Amaranthia

Session 31

Location unknown Qu’ah Qi Jazeera; day 1

I awoke to Creature starring at me, to the sounds of mounting confusion, and tiny voices asking “cookie?” It took me several moments to realize that we were all being observed by Creatures. Dozens of them.

They had already found our supplies, what little we had on hand at our abrupt departure from Sefet, and after a brief flurry of activity to reclaim our belongings, we realized that we were in something of a situation. Even Lyr’s magic couldn’t feed us, for the creatures ate the food as fast as she could summon it.

Stomachs grumbling, we decided to scout our surroundings. After picking our Creature out of the crowd—Cressida had, it seems, actually managed to teach him some manners over the years—she transformed into a dire eagle and flew off to the southwest, while Dendera, Sehera and I went to the northwest.

The beach transitioned abruptly into jungle, but the ground soon became rocky and the vegetation smaller as we went inland and up hill. There was little sign of animal life save for small birds and insects and little food except coconuts. The creatures probably eat it all…

Eventually we found a stream, which led in turn to a slightly larger stream, which we followed up into the rocky hills. Eventually we found a large pool, a natural spring of some sort. Lined by a gravelly beach and light foliage, it seemed as idyllic a spot as one would be likely to find. A vantage point showed us a long view of the landscape, a mix of rocky scrub and tropical foliage, dotted with small ponds like this one. We spotted some small, fat deer-like creatures—the largest animals we had seen so far—but no obvious signs of civilization.

Dendera spotted fish in the pond and suggested that we catch some, then bring the others here, where we could eat, free of the creatures. I have very little fishing experience and Sehera is from the desert, so Dendera had to show us how. I guess I had never realized one could fish with a spear before; once the method became clear, it became an easy extension of my training, an exercise in focus and precision.

We gathered many hand-sized fish and set them over a cookfire, then Sehera went to find the others. On the beach, Lyr, had been trying to instruct the creatures in morality. Time will tell if she succeeded, I suppose. Feng worked at learning a new spell. Nessisus says he was composing a new song, but for him that process seems to involve a lot of sleeping.

Being left alone with Dendera was interesting. I am still not sure what to make of her; it is all of a few days since she threatened to murder my entire family. I still do not know why she came with us, or even what she needed the Khatam Mahib Ghaza, for she never talks about her self. She doesn’t even make small talk. She is a woman of action and, lately, her actions towards me have been… very friendly.

The others eventually joined us one by one, having escaped the creatures. Cressida and Indira found us as well by our cookfire. We are indeed on a small island, maybe a day’s walk in diameter. By the environment and vegetation, it seems likely we are north of Mileisia. Unfortunately, even from the sky, they could not see any neighboring islands. They reported seeing only one structure, on roughly the opposite side of the island from where we arrived. It was old, but is seemed the best option to explore.

But that would have to wait until tomorrow. The day had passed quickly—we had slept through most of the morning and were in no particular hurry—and so we made camp.

The only other event of note of that night was something Sehera found, a group of six stone posts, set deep into the ground, in a circle or hexagon. They seemed very old, but we could ascertain little from them save that, at some point, there had indeed been intelligent beings on this island.

Qu’ah Qi Jazeera; day 2

When we woke, the creatures had found us again, though fewer this time. Probably another troop of them. Lyr created some food for them as a distraction, allowing us to slip away, for they seemed determined to follow us, otherwise.

After several hours of walking, it started to rain. We took shelter, ate some of Lyr’s magically created food (bland, but nonetheless still food). It was a brief downpour and unfortunately provided little relief from the humidity and insects. Our brief time in Kohonma was far, far worse, but nonetheless, this has been a bit of a shock after having just been in Sefet’s early-summer dry period. We continued for a while longer, until, at roughly the center of the island, we came to a large clearing, devoid of life save for one large, strange tree. A Saramite Tree.

Dendera, Cressida and Lyr had never seen one of these things before and did not realize the danger,until they saw the corpses of birds and insects littered around the tree’s serpentine roots. Sehera skirted as close as she dared to the edge of the tree’s effect, helping us circumnavigate it safely. Strangely, a group of Creatures were frolicking amongst the tree’s branches, showing no ill effect at all.

Sehera found drag marks—as from a body—stretching from inside the tree’s sphere of influence and down a path, leading in the direction we intended to travel. For the rest of the day we followed this path, occasionally noting signs of drag marks, which were probably a few weeks old.

Along the path, we saw more of the same: a mix of rocky scrub and stands of tropical trees, small streams and ponds, few trustworthy natural food sources apart from coconuts, and few animals save for the creatures, the fat little deer (I am told they are water chevrotains), birds, and insects and more troops of Creatures.

Near sundown, we found a pleasant, Creature-free pond and decided to set camp. Lyr summoned a magical feast the likes of which would do a great household proud; there was enough food even for the creatures who caught its scent. Feeling refreshed, we began to prepare for the night when a massive, low sound rumbled through the night, sending all of the wild Creatures into a frenzy, dashing towards the sound. As the noise was coming from the direction we had been heading, we decided to investigate.

A short walk later, we saw the ancient structure, some sort of temple, in the bright, moonlit night. We could see a light inside, but of greater interest was the roiling mass of creatures nearby. As we approached, a massive figure rose up, a creature bigger than a man. Cressida’s Creature responded ecstatically to the bone-shaking rumbles of what he called “Beegowh.”

As we took in this strange scene, a voice called to us, the resident of the ancient structure; an old man who claimed to be Muhadarac Hasidar, the famed naturalist who was thought to have been lost at sea two decades ago. Evidently, he had been lost at sea, and we had just found him.

He escorted us inside, talking quite excitedly at having company after twenty years of solitary, island life. He rambled for a time about the creatures, which he called Qu’ah Qi, who had been his company for isolation on Qu’ah Qi Jazeera, as he had dubbed the island. He never did explain where the name “Qu’ah Qu” came from…

Where other men would’ve given into despair, Muhadarac had used his exile to pursue his studies. He claimed to have reached a great breakthrough in the nature of life on Soleria through his discovery of a method of dating things in relation to the Lacunar Event called “Radiant Decay Chronodetermination.” Fascinating, but far beyond our level of understanding.

He explained a great deal, and I shall try to summarize it later*. But his research became far more understandable when he showed us to the basement. It was a small, hexagonal catacomb, and the bodies contained within were mummified Qu’ah Qi. He explained that, by his Radiant Decay Chronodetermination, he was able to ascertain that the Qu’ah Qi not only predated the Lacunar Event, but are native lifeforms to Soleria. As far as I know, this would make them the most complex, native life known, suggesting a vastly more complicated picture of pre-Lacunar Soleria than my tutors ever did. No other known life is intelligent and, while the Qu’ah Qi do not seem to be at the same level of intelligence as, say, humans or elves, they are undeniably intelligent creatures with at least a limited function of language.

*For articles relevant to Muhadarac’s infodump, see: x

But even with this amazing revelation, the truly captivating sight stood at the center of the room, a massive, crystalline formation that seemed to be made of petrified bodies of tall, humanoid creatures. What it was, Muhadarac had no idea, though he suspected it was either some sort of sarcophagus or gate; he had studied it for years to no avail.

Nessisus cast a spell to examine it (which necessitated singing) and the structure resonated with his voice, humming and glowing. In the twenty years Muhadarac had been on the island, he said, it had never done anything like this. Nessisus collapsed, possibly having another of his visions or strokes and so, as soon as I could, I encouraged him and Muhadarac to cease examining the structure and come upstairs with us.

At this point, Cressida had already left, the presence of the mummified Qu’ah Qi unnerving her too much. I felt it would be valuable for all of us to share our tale with Muhadarac—for we have seen so much that could coincide with his knowledge—so Nessisus and I started from the beginning…

Several hours later, he had gone from skepticism through confusion to amazement. The concept of the kafs intrigued Muhadarac, as he immediately saw them as a source of endless resources. Objectively, he is correct, but anything taken from one kaf deprives another, even if it is possible not to destroy a kaf when leaving it, as the Glass Artifact seemed to do. I do not believe that the infinity of the universe overrides the immorality of this sort of inter-kaf piracy. I think. I suppose, on another Qu’ah Qi island, there may be another Hasan who agrees with Muhadarac…

Our conversation turned to more convivial matters and he brought out some food and wine he had saved and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly…

As this was occurring, Cressida, Sehera, and Feng had left the temple to explore and found a poorly preserved ship, which Muhadarac had mentioned (for, as he told us, there had been others stranded people in the decades he had been here, but none had survived long). It was in heavily damaged condition, but if we are here indefinitely, we may be able to repair it, if we can find resources.

Then, following an unpleasant scent and a strange noise, they found something horrific, a massive pit, filled with bodies, far more than Muhadarac’s stories of other stranded people implied, and some of them seemed quite recent. Though there were signs of injury on the body, the probable cause of death was seemed to be the Saramite Tree… They saw a massive thing, whose profile was indistinct in the darkness, strip a corpse to the bone in a grisly gulp.

Now deeply suspicious of our host and his Qu’ah Qi friends (who, as you will recall, are immune to the tree’s effects), they returned to the temple, where Muhadarac was watching Nessisus sing to the crystalline structure. Not planning on giving him a chance to talk (and, perhaps cast a spell), they descended upon him…

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