|06_Windsward_Body_03_01||How many of these thrice-damned things are there? I tried to get into the inner sanctum of the temple, but more and more of those unliving things kept appearing.|
As soon as I'd dealt with one, the last one had already risen again! I had to retreat, else I'd risk being stuck here, clawing my way out over a dozen or more deaths and rebirths.
It may take an army to clear these things out... Maybe drag all of their bones into a deep, dark hole and throw them inside.
|06_Windsward_Body_03_02||The sun shines on the water of the ocean, and it is... pretty? Beautiful? Magical?|
Bah. Never could wrap my head around poetry. Too many flowery words, not enough action. Why can't I just write "The sun was bright on the water." Simple, tells how it is.
But the ladies like it... She would like it... So I'll keep trying.
The sun... glistens? on the water...
Your grams told me you wanted her stew recipe to take to this new world you're off to, so I've copied it here into your cookbook.
Wishing you a safe journey,
To a cauldron of water, add 1 whole turkey (pluck'd), 1 whole rabbit (skin'd), 4 large chop'd squash.
Set the cauldron on the flame to boil, then add 3 handfuls of briar branches, 8 chopped carrots, and a full head of cabbage. Stir occasionally.
After 1 hour, move the cauldron to half heat. Add 2 handfuls of flour to thicken. For more flavor, add a dollop of sausage drippings.
Add herbs to taste.
Peel meat from turkey and rabbit, serve.
Will keep for days if kept warm and more water added as needed.
|06_Windsward_Body_03_04||Barely made it across the bridge before those winged Withered attacked, and during the scuffle, the bridge was destroyed. We were able to fight them back for now, but it's too late to press on to the settlement tonight, and we'll need the light to see what kind of damage the wagons have taken.|
The differences in these last two trips has been night and day. Our last trip down into Windsward, perfect weather, no problems at all, and even shaved time off by taking a shortcut between two of those strange Corrupted pillars that have started to appear. This trip, however, has been one problem after another! Broken axles, spoiled food, attacks by every blasted creature on the island... it's like we're attracting every bit of bad luck possible. Perhaps we used up whatever luck we had left?
Ah well. We're safe enough for now, and on first look, it seems we only lost a bit of the trade goods. I'm sure Dauti will understand once we explain.
|06_Windsward_Body_04_01||Cormack, you dog! I heard that one of your trader pals was bringing you some supplies, and he said he'd gladly bring a letter along with the delivery.|
Can't believe you were able to sweet talk someone out of these spices, they're worth their weight in azoth out here! Do I even want to know what you promised in return?
I'll be heading toward Windsward sometime next month — your dice had better be ready! I plan on winning back what you took the last time, and then some. If you haven't used them all, maybe I'll try and win some of those spices out of your larder.
And no, your cooking still isn't something you can wager with.
See you soon, friend.
|06_Windsward_Body_04_02||Josiah, you bilge rat!|
How's the survey going? Still trying to plot a course through the storms around the island? I've told you for years, you need to settle down and start a family!
Then again... if you did that, you wouldn't keep finding salvage from shipwrecks... and I couldn't keep winning it from you. So maybe you stay on that boat a while longer, eh?
Not sure where you are right now, but I'll be sending this up with one of my traders to Monarch's Bluffs — you always did like the currents up there better than down here.
Keep a weather eye open, and we'll meet up soon enough!
|06_Windsward_Body_05_01||We headed west from the settlement, looking to establish our homestead near the river. My family had always been farmers as well as fishermen, and we hoped to maintain that tradition.|
Wide open fields greeted us once we emerged from the rocky woodlands, and it didn't take long to find a perfect space to set the foundation for our life here in Aeternum. Anna Maria is pleased with the spot, and has already started planning where she'll put her spinning wheel.
|06_Windsward_Body_05_02||This land is amazing! We planted our first crops only a short time ago, and they're already fully grown and producing! Corn, potatoes, carrots, squash, everything is coming in. And the fish! I was able to pull them out of the river with my bare hands, there were so many.|
There will never be a reason to go hungry here — no worries about spoiled harvests, no surviving the hard months on potatoes and gruel.
This truly is Paradise.
|06_Windsward_Body_05_03||Finished tilling up a new field for planting, and spent most of the time clearing all kinds of rocks from the place. Looked like someone had just poured them out, right below the topsoil.|
Couple of the farmhands were slacking off and throwing the rocks around... and damned if one didn't break open and have some kind of crystals inside! Don't know what they are, but they're pretty. Might fetch a good price the next time we go in to market.
|06_Windsward_Body_05_04||Scattered almost haphazardly throughout this digsite, the crew and I have found these strange reddish-orange crystal shards. Approximately the size of my palm, give or take, they are light but incredibly strong. It is unclear what they may have been used for, but given the tool marks on the edges, these may have been common to the Ancients. They could have even been decoration on something that has long since been lost to time, or common tools, or have any number of other uses.|
|06_Windsward_Body_05_05||What with all the Withered things and Corrupted things being seen nearby, I sent off to Adjudicator Dempster for something I can use to protect myself and my kin. Maybe he'll have some kind of charm to keep the evil away from here, or could come out himself and bless the farm. Should get our delivery in tomorrow or the day after, so I'll find out soon enough. Until then, there's more work to do. Just traded with the miners to the south for some of our crop, so now we have crates full of raw ore sitting around... maybe we can trade it in the settlement for some new boots and tools?|
|06_Windsward_Body_06_01||I can't believe this.|
We're shipwrecked on the shoreline, barely make our way through those damned walking corpses, only to reach a settlement where we're told that we must listen to some silly locals about "how to survive in Aeternum"! Bah! Don't they know who I am?
No matter. We'll show them. We've already got a small camp built, within view of the settlement walls. I'll make them see that we can survive without their silly little rules.
We've found plenty of stone nearby, and I'm certain it is the same kind that Father's huntsman used to start fires in the wild... but we've had no luck so far. He just smacked them together over dry grass, and the fire started. There must be some kind of trick to it. Maybe these rocks are defective.
|06_Windsward_Body_06_02||I just heard about the Dawes boy and his friends. Ghastly.|
Wounds may be healed and your soul may be restored here in Aeternum... but that doesn't do a lot of good when you're torn apart by wolves. I heard they didn't even have a fire going in the evenings to keep the wildlife away — what, did they think they didn't need it here, that they were safe?
I hear tell that the Magistrate even tried to bring them into the settlement and help them, but they refused, said they didn't need a handout from "commoners". Spoiled brats. Vanity is what got them killed, and I'll not feel bad for saying it.
Can you bring some carrots the next time you come out this way? Mine don't seem to be taking to the ground properly.
|06_Windsward_Body_07_01||A bunch of the boys brought me a right interesting one today, some missus just strolling into the camp like she owned the place.|
They tried to rough her up a bit, find out what she'd fetch, but she cut two of them down without batting an eye. Then she asked for me, by name. Never met her before, but she sure know'd a lot about me. Told me she was looking for strong captains and crews to join her... didn't really say what for. But she's got a fire, that one.
Have to talk it over with the men, but... I'm inclined to take this Isabella up on her offer.
|06_Windsward_Body_07_02||Since she arrived, I've been more and more impressed by Isabella. Whoever her master may be, they know a lot about this damned island. That idea to take people out and drown them near the storm line... whew! That's done more to keep the crew in line than any beatings or exile have. This island cuts out the threats of execution, so a good Captain has to be creative.|
She's invited all of us to come north with her toward the Shattered Mountain, and is somehow guaranteeing our safety.
From all she's told me... I want to believe her. This place is dangerous, even with a staunch crew at your back. Allies are our only hope.
I'll tell the men tomorrow.
|06_Windsward_Body_07_03||Captain says we should join up with this Isabella, the sassy one who cut down Hans and the Bosun. Sure, they came back right quick, but weren't happy with it. And after what happened next, not sure I am, either.|
She's a looker, for sure, and fights like three men... but something seems a touch off about her. Can't put my finger on it, but when she was looking over the men, she had this look... only time I'd seen it before was on a man's face after a week without food, about to get a bite of gruel.
She looked at me. Felt like my head was in a vice, or I'd just had a fifth of the Captain's private stock. She looked away, and it was gone.
If the Captain decides to go along with this, I might just try and slip away... see how many others want to tag along. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll have to take matters into my own hands.
|06_Windsward_Body_07_04||Not sure I should be writing this, after what happened to Salvatore. The Captain caught wind of a mutiny, from Sal and some others, and Isabella gave him some new ideas on punishment.|
He took five of them and stuffed them in barrels, then hauled them out past the breakers... as far out as he could get. Cracked a hole in each barrel, then kicked them overboard. From what that Isabella has said, it was far enough out that when they come back, they're likely to be Drowned... which is a fate that no sailor wants. Everyone's scared, not just of her, but of the hold she has on the Captain.
Now I see why Sal was so desperate to either escape or take over. I only hope I'm not next, after writing this down.
|06_Windsward_Body_08_01||Bah, no treasure here either! Naught but funny rocks and creaking bones... dunno why we have to be the ones to "explore" these haunted old stones. Most anything of value was taken a long time ago, and what's left ain't worth the effort.|
But the boss is paying, so we goes where he goes. If he wants to sit on old stones and look at ants, or twigs, or a tiny twist of metal... as long as his coin's good, me and the boys'll stick by him.
Just hope he don't want us to go make friendly with them pirates.
|06_Windsward_Body_08_02||I've reached the top of the bluffs, and set a small camp overlooking the breakwater. Windy, but an amazing view, and quite a charming locale — if you forget about the Pirates at the far side of the cove, or the bony undead Guardians that seem hell-bent on keeping interlopers away from any of the Ancients' ruins.|
I was lucky to have found this... whatever it is. A small stone orb, about half a hand wide, with a series of lines and symbols carved along the meridian. Can't be certain, but this may be the language of the Ancients! You would think, with all of these ruins scattered about, there would be more samples of writing to decipher, but... according to local scholars, very few examples have been found. Maybe we just haven't been looking hard enough.
Either way. My collection will benefit from this find.
|06_Windsward_Body_10_01||I saw a few of the old crew today... They'd gone overboard a few leagues out from Aeternum, while our ship cut through the storm. I'd hoped that they'd wash up on another beach, but... seems I've lost my sailor's luck, being on land this long.|
Had to put them down again, them being Drowned. Don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep this up, cutting down the husks of old friends. I know it isn't them anymore, but that doesn't make it easy. We need more people trained up as Watchers here.
|06_Windsward_Body_10_02||... grains and vegetables, plenty for ...|
... to return to ... few have the training necessary. I ask that ...
... all miss you in the community. Soon, I hope to ...
|06_Windsward_Body_11_01||There's few pleasures greater than finding a big, fat Woodlouse after taking the time to rustle one of the many bushes of Aeternum. There's few greater shocks, though, than finding the buggers have made a home in your wooden furniture! Beware taking home your Woodlouse collection, and always keep it in your bag, lest you want those precious chairs and chests of yours to spark an infestation.|
Take it from me, you do not want to know how much pest removal costs in Aeternum when the pests are the size of your thumb and breed faster than rabbits.
|06_Windsward_Body_11_02||Now I believe there's a lot of differences between man and fish, so whatever Grand Master Fisher Machera says about us being similar might just be his special brand of crazy, but he is right about one thing: people and fish alike love bread. I've always noticed the better fish come inspecting my bobber when there's bread attached. You don't have to be 'one with the sea' to see that.|
|06_Windsward_Body_11_03||I once caught a fish I couldn't stand to keep. It looked at me with the eyes of a man, and the manner of the old priest I used to attend service for in the Old World. He preached a real fire-and-brimstone kind of sermon, and this fish I swear had the same look in his eyes. Couldn't bear to eat it, so I threw it back. Maybe someone else will catch him someday.|
|06_Windsward_Body_12_01||-Five barrels of gunpowder|
-Six cases of shot
-Ten barrels of grain
-Eight crates of salted meat
First Mate Norham
Chief Technical Officer Weland
Second Mate Chalker
|06_Windsward_Body_12_03||Log Book Day Fifteen:|
Fink has discovered the source of our food supply woes: Rats. The crew has been set to work exterminating the cheeky buggers who've been infiltrating our grain reserves, but it may not be enough. So much has already been consumed by the fat vermin that we may need to start cooking them up in a stew just to fill our bellies.
The rats multiply like, well, rats, and the hunt for their nest is on.
I know I've lost the trust of the settlement, so don't try to convince me otherwise. That blowhard Dauti sits in the tavern all day, crafting stories of my cowardice to anyone who'll listen.
At first, I dismissed his falsehoods, believing the people of Windward would surely be able to see through the lies, but then I heard others repeating his fishwives' tales, and I had a moment of doubt. Was it cowardice that motivated me to abandon the Mines of Miclot to the Lost? Have we let the Lost Pirates on the coast grow too strong for us to ever be able to contain them?
Maybe Dauti is right. I don't know anymore. I've decided to resign as Constable and leave Windsward. I'll visit my cousin in First Light and then return to Ebonscale to see if I can be any use there in strengthening the resistance to the Empress, as I have heard her ambitions have taken a dark turn.
I'll send you this only after I've gone, because I won't allow you to convince me to stay again, and as much as I will miss you, I would ask you not to come after me.
You must stay in Windsward. If that bastard Dauti becomes Constable, as I expect, then the settlement will need you. Your patience, your optimism… they've been my strength. I thank you for that and hope we may meet again. On Aeternum, anything is possible.
Your former Constable,
Karsattin's complaining again, as usual. I thought all that would stop when I became Constable, but it seems some people like to complain no matter what the circumstance! She's got grit though, I'll give her that much. I've come to suspect the rest of these fools have fallen victim to some strange mental illness. Cowards, the lot of them!
I have yet to share this suspicion with anyone else, but I'm wondering if it isn't something in the fowl. I've heard rumors that sometimes, when people come back to life, they take on the traits of any creatures killed nearby. The turkeys may actually be affecting the populace! I swear I saw a turkey feather in Korrapati's hair the other day. When I looked again, it was gone. And honestly, the whole settlement smells like turkey!
I know what they'd say if I tried to tell them. 'That Dauti, such an imagination when he's in his cups', they'd say. Changying used to say it all the time. What's a Constable got to do to get some respect around here?
I'll say this much, if Windward becomes threatened by the Lost or the Corrupted, we're going to need help, from strangers, from other settlements, wherever we can get it.
For the moment, at least, I'm headed back to the tavern for a glass of ale and a laugh, but no more goddamned turkey legs for me.
|06_Windsward_Body_14_01||The King in Green doth sing and keen|
Commanding dance this day
By his decree, insanity
All lucid thoughts to slay
All lucid thoughts to slay
|06_Windsward_Body_14_02||HAVE YOU SEEN THE EMERALD KING?|
|06_Windsward_Body_14_03||Have you heard His music?|
|06_Windsward_Body_15_01||My kingdom for a crone’s tinctures to cure this demoniacal sneezing!|
Yet and still, it is impossible to maintain a sour countenance in this verdant wonder. I was even able to barter for a new inkhorn and quills.
Come to think on it, literacy and letter writing are surprisingly common on this strange island. I suppose that is logical. We have nothing but time, why not learn letters from a fellow. In a closed system like this, literacy spreads. Language as pathogen, though a most delightful contagion, I dare say.
Arriving in town, I found a proper place to wash the road dust from my throat. My smiling fancy occasioned me to whistle. Instantly, a gnarled oak of a man stood at my side, saying, “Enjoy your drink stranger, but best not be whistling, singing, nor dancing.”
At first, I thought myself the butt of some provincial jest. How positively Calvinistic! However, given the graveness of his continence and immense size of his oaken knuckles, I thought it politic to acquiesce. Everyone in the room was merry enough, but there was no music or singing. Conversation was kept to a low murmur.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_02||I am not adventurous. Dusty tombs might draw the likes of Grenville, but not I. My scholastic investigations occur through books and interviews. I desire to piece together the folktales and culture bubbling in the unique pot of this island.|
To that end, I found the man with the oaken knuckles – his name is Zadok – and I plied him with libations and many games of draughts. Though his words slurred by the time he opened up to me, his pickled tongue hinted at intriguing tidbits indeed.
He spoke of a dancing plague, a contagious compulsion to gyrate night and day. He spoke of a spreading pandemic and people dancing until literal death.
He fell asleep before divulging more. What a delightfully bizarre notion. A dancing plague!
|06_Windsward_Body_15_03||In the sober light of day, Zadok is much more tight-lipped. He sent me away with only the vaguest of grumblings. Later in the evening, I repeated my stratagem of carousing, but with diminishing returns. Filled to the brim, I stepped outside to pass water. Suddenly, a great ogre of a man accosted me in an alley, backing me up against a wall. His breath reeked of spirits and wormwood. I thought the brute was about to offer me personal violence.|
Instead, he whispered, “Have you heard His music? Have you seen the Emerald King?”
Before I could do anything but stammer, the giant lumbered off towards the woods, with a giggle that sounded too childish for his titanic frame.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_04||Days of interviewing the locals and dozens more games of draughts with Zadok have reaped some reward. This Dancing Plague, if it happened at all, happened long ago. Time is a tricky thing to track here. The details vary from mouth to mouth. All agree that a great many died. Some even suggest their exhausted bodies died permanently.|
Some think the plague a punishment. These fertile lands saw endless war and strife by those who wished to control it. It is thought the land eventually had enough.
This is all connected to a very loose myth cycle of a figure known as the King in Emerald, also called the Verdant Death and the Music that Eats. Opinions vary whether this is meant to be an actual entity or simply the madness of the dancing given allegorical form, a shape seen in the delirious ecstasy.
Only a portion of the community believe in any of this, and they think we should enjoy the bounty of the land very quietly.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_05||Zadok shewed me something interesting today. He took me outside the settlement to the edge of the woods. A woman and two men danced. Their faces betrayed absolutely no awareness of their surroundings, even when I shouted to them. I gather that he and other believers moved the dancers away from the populace, to avoid contagion.|
I tried to approach the dancers, but he stopped me with a vice grip on my arm. He told me of a book he once saw, written entirely on the subject of the King in Emerald. He only said this to lure me away from the dancers. It worked.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_06||I must find this book! I have so many questions. Did the dancing plague happen? If so, what caused it? Mass hysteria? Ergot poisoning? An actual preternatural agent?|
What had I witnessed in the forest? Were these contained cases of the surviving plague? Simply more hysteria fed by old stories?
I am for some reason reminded of a particular species of ant that often falls prey to a more particular species of fungi. The spores bewitch the ant’s mind and put its body under the power and ineffable motives of the fungus.
I must find this book.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_07||I dreamed. I saw a figure resplendent in green. I could not bear to look at it directly. With a knife, I modified my vocal organ to better sing.|
Supplemental – I awoke this morning to see the above written in my journal. Though it is my handwriting, I recollect neither the writing of it nor the dream it implies. Curious.
|06_Windsward_Body_15_08||Eureka, I have done it! I have acquired the book. I do not feel proud of the method. It was certainly not in my normal character. Nevertheless, I have much reading to do.|
|06_Windsward_Body_15_09||Nearly finished with my reading. I could no longer focus on the words today. I decided a walk was in order. I find myself rambling by the edge of the woods. I hum a tune and if I harmonize it just right, I can very nearly hear a distant music. Like the sea in a shell. There’s a cadence there…|
|06_Windsward_Body_15_10||My eyesight is poor in the dark. I did not wish to come here, but my Judas legs brought me all the same. Humming. I can nearly hear it! I cannot keep from swaying. I will just leave my journal here, at the edge of the woods, just for a bit. Maybe I will see Him.|
If I hum, I can hear the words. The cadence births verses in my mouth.
|06_Windsward_Body_16_01||Harken and beware. When the earth’s thirst is quenched with blood beware. The Ancients came and went. What is time in this place? The land was green and good, and others came. Plenty for all, yet they fought as if caught in the jaws of scarcity.|
Glutted on gore, the earth vomited corpses when the great rains came. Eventually, this land had had enough.
|06_Windsward_Body_16_02||It began as a shift in the air. The murmur of trees. The crackling whisper of crops conspiring in the night. The music of the green.|
The warmongers felt this change, invisible yet heady. Peace and joy grew root-bound in their hearts, driving out all aggression. Warring faction met and reveled. They drank, they ate, they sang.
And they danced. They danced day and night. They smiled and danced upon bloody feet. They danced into ecstatic delirium, until they saw the face of god.
Then was acknowledged the presence of the King in Emerald. The Verdant Death! The Music that Eats! He had come, not as a thief in the night, but in motley of glory green.
One by one, the dancers died. Then their corpses danced a while longer. They danced until their souls guttered out like worm-eaten stars, until they could never return to life again.
When the last reveler rotted away, the King in Emerald held court. He holds court still.
|06_Windsward_Body_16_03||Fools ignore these warnings, and the wise enjoy this land in quiet. We reap its bounty with respect. We avoid the clang and clamor of battle. We do not sing. We do not dance. We dare not even whistle.|
To be loud is to kick up his attention, like stomping through pollen-engorged flowers. Every noise echoes back a fragment of His melody. Then his words find you. Once the earworm digs, there is no stopping it. Once you dance, there is no escaping that grinning oblivion.
Have you heard His music?
Have you seen the Emerald King?
Have you marked not the night of the year? The Wild Hunt is upon us! On this night, the fearful flock hide in their beds. Those who fancy themselves hardened make excuses to stay in and have another round. But we brave few venture out.
You know the spot, the Goblin Run. At the witch’s hour, we sprint from one clearing to the next, a flight through thorny forest between. If we’re fast enough, we make it to the other side. If we’re lucky enough, we might catch a glimpse of the Horned One. One of us never comes out the other side.
The gang and I will be there. Your presence earns you a better name. Your absence proves your cowardice. Remember, you don’t have to be the fastest, you just can’t be the slowest.