August 20, Akkarid
Today, we took advantage of being in the city to prepare, for we must continue our journey as quickly as possible. With some advice from the Feshtarken—who were still adapting to life at the docks of the city—we were able to find a fast ship willing to take us on as guards.
I spent most of the day with Dendera and Yashran, as a family. He remains a very shy child, but he did enjoy the serpent market.
It was easily the most stressful day of my life.
Our journey to this point has been largely uneventful. I have excised the last ten days of my journal from this copy, the content therein little but mundantiy.
Lyr has spent her time mostly in reclusion with the Cintamani, Feng in study, and the rest of us working as necessary. One may not linger idly long aboard a ship such as this one before someone hands you a line or a mop.
When we were not working, I have spent most of my time with Dendera. This is a challenge I do not know how to face.
The expectation for my life was to be quietly useful. I should have been married off to that nice girl I met as a child and lived in a limbo of responsibility, not high enough in the succession to be given an important position, not common enough to be expected to work, beyond some nominal military service and paying others to raise my herds.
My hopes for my life were a fairy story. The other day, when we had our only moment of “guarding the ship” thus far, I stood on deck and watched, with the crew, as Feng single-handedly crippled and terrorized a pirate ship into retreat. My sword hung at my hip, utterly useless. I dreamed of carving a mark into the world with my blade, but I see now that I would have better luck defeating a dragon with a butter knife.
I don’t know what this means for me. For us. I see a similar frustration in Dendera. For years, she has known nothing but battle and a journey back to her son. Now, save for this one final hour detour, she has reached that goal, and has no idea what will come next.
Today, our otherwise smooth travels met with a large obstacle, one the size of an island.
From deep in the waters below us, something rose up beneath the ship, a barren island erupting from nowhere. Our ship was stuck on a rocky ridge, causing great damage, but probably less than if it had simply toppled over.
As we watched, things resembling vegetation erupted from the rocky surface, plants-like structures that we discovered were actually keratinous fibers, like massive hairs.
As the crew scrambled to work on the hole in the ship, we investigated our surroundings. Sehera found a peculiar structure jammed into the rocky surface, hexagonal stones resembling those we saw on the island of the Qu’ah Qi. Something happened and, suddenly, a man appeared, a peculiar, human-looking fellow in unfamiliar clothes. He said his name was “Mister Buckle” and that he was human, an odd assertion. He also said he was not alone, that a “Mister White” was accompanying him, a dangerous, and invisible companion.
After introductions were made, Mister Buckle explained that he was from another place, called Tír Na Nóg and had found his way here quite by accident. He also explained that we seemed to be on the back of a thing called a Zaratan, a titanic, primordial sea turtle.
We surveyed our surroundings; the island did seem to have a strangely regular shape and, imagined at a different scale, the ridges and formations of the surface could be similar to the contours of a turtle’s shell.
We picked the end that seemed most likely to be the head and proceeded to the edge.
Indira dove underwater, finding the creature’s massive face. It seemed to be asleep, likely drifting to the surface on instinct to breathe, like a whale.
We attempted to contact the creature through magic, but it was too deeply asleep, and its dreaming mind too vast, for us to make any sort of impression. Waking the creature through violence seemed a risky proposition. Even if we were to find a way to make an impression on the thing, there was no telling if it would retaliate.
Eventually, on Mister Buckle’s suggestion, we decided to see if there was something that could help us in Tír Na Nóg. It seemed a better use of our expertise than simply helping rebuild the ship.
After determining how the portal device worked, most of us accompanied Mister Buckle and Mister White back.
Tír Na Nóg
Tír Na Nóg, the realm of the creatures known as the Fae, was once a place of light and strange beauty, but years ago something literally turned it upside down.
We found ourselves standing on the dark sky, a glassy substance, with a city of great spires hanging above us like stalactites. As he led us to his lair, Mister Buckle explained that, in the wake of the cataclysm, a powerful Fae named Siúlóir, some sort of embodiment of rage, had taken control of the largest spire, Bród Neamh and the city as a whole, with an army of creatures called Redcaps as his soldiers. These creatures now acted as terror squads, assaulting the other survivors seemingly at random.
These survivors included a population of Qu’ah Qi, who had arrived in the city through unknown means (perhaps the hexagonal artifact on their island). Siúlóir had captured their Beegowh and, as a new one had not been born, it should still be alive. If we can rescue the Beegowh, perhaps it would be strong enough to contact the Zaratan.
To do this, we will need to get to the tower, which descends to about twenty-five feet above what is now the ground, and to scale the tower. To do this, we will need iron shoes, iron having strange properties here. To get iron, we will need to find and defeat a group of redcaps, who use the shoes to travel between the tower and the sky-ground, then we must take the shoes to a being called The Hell Forge, which will make us shoes we can wear.
No problem, right?