Just trying to pull myself back together. Figured writing would help. Starting a new journal, since I had to leave my old one behind. Left so much behind. I’m still trying to sort it all out, but even now it’s so confusing, and it happened so fast. I had gone out for my evening walk, and when I came home there were men there, threatening mother. I knew immediately that something was wrong, and mother looked even more terrified when she saw me enter. It still makes my blood boil to remember seeing them there, with their smug, sneering faces. I immediately regretted leaving my sword by the main door, but in that moment, it suddenly didn’t matter. The shock, the terror, the rage, all of it, it all built up and boiled to the surface until SOMETHING broke through. I remember feeling this intense rush to my head, a giddy feeling that left me almost breathless; my heart was pounding fit to burst, and my vision seemed to go a bit hazy. Every hair I had stood on end, as this intense, buzzing, prickling feeling built up inside, and then suddenly rushed down the length of my arm…and then LIGHTNING burst from my fingertips, fanning outward and striking several of the men. I watched them twitch, their hair smoldering slightly, as the current that came out of me coursed through them. But while it only tingled for me, it definitely HURT them. And I won’t lie…it was satisfying.
But however that happened, it didn’t happen a second time, and they were still standing. I was so angry, I was ready to throw myself at them, and I clenched my fists. But my hands felt strange. I looked down at them, briefly, and was amazed to see that my fingertips had somehow sprouted wicked-looking dark talons. As crazy as it was, I didn’t spare a moment to ponder over it. I just yelled, and launched myself at the men. They must have been as surprised as I was, because they were slow to defend themselves. And I tore them apart. I’ve never seen so much blood.
Afterward, mother was frantic. The claws I had suddenly grown retracted once again, but my heart was still pounding, and my head felt pretty fuzzy. I couldn’t understand what she was saying. They were dead, bleeding out, so we were safe, right? Gradually, I began grasp her meaning, even though she refused to give me any details. She said they’d come for me again, and that I needed to be far, far away as soon as possible. She told me to pack what I could, and then we were off. I felt weak afterward, and I was still in a daze, so I don’t remember how long we traveled or where we went. I just remember that mother needed to talk to someone, and that when she had finished she gave me a letter along with instructions.
I am to travel south. Into exile, in the Stolen Lands. Mother said she would be safe enough; that I was the one in danger. And so here I am, alone, on a miserable dirt track, my life in tatters behind me. All I wanted was to be a soldier, to make a name for myself, and to make mother proud. But what do I have to look forward to now? I’ve heard stories of the wild lands. Am I to be killed by bandits? Become a bandit myself? Get eaten by trolls? Turned into a mushroom by pixies? They said there’s a government of sorts down there. A town called Haven, by the Tuskwater. That is where I am to go. That is, apparently, where I am to make my new home. Assuming it hasn’t been overrun by faeries or bandits by the time I get there.
“Again,” mother said. They would come for me “again.” Were they after me from the start? But why?
I have no idea what day it is. I’ve been traveling for two days now, keeping off the main road as much as possible. Met a crazy old man today, in the woods maybe a half mile from the road. He was short, bald, obviously as old as the hills, and his features marked him as a foreigner. One of those people from over the Crown of the World? I don’t know. He was very pleasant, and all smiles. But he snuck up on me like no one else ever has. One moment, I was alone in the forest clearing, the next, he was close enough to kick me. Once I got over my surprise, he greeted me, and asked if I’d like some tea. What do you say to that?
The whole encounter was indescribably odd. I find that I can’t even put the details down on paper. But while I sat there, drinking tea, I opened up to this total stranger and told him everything that had happened recently—-even the bit with the lightning and the claws. He just smiled and nodded, and for some ridiculous reason, I felt better. He asked me if I was going to continue to think of myself as a confused victim, or if I was going to overcome this challenge set before me. I nearly choked on my tea when he said that. I’m not really proud of what happened next. I got angry, argued, and when he accused me of being a spoiled, weak child, I attacked him. Threw the lightning at him, and it didn’t even singe him. Sprouted the claws again, and still couldn’t even touch him. He threw one lazy punch at me, and even though another surge ran through me and I felt a semi-solid barrier between us, his strike sent me flying backward.
Then he laughed, walked over and helped me back up. He apologized for goading me, saying he “just wanted to see” what I was capable of. And he said I still have “a long way to go.” That I have “great potential,” but that I must look deep within myself, and push myself, to find it. Then he sat me down and taught something called “meditation,” which was strange, but actually rather interesting. Then he handed me a book of teachings from somebody named Irori, smiled, and started walking off through the woods. He was gone in a blink, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where he’d gone.
But I couldn’t just stand around, so started walking again, and here I am. Going to finish my bountiful dinner of trail rations and dried jerky, try this meditation thing again, maybe get an hour or two of sleep, and then get moving once again. I still have a long way to go.
Feels like I’ve been walking for ages. Hitched a ride on a wagon with a farmer, his wife, and three kids, heading south. Asked him why he was moving, especially south, and especially at this time of year. He said it had been a bad harvest, and what with political tensions in Brevoy starting to scare the economy (and a lot of people), he figured it was a sign to seek his fortunes elsewhere. And, as it turns out, some noble actually payed him, in gold, to move his family south to the Stolen Lands. That surprised me, since those noble bastards would never do anything like that unless there was something in it for them. But according to this fellow, lots of people had been similarly encouraged to emigrate southward, to some newly-founded nation called “Sylvangarde” (which is just about as pompous a name for a muddy, weed-choked, pest-ridden, bandit-run hole in the ground as you could ask for).
When he mentioned the town of Haven, I realized this was the same place to which I was bound, so I asked him what he’d heard of the place. I almost immediately regretted doing so. He said it was overrun with fey, who all just LOVED to play pranks on the unsuspecting; that it was run by a guy named Melchior, a former servant turned explorer turned bandit slayer turned mayor; that Melchior’s wife is a wild, psychopathic elf who was raised by dire wolves; that (and he said this with an absolutely straight face) this new territory’s minister of magical affairs is a kobold, and its minister of intelligence is a faerie dragon. I’m fairly certain that almost none of that is actually true.
Arrived at some big frontier trading post/semi-permanent flea market. Heard people refer to it as “Oleg’s.” All that matters is that being here means I’ve officially left Brevoy, and theoretically beyond whatever trouble I left behind there. Maybe now I can relax a bit. My stomach was actively trying to devour me by the time I walked through the gates, so even though my funds are limited, I followed my nose and ended up where I now sit: in a tavern, eating something called “Moonradish stew” and a large hunk of roast wild boar, looking forward to the bath and bed that I paid for. This place is pretty cozy, actually. The decor is interesting, too. There’s a tatzlwyrm head mounted on the wall! I wonder who killed it? The owner looks pretty surly, but I don’t think he’s the adventurous type.
Oh, dear gods, it’s starting already. I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but I just watched half a dozen pixies wearing a cloak, a hat, and a false mustache, approach the bar and order a small cask of whiskey. The owner didn’t even bat an eye. He just growled and said, “Money first! And it better be real this time!” They paid up, went to a table, and then those half dozen pixies drank. The. Entire. Cask.