Dorak - Journey into Mystery
I hope you can forgive me if this letter is jumbled. I am composing it mentally in an effort to stay warm.
You see, we had just finished shopping in Taginae, still in the Phthyan Empire, for a few items that we had been frustrated in finding earlier – a belt for Kumori and a ring for he and Ignatius, scrolls for Ian, and some other odds and ends that I’ve not yet updated on my shopping list – when we were all sucked into the lamp. The closest I can recall like this was in escaping the Aspis warehouse, but I remained outside that night, carrying the profane artwork away.
We arrived in snow. I have endured cold, and Ignatius had a great respect for weather, but for some of us, it was a very novel experience, and we were mostly unprepared, save Ignatius.
We had no idea where to go so it was up to Kumori to lead the way. He thought us in Kaidan, and I suggested we examine Satori, as I recalled him speaking of how it was changed when he first found himself outside of Kaidan. It did seem different, somewhat subdued, as if it were resting for a task that it was not eager to perform, or perhaps unable to at this time.
We set out on our horses through the snow in the way that Kumori thought may lead us to a shrine and shelter. He was right, and seemed so eager to be back in Kaidan and have something familiar that he forgot protocol. I know it can be annoying to be a stickler about protocol, but if there’s inconsistencies, it makes it that much easier for our foes to attack us and can hinder our progress, though it may seem counter-productive at the time, because we may rely on inconsistencies later – constant vigilance is the surest coin to buy one’s safety, and hopefully success for our overall mission.
Thankfully, there was no obvious trap, only Kaidanese spiritual men (and some women) who maintained the shrine and studied here. They welcomed us in, and while I pretended to be ignorant of what was being said about us, I fear Ian failed to recall the first lesson Kumori imparts when teaching Kaidanese. Kumori tried to smooth the disclosure of understanding, but he was insulted by the one who noticed it.
The dishes served were interesting, even if I did not partake – there was a warm soup that Kumori explained involved fermenting beans, which seems like an odd use of fermentation to my mind. There was also what Kumori called onigiri – rice and wrapping around dried bits of fish, though I think he also said something about a plum. This was well received by the group for being easier to eat, requiring no actual use of cutlery. However, the most interesting were the bowls of noodles and broth, many with egg and protein. There was a rice bowl with meat and ginger as well, and Iz made a good attempt at eating it, though I felt from the looks at her that we were regarded as savages for some of what she did to consume it. As may be expected, Kumori was very happy to have familiar food and relished pointing out how we do everything wrong when it comes to food.
When there was mention of baths, I don’t know how to describe the look on Kumori’s face other than euphoria.
However, we did have to sleep for the evening, and they were going to settle us in a room of an initiate or some such – Kumori declined the honor, which meant that I got to hear the not-meaning-to-be-insulting prattle of a boy one quarter my age who looked at me in the same way we look at gnomes: interesting, amusing, and a bit odd, to say the least.
I wish I had paid better attention, for the last words of a boy, especially one who is studying religion, even if not my own, should be recorded, but I think they amounted to ‘I hope you understand, little ugly man, that the light going out is a sign that we sleep now.’ with a bit of pantomiming beforehand of blowing out the candle and sleeping.
I say last words because a few hours later, as I was debating options for what this whole trip into Kaidan means to the mission, the whole place was moaning and dying, with rime on their lips and cold breath escaping their forms.
It was loud enough that even my companions awoke from their sleep. We all gathered, and though no one was harmed, it was getting colder and colder.
We ventured to examine sounds and the possible cause for the cold, which seems to be of supernatural origin. The first sign was that Kumori’s wakizashi was no longer glowing with the eternal flame that Ignatius cast upon it, which was particularly odd since Smriti’s spear had been glowing when we arrived. Or maybe it was Kumori being unable to relight a brazier? I forget… however, after an ambush that was annoying, due to the lack of mobility for the group as a whole and the lack of visibility, we had additional evidence since Smriti could not light her campfire bead.
I say annoying because we all like to be given a chance to show off our unique skills, but because the creature was never close to us, I never got a chance to show off my training against giants, Smriti and Kumori got few chances to land a blow, though Ian did get a few good spells off against it, and he used a few spells to good effect to protect him and Smriti.
I’ll compose another letter after I have more chance to rest and reflect. As it is, we’re about to barge in on a few more of the ice-giants near the shrine. It seems colder, like about 14 degrees or so… I don’t know what is making it so cold, but that suggests these are foot soldiers of something or someone greater and more powerful. I do not like that idea.