Nyonia - Pauci Fortis

Love Potion and a Magical Candle

As part of a cerdded o gwmpas a journal must be kept. The journal will be used as a reference for the country investigated in case the shaman who went has forgotten part of what happened or has died. It had started out a normal week. The farm family and I had gone into village to sell vegetables, chickens and some eggs. A caravan had recently arrived by barge and I saw the Ainu again, but that was normal. I went to my usually haunt for a meal and then went back to the farm with the family.

The next day they didn’t need any help, so I went out to the woods. I enjoy being in the woods. I feel closer to the spirits out there. While I was walking along the trail I found some human tracks that came out of the forest and on to the path. There were also tracks from the path into the forest. I was thinking about investigating the tracks when I heard the bell start to ring. The family only rings the bell when there is an emergency. I get back to the farm and there are some guards from the village. One of them says, “We hear you can heal.” I say that the statement is true. Another guard says that someone has been seriously injured in the village.

We went down to the village. We went to a spice store. Outside the store there was a crowd, in the store there were some guards, some of the people from the caravan that just arrived (including two Koori and a human), the merchant (Obadiah) who ran said caravan, his wife and the leader of the village council, Varas. Varas was lying on the ground with the village doctor looking at him. The doctor looked at me and said. “What can you do?”

I replied, “More than you, probably.” The doctor looked slightly offended, but that was of minor concern. I put one of my kachinas down. All of a sudden a figure appeared with waist length black hair and black beard that come down to mid chest. It was dressed in a white cape that only exposed its right hand. In the right hand it held an evergreen bough and on the cape there were rainclouds. I heard gasps as people realized that I am a shaman. The figure reached a hand down to Varas and touched his wound. The wound healed and then the doctor really looked offended and put off. One of the Koori was standing near the merchant’s wife.

He said, “Miss this woman is injured too. Could you heal her as well?” He seemed really concern about the wife and the merchant’s children. I am not sure whether there is a common trait of Koori, but the other Koori didn’t seem to concern about the wife and children. I looked at the wound and it didn’t seem too fatal, I told the Koori this. He didn’t seem too happy, but accepted it.

The Koori then started talking to the second in charge that something was off about the wine and candle. He thought it could be magic. Hearing this I walked over and said that only the Oldwun used candles for their magic. I then took out another kachina, a spirit wolf. This one could follow magic I used it to see where the person who carried these items went. I dismissed the wolf when the path went out of the village, to the south. I went back to some of the places the wolf went. When I asked the owners if any of their customers had been acting strange they said that a Wangai, Muin, had been. I then went to the herbalist, because one of the Wangai’s habits is smoking a pipe. The herbalist was from my land. When she asked why I was asking about Muin I told her that I was studying his culture.

The next day I went to the inn that I knew had a Koori cook. It seemed like the best place to look for Koori’s who were new to village. The Koori seemed to know Obadiah personally and they had come on the barge with him. It would make sense that they had done some investigation on their own. I wanted to pool our information to see if we had a culprit. Especially since Oldwun would use candles as foci and the Oldwun had spells to control people’s feelings. When I walked into the inn I found the two Koori sitting with the human that had been in the spice shop. I introduce myself. The human introduces himself as Maximus Decimus Meridius. The Koori who wanted me to heal the merchant’s wife introduces himself as Khashi. The other Koori was silent.

“And your name is?” I asked him.

“What’s it to you?” He asked in reply.

“Something to call you besides other Koori.” I said.

Ulgaden.” He said.

I was about to ask what they had found when the Ainu I had seen around village came in so the introductions began; only she ignored Ulgaden when he didn’t give her his name. Her name was Akatsuki. When we piled our information we deduced that Muin had planted the wine and candle. In the wine was a love potion and the candle was a foci for an Oldwun mage to make Obadiah attack Varas. We learned that Varas was awake. When we got there he insisted that someone went to his shop. I however had one very important question: Who lit the candle? Varas said, “What candle.” Bloody Wangai and curse their ability to sneak around without being seen. Maximus and Khashi came with me to the store. The guards that had been posted were poisoned. We look around and went into Varas’s office. There we discovered that there was a secret chamber behind a cupboard. There was an overwhelming smell of smoke from a pipe.

We went back to Varas and I asked, “What was behind the cupboard?”

Varas and the second in charge looked at each other. It turns out that behind the cupboard was the village bank. Many of the wealthier residents of the village would leave money in the bank for safe keeping. The sum is around 3,000 silver and if not recovered could destroy the village. I mentioned the tracks I had seen north of the village. It turned out that when Khashi and I looked at them and the group followed the trail, Muin had been working with some other people to steal the money. We now had the trail and we will be setting out soon.

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Hunting a Wangai
Khashi's Journal

By the Gods, I swear since I left the Empire of Oran, I have wasted more than half of my life waiting on men. Why must it always take them so long to do ANYTHING? Are they NEVER in a hurry?

When we decided to set out to track down Muin and bring him to justice, I expected us to grab our gear and be on the trail in a matter of minutes. I should have known better. They each had to pack enough gear to be on the road for a month. And they each had to bring a HORSE!! Now normally, I would be in favor of anything that would help them to travel a little faster, but they loaded down those animals with so much gear that they traveled slower than if they had walked. And they brought TENTS!! Can you believe that?? TENTS!!! Do they not understand the joy of sleeping under the open stars? I’m surprised that they didn’t want to bring servants!

We let Varas and Obadiah Milinthus know that we were going after Muin, and we FINALLY set out on the trail after him. Of course, by now he had an extra half day’s lead on us. Ulgaden Chinbat and myself could have caught Muin in under a day, but traveling at the speed of the rest of the group, it would take us several days to overtake Muin and his group.

For the most part the trail was pretty easy to follow. Muin had a large number of men with him, so he left a pretty obvious trail. We passed by a farm where a young human was selling some sort of fruit punch. It turned out to be half rotted. I spit mine out, but some of the others insisted on drinking it. They paid for it later when they puked their guts up on the side of the road. But at least the human boy confirmed that we were only a day behind Muin’s group.

Why do the humans insist on eating those disgusting dried rations when the woods are teeming with game? While we traveled, I kept an eye out for fresh meat. While I was securing us a goat, the rest of the party encountered a group of wood cutters. While traveling back to rejoin the party, I found the remains of the wood cutters and signs of 5 large humanoids. Morwenna tells me that they are ogres. I wanted to venture in to the woods and eliminate this threat, but the others convinced me that nothing could be done to save the wood cutters, and that the ogres would pose a deadly threat to our group. Reluctantly I agreed to continue on after Muin.

Muin must have figured out that we were getting close. He tried to mark a false trail, making it look like they had left the main trail and ventured off deeper in to the woods. It slowed us down for a few minutes as we followed the false trail, but we quickly figured out Muin’s ruse and returned to the true trail.

We decided to hang back behind Muin until nightfall so that we would have the advantage of darkness when we attacked. But at mid-day, we heard shouts and the sounds of battle ahead. I ran ahead to scout out the situation and saw a large number of bandits assaulting a merchant’s wagon. We weren’t sure at that point if the bandits were Muin’s men, but we couldn’t allow these innocent travelers to be slaughtered so we quickly charged to their rescue.

When we arrived on the scene, the bandits had subdued the merchants and their guards. There were nearly 20 men surrounding the wagon. Standing in the wagon was one of the largest humans I have seen in my time in the land of men. Maximus told me later that he was one of the men from Hammeh, the Realm of Frost. I bet he was as miserable in this accursed swamp land as I was! Back behind the wagon was a man who stunk of evil Olduwan magic. He had a contingency of bandits guarding him.

This was the first time that I had seen my compatriots in battle. I had briefly sparred with Ulgaden Chinbat and Maximus Decimus Meridius, but you never truly get a feel for your companions abilities until you see them in a real battle.

Things got confusing, so I am going to do my best to recall everything that happened.

Morwenna threw down one of her dolls, and a large gruesome humanoid appeared. She called it an ogre, like what had killed the wood cutters back on the trail. I lost sight of what happened to Morwenna after that. She stepped in to a glimmering portal and that was the last I saw of her until after the battle had ended. After being struck by a crossbow bolt from one of the bandits, the ogre let out a horrendous roar and charged the bandit, nearly cutting him in half with his giant sword.

Ulgaden Chinbat drew his crystal swords and charged a group of bandits that were attempting to flank us in the woods. I saw the flash of his blades in the sun and saw the bandits before him fall.

Maximus Decimus Meridius and Akatsuki charged in to combat on Maximus’ horse. Maximus dropped Akatsuki in front of a couple of bandits and her blades became a blur as she cut down the bandits in front of her. Maximus continued his charge, taking the battle to the large man in the wagon. He struck him with several mighty blows, but the large man would not fall.

I moved up to take on one of the bandits, when I became aware of something MUCH more important. There had always been something about Maximus that didn’t seem right, and it finally dawned on me why his presence unnerved me so. I realized that during his service in the war, he had slaughtered many innocent women and children!!! Suddenly, Muin, the stolen silver, the bandits… none of that mattered. I could not allow Maximus to live another day!! I would put an end to his days of murdering the innocent!!

I leaped on to the wagon, and swung to remove Maximus’ head from his shoulders. For a second, I thought that my crystal club had bounced harmlessly off of his shield, but then I saw Maximus fall from his horse to the ground, bleeding from a mortal wound. I guess my blow had been true after all! Not another innocent life would fall to his foul hand!

From here, things got a bit confusing. Somehow, there was a strange man playing a flute. Maximus’ horse charged towards the Olduwan witch, leaping over the bandits guarding him. The Olduwan fell to the ground as if struck by several mighty blows… and it was as if I awoke from a dream. I realized that the Olduwan had messed with my head, telling me lies about Maximus. Luckily Maximus’ apparent death had been another trick of the Olduwan, and I had not killed him as I thought. By the Gods, I hate mind twisting magic!

Several of the bandits had fled, but we secured the rest of them, along with the Hammeh man. The Olduwan witch was dead, cut nearly in half. His strange winged lizard started to feed on his flesh. I moved to eliminate it, but the others stopped me, telling me that it would return to the wild after it had fed on it’s former master.

There was no sign of Muin. He had apparently fled during the fight. We were able to recover the stolen silver however. It had been too heavy for Muin to carry and he had had to leave it behind.

The merchants were very grateful for our assistance and rewarded us with some silver. There was a guard’s tower at the nearby river crossing, so we accompanied the merchants and the captured bandits to the tower. The guards at the tower took the bandits in to custody, and based on the word of the merchents, had them shipped off to labor in the mines. We took Hallisin, the Hammeh warrior, back to Nemora Ater with us so that he could answer to Varas for his crimes.

Unfortunately, during our journey back, Hallisin was able to overcome Morwenna on her watch, and escaped. We discussed chasing after him, but decided that a lone man in the woods, especially such a stranger to these lands, would not survive long.

We returned to Nemora Ater and returned the silver to Varas. He was very grateful and rewarded us with more silver, and the use of a deserted house in the village for us to stay in. With our testimony as to the Olduwan witch, Obadiah Milinthus’s name was cleared and he was released.

I am not sure where my travels will take me from here. While we were dealing with this problem, the barge that I arrived on had continued on it’s journey. I can’t say that I am sad to have missed its departure. I would be happy living the rest of my days without ever setting another paw on a barge. For now I am stranded here in Nemora Ater. But that is a problem for tomorrow. I just remembered that the inn serves that wonderful ale.

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Arrival in Nemora Ater
Khashi's Journal

I couldn’t wait to get off of that gods forsaken barge.

I didn’t know what I was getting in to when I agreed to sign on as a laborer for this barge. My only previous experience with a boat had been the ship that brought me over from the Empire of Oran. Once I got used to the motion and got past the sea sickness, the journey on the ship wasn’t so bad. At least I had lots of room to roam about with plenty of cool, fresh ocean air and I never had to go anywhere near the actual water. I enjoyed climbing to the upper reaches of the masts and just watching the horizon. At night I would sleep on the open deck, under the stars. All in all, not a bad journey.

Foolish me, thinking that this barge would be similar. Instead it was a hell that could have only been dreamed up by Morgath himself. The barge plodded along down that river at a maddeningly slow pace. It was hot and muggy and at times there were so many mosquitoes that it looked like we were passing through a fog bank. I lost count of the number of times that we had to get in to the river to push and pull that stupid barge when it would get hung up on a particularly shallow spot. (And there is NOTHING that makes a Koori grumpier than having to get in to dirty, nasty, muddy water). It seems that our merchant Obadiah Milinthus had loaded down that barge with so much cargo that it was riding lower in the water than it should. He is lucky that it didn’t sink and dump his precious cargo in to those dirty, nasty waters! It would have served him right!

And the smell… gods above, I can’t describe the smell. We were surrounded by water and yet those disgusting humans couldn’t be bothered to bathe even ONCE. Even as dirty as that river water was, it had to have been better than wallowing in their own filth! I don’t think I will ever get the stink of those humans out of my nostrils!

I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at Nemora Ater. It was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. Really nothing more than a small farming village in the middle of nowhere. The others that were accompanying the barge fled for land almost as quickly as I did. I guess that they were as sick of the barge as I was. I considered heading to the inn with some of the others, but decided that I needed some time alone in the woods to regain my center first. I saw Ulgaden Chinbat walking away, and briefly considered asking him to join me. It wasn’t often that I encountered a fellow Koori this far from home. But then I remembered how stand-offish he had been during our weeks on the barge and decided that I would rather be alone.

It didn’t take me long to find a cool clean stream, and for the first time in weeks I felt clean again. The woods were surprisingly full of game, and it took me almost no time to track and kill a deer. I decided to eat my fill of raw meat – a pleasure that I don’t often get to indulge now that I am in the land of man. The sight of somebody eating their meat raw (the way Larani intended) seems to offend most men (and especially their women). So I have learned to eat most of my meals lightly cooked.

I quickly field dressed the deer and took the remaining meat back in to town with me. As I walked in to town, I asked one of the townsfolk to direct me towards the inn. He was surprisingly nonchalant about encountering a Koori. I have grown used to being stared at, and sometimes even feared by men who are not familiar with Koori. This man informed me that one of the inns in town even had a Koori for a cook. I didn’t even have to think twice about which inn to choose.

When I got to the inn, I circled around back to the kitchen, where I spoke to Tosudan, the Koori cook. He was a bit simple, but friendly. He gladly agreed to store my deer meat in the inn’s pantry, and even offered to cook it for me in the Koori style. In following Koori customs, I offered to share the fresh deer meat with him.

I spent the night at the inn. They offered a surprisingly good ale, better than any I have had since leaving home. Apparently it appealed to Ulgadan as well. He drank himself in to an embarrassing drunken mess, and seemed to be upset about something. I briefly thought about going over to see if he was alright, but then one of his fellow guards from the barge joined him and let Ulgadan cry on his shoulder.

The next morning, I took pity on my poor hungover fellow Koori and asked Tosudan to bring Ulgadan some fresh deer meat for his breakfast. That seemed to cheer Ulgadan up and for the first time he actually seemed to be a bit friendlier. But for some reason, Maximus, the fellow guard that had been consoling Ulgadan the night before seemed to be keeping his distance from him this morning. They almost seemed to be uncomfortable in each other’s presence. It wasn’t any of my business what occurred between the two of them after I went to bed, so I didn’t ask. After breakfast, Ulgadan, Maximus Decimus Meridius and I decided to bond as warriors do – with blood, sweat and violence. We found the town guard’s training area and did some sparring. A young Ainu girl (Akatsuki) with her own katana and wakizashi was watching us with interest but declined our invite to join us.

About then, things took a turn for the worse.. and the weird. Obidiah, the merchant who had hired us to work on the barge got himself in to a bit of trouble. The whole thing was confusing, but apparently Obidia had caught his wife in a compromising position with Varas, one of the local merchants (and the leader of the town council). Obidia almost killed Varas, and even injured his own wife. Even more confusing, Varas was an old friend of the couple… and apparently gay. Something about the whole deal seemed suspicious, and myself and a few of the other people who had worked for Obidia on the barge started to nose around to see if we could figure out what was up. We quickly figured out that the wine that they had been drinking had been drugged with something, and there was an odd candle giving off an intoxicating odor.

There was a young, dark skinned girl named Morwenna amongst the townspeople. I don’t think she was a native, but I am not sure how she came about being here. Anyway, she has a strange form of magic that I have only heard stories of. She used a small doll to summon a creature that healed Varas and saved his life. She then summoned a spirit wolf that told her what kind of magic was used on Obidiah, his wife and Varas. The wine had been spiked with a love potion, and the candle was some kind of enchantment to incite rage. Varas was still unconscious and Obidiah’s wife was too distraught to be of much help.

We tried to investigate more around town but weren’t able to find out much more. We did notice that we were being watched as we moved about town, and it appeared that a Wangai named Muin seemed to be in the middle of all of this far too much to be coincidence.

The next day, Varas finally regained consciousness. His first words were to tell us to rush to the warehouse where he had been attacked, but didn’t want to tell us why. When we got there, we discovered that the guards who had been posted had been poisoned. We checked inside the warehouse and discovered a hidden room that had been opened and ransacked of it’s contents. When we reported this back to Varas, he informed us that the hidden room had been where the funds of the entire town had been stored. We quickly figured out that it had been Muin who had “robbed the bank”, and that the altercation between Varas and Obidia had been setup as a distraction so that Muin could gain access to the warehouse. Varas was distraught – the loss of the entire town’s funds would destroy the town.

We looked around town for Muin but he was long gone. We thought that he had left by the same barge that brought us to town, but that turned out to be a dead end. Morwenna remembered seeing the tracks of a large group of men leaving the trail outside of town. A couple of us went to check it out and confirmed that it was the trail of Muin. We gathered the rest of our ragtag group and set out on the trail after Muin.

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