I wake up in the morning and the others are already up. They are talking about splitting up to explore the island. Before we do Raja spots something and points it out. It’s a large bee. much bigger than I have ever seen, and it looks like it is chewing on the other boat. We look around and Vilija says she sees something on the shore. She has to explain where to look but I see a raccoon watching us. Before I can say anything Vilija and Raj decide we are leaving.
We leave the island and row more. The others don’t make me row but I get to steer the boat. We ask Tâber if he has fishing line so I can fish and a big fight starts with Raja and Tâber. I am not sure why but Tâber gives me some line and I am able to catch some fish. After a while we come to a large river and Raja says we should go up the river. We see a lot of smoke along the sides of the river but it looks like there is a city up ahead.
We pull into the dock and Vilija talks to the guards. One of them calls one of the fisherman and then hits him telling him to get us water. How mean! I don’t like the guards but Raja shakes her head at me so I wont say anything. When the man comes back I slip him a coin and quietly say thank you.
We go to the inn. I am not sure what Vilija says but the lady at the inn Gives us all big hugs and gives us a room and some tasty food. We even get a steam bath. Its nice to be clean. When we go back to the inn it is very full of people who want to know all about us. I get lots of sweets and people keep asking me questions.
Vilija says it is bed time, and Tâber says he will sleep near the door. I try to stay up but the bed is soft and warm and I am to sleepy.
The night is uneventful and the sun finally comes up on another clear day. We discuss splitting up when something catches my attention. Its a bee, much larger than any I have ever seen before. It’s sitting on the partially submerged ship and it looks like it is….eating? the wood. Creepy. I look around to see if there are anymore when Vilija points out something on the shore near the treeline. It’s a raccoon. Just sitting there watching us. There seems to be something attached. Part of me wants to investigate, but we have no armor, some no real weapons and I am still injured. We decide the best action is to leave. As we pull away from the island the sounds of nature increase, almost as if the island itself had been silent. Out here the sounds are all around us, but on the shore…the land had been quiet.
On the boat Tâber is asked if he has any fishing line, and he pulls some out of his pack. it seems odd and so since Vilija wanted to confront him about his pack I decide to just go for it. The confrontation gets tense, I can tell he is hiding something. Vilija doesn’t back me up at all, putting the conversation off for another day. To say I am angry is an understatement. She was the one who wanted to confront this, and then left me out to dry. I let the subject drop, but I know he is hiding something. On the plus side Rella did catch fish.
We come to a river mouth and I insist we head upriver. We can always come back but it is likely to have settlements. As we travel upriver we see smoke on both shores and what looks like a city up ahead. As we approach we can see the banners have a distinctive Ivinian flare to them. We pull up to the docks and I notice something that sets me at unease. There are two distinct classes here. The ivinians and the Jarin. In Chelemby we have people from all over and there is not so much segregation. Here however it was clear the Jarin were being oppressed. It makes me feel ill. it was demonstrated when the guard slapped a fisherman and then told him to bring us water. I could see Rella open her mouth but I shook my head and she remained silent. We are told there is an Inn called the Spawn’s Hollow, not the most inviting name, run by a man called Fynre Gelemaar. We have to wait for the Jarl’s man to come. Vilija is playing the poor traveler card, even though I know she has far more money then she is claiming.
The Jarl’s man arrives. His name is Asta Galdesaan and Vilija convinces him to wave docking fees for 1 ten day period. I pretty much let Vilija do her thing and just watch, paying attention to everyone who comes and goes, to the dark looks the Jarin shoot the guards and to the guards themselves. Once she has finished negotiating we make our way to the inn. There we meet Lyssa, the innkeepers wife. I do not think this woman really understands the concept of personal space. Vilija works more of her magic and we have a free room, free food and a hot steam bath.
The bath is nice. I take my most prized possessions in while Vilija is talking to Lyssa. The woman takes all out mucky dirty clothes and for the first time since leaving Chelemby I feel clean. Tâber’s coat is a point of interest. It is finished on both sides making it reversible…its strange and just another thing to add to my mental list. When we get back to the inn the place is pack. I feel like one of those freaks or oddities I sometimes see in traveling shows that pass through our city. Everyone is staring and it makes me very uncomfortable. I take a seat near the Jarin but that does not save me from the crowds. I indicate a sore throat and they leave me alone. Why wouldn’t they….Vilija is far more beautiful and more than happy to play their game. Rella while shy is a huge hit with the patrons because she is so cute.
We retire for the night and I sleep closer to the window. I keep my satchel close by and let sleep take me. In the morning if possible there is an even larger crowd. I wolf down my breakfast and slip out taking a walk through the town. This place stinks..in more ways than one. Outside the pallisade I find a Chandler and a furrier. I also find a larger house that has been splattered with dung. When i approach one of the Jarin children they seem intent to avoid me. I catch the eye of one and raise a finger to my lips. Flashing a silver coin I entice him over and ask about the house.
I am told it belongs to Old Man Gwaemyr. He was the clan chief before the Ivinians took over. They keep him around as an example. The child says it was the Ivinains that decorated the outside of the house. Not wanting to keep him too long I slip him the coin and he vanishes. I continue inside the western gate and I see a lumber mill, and a timber wright. there is the sound of a blacksmith and in the distance I see a Temple to Sarajin. it seems a little ornate for this place but before I can investigate there is a scream down the streets. I arrive to see a crowd gathered around a decapitated woman. There is a small child crying over their dead mother. I scan the crowed. I see fear and unease in the Ivinians, but among the Jarin…those not schooling their faces to neutrality I see a gleam in their eyes. This will not end well.
It was an uncomfortable night in the boat but I felt it was safest. The morning bore proof of that. As we ate a meager breakfast and sat around discussing how we would proceed Raj spied an enormous bee on the side of the rotting ship tied up across from us. While it could have filled the palm of my hand, it paid us little mind as it chewed away happily of the wood. But it made me question exploring the ship for any salvagable goods as there was the strong possibility that the bee had a hive of friends close to hand. And then I had to end Raella’s wish to go find some herbs in the woods behind the cottage. For from under cover of those trees a raccoon stood, watching us. That in itself was not odd, except for the large vine that seemed to be sprouting from its back, extending curling tendrils. We decided to put back to sea and hastily departed the island. And although the air had been redolent with sound, as we pulled from shore we found that it was in a world that excluded the island and wrapped full around us as we plied further into open water.
As we continued to move up the coast Raella asked for some fishing line. Taber had a bit in his pack and that started Raj questioning, rather vigorously I might add, Taber about the night we had abandoned the Grey Gull. Mainly around the fact that the small boat had been outfitted before he had come to fetch us, and that his bag had already been packed and stowed. I had always suspected that Taber was concealing something from us, but this was not the way I would have tried to ferret out the truth. But Raj seems to have little patience for tact and subtlety. I fear that maybe a result of the freedom we had let her enjoy at home and quite possibly an attitude from the crowd she had run with. In the end, I judged that he wasn’t guilty of any nefarious activity, but there was something still he was keeping hidden to himself.
About mid day we began to look for some likely spot to find anchorage for the rest of the day. It was then that we came upon the river proper. We debated for a bit continuing our travel up the coast or entering the river and travelling up current. As both Raj and Taber believed the city of Lorkin was close by on the river we chose to go further inland. That was the correct choice it seemed, for shortly thereafter we began to see smoke on either side of the river, and soon we were sliding past some small farms and villages. Ahead we could see evidence of a much larger settlement. And quite soon we were pulling into the docks at Lorkin.
It was a place I felt immediately discomforted by. There seemed to be a mix of Ivinians and Jarin. But whereas at home all cultures merged and lived as one, there was a very distinct divide here for the Ivianians treated the Jarin with great contempt. The captain on the docks struck the poor man, a Jarin, who was sent to fetch us water with quite the imperious tone. Raj displayed a wise stoic silence, tough I could see that the action bothered Raella immensely. I asked the guard to send for someone of authority to treat with us for I was unwilling to part with coin for the dockage fee in such a place. I did, with some measure of pride, see Raella slip a coin quietly to the Jarin when he returned with the water and mouth a silent thank you to the man.
Shortly thereafter one Asta Geldesann arrived. A large and pompous man, full of self importance. I pulled out all the charm I could muster and related the sad tale of our becoming shipwreaked with naught but the clothes on our backs. All our possessions lost to the sea and appealed to his sense of honor and charity regarding the docking fees. He agreed to wave them for a ten day. We then were directed to where the local inn was and agreed to meet on the morrow for he had the books that detailed which ships were due in over the next course of weeks.
We found the way to the inn fairly easily. But I was further disturbed by the corpse hanging by the gate. The sad remains of what could only have been a Jarin fellow.
Our arrival at the Spawn’s Hollow brought the bustle of the alewife Leyssa. I again recounted the harrowing tale I told on the docks and it seemed to spark some motherly instinct within the woman, for there was much clucking and hugging as we were seated and warm food was brought for us. She also set aside a room for our use and ran up the steam baths. Fed, bathed and in clean clothes, we returned to the hall to find the place packed. Hours were spent retelling over many times the story of our ordeal. I worked hard to enamour myself to them, listening to their stories, singing with them and making a pretence at drinking more ale than I actually did. For I did not know how long we would be in this place and we would rely heavily on the charity of these people. Raella was especially beloved, for her tender age, and she was fairly smothered in attention and treats. Both Raj and Taber were quiet. I think because Taber holds a bit of the Jarin look. I will need to watch out for him. And Raj? I could not imagine how that girl’s mind moved.
We finally excused ourselves and retired to our room. Taber quite gallantly slept by the door to ensure we were not disturbed through the night. I was determined to keep watch for part of the night but soon succumbed to the feel of pillows and a mattress beneath me.
In the morning the common room was even more crowded than the previous evening, though I had hardly thought such a thing would have been possible. Leyssa was doing a brisk trade with our arrival so I began to feel a little easier about any debt we may have been accruing. After breakfast Raella decided to return upstairs for some more rest. Raj was gone, having slipped away earlier after grabbing up a bite of bread and cheese. I left the Inn with Taber and we set off to meet with Asta. It was strange walking the streets, where everything appeared to be so normal but underneath there was such tension.
We reached the compound of the Geldesaan clan without incident and were shown in. Of note, we did pass the temple of Sarajin on the way to the compound. It seemed a little too ostenatious for a place like this but I had decided I would visit it once my business with Asta was complete. For while I followed my daily ritual of prayers faithfully, I had not prayed in temple since leaving Chelemby and the thought that I might here brought a sense of peace and calm to my soul in this otherwise unsettling place.
True to his word, Asta had prepared a list of shipping for me. It seemed that the next vessel through would be in 2 ten days, a ship bound for Melderyn. The other alternative, albeit, the harder one would be to travel back to sea and around the dangerous rocks to try and reach one of the outer holdings and from there take ship. There was the the third option of travelling further inland and find our way across country which Asta assured us was the path to certain death.
As I was privately discussing these options with Taber we were interrupted by a high pitched scream from outside. We all went rushing outside and found a young child screaming, weeping in the streets, her mother’s dead body laying beside her, the mother’s head some few feet away. As I scanned the crowd I saw many things. The Ivianians very scared. The Jarin were a mix of alarm, concern and a few showed traces of satisfaction. I briefly caught sight of Raj through the crowd though I’m not sure she saw me.
Beside me I heard Asta sigh and mutter: “Oh, not again.”
At that moment I decided we needed to leave. I did not know how or where we would go. Only that I did not want to stay in Lorkin for another day.