“Each evening, I ached for the shelter of my tent, for the smallest sense that something was shielding me from the entire rest of the world, keeping me safe not from danger, but from vastness itself. I loved the dim, clammy dark of my tent, the cozy familiarity of the way I arranged my few belongings all around me each night.”
~Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
We are finally underway towards Stygia. These long days on horseback seem to be taking their toll on everyone. Sam is doing the best by far and Svetlana and Myself seem to be coming in second. Everyone else is constantly adjusting their seat and trying to get comfortable. Pete is making his girls walk and in sandals for 20+ miles a day, their feet are looking bad. Corey was the only person other than me who bought a big tent and I was the only one who bought comforts like pillows and scented oil for my lamps. My tent is luxury compared to everyone else’s. I guess that is why Carter decided he was crashing in my space. I am cool with this as it allows me to talk with him in greater detail about the occult and the mystical. Duralia has proven to be a valuable asset since she seems to know bits and pieces about the the stuff Carter is talking about. These two are teaching me much. Add in the book I got in the Tower of Yara and I am progressing with my knowledge quite fast.
During the many hours we are on horseback, I spend much time talking with Sam and enjoying the day. When conversation with her becomes boring I speak at length with Carter or Duralia. Every now and then one of the other slaves pipes in with some morsel of knowledge or Pete pipes in to show his disdain for what it is we speak of. When not engaged in conversation at the camp site I often reinforce my dominance as master. I have enforced the position of master with Sam often but she still sees herself a free-woman. She is meek and obeys most of the time but if Kat is around she tend to be a little more self assured and is more likely to disobey or defy me. An application of the light whip gets the point across. I have had to use it on Nadia several times as she is new to being a slave and as would be expected, youthfully stupid. She seems to have an eye for John. I have caught her staring at him with puppy-dog eyes on several occasions but he is oblivious to it. She is native of Arunjun and our status as heroes seems to have had an affect on her.
Other interesting things about camp life are the various slaves who travel with us. They all seem to have interesting backgrounds and some of them appear to hate each other for nothing more than simple racism or jingoism. It is funny watching Corey with his. I have witnessed the one who claims she was a queen defy him several times and he just shrugs and smiles and does nothing. On the other side of the camp I get to watch Pete with his girls. The big one he spars with nightly but after so much time walking she does not seem to have the energy to really do him the service he seeks. Still I see improvements in his skill with the spear. Maybe I should talk with her about teaching me a few moves as well. With my studies I just don’t have the time or energy. Reading by lamp light is not the easiest thing on the eyes.
After several days on the road we found a town that had been the site of a massacre. All of the men were dead and the women gone. We even found kids chopped down. It was sick and made me angry. The lone survivor we found hiding in a church of Ishtar. He told us of the goblins that had attacked. We argued amongst ourselves about going after the goblin and rescuing the women that had been taken. I was for it since the goblins likely had gold. John was against it. The Professor wanted to go but that is because of his bleeding heart. Pete and Corey wanted to go as well but I have no idea why.
In the end I lead the expedition as I could track the creatures. We found a cave the used for a lair and did what we had to. We killed goblins. The interior of the cave was so damned dark that we couldn’t see. We argued about what to do. John started yelling at me about how I was studying magic and it was time to use some. I tried a spell I had seen Randolf use. It worked. My finger tip glowed like ET’s and lit the rooms as bright as a good lantern. It was then that disaster hit and an earthquake rocked the land for about a minute. When the dust cleared we were trapped. The way we had come in had collapsed and we could only go deeper. Eventually we found a room with dozens of bodies hanging from meet hooks. We killed the butchers and opened the door to the prison cells beyond. There we found five women chained to the floor. John used his lock picks to free them and when he got to the last one we heard a click and her head popped off. The collar was trapped with blades.
We moved on and eventually found a chimney that rose to the surface. Once we had made it outside we returned to the town. I suppose from here we will see where things take us. Only five people remain alive from that town and I doubt they will want to be left behind.