We were waking up and eating breakfast when we were approached by Kaleria. Of course, I had to explain to the rest of the group who she was, and I even had to explain myself given my condition. Ah, but you remember Kaleria, don’t you, diary? It’s been so long… and it was certainly comforting to see her again. And hear her voice. That spunky, sarcastic voice, just like when we were 17 and thought we could take on the world. I’m guessing of course that the Balance Corporation sent her to check up on me. Had it been anyone else, I would have definitely killed them on the spot before my breakfast had the chance to get cold! Can’t have my little incident here circulating around the Corp, now, can I? But I can trust Kaleria. At least to preserve my street cred. She feigned interest in helping us out for a few days, and the others seemed ok with it, so we set out Westward, deeper into the forest.
We came across an odd sight… Moon Radishes, growing in a rather large patch in a sort of small meadow. And rolling around and moaning were kobolds, who had obviously eaten their fill. We were puzzled, and stopped to confer. Were Moon Radishes poisonous to kobolds or did they just eat way too much? We were going to ask them about improving our shaky relationship with the Sootscales when they suddenly took notice of us and attacked. Honestly, we have little patience left for all the sudden attempts on our lives. Not because there are so many, but because they are all insultingly feeble. A handful of nauseous kobolds? Sigh. So that was that.
And darn it, I was too distracted catching up with Kaleria tonight to read the letters. Women, right? Always trouble.
Wolves attacked us last night. Because of course they did. I was pretty outraged about our night being interrupted at first, but then I remembered: I’m still a fucking woman. And apparently, a strong emotional attachment to a full night’s sleep is part of the package deal? Just a few more days before the high priestess of Sarenrae is due at Oleg’s…
We pushed another twelve miles Westward, to the Western edge of this particular forest (which, I believe, is more or less a strip, roughly 40 – 50 miles wide, running from up near Oleg’s down past where the eye can see.) And then we noticed an odd nest up in a tree, and even odder creatures flitting about around the nest: A fairy and a fairy dragon. The fairy introduced herself as Tyg Titter Tut, and she resembled a freakish elf/cricket hybrid the size of my thumb. The dragon was named Perlivash, and he’s a rather queer fellow, what with his butterfly wings and goofy looking snout. At first they thought we might be bandits, but they warmed up to us right away when we explained that we had pretty much mercilessly slaughtered all bandits we encountered with a ruthless abandon. However, the fairies were concerned that we’d report the location of their nest to the Restovian authorities.
My extortion instincts kicked in, and I immediately asked how much their secret was worth. I got a respectful nod of approval from Kaleria and Sparrow, and a disapproving glare from Reyes. Jack, as is his new habit, is continually staring very intently at Sparrow when she’s not looking, as if he expects lightning to shoot from his eyes and shock her or something. In any case, the fairies offered to exchange information about the region in exchange for anonymity when we submit our maps to Restov. Fair enough, I don’t give two shits about fairies. Based on what I’ve heard, this is more help than we could ever hope to receive from fairies. Tyg warned us of a tatzlwyrm (a dragonish thing, I suppose) about 45 miles Southwest of our location, and something called the Temple of the Elk a half day’s travel to the Southwest as well.
The Temple of the Elk sounds very familiar. Something one of the bandits might have said? Temple of the Elk… Stag Lord… there’s gotta be a connection.
Two confessions, now, before I put this down and go to bed: First, still no reading of those documents. At this point I don’t see how they’re relevant and I’d rather spend time talking with Kaleria. She’s told me so many great things about Korvosa… And secondly: I couldn’t stand myself any more and bathed in a small river. Jack obviously looked on, though he seemed to hate himself afterward. Reyes practically vomited in his mouth when Jack mentioned that I was naked. Heh. Sparrow fidgeted nervously, expecting some crazy rape-bandits to burst from the trees as soon as I was in the water. I’m wasn’t worried. I started to tell the group some of my prison stories and they got the point.
And for anyone reading this diary, here’s the point: Don’t nobody fuck with a naked Asher. Naked Asher is not defenseless Asher by any means.
So we arrived at the Temple of the Elk. It was pretty hard to find; we would have definitely walked right past it without Tyg’s tip. All overgrown with moss and vines and such. The main body of the temple was pretty much a wide, shallow cave in a cliff wall, but the temple grounds extended outward to include some stone pillars and a shallow reflecting pool. Sparrow, Kaleria, and myself checked it for traps, but found none. Jack and Reyes discussed their lore (fuckin’ nerds) and told us the exciting tale of the Temple of the Elk:
Yadda yadda, Erastil worshipers from Taldor, overrun by goblins or orcs or some shit, and the main cleric was cursed to guard the site of the lost temple as a terrifying bear guardian.
They should have started with that important note. So when, at the very end of their longwinded tales, they finally mentioned a Terrifying Bear Temple Guardian, we all drew our weapons and peered around, prepare for some celestial dire grizzly to come bursting out of nowhere and breath holy fire into our faces. But nope, out comes charging a normal grizzly. Reyes beheaded it before I could even think of a clever one-liner. Very anticlimactic, that.
But then something weird happened… the Temple of the Elk kind of… restored itself. The overgrowth faded away, the pool became less infested with algae and more glittering and cool, the cracks in the stonework receded… I guess we pleased ol’ Erastil? I celebrated by shoving Reyes into the pool. He came up blathering about how amazing the pool was and how I needed to jump in “right now.” I thought it was another one of his pranks until I saw the seriousness in his eyes when he told me there was healing magic in the pool.
Ah, perhaps I could be cured of my condition early! I jumped in with gusto, and indeed my sore muscles and such faded… but it was no more than quaffing a minor healing potion. It was not strong enough to undo a curse. Fuck you, Erastil. Fuck your temple, too. I filled my canteen with the pool water, and climbed out, and we set out back to Oleg’s. Tomorrow’s a big day!
And no, no time for reading tonight.
We’re back. I’m cured. Kaleria left. I… don’t know what else to say right now. Really.
Except to say that I am now the Shadow Lord, and none shall stand in my way.
I wish Kaleria could have stayed. Her farewell kiss felt like a summer breeze from 15 years ago.