Here you’ll find the contents of the mysterious texts that seem to detail future events taken from D’s Journal. Click on one of the dates to jump down to its entry on the same page.
The steel airlock door creaked shut behind me.
Footsteps investigating the noise drew close for a moment, but soon faded.
I lowered myself into bed with a sigh.
My right hand unconsciously drifted to the back of my head.
There, beneath my pillow, it fell upon a picture frame.
Within it, a dishevelled room full of scrap iron, oil stains, and a single, beautiful flower.
My beloved Edea…
I pine for the chance to see a smile unfurl across your face set in equal parts courageous fire and innocence.
I long to hear your voice, sweet like a spring breeze. Let it speak my name, and I shall die a happy man.
I could hear the nervous shuffling outside my door of someone afraid to disturb me. Not afraid enough, it seems.
I returned the photo to its hiding place and answered without bothering to conceal my irritation.
“I’m awake. What is it?”
I skimmed the manual I’d been given, then tossed it on the bed.
I returned to Edea’s smile, perfectly preserved within the picture frame.
The Eschalot. My lips formed the word time and again as I watched the new ship in tow from my cabin porthole.Back to top
I hurried for the capital as the sun dipped below the Norende Plateau.
My steps are unnervingly light without my armour, and these clothes hang oddly on me. Most of all, I feel naked without a weapon.
I was greeted at the city’s edge by the sound of a whistle marking the arrival of a merchant ship.
Between the merchants and wholesalers, the dock workers unloading crates, the tired crewmen, and the eager children excited by the exotic wares, the port was buzzing with people.
As I pushed my way upstream through the crowd and along the avenue toward the palace, I spotted a splendid building, its roof a rich navy.
This must be the inn the old fisherman described.
Inside, I found a man with a gentle mien sitting behind a well-polished counter.
I asked after any vacancies, but he replied with a chagrined, “Sorry, we’re all full up tonight.”
It feels quiet for a full inn, but I don’t suppose I can blame him.
A walk-in customer, at this hour. Clearly not a local. No one to vouch for me.
Any respectable innkeep would offer some version of the same excuse.
When I inquired after a place to eat, he said down by the port there should be a cheap pub catering to sailors that’s open until morning.
Lovely. back down I go…
At the hill’s bottom I ate my fill at a food cart aimed at drunken sailors. Now it’s back up to the inn.
I refuse to spend the night kept awake by carousing seamen.
I let myself into the empty house next door to the inn. I’ll just have to sleep lightly.Back to top
I was awakened by the sound of sword practise, shouts of exertion, and the pleasant smell of toast.
One of the king’s guard, perhaps? Looks about my age, and reasonably skilled. I lay in my makeshift bed, lazily counting his swings.
“Hurry up, Owen. You’ll be late.”
Upon hearing the innkeeper’s words, the youth replied and made his way down from the misty hilltop and into the inn.
The scent of breakfast coming from next door has me drooling…
One bite of my rock-hard bread brought me back to reality. The bacon burnt coal black and the murky, bitter coffee made me wish it hadn’t. I suppose I can expect no more from a shabby stand in the port.
After choking down my fill, I climbed the hill toward the palace.
Supplied by a series of lush waterways, Caldisla was once a formidable city-fortress. These days, its hooked central avenue is lined with a magic shop, general store, armoury and other businesses.
A large gate stands as a vestige of that era, though now it serves mostly as a site for the town bulletin board.
“This year’s boar hunt is set to begin once the final slot is filled! *Weapons provided by the hunting committee.”
A boar hunt? With the duchy attacking?
I was speechless. As I made to leave, I felt someone grasp my shoulder.
“This fellow says he’ll join the hunt! We ride today!”
I turned, shock and irritation laid bare, only to find Owen, the young man I had seen practising in the fog that morning.
My initial protests were drowned in a rising cheer, and as the smith handed me a broadsword and buckler, I dumbly accepted. Potions from the town chemist followed.
Between their expectant smiles and Owen’s grin, I found myself unable to say no.
On the road, I was told a litany of facts I cared nothing about.
The search for food to fatten up before hibernation apparently drives the giant boars to local farms, where they raid crops and injure workers. As a result, the city gathers volunteers each year to hunt them.
As captain of the guard (I discover), responsibility for overseeing the hunt falls upon Owen.
The armourer was slated to participate, but a leg injury has him on crutches. Owen says he was searching for a replacement when he found a promising candidate during his morning practise. Lucky him.
We walked a full, tiring day stalking our prey. First the trader gave out, then chatter dried up between the two young castle guards.
Sunset found us upriver from the city, at the entrance to the Norende Canyon. Just as we decided to make camp, a rustling came from the thickets behinds us!
The boar that leapt out was indeed a giant – a vicious, one-tusked monster that had survived the last year’s hunt. In a flash, it gored one of the guards, then the other, leaving only Owen, me, and the trader. The boar stamped the ground, preparing to charge the old man now paralysed with fear.
I expect we’d all given up hope for the kindly old merchant, when the beast suddenly changed course.
With only seconds to react, Owen landed a mighty blow, felling the monster in a single strike!
I set about treating the young guard’s injuries.
The trader, clearly still worked up, narrated Owen’s victory to the two boys. With every reverent word, I felt as though I was being derided as useless.
The others took to sleep, while I sat watch to keep the fire going. Owen rose, and came to sit beside me.
“Thanks for before.”
I kept silent, but he pressed on.
“The boar only changed targets because you circled behind me and channelled your energy at it. It’s thanks to you we’re not carting home a corpse.”
He sat waiting, apparently bent on receiving a response. His grin is infectious.
“I took the surest course of action,” I replied as I held aloft my broadsword.
“I had my doubts this blade was up to the task.”
The weapon’s edge was chipped in places, its length bent. With a gentle shake, the pommel gave an unsettling rattle. Owen burst into laughter at the noise.
Apparently my response passed muster. He continued, his grin never flagging.
“Starting tomorrow, you’ll stay at my place. I’ll give word to my father to open a room for you.”
I was dragged on this hunt, but if it earns me a real breakfast, it’s a bargain I’d take gladly.Back to top
The innkeep’s voice and the smell of coffee being laid on the table roused me from my thoughts.
“You’re from Ancheim, eh? You’ll be wanting extra sugar, then.”
Politely declining, I took a sip. Quality beans, roasted to perfection… Exquisite.
After the hunt, we’d carried the wounded back to town. We tied the boar to a high tree branch; Owen said the townspeople would come for it later.
After seeing to the boys’ treatment, Owen invited me to his home, the inn.
“Saviour” was the title he used when introducing me to his father. I was mortified.
I was on a journey of personal discovery, originally come from Ancheim… They brought my arbitrary lies without hesitation. They welcomed me.
That evening, we dined early, and well. The boar had been carted back to town, and our share of the meat filled a table.
Once Owen returned from the palace, we sat down to feast. The innkeep is a brilliant cook, and we ate, drank, and revelled into the night.
“Come by the palace tomorrow. I want you to meet the king.”
He repeated himself time and again, words slurred from the wine, despite my pretending to be asleep.Back to top
I’ve been in Caldisla a week, with no sign of the smoke signal. I join Owen in his training some mornings, walk the city streets, chat with the elderly, drink with the sailors at the docks, arm wrestle the drunks… Mostly, I just pass the time.
Today was another peaceful afternoon, the same as any other.
Owen was at the palace since morning. I was enjoying a cup of the innkeep’s coffee.
It happened in an instant. I felt as if someone was set to plunge a knife into my back. I turned, and saw a window.
Through it, the northern sky was on fire in a flash of pure white.
Moments later, the inn shook. An earthquake? Shockwave?
All of Caldisla trembled.
The innkeep moaned about a set of heirloom teacups breaking. I had my doubts that teacups would be the worst of the damage.
Outside, I spied some injured people, but the city and palace stood unharmed.
Another flash lit the sky to the northwest. Close. The Norende Plateau, perhaps…Back to top
It wasn’t till the following morning that Owen came home. By the time he finished muttering about his morning training, he was snoring.
A knock at his door put an end to that brief rest that afternoon.
“The river’s jammed with rubble!”
After receiving the scout’s report, Owen wolfed down the late breakfast his father has readied, then turned to me.
“Sounds like I may need a hand later.
I nodded, eyes fixed on the northwestern sky.
The bridge across the Caldisla River has lain in ruin since the duchy felled it. Now, a flotilla of further rubble and countless corpses approached from upstream.
Upstream means the Norende Canyon, and the village of Norende at its source. I suppose that’s our epicentre.
Owen and I split up and joined the others searching for victims.
Owen’s team searched the river’s mouth, while I gathered men from town to search further upstream.
I’ve a long sword at my side – a new one, this time, in good condition. Seems the smithy’s been busy.
The armourer, the old trader, and a dockhand joined me on the shadowy path through the canyon.
A few paces in, the armourer spotted something floating by; a young man, floating face up and snagged on the rocks.
We ran to his side.
“He’s breathing! The boy’s alive!”
While the others rejoiced, I was more concerned with the ominous shadows surrounding us.
There ought not be monsters so close to human settlement. Not in these numbers.
The townspeople were clearly overwhelmed. No doubt this was their first such encounter.
I hesitated, unsure for a moment. But no, I had to take action.
“When I give the signal, hoist this boy out and sprint for the canyon’s mouth. Is that clear!?”
A nod returned from each of them.
Sudden movement would distract the creatures for a moment. I hoped that was all I’d need.
Thankfully, both merchants escaped, as well as the dockhand with the unconscious boy across his shoulders.
Left alone, I faced a quickly-closing circle of enemies. So be it, I thought. Come closer, then. A bit more… A deep growl emerged from my chest.
When I emerged from the canyon on shaky legs, I was greeted by three anxious faces.
“It was this fellow that saved me,” I said, holding aloft the badly worn longsword. A huge, proud grin threatened to split the armourer’s cheeks.
We hurried the boy back to town.
I carried him to the inn.
“I need spirits and all the bandages you’ve got. And gramps, all the potions you’ve got, too!”
I laid him in a bed by the window, stripped him down, and had a look at his wounds. Thankfully, they were light, though he still showed no sign of stirring.
Owen’s group returned soon after, a few of his men wounded. They’d run into monsters as well. Leaving men to guard the gates, he made for the palace to report and formulate a plan.
When he came by to deliver the medicine, the old trader remarked that the boy’s clothing bore a Norende pattern.Back to top
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