Royal chef Paulet Arta-akí (a.k.a. Granny Paulet)
A large, blackwood carriage that creaks and rattles with every movement travels the roads between towns. Two large lanterns on the front and back announce its presence to others in the middle of the night while the rusty weathervane on the tiny tower slowly turns and squeaks in the wind. A light shines through its crooked windows and from the twisted iron chimney rises smoke whenever it stops in a town. And then, when its large selling window opens with a loud groan, the people flock to the ghostly carriage as if they are sailors drawn in by a siren.
However, this siren does not bring death or fear but delicious homemade pastries, and foreign delicacies. Nor are they a beguiling image projected on the peoples' mind, but simply a kind old owl sharing her craft.
General Physical Condition
Apparel & Accessories
As such, when she hit the age of 16 and was fully in her rebellious teenager phase, she packed her bags and bid adieu to the land she knew before anyone could stop her. At the first large city beyond her countries mountains, she joined a small group of adventurers to help her understand foreign cultures and languages. This group consisted of a human cleric, a dwarven bard, and an elven archer. They were rather happy to have someone in the group who could cook well and punch hard. During her travels, Paulet’s friends taught her their languages and she discovered many new dishes and herbs to cook with. Of course, during all this, she regularly sent letters home to assure her parents of her wellbeing. After seven years, Paulet began to miss her home and returned with several new recipe books. With a lot of nagging and determination, she managed to convince her parents to allow her to sell some of the pastries she had brought back and they were a great hit among the people.
They were so successful in fact that the imperial palace recruited her as an (apprentice) cook in the kitchen. By the age of 43 years, she’d become the head chef and had married. Her children continue the family tradition of running the now renowned bakery.
While she was away her younger brother took over the shop and kept it running successfully. Her education as a royal chef lasted two years. She brought many new dishes to the table, including many vegetable-based recipes the royal children actually liked! As such, when she was promoted to the position of head chef, she was assigned a position in the imperial Moon palace where the concubines and children live.
She's had several students of her own and her own reputation indirectly boosted that of her families shop, enabling the opening of a restaurant. She retired from her position as Royal head chef at the age of 63.
Morality & Philosophy
As the half-monthly letters streamed in she could no longer contain her desire for excitement and seeing new things. As such, she packed her bags once again and set out for adventure… to the great dismay of her children. She’s both looking for new ingredients and recipes to create new dishes as well as her grandson. She has some self-knit sweaters and scarfs to give him.
Paulet herself has two children who are both married and three grandchildren. Two of her grandchildren are still very young (8 and 10 years) and the last one is a rebellious teenager.
Oh, I'm so o~ld! Curse these fragile bones.Paulet enjoys playing up her old age. Often complaining about her bones, bad hearing/ eyesight and other such things. She also walks with a bend in her back, using her magic quarterstaff as a walking stick.
If a fight breaks out, or she is attacked, she will use her martial arts training and acting skills to 'bumble' out of the way and 'accidentally' knock out foes.
A sweet old grandma who loves to cook. She's a bit clumsy (or is she?) and seeks out the help of the other two in her travels to find her grandson who has taken to adventuring himself.View Character Profile
A temple and mountains
The enemies were dangerous and numerous enough that I felt using the few heaven-sent spells I poses was needed. The heavenly beast seemed especially effective against those with a connection to the fiends. It took us a while to reach what was once a temple of magic if I understand mister Gimdalf correctly. This is where we encoutered an ominous ritual performed by incorporeal fiends and the myconids bound to them. It was difficult to figure out how to disrupt the ritual.
On one hand there were several capable myconids on guard. The ritual itself tended to send out destructive lightning as well, which made it difficult to stay close.
then there was also the fact that the incorporeal fiends would shield their corporeal allies from our attacks and our normal attacks had little influence on them. It also seemed that every time we landed a successful blow more fiends would appear.
We weren't without success though. Our early attempts might not have done much to disrupt the ritual but they did free some of the creatures that had been trapped by it. Eventually, I figured out, the others might have realised earlier but it was a bit chaotic, that the only real thing that had the desired effect on the ritual was holy (radiant) energy. By the time I fully realised this I had enough fight left for one big spell and that was enough. I summoned the largest heavenly beast I could muster and sent it right into the heart of the ritual. It was quite successful as a flash of bright light decimated our opponents. However, I doubt the light flash was a direct result of my spell as when the dust cleared a strange-looking blue lady was standing at the centre. She was apparently the goddess of magic.
Mister Gimdalf had a lot of questions for her. Many of which were answered. She wanted to do us a favour for freeing her and solving a mess for them. Mister Gimdalf requested to become the future guardian of the temple so a similar incident wouldn't happen again though he mostly wanted to use it as a quiet place of study.
I myself wasn't sure what to ask for and mister Macca Ni intended to use his favour to give the drow head by his side a new body. The lady appreciated this selfless act enough to grant him another favour upon which he encountered the same problem as I did. She agreed that we could call her for a favour later. When we returned to the surface for a well-deserved rest, Akta seemed surprised and relieved. Apparently, there had been a strong earthquake following the end of the ritual. The drow collapsed right after having a good meal and slept right until morning.
With a short discussion it was decided that Akta and the drow would become travelling buddies to explore the world they had been isolated from for so long. Akta was even kind enough to drop us off on the north side of the Eyaw empire where the three of us wanted to go.
I must admit that I wanted to go home primarily because I'd gotten sidetracked so much that I forgot where I was supposed to go to find Baritákè. Luckily the Gentlemen didn't seem to have any other plans. Besides, I think they could use a few calm days.
A desert and a cave
Mister Gimdalf noticed something amiss with the strange book he had previously used to turn off the geyser. It seemed to be displaying a far smaller version of the everchanging aurora.
With some puzzling and measuring the pattern to a world map he discovered that there seemed to be a set point around which the aurora was swirling. This point was in the desert south of my home mountains. Akta took us straight to our destination in just a few days. Although the epicentre seemed to be somewhere in a large collection of cacti, we couldn't see anything noteworthy from the sky in this plot of land itself. We did see a large crack in the ground east of the forest with signs of life at the bottom. With no real knowledge of where else to go we decided to land on the canyon's floor and startled a group of tortles and a dragonborn.
After calming them down and ensuring them Akta was harmless they were kind enough to answer our questions. With some difficulty due to the language barrier, the Gentlemen and I managed to explain to them that we were looking for the source of the strange happenings and that this should be an extremely old temple. Though they hadn't seen such a building they did inform us that it was likely underground and we could try the extensive cave network accessible from the canyon to find it. After all, if someone was messing around there, there should be a way to get to it.
They'd also been able to see the centre of the aurora we asked them about and instructed us to go roughly two miles westward. they were even kind enough to lend me one of their long-lasting mushroom torches. Entering the caves I took Dar and Din along as there might be a need to climb or decent steep walls. I figured that these two goats would have no trouble getting the three of us to our destination if needed.
With Mister Gimdalf's honed skill of travelling underground we had little trouble finding our way in the dark tunnels. We eventually came to a cavern with several remnants of dead creatures, including a humanoïd skeleton with a journal. The journal told us that they had followed a high priest into the caves to perform a ritual at an old construction but they had no way of powering it. Eventually, the high priest wanted to call in the aid of fiends. The writer had doubts about whether or not such a decision was wise but dared not to say anything. Clearly, this meant we were close to whatever it was we were looking for and there were probably fiends involved. Mister Gimdalfs book had started glowing as well. Indicating something very old and magical was nearby. Not much further ahead we encountered a group of myconids, living mushrooms with telepathic abilities. Mister Macca Ni went ahead of us to see if they were friendly.
The myconids seemed reasonable and kind, though it quickly became clear they had something to do with the cause of the strange magic events and disappearances of gods. We eventually managed to uncover they were imprisoning the gods in an attempt to snuff out the sun and plunge the world into darkness so they could roam above ground. They also let it slip that the high priest from the journal and their followers had died and that, using the information left behind, several myconids had managed to make a warlock pact with the demons.
Since they seemed to intend no real harm I attempted to dissuade them by explaining that a lot of the things living above ground did not fair well without sunlight and it would disrupt the circle of life, harming them in the end as well. However, they only latched on to the information that destroying the sun would make it easier to kill everyone and take over. After that, they seemed to no longer be willing to listen or change their mind at all.
Seeing no other, more reasonable, way to get them to stop their actions, we decided to attack. The initial group was quickly dealt with but another was hiding in the cavern. This one seemed to be one of the few who made a warlock pact with the fiends and quickly ran when we seemed to outmatch it. However, more myconids are coming. I doubt they, the myconids, are truly evil and have been beguiled by lies and empty promises from others. By now they are willingly blind to all the negative consequences of their actions in favour of an illusory dream.
Made a friend
Most of the citizens had already left the town and local burglars and opportunists took the chance to go on a robbery spree. Usually, I would take some time to interrupt such an event. But with this happening everywhere in town and the dragon issue seeming to be time-sensitive I feared that doing so would take up to much time. During our trek through the city towards the orb, we passed two fascinating groups, both of which we sneaked past out of worry we would be dragged into their nonsense and be delayed.
The first group seemed to be a hunters guild, led by an elf, endeavouring to slay the dragon in the name of honour and glory.
The second was an assembly led by a dwarf who had quickly fashioned themselves a priestly attire out of tablecloth and curtains. They proposed that the best way forward was just to go ahead and accept the dragon as their new ruler. Once at the tower with the orb we weren't sure how to get inside so instead Mr Gimdalf used his owl familiar to fly up and eavesdrop. The dragon noticed the intrusion rather quickly but seemed to have no intention of stopping it. At this moment the presumed conversation consisted mostly of a heated... 'debate' between the wizards inside. Some wanted to make a deal with the dragon for the orb in exchange for its service during the war as we had feared. The other party, luckily, was outraged at the dragon's request concerning the orb, whatever that request was, and vigorously and loudly declared the dragon should be answered with a folly of spells.
It wasn't too long before the dragon grew tired of this 'debate' and instead chose to turn its attention towards finding our group and talking with us instead. I must admit that in the moment of hearing Mr Gimdalf relaying that sentiment to us I was struck by the sudden worry of not being able to provide such a large being with a fulfilling meal. Thank the heaven's the dragon, who introduced themselves as Akta, hadn't the mind for food.
Going by its words it had been asleep for a long time since humanoïds were still using sharpened rocks and sticks to fight each other. She assured us that although she occasionally likes to watch wars from a distance they quickly lose interest and are even less motivated to participate.
They were kind enough to give us some information on the specific dragon species or dragon baby Tinmin hails from. Answering some questions about its diet which I appreciate. Other than that they had some suspicions about the magic being on the fritz and an old temple Mr Gimdalf is searching for based on some accounts from their elders. With this information and the assurance Akta wouldn't do the Opal Empire's bidding we said our goodbyes. We thought we wouldn't see each other for a long time if ever again at all. We were wrong. As soon as we returned to my wagon we had a quick lunch with the fortune-tellers and then went on our way. Our travel companies seemed very interested in our meeting with the dragon and requested our permission to use it as a story during their travels. We agreed on the condition it could not be traced back to us. Nothing is as tiring as fame.
While travelling we quickly left the bulk of refugees behind us who set up camp far earlier as most weren't used to travelling. We stopped on the way to have some excellent burgers with fresh bread. I bought five extra loaves for making toast, meatballs and other things requiring bread for the coming days.
Eventually we set up camp far ahead of the rest by nightfall however the darkness of night didn't come. Instead, we were met with a dazzling aurora painting and lighting up the sky. We suspected that this was something concerning the magics instability as well as we were far too close to the Mediterranean for it to occur naturally. Not even an hour later we heard the sound of panicking people coming toward us from the direction of Saltdale and saw Akta's silhouette against the sky. At first, I presumed the wizards had chosen to attack them and they simply took the opportunity to throw their war preparations into chaos as we had requested. But this was quickly diverted as they seemed to come towards us. We saw them land a few times near the fleeing mass and even fly past us before doubling back.
Akta informed us that the aurora was indeed a sign of magic going crazy and more so of impending disaster. They had attempted to recruit the wizards and other promising-looking people for help but were met with either willful ignorance of the problem or screams of terror.
I'm always willing to go on an interesting adventure and I moreover won't reject a chance to leave this empire as quickly as possible. the two Gentlemen seemed to be of the same mind.
We did, however, still have a delivery to make to the Free cities which wouldn't be on our flying route. Therefore we passed this task to the fortune-tellers who were hiding from the dragon behind their wagon. The gentlemen gave them one of the storage crystals which contained the documents to be delivered. This was also in order to make contact after it had been done.
I properly stored away my things in the wagon and allowed Dar and Din to stay inside it for safe travel while the dragon gave us a lift to this old temple.
Conversation points Akta: -Tinmin can eat whatever and its species is native to 'the plane of the gods' ability to travel from plane to plane. haven't been on this plane in a long time. -Weird magic occurrences are indeed a sign of the weave being messed with. Possibly a sign of someone trying to ascend to godhood. -The event between the ancients and the demons occurred due to the ancients attempting to ascent
Panic at Saltdale
Once the orb stopped glowing nothing seemed to happen. So we assumed whatever was going on could wait until morning. Early in the morning, the ground shook and the volcano off the coast of Saltdale blew its top. However, instead of spewing lave and ash a blue coloured dragon emerged from it. Presumably, it had been sleeping there for a long time.
The fact that it flew towards the city caused the people to panic and flee en masse to the city's gates. Luckily the dragon seemed to have no interest in anything happening in the city below (not even the guards unsuccessfully attempting to shoot it) while making a straight line for the orb and wizard tower at the centre.
Although mister Gimdalf and I wanted to go into the city to try and help the fortune-tellers get out and look for mister Macca Ni we were well aware that doing so would likely result in being squashed by the panicking crowd and missing the others completely. Therefore we decided to keep waiting at the wagon while I attempted to make my special recipe pies as quickly as possible just in case. Fortunately, both mister Macca Ni and the fortune-tellers made it out with relatively little trouble. The two gentlemen had enough knowledge of the dragon, which had now landed on the tower holding the orb, to discern it as a Moonstone dragon. These creatures are relatively uninterested in harming or helping others, have abilities mostly related to dreams and illusions and there are accounts of them being willing to negotiate for the things it desires.
After discussing how to get into the city and close enough to figure out what the dragon was talking about with the wizards, as we dreaded the idea of it being recruited by the Opal empire in exchange for the orb it seemingly wanted, I heard someone shuffling around outside the wagon.
I threw on my disguise cape and threw open the windows, startling the man. As expected it was a bandit attempting to take advantage of the chaos and he apparently wanted my wagon. Mister Gimdalf disguised himself as an old man and the Thug clearly wasn't expecting two old people to put up a fight against him. Nor was he aware that mister Macca Ni, who was talking to the fortune-tellers, belonged to our group.
I have to admit that the bandit and his companion weren't the easiest to deal with. They had access to a strong poison and had clearly had combat training and experience. Once defeated and stripped of their belongings they were kind enough to answer our questions. They had been guards for the nobility of the Free cities but defected to banditry due to the bad attitudes of their employers. I gave them some food for the road and we sent them off.
What we learned about the Free cities:-They have strict rules and rule-enforcers. Breaking the law isn't recommended.
-In the broad sense, everyone is welcome in the Free cities regardless of race and origin.
-There's a strip of no-man land between the Opal empire and the Free cities. Due to the absence of official law enforcers, it is mostly inhabited by bandits.
No Idea what's going on
Since we did not sense any immediate danger I parked the wagon on the side of the road and took Dar and Din along to see where the book would lead us. We ended up in a cave with pillars made of strange bones (I managed to procure two good pieces of dragon bone for soup) and a ground littered with green, metal shards.
The tome seemed to be dragged in by a dark orb... thing that gave me the shivers. I can't tell what its function was exactly and who build it, but the fact that its activation was accompanied by screaming didn't spell much good. Dar and Din helped me to drag sir Gimdalf and his book to a safe distance and the ground before we secured the bag with the book to a tree. After that, we went back in to deactivate the thing which was easier than I'd imagined. Sir Gimdalf simply dismissed whatever magic was connecting it to its power source and dug out the magic 'battery' from the ground, which was a wisp. The poor thing had been trapped in a cage underground since the war between the demons and the ancient folk.
.......... When we returned to the wagon one of the wheels was missing. Apparently, these woods are patrolled by parking officers. We managed to get to the fortress mentioned on the note with sir Gimdalfs help and sir Maca-nee skillfully negotiated with the disinterested guards to retrieve the wheel without a fine.
A little further down the road we encountered three fortune tellers who had lost a wagon wheel as well. The two gentlemen helped them coble a new wheel from a barrel lid and mount it in place. They seem to be in a similar situation as us, where they simply wish to cross the country as swiftly as possible due to the hostility and silent threat of war.
I decided to gamble on trusting them and travelling as a group. After all, the universe has many mysteries and it seems that my companions are very involved with those. Getting a different perception of the questions we encounter may be just what we need. However, it seems that the fortune-teller's deity is in a similar situation to the few other gods I've heard about. We reached the harbour city Saltdale and the military presence here is strong. I dare not enter the city and risk overusing my cloak to hide my identity. However, both gentlemen need to win information about the magic phenomena and the fortune-tellers want to conduct their business. Sir Gimdalf was kind enough to make his magical hideout on the city's outskirts for me to hang out in during the day. I hid my wagon among some trees and foliage and retreated to turn all the goatmilk I'd stored in the cold box into cheese.
During the day a cabbage farmer got stuck in the mud with his wagon. Naturally, I decided to help. Though he was a bit warry of my goats, apparently he'd never seen such big lasses before, he was kind enough te tell me a bit about the countries current state and give me a few cabbages.
NOTE Current situation in Opal empire: -Only military travel roads are properly maintained and all other roads are stripped of stone and useful material. -None of the commoners we've spoken to so far agree with the war. -The magic disruptions are either framed as holy blessings or pre-emptive attacks from Talamir.
Second checkpoint and bandits
Apparently, something had been stolen from a local noble which was part of the reason why there were more guards in town. He had wanted to help, which is admirable and I would have fully agreed under different circumstances. However, as things stand, every minute spend more in the country would be taking unnecessary risks and it will become far more difficult to get out once a war has started. Early the next morning we got on the wagon to cross the checkpoint. Not having my wings feels incredibly strange but it is far easier to pass through wearing the cloak.
Before we left a small group of soldiers came into town from the central province, bringing news that they would be drafting able-bodied people from the families there. Naturally, the civilians weren't happy about it. We heard complaints that half of the healthy people had already joined the soldiers and that there were barely enough people to work the lands.
We quickly left and luckily the guard was too distracted by the starting ruckus in the town we left behind to notice my lies about my hometown. They did check for magic items but were far too focused on finding a specific neckless, presumably the item that was stolen from the noble, to care about the specific enchantment on my cloak. they didn't notice Mr Gimdalf had disguised himself as an old man with magic either. We were even warned about Bandits further down the road. Due to all the unfriendly attention I would garner if my cloak stops working I instructed Mr Gimdalf on how to guide Dar and Din so I wouldn't spend more time in the open than needed. Once he seemed to get a hang of it I went inside the wagon to continue experimenting with the displacer beast meat. Since we had been warned about people being robbed Meneer de Uil was sent to scout the path ahead in the forest and did indeed come back to report bandits blocking the road with trees. They seemed to have several predatory animals, such as wolves and bears, as mounts but to not be particularly alert. Mr Macca-nee and I are both confident in our ability to sneak around and Mr Gimdalf still looked like a very old dwarf. Therefore we decided that Mr Gimdalf would draw the attention of the muggers as an attractive target while Mr Macca-nee and I would sneak through the undergrowth to get behind the robbers for a surprise pincher attack.
The reverse ambushwas very effective and the Brigands quickly fled. We did take down a few of them and one of their bears. Bears aren't eaten that often in the Eyaw empire because they have a strong taste of their own and they don't appear that high in the mountains either. However, I do know a few good recipes for bear meat. Though it takes quite some time to prepare we'll have enough meat between the three of us for at least a month.
To the Opal empire
We also learned from some musicians with an Orcish heritage that traversing the Opal empire might be more troublesome than I previously thought. The group had been turned around at the border for not being human enough as I understand it. The gentlemen I travel with should be fine to pass through but I might encounter some trouble. If obstructed I might need to find an alternate route. As repayment for the information, I wrote the group a recommendation for inns and taverns in the Eyaw empire. It should be effective in the larger cities, especially because I wrote it on the back of my braised pork-noodle soup recipe. Half a days travel from the border we had to stop for the night at an inn. A defensive tower seemed to be in progress of being built next to it. According to the local guards and a few of the travellers, the Opal empire is suffering from a severe case of humanoïd supremacy and they're patrolling the rust hills, which are rich in iron, as well. The guards are suspecting the empire is preparing to make a move in an attempt to secure the area. It sounds to me like they are preparing for war. Best to travel through as quickly as possible if we can get in at all.
(......................) I'm not sure how but the gentlemen and I crossed the border of the Opal empire. It was Maca-nee who did all the hard work of talking to and convincing the guards. We didn't dilly-dally for too long and quickly made our way further down the road. Eventually choosing to spend the night at a small village and... things... happened.
First of all, these people weren't as unpleasant as the guards. Other than a bit of curiosity they held no malice. They asked me how I was still in the empire, a question I honestly don't know the answer to, and informed us that those in power had actually rounded up the 'non- normals' not too long ago and those had not been seen after. Hopefully, they were simply deported and nothing else.
The second thing pertains to a geyser that provides the entire area with water and fish which I'm pretty sure are salt-water in origin. It might be some kind of portal that opens on the regular and provides precious resources to the people.
At any rate, it had something to do with an old, glowing tome Gimdalf has in his possession. From what I gather from the gentlemen's tale is that the tome is related to an ancient race that lived on this plane aeons ago and usually alerts them to the ruïns scattered across the land. The problem is that the language the tome uses is long dead and forgotten so it is virtually impossible to know what exactly the text means.
Either way, on with the story. The tome seemed to be showing some kind of message that indicated something wasn't working right near the geyser. Having no indication of what the text actually meant, mister Gimdalf tried to touch all the text in the tome to find a clue. Tragically turning of the geyser in the process! This means great disaster for the village.
Although the gentlemen and I would love to undo this action, none of us currently have enough understanding to 'fix' this mess or have the resources to dive down and brute force it, nor do we have the time and freedom of mind to stay in one place longer than absolutely needed. The best we could do is leave and find a way to quickly read the old language and come back in the future to restore the villages water source. On the road to the next town, we met three travellers who hardly seemed to be trustworthy at the start. There was a lot of back and forth and a failing attempt at mystery on their side but in the end, it all came down to this:
The travellers were gnomes wearing cloaks of human guises to avoid surveillance. It seems there is animosity from the country's nobles towards any race that isn't dwarf, elf or human. They'd acquired a blueprint for something that absolutely couldn't fall into the hands of the Opal empire and needed to be delivered to the Free cities. I'd simply destroy a blueprint that's that dangerous but apparently having your hard work disappear into nothingness isn't the desired event for craftsmen other than chefs... As far as I can tell, taking the blueprint with us won't ad much more danger to our route. And as payment, they gave me one of the cloaks they had, which should make passing the checkpoints much easier. They also promised we'd be repaid upon delivering the blueprint.
After acquiring some more information we want our separate ways. Although I did request they take a look at the geyser situation. They may be able to get it working again or think of a temporary solution.
Stories on the road
After my usual morning routine of milking the goats, having breakfast and pruning my feathers, I took out the morning to teach the Lodge's chef and the doctor some tricks in cooking. Starting with how to efficiently cut your ingredients and making sure they understood the importance of caring about and loving your food as well as the people you make it for. Without this, you'd never be able to reach the heavenly tastes of an imperial chef's cooking. In the afternoon the gentlemen and I took off towards the large harbour city, Zenorobe. They seem to want to head south so we may pass my home city if we travel by land. This choice was mainly made through the desire of wanting to gain information about strange occurrences. This morning there was a pillar of what seemed to be illusionary flames near the lodge and I've heard talk of a block of ice falling from the sky. Gimdalf seems especially interested in these strange phenomena.
Come evening we passed an inn next to which we decided to set up camp. Mister Gimdalf used a spell of his own creation to transform a small flower into a hideout high above the ground. Although I would love to sleep up high again, I'm reluctant to give up the soft comfort of my bed in exchange. Nevertheless, it was impressive and a good climbing exercise for Dar and Din.
During the evening I spend time with the inn's actual guests to get some new information. From what I gather these people had also encountered several strange phenomena similar to what I had encountered on the road. Illusionary fire, sudden drops in temperature and animals that shouldn't be able to fly flying. Luckily all of the described effects seemed largely harmless. The next morning we continued our journey to Zenorobe and had to pass through an increasingly more watery swamp. We arrived early in the afternoon. The city itself is wrought with channels and small waters. It isn't strange to find that the main mode of transport here are boats, though most civilian boats are nowhere near large enough for my wagon.
The two gentlemen wished to visit the library and inns to learn more about these... occurrences. I myself am more interested in safe travelling routes. For efficiencies sake, we decided to split up and meet again at the Black door inn. Mace-nee entrusted me with selling some of his items. I'm flattered that he puts his trust in a stranger like me. I took the paths and bridges to find my way to the district most visited by travelling merchants. These people always keep an eye out for trouble along their routes whether these are increased taxes or rebellions. I did not want to go out of my way to seek out talkative people and negotiate for useful information, so I used the most effective lure for these people I know. Pancakes. Delicious, fresh pancakes. Costs barely a thing and goes well with nearly any kind of topping.
It was nearly lunch time so several people were happy to grab a bite and have a conversation. What they told me is that a new ship route has opened up through the Mistsea. However, there are still many unknown dangers along this path so many are reluctant to try it out.
If we wish to go by sea, we could also use the traditional passages but this would likely be a long journey.
As for the land road, we'd have to pass through the opal empire. According to the merchants, there has been some trouble there lately though they aren't sure of the what's and why's. What they do know is that border control has been tightened. This might be a problem for the two gentlemen. I'm not sure what they did but it seems they've caused some trouble for this country. If we chose this path I think we should not take longer than needed. Near the end of lunchtime, a couple of guards came by the smaller shops, including me, to ask for our permits to do business. Luckily I wasn't born yesterday and doing business on the road is nothing new. I naturally have all the necessary paperwork for the lands between here and my home. Others weren't as well prepared. When I asked it seemed this guard was the son of some high-ranking noble. He liked to use his position to make some extra coins. A noble's son who's high on the empty title that does not yet belong to him. For his sake, I hope he'll soon encounter something or someone that teaches him just how useless this false sense of accomplishment is.
I made the Berry lovely and Nutty for you. I didn't sell too much but it is easy to store and reheat, a good small meal for on the road.
Before leaving I had a stern talk with Dar and Din, though I'm not certain they took it to heart. I'm just hoping not to find them stuck on the rooftops again because the barrels and crates were removed... The forest itself was as strange as I'd heard it to be. Vibrant colours, glowing and virtually unrecognisable to me. I gathered a few ingredients on a gamble that they'd be useful or edible, though I honestly have no method of knowing. Neither of the gentlemen travelling with me is well versed in the local flora and fauna either.
Though they have a very humanoïd-centred view of nature's usefulness. I'm not sure I can judge them. After all, my mind seems to only be filled with thoughts of ingredients for food being lost because an important species elsewhere along the food chain has gone extinct. In the afternoon we did find those aggressive beasties the men at the lodge had been talking about. Or rather, they found us.
As it turns out the mysterious creature is not one but two, or perhaps even more, displacer beasts. Large cats with extra paws and flail tentacles. This specific group seems to have undergone a slight mutation as their usual black fur is purple. Of course, I'm not an expert on these creatures. Far from it. I'm simply writing down what mister Gimdalf has told me.
I managed to down one of the big cats during the scuffle we had with them but as it turns out this couple has a nest of kittens. It is no wonder that they are less than courteous towards those who pass by. Now the question remains if these beasties belong here but have simply never been seen or if they are an invasive species. After all, they seem to be adapted especially well to hiding themselves. Not wishing to orphan the helpless kittens, the gentlemen and I decided that the best course of action would be to report back to the people at the lodge with our findings. We also surmised that much information could be learned from the dead beasty. such as what they eat and if they can be eaten.
The gentlemen dragged the corpse up from below the cliff while I calmed down the remaining cat and kept busy her kittens. Once they'd been gone long enough I followed them back to the lodge, though we did have to stop to make an improvised cart on the way. These creatures are easily over 500 kg. Once at the lodge, we informed the men there about the situation. The two gentlemen seem to think that there might be a problem with the cats' usual prey being overhunted, which would explain these beasts venturing out to new places and attacking humans who weren't even aware of their existence before now. Gimdalf also suggested they should feed the beasts to foster better relationships. As a cook, I find this a terrible idea. feeding wild animals is how you get vermin in your kitchen.
I'm also reminded of the story about the tourists visiting a reef where one could pet sharks. The sharks had been 'tamed' by the guides by feeding them whenever their boat came by. One of the sharks wanted more food. Not understanding the concept of pockets but knowing the food came from the but area, the shark took a bite out of a persons rear end. I imagine it was greatly confused when it didn't taste fish and the humans panicked...
Snatching some companions
I think I'll be heading off towards Jafone. I heard there's a peculiar forest with unique edible specimens near there. [...] Disaster has struck! The wheel of my poor old wagon broke off while traversing the streets of Jafone. I am too old and weak to repair it on my own. Lucky for me, two kind gentlemen passed by and offered to help. We made quick work of that nasty wheel and as thanks, I made them some nutritious potato soup and a plate of beef sashimi for their tiny flying lizard child.
We talked a bit and they happened to be heading towards the Glowing forest as well. Since I find it terribly confusing to travel the roads instead of flying and also heard the forest is a bit dangerous at the moment, I was more than happy to accept their offer for travelling together. They boarded my wagon and I spurred Dar and Din on our way. I arrived at the Lodges near the edge of the forest with my new companions, it was much quieter and less crowded than I had expected. There was nearly a soul outside and the few people staying at the biggest cabin all had gloomy faces. When asked about the happenings in the forest, what we got were incoherent and panicked accounts of some ghostly thing. Since they were so clearly stressed I offered them some of my homemade chocolate cookies. There's nothing like good food to calm down a nervous mind. Once calmed, I asked them to slowly explain again about what is going on.
It seems some hungry beasty has been stalking the woods and hunting any people who travel through it. It is too fast and silent for them to have actually seen it, but that is perhaps part of why they are so scared. They also informed me that all the people who know the edible species in the forest were the first to leave when things went bad. It seems I have no other choice than to enter the forest myself and learn what I can. Then again, I've missed a good adventure. While the two gentlemen, they are named Maca-nee and Grimdalf by the way, went to question the ten or so surviving victims of the beasty in the infirmary, I borrowed the barkeep's kitchen to make delightful wonton soup. Patients need to eat well to recover quickly. He happened to have some small glowing insects from the forest which I used for filling. They turned out fairly well for a first-time execution.
The wounded perked right up after having eaten something and both the healer and barkeep were impressed by my soup. And rightfully so if I might say it myself. It seems I need to search through my simpler recipes to teach these two when I return from the forest. Perhaps braised pork belly and tomato-eggdrop soup?
For now, I'm going to bed though. It is late and I and the gentlemen will be heading out tomorrow. I've given Din and Dar their food and I should ask the residents of the Lodge to look after them while I'm away. I dare not take them with me for fear that they might become food.