Darksoul

Sam Holbig 22
Sam's Story

3rd of August, 9:42 Dragon

We made it to the next town along in Sister Stone’s Maker tour, and most of us decided to hole up in the chantry while Alalen and Legnar went out hunting. This chantry had a couple of Templar in it, which we figured would come in handy if the Arl decided to try any more shenanigans. Turns out they did exactly that, albeit not quite how I was expecting. We woke up the next morning to find the Arl himself pounding on our door, along with a full hundred of his men and fifty townsfolk that he’d rounded up and clapped in irons. Including Alalen and Legnar, as it turned out. Poor bastards just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to hunting trips!

It seems the cause of all this fuss is that the Arl had gotten the idea in his head that Sister Stone was actually an apostate mage, working all kinds of unlicensed magic in his realm. Now, if you’re wondering why an apostate would choose to become a sister of the chantry and hang around with Templars all day, then congratulations, you have more wit than our dear friend the Arl does. In the typical manner of powerful men who are long on bluster and short on brains, the Arl threatened to kill one of his prisoners every hour unless the sister gave herself up. Obviously the sister wasn’t having this, and after a bit of back and forth (during which time Legnar was nearly the first one executed, thanks to his interminable mouth-flapping), it was decided that, in exchange for the prisoners going free, Sister Stone would accompany the Arl back to his keep where he and the Templars would put her on trial for witchcraft.

Well, no sooner had irons been clapped on the sister that they promptly fell off again, along with the shackles on all fifty prisoners, and no amount of effort would get them to fasten again. The Templars standing next to the sister at the time confirmed that no magic had been worked, suggesting that perhaps the Maker was getting a bit tired of this nonsense and decided to take a more direct hand in things. Not that this mattered to the Arl. Like a child whose favorite toy had been taken away, the Arl threw a full-on temper tantrum, drew his sword, and attempted to cut down the sister right then and there. The sword struck true — and promptly bounced off, leaving not a mark on the sister. Again, no magic was cast, so say the Templars. The Arl wasn’t done with his hissy fit, of course, and readied his sword to try again, but before he could, Sister Stone suddenly dropped dead in front of all of us. Perhaps the Maker was making a point about how the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away? Or maybe the sister had finally gotten as sick of this shit as the rest of us and decided to bugger off before the farce got any worse.

At any rate, the sister was dead and the Arl had hit her with a sword (though those two facts weren’t as closely connected as they usually would be), and I would have been perfectly happy letting the angry mob tear him several new arseholes by way of recompense. But no, the Templars insisted that he be taken back to face a proper trial, which seems awfully generous considering the man’s own clearly low opinion of judicial process. So the Templars went one way and we went the other, delivering the sister back to the Denerim chantry like we promised. Those at the chantry were quite gracious and understanding, all things considered, so at least we were well-rewarded for our efforts. After that, we all spent some time puttering about in Denerim, and we’ll be headed back to Aneth Ara on the morrow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my son’s gotten quite enough practice hitting stumps with a hatchet. Time to see how the lad handles a bastard sword.

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Sam Holbig 21
Sam's Story

6th of Solace, 9:42 Dragon

Made it to the next town. The sister went to go take care of her business in the chantry, and about half the group accompanied her while the other half hung around outside to take care of various business. Me, I found a nice tree stump and decided to teach young Morgan some basic strikes. That’s what we were up to when a few of the local Arl’s men rode up, asking us if we were associated with the sister at all, and requesting that we let them know if we see her perform any miracles, and saying that maybe we should consider not leaving town until the Arl himself came to town in a day or so.

Needless to say, this whole thing seemed mighty suspicious, and after we all met back up in town and compared notes, it was decided that perhaps the sister needed to advance her pilgrimage’s timetable, so to speak. (For what it’s worth, the sister does seem to have some kind of power to minister to the sick and that sort of thing — but big deal, I see Daryel doing that sort of thing all the time.) It seems the sister is familiar with the old Arl from previous pilgrimages through this part of the country, but now the old Arl’s dead, and the new one doesn’t seem too fond of her for one reason or another. We decided to leave at first light the next day, and just for extra security, my family, Tracii and I would accompany the sister in disguise out the back end of town, while the rest of the group would disguise Daryel as the sister and take the direct path to the next village.

Of course, things didn’t go as planned. When do they ever? It seems the Arl decided to hide a small battalion’s worth of troops out here in the woods; my group encountered a pair almost immediately after leaving town, and while I fed them a line about boar hunting and led them back into town to “meet the sister,” we swiftly discovered that another half-dozen or so had intercepted the other group and, erm, “exchanged words” with them. Not to mention a few other guards had apparently shot arrows as Tracii and the rest while they were looping around town! Eventually, though, we managed to shake all the guards — blows to the head were involved, I’ll admit — and get on our way again. And then the sister tells us to stop, and rides ahead a little bit. She points her hand, the clouds above part, and a gust of wind blows through the brush… revealing yet another twelve guards, crouched and waiting to ambush us, AGAIN. Luckily, it seems this show of magic or coincidence or whatever was enough to convince the Arl’s men that the sister was in fact some kind of miracle worker, so now they’re riding alongside us rather than trying to bring us in. I think. I hope.

To be honest, this whole misadventure seems a bit silly to me. The guards I spoke to insisted that the Arl just wanted to talk to the sister, but they wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me WHY. And when I asked them why they didn’t just talk to her directly, or why there were so bloody many of them creeping about in the woods, they said that they were waiting for reinforcements. Reinforcements for WHAT? Why are they so scared of one chantry sister, who’s already been through here at least once before? The whole thing reeks of ill intent, or at the very least of some deeply-entrenched stupidity and pigheadedness. It’s already led to some arguably-pointless bloodshed, and we’ll probably see more before the next day is out.

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Sam Holbig 20
Sam's Story

22nd of Justinian, 9:42 Dragon

Finally had a chance to chat with my son a bit on the way back to Lothering. It seems the lad’s name is Morgan, and he wants to become a fighting man like his da. We caught up with Elly in Lothering, and made ourselves a plan — she and the boy will come with me back to Aneth Ara, where I’ll teach him how to handle himself in combat, and hopefully stop him from getting into too much mischief (ha, right!). We stopped just long enough to grab some fresh horses and supplies, and then started heading back to Denerim, with a few extra souls in tow: Tracii (who we’d managed to track down again); Alenka and Sir Corben, formerly of the Arl’s household, now just as eager to get the fuck out of here as the rest of us; and a sister of the Chantry, who was apparently down here on some sort of pilgrimage and now needs an escort back to Denerim.

Well, our luck being what it is, we hadn’t made it far out of Lothering before we ran into trouble. Our path took us close to a farming village a little ways off the Imperial road, and apparently the sister knows the place and wanted to pay them a visit. When we arrived, however, we saw that the town’s river had run dry for no discernible reason. Naturally the sister wanted to know what was behind this, so we rode into town and started asking around. Apparently the local villagers did something to piss off a mage at some point, and suspect that he’s gone and cursed the river. Obviously this isn’t doing anyone any good, so while the sister stayed and prayed at the local chantry, the rest of us went upstream to try and find the source of the problem. We soon came to a fork where the town’s river should have been getting its water from, except that the big river had been turned into a stinking, boggy mess with dead fish everywhere and hardly any water flowing. A nearby cave was the only feature of note, and so — since we collectively possess enough brain cells to put two and two together, but not enough to think better of all this — we decided to head down into the cave for a look-see.

As you might imagine, what we found in the cave wasn’t exactly a surprise. There was an apostate mage down there, deep into his Harrowing, chanting some kind of blasphemous incantation in a deep, demonic voice. Problem was, whatever demon was possessing the mage apparently didn’t want to be interrupted, and a magic bubble about ten feet in diameter stopped us from getting close to the mage or attacking him in any way. We tried talking to him instead, but the demon was particularly unhelpful — just kept saying that the townsfolk had wronged this mage somehow (he was non-specific as to the details) and that he was going to help the spell-slinger get his vengeance. Needless to say we weren’t having any of that, so we started muddling over a way to stop this mage from doing whatever-it-was he was doing. I noticed that the fellow still seemed to be breathing, so we hit upon the idea of filling the cave with kindling and setting it alight; even if the mage’s demon-aura stopped the fire from hurting him, maybe the smoke would choke him out.

Well, as far as I can tell, that seemed to do the trick; after the fire had been burning for a while, we suddenly saw this rush of clean water sweep down the riverbed and bring the river back to its proper level. (Veto would tell me later that the sister had been deep in meditation and prayer, and had passed out at roughly the same time; okay, so maybe it was a miracle, but I’m still claiming some of the credit, dammit!) Once the fire had gone down enough for us to go back inside the cave, we went back and found the mage — still breathing, somehow, but apparently not harrowed anymore. We trussed him up and brought him back to town (and may have woken him up and knocked him out a few times along the way, for one reason or another…), where we promptly dumped him in the chantry to stop the villagers from lynching him. Still, we couldn’t leave him there; the town didn’t exactly have much in the way of permanent staff for its chantry, and we suspected it was only a matter of time before they decided to enact some justice of their own on the mage that had been troubling them. So, we tied him back up again, gave him a few more whacks on the head for good measure, and are now carting him off to Denerim. Hopefully he’ll get something resembling a proper trial there? Maybe? Whatever, the finer points of mage justice are beyond my field of expertise.

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Sam Holbig 19
Sam's Story

8th of Justinian, 9:42 Dragon

Kingsley was waiting for us in the burning central tent, seemingly without a care in the world, and with my son locked in what seemed to be a dragonbone cage of all things. Legnar had some sort of shield with him when he arrived, and he immediately started demanding to know where Kingsley had gotten it; Kingsley, for his part, seemed more inclined to bury his axe in the dwarf’s skull than to provide a meaningful answer. Still, clearly Legnar had some unfinished and pressing business of his own with the man, and I wasn’t about to deny him that, so the two of us and Daryel proceeded to beat and blast Kingsley into submission while Veto and Alalen freed my son and held off the other bandits. We must have been quite a sight as we made our escape: running through the burning tents, Veto with my boy perched on one shoulder and Kingsley slung over the other like a sack of potatoes, fending off the occasional bandit more concerned with trying to stop us than fleeing for his life. Eventually we made our way out of the village and into the woods, where we found a quiet place to wait until the screaming stopped.

Now, Legnar still needed to know where Kingsley got that shield — apparently it belonged to his brother — so he and Veto took Kingsley out further into the woods. I followed along, after making sure that my boy was all right, to find that Legnar and Veto had tied Kingsley to a tree and were working him over, with Legnar continuing to question him about the shield. Kingsley seemed to enjoy being singularly unhelpful — nearly everything I heard him say was an insult to dwarves — but it soon became clear that he’d simply picked the shield up in a cottage where it had been discarded, and genuinely didn’t seem to remember where. Mostly I let Legnar and Veto vent their frustrations on the man, but when Veto pulled out a knife and started talking about removing Kingsley’s head and hands, I knew I had to step in. I still had a question for him myself, after all.

I looked Kingsley dead in the eyes and asked him, after everything that he’d been through, if he would have done the same thing over again. He said no, he would have asked for more money for betraying his comrades in the Wall Guard. “May the Maker forgive you, then, Kingsley, for none of us will,” I said, and put my speartip through his throat, and that was the end of that.

Legnar, Veto, and I burned the body to keep it from the blight and made it back to the camp. The boy seemed to be getting on all right, but unfortunately I still didn’t have time to catch up — we needed to find Tracii and Emery, and make our way back to town. Legnar scouted ahead, and managed to find one of our two errant mages — he came back with Emery in tow, grumbling about his (or rather, OUR) lost bag of shadow moss. (Legnar apparently didn’t see fit to tell him that we’d found the stuff, and I certainly wasn’t going to break it to him.) Tracii is still missing, though, having apparently run off back towards town. We’re making our own way now, and I’m hoping that I’ll have a quiet moment to talk with my boy and find out what I’ve missed.

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Sam Holbig 18
Sam's Story

27th of Cloudreach, 9:42 Dragon

Of all the places I’d have expected my old life from Ostwick to catch up with me, this has to be the last of them.

The situation with the knight, the mayor, and the blacksmith is a tortured mess of small-town politics and drama, and after a few rounds of drinks and a few pointed questions put to the locals about it, I decided to wash my hands of the whole affair and head off to bed. Out of an over-abundance of caution, I took a watch for a few hours while the others snoozed; however, it seems my caution wasn’t quite over-abundant enough, as I woke up to find both Enna and Emery missing, and our bag of shadow moss… “misplaced.” A quick bit of asking around revealed that Emery was the most likely culprit and was last seen headed north, so the lot of us mounted up and rode out to try and catch him. I think the others got caught up with something or another, because I somehow ended up in front of the pack.

As I’m riding along, what should I come across but a figure slumped against a rock. I thought at first that Emery had run afoul of some bandits — their village is this way, after all — and caught a blade for his troubles, but on closer inspection I saw it was a woman in traveling clothes. Luckily Daryel was right behind to heal and dress her wound. When the woman came to, she immediately asked what had become of her son, and we quickly established that he’d been taken by the bandits. One of my comrades asked something about the lad’s father, and the woman said he was standing right here… and then asked me by name if she recognized her.

Needless to say, THAT got my attention right quick, and I took a closer look at the woman. The years had weighed on her a bit, but now that I knew what to look for, I quickly recognized Elly Thomas, a town girl I’d had a fling with back when I was corporal on the Walls and we were both young, stupid, and invincible. Our youthful indiscretions had left Elly in a family way, and while I was willing to play the role required of me, Elly had decided the child needed a father that wasn’t in danger of catching a terminal case of sword-to-face at any moment, and settled down with the local tanner instead. Well, hindsight being 20/20, it seems that wasn’t the wisest of choices; the tanner apparently decided his neck needed to be longer and his life needed to be shorter, and when the boy got old enough to start wondering who his father was, Elly decided she needed to track me down and give him a real answer. I’m a bit surprised she managed to find me down here, to be honest — have our travels been making that much noise?

Well, for all the strength Elly showed in getting down here with a child on her petticoats and no sword-hand to protect her, she’s still no fighter, and we left her in Ostagar while we continued our pursuit of Emery. Luckily for us, the mage hasn’t picked up much in the way of subtlety or anger management, and we quickly found him venting his frustrations on that massive bandit village. How dare they steal the bag of shadow moss he rightfully absconded with?! Still, while Emery gets an A+ for effort, he loses several marks for discretion — my son is somewhere in that village he’s burning down! While Alalen and Veto kept an eye on Emery, Legnar, Daryel and I snuck into the village proper to see if we could track down my missing boy or our missing bag of shite. We ran into a pack of bandits inside, but Legnar and I put on a pantomime that… convinced them Legnar was one of them? I think? Anyway. Legnar asked where the main treasure stash and the recent captives were, and the bandits told him both could be found in the center, near the tent of the bandit leader — Lyndon Kingsley.

Kingsley. Now that’s a name I never expected to hear again. We took our leave of the bandits — in a manner of speaking — and made our way towards the center of the village as everything burned around us. Legnar’s got a sack to find, and I have a boy to recover — and a score to settle. I wonder if old Kingsley remembers me? Maker knows I remember him… and Maker willing, at the end of the day I’ll have that old bastard’s head on a pike.

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Sam Holbig 17
Sam's Story

13th of Drakonis, 9:42 Dragon

After what seemed like an eternity of singing to myself, fighting off the wilderness around me, and going quietly mad — I distinctly remember talking to a squirrel at one point — I finally spotted the rest of my party coming up from the pond, apparently having not drowned in the process. They carried with them a sack full of shadow moss, as well as some… unfortunate news. It seems that what we call “shadow moss” is actually the stool of a giant guardian snake that lives in the pond (which is not something I wanted to hear, I’ll admit, but apothecaries have made tinctures from worse), and is apparently also the sole food supply for the fire sprites that we followed out here. Oh, and the snake attacked while they were down below, so they killed it in self-defense. I think you can see where this is going.

… Okay, let’s be honest. It’s terrible what’s happened to the fire sprites, and if I weren’t currently dying of brain fever in the middle of a miserable fucking swamp, I’d probably have a lot more sympathy for them. But let me get this straight: these creatures are surviving solely off the droppings of a single giant snake? That’s a single PREDATOR, which has to go hunt for food, and is apparently vulnerable enough that a group of half-competent adventurers can put it in its grave? I say it’s a fucking miracle that the thing’s lasted as long as it has, and while the inevitable fate of the fire sprites is tragic, at this point it’s not genocide anymore — it’s euthanasia.

Anyway. The rest of the group and I high-tailed it out of the Wilds at that point. I’m pretty sure we passed up no shortage of opportunities to get ourselves in more trouble, but fuck that, we’ve got a schedule to keep. Of course, to no one’s great surprise, trouble eventually found us as we were preparing to take the ferry back across the river. An armored knight was waiting for us as we approached the town, and while both he and we were pretty coy about our business to start with, he eventually had out with it that he wanted to take all our shadow moss, in order to stave off the Amber Rage infecting people in HIS town. He was very polite about it at least, and we managed to talk him down, though there was a bit of a tense moment when his fellow knights came out of hiding and Vito decided it was a good idea to charge him while negotiations were still ongoing. (Between that and the horses, I think I need to have a talk with that fellow about impulse control one of these days.) As it turns out, the medicine-worker in his town is one of the infected, so I doubt this stuff would have done him much good without our help anyway. I just hope there’s enough snake shite here for the old woman to work her magic — and, for the good of everyone down here, that she either figures out a new source for the stuff, or knows a way to get rid of the Amber Rage for good….

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Sam Holbig 16
Sam's Story

13th of Cloudreach, 9:42 Dragon

The trip back from the ferry-town was mostly uneventful, but as soon as we came in sight of our destination, our way was barred by men-at-arms carrying the banner of the village’s local knight. When we explained our business to them, they replied that they had orders to stop us from returning. Because apparently the knight is such a homicidal fuck-wit that he’s determined to kill everyone who was infected, and to hell with anyone who’s trying to help them. I felt a bit sorry for the poor bastards he set in our way, to be honest — they were just honest men following orders, insane as those orders might be. Nevertheless, they were in our way, and so we charged and broke through; I think Veto and Enna might have stuck around to slow them down a bit.

We arrived back to see the town in chaos, with the knight and this town’s irritable blacksmith (is there any village on this continent that DOESN’T have an irritable blacksmith?!) preparing to burn Amber Rage victims at the stake in the town square, and rioting villagers preparing to assault the fortress where the remaining victims were being secured. Being the heroic types we are, the lot of us sprang into action. Alalen and Veto (who had caught back up by this point) charged the crowd to try and reach the knight, Legnar started scaling the walls to deliver the shadow moss, and I moved to defend the front gate from the angry mob. I saw Alalen make a show of putting his own blood on his blades, so that any villager who crossed him knew they had the stake to look forward to, and had only themselves to thank for it; of course, most of them weren’t thinking that rationally, and a few of them got cut for their trouble.

For a moment it seemed we weren’t making it out of this without bloodshed. However, after a bit of shouting, we managed to convince the angry mob that the cure was literally being brewed as we spoke, and if they would just give it a few more hours, this whole thing would all be set right, which ultimately got them to disperse. I’ll admit I took the opportunity to throw a few choice words at that murderous fuck-head of a knight. He wanted to have it out with me, I could tell, but there was a woman with him who convinced him to stand down; I wonder who she is?

Anyway, the old woman got her shadow moss, and we all managed to choke down the resulting concoction. I’m no more of a frothing maniac than I usually am, so I presume it worked. The mayor was most grateful, and I think he was trying to marry his daughter off to one of us — apparently she had previously been engaged to Sir Fuckhead, which, combined with his obvious hatred of the mayor and his eagerness to slaughter the infected villagers (including his fiancee), opens up a can of small-town political drama that I want absolutely no part of. We managed to convince him to work on building an alliance to take out that bandit camp instead, since SOMEONE needs to. As for us, now that this mess is sorted out and we finally have what we came for, we’re headed back to Lothering and then hopefully onto Aneth Ara. I’ve said this once before, but the sooner we can put this whole absurd fool’s errand behind us, the better.

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Sam Holbig 15
Sam's Story

2nd of Drakonis, 9:42 Dragon

After settling our affairs in the wildling village and dragging Enna out of her drunken stupor at long last, we finally made our way to our campsite — at least, I presume that’s why the raven promptly keeled over dead when it got there. Now of course it’s been raining for Maker-knows-how-long and we’re in the middle of a fucking swamp, but despite that we somehow managed to get a fire going and that wretched-smelling soup cooking. (The smell was actually bad enough that it made Alalen lose his lunch, and I’m pretty sure some of it went into the pot. I promised him that if this whole quest went tits-up as a result of that, I was going to violently murder him. He didn’t seem to take it personally.)

Now, Maker forbid that we make any sort of forward progress in this quest without some beast or another coming along to ruin our fun, so what crawls out of the swamp but a giant crab, making a bee-line straight for the soup. I suppose if I sat in a swamp all day with nothing but mud and shit-water to eat all day, I’d find that stuff pretty appetizing as well. Obviously we couldn’t have the thing spill the soup before the fire sprites showed up, so we fought it and killed it with little enough fuss. Thing was damned tough, though; I wonder if I can use any of those crab plates to fashion some new armor? A thought for another time, I suppose. Anyway, we had just finished off the crab when the fire sprites finally decided to show themselves. They were eyeballing the soup and singing this song that —

Actually, hang on. If you see spots on the page, it’s because I’m chugging the rest of this drink and not caring too much if I spill a bit of it.

Okay. I don’t know what in the Maker’s name those sprites were singing, but it was the most fucking depressing piece of music I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. Alalen and I pretty much decided right then and there to go throw ourselves on the bandit’s swords, and I’m pretty sure Legnar started bawling. Thankfully we managed to snap out of it in time to follow the sprites, who had apparently gotten bored with us and decided to wander off. (I think we were supposed to throw the soup on the fire for them? Not sure anyone ever got around to that. Well, whatever.) We were thankfully able to track them to some sort of hidden grotto, where the sprites all dove into a pool that seems to lead somewhere. Or maybe they just all got snuffed out, like what normally happens to fire when it goes in water. At any rate, Alalen, Enna, and Vitorius decided to follow them in, while Legnar and I stayed up top to look around. As it turns out, this place is home to some sort of pre-Tevinter ruin, and I managed to find some decent healing potions that someone had stowed behind a loose stone. (I wonder how long those have been there?)

Eventually Legnar decided to dive after the rest of the group, since they’d forgotten the shadow moss gunny sack and we figured they’d need it. Me, I’m a big bastard in heavy metal armor, so I’m not much use in a pond. I decided to stay up top and make sure that no more unpleasant surprises came to bother us. I’m still up here now, hoping that the rest of my team hasn’t drowned in a hole or been eaten by a giant snake or something, and that they’ll make it back before I turn into a raving yellow lunatic.

Fuck the Korcari Wilds. The sooner we’re out of this shithole, the better.

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Sam Holbig 14
Sam's Story

17th of Guardian, 9:42 Dragon

Ah! It seems I misunderstood what that old woman was saying about the Amber Rage. It doesn’t take a handful of days for the disease to set in, it takes a handful of hours. Luckily she had a stock of potions around that could help stave off the effects of the disease for a day at a time. I wonder how many of those she has left? If I’m still correct that the shadowmoss grove is more than a day’s ride away, then the infected left behind in the town may be more screwed than I thought….

Also, it turns out that, even with magic on our side, finding the grove isn’t as simple as one would hope. The spell the old lady casts summons a raven, which we have to feed from a bag of beetles every hour so that it will take us to a campsite. There we have to set a fire and dump another bag of foul-smelling crap in it, which will apparently summon some fire sprites that will take us to the actual grove, where we have to fill ANOTHER bag (a proper gunny sack this time) with as much of the stuff as we can find. Because of course nothing involving magic can ever be simple.

On top of all that, there’s still no shortage of those yellow berserkers running around out here, but so far we’ve been lucky enough to miss them. We found a town with a ferry we needed to cross where they had killed everyone (save for one poor bastard who got infected; I gave him some of my medicine and sent him back to the festival town, where hopefully he’ll be safer), and came across a pair of non-infected wildlings who had gotten in a scrape with some and just managed to put them down when we arrived. There was also one fellow in a cart who chatted with us briefly; he and the tribesmen both pointed us towards a village on the edge of the Korcari Wilds, where hopefully we’ll be able to get a guide to help us find where we need to go.

In the meantime, we’re still following that damn bird, and I’ve pretty much lost track of how long we’ve been walking, and frankly at this point I’m debating the relative merits of giving into the Rage and finding myself some bandits to slaughter before I keel over. Once we’ve made it back to Aneth Ara after running all these bloody errands — IF we make it back — I’m seriously considering hanging up my spear and giving the middle finger to this adventuring life, at least for a little while. Every day my patience with all these fools’ errands and darkspawn and chasms and useless bloody villagers gets thinner and thinner, and I find myself giving less and less of a shit about the world going to hell around me. Back when I left Ostwick, I was hoping someday I’d find something that would inspire me to give up my wandering and settle down. I never expected that something to be disgust, or apathy, or the growing sense that all of Thedas can go and fuck itself.

Or maybe that’s just the fever talking.

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Sam Holbig 13
Sam's Story

3rd of Guardian, 9:42 Dragon

We stepped outside the tent, and naturally, everything was chaos. Barbarians were charging all over the place, attacking festival-goers and civilians — and more worryingly, it seemed some of the villagers had turned the same yellow color as the barbarians and were attacking their fellows, which is what I suppose will happen to us walking wounded if we don’t get treated properly. So, being the civic-minded individuals we are, our group split up to take care of the problem. I myself ended up pinning a fellow who used to be the local blacksmith (or carpenter, maybe?) to the ground with my spear — and when he pulled that out, I knocked him down again and used my sword to finish him off. I, ah, may have been a bit more… “enthusiastic” than I needed to be about that last bit, but what can I say, my blood was up. Eventually we found our way back to the inn, where the village survivors had decided to hole up. The building’s back is up against the valley wall, so it seems as defensible a spot as any. And who should we see there but our old friend Emery! Guess he came in town for the festival. Bad timing, you poor bastard.

Luckily, the old medicine woman survived the attack, and was able to give us some idea of what was happening. It seems these tribals are afflicted with something called the Amber Rage, which turns them into psychotic berserkers and gives them that nasty refuse-to-die trick. They also apparently coat their blades in their tainted blood in order to spread the disease, for… reasons, I suppose?… which confirms that Legnar, Alalen and I will be going the way of that poor blacksmarpenter if we don’t get our hands on the cure. And now I’m going to sing you a song I wrote, a little ditty I like to call “Of Course It Is”:

The medicine woman can make the cure, but she’s missing an ingredient (of course she is)
And it turns out this ingredient is shadow moss (of course it is)
And shadow moss only grows in one place, out in the Korcari Wilds (of course it does)
And the medicine woman’s too old to go herself (of course she is)
And she can’t tell us the way to get there (of course she can’t)
But she can cast a spell that will show us the way (of course she can)

… And so on and so forth. Now, apparently it’s a bit over a day’s ride to reach the grove where the shadow moss grows, and while the progression of Amber Rage doesn’t seem to be all that consistent, the old lady thinks we’ve got about a week before we start seeing the worst effects. Of course, there were other villagers who got blades stuck in ‘em during the fight too, and there’s at least one paranoid guard in the inn who thinks the survivors should just put the infected out of their misery right now and be done with it, for everyone’s safety. I follow his logic, though his bedside manner leaves a bit to be desired, but we’ve at least managed to convince the villagers to give us three full days to get the shadow moss and bring it back. That’s cutting it a bit closer than I’d like, but I guess we’ll take what we can get. We’re leaving tonight and riding hard until we get there.

Oh, and apparently Emery isn’t coming with us. Bastard.

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