Session 7 — January 29, 2020
Austin — Pascal
John Mark — Zuka
James — Neville
Katie — Haig
Patrick — Hanni (Remotely)
Tim — Judge
Log — Journey to the Kerr Highlands
July 14, 1592 — On a bright summer morning, our party left the dubious comforts of Griggston for the indubitable dangers of the Nephelese interior. To our surprise, our band nearly doubled in size once we crossed the Victoria River; it seems that Perd did not wholly trust the Agenoreans, but neither did he wish to frighten us by the sudden arrival of such a large force. The survivors of the Red Descent incident, Nin, Obah, Tama, Lir, and Kel Tah, graciously invited us to travel alongside them and Haig made casual, if halting, conversation with them throughout the day. The language barrier between our party and the Kerr may become a problem at some point, but so far we have managed. Toward the end of the day, we passed the site of the abandoned Kerr village. Curiously, nothing remained of it but a large clearing on the banks of the river. While this location would have made an ideal place to camp, the band pushed on in silence, choosing to stop several miles further east.
July 15, 1592 — Overcast, warm, winds from the west. Early in the morning we passed the spot where we had previously turned off to find the Red Descent. Hanging from the trees were many bone and wooden charms, which our friends touched reverently as they passed by. A memorial, perhaps? Or a ward?. This day saw the land begin to rise, gradually at first and then steeply as we made our way east. Zuka was able to find enough game and forage to feed most of the party. It is a marvel how quickly he has taken to this new land. Our trail diverged from the river at several points as we tacked back and forth, climbing the steep walls of the plateau. More than once, we rounded a bend to see the river cascading majestically down from above. We encountered several small Kerr settlements, no larger than several dozen people, with structures all built of mud and wattle.
By late afternoon, we crested the rim of the plateau and were greeted by the oddest sensation. It was as if the air around us had become jelly, which we had to push through. Though it seemed to last several seconds, it was evident that no difference in speed of motion was perceptible from an external vantage. What’s more, once through this strange curtain, we found ourselves briefly overwhelmed by the richness of our sensations. Looking about, it seemed as if all the world was breathing, the land rising and falling rhythmically. Though the day had been quite grey and overcast, the colors around us suddenly became exceedingly vibrant and previously unnoticed patterns and regularities in the foliage revealed themselves. While quite strong, the sensation passed quickly and, though the world around us remained preternaturally vibrant, we found our faculties to have largely returned to normal. The Kerr took note of our confusion, but only smiled gently at us. Did they have the same sensation? Clearly, everyone in our party experienced the same phenomenon. All of it left me disoriented and, frankly, wonderstruck.
Once in the Kerr Highlands, the density and permanence of settlements rapidly increased. Though we only marched for another three hours, we passed through six settlements, each consisting of a central cluster of buildings made of plaster over stone and an outer ring of mud and wattle dwellings. The latter seemed to have been constructed within the last several years and it is notable that each settlement seemed to be home to more Kerr than could comfortably reside there. Two of the settlements, including the one where we stayed for the night, were quite sizable, with perhaps four or five hundred residents.
We also found that, once in the Highlands, our band was joined by perhaps fifty mounted Kerr warriors. Their mounts, however, were large birds! The birds, which we later discovered are called Weka, have vicious beaks and powerful legs. They seem capable of quick bursts of speed, but I doubt that they could handle a day of hard riding as well as a good Wahlagian steed. Still, we now know that the Kerr have cavalry forces.
Lastly, and I hesitate to note this, I had the strangest feeling on and off throughout the day as though someone were right behind me. I would have sworn that I had heard footsteps, or mumbled speech, but when I turned to look there was no one there. If it were not such a strong feeling, I would merely write it off as nervousness from the new environment and my experience passing through the veil of perception (as I’ve decided to dub it). It warrants closer study.
July 16, 1592 — Clear, warm, winds from the west. Our journey today led us through larger and larger Kerr settlements. The terrain in the Highlands was rough at first, thick with mixed forests and hilly, but our well trod path wound through larger and larger clearings given over to farm land. Many of the crops were unknown to me and I will attempt to acquire samples on our way back to Griggston.
At one point during the day, while passing between two hills, the trail was overshadowed by an enormous rib cage! As most of the skeleton was buried in the hills on either side, it was difficult to estimate the size or nature of the beast that left it, but the rib cage itself was large enough for six men to walk comfortably abreast and the portion of it that was visible was nearly fifty feet long.
In the early afternoon we crested a rise and enjoyed a spectacular view of a wide basin below us. The walls and floor of the basin for as far as we could see were heavily cultivated and dotted with settlements of various sizes. This would seem to be the heart of Kerr territory.
At the bottom of the basin, still some hours march away, was a large lake and surrounding the lake were several larger towns. It seemed likely that we were headed for one of these. Beyond the basin, the land began to rise and we had from there the best view yet of the mountains that are our goal. The most notable feature of the mountains, even visible from Griggston on particularly clear days, is a large red band of rock running vertically up the face of one of the mountains. The settlers took it to be a particularly rich vein of iron. From our vantage on the rim of the basin, we could see that it was not an iron vein, nor any other naturally occurring feature that I am familiar with. It was clearly a band of ruby-red crystal, perhaps a half-mile wide. The way the light played off it leads me to believe that the crystal band is quite thick, running dozens, perhaps hundreds, of feet into the face of the mountain. The band continued all the way to the treeline before it was lost to vision. Haig approached Nin and asked her about the mountains and the red band, but Nin demurred: the mountains are dangerous and the Kerr do not travel there. Only the Wemic, a Nephelese tribe held by the Kerr in a mix of awe and fear, travel in the mountains, which are their territory. She had no idea what the red band was and seemed reluctant to even look at it.
In the late afternoon we arrived at one of the large towns, called Pel Daro (pel dah-roo), on the shore of the lake. I estimate the population of the town at between three and five thousand. I was impressed by the size of it, the permanence of the buildings, the advanced state of the culture. But it did little to prepare me for what came next. We traveled through the town, toward the shore and, rounding a corner, caught an unobstructed view of the easternmost portion of the lake, which had until then been shielded from view by a promontory on the south side of the lake. Extending out from the town was a wide causeway, perhaps two miles long, and at the far end, seemingly built on the surface of the lake, was a large city, easily as big as some of the largest cities in Wahlagia. Struck by the rays of the setting sun, the brightly painted walls of the buildings and three large pyramids were dazzling to behold.
None of the settlers had any idea that Nephele contained any cities at all, let alone one as large as this. Sir Everett will be interested indeed to learn of what we’ve seen, and I wonder if that was not the intention of Perd. This march has been a succession of grander and grander discoveries, leading eventually to this view of Daro. Were we meant to be impressed by the power and grandeur of the Kerr? Perd had shown clear signs of desiring friendship with the settlers, but it is obvious now that were we to spurn that friendship, the Kerr could destroy Griggston as easily as swatting a gnat. What’s more, I’m led to consider the implications of this concerning the Tumon Confederacy. Our hosts reported to us that the Kerr had previously held much of the Headland, the region around Bluebay, but Perd had ordered that region abandoned in the face of the Tumon encroaching from the north. How mighty must the Tumon be to set to flight a people as numerous and strong as the Kerr?
That night, our hosts showed us around Daro, which they seemed nearly as amazed by as we. At one point, perhaps incredulous from the magnitude of our discoveries, Haig attempted to discern whether what we were seeing was a mere illusion. He found that the our environs were indeed permeated by a low level of magic, but not illusory. Rather, he observed an aura of transmutation. As I understand such things, transmutation is a kind of magic associated with changes to reality, as when a wizard transforms into a raven. Curious.
We retired to our communal housing, noting that Pascal was not with us. I worry for him, but skulking about is what he does, so I shan’t lose any sleep over it.
30 experience per player for attendance
30 experience total for all