We entered Shaadazar in the night and found an inn to rest at. I wanted to keep moving but The Professor and Corey insisted on stopping for a good night sleep and a bath. So here we are and I was bored. I wandered the streets looking for fun when I saw a shop with mystical symbols and a palm on a large sign. I went in and felt like I had entered a gypsies home. An old woman came forth and offered to tell me my fortune. I paid her a silver and took seat.
She pulled out a deck of cards and started laying them out one at a time. She played the part well as she told me the story of my future. Then suddenly she seemed to freeze up like a body in rigor and her head twitched to the side. A strange sound came from her throat that sounded much like to noises the ghouls made when they spoke their odd language. I did not understand what she was saying. She rose into the air and hovered for a time and a wind blew out all of the candles. It was then I felt the breath of some vile beast upon my neck. I froze in fear.
The seconds passed but at the pace of hours. I felt death was upon me. My heart raced. I tried to cry out but no sound came from my lips. Then a light appeared and the dread was gone. I saw my gypsy hostess looking at me with a queer ness in he eyes. She handed me a pouch and told me I had been chosen. She said I was to smoke the Nepora Weed before I laid down to sleep. Then she rushed me out of the shop and told me to beware harming the cats of Ulthar.
I walked the streets back to my room without a word. That night my dreams were troubled. I could not seem to sleep for more than a few minutes. I kept waking and looking at the pouch. Finally I said fuck it and grabbed the pouch and looked within. Inside was a nice clay smoking pipe and some herbs that smelled like pine. I examined the pipe and saw it was covered in strange symbols that hurt my eyes if I looked at them for more than a moment. I filled the bowl and lit the weed. The first draw made me cough but each one that followed filled me with euphoria. Soon I felt sleep coming upon me and laid down on my bed.
I awoke with a start. A staircase like the endless staircase was before me, I descended for hours and passed many doors. Each one held the promise of adventure but something in my lizard brain told me to run away. When I reached the final step two robed men awaited me. The questioned me about the workings of magic and when I had answered enough they opened the door and let me pass. Beyond was a forest full of Terrance piping sounds and birds with many colors. I saw two suns in the sky and the clouds were purple and pink. I wondered where the guys were and how it was I got here.
For weeks I traveled and never once did I become hungry or thirsty. Soon I came upon fields where farmers cultivated mushrooms that were taller than a house. They gave me directions to Ulthar and I thought of the cats. Was I dreaming or was this real. It felt real. It felt wonderful and yet something nagged in my brain that danger was near. I reached for my ax but realized I had none of my gear. I was only clothed in a robe of silk. I popped my solvers and they were present which gave me much hope.
The road to Ulthar took me three days and then I saw the city in all of its majesty.Cats were as numerous as people and they spoke freely as men did. They are strange creatures with motivations that are alien from a human perspective but somehow endearing. I will never look at a cat the same way again. One of the cats, Jooka, told me of the Temple of the Elder Gods and suggested I travel there and speak with Barzai the Wise. I remembered the warning about cats but paid it no heed.
At the Temple I met the Patriarch Atal and he told that Barzai was gone for a time. He welcomed me to stay and wait and I did. The days passed quickly as I studied the books and learned the secrets of the Elder Gods, of Unknown Kadath, and of Leng. I saw many visitors come and go and I marveled at the numerous species I had never seen before. I saw the strange peoples of Leng, the blasphemous Moon Beasts, a delegation of the Seprent Peoples, and many more. Some I spoke with, while others I hid from. The Serpent People visited me many times over the weeks and months and spoke of the glories of Valusia. They showed me how they could transform themselves into men and how they could control the minds of the weak willed amongst us.
My days were spent reading the many books, tomes, and scrolls. The books within the temple taught me of the histories of Hyboria and the age of Atlantis and of the age before Atlantis when man was created. After a time Atal took me into a room and showed me his treasure, and ancient series of scrolls called The Pnakotic Manuscripts. He allowed me to study the scrolls and showed me the riddle within. Many of the things I saw hurt my head but I persisted and learned much. Eventually Barzai returned and greeted me as an old friend. He told me of his travels to the Basalt Pillars, through the Seventh Sea, and even to the lands of Faerun.
As we spoke over many nights of drinking he sparked in me a desire to travel and soon I said my good byes. I first went north because it was there that I had hear the Gods could be found dancing under the starry sky. I met cultist who worshiped the Black Goat of the Wood and I danced with them and joined them in their orgies. In another town I met a man who introduced me to the captain of a ship, the Anabella. He helped me to secure a job as a sailor and soon enough I was traveling the oceans from port to port. The months passed by like seconds and one day I discovered that I longed to go home. My hair was long and my skin weathered and when I looked in a mirror I hardly recognized myself for the years had passed by so quickly. I asked about the way back to the enchanted forest and searched for many months for a way home. Then one day I found myself walking into the forest of many colors and many piping sounds. I knew I had found my way home. I searched for the gate and climbing the stairs. As I passed the many doors I felt a yearning to open them and it was almost impossible not to. Only the thought of returning to my beloved Sam kept me on course. I opened the final door and passed through.
The next day I awoke in my bed in Shaadazar and discovered that only a night had passed. Had I dreamed it all? I quickly looked in a mirror and discovered I was still young but something had changed in my eyes. They had the far away look of someone who had lost something. I went through my gear and discovered the pipe and weed were still there. Enough for a dozen more bowls or so. I am scared of smoking again for what if I cannot find my way back the next time. My dreams now are filled with visions of far away places. My sleep is not as restful as it use to be and I worry that perhaps I am going insane. I can only focus on completing Merlin’s quest and getting back to Sam, She is my anchor and I need her now more than ever. Before the memories fade I just write down what I have seen and learned.