Charsens Journal Day 3

I trusted Christoph – a fellow brother of the Church of the Morninglord – but he was not what I expected.

This man of the Church came to Vallaki today searching for a beast of legend. He claimed to have tracked it down and believed it to be hidden in our fair town. By his urgent advisement, I called an emergency town meeting at Dusk with Christoph. While the orphans were passing out cookies in the shape of the holy symbol of the Morninglord, I left the meeting with Elaana and Reynard. Kadar saw us leave and took it upon himself to follow us, though I still do not know if he followed us out of simple curiosity or amusement.

When I entered Vlad and Heda’s Inn, I was overwhelmed by the silence. Such a building has always been filled with travelers gobbling down Heda’s fine stews, or locals guffawing over stale jokes. However due to the emergency meeting, even the familiar smell of day old rabbit stew, wild weed and traveler’s buttock had dimmed to a manageable musk.

It was Reynard who spotted something first, and we followed tracks leading to a barn on the northern side of the town. A figure of some kind was jumping onto the barn’s roof in a most unusual manner, and I wondered if Christoph’s warning of the Caliban was indeed the stuff of legend.

Here is where the confusion began. I did not – and still do not – know if the beast had trapped and kidnapped Elaana, or if her affinity with nature persuaded her to console the beast. All that I know is I failed in my duty to protect my companions, and she disappeared from my sight. Shortly after that, so did Reynard, and I found myself wandering with Kadar around a rickety barn filled with hoot owls and dusty hay. Shortly thereafter, Christoph and Bruhn found us, citing their concern when we abruptly left the meeting.

Thankfully Reynard had left us a trail through the woods, which we followed all the way to Elaana’s home.

I began to panic. What if Elaana was a hostage? Or worse… I prayed to the Lord of the Dawn to remove the wretched horrors that flashed before my eyes.

Immediately upon seeing Elaana’s closed and barred home, Christoph began to beat down her door. Reynard was also concerned about Elaana – and the Barovian paladin’s rabid frenzy – and so Reynard, being the noble savage that he is, offered to enter Elaana’s home alone and to investigate. Christoph gave his word that he would not follow after Reynard and would wait until Reynard called for assistance.

Christoph did not wait. He charged in after Reynard, but thankfully the woodsman was able to push the door back and lock Christoph out. Christoph began to beat at the door with even greater conviction. I was shocked to witness a paladin of the Church not only directly lie, but to act like a beast himself. Christoph did not know if Elaana was in danger, and there were no real indications otherwise. Indeed, the only indications of panic came from the Paladin himself.

Morning Radiance, how could anyone trust a paladin who goes back on his word so swiftly?

After many moments – over a minute – I began to worry as well. The incessant pounding of Christoph was driving me mad with worry, and I doubted my own instincts. I helped break down Elaana’s door with Christoph.

What if Reynard and Elaana were now in the belly of some monstrous spider-legged troll with eyes of blood and teeth of iron?

I could not wait on Elaana’s stoop like a fool, wondering if she lie dead only inches away. Then our pounding ceased as Reynard suddenly opened the door. For a fraction of a moment, the paladin and woodsman stared at each other without moving their bodies. I recalled the odd silence of the Inn from what seemed like hours before. From behind Reynard, the misshapen figure of a girl was visible standing near Elaana, who was, thank the Dawn, unharmed.

Then the paladin swung his great sword with the speed of a thousand diving falcons, and Reynard was thrown back against a wall. My heart froze as I saw the woodsman try to stand but falter and then slump to his side. Elaana moved herself in front of the disfigured girl, and Christoph moved in position to strike the golden one down.

He did not value life, but sought to harm anyone in his way to destroy this so-called Caliban! Though it is clear to me that this girl is not the dreaded monsters of legend, even if she was, I would not have permitted Christoph to strike through Reynard and Elaana to get at this beast. I did not just rush to Elaana’s home with thoughts of her grisly death only to see it enacted before my own eyes.

The strange little girl quickly jumped to attack Christoph, and while they were fighting each other with equal intensity, I used my mace handle to beat Christoph into a sound slumber. One who does not value the lives of others cannot be charged with protection.

It was at this moment that I could see a choir of shadows along the edges of my eyes. Veiled in darkness, they stood just out of focus whispering like a cold winter wind through snapped willow branches. I could feel my legs running towards a rocky ledge with no ravine below – only a gaping maw of shadow. I had no time to contemplate my hallucinations, though when I struck Christoph, my legs became tense, as if I had slid to a stop on an icy lake just before diving into the stabbing death of frozen water. The Shadow Choir dissolved from the farthest reaches of my sight, and I returned to my senses.

Thankfully Reynard is alive, though I suspect Elaana is angered by my hesitation. And rightly so – I should have protected her at the barn, or arrived at her door before Christoph... I should have been the one to enter her home.

At first, I did not know whether she was collaborating with this possible monster or being held hostage, and I have never been prepared for such a circumstance. I hope one day I can prove my worth to her one day.

The so-called Caliban was just a girl – a dirty and scared girl, not unlike an orphan in her eyes. She was not quite human, though not quite a monster either. I felt no fear of this poor child, and in fact, I wished to wrap my arms around her just as the Dawn resolves the deepest of nights.

But there was no time for comfort – while Christoph was unconscious, Elaana and Reynard wanted the girl to be protected. I knew I would have to stay behind with Christoph, otherwise he might take out his wrath on my children while Father Lorne was visiting Krezk to say his goodbyes to a dying friend.

I do not take fondly to outright lies, though I know that telling the truth directly can lead to more pain. Some may consider this hypocrisy, but I am not a perfect man, and I cling to what honor I can manage. I advised strongly that Elaana and Reynard leave the town and head either to the quarry north of town, the western city of Krezk, or perhaps down towards Vokor. I purposefully did not wait to hear their conclusion, as I did not want to know where they might take the girl so that I could deny knowledge – truthfully – of their destination in the Morning.

Index: Feb-6-08

Charsens Journal Day 3

Sins of the Father Charsen