While Estelle doesn’t know how to write well enough to keep a journal, if she did, it would be something like this. Most recent thoughts are at the top. For the most part, Estelle isn’t very secretive. She knows not to make a big deal over fairy tales, but often comments under her breath. Comments in grey indicate thoughts she would not volunteer, but would say if prodded.

The portal to the outsiders is no longer a threat. I’d say the portal is closed, but it’s not. We didn’t manage to close it, but wherever it goes now feels far more welcoming. When we first entered the room with the portal, it felt hostile – hard to approach. Perhaps this means the outsiders will be able to reconnect to the portal eventually, but we’ll react more quickly if they reappear.

There’s a dragon loose now. It seems likely we could just let it do what it wants. It was far more interested in the outsiders than us. I would understand if Koren didn’t want a dragon loose in his kingdom, but as far as I’m concerned, unless it returns to attack us, we should just leave it alone.

In any case, Hikryela and the world is safe from the largest threat. Now to deal with the smaller ones. Unfortunately the army was destroyed and nothing ties our allies to us with the outsider threat gone. Nothing ties even our small group together with the outsider threat gone.

Minotaurs have settled in the middle of the kingdom and for now there’s nothing we can do about it.

What now? Next, I think, Koren and I and whoever else is alive and willing will return to the capital. It’ll take time, but I think we can bring life back to the city. As much as I want to see the city restored though, I’m afraid it will never be my home again… I don’t know what I’ll do after that. Maybe head North for awhile – I could learn a lot from Uncle. Maybe in time, if Koren manages to shift the people’s opinion of Blighted, they’ll start to find other types of people less strange, and I could finally go home again. In the meantime, I can hope and learn and perhaps find a new place.

By the end of today, everything will have changed again. For the better if our plan works. well, what plan there is.

We captured an outsider to get information, which worked, but somehow even when we were in Lorrick’s invisible zone, they were able to get an idea where we were. The helmets showed some extra images. Strange.

Of course, we had no way to keep a prisoners, so lucky me gets to kill a defenseless man. Ah well, someone had to do it, and I’ll do what needs to be done.

Right now we’re inside the camp, near the portal, but unfortunately we still have to get to in. We were closer before but I couldn’t get through the floor. It must be some strange material.

Damn it all.

I’m returning to the cave with Koren. Thankfully he decided to come with. I was not looking forward to being separated for so long while he’s marching an army to battle. What kind of bodyguard am I if I let him go off and get killed? Enough people have died around me; at least one will not. Besides, what happens to the kingdom if he dies?

I stumbled into another cave hidden the same way Strider’s is. There were only 6 outsiders there. Well, 6 that I could see. I could have taken them, eventually, but it would probably not have been a fast battle, and we aren’t here to wipe out every outsider we find. Not yet. And if more came, how long would the battle take? So I retreated, as much as I hated to do so. As much as I still hate having done so.

Eventually we made it to the cave. Unfortunately, it seems rather obvious the outsiders knew something was here. It had a lot more defenses than I remember. And not very subtle defenses. It makes me worry about what we’ll find inside. But no way to learn that without just going in. So in we go. We shall see how Strider and the Queen are doing…

Found some gold in an old abandoned fort on the way to The Crossing. Probably good since I think Koren spent the last of whatever any of us had. It’s strange though. I’m not used to having much gold at all.

As far as The Crossing itself, we arrived safely and the city is even still in one piece. Apparently those sent here all those months ago took charge of the city, and since they’d actually seen the outsiders at work, actually took the defense of the city seriously.

Koren somehow convinced the golem army to come with us. And we have a “new” group of people joining us. I suspect becoming part of the army has been quite liberating for them.

Much better. The stupid siege is over, the non-jerks were rescued, and I defeated the commander of the golem army single handed. Now we can get out of this place. Well, soon enough we can anyway.

…I can’t believe all we had to do to win was defeat the commander. If I’d known it was that easy to end the siege, I would have gone out and challenged him weeks ago.

I don’t think there’s much left for armies to round up. Now to take on the outsiders, and figure out where I go when this is all over. Though maybe I already know.

Because trying to hold a city full of men who are full of it is really what I want to be doing. Why couldn’t we just abandon this city to its fate? I don’t care if Umyere is the only city left after the war. We are not moving the capitol here if I have any choice in the matter. Not that I probably do…

I’ve never been somewhere where everyone seemed so convinced in how perfect they were. The prison we found was almost more comfortable of a place to be. I’ve got to figure out how to free them. They won’t be much help for this siege, but perhaps given more time to recover they could be useful.

At least DikDik was able to get us in. And we proved their incompetence pretty effectively. Between subduing Captain Dick and proving that their southern trade advisor was aware of the golem army coming.

Ugh. These past few weeks have not been my strength. I’m good at small scale battles, not these huge things. I will be happy when we can go back to the simple battles.

Dead. Right. That’s why someone managed to attack us while we were in the dark shrine. A poor attack, but an attack nonetheless. More rats. Armored rats. Not sure why someone would bother to armor a rat, but apparently they did. One was even armored with loadstone.

That done, we seem to have persuaded the vast majority of the army and the blighted to come with us. We’re off to intercept the golem army coming from the south. Hopefully they’re here to help, but we’ll see.

He should be dead. I know that. Why am I not entirely convinced? I suppose because I don’t think that fall would have killed me, and he seems almost as hard to kill as I am. On a scale of peasant to me, he’s probably at Domino.

Anyway, we were able to kill the hunter dogs, but I’m not sure what happened to the “blighted” that was tagging along with him. I was blinded temporarily when he stabbed me, but everyone says that was the last thing he did. And since it wasn’t a very good attack, I could believe that.

Oh well, off to report to Koren and finish up our business in this damned city.

Well, that’s not how we expected the armies meeting in Umyex to act. The city is in chaos. We barely got in. It seems a hunting pack or two of the outsiders have made their way to the city. It’s not overrun by outsiders certainly, but it seems likely that they’re responsible.

Luckily for them, we brought Shaol’s advisors, though I’m not sure that’s really an improvement over no advisors. At least we got the soldiers in the keep somewhat organized. They still seem skeptical, but they’ll learn to believe what we say if they want to survive.

Now to search for the outsiders. Our guess is that they’re somewhere in the sewers. Awesome. I love going through the sewers.

Okay, sieges are stupid. How am I supposed to defend an entire city if other people are so incapable? Needless to say, that failed. Now we’re headed off to see the army we sent to Umyex has actually arrived.

Time for a test of our skills. We’ve made it to Shaol ahead of the invading army, and prepared the city for the upcoming assault as best we could. Despite strong urging, many of the peasants refused to flee. Thus, it falls to me to try to keep them alive as best I can.

I’ve stationed myself near one of the doors to the city. Let them try to get past me.

Well, the people up North are certainly more advanced than we are. They seemed to have something like the windows Strider uses to watch outside, but these could show pictures from a different time. Some impressive costumes and voice throwing too.

Once we left the fair, we ended up in a court room on trial. Given that I don’t really care what these people think of us, it was kind of silly, though more allies are good. But I don’t see why Koren is so convinced we need all of these people as allies. They seem like more trouble than they’re worth. But Uncle insisted we shouldn’t just walk out, so I held my tongue as best I could.

Mostly it was rather unimpressive. The views through their windows were interesting, and watching Dik Dik “summon” her god was hilarious, but the charges and arguments were boring.

After the trial, we ended up at our destination. I guess Uncle’s shortcut actually put us in the opposite direction than we thought.

On that note, once we left the court, we were reunited with Kettu, who has some answering to do – he did kill my prisoner. I knew it. Unfortunately, Koren failed at restraining him, and I wasn’t able to keep up with him. Which is weird. I guess all this wilderness travel has slowed me down. I had a quick burst of speed at the beginning, but I couldn’t maintain it like I used to.

Huh. Wasn’t expecting to stumble upon a fair out in the wildlands, but I guess people out here like to have fun too. Kind of a pity we couldn’t stay longer and explore it.

Definitely hate rats. You’d think, after they were dead, it’d be fine. But no, they had to have swarms of maggots growing inside. Gross. I’ll never feel clean again.

Other than that, a pretty uneventful day. Beat up some bats and crocodiles. Koren and DikDik seem to think we’ve accomplished the task the first guy we met down here requested, so next stop is back to see him. Then hopefully out of this cave and back to our original task.

Fricken rats. I hate rats. I can’t believe I actually fainted when they swarmed me. I’ve got to hold myself together better than that. I can face down huge men who could snap me in half if they could only get a chance, but I faint at rats?! Ugh.

And then, I was so shaken from the stupid encounter with the rats, that for a minute there, I actually believed what Gramps was saying. So embarrassing.

I mean, he seems like a nice guy and all. And, well, he did help me out of a bad spot, so I appreciate that, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe everything he says. Especially if he’s telling me I’m no longer human. Like there’s anything else I could be. Just because my skin wasn’t this weird color before and I don’t remember this much sand doesn’t mean anything. That stupid worm got me covered in blood, and it doesn’t wash off. All my skin’s stained all orangey. Worse, it seems dirt and sand stick to it. And it makes sense that there was sand in all my scrapes when I came back to my senses. Blood’s pretty sticky. Where the sand came from, I’m less certain. I was certainly dirty before, but I don’t really remember sand. Gramps looked a little sandy too though. He probably dumped a bag of sand on my head to wake me up and decided to use the opportunity to see how gullible I was. Ah well, even if he’s a bit odd, I should thank him properly if we meet again.

Damn it, the next rat I see is dying, whether it notices me or not.


Oh, god! The rats! All I can remember is rats, swarming me! What’s going on?!


Wow, Lorrick. Wow. Could you be any more clumsy? First you run into a wasps nest, then fall into a swimming hole, and then, then you walk right off a cliff. Wow. On the other hand, you’re still here, so I guess that says something for you. And Kettu actually proved useful. The Hauf tribe tried to get me to explain this whole invasion problem to them. I know what’s going on, more or less, but I leave knowing the exact plan to far more smart people.
Lorrick has discovered some interesting caves. Fought some bats and rats. I’m not sure why the rats are even stupid enough to attack us. Stomped on most of them, whacked some bats out of the air… these are more like the bats I remember.


An attack as a greeting. Surely there’s better ways to do this. I have nothing against a battle of strength, but setting down the rules first is nice. So I may have overreacted a bit, but Koren called for help, and how was I to be absolutely sure that the fight wasn’t to the death? And Kettu spent the whole fight in a tree again. And Lorrick tried to get himself killed. I planted myself between everyone else and the greeting party, and the first thing Lorrick does is run out in front of me? Seriously guys? Sigh. Time to meet this village.


We’re camping out outside of “Hauf” territory. I’ve seen evidence that the area is in fact inhabited, but I’m guessing it’s just people (or people whose ancestors) became obsessed with the fairy tales and set out to duplicate them as best they could. That would certainly explain the effort they’ve gone to to ensure the skulls marking their territory match so well to the old tales.


Had a weird encounter today. We were in a small clearing, when suddenly many boulders began rolling towards us. I’m guessing the cat’s weight must have disturbed a delicate balance. We destroyed the boulders that were rolling into us. But afterward, that was the weird part. A huge boulder appeared next to the cat. I can’t figure out where it came from, and the cat interfered some with my view, so I must have just missed it rolling towards us. But then people started talking to the boulder. And even worse, I thought I heard it talking back. But rocks can’t talk, can they? Maybe it had something like the outsider’s helmets that makes voices carry really far…


Ok, maybe I was wrong about Lorrick, he seemed fine, but…
We were getting ready to camp for the night when he managed to anger an entire colony of bats. I’ve never seen bats get that angry before. They were pretty hardy bats too. Their predators up here must be more dangerous than the ones back near the city, since I used to be able to just swat those bats out of the air. Oh, and DikDik’s stupid cat tried to kill me. It seemed accidental, but if that cat tries anything ever again, it’s not going to live long. I’ve been trying not to start fights, but it’s getting harder to hold back when it seems like every little thing we meet is trying to kill us.


The trip has been relatively uneventful so far. We’ve found an old abandoned fort that may be worth returning to, and passed through an old battlefield. We just picked up Lorrick, who seems no worse for wear given his captivity. Apparently the village holding him captive have been called “goblins” so much they’ve actually embraced the term. They even act like the other races from the stories are real. Yeah, like there are really Hauf or Elementals.
At least my headache is finally beginning to go away. I’d gotten used to operating with the distraction.


The outsiders are getting closer and closer. We can’t count on the cave forever. It seems to be time for us to do more than just send individual messengers out. A small group of us is heading west via the wildlands. While we travel, we hope to get some more allies. I hope the cave remains safe until we return, but I can’t remain here to protect it. Other than the princess, the cave doesn’t hold much help for the future.


Wow. What a headache. I wasn’t prepared for just how much everyone here hates Koren, and by extension, anyone who defends him. When we arrived, the library was swarming with bandits, and every single one wanted him dead. I mean, I understand they may not like him, but to hate him so much they’re willing to get the entire kingdom killed? That’s a bit much. Worse, Kettu seems to be sympathizing with them. I don’t think he’ll betray the kingdom at this point, but I can’t be certain. If only he was easier to keep an eye on. Ow. Too much thinking. Anyway, I took a pretty bad blow to the head. I think it would have killed anyone else, but this is me we’re talking about. Still, I’m glad DikDik is fast with her hands. I can’t imagine how much worse this headache would be without her assistance.


I suppose that was a success… for certain definitions of success. It was fun, but not so useful in the goal of obtaining food. The outsiders know we were here, but the last thing they’ll expect us to do now is to continue into the city. Koren’s been itching to get some book or other, so it looks like this is a good opportunity. A few of our short friends are coming with. Time to see how they operate outside of contests.


Well, that contest didn’t go so well. These guys must be really used to living in the woods, and playing children’s games. They were hard to keep up with, though honestly, I was more trying to handle the ones who stayed behind to distract. I hope the scavaging contest we’ve chosen goes well.
There have been too many deaths lately. At this rate, I really will be the only one left in the end, and I don’t want that. I need to make sure those of us remaining survive, at least, those of us who are useful. What more can I do?


Combat challenge smallenge. I fought one of their warriors and won relatively easily. He was a good fighter, just no match for me. Koren, on the other hand, fared quite poorly. He kept losing control of his horse, and eventually a couple of us had to interfere in his challenge when it was clear he had lost but that his horse would not stop fighting. We have no worries about the group challenge though. I doubt we’ll even break a sweat.


The “goblins” that Lorrick went to find arrived today. Just because they’re a bit short and ugly is no reason to insult them – there were uglier folk back in the city, though the city folk were taller. They’ve demanded negotiations, which seems to mean contests. It seems they don’t want allies weaker than themselves. Understandable. One of the contests is fighting. Well, that one should be easy, even though they insist I’m not allowed to fight all of them. It’s like they want a chance to win.


That was… bizarre. We came across an old mining town. In the center was a locked room. We got the extremely heavy door open, and a few of us entered. The gust of wind from the door opening must have been stronger than I realized though. It swept up the bones on the floor into a whirlwind. It didn’t seem that dangerous to me, but apparently some of the bones in it were sharp as it managed to sever Rieyicht’s other arm. The shock killed him, which may have been a mercy. The wind eventually died down, and I carried Rieyicht back towards the main cave for a decent burial. Anything’s better than just being left there.


Went on a raid to try to find some of the “nanite” things that Strider has mentioned. As much as it would have helped Strider, I’d really like to get my hands on an extra one myself. No luck though. Bane caught the building on fire early on, though, so we weren’t able to do a thorough search. Idiot almost lit me on fire too. I looked as long as I could, but had to leave before the fire reached the black powder. On our way back, Bane and Penelope were killed. And just when Bane had actually managed to do something useful, too. The loss of Penelope will hurt, but given her excessive pacifism, I’m rather surprised that she’d survived as long as she did. From now on, I’m going to take the rear guard position when we’re retreating.
Those of us remaining got back to the cave safely. Apparently Bane had seriously injured Rieyicht’s arm in that blaze, but there’s nothing we can do now. While everyone recovers, we’re going to explore the caves a bit. Should be safe enough.


Found ourselves captured, and thrown into an old wine cellar. No wine left though. There was a strange fellow, Bane, there. I don’t think his will to survive is strong enough. He doesn’t take anything seriously. Obviously, we soon escaped. Apparently the outsiders had captured us just to ask how we’ve been able to kill them. What’s so hard to understand about a sword in the throat?


Someone killed my prisoner. I suspect Kettu. Mental note: if we have ever have other prisoners, make sure reliable people are always on guard duty. I was hoping we could find a use for her.


Koren, DikDik, Keito, and the rest escaped before I could go after them. Good to see they aren’t incompetent. We’ve secured the prisoner, but I have to keep a close eye. DikDik is too trusting of her. The last thing I want is DikDik being so nice she ends up letting the prisoner go.


Raided the castle today. Koren insisted we needed the royal seal before we can alert everyone to the outsiders. It was, of course, stored in a room that was in active use by the outsiders. I made sure we got it, but everyone except Penelope and me were captured. (Odd, they’ve shown no interest in prisoners before.) I want to go after them, but first I need to get Penelope and the seal to safety. And then there’s the question of what to do with this prisoner. Maybe Strider will have some ideas.


Arrived back at the castle to find that one of the princesses arrived. Good to see that at least some of the royal family has survived, though this provides one more person who we need to keep alive at almost any cost.


Sailors make sailing look so easy. I don’t think I’m meant to be one of them.


We’ve been raiding the city for survivors and materials. The organization is coming slowly, but surely. People are starting to accept that this is really happening. Now, if only they were useful.

Back to the top


Hikryela ledeir Adnam