastate the group.
I suppose I haven’t written in this thing for almost three weeks. When I got back the guys were discussing a letter about some cleric of a love goddess who wanted to tag along with the group to study crystal tech, or something like that. I say guys because by the time I got back Sabriel and left to find her friend. For those weeks Rhet and Nemin were making things, I don’t know what. Kal locked himself away to work on brewing and crafting, and the one time I tried to check on him I thought the world had gone mad. There was a horse and insane laughter, no sign of Kal. After those weeks he looked tired and a lot more thin, not that there was much to him to begin with. I took odd jobs with the intent of finding information on the city and its inner workings. It kept me busy and my mind occupied.
One day I found a note in my pocket when I got back to the guildhouse, requesting the presence of one of our own in a park frequented by high society. This meeting occurred after we picked up Meela, a naïve and sheltered girl. She was not very helpful in the park. A member of the Syndicate had offered to pay us to work for them. Kal lied about joining, and then park goers who were really Syndicate members tried to ambush us. Nemin, Rhet, and I had no trouble catching them, and after a short bloody fight during which Meela lost her composure, the crowd of high society saw fit to toss their coins our way, as if we were street performers. How demeaning. At least Meela took the initiative to work on changing our name to something less tacky.
None of us were much comfort to Meela. I try to help her, but she just doesn’t get it. For example, she was oblivious as to what Bruce’s advances could cost her when he clearly had just walked out of a whore house across the street. I wish Taela were still with us, she would know what to do…
I am developing a great distaste for these exploding…creatures. We uncovered a child-trafficking plot that has been going on for years by the looks of it, and now we are in the slums of Civil trying to bring those responsible to justice, or at least to end them. They are targeting unusual races in the hopes that no one would notice, and sure enough before we found out no one seemed to care enough to do anything about this. Those poor children, as if being an orphan isn’t rough enough, but now they are forced to fight and live no better than a slave. I remember the educational rooms, and at such a young age who knows what these people are telling these kids and brainwashing them with. The children and some of the older ones need out help. I’ll do all that I can so long as I’m not blinded again, deafness I can handle well enough.
I don’t know about this new girl Olivia, she is enthusiastic but quite sheltered. Speaking of, the intern Meela is even worse. I appreciate her presence and willingness to help us out, especially with the occasional healing, however I’m not so sure how long she will last. Luckily for us she didn’t see Nemin make a smoothie of some monsters, but the sickened look on her face wasn’t very reassuring. I’m afraid of a repeat of her sickness in the park, and during a battle is the last place we really want that. After this is over and we have a couple days I need to have a little discussion with Meela and probably Olivia too, woman to…very young naive women?
These People Are Sick
I am beginning to understand Taela. Before I thought that this place was not as bad as she thought, but then I hadn’t seen the bodies in the sewers when she had started, the war in Frigus, or experienced the bureaucracy that is the framework of this place. I see it now. When I have avenged my family I will leave this place and travel to other places, trying to do some good. Perhaps I will find Taela and Baern. This city disgusts me. These people from the Syndicate have been kidnapping children and torturing them, enslaving them, ripping crystals from their defenseless bodies for generations. These children are forced to become fighters to work for the wealthy and powerful, which explains why this was allowed to go on for so long.
While we were investigating this mansion, a room full of runes and pale yellow crystals was discovered, and one of the crystals was removed out of curiosity. This triggered some shaking, which then prevented us from taking any others. I only mention this because it is important for later. We then tricked Nightmare Nick into the library where where we failed to banish him. Meela and Olivia were both down and Rhet and Nemin couldn’t trick him into the circle while I had to dance to keep it open. So we had to resort to the old fashioned way and “slay” him. The death tracker book lists him as killed on that date but not dead. This is unfortunate for us. In the upper floor was where the horror truly began. Everything else that I had seen since leaving Bombaro was nothing in comparison.
Everyone else had gotten distracted or were looking for treasure, so it was that Meela and I were the first two to enter the room where these bastards were harvesting children. There was a pile of children who had been massacred, amongst the bodies was a fairly large crystal. When we got in the room, there was a mysterious figure clutching another child under one arm and fighting off the known enemies with the other. Remember those wards from before? They were in place to prevent angels from being summoned when a crystal is harvested from a person, or in this case many innocent children, as the byproduct. For once impulsively grabbing at things paid off. The mysterious figure was in fact an angel, to the best of my knowledge one that serves the same goddess as Meela. Suffice it to say, the two of them came to an agreement that prevented me from accidentally getting killed. The angel purged the building and everything attached to it, and now there is a several block section of the slums of civil that is completely bare of all traces that there ever was a building, or for that matter appartments, shops, etc. We have taken the children and the surviving brood mothers and shop-keeps to the temples to be healed and looked after until a more permanent solution to where they can live and attempt to move on with their lives can be established.
We have time until we need to make our next move. Until then I have been keeping myself busy working for various not so reputable establishments in an attempt to learn what I can of the Shadow Casters. I cannot let current events prevent me from searching for my family’s killer. AT the same time, I must still help those who are incapable of helping themselves if they have been caught up in this terrible business. I am afraid that the image of all of those dead children will haunt my dreams. My only reassurance is that we saved so many more before they could share the same fate.