Returning to Fumidai, we almost literally bumped into Turgut out in the street. He told us he received a message from the Lady of the Woods, saying we required his presence here. Takeshi walked us to Town Hall while presenting his proposition: to make Turgut Marshal to these lands, which will allow him to spend as much time as he wants in the wilderness, and only come in to Council once a month. We could use his wisdom and experience in the wilderness, Takeshi told him, and of course, regardless of his decision, he would always be a welcome and cherished citizen of this realm.
It's not as hard to read Turgut as it is to read, say, the kobolds. He seemed bemused, but for the time being said he would keep a conservative position and give us his final answer within some days.
As we bid him farewell, along came Oleg, and trotting behind him the most interesting-looking woman I've seen in some time. Her skin was a greyish purple, and she wore a heavy breastplate and carried what Grandfather would call "a peacemaker" (sidenote: more like a piece-maker) – a heavy flail about as large as Takeshi. She walked like a man, and very much stood like a man, and when she opened the mouth, with the voice of a woman, she spoke like a man. Oleg went on to introduce her as Heff Jinn, a friend from his adventuring years, a person of trust that would enrich our Council as Royal Enforcer. These days, Heff Jinn is a bounty hunter, and Oleg believes she would do well in this task. Takeshi told her that a friend to Oleg was a friend to us, and if she wanted it, the job was hers.
Heff Jinn sized us up (and I mean actually: she looked us all head to toe like she meant to order the Amenos some longcoats) and said she'd give us an answer in three days' time – she wants to get a look around first. With that said and without even bidding us goodbye, she left. I don't want to say she was unpolite but… frontal, maybe?
As we waited to go into the council room, I asked Oksana what she made of Heff Jinn. Oksana told me she was a suli – an uncommon species that comes from the cross between a human and a genie, or "jinn" as they're truly called.
(sidenote: wait… HEFF Jinn? Right there when I was in front of her, and without knowing what she was, it didn't dawn on me, but looking back now… alright. It has to be some sort of nickname or war title or something of the sort. Either that, or Heff's parents had one terrific sense of humor. Heff Jinn… honestly?!)
We sat in Council once more to hear about the latest news. Svetlana got word that the innkeeper's daughter was interested, and would pay well for, elven artifacts, particularly statuary – when we clear out the elven outpost, we'll take it into account. There was a lot of statuary in that central tower chamber. A little more worrisome than that was the presence of Valen for today's Council: he came in announced by Oleg with a missive from Restov. Apparently, rumors of troll activity are already reaching them and the Lord Mayor is concerned. We promised Valen we would address the issue as soon as possible. In truth, we have been exploring about in hopes of finding evidence of trolls. Yet the only two we stumbled upon seemed to be alone…
I was upset that the issue had reached Restov, and I wanted to deal with it as soon as we could.
The last bit of news was a doozy, as locals say: Kasten Garress took the floor first to let us know we had seven prisoners at the garrison waiting for trial. This came on as a surprise, but he quickly explained himself: they were the leaders of a mob that was ready to march on Scottsdale with the proverbial torches and pitchforks to evict or kill the kobolds of Oaktop Mine! Understandably, we were confused: what possessed these people to do this, especially if the kobolds have been our allies for well over a year?
Fortunately, they never reached the silver mine. Turgut caught wind of the protest, and warned Garress about it. Lord Garress gathered a few good men from the militia, took an alternate route to intercept the mob, and brought them back to Fumidai in chains.
Takeshi agreed to sit and judge the men this afternoon, but before that, some preparations were required. He sent Nagata out to learn some more of what might have brought this about, and asked for a room to be prepared in the garrison, where we can hear these men say their peace. To ensure that they truly say their peace, he had Father Kavken sit in and prepare a zone of truth for the trial.
When Nagata returned, he brought back a disturbing rumor. Apparently, some villages and farms in the periphery are receiving visits from caravans of traveling peddlers meaning to trade. This, in and of itself, is not odd. What is odd, is the trail of unrest they leave behind them as they depart. It seems that everywhere they've gone there have been problems – and nobody really recalls what the merchants looked like, or what they spoke about. Nagata says that out of perhaps ten caravans in the territory, he's pretty sure two or three of them are in on this.
With this in mind, we sat for the first official trial held in Fumidai. (sidenote: at least, most of us sat; Nagata went somewhere in the chandelier…) I was somewhat surprised, when I took my place and before Lord Garress marched the accused, to see Heff Jinn sitting in to attend. She stood at the back of the room, arms crossed and heavy flail sitting by her side. I'd later learn that she heard about the trial while sitting at the Flowing Silver, and decided to come see us at work. Takeshi thought it fitting – after all, if she accepts the position we offered her, she'll be the one tracking down and hunting the cause of all this mess.
Lord Garress brought in the accused – seven men from ranches and farms around Fumidai. Takeshi received them with a bare katana laid across his knees. (sidenote: once again dear brother Bear, not subtle in the least… but you got the desired effect) The men were understandably nervous, so much so that one of them, convinced he was living the last hours of his life, went and soiled himself. It made the rest of the meeting a little awkward. And err… scented.
Bear opened up the session by asking the men to explain their actions, and answer my previous question: what possessed them to take action against the kobolds? One of them, who seemed to be the leader of the lot, began talking about the kobolds in very much the same way I wrote about the lizardfolk some time ago: they were lizard people who could not be trusted, ate people and caused disturbance. We had to explain to him that the kobolds are some of our oldest allies, and that every silver piece coined in this city comes from their hard work and dedication. Surely the presence of kobolds at Oaktop never bothered them before – why should it bother them now? When did this mistrust of them began?
The story he told was an echo of the rumors Nagata brought us just this morning. A traveling merchant caravan had gone by his ranch while headed eastward, and they were the ones who pointed out the fact that the "vicious lizard-people" at Oaktop were a disaster waiting to happen. He could not recall the face or name of the merchant he spoke to, though he could remember the caravan, what business he had had with them and when they had arrived and departed. He realized he'd had a conversation with one of the peddlers about the kobolds, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. But for the life of him he could not bring back details concerning the man himself.
I was taking notes now, and when I glanced over at Oksana, I realized she, too, was taking in the statement and wondering what magic these peddlers could have worked on the ranchers to put them up to violent action and cause them to forget how they were led into it. I whispered as much to Takeshi: this is no coincidence. I knew that Grigori the Pudgy was just the beginning of something bigger, and this was it. Someone was purposefully arranging to spread chaos in the Greenbelt, and after Grigori tried and failed, they were expanding the operation to traveling merchant caravans.
Takeshi agreed, and again faced the accused. His verdict was harsh, but fair: each of the men is to spend a month working at Oaktop Mine, and living among the kobolds to learn of their ways and be educated regarding their neighbors. Each will serve his sentence separately, one at a time, while the rest keeps on working at their ranches and farms to help support the family of the missing man while he's away. In that manner, Takeshi hopes to help them see the kobolds in a new light, while diminishing the impact on their families. I was happy with the verdict: it puts people to work instead of locking them away, allows for rehabilitation instead of cruel punishment. It will bring about understanding, and not hatred. Of course, this is a decision Takeshi was able to take because the mob didn't get to violence: if they had marched through Oaktop, caused disturbance and made victims, everything would have gone very differently…
Heff Jinn vacated the room shortly after the verdict was passed, and she was smiling. I think she was pleased with the verdict too.
Once the door was closed, Nagata rejoined us again: he plans to look deeper into this issue, but so far, from what he could ascertain, these people were being very professional about the way they spread their influence. Something is happening: we just don't know what or with what end, yet…
For the time being, Takeshi wants to counter the spreading unrest with education. Establishing a mandatory schooling period for every citizen of Fumidai was already on my wishlist, and now so is ensuring that people hear the truth and nothing but the truth about what happens in their realm. (sidenote: well, at least as much as possible. This is a very tall order: I can establish some guidelines for what town criers say and forbid them to spread around any news they're not sure about, but this is a vast territory and I don't expect to be able to control the news and rumors. Once we're sure most people can read, we can have official documents sent to the four corners of the realm, but for the time being, our priority is to counter the actions of these peddlers until we figure out what's behind them). He also plans to have a monument built to diversity. Just like the kobolds were targeted this time, other groups may come to be the brunt of violence. Bear wants to send a clear message that be he kobold, feyfolk, elf or dwarf or gnome, Tian, Varisian or Ulfen, as long as he comes in peace and ready to work hard, he will be welcome in Fumidai.
It's a wonderful idea. But why is it that something keeps gnawing in the back of my mind that despite all of these good ideas and positive thoughts, it won't be enough?
Today was a great day, despite all that's been happening. My personal office at the Lyceum was completed – the varnish finally dried on the floor and all the furnishings are in. I even managed to turn a large broom closet into my own tiny, personal bedroom for the time being. So I can sleep here whenever I feel like from now on. I mean, the inn is all well and good, but it always feels exactly like that: an inn room. This is a bit closer to my own place.
Despite all that's been built in Fumidai, we are still lacking a proper home here. Takeshi has plans to refit Fort Ameno as Castle Fumidai, and we'll likely live there once it's completed. For the time being, however, I have my own cozy little corner.
From inspecting the works on the Lyceum and making sure everyone is nice and settled there (not a lot of bards yet, but many people seem interested, which is very good) I went to Town Hall to meet with the rest of the crew. I arrived to find the hallway full of crates bearing the Minkai Imperial Signet! Takeshi's order for goods from home has arrived!
Oh happy happy day! There were bags of rice, vials of soy sauce, mason jars filled to the top with green and black tea leaves, silks, clothing and sandals, proper crafting paper, cherry tree seeds and a set of shamisen strings, and even a folding screen for Takeshi's bedroom! I felt just like a little girl running through the hallway from crate to crate, waiting for the workers to open them to see what treasures sat inside! I almost wanted to cry… it's like home came to Fumidai to meet us.
While I was at it, Oksana looked over all these things that were completely foreign to her, wrinkled her nose at some, looked others over curiously, and asked me about all of them. I must have looked like a fool. And for a while, maybe, a little sad. Seeing all of these things reminded me of Grandfather. I wonder where he is. If he's alright. If he's someplace warm where his bones won't bother him.
If he even lives yet…
I retired to the latrine to have a moment for myself. No use in letting my brothers see me cry about something we can't do anything to change. At least not yet. I have to do my part and put in my effort as well, so I've got to keep myself together.
Once I was sure I was composed again, I returned to Town Hall, this time to see Nagata buzzing around the crates, grabbing armfuls of food and rushing towards the kitchen. There I found Svetlana and the poor cook from the Flowing Silver Inn, looking at everything he was laying out before them with puzzlement. It would appear Takeshi wants to have a Minkaian meal cooked for Council, as traditional and authentic as we can make it. This, in and of itself, is a problem. We have all the ingredients here, but nobody who knows how to cook it. To our good fortune and welfare of the project, Svetlana is no stranger to Nagata buzzing around her in the kitchen, and as he tried to explain how things are prepared, what they're supposed to taste like and how the final product looks, she had a pretty good idea of what she had to do to accomplish it. Bless her food-preparing skills and the patience in her heart.
More good news awaited me as I went into the Council room to see what Takeshi was up to. It's been three days since the trial and the first of the men must be arriving in Oaktop today. Heff stopped by and said she accepted the position of Royal Enforcer – she's invited for dinner tonight. Turgut also gave us a yes, and will be ordained Marshal come morning – also invited for dinner, no doubt.
So dinner was had today by the complete Council, in celebration of coming together to overcome obstacles. Much like I figured, Oksana took some bites of properly prepared fish and loved it. Nagata found himself a contestant in Heff, who shares his fondness for abundant food. It was very much a race between them, and they both ate enough for three. (sidenote: although I can perfectly see where Heff stores what she eats; with Monkey, the mystery remains). I don't think Oleg was overly impressed, he's more of a meat-and-potatos kind of person, but all in all, I think everyone enjoyed the experience.
I went to bed tonight at my little corner in the Lyceum, with a belly full of delicious food, and a heart that dares hope. Tomorrow, once again, we leave on expedition with one main goal in mind: to find, and get rid of, those cursed trolls.
Despite how much has been said about trolls lately, and the fact that we've encountered two of them not so long ago, there isn't much I know about them. While we cross known territory towards the south, Oksana and I pooled our knowledge to see if we could determine where they're likely to be.
We know trolls fall into the category of humanoids despite their feral appearance, and they're usually large and lumbering. A creature their size is bound to leave clues of its passage, and we're counting on Monkey to keep an eye open to them. They bite, and have great claws that can deliver a vicious attack (this much we learned from fighting them before). It is a widely known fact that a troll's capacity for healing is amazing: I've even heard stories of adventurers beheading a troll, only to end up with two within a day or so: one that regenerated his head back, and one that grew a body from the chopped head. Wounds delivered by fire or acid cancel out a troll's regeneration for a while – hopefully, long enough to ensure it dies. They're heavy but sturdy, and usually not the smartest creatures. While trolls can be found very much everywhere, and depending on their type they may have different qualities, we're pretty sure we're dealing with swamp trolls, and we're likely to find them somewhere in the Gnarled Marshes.
Going south, we found a ford on the third day of expedition that allowed us to cross the Girded River, one that departs from the Tuskwater Lake and makes southeast. No troll tracks to be found – if they were this close to the Tuskwater, I believe we would have bumped into them already.
We continued, uphill and downhill once more, for three other days. Further ahead the ground began rising, and looking ahead, it's likely to rise some more. The Girded River doesn't follow, however: it kept at the same height even as a ravine formed around it, to become a veritable canyon further ahead. At one point we realized we wouldn't be able to cross over to the other side anywhere near: it's too high up, and the fall is… scary. We were ready to backtrack to the ford, but we're of course a little sore about that: it'll take us at least a pair of days of quick march to return, and we have to mind the date for the next Council. Time is of the essence.
Oksana had an idea then: perhaps she could ferry us across, one at a time, thanks to her flying spell. Takeshi was not so keen on the idea, however: he's the heavier of the lot, and becomes even heavier when you account for the armor, and he doubts even Oksana's magic would allow her to carry him safely from one side of the canyon to the other. Instead, he proposed Oksana take one end of a rope, tie it firmly somewhere on the other side, and we'll try to tightrope walk across.
Right away I didn't like the idea: what if we fell? I've acquired a ring that allows me to slow down my fall, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to jump off a canyon! For safety's sake, we determined one person will cross at a time, with a lifeline tied around their waist in case something happens.
So Oksana flew across first, carrying the rope, and tied it to a rock. On the other side, Takeshi also found a safe place to tie his end. Nagata crossed first, doing sommersaults and cartwheels across the rope (sidenote: that cheeky Monkey…) for bragging rights, no doubt. Takeshi went afterwards, very carefully, and with Nagata and Oksana both holding his lifeline, just in case. He also made it across safely. Then… then it was my turn. I tied the rope around my waist, secured the shamisen at my back and the bag around my shoulders, threw my lifeline across and said a prayer to Shizuru, asking her to protect fools and their lousy ideas… and then I took three steps on the rope…
And right afterwards I was testing the full acoustic capacities of the canyon with what we'll just call the "I Fell Off the Rope" song. It's a nice, loud song with lots of interesting words in it. I didn't even call out Bear and Monkey for snickering until they pulled me to solid ground. Never again, brothers dear! I'm glad there was nobody for miles to witness me swinging about the canyon yelling obscenities. We'll leave that one out of the history books.
Still, other than a hungry pack of wolves we swiftly dealt with, we saw nothing of note for the following four days after that. No troll tracks, or any other tracks that Nagata could tell. The ground became rougher by the yard, with mounds not so much smoothing off from the solid rock but jutting out like great boulders.
As we were walking along, Takeshi suddenly told us to hush – he could hear something. And once we went quiet, we could hear it too. It sounded like a woman calling for help!
Takeshi didn't skip a beat; he charged towards the direction of the sounds, went around a crag, and halted of a sudden when a large creature jumped off it and landed right on him, taking a fierce bite off his shoulder and dropping to attack again. The body said "large cat", while the head spoke of "carnivorous mammal" and the paws were more like a deer's – I recognized it as one of the chimera family, a leocrota. These creatures usually lurk about the wilderness and can imitate almost any sound they've heard before in order to lure in prey. Including, of course, a call for help.
Without me saying anything Takeshi realized he had been played. So he called for the blessings of Shizuru, took a step back to gain room and struck back at the thing. I was expecting a tough fight, but Oksana made it much easier: she chanted her sleep spell (sidenote: pardon – hex), rendering the enemy to slumber, and Nagata easily finished it.
Once it was gone, Nagata took the time to find its tracks, and follow them back to the beast's lair – a cave at the bottom of a valley. We found the remains of the latest victims, and a rare treefeather token as well! Also a prize was a suit of armor made with blue scales, along with a matching shield. Oksana isn't sure they are true dragon's scales, but perhaps a close relative. At any rate, they will probably sell for a good price.
Of course, we weren't expecting to have a relative of the armor's come by to bother us… but it did.
Two nights later, we camped in the midst of rocky ground. The ground rose ever upwards, almost as if it would continue on into a mountain. I don't know how long it had been since we'd gone to sleep, but it couldn't have been much. Thanks to his ring of sustenance, Takeshi covers three turns of the watch these days: his own, mine and Oksana's. Monkey usually keeps first watch while he sleeps. And it was Nagata's shout that rose us, therefore, we were probably sleeping for an hour when it happened.
Nagata's shout roused us, and I opened my eyes to see Monkey dancing around a long, lean blue creature, with a tail like a scorpion's that stung my brother right on the side! I shook my head and tried to clear my vision, already reaching for the shamisen. Takeshi was quicker than me, so when I opened my eyes again, he was already contending with the blue blur. When it flew towards the light of the fire I finally saw it clearly: two legs, two wings and a long tail with a stinger at the end, dragon-like but not quite a dragon, of course. Had it been a dragon, my brothers wouldn't have been fighting. Instead, I'd be waking up under Bear's arm as we bolted away from the thing…
Oksana sent in a snowball as I began playing the first thing that came to mind – the Ode to the Wayward Samurai – but the shot missed. Monkey dodged the sting and the bite, but a wing caught him even as he tried to get behind it. As agile as the creature was, it wasn't a match for the combined might of Monkey and Bear. Once Nagata managed to get to its back, it was all a matter of time, and eventually, the creature fell off the air.
Once it was dead and we managed to get a good look at it, Oksana identified it as a wyvern – a close relative to dragons, but smaller, leaner and with less limbs. Takeshi skinned it during his long watch, he's planning to use the hide.
From there we kept on climbing, ever-upward. It took us two more days to reach the top. It wasn't so much a mountain as a very high elevation, but it sure felt like a mountain to me, and mountain goat I ain't. In many places I had to ask for Takeshi's help climbing, or for Nagata to find a path for me to safely keep going. Oksana flies whenever she finds some ground she can't easily transverse (sidenote: also her legs are longer, so she doesn't have half the trouble I have. Therefore I must declare she is cheating on this particular climb!)
From the top, however, we could see far and wide. To the south, we spotted what appeared to be large craters on the ground, as if the hills had been pockmarked by falling stars. Takeshi opened up the map and began drawing paralels: somewhere down there should be the place where Old Beldane asked us to look for black rattlecap mushrooms. So perhaps we won't be finding any trolls about here anytime soon, but there's something else we can take care of.
Naturally, after climbing so high up… we'd have to climb back down. I summoned all of my patience and followed Takeshi through the path of least resistance, with Oksana floating down whenever the ground became uneven (sidenote: cheating! Viciously, shamelessly cheating!) and Monkey, of course, leaping past the roughest patches. My lack of agility and Takeshi's armor keep us from such insane stunts. We took the straightest, least accident-inviting path we could make out. (sidenote: I also remain behind him; in case I fell, Bear could probably stand firmly and break my fall. If he was to fall while I walked in front of him, we'd likely stop somewhere at the base of the hill.)
In two more days of careful climbing we began approaching the craters we'd seen from afar, to discover they were not so much craters but natural pools of hot mud. Oksana said they're likely heated up by thermal stone or volcanic activity, though if that is so, I have no idea where the actual volcano could be. Right now, I didn't care either, because if nobody had told me that was mud, I'd be thinking it might be… something of similar color, smell and consistency. The whole place smelled like the Abbadon's own rear end, as locals say!
Regardless of what it was or how it smelled (sidenote: but dear Shizuru, did it smell!) we could see vast bunches of mushrooms of several types, colors and sizes growing around these pools. Some, in fact, so large they were as big as me, and bigger!
We began approaching tentatively to look for the rattlecaps, but the smell was so intense I looked at Oksana to see her turn green – and I was likely turning the very same color. I felt like my breakfast was about to return to greet me. Takeshi must have noticed, because he told us to stay back while he stoically braved the stench and approached. Even at a distance I couldn't take it anymore: my breakfast did come back out… and as I lifted my head from retching, I saw the largest of the mushrooms stir to life, and reach out for my brother!
Takeshi must have seen it move from the corner of his eye because he took a stance with the naginata and charged in, only to be slammed and gripped by the creature's tentacles, and lifted up in the air like a child lifts up a doll. Nagata ran right after him to help, but despite his efforts, the creature swallowed Takeshi up in one mighty gulp!
I tried to yell. More of my breakfast came out instead. And Oksana's followed. Nagata danced around the creature, trying to slash at it and make it throw up Takeshi, but it was too sturdy. I couldn't even muster the strength to play a single chord! I could hear Takeshi from the creature's gut, yelling and trying to pierce his way out, but the thing was simply too tough. It all seemed lost; but Nagata, bless him, pressed on until he managed to throw the creature down, open it up, and pull Takeshi back out. Bear seemed rattled, but alive, and now covered in mushroom juice.
I was never so joyous for a sight that made me throw up even more.
Takeshi seemed alright, and the naginata had stayed out of the belly of the beast – but his father's katana was still in there. As we heard this, we knew we had to retrieve it before the acids in the mushroom did damage to it. With my breakfast gone I felt a little better, and tried to conjure my mage hand to retrieve it without having to approach. I would've succeeded nicely, but Monkey probably didn't realize what I was doing, because just as I pulled the katana out of the creature he dove into the mess to look for it! So now we had two of us retching at the sight of the other two.
Once we were sure Takeshi was alright and the katana was recovered, Oksana and I backed away from the pools to get some air, while the boys gathered as many rattlecap mushrooms as they could find, swiftly so that we could vacate the place once and for all. If I never have to return to this area I'll be all the happier for it! Along with the rattlecaps, the boys collected a few kinds of mushroom which, according to Oksana, are rare and of good use in potion-making and medicine. The place might be worth telling our Fumidai herbalist about.
I don't know how she managed to muster the willpower to look at mushrooms. I spent most of that night dreading the sight of anything even remotely related to food.
Takeshi spent most of the night at work, I understand. When the great fungus swallowed him, he drew his father's katana to try and cut his way out, and the acid of the creature's gut got to it. I lent my mending spells before I went to bed, and he spent most of the night taking care of it and praying for forgiveness.
I'm sure he's forgiven. All that matters is that our Bear is alright. Thank you so much, Shizuru, my brother is alright.
Fumidai was built at the edge of the Tuskwater, but the truth is, we never really stopped to see how far the lake goes. Sure, we can look it over from the margin, and from the top floor of the Lyceum, for instance, we can see the lake spreading well into the horizon. But only now that we're getting up close do we realize, the stretch is not made up of a single lake.
The Tuskwater is the northmost one, and we know that fairly well from following the margins while looking for Thig Tannersen. The southmost one is called Candlemere according to what we've heard, and the two are connected by a tiny strait. At first, when we came by the edge of a great lake today, we thought we were looking at the Tuskwater. Only a careful consultation of maps, along with rumors we've heard in Fumidai, allowed us to realize this is the other one.
Like the Tuskwater, the Candlemere stretches far. From the margin, however, we spotted some kind of construction at its center, like a tower rising up from the waters. Nagata seemed very intrigued: he wanted to head there and investigate, but we ended up deciding against it. It's still a way off and we have no manner of crossing the water. Besides, we'll have to be back at Fumidai for the Council meeting and we've been out for seventeen days at this point. Better to arrive early, than risk being late.
So we followed the margins back to Fumidai, taking note of the strait between the two lakes and marking it on the map. At Nagata's request I also added a question mark in the middle of the Candlemere – he insists we investigate the tower as soon as possible. He's curious about it, and intends to inquire around once we're back.
Following the margin has one more perk: once we were back at the edge of the Tuskwater we only had to follow along to find Old Beldane's cabin. We rang the rusty bell, and the familiar rude voice asked what we wanted, but once she knew it was us, her tone mellowed out. A bit. Well, as much as I believe her tone can possibly mellow out. (sidenote: Beldane is a grumpy old lady and I can understand all the reasons that led her to be this way. Still, it's nice she's just a little less grumpy when dealing with us) She was glad for the rattlecaps and decided to take Takeshi up on his offer. She promised she'd go to Fumidai regularly to see to the crafting of magical items, but we shouldn't expect her to be there all the time or be nice about it.
Overall it was a productive week at home. I got myself a new wand and Oksana made us special cloaks to keep us safe – Winter will be upon us soon and we'll need the extra layer of clothing. Not only that, but they will make us tougher, swifter and more determined, thanks to the magic Oksana wove into them. Takeshi spent a week at the forge, likely working on his new armor, and Nagata is interested in training some new apprentices and establishing more "birdies" to feed him information.
We also sent forth a message to master Loy Rezbin and his wife, granting them permission to start the village of Tatzlford as they had requested. Takeshi believes it will be a good thing to establish a settlement so deep within the Gnarled Marshes. He'll have the road stretch to meet it at soon as possible.
UZUME'S CULTURAL EXCHANGE – Proverbs
Proverbs are part and parcel of a given culture, a way to easily remember a tidbit of useful wisdom. What one culture considers useful and compacts into a proverb to pass on to the next generation may not be of special importance to another. Like popular poetry (I believe I wrote something about limericks before, for instance), proverbs are genuine insight on how a place's people thinks.
Sometimes, they're not so easy to understand. When I was a young girl, my Grandfather seemed to be a venerable, beloved repository of such tidbits of wisdom. Some are easy to understand, like "Father's debt, son's to return" – meaning that a new generation can make right the mistakes of their ancestors. But then there were things like "Three monks have no water to drink", meaning a project can be spoiled by too many people with different opinions handling it. It took me a while to figure that one out.
Ever since I've been in the Greenbelt I have compiled a list of proverbs and popular sayings I've heard, and tried to puzzle them out. Some are still a mystery to me.
"Trust yourself and your horse." – alright, I can understand a ranger ahorse out in the wilderness likely trusts himself pretty well, and his mount, having been trained by him, is obedient and trustworthy. But I don't see how this goes out to everyone else. I wouldn't trust a horse trained by me. I seldom trust a horse trained by someone else!
"Forge while the iron is hot." – well naturally. I don't know much about forging, but I know that if you decide to clank down on a cold piece of metal, the only thing you'll accomplish is waking up your neighbors. I took this one to Takeshi since he's much more knowledgeable of the forge, and he nodded gravely, patted me on the shoulder and said that yes, this was true, and he would keep it in mind, thanks for the incentive. I have no idea what I said to him, but it seemed to help. So… good, I guess?
"Better a sparrow on your hand than a pigeon on the roof." – err… because, I suppose pigeons poop everywhere and then your roof will be dirty? Maybe a sparrow does less of a mess than a pigeon because it's smaller and it's easier to clean? So a small mess right next to you, where you can clean it easier, is better than a big mess on a place you'd likely have to use a ladder to reach? Better a small problem right here than a big problem well away?
"First a stable, afterwards a cow." – I asked Oksana about this, and she very patiently made me realize that if I bought a cow without having a stable to shelter it, it would die from the cold or run away. So it's like the "first thing's first" I've been hearing around! I honestly wasn't understanding it and thought I hadn't heard the whole proverb. I thought it might be a longer sentence that gave advice on how to build a ranch: "First a stable, afterwards a cow, then a horse, a pig, three or four chickens and a dog."
"Your elbow is close yet you can't bite it." – After five or six attempts to bite my own elbow (I couldn't), I went to Oleg with this and asked if he could explain the meaning. He said that just because something seems easy, it doesn't mean it's not hard, or even impossible. I walked away happy with the explanation. When I turned back to thank Oleg again and say goodbye, he sheepishly hid away the elbow he was trying to bite.
"There is no family with no ugly relative." – well that's just terrible. What could this statement possibly mean? Nobody's ugly in my family! The more I pondered on this, I eventually reached a conclusion that it must be something in the sort of "There's a black sheep on every flock". But really, it's a horrible proverb. Imagine me stating something like this at the dinner table – both of my brothers would murder me with a gaze!
"To miss the forest because of the trees." – huh? So the forest is hiding among the trees? I don't get it. I bumped into Turgut at Town Hall last week and since he's a druid, I took the chance to enquire about it. Turgut laughed and said it had nothing to do with trees, and instead means that when paying too much attention to detail one often forgets about the general situation. He then gave me the example of Takeshi deciding to suddenly manage every individual farmer in the Greenbelt and not realizing how the barony's crops are faring for how much time he spends on that. I guess I understand the gist of it, but I couldn't help wondering if Bear COULD manage every individual farmer in the Greenbelt. He sleeps for two hours, he probably could do it!
"Birds fly not into our mouth ready roasted." – oh this one is for Monkey. I told him about it and he went into a curious, silent moment. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth, and smiled. Then he looked at me and said that it would be a wonderful world if it was so. I began to picture roasted chicken taking to the air (despite the fact live chicken don't fly), while a broiled pigeon flew overhead and a stuffed turkey ran by. Suddenly I was hungry so I sort of forgot about the proverb…