Our journey is about to begin. I have vowed to see my lover Roukoro’s body back to his homeland that he had left so long ago. I had no idea where to begin as he told me so little about himself in the time we had. I went to Meritanus hoping that in his travels that he had met Roukoro’s people and knew where they came from. He told me that he has heard of such people from other Varisians and that they came from a far away land to the east. He said that he has heard of only one viable trade route to their land and that it is a long and tedious journey. When I told him that I wished to journey to this land, he became intrigued. He informed me that the goods traded from this land were exotic and valuable. After some discussion, he proposed that his son Olly and some of his troupe would accompany me on this journey. At first I declined considering the danger it might pose to Olly. Meritanus just laughed and told me that Varisians are used to such perils and that the chance to visit such a far away land will be great experience for Olly. As he said this, I felt a hint of sadness in Meritanus. It occurred to me that this was a journey he would of undertaken if he was able. I noticed just then how much older he looked. It wasn’t so long ago that we first met him and his family in Kyonin’s borders. They age and part so quickly.
The route Meritanus mentioned begins in the town of Kalsgard in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. I’m glad that tensions have calmed since we last visited this land. This trip sounds like it will be difficult enough; we don’t want any problems occurring at the very start of a journey. I was actually surprised when we came to the town. It is the largest city in the Land of the Linnor Kings and I have seen community’s of not only Varisians here, but also that of Dwarves and Gnomes. Still, I thought it best for me and Coreena to lay low in the town while Olly acquired a guide. Since Olly and some of his people were traveling with us, Sylthas and Drekath were coming as well. I’m pleased to be traveling with my brothers on this journey. I see them so little, and it will be nice to have family to travel with. I think one of their reasons for coming might also be to get to know their niece better.
After some time, Olly arranged for us to join a traveling caravan along the route. He said that they had taken the Path of Aganhei (as the route was called) a couple of times before and were one of the most experienced in town. It wasn’t cheap apparently as many others wanted to join on as well for the journey. In the end we were traveling with nearly twenty others. I was also pleased to see one of my travel companions resembled my Roukoro’s people. I approached him and told him of our quest. He said that what we were doing was a very noble thing, but that those that leave Tian Xia ( Roukoro’s homeland) are sometimes seen as outcasts and are very dishonored. Though his information was somewhat bleak, I took him being there as a good sign that at least we were on the right track. I admit I’m rather excited, I have never been on a journey like this before, nor so far away from home.
We travel through the Crown of the World. Though we are prepared for the conditions, it is still rough travel. The first leg of our journey brought us through the Stormspear Hills and then into the Rimethirst Mountains. The hills were pleasant enough though we did run into trouble in the mountains however. The mountains and lands around them are home to a race of giants. Our guide told us that the due to an ancient treaty the giants do not harm those along the path, but we must remain on it the entire way. I had no problem with this, but the Dwarf in the party did not like the idea of traveling through giant lands. This led to a heated argument with our guide who kept telling the Dwarf (who’s name was Kelgar) that this was the only way. Things continued on pleasantly until we ran into one of the giants. I have encountered a giant only once before during the attack on our keep. This giant was far lager then one who attacked us, easily standing twenty feet tall. It was a female who was covered with tattoos and jewelry. Unlike the bestial oaf we encountered before, this giant appeared to be somewhat intelligent thought still very savage. This would explain how a treaty was reached with these people, something I thought impossible considering what I have heard of giants. It did not approach us but kept a keen eye us while gripping the large spear it carried (which was also about twenty feet tall). We trying to continue on but Kelgar was preparing to fight. I know that Dwarve’s have a hatred for the giant race, but Kelgar became borderline fanatical (I’m guessing he had lost a loved one to giants). Thankfully I was able to calm him down before the situation escalated. I noticed both Drekath and Ishiro (the man from Tian Xia) were both ready to intervene. Thankfully the rest of the journey though the mountains remained uneventful.
We have been traveling for some time now and I have gotten to learn more about Tian Xia from Ishiro. He didn’t reveal much at first. I believe that his people are very secretive about their homeland, something I can relate to. After some time however, he began to open up to me. The nation he comes from is called Xa Hoi and he refers to his people as the Tian-Dan. Apparently his nation has been under the rule of dragons for the last three thousand years. When I pressed him about the dragons, he became very uncomfortable and I actually caught him glancing around as if expecting one of the to come over the ridge. From what little he told me of them, they sound very different from the dragons from our land. After speaking of the dragons, Ishiro was not in the mood to talk much further. He didn’t sleep easy that night either.
Maybe their dragons are not that much different then ours after all.
Our travel continues well enough. We are mostly passing through small forested hills and have run into very little trouble (except for a small night raid by some creatures that were easily dispatched). It is peaceful, though somewhat boring. Olly and the rest of his troupe get along well enough with the rest of the caravan (they are all travelers after all). Coreena mostly keeps to herself as usual, but is starting to open up a bit more. I know she wants to talk to Ishiro and learn more about her fathers land, but doesn’t really know the best way to approach him. I have never known Coreena to really look upon her mute voice or aloofness as a hindrance, but as she is growing older she is starting to see that there are times you want to talk instead of just sitting back and watching. This is a trying time for her and her fathers death weighs heavier on her then me. To me he was a good man that appeared out of no where and left me with a beautiful daughter and pleasant memory. To Coreena, he was a mystical legend that she had built up in her mind that didn’t fit the man in real life. Her world was shattered and she learned the hard lesson that all children must that real life is very different then most stories. She will manage though, I have no doubt about that.
She has taken this time to try and know her uncles more. I see she connects a lot with Drekath as both of them tend to be quite and reserved. There have been several times I have seen the two together just sitting back doing nothing but simply looking on into nothingness. I found her drawing a picture of him in meditation, she is becoming a rather good artist.
Her connection to Slythas however has become rather strained. At first she tried her best to listen to his stories and tolerate his sometimes overbearing manner. Her patience has run thin however and she has informed me that she can no longer stand his constant blathering and boasting. I admit that even I’m starting to become annoyed with him and I feel that it is a testament to Drekath’s patience and fortitude that he travels with Slythas so regularly.
We have come across several villages of a human people who call themselves the Erutaki. Their culture has some similarities with the Ulfen from the Land of Linnorm Kings. They are a simple people that live off the land and have adapted well to this northern climate. Though our deOllyngs with them have been brief, it was nice to see a new face after the long travels. Some of them worshiped Erastil and they eagerly received some of my sermons. I also helped treat some of their wounded from a recent fight. For this, they traded us some extra clothing and food. I’m glad I was able to provide something to this expedition.
We have begun to climb further north and the travel is starting to become difficult. It is horrendously cold now and the land is starting to become more barren. The walk has become tedious and everyone is starting to get on each others nerves. Kelgar’s Dwarven demeanor has put him at odds with several people and now mostly keeps to himself. Olly and the rest of the Varisians got into a fight with one of the other groups when they were accused of steOllyng and there were some injuries. I was able to calm things and it was learned that unfortunately that one of the men in Olly’s group did steal something from one of the merchants. Olly was visibly hurt when this was discovered and he harshly reprimanded the man responsible. I noticed that the Varisian’s do not welcome that man in their group anymore. In fact, they don’t even talk to him. Slythas has been especially irritable as I think the travel is much more harsh then what he has grown accustomed to. I tried to comfort him only to have a harsh and rather demeaning remark thrown my way. After hearing this, Coreena immediately walked over and punched him in the face. He is calmer now and oddly enough Coreena and I are getting along quite well.
Despite everything, Slythas’s stories are actually starting to become rather welcome. Once you get around his self centered attitude, he is actually a very good entertainer. There have been many nights were he had all of us roaring with laughter or on the edge or our seat with suspense. He did make the mistake of telling a horrifying story of man encountering a strange undead fey in the woods that had all the humans and Kelgar unable to sleep the rest of the night. My oratories have brought comfort to a few, but sometimes Slythas’s tales are all that keep the depression at bay.
Though Ishiro has also become irritable at times, I have learned a little more form him. I have started to learn the language of his people and can read what little writings he has on him. It impressed him greatly how quickly I’m learning. He informed me that his land was once governed by the powerful Lung Wa empire. During the death of Aroden however, the empire fractured and his land is now a number of feuding cities and kingdoms. This is somewhat disheartening as it means the I will be entering a more then likely war torn and chaotic land.
We have traveled even further North into what our guide called the High Ice. All around us is nothing but snow and ice. This is by far the worst part of our journey. I have seen some small animals here but for the most part the land is lifeless. It is very disheartening. The sun shines and its blinding light reflects off the snow. A few of us (including myself) have suffered temporary blindness because of the shine. I noticed that we Elves seemed especially susceptible to this condition. I believe this is because our eyes take in so much that we feel the brunt of the brightness more then the others. Thankfully the Erutaki traded us some special darkened goggles for the trip. They are horribly uncomfortable, but they work and we wear them regularly now. Even though it shines, the sun provides no relief from the cold. I thought it was bad before, but the cold I feel now is nothing like I have ever experienced. Every gust of wind saps your strength and your muscles constantly ache. The days are horrible and the nights unbearable. Its almost as if the cold is a living thing. Some ancient entity the rules the land and seeks you out strikes at your very core. It is horrible and it is weighing on all of us.
We have had several deaths already. As we were walking, the ground opened up and swallowed one of the merchants. We looked down into the crevasse where he disappeared and there was no sign of him and the drop went beyond further then we could see. It happened so quickly. Our guide told us to tie ropes to each other and we now walk in straight linked lines. Coreena leads our group and chooses her steeps very carefully as we continue on. A couple of days latter a blizzard hit us. I have no idea how we survived. We grouped together and huddled around a small fire, using our own bodies to keep the snow and wind from blowing it out. There was no moving or talking. You huddled next to whomever was next to you and did not care who they were. All that mattered was survival. Still we lost a couple men, including the man outcast by the Varisians. I have a feeling they would not let him settle in with them and he was forced out into the cold. I have never seen such a dark side to Meritanus’s people. Then this morning one man just dropped dead. By the looks of him, it was his time and he was too old to have been taking such a trip.
I don’t know how much longer we can keep this up.
There are Elves up here! I have heard legends of the Elves of the winter lands, but after traveling for some time I thought it would be impossible for anyone to live up here. It shows how amazing my people can adapt. They approached us peacefully one calm morning seeing if there was anything we could trade. They are slightly smaller and squatter then we are and have flowing white hair. There eyes seem to have adapted a reflective sheen to them (to help deal with the sun blindness I’m guessing).
When they saw me, they were somewhat surprised. I don’t think they expected to see another Elf traveling up this way. They walked over and started talking to me, asking several questions. Their dialect of Elven was rugged and they spoke quickly and to the point. It wasn’t long before they invited us to their village. Our guide said he has never heard of them inviting anyone to their homes and kept many other races away. The roots of our race run deep indeed. Their village was small with only about fifty to seventy elves living there. They gave us a little food and took us into what appeared to be a large hall. It felt so good getting out of the cold and eating something other then trail rations. Their elder reminded me of my father. Forlorness had started to settle into him, but he still gave off a sense of strength and wisdom. We began to talk and he asked questions about or journey and of the other elven nations. They are so isolated up here and I feel they have lost their connection with the rest of the Elven People. When I inquired if he or any of his people had ever been to Sovyrian, he seemed confused. I believe that these Elves might have been left behind and had to move north after the events of the Star Fall. During our talks, one of the younger elves kept eying me. He was young but must have been a great warrior for he had several scares and wore what appeared to be a necklace made out of different bones. He held what appeared a to be a stone pick.
Through out the night, our guide looked more and more worried. When I inquired, he stated that these Elves are actually very savage and only respect shows of force. I thought it was only my presence that caused them to act kindly towards us, but now I wonder.
We were ambushed. It had only been a day since we left the home of the winter elves when they came on us. I don’t know how they hid from us with no trees or ledges to sneak behind. One moment calm nothingness, the next moment they were on us. Before we knew what was going on, several of the merchants had been killed along with a few of Olly’s troupe. The wolves came at us from all angles as did a large fanged white tiger. Coreena was picking off the animals with her bow while I began to fill the air with the hymns of Erastil. Our attackers were Ogres and what appeared to be pale skinned giants. Everything became a blur as the battle erupted around us. I remember Slythas unleashing a great shout that actually fractured the ice and caused an Ogre to fall into a crevasse. Drekath had killed one of the giants but was entangled in a net with one the Ogre’s repeatedly punching his face, driving his head into the ice. I called down Erastil’s wrath and smote them in righteous fire. Drektoh was not moving and I went to go help him when I saw Coreena get taken down by the large cat. I turned to rush to her aid when tremendous forced smashed into my back and sent me to the ground. I rolled over with back and shoulders throbbing with pain and stared up at one of the giants. He looked down upon as a sneer crept across his huge face. I was murmuring my final passage to Erastil when he was lifting up the ax to finish me. He did not see the young winter elf charge behind him until the stone pick tore through his back and priced the front of his armor. He roared and spun around with his ax. The young elf easily ducked below the ax and swept the giant off his feet with the pick that had priced the giants back and then with a second pick, delivered a blow to the giants chest before its body had even hit the ice. It did not get back up. He then channeled some form of cold energy into his weapons and set upon the Ogre’s, freezing and shattering them with each strike. I drug myself up and saw that many of the other winter elves had come to our rescue. I got to Drekath as quickly as I could and tried not to vomit when I saw the pounded flesh that once was his face. I chanted my prayers of vitOllyty from Erastil and laid my hands on him. I was in time as he began to breath as the heOllyng magic mended his flesh and bone. He looked like my brother again, though very tired. I began tending to the others and thankfully was able to bring back those that were badly wounded.
I went to thank the young elf for saving us when I saw the elder of the village approach. He informed me that he had seen us and this attack in several visions and knew that we must be protected. I also learned that the young elf was not only their greatest warrior, but also the chiefs son. When I thanked his son, he just smiled and gave me his bone necklace. In honor of saving us, I gave the chief my antlered helm so that Erastil may protect him and his people. It had severed me well, and in this harsh land they may need Erastil’s protection even more then I do.
We are climbing now. Mountain paths are treacherous enough without adding in the freezing wind and slippery ice. Thankfully some of the natural caves have given us shelter from the cold so even though we are traveling slower, we are not as miserable as we were on the planes. After a couple of days we traveled under a stone arch with Tian Xia writing on it. This brought a smile to Ishiro’s face and he told me that we were crossing into the Qiang Tian (Wall of Heaven) and that we are now in the land of his people.