I don’t know what forsaken hour it is any longer, or long we’ve been here atop this sinking tower, with the beacon fire our lone shield against night and the cold. It feels like days have passed. I’m tired, but I know the night is far from over. I mustn’t show any weakness here, beneath the ethereal glow of the Builder Stone, to do so will be to invite our doom.
We speak more with the avai. I wouldn’t call it a friend, or even helpful, but it tells me things I need to know. Tel-sara is finished here with whatever it was she was trying to conjure. Now she’s moved on to the Dragonspines. I don’t trust her, she’s sounds dangerous. I her as one of those great, yet delusional minds who imagine they are saving the world by their works. Maybe somehow she reminds me a little of myself, or what I could become if I am not careful.
The avai (he… she?… I think of it as male) has decided to fly on to the Dragonspines. I imagine only a day or two’s journey by wing. It will deliver our message. I still wish audience with her. Some small part of me hopes that she can explain her actions, convince me that she isn’t some madwoman trying to unbalance Creation.
Meanwhile the Builder Stone calls to us. Baeyo seems increasingly anxious to investigate. He wants to find the body of the one we heard screaming. I suspect he, with the aid of his his spirit guides can see things that I cannot. I dare not open the Eye here. This is a power I do not comprehend, a magic which is clearly beyond me and perhaps any other mage living today.
Dian and Cillian continue to spar with one another. I wish they would stop, the bickering –which might amuse me in under warm walls with mead in cup – is growing increasingly irritating. Maybe it’s place. Maybe it’s crawling under all of our skins. Bayeo and I each have our turns at getting them to cease. Dian says some curious things to me that sound like accusations for the first time since coming with us. I’m somewhat relieved by it, he’s finally acting like a normal man and not some apostle of the divine prophet. It sounds like he wanted me to do more to help the people we’d met on our journeys. Doesn’t he know I already torture myself with the same questions every sleepless night I know, that I ask if I might not have saved one more life I had been more clever or cunning or patient with every silent footstep we’ve made on this journey?
Still, an odd choice of conversation given our present circumstances. I find myself liking Dian a little less this evening. Perhaps he’s merely having his doubts about coming here with us after all. Well, I tried to warn him, didn’t I?
Cillian offers to lead us, he can read the pathways in the marsh even here in the dark. I wish I knew more about him, but there’s no time for that. It’s either trust him and go, or remain here. Bayeo doesn’t want to wait until morning, he thinks it will be too late by then. He’s probably right. Still, rowing out into a dangerous marsh in the dark, putting complete faith in a man we hardly know does not seem the sane course. Of course, when have I ever taken the sane course?
We begin to row. I have my reservations, but I honestly don’t think Cillian means us harm. As to his god, that remains to be seen. I don’t exactly see myself being invited any Night House parties.
I don’t know how long we’ve been rowing. It feels like an eternity, the Builder Stone seems somehow no closer. Its light offers no reflection across the dark surface of the water. I have my theories as to why, but I keep them to myself.
We come across our first find. It is a body. He bears the brooch of a Wavemarshal! He has been disarmed, and there are signs that his face has suffered blunt trauma – smashed bones and teeth. The worst wound is that in his belly, a gaping hole large enough to put my head through. His innards have all spilled out. Bayeo comments that he was clutching his belly in the way a man disemboweled seeks to hold himself in, but in a different kind of pain… as though something suddenly burst out of him.
As if a kind of answer to our questions, a terrible horror emerges from the murky depths. It is like a great worm, larger than our craft, stabbing out of the darkness with a harsh green light shining from its face like a baleful Night Wing. It shines against Bayeo, who nearly cowers beneath it. Magic! I hope. I jump in front of my brother, shining up the Ciandiarg as though a shield and focus on the rune of destruction. Perhaps breaking its magic will produce a backlash against it. It works! The thing reels back.
Bayeo tosses the body of the Wavemarshal into the waters. The creature goes after the carrion like a ravenous vulture. Dian at the oars, rows us away like a man possessed.
We’re here at the Builder Stone now. It is no less ominous than it was at distance. The light reflects off of no surface. I am relieved that its power simply did overwhelm us as we approached, but there is a power at play here. I can feel its subtle influences.
Dian prods again at me, doubting that I’m any good at my magecraft. Why this again? I make a quip that I’m trained to hunt mages, but it is hollow and he knows it. I don’t challenge him any further. This night is dangerous enough as it is. I wish he could stay focused on the task when we need clear minds. It’s like he’s trying to provoke me into sending him off. Maybe he’s scared. Men can have funny ways of dealing with their fear. I know I do.
Cillian tells us that there are two roads we might take to get into the structure. Earlier he told us that there were three, but that one of these paths is no longer available, and that only one served as an exit. As if I needed any more incentive not to enter into such a place, he tells us that one of these doorways is on top of the bloody thing. No one find my joke about Dian making creeper vines to climb very funny. Least of all me. The other doorway is underneath the damn thing. I’m not going for a swim! Cillian offers to go in my stead… and people call me mad!
We find our second body. A wizard! From Teuthal no less. He is marked. Based on his injuries, Bayeo and I are convinced this is the body that fell from the tower. I attempt a Binding with him, but learn very little. Bayeo does something with his spirit, sending him on his way perhaps. I know little enough of such things, but I trust that my brother is doing the right thing.
“Faris,” Bayeo tells me, apropos of nothing. We learn that this was the man’s name.
Then he hears a hiss and a splash! Something is approaching. Another monster perhaps? We quickly row away, not wishing to fight in a rickety boat. We find a copse of trees standing out of the waters. I am no monkey, but it seems a better place to make a stand.
It is no monster. It is another boat! A flit! He names himself the Dread Pirate Jervis(?). The poor bastard has lost his eyes!
We bring him to the trees. Dian treats his wounds, while I use a bit of magic to dull his pain and calm his quavering nerves. He spins us a tale of how he and his company of five were a band of pirates and marauders who, after coming to be shipwrecked in the great storms, followed a group of “Abernavhn” wizards who were hunting down something called The Hound. It brought them to this place of Builder Stone.
The marauders sought to ambush the wizards inside the structure, but it was soon they who became the prey. The wizards employed numerous traps. His words were confused and halting. He spoke of a doorway that two entered to move some vast distance back to their kingdom. He spoke of one wizard who was four. He and his companions became separated.
The one he followed took him to a chamber where he saw something so terrible that literally caused his eyes to burst from their sockets. How he made it back out again in one piece is nothing short of a miracle.
Faris we learned was one of his companions, as was the Wave Marshal. There was a bard in their number (Glarin?). And a woman, who may have escaped through the underwater entrance. We still do not know the fates of the bard and the woman. Names = ?
He lost consciousness shortly thereafter and we took him back to the tower, deciding not to venture into this tower under the cover of night and wearing cloaks of exhaustion. Another little jab from Dian, questioning why I should fear battling wizards if I am a so-called mage hunter armed with such a weapon as I carry. I tell him that while a knight’s shield may defend against one sword easily enough, it cannot block against many all at once. And these wizards know this Builder place all too-well and I fear they have mastered some of its defenses. We would be invading a well-defended fortress.
Cillian then unexpectedly tells us that he must depart. Immediately, in the night. It seems crazed, but I know it is the prodding of his god and he may not defy his will. He nearly asks me what exactly passed between me and the Night House, but changes his mind when I offer to show him the answer.
We lay down to sleep. I doubt my rest will be very peaceful.