We have arrived in the nation of Hongal, the northern most nation of Tian Xia. It is still cold and windy, but we are all happy to just rest for a moment. The city we have entered is actually very small, and seems somewhat ramshackle. Ishiro informed me this is because the people of Hongal, the Tain-La, are semi-nomadic. He said the only reason why cities like this exist is because of the amount of trade that comes though.
I can tell I’m in a different land. The tress, the ground, even the air feels different. Perhaps it’s all in my head, but I can’t shake the feeling of how….alien everything is. We weren’t going to rest long as Ishiro told us the best place to pick up goods would be the nation of Goka just a couple days journey south. He said that it houses a large trade city and that would be a good place to start searching Rokouro’s origins. He also said that it is also a journey only a couple weeks journey to the nation of Jinin where my people could be found.
When he told me this, I dropped the books I was holding in my hands. There are Elves here too? How far have my people spread? When I asked why he told me this before, he said that he thought that I already knew. He informed that the Elves of Jinin pretty much keep to themselves but have good relations with the nation of Minaki. After I see to the returning of Rokouro’s remains, I must visit this Jinin and see it for myself.
The travel to Goka was pleasant and we are finally getting away from the cold. Though we have encountered frequent rain storms, the atmosphere has been rather pleasing. Many of the plants and animals here are so different. I wished Amaras was here. He would be able to learn much more from these foreign woodlands then I. One plant is especially common, a very narrow but tall tree they call bamboo. Apparently it grows incredibly fast and is very strong. I have already seen several structures and items made from it. Who knows what other wonders await us in this land.
We have finally reached one of Goka’s northern cities. Like many of the trade cities back home, it is a bustling metropolis filled with many different kinds of people coming and going. We have attracted a few stairs since our arrival, but not as many as I would have thought. Olly and his troupe have already found a place to stay and have begun purchasing several goods to take back. I haven’t had much luck with locating where Rokouro might have come from. What few people I have got to assist me tell me that was most likely Tian-Shu. However these appear to be the most populous people in Tian Xia. I’m already getting somewhat frustrated.
Coreena’s behavior is not helping. The minute we arrived she has been causing all sorts of mischief. One night she did not return to our quarters and I was getting worried. Eventually Slythas came to me and told me he had been able to find her. It turns out that she had found some sort of gathering where people smoke a local plant for recreation. When I found her, she was nearly catatonic and was lying on the floor wearing very little along with several others. This plant must be some sort of drug because they were so lethargic they barely noticed me walk in. We drug Coreena to her feet and brought her back. I would have given her a tongue lashing, but the sickness that hit her the next day was punishment enough. I feel I must keep better eye on her from here on.
I did manage to acquire some of this plant while I was there. After some experimentation, I feel that this drug could have some helpful medicinal purposes. I have purchased more as I feel Lor-Athorn or Phos could gain some use out of it (though I’m somewhat afraid of what Phos would do with it).
I was worried about Slythas. I didn’t see him this morning. When I asked Drekath, he told that around this time of year Slythas begins acting very strangely and often becomes very reclusive. Drekath said that in a couple of days he will be fine and to leave him be. This is a side of Slythas I’ve never heard of, so I wasn’t going to sit back until I found out what was wrong. I found him that evening in an out of the way pub quite intoxicated. When I approached, he seemed somewhat surprised, but told me to have a seat and join him. The rest of the evening he talked about many things. Mostly complementing me on how good of a sister and mother I am. I was really frightened as I have never heard him speak to me this way. He told how he wished that he had a child like Coreena, and that he always wanted to be closer to the rest of his siblings, but always felt that we were pushing him away. He then began weeping about how he always seems to get on the wrong side of people no matter how hard he tries not to. He lamented on how one thing that made the humans so great is there ability to seize the moment and how Elves are worst off because how long we take to decide things.
He rambled on for hours, all the while drinking more and more. I also noticed he was playing with a crude knife I have never seen him use before. Eventually he stopped rambling and stared me in the face and told me how he knows what its like to lose someone you love. Especially when you hadn’t known them very long. He said I was lucky that I had a lasting legacy in Coreena and that in the end, Rokouro still loved me. “Your very lucky”, he said “lucky to have what you have”. He then put the knife away, gently, and then passed out on the bar.
I realized then that there was much more to Slythas then I originally thought. One of the reasons why he acted the way he did was because he was hiding. Hiding from the pain of the past. He pushes people away not because of his arrogance, but because he doesn’t want others getting close again.
I wonder what kind of woman could have affected my brother this way.
I paid his tab and had several others help us back to our quarters.
The next day Slythas was back to his old self and acted as if nothing ever happened. I however, will never look at him the same way again.
Olly has told me that he is ready to head back. Though he says he would like to stay and help, he needs to get back to attend to the caravan and make sure the new goods he acquired gets sold. I saw that this created a dilemma for Slythas and Drekath. They have more or less become Olly’s protectors and that they felt both the need to accompany him back as well as help me on my quest. I reassured them that if they wanted to leave they could as both me and Coreena could handle ourselves. In the end Slythas declared that he wanted to see more of this strange land and decided to stay with me. Not wanting to leave his brother behind, Drekath stayed as well. We said our goodbys to Olly and I decided to head south to the nation of Minkai as it might hold information about Rokouro as well as the Elven nation of Jinn.
On our way to Minkia, we passed through the nation of Quain. During our passage, the nation was holding what appeared to be national Martial Arts tournament. Both Slythas and I thought it would be nice rest and watch the tournament and Slythas went as far as recommending that Drekath participate. Drekath at first waved the notion off saying he felt no need to participate in such a competition. However once he saw some of the matches between some of the participates he changed his mind. I think both the curiosity of seeing different fighting styles and a bit of a competitive streak is what lead him to participate. At first the organizers declined his admission saying that the tournament was only for locals of Quain. However a young human stepped forward arguing for Drekath’s participation. He argued that if this is truly and tournament of the arts, then all those who practice those arts should be accepted. He also questioned that maybe the reason why they declined Drekath was because they were afraid of seeing some of their local fighters beaten by a foreigner. After this the organizers decided that Drekath would be allowed to participate if Drekath could pass several tests to show his skill (which he did easily). The human who argued for Drekath wore a red outfit and had blonde hair. He wasn’t from Tian and looks like he came from our lands. I think this was the reason why he backed Drekath as he to was a stranger.
The matches themselves were a site to see. So many different styles of fighting. Some looked as if they were dancing on the wind while others stood unmoving like rocks. Some imitated animals while others seemed create almost magical type attacks. Drekath did well and bested several opponents. Some of the fighters did not take well to his participation and one man even went so far as to try and rip his ears off. This lead to Drekath breaking the mans fingers and winning the match. In the end he finished fifth, being beaten by a human who ended up winning the tournament. The man wore a white outfit and a red bandana. His final opponent for the championship was none other then the human who helped Drekath into the competition. The two seemed to know each other and had the exact same style.
After the tournament, Drekoth thanked us for urging him to participate saying that he “learned much” from the matches.
As we were traveling through the wilderness, Coreena wandered off on her own for some time. She does this often so I was not worried. However we eventually came across her sitting on a stone staring off into the distance. When I approached her, she seem spooked or mystified. She would not tell me what she saw, but traveled with us the rest of the evening. The next morning I noticed that she was drawing what looked to be a fox with nine tails. I asked the guide we hired about this and he became very worried. He said that it was an ancient kind of spirit that is known for being a cruel prankster. Though he said that he also heard of the spirit imparting wisdom on those that view it. Considering the difference of the tales I come to believe this spirit is like the fey of our land. I advised Coreena that if she ever encountered the fox again to flee and find us. She did not argue.
We were attacked before sunrise by a band of goblins (their kind has spread far as well it seems). We dispatched them easily except for their leader who appeared to be a Hobgoblin. I have never encountered one of their kind before, though I have heard they are suppose to be rather intelligent and crafty. This one wore the armor of some of the local warriors I have seen and fought very well. Drekoth eventually put the brute down and we continued on our way. Noon that day we came upon a group of travelers who were injured on the side of the road. After treating them, they told us that they were attacked by a pack of goblins and some of their companions were taken. We quickly deduced that this must be part of the same band that attacked us and we decided to see if we could rescue their companions. One of the men offered to come with us saying that defending the travelers was part of his duty and he would be dishonored if he came back without them.
Correna followed their tracks up the hills to a small cave complex. Their were more of them then we thought including several Hobgoblins. They had prepared some dangerous traps and had a few local bests trained as guard animals. Both Slythas and myself were badly injured but we managed to clear out the caves. Unfortunately when we found the prisoners they had already been killed. Several warriors were among them and the man accompanying us simply said they had done their duty. He took what looked like a scroll from one of the bodies and told us that they had been carrying an important message to one of the local leaders. We returned to other travelers and the warrior (he told me his name was Katsu) said they would accompany us back to Minkai.
We have arrived in Minaki. It is an island nation off the coast so we had to take a short boat trip to reach it. Unlike Goka, our presence had drawn much suspicion and ere from the locals. I have a feeling they are mistrustful towards outsiders. The main city of Kasia is large and I hope to find some answers to Rokouro’s origins. We had just been in the city a couple of days when a messenger reached us saying that the local lord wanted to meet us. I believe this has to do with our help with the goblins. The lords resources could be helpful in my search so I accepted the invitation. Coreena said she did not want to go however, so I let her be and headed off towards the palace.
The talks with the leader were interesting. He thanked us for our help and offered us dinner as well as a show. The food was good and the play we watched was fascinating as it was all performed using what appeared to be shadow puppets. Slythas thought it was a bit crude, but I thought it kind of had a warm cheeriness to it.
I did not enjoy the company of some of the lords warriors in attendance however. They were lowed and boastful and some were downright condescending. They remind me of some of the “knights” that come from the human kingdoms in our lands. I learned they called themselves Samurai and are considered some sort of elite warrior class. One of the older warriors would not even talk to us and considered our presence disgraceful. His name was Okari and I had the feeling he was the highest ranking Samurai in the room considering how the others treated him. I have heard that this region had just finished a civil war and there was a great culture shift occurring throughout the region. I have a feeling the Samurai are an ancient order and are having trouble adapting to the new nation they serve. Being an Elf, I can sympathize with the difficulty of accepting such a great change.
After the meal, I told the lord of my quest and he summoned one of his advisers. After showing the adviser some of Rokouro’s affects, he told me that he most likely came from the nation of Dtang Ma to the east.
Finally I’m nearing what I hope is the end of my journey and I can finally put Rokouro to rest.