Chronicled in 9167 by Jacquelyne Falkrik, Lictor of the Gallants, 2nd Squad >
The loping forms are three of the cat-people we killed earlier – they have been “brought back” and are witness to the power of the protector. Gale makes insulting alley-cat noises in an attempt to communicate – they are not laughing. They speak a broken form of our language – we do the best we can. They are to protect us in our own quest this new god has given us. This god-creature i suppose reminds us of Rastur from our continuum. The protector has sent us to his people in order for us to lead them into the light. In exchange, he will show us the way home. Thats the deal. We’re struggling with everything, Helvia continues to lead us. Her mission is done, but i am befuddled with the illness and disease from the sorcerers occult power.
I suppose i should expect it by now, Pan Ge’Diam’s influence is still so strong. Taelin is here – with his horse and pack. He is the rock of the Gallants. He does his best to keep us organized and going. We’re all wounded, and he does his best to heal us. Helvia eventually gives him the Ring of Bandage – the ring our predecessors pulled from another world. We are weary beyond below. Unfocused, inattentive, exhausted. They tell us we must travel across a gorge 400 feet deep to get to their tribal lands.
We arrive and debate endlessly on making a bridge from fallen trees and crossing with the horses. Gale thinks we should do this. The cat-people tell us that place exists where we can descend and ascend with the horses 1 day away. I prefer to go with the known, most surest way of crossing and we choose to select that path. However, as we discover what awaits us – small poisonous snakes, lizards, and massive snakes that prowl the depths of the gorge, perhaps a rickety bridge was the safer option. Regardless, in the dark, many are repulsed by fire, so we camp on the edge of the gorge the night before and cut some torches from the jungle nearby. In the night, those on watch are visited by apparitions of themselves. some of the group are touched and are altered – how i cannot say since i was so tired i was allowed to sleep through the night.
As we make to descend the next morning, we are attacked by some some of odd beast – massive with a giant horn that could gut a horse. I am last, and urge the group forward while i lead it away. It must have poor site, for i am able to out-maneuver it and it charges right off the edge of the cliff! We continue to make our way down afterwards. We are attacked by snakes, but we defeat the danger and move on. At the bottom, a mile long journey of switchbacks, we are offered two ways to return to the top. The cat-folk must choose – they are more knowledgeable than us. The way they choose was correct – for we made it without incident. The cat-people get Gale back with a fake noose of some harmless snake. Its a joke that not funny to me – Gale could have panicked and taken others with him a rush to escape. fortunately he had the presence not to. I have move the animals across some trouble spots, i take several kicks to the chest and gut – it fucking hurts. Good thing Taelin is there – with the satchel and ring, and the radiance infusing the area around us, i nearly shrug it all off as nothing. This is the way it should work for us.
At the top, i prefer to camp with the ravine to one side protecting us – but we move on. I am lashed to my horse most of the time – i cannot keep up with the 40 hour cycles, but i am healing a bit faster than everyone else. They take us to a fort in the jungle, overgrown, which was a place for their tribe. Odo wakes us in the night, there are three creatures. We debate endlessly, making noise enough to wake the dead, about what to do. Helvia order one of the cat-people to the top of the wall – their vision being much better than ours in the night. The creature interrupts our pointless arguement to tell us a charge is coming – we here a huffing and strange noises. One crashes through the wall of wood – but the others remain behind. At least everyone is up – i roll to the side, out of combat. On the next night i take a watch, another charges. Odo brings on his warp-spasm to fight to beast. Pointless combat ensues. I dont remember much honestly, i remember standing in its path and it rushing past me – like i was not there. I was so nearly stunned that i did not swing Bone Shaker – but i did. The battle was one side. I go to bed. Stupid beasts. I grow weary of travel – i just want to return home. No offense to my traveling companions, but i want a clean barracks, a bunk, a bath, a fuck, and 10 days of sleep – without any of them around. I grumble and push and we ride hard and knock of a day.
We arrive at their first camp – about 60 adults and nearly half again in young. We are met and told to strip – i order everyone to follow suit and lay down our clothes and weapons. Gale complains about them attacking. They tell us to go – i choose to attack. Odo follows through and bastard is dropped between my blade and his spear – but the rest in this little group keep fighting. Its a fight that lasts only moments. Every time (well, nearly) we do the right thing, to avoid bloodshed, we get taken advantage of. I tried to split up fights at the end, but they would have none of it. Well, even naked, we killed over our own number in moments. Our escort of cat-people, the primary one being named “Chief”, now stick close to us. they tell us that was not the leader, but a band of “braves” – young with something to prove. I pushed Helvia to go challenge their chief or champion for leadership. Apparently there is some precursor to the fight – a war of words. I am exhausted, but this i can do. My words cut home and their chief starts to snarl and ends up spitting on Helvia – who has her rage kick-in; she rushes the old cat while Silvas throws his sword. She grabs it mid-flight and cleaves the old bugger open. I have my back to the fight the whole time – talking to some of their people and making sure no one interferes. I am happy, the deed is done – i can see it in the eyes of the cat-folk i am talking to. We can lead these creatures away from their dark god and into the light. We can inform the primitive peoples that we have fulfilled our oaths and the land is theirs to return to as well.
Then i see terror in the eyes of the cat-people i am talking to. I turn and run, throwing the rag sheathe off Bone Shaker as i go. Ahead i can see Odo pushing aside Helvia as some tentacled monstrosity crawls out from the insides of the fallen cat-chief. The fight we really came for is happening now. I cleave with all my might. Again and again we strike the writhing mass. Arrow after arrow, spear point after sword blade – again and again. Eventually i end up caught in its tentacles. Much of our effort goes to breaking free and avoiding them – in my injured state i cannot. As it brings me to its maw, i wait till i am close and break free and slash again. The mouth is massive – it takes a bite from my leg – muscles grind and tendons shred – fuck, it burns. It nearly severs my leg below the knee, but i just keep standing still and hacking. Odo brings on his warp-spasm. All of us cleave and hack. Silvas charged it from horseback, still it comes on. We are all hampered by tentacles, and finally it hews a chunk in a bite from me – above the calf this time, through the thigh. I know its a mortal wound as i fail to throw myself aside in time. My iron will once again stands me up as the blood runs down my legs in spurts. I get to watch the monster finally killed. My sword drops, but i stand. Taelin rushes to my side. Theres blood everywhere, he can barely find the vein. When he clamps down on it and stops the bleeding i go numb and pass out. Even with it, all i can think of is i died standing up as everything fades to black.