Dear Travel Journal,What a couple of days it has been! I praised Myn at every opportunity, but surprisingly few of my fellow clergy were willing to return the traditional high-five. We left Tiamat’s Hold (ha! ha! It is really the opposite of Tiamat’s Hold! Like some sort of clumsy, off-handed Tia-catch! Never fear, Travel Journal, I will think of a better metaphor later) and returned back to our caravan, which, as you might recall, was hip-deep in MURDER! We assembled our brain-trust (which I have begun to call Dmitri’s Talons, in honor of Zyf. Fyreson is calling us the Fyreson Five, but we sound like a group of bards who will shortly become eclipsed by a better group of bards with a catchier pun-based name. Perhaps something like the, um, Harmoneys, or something. But I digress.) to plan to catch the culprit. Garchik suggested that the killer might be a doppleganger, but then Garchik occasionally tests her bedroll in case it has been replaced a doppleganger. Once I saw her try to cut a rock, but she saw me and pretended that she had been lighting a fire. On horseback. At midday. I think perhaps that if I emphasize Myn’s place as the goddess of trickery, I can make a convert. Although she seems to have developed an antipathy toward me, so her conversion might take longer than anticipated. Anyway, Garchik’s constant paranoia gave me an idea. What if we were to claim a disease, such as skinrust, previously imagined by Flann the Naysayer, and got the whole caravan to come in for testing? We’d soon find the murderer, that’s what! Any number of clues could give him or her away, from the smallest drop of blood trapped under a fingernail, to the flaps of uncured human skin which even now await the most diabolical of uses in this maniac’s twisted scheme. This sort of ruse would only be strengthened by the rumors of pestilence that already teem in our region of the empire. Why, no less an ecclesiastical figure than Mil of Myn gifted us with wooden holy symbols intended as a divine prophylactic! Before we could put my plan in to action, Signe suggested that we try to unite the remaining caravaners in some sort of mutual defense agreement in order to foil the hidden killer. I was given the task of recruiting the silversmiths, who proved to be a surly lot. No matter how much I praised Myn’s name nor how sincere I was in my prayers they refused to be moved! Or to help in any measurable way. So it is no thanks to them that our first night passed uneventfully. Not so the next day! We have a new Halfling friend, Halfling Companion! Tam, his real name, is the fifth Talon, if you will. His is a proud race, a noble, yet savage people, who prefer the barbaric splendor of the plains to cities and interior plumbing. Fyreson was oddly racist, as he referred to Tam as “one of your kind”. I found this behavior to be very odd, as Fyreson has shown himself to be quite friendly to many different ladies of several races and skin tones, but he isn’t the only one who seems to have taken a dislike to our newest company member. Garchik and Tam are preparing for a rivalry of epic proportions! I suspect this behavior is caused by a similar skill-set, in fact not half a day later, Garchik and Tam had a sneak-off! In the meantime they contented themselves with comparing the size and strength of their bows. Other than that, we had an uneventful night. I regret that I had no chance to find and subdue the murderer for the greater glory of Myn. Oh, well, someone might get killed later!
Early in the morning, I received some of the greatest news it is possible to receive. Tam is unaware of Zyf and/or his wisdom! I was about to deliver an impromptu sermon on the savior of the Imperium (and the Wyldlands) but a great shout arose from the caravan as though everyone had simultaneously told their horses to start moving. I bookmarked my thoughts for another day. Perhaps one day soon we’ll be on the same watch and I can introduce Tam to the saga of the greatest hero this world has ever produced! In his own words, no less!
We hadn’t been on the go for very long when Garchik reported that a group an armed men had set up camp ahead of us. She volunteered to sneak up and spy on them, but no sooner had she left than Tam volunteered to sneak up and spy on her! There followed a host of sneaking and spotting and spotting and sneaking, and perceiving and search and being stealth the likes of which even Emma the Larcenous had not dreamed! I’m not entirely sure who won, but I saw manys the coinpurse go back and forth in the mummers encampment. Whatever the outcome of the sneakoff, our scouts returned with the news that the armed men were clad in red and gold livery embroidered with a sunburst. As this information didn’t help us we resolved to go talk to them. Unfortunately we discovered that they were not only tax collectors, but also worshipers of Tiamat. I held my tongue with difficulty after Signe elbowed me in the ribs a few times.
As it turned out, the taxmen were lying in wait for our very own caravan. Say what you will about the Imperial bureaucracy, but it is thorough. To our great surprise, the head tax collector wanted to speak to Fyreson’s special friend, Sara. It seems that her brother had been employed by the IRS (Imperial Revenue Service) to collect long-overdue funds from a nearby town. He’d disappeared shortly after reaching his destination and his employer’s felt that he had simply absconded with the 500 gold. I was shocked to the core of my being to discover that people can think 500 gold pieces is enough to abscond with. I think I spent more than that on my armor, and it is only of average craftsmanship! After a brief conversation, Fyreson agreed to pay 125 gp a head for a search and rescue mission. I agreed, because I need every penny to get some better quality armor. I’m sure that my parents will reconsider their decision to disown me at some point, but until then I’ll have to cut back on the luxuries. I really could use a manservant. Does Myn allow personal manservants? I’ll have to look that up. Maybe I could get some Acolytes! I wouldn’t even have to pay them! Must ask the High Priest at the next temple of Myn I come across.
As we trekked across a forbidding (and messy!) swamp to Ravens-on-the-Moor I regaled Tam with tales of our valorous fight against the vicious Get of Syn and informed him as to the dasterdly and disturbing nature of the murders that have plagued our small, but very troubled, group of travelers. He seemed suitably impressed. I had almost convinced him of the wisdom of choosing Myn as a deity, when we were attacked by a single stirge. These disgusting creatures resemble an unholy cross between a bat and a mosquito. As they usually travel in packs (called suckers) I kept an eye out while Fyreson swiftly dispatched the disease-ridden pest. To our collectively great surprise, no sooner had the final (and only) blow been struck, but a small child ran in front of us crying about the loss of his pet. After the culture shock had worn off, I suggested that we head down to the swamps and get him a new stirge, but I was outvoted. Instead we headed in to Ravens-on-the-Moor to speak with the mayor. Luckily the boy was not likely to vote in any upcoming elections, so I suspect we dodged a political bullet!
I was relieved to note that the villagers appeared to be simple folk. Salt-of-the-earth types with a penchant for Mielikki worship. Mielikki, Travel Journal, is a generally pleasant nature goddess. Certainly not the type to demand human sacrifice for a plentiful harvest, as I am reliably informed is the custom in Redgrove. There were a few troubling incedents on the way to see the mayor. When we inquired about our missing taxman, the amateur wheelwright we asked was concealing the truth from us! His sly, mongoloid features bespoke a degradation from his natural state that was quite offputting. I might mention his strange and unsightly eczema which was concentrated on his neck, or his bulging, almost piscine eyes which never seemed to blink, but somehow I feel those details are ultimately unimportant. Of more import was the aforementioned revelation that Fyreson wants to call us the Fyreson Five (I guess we were the Fyreson Four until Tam joined) but Signe quickly shushed me when I tried to initate a group-wide discussion of the dictatorial usurpation of the naming prerogative. I think that Zyf’s Claws would be more appropriate! Or the Myn Gang!
It was at about this point that I noticed that Garchik snuck off somewhere, of this development more later, but for now I should tell you that the mayor seemed very…mayoral. A right proper trustworthy minor government functionary! Now TJ, this is where things got weird. We were chatting with the mayor just outside of the Mayoral residence, when, all of a sudden, Garchik fell from an upper story window. Thinking quickly, I pretended not to know who she was.
“It’s raining gnomes,” cried Fyreson.
“No! It’s raining MYN,” I shouted piously. “Hallelujah, it’s raining Myn,” I added as an afterthought. Signe, thinking quickly but inscrutably, cast color spray at Garchik. It had no apparent effect. Garchik ran! Tam gave chase! On a horse he had stolen from the Mayor! The Mayor’s brother, a very rude gent, threatened Signe! Then the Mayor, his brother, and some flunkies chased after Tam! On their own horses! And I could swear that I heard a jaunty tune playing somewhere in the background.
It was at this point that I tried to calm everyone down, and it almost worked. You see, I was talking to the stable boy about the glories of Myn and had almost gotten him to give the recognition signal, when Fyreson, in a rage that Smuj the Obtuse might have envied threatened to hurt the stableboy if he didn’t give us our horses. Signe, no doubt offended by Fyreson’s situational ethics, walked off into a cornfield. The stableboy, spooked by the action around him, lost control of the horse. The horse trampled him, and as he was on the verge of death, I asked myself: “What would Zyf do?” The answer was obvious: heal the stableboy! And I did, “Praise Myn,” I shouted. “Praise Myn,” replied the stableboy, somewhat less enthusiastically. “RUN, BOY!” Fyreson yelled furiously and, just like that, my potential convert ran away.
“Now. You. Get. On. That. Horse. And. You. Ride. Back. To. Camp,” Fyreson said through gritted teeth.
“But what about-”
“GO,” he yelled. And that was that. We found Tam and Garchik, but no one has seen Signe. And that, dear Travel Journal, is where I have to leave off.