20 Flamerule 1360 DR
Yeah, it was a rough run.
I’m currently curled into my nest of cushions with the light pouring down on me from the nearby window, recovering from the injuries I’ve suffered during the mission. I’ve been taking comfort in my cozy home, thankful to be here. My books are neatly lined up along the back of my desk with my pencils corralled into an iridescent Shou Long red enamel-wear pencil cup, stenciled with the glyph of knowledge, a small gift from my old master Kitaro Fujiama. The walls are strewn with maps, pictures culled from random sources and everything from interesting rocks I’ve found to foreign currency. While some find the amount and variety of wall decoration overwhelming, most see a harmonious flow at work and no one realizes that my artistic displays are actually a form of storage for me. Lemmy is quietly stretched out in my favorite chair, soaking up the sun along with his hard-earned whiskey. He makes an unlikely nursemaid but quite a good one I find. He wanders out periodically to stretch his legs (to the nearest bar I’m sure) but comes back with choice tidbits from the local eateries. I’m still licking my whiskers periodically from the tasty half-chicken and I occasionally take up a bone, breaking it open and sucking out the marrow at my leisure. He was even decent enough to make a few passes and lunges with that amazing sword of his (called True Will) when I was suffering through a particularly rough patch of physical pain yesterday, though the glowing effect that I saw during the gibbering mouther attack wasn’t apparent.
As to the mission, it was technically a success (we’re all alive which is frankly success enough all things considered) and we learned more information in relation to son Vanderboren. Another chest awaited us inside the web-frosted village, already detonated leaving an old woman dead. It was meant to go to his sister, a woman called Lavinia. Unfortunately, this unnatural son and brother has fled the asteroid, leaving behind some mysterious horses and chaos in his wake.
Haven-Fara only became infested with spiders after Vaderboren dropped off the chest with the disappearances of the townspeople beginning at roughly the same time. Right now, no one in the group seems to fully realize the racial undertow of the situation, something I don’t know is good (Ignorance is bliss) or bad (I’m withholding potentially useful information).
We met a gentleman named Nemeitia, owner of the Black Fly Bar, during the course of our initial adventures at Haven-Fara. He was being held in custody by Captian Galen—suspected of being a looter during the recent disturbances. I found him very composed for being in such an unstable position but I found myself becoming cold with suspicion as Henry interviewed him. He is Aranea, a “cousin” to and descended from the spiders. When everyone was leaving to return to our rendezvous at Dr. Griff’s home (an arachnid scholar lost in hairsplitting, blinded by his own myopic focus, and determined to join our trip to the caverns in the name of research. He seems physically incapable of stopping the flow of inanities that literally tumble from his mouth all the time.), I lagged behind, murmuring a wish of consoling the prisoner in his time of trial. Once alone with Nemeitia, I politely confirmed what I suspected and inquired about the delicate balance his people have managed to maintain. Plus, I swore to keep his secret. Oh, I so wish I had the leisure to talk with Nemeitia about his people, their customs and beliefs, their history. To watch his people and talk to them in the course of their days.
That murderous Vanderboren has upset the delicate balance and secrets of Haven-Fara. Nemeitia is of the native population of Haven-Fara. The Aranea, the tribe he is a member of, are a species of shape-shifters. Specifically, they can shift from human to spider and back again. Captain Galen, the owner of the Good Fortune Tavern is descended from the legendary Captain Haven and his crew and fully human. Nemeitia and his kin have sworn to keep the secret of their heritage and vowed to never shift to spider shape. It has worked for hundreds of years, perhaps not an ideal solution to racial tensions (Why should one group be oppressed while another is free?) but a workable one accepted by the Araneans. The tensions between the humans and the Araneans has been viewed strictly a natural “old versus new” rivalry by the humans. And now this ancient balance is threatened by an outsider’s reckless actions.
All the missing townfolk are Araneans. I assume they have gone to the underground tunnels in an attempt to rescue or otherwise help their distressed cousins. We need to get back as quickly as possible. While the Araneans have shown remarkable control through the centuries in maintaining their vows of secrecy and the retention of human form, they are now in a seriously destabilized condition where the natural instinct to survive might trigger spontaneous reversal into spider form as it is a superior form in battle with their ability for sorcery and the more traditional attributes of the form such as the ability to make webs and use venom. In man form, they are only human, robbed of their rightful splendor. If the humans discover the Araneans’ secret, we could have an interspecies bloodbath on our hands.
The going looks rough though. We entered the caverns through the secret entrance at the Black Fly and had scarcely started down the path when Lemmy suddenly cocked his head to the side as if he heard something then went troll-shit on us, swinging wildly on Violetta and taking a swing at Henry as well when he tried to intervene. A gibbering mouther had scrambled Lemmy’s brain! I spotted the ugly thing hidden in the bushes and leapt to the attack. And ended up getting my furry butt kicked, being eaten in short order by the beast. The last of the mighty Taanmrow, ignominiously devoured!
The battle raged for some minutes but I missed most of it as I was caught in the beast’s belly, painfully having my fur and flesh eaten away. Henry joined me for a moment I think, but managed to escape. I tried to follow, but had been too weakened by all the blood I was losing. Only after Henry firebombed the mouther could I effect my escape, wrenching my shoulder in the process.
Getting back to the ship is a fuzzy memory at best. My first real clear memory is telling Henry “I don’t wanna play anymore” when asked about piloting. After a three-day run back to Dragon Rock, Henry and Violetta sent me home to recover with Lemmy in attendance.
I don’t think this is going to be easy going, but we absolutely MUST return as quickly as possible. Nemeitia and his people need us. Then track down that Vanderboren. . .
Things to do:
Write up report of Nemeitia and his people for the Seeker Library and arrange for follow-ups. Code it as “Senior Members”—proper security protocol.
Write up the “Legend of Slug Love” as sung by Violetta, the Masq’d Bard.