What follows is E’kai’s personal journal which was originally started as a recap of the previous play session (we were only playing once a month), but then transitioned into a way for me to expand her character.
It was overcast, though stars could still be seen peeking through overhead and the scent of dinner fires wafted through the air, but there was very little noise overall.
I’d left my companions back at the inn to go to bed (because they’re all pussies who can’t manage to stay awake past the witching hour). Although the hour was late, I didn’t think I’d have a problem finding the old man who had ‘helped’ us previously. This conversation was long overdue, so I approached the tent and walked through its flaps determinedly.
A single lamp was lit in his tent, and cast its glow over a desk, where the old man seemed hard at work on papers in front of him.
“Elder, a moment of your time?”
He looked up, startled, as he moved to dip his quill into an inkwell. In his surprise, he knocked it across the desk towards me, ink spilling across the desk. “Oh, good evening Childer. How goes your journey?” He seemed oddly unphased by the wasted ink.
I picked up the inkwell and placed it back on the desk before him. “We fair…mostly well. This group is…unusual, they are ragtag and not coherent. Not at all like the guardforce I am used to. Very little discipline. I find them to be amusing quite often, and yet frustrating at other times. The Rogue and Ranger often make me want to knock their heads together…”
“Well, you’re dealing with one who is most at peace with nature and nothing else, and one who makes a living from being a trickster. Frustration is to be expected, but perseverance will serve you well. And thank you,” he said, nodding toward the inkwell.
Glancing down, I noticed that the ink changed colours on my fingertips in the lamp light, and gently move my fingers in the lamp light, watching how the colour changed. “What you say is true of course, but makes it no less annoying. I have yet to understand the Rogue’s reason for…well, for lack of a better phrase, for being here. But then again, I suppose that is to be expected of him, well, her. A most amusing change that was Elder…unexpected, but amusing.”
I paused, putting my hand closer to the light to examine the ink more closely, then began again. “I come this night specifically to discuss some things I saw when we went through the gate. You’ve no doubt noticed the different armor I now wear – have you ever seen it’s like before?”
He leaned back in his chair. “Not in a very long time,” he said, grinning ever so slightly, only noticeable at the edges of his silver eyes. “Even your elder dragons were young in those days. It was worn by a great leader, I think she was of your kind as well, but of Chromium lineage.”
I paused momentarily, stopping my hand’s movements and slowly lowered it to my side. “And if I said I saw a vision while we were there…of a great many people, people from many races and lineages – what would you say to that?”
He laughed. “There are some, that no matter how old they are when they die, die too young. Especially when what needs to be done has not yet been finished. Those souls get returned into the cycle.”
“So was that a past or a future? Or, I suppose, do they exist all jumbled up together…”
“Ahh, now that is a conundrum, isn’t it? Time is indeed a strange thing, and there are those that can wield it like a sword. They would say it’s as malleable as butter, and just as slippery.”
“Sounds like our Rogue. Now that would be a displeasing concept, a Rogue who could also control time…”
“It would indeed be…vexing.”
I pulled the parchment we’d discovered earlier from my pouch and held it out to him. “Elder, we investigated the Kobold’s lair behind a waterfall this day and slew a most…frustrating creature called Irontooth. We found this document and it proves most indecipherable. This city, it appears as it is the one I saw in my vision. What can you tell me of it?”
As he first looked at it, a look of shock stole over his face before quickly transforming into careful blankness. “This is a page of a journal, it is the first time the the Garthan realm opened to the realm of Carcasia.”
I frowned, hearing those names, there was something about them that seemed familiar, but I could not quite place them. “Garthan? Carcasia? Elder you speak in riddles, wrapped in conundrums. Who’s journal is this? Please, I wish to learn.”
His shoulders dropped, and he heaved a heavy sigh. “It is in my daughter’s hand.”
“Your…your daughter’s hand? Forgive me Aged Elder, I had no notion.” I swept a low bow, holding it for a moment before rising again. I opened my mouth to continue, then hesitated not entirely sure where to begin, feeling a raging internal conflict between showing him the respect due and my curiosity. Finally huffing a short breath, I asked what had been on the tip of my tongue. “Aged Elder…Sir, if this is in your daughter’s hand…how came you to be here…now?”
“Several of us were sent on missions early on, those of us that would be able to find help and send it back, but my group lost contact as the planes shifted, and we weren’t able to gather reinforcements. Our navigator was kidnapped, our ship destroyed, and our weapons left powerless…I know not of what happened to my daughter…”
I nodded, chewing on my bottom lip – a bad habit that I had been unable to train myself out of, to the disgrace of my mother Elder, and reflected on this. “And you were unable to return…how long, then, have you been on this plane?”
He looked at the bookshelves, and then down to his hands. “Nearly a millennium.”
I blinked slowly several times, trying absorbing this fact. “You look…very well for your age…”
“Thank you, Childer. Temporis has been kind to me.”
“Temporis? Do you mean that what I know as Terris? This world?”
“Temporis, well, I suppose you could call him a god.”
“He is…He is a god of your people? Of your…Carcasia?
He looked off into the distance, and licks his lips slightly. “He was a god of our realm, and a friend.”
“The portal that we went through – it leads to Carcasia then? Why have you not attempted to return home? Surely….surely gods in your world are like those here, they are immortal?”
“I’ve never been able to pass through it. My destiny is not there, though through it, I watched the fall of the Great City.”
“My heart is pained at this. To watch but be unable to act…The gods were cruel to you Elder, very cruel.”
“I’m not sure our gods had any control over it. The Garthans brought with them their own…Gods…if you will. Watching them battle was…difficult.”
“Did the Gods themselves battle? That city…you called it the Great City? Was it they who caused it to fall? In my dream….it had not been destroyed…or perhaps, it had not yet been rebuilt? Time…is an elusive constant to discuss…”
“Some of my people escaped, but I’m not sure to where. And the Garthans took over, and ravaged Carcasia for all its resources, as they did their own realm.”
“These Garthans, what are they? What do they look like?”
“They were as living shadows.”He looked visibly weakened by the conversation. “The hour grows late, Childer, and we fogies must get our beauty rest. You wouldn’t want to see us without it.” He grinned a bit, and stood up, and led me to the tent flap.
“It has pleased me much to learn from you tonight Elder. Before we part, might I be permitted to learn your name? It would do me great honour…”
“All I am now is Wrinkle.”
I blinked and nodded, and with one last bow, left the tent. I felt that I would be returning again when I have traveled more. I watched the light go out inside the tent. Oddly enough, the stars hadn’t shifted. A similar phenomenon as to when we had passed through the portal perhaps?
A most interesting old man…and one who clearly had many secrets. I most fervently wish that I would prove to be worthy of them. With this final thought, I retired to my own rooms.