I was kind of a mess yesterday, but today was better. I slept in after a late night drinking with Knives and Lennox, but I was able to get a run in and then a quick swim in the river to clear my head. After that, I returned to the Wise Piper Inn to really dive into the monk's library.
Their focus may have been arcane astronomy, but their collections are quite comprehensive. There are some rare volumes on the creatures of the Dragonfen dating back to the founding of the monastery, as well as some more recent accounts by monks from shortly before the disaster. This will make for a great resource, especially to compare with my contemporary observations.
I just wish I had someone to talk to about this.
He sent me a letter! Aldern wrote to me from Cassomir, where he has stopped to collect another item for his ritual. He had a good trip down the Sellen River, passing by the druid fortress-isle of Arenway. He is looking for something out in the Star Bay, something to do with the mysterious lights in the waters. The details are a little fuzzy. But he misses me as much as I miss him and had some very sweet things to say. I will be writing him back as so as I finish this entry.
It has been a busy week. Some servants have arrived to begin converting the Hunclay manor into a bed and breakfast, which is very exciting. Lennox has been keeping an eye on them, at least when she is around.
Knives has had a little trouble adapting to life after the dragon, but she seems to have found her groove now and is starting up a new business venture in town. Something to do with finances I believe. I'm so glad that after all the trouble she has been through, she's finally able to make a new life for herself here.
Maffei has also become a constant research companion as I review the monastery library in the Wise Piper's basement. She is poring through their lore trying to find some method to return to her home plane and seems to think she has a good lead.
And as I promised Aldern, I have been taking good care of Yuki. She is such a beautiful bird, and her snowy feathers remind me of home. I have been teaching her how to stay and to come when she is called. She is also doing a number on the local vermin population.
Well, that's enough for today. Now to write Aldern. I hope I come across okay—somehow I always end up ink-tied when writing letters.
We bid Maffei farewell today. She had discovered a ritual to send her home in the monks' texts. Lennox and I spent the past two days helping her prepare the ritual, which we performed today at sunset after a farewell dinner. I am so happy that she was able to return to her homeland, but a little sad to see her go. I had grown so used to having her around like a friendly shadow.
Speaking of absent friends, continued experiments by Knives, Lennox and myself to release or lure out Tagnus from his gem have proven fruitless. Worse, the gem has gone missing twice, each time ending up in Tagnus' private garden in the forest. Part of me suspects that the dwarf might be appearing at night and checking on his plants. Which would be creepy, since I keep the gem by my bedside. It is also possible that his nemesis the squirrels are taking it, but I would hope Yuki would discourage them from getting close.
The manor is finally ready to begin hosting guests. Thankfully, we have people to see to most of the day to day operations. Of course, honor demands that as a good hostess I will need to help serve our guests at dinner, like we did at Father's longhouse.
I haven't heard from Aldern since his first letter, but I have sent two on their way to him. Is that too much? I just want to keep him the loop on what is happening here. And I am a little antsy to hear how things are going with him; Cassomir is a bit of a rough and tumble place from what I saw passing through.
Ugh, the summer heat is starting to roll in. It was bad enough in Absalom, but at least the sea breeze provided some relief. It is just going to be a miserable few months for a northern girl like myself.
Another letter from Aldern arrived today. He has moved from Cassomir to a small coastal town called Ridonport, where he is trying to track down some bit of arcane detail at the museum there. He hasn't gotten my first letter yet, but it will be forwarded to him from Cassomir. There was some sort of trouble in the Star Bay that he is talking around, something in the water, but he still has all his adorable fingers and toes.
I wish he was here to talk with, but these letters are close enough for comfort. I've read and re-read his first one at least a dozen times. Knives makes fun of me for it, but I can't help myself. I've really fallen for that crazy wizard. I hope he has an easier time of it in Ridonport. I worry about him sometimes, now that I'm not there to watch his back and keep him from doing something foolhardy.
Instead, I am here in Belhaim watching Knives' back. There are a lot of new faces in town as the Baroness is beginning to survey the iron deposits below the monastery. Knives is especially paranoid about any new people, and with good reason. That gang in Oppara is still after her for running out on her father's debts. But if anyone does come for her, they will have to through me first.
This has been a good opportunity for the two of us to bond, actually. In the morning, when I'm finishing my run, I will often come across Knives washing things in the river. I've even persuaded her to join me for a swim a time or two. And in the evenings, after I am done with the agonizing task of playing hostess to our small menagerie of house guests, I accompany her to the Wise Piper for a night of drinks.
Knives is an endless font of inappropriate tavern songs, and I've shared a few Ulfen ditties as well. I've been trying to teach her to play tafl, but we've yet to complete a game. She drinks too much, from the weight of her anxiety no doubt, and I have to be careful to walk her home and see that she makes it into her bed safely.
I have seen less of Lennox these days. Whenever we're in she seems to be out. Whenever we're out, she's in.
Hard to believe that it was just one month ago that we struck down Szangi the False Aeteperax in his lair. Everyone seems to just have gone their separate ways since then. Aldern is off on his quest, Maffei and Tagnus are in other planes of existence, and Lennox is gods know where half the time.
I've been kept busy with my research. The monks' library is almost completely reviewed at this point and I have been spending much more time talking with our local druids about the local wildlife. The fucking heat has tempered my attempts at further fieldwork, especially later in the day.
Aldern got my first two letters! Finally, I have some replies. He is doing well, but is in Oppara now trying to track down a rare potion. Or something. He was glad to hear how the manor has been doing as an inn, and provided instructions on placing its profits into a merchant account at the House of Abadar. For some reason he was less enthusiastic about Knives' new business and suggested I keep an eye on her. I supposed it was too much to think that the two of them had let go of their old suspicions. He also had some additional experiments to try on Tagnus' gem, though he doesn't expect much will come of it.
I wish the mail traveled faster, but at last we are having a conversation again. I will write him some more tonight and tell him about my research findings. There are some very fascinating creatures indigenous to the Dragonfen region that I've had the opportunity to observe—and in one case, eat—in recent weeks.
While I was cooling down in the river today, I had a sudden realization. It has been more than six weeks since my last berserk episode during the dragon battle. I had grown so used to the rush of angry energy, it is strange to have gone so long without it again.
I cannot complain. Certainly, I don't want the fury to take hold over something minor and I of course don't want more danger to walk into my life here in Belhaim. But it is so strange to have finally begun using my berserker "gift" as a useful tool, only to lay it back in the tool box to gather dust.
54 days. That's how long I was able to go without an episode. But now the counter is back to zero. I suppose now I have a record to beat.
In my defense, I was provoked. The yesterday I was out drinking with Knives, but she grew paranoid about all the new faces at the Wise Piper and decided to make an early night of it. As we returned to the manor, I noticed a light in my room that should not have been there.
It appears one of our guests had sticky fingers and was going through our possessions. We caught him red-handed. The sight of him rifling through my possessions, with my head already clouded by drink, just let my inner dragon right off the hook.
I defenestrated the man, then leapt out the broken window after him. Knives managed to calm me down before I killed him. Then I had to spend five minutes explaining to a drunken half-orc that "defenestration" is not a weird sex thing. We handed the thief over to Sheriff Hovy, and I have to testify against him tomorrow.
I have put one of the thief's teeth in a bowl on an end table in the common room, with a little sign: "Thieves will receive complementary amateur dentistry." Hopefully that will discourage any future irregularities.
We're leaving Belhaim! Just for a little while, of course, but it will be good to get away.
We received a letter this morning, addressed to the Drengr Knights (our name is getting around!). We are invited to a wedding in the town of Bellis, across the border in Andoran. Elyin Ursage is marrying Kailah Windmede and our presence is requested. We have no connection to these people, but Knives suspects that we are being invited as local celebrities to serve as living conversation pieces.
My research in Belhaim is largely concluded, and there are several sites of interest near Bellis, so I was eager for the excuse to leave. Knives has decided to join me on the trip, having grown ever more paranoid about her presence in the village. We are of course bringing Tagnus' gem with us, and Yuki is coming, too. We couldn't find Lennox, so we left a message for her. I'm also going to write a note to Aldern letting him know where we've gone. Yuki of course is coming with me.
I'm so excited! I talked Knives into shopping for fancy clothes for the wedding. I was hoping to find something nice for Knives, who has always been so down on her own appearance. But I also indulged myself with something for myself to wear at the wedding and for evenings out with Aldern.
You would think Knives would be in a cheery mood after the shopping, but she has been exceedingly grumpy. She also says I have been "scandalous and horny" ever since Aldern left. I haven't the faintest idea what she is going on about! Yes, the cut of the new dress is rather low, but it's not scandalous, not really. May she's been going through my personal papers? No, she would not betray my trust like that, not after seeing what I did to the last guy.
She's probably lashing out over something else. I will try to find out what is really bothering her on the carriage ride to Bellis.
We were also approached by the Shelynite priest, Nilos, who is a friend of the happy couple and asked that we convey a gift from him. The present is inside a gift-wrapped box, but Knives was able to delicately open the case and discover it was a rather impressive marital aid. She has re-sealed the case and we agreed not to speak of it again.