That odd local fellow, Squirrel, has accompanied us, along with two of his friends, Xolra and Ragal, who were the ones to approach us and persuade us to return.
I’m regretting it already. But at least they acquired us some weapons to replace those lost in the wreck. That was helpful.
The forest is still hostile. There are man-eating plants.
What a hideous day. We’re camped out in the crater, it having taken us all day to travel a couple of miles in a roundabout route through the forest. We’ve been harassed by nixies (horrible flying critters sticking us with tiny arrows); tormented by a shambling mound (wtf?); stung by giant wasps (just get off already!).
We had to kill a bear too, which made me very unhappy. I managed to pacify the female, but the others had to defend themselves against the male, and his demise almost caused me to lose control of the female. Beautiful creatures, both of them. I hope the female is all right.
The pinnacle of awful happened in the forest to the east of where we are currently camping in a meadow. Giant flowering vines, their very scent a lure, almost ate my Ash. I killed that man(dog)-eating plant so dead, and Ash was thankfully OK. But then myself and Ragal fell under the spell of a second plant, and the others had to deal with it. We beat a hasty retreat out of there.
Is there no safe route through this place?
And so here we are, a whole day in the crater, having made very little progress. It’s terribly disheartening.
There are also centaurs.
Oh. Oh nooooooooo.
I hate this place. I hate it. HATE it.
Ammonite is… hell. Ammonite has just been slaughtered and trampled by centaurs. I have the, er, pieces of Ammonite’s poor crushed body for burning and… fuck.
It was a good death. (If there is such a thing.)
We were trying to get to a small boat at the edge of the lake that sits in the middle of the crater, and a herd of some eight or nine centaurs took exception. We had no defence against their long-range bows and copped a battering. We retreated… But Ammonite got split up from us.
I will never forget what happened. The rest of us were too far away to help, but Ammonite charged and took out FIVE centaurs before the man-beasts finally prevailed and… yeah, well.
Poor Ammonite didn’t stand a chance, but blessed Emrys did that warrior smash those centaurs first!
Under the cover of darkness, we crept to the boat while the remaining centaurs were distracted burning their dead. It took us a few minutes to figure out how it worked, but Squirrel managed to decipher some words that made the boat move without oars or wind and it took us to our destination — the lone building in the middle of the lake.
‘The Palace’ it appears to be called. We sleep here, huddled at its base, waiting for daybreak.
Why did we come back here again?
I am so over this place.
Today has been one debacle after another (again) — and now we’ve lost Brynn, who for unexplained reasons decided to swim to shore instead of continuing to search the chests we found in the so-called Palace or lake-building.
This was after Squirrel had already made off with the boat, abandoning the rest of us in the Palace with no way to leave (except swimming).
We couldn’t do much but continue to search and hope Squirrel came back with the boat. Not that there was much to find. The first floor contained chests and beds and desks… Nothing much in the chests except a jewelled dagger that Xolra appropriated, since Brynn had already abandoned us.
I admit I was so distracted and frustrated by Squirrel and Brynn’s unfathomable escape antics, that I didn’t witness whether Xolra and Ragal found anything else they neglected to mention. I need to be more wary of them, I think.
On the second floor of the Palace we found a sleeping warrior bathed in a blue magical light, along with a library of books.
We didn’t wake the warrior… I am feeling vulnerable and weak with Calwyn and Ammonite dead, Brynn gone and three unproved strangers to deal with. Alix and I are all alone here, the only northerners, and I am decidedly not comfortable with the situation.
In the end, Squirrel did send the magical boat back, but did not come himself. It took us to the side of the lake opposite the centaurs. Squirrel was waiting.
Now it’s time to regroup. We have been in this crater for two and half days and it feels as though we have got precisely nowhere — save to lose two of our companions, one of them irrevocably.
There is no sign of a green man. No sign of the keys we need to enter the other building in the crater, which is surrounded by a magical hedge. No sign of any magical scrolls.
And who the hell knows where Brynn is?