|05_Reekwater_Body_01_01||The Glowing Guardfish understands the importance of being one with the fish but goes perhaps too far. These men and women of the seal-folk shed their pelts to come walk upon the shore as humans, it is said. They are people so in-tune with the ocean that they can quickly transform if given their pelt into something more seal than human. I refuse to catch them, as I admire them immensely. Perhaps one day I shall meet one properly, and we might talk the ways of the seas.||05_Reekwater_Body_01_02||The Merrow in Cutlass Keys|
The Angler Fish in First Light
The Bishop Fish in Windsward
The Morag in Monarch's Bluffs
The Selkie in Reekwater
The Mandje Mandje in Everfall
The Egede Serpe in Ebonscale Reach
The Namazu in Brightwood
The Ogopogo in Weaver's Fen
The Tessie in Restless Shore
The Hafgufa in Mourningdale
The Abaia in Edengrove
The Merlion in Great Cleave
The Mishipeshu in Shattered Mountain
|05_Reekwater_Body_02_01||Exploring these strange ruins, I've come upon a locked door, leading higher in the tower. Most ruins across Aeternum are wholly accessible with a bit of work, but I've no idea how to penetrate this barrier. A mechanism of some kind stands near the door, and I imagine it should allow entry... if only I knew how it worked! Perhaps a key of some form.|
One of these Guardians, whom I have taken to calling The Surgeon (on account of how this place feels and how expertly he cuts down anything in his path), has been seen with some kind of glowing orb. I wonder...
|05_Reekwater_Body_02_02||I've found all manner of strange tools in my time on Aeternum, but nothing quite like these. Others in my company have made their suggestions about the nature of these tools, some insightful, others absurd. Our tinker believes some to be measuring tools of the highest quality, as a master jeweler might use. The physic sees tools with which to measure and adjust the humours of the body. Even the camp cook has weighed in, seeing tools akin to those he uses to dress a fresh kill and prepare our meals. Perhaps all are correct, and equally likely, perhaps none at all.|
|05_Reekwater_Body_02_03||Another lighthouse to investigate. This area feels... different. The ruins of this area are in far better shape than most, not counting the fallen tower, and the large dock structure on the shore leads me to believe that this may have been a major port for the Ancients. If that is true, and given the prevalence of ruins throughout this swamp-ridden area, the lighthouse and surrounding ruins may have been part of a much larger city. And while I may never find the name of the city, if it existed, my grasp of the Ancient language has improved to the point where I'm confident that the name of this tower was "Syleio Seko".|
Still at a loss on what that may mean, however.
|05_Reekwater_Body_02_04||We uncovered a device today, and writings nearby, that is both terrible and exciting. If my translation is correct, the Ancients had control over powers far beyond what we could ever imagine: the soul itself. This device supposedly has the ability to shape and manipulate the soul, even stealing it from the living! What would happen to a person if their soul were ripped away, leaving only the savage husk behind? We have seen those mindless, shambling creatures across the island... perhaps this explains their plight.|
I do not believe that this device was intended to be a weapon, however deadly it might be. There are gaps in the tablets we've found, but I think this device could have been used as a restorative of some kind, wrapping the soul in azoth, to heal or to grant great power.
If it were stronger, I would destroy this device before it could ever be used again... but more must be learned about it before that decision is made.
|05_Reekwater_Body_03_01||Set up in the cave. Wood from town nearby. Full of spirits. Not going back there.|
Men are digging stone from walls. Stones are better than wood.
Found a wall today while digging. Looks like ruins on the coast. Digging more to see what is here.
|05_Reekwater_Body_03_02||Made some progress getting those settlers pushed out, now we can look around a bit more without worrying that some of them will see what we're doing. Siren has us looking at all of these old places to find what's useful. Wants reports and everything. Here goes:|
Exploring ruins to the east of our new village, has a lot of those walking tree... things. Terrible to face alone, but they fall easily enough with enough of the crew beating on them.
Buildings are mostly tumbled, but the way they're laid out makes me think of a lord's estate back home. Big building on one end, smaller ones facing it. Someone or something important must've been in the big one, so we're looking there first.
|05_Reekwater_Body_03_03||Took on goods and sundries in Genoa. 2 crew added, 4 departed.|
Arrived in Palma, 3 days travel. Completed trades in Palma. 3 crew added, 1 departed.
Arrived in Ceuta, 5 days travel. Delayed by storms and rough seas.
Completed trades in Ceuta. Accepted long-term contract as supply vessel, destination to be revealed en route. Paid up front.
19 crew added, 11 crew departed. Ship fully staffed. Goods and sundries loaded, departing tomorrow.
11 days travel. Met with other captains, destination revealed as "Aeternum". Never heard of it.
|05_Reekwater_Body_03_04||Pursuers are still with us, two points off dead astern. They've not come close enough to make out their colors, but with no other ships around, I have to assume they are chasing us for some reason.|
Nightfall will come soon, and the winds will shift. We'll douse the lights to run dark, and turn with the wind. It's a risk, but we aren't built for a fight. Running is our only option.
|05_Reekwater_Body_04_01||Dispatched by Magistrate Ragsdale to these ruins, he believes it was called "Syleio Seko". No way to know if it is true, but I've updated my maps with the name.|
Given what the Magistrate has told me of the Siren Queen's activities in these areas, it makes sense to investigate them further. I've seen many points where her crew has hauled Ancient relics away, even chipping down walls and columns to get at their goals. Since all of the smaller or easily accessible relics have already been hauled away, I'm going to continue searching some of the harder to reach locations.
|05_Reekwater_Body_04_02||I've found a few remaining items that may be what the Magistrate had in mind when he sent me here. Firstly, a tablet had fallen into a gap in the rocks, likely overlooked by the Siren's crew as they picked over the place. Lucky for us. I can't read it myself, but Magistrate Ragsdale has made strides in that endeavor.|
Secondly, I've located an artifact that I believe I can free, but the Guardians of this place seem patently against that. Even just shifting the rocks near it draws their attention, but I've gotten close enough to get an idea of its size. Unwieldy, but nothing I haven't dealt with before.
And finally... a working Ancient device! I've no idea what it does, but it is tucked away on the lower level. When I touched it, flames erupted from the device and I was barely able to escape before a crowd of those Guardians approached. It seemed to draw them away from the upper level... perhaps I can use this.
|05_Reekwater_Body_05_01||Talked with Jeremiah on watch last night. He was talking about some strange things, members of the crew being taken up to the top of the Spire, then coming back... different. Said it looked like the light had died in them, somehow. They'd still work, but didn't talk to anyone, didn't drink or gamble or anything. Ridiculous, right?|
I told him he was imagining things, and needed to get some sleep. Maybe he was coming down with something?
Tried to find him earlier today to check on him, and... maybe he was right. It looked like him, but there was nothing behind his eyes. No joy, no worry... nothing. He didn't even seem to recognize me until I shook him, then he damn near bit my hand off. What the hell is going on?
|05_Reekwater_Body_05_02||Joined an escort up to Maria's Rest, get some distance between me and whatever's happening on the Spire. Now that I know what to look for, it seems like a lot of the crew is just like Jeremiah now. I saw them respond when the Siren herself gave them orders, but the rest of the time... It isn't right. It isn't natural.|
We came here for freedom, to get away from royals deciding how we get to live... and the longer we've stayed, the more she's turned into what she claimed to hate. She's even taken to calling herself the Siren Queen, and treats us like her subjects. And now, all plans to build a new life here have fallen away!
The crew is either bringing in more flotsam to build that ridiculous statue, planting those strange banners around the area, or dragging back artifacts from those ruins... I think she's figured out how to use them.
|05_Reekwater_Body_05_03||I'm done. Those bastards'll not turn me into one of those mindless things, only following the Siren's orders. We're due to head back to the Spire within the next few days, probably so she can turn the rest of us... and I'll be gone by then. I've stashed away supplies, and I'll make my exit come nightfall. I'll hide in the old town to the northwest, make sure they can't find me. Once they've gone, maybe I'll head north, try and make a new life.|
But I won't let them take me back to her.
|05_Reekwater_Body_06_01||Something strange is happening here. Over the past few weeks, almost half of the town has just... disappeared. We keep track of each other, and if someone has an accident, we keep watch for when they return... but no one has returned yet. We're having a meeting tonight to decide what to do. Maybe someone knows something? Maybe we all leave? Who knows.||05_Reekwater_Body_06_02||Jakob and I fished from the pier today. Haven't gotten to do that in a while. I brought in two good sized fish, while Jakob only caught a hat. Didn't recognize who it belonged to, so he said he was going to keep it until someone claimed it.|
Two more went missing last night, same as the others. No one saw or heard a thing, nothing was missing. Didn't think we needed a reeve in the town when they offered me the job, but now? Now I wish we had a dozen more.
|05_Reekwater_Body_07_01||Some of our fisherfolk found an architect stumbling along the surf, and brought him back to the village. Seems he's just arrived to the island. Poor him.|
But just speaking with him for a short time, I believe he'll be a valuable asset. He hadn't been in the village for more than an hour before he was making measurements and asking questions of everyone he came across. He was already making plans on how to haul those massive stone blocks to the water, kept talking about about creating a "New Venezia" here in Aeternum, a city rising above the swamps.
Wish we had more people like him, willing to get to work right away.
|05_Reekwater_Body_07_02||Sails were spotted up the coast today, and they came ashore to make contact. Seems they were part of a small fleet, and were driven off course into the storm wall. Only a couple of their vessels survived, badly damaged.|
We've offered to help however we can in repairing their ships, and restoring their supplies. They don't even know where they are... it isn't often that I get the chance to see that surprised look on someone's face when I tell their captain about this place.
Once we evaluate the damage, we can bring the crew to the village here and let them get their land legs back. Not much true sailing to be had around the island, after all. They aren't going anywhere.
|05_Reekwater_Body_07_03||Taking the time to make a record of this, in case something happens and no one is around to speak for us. This "Siren" and her crew claimed they would settle down and adapt to life here, after failing to breach the storm wall again... but they knew! They knew all along! One of her crew let it slip while dicing with a few of our villagers, and told them that this island was their destination all along.|
But I saw the shock on her face when I told her that no one leaves Aeternum, that no one has made it through the storm wall. After that, her crew became more violent, more aggressive. Fights have broken out and they're beginning to show their true colors... no better than mere pirates.
I fear, however, that if this Siren lied at our first meeting about the state of her crew and the ships with her... perhaps there is more she has lied about. I have told the villagers to pack what they can and prepare to flee west at the first signs of trouble. Some have volunteered to stay and fight, to buy time for others to make their escape. I shall stand alongside them.
|05_Reekwater_Body_08_01||Many across Aeternum believe those we call "Dryads" to be no more intelligent than an animal in the wild, living by pure instinct. How, then, do they create the weapons with which to defend themselves? They respond with examples of the shrike bird impaling its prey on sharp sticks. But while the shrike may indeed stab its prey on a point, it does not create the tool it uses, only what is found!|
Years of observation of these Dryads has led me to the conclusion that they are far more intelligent than others believe. I've not seen a Dryad create their weapon, but I see that they carry weapons of a variety of sizes and designs. I've never heard a Dryad communicate, but their behavior suggests that they must, in some form unknown to us.
|05_Reekwater_Body_08_02||The Dryads appear to be nomadic in a way, traveling from distant places to reach these swamps. Most would not be able to tell them apart, but in watching them, I've noted the differences in their composition, and have traced their origins all across the island. This travel seems cyclical in nature, with a new group arriving every few months. Pliny the Elder wrote of elephants, reporting that they would ritually bathe each other to celebrate the new moon. Mayhap this rite is like that of the elephants, guided by a measure unknown to us?|
But what drives this slow Promenade toward Reekwater? Is it some form of pilgrimage? Or is there something else to it? I've attempted to find evidence that Dryads leave this place to travel elsewhere, and have yet to find any evidence of that. And as Reekwater is not overrun with Dryads in every nook, the only theory remaining is further proof of their level of intelligence: a knowledge of death, and a desire to do so in a designated place.
But death holds almost no power here on Aeternum. What, then, is the purpose?
|05_Reekwater_Body_08_03||Notably, I have yet to see a Dryad create a structure of any kind. Birds build nests, humans build homes, ants will dig tunnels for shelter... but Dryads do not. Given that they have no organs we can identify, being made of stone and branch and vine, perhaps they have no need. But this does not mean they are unaware of the concept of construction.|
One construction draws the attention of Dryads more than any other, and these places are where the highest populations can be found: ruins of the Ancients. Their vines twist through the stones, slowly breaking apart that which has weathered time and storm and events unimaginable. Some travelers have even mentioned seeing Dryads use their weapons in an attempt to break the Ancient stones.
But why? What motivates this behavior? They do not dismantle our villages, or seek out our hideaways. If they were human, I would propose that they seek to destroy all evidence of the Ancients, much as Scipio Africanus set his torch to Carthage. Events in the past, long before our reckoning, may have caused this enmity. We may never know the full story, but we must seek to find all we can.
|05_Reekwater_Body_09_01||Was hoping for an easy hunt, find an elk or bison bogged down in the Muskeg to have something besides fish and vegetables, but no such luck. And now, the three of us are sicker than we've ever been, sitting ducks for anything that wants a snack of its own!|
Everything was fine until we got close to those strange... plants, mushrooms... whatever they were. It was putting out this cloud around it, smelled like a tannery, and everything nearby looked sickly, too. Once that big Dryad thing showed up, covered in the same muck, we got out of there fast. We were only near it for a few minutes, but I guess that was long enough for us to get sick.
Won't kill us, I don't think... but I suppose, even if it does, we'll head back to the village and let them know what we found.
|05_Reekwater_Body_09_02||Grand Master Machera said he'd teach me how to fish! I know I'm a bit old to be an apprentice, but he's older than everyone... so it works out, I guess! I didn't think he'd say yes, but he said he's been watching me try to figure it out. Once I'd failed a few times on my own and was ready to ask for help, he was ready to give it.|
I don't know what I might catch down here in the Muskeg, and I know it's a bit dangerous, but I really want to try and impress him.
|05_Reekwater_Body_09_03||I've lost count of the years now, but for as long as anyone else can remember, I've been here at Fisher's Glory. They don't know it, but I'm the reason for the name. I've welcomed more people to this village than I could ever recall, and have watched them either leave or fall victim to their own demons. Some come to learn the proper ways of fishing, others come to visit and see what we've built here. But in the end, most everyone leaves.|
That suits me fine. Too many people disturb the fish.
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_01||My newest citizens: welcome to the Song. You have a place here. Work hard, listen well, and you will find harmony. |
You'll find that listening grows easier over time. That is the power of the Song.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_02||My citizens, |
All captives are to be brought to the figurehead to begin the citizenship process.
Any captive with experience in alchemy, machinery, or Ancient technology is to be spared citizenship, and brought directly to me.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_03||My citizens, |
Do not stray too far from the Harmonic Resonators. If you can hear my voice, you are safe, happy, and whole. You are part of the Song.
There is no need to leave me. There is nothing outside the Song but discord. Listen, obey, and harmonize.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_04||A note for care of the alligators: |
Once a week, be sure to check their teeth for belt buckles, bootlaces, and any other debris that might cause them discomfort in the course of their duties. They, like you, are an important part of the Song.
If there have been enough recent escape attempts, their bellies will be full, and they will probably not try to eat you.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_05||A soul is a beacon that attracts suffering. A soul is a lonely burden. A soul is a full glass that cannot resonate. |
You don't need your soul. All you need is your place in the Song. Listen, and let it wash over you.
No wrong thoughts, no wrong notes. A world in harmony.
All those who desire perfect harmony, report to the figurehead. I will take your burden.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_10_06||It doesn't matter what I write. None of you can read anymore. No one is left to challenge me. |
If anyone living reads this message, come find me at the top of the Spire. I just want to hear another living voice.
I promise I won't take your soul.
- So Sings the Siren Queen
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_01||Our first full day at sea is dawning. All around me is my fleet; my shining ships, filled with my fellow seekers.|
We've left the dust of Europe behind us. Their selfish, rigid rules have no place in our new society. A free, fair society, based on enlightened ideals. A society led by me, their muse, their Melpomene.
What a beautiful day it's going to be.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_02||Hundreds of leagues from any known shore, a storm of incredible strength found us. It sank half our ships and tossed the rest onto the shores of this unknown land like broken dolls.|
Yet we remain unbroken. We've repaired a ship to send for help and supplies. For now, the survivors have erected shelter from the wreckage of the ships. Spirits are still high, and we sing while we work. My voice seems to bring the people comfort, as it always has.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_03||All good things are born from struggle. I know this better than anyone. One day, the date of our shipwreck will be an island-wide holiday. A glorious civilization, grown from a seed of suffering.|
But for now, the suffering is tremendous. A permanent storm traps us on this island, and drowns any ship we send. No help is coming.
We've become intimately familiar with Death. Here, it's impermanent, but everywhere. Each time we die, we come back a little emptier.
I must try to keep my people from despair. For better or worse, this cage is our new home.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_04||I wish they'd just mutiny. I've faced mutiny before, this is something much worse. They're like shadows, echoes. Without my orders, they do nothing at all. |
I summoned Sarah and commanded her to speak, to scream, to punch me, anything. Then I begged her. She just stared, and shuffled off once I gave up.
I sent her away. I can't listen to her silence any longer.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_05||I spend my time alone, at the top of the Spire. The loneliness is less painful than looking into their empty eyes.|
I am now the only thinking being in my entire kingdom. I never wanted this kind of power. I wanted people to follow me for my ideas, for the dreams we could turn into reality together!
I like singing up here, all alone. I like feeling the wind carry the notes away, toward the sea.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_06||I've found something. A machine used by the Ancients. I tested it on what's left of Sarah. Apparently she had a bit of her soul left, but the machine drained her dry. As I unstrapped her, she was smiling. Humming. She looked happy. |
If souls can be taken, then they can be given. They can be transferred, stored, and restored.
I will figure out how to restore my soul, even if I have to sacrifice every person in Reekwater to do it. I need it more than they do. They have the Song; I have nothing.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_07||I drained my last citizen today. That moment when their eyes go blank, and that peaceful smile appears…I've come to enjoy it. I like making people happy. I love having their love.|
I think I'm going insane.
I don't know what makes me different, why I lost my soul but kept my self. It's a curse for me, but a blessing for them. How I envy them, lost in the Song.
But someone has to be the one singing.
|05_Reekwater_Body_11_08||The patterns repeat. They do not change. They are music. Everything is music.|
All songs are my Song. My kingdom is in harmony. A perfect society.
All who are not in harmony are discord. Discord will be resolved.