There's a fine line between man and monster. Brutus, the Warden of Axiom Prison... he crossed that line long ago. A big lad, and as you know from Hillock, big lads are slow. Hit and run, that's the way to cut them down to size. Unless there's thaumaturgy involved. Then forget the 'hitting' bit. Just run.
The Eternal Empire has some right nasty leftovers. Whether it's something in the air or in the water, no one stays dead in Wraeclast... not the first time. Can take a little while, but sooner or later corpses wake up and go looking for breakfast.
Nessa's the one keeps the rest of us from losing our minds. To be honest, when she first arrived, I didn't think she'd survive more than a day, two at most. She's been proving me wrong every dawn since.
Heard a bard once sing that "the fairest flowers bloom in the foulest places". He was bloody well right.
The Submerged Passage doesn't look like it's always been underwater, and I'd wager it has something to do with those empty sockets in the cliff face. Whatever filled them... are long lost now. Though if they were shiny, who knows, maybe they're decorating some rhoa nests?
I've spent enough time smuggling from coast to coast to know that those shells don't come from these waters. They're Karui, and look about right to fit into that rock wall in the Mud Flats. I say complete the set, fit them into the sockets, and stand well back.
You managed to kill a Grandaddy Crab? A pity you couldn't lug it up out of the caves for us. Could have made quite the chowder out of it. No matter. We've got one less reason to fear the dark and I've got one more thing to thank you for.
I've travelled inland, on the Emperor's Road via the Prisoner's Gate. Had to skirt around Axiom Prison... that's the holdfast of Brutus, the Warden. Bloody treacherous trip, it was.
Worth it? There's forest inland. Game, berries, fruit... more food than we can scrounge here.
But most here wouldn't survive the journey. Would be a damn sight easier if we could pass through the Prison. Tell you what... you carve us a path up the coast, find us a way past or through Brutus, and you'll have more than a few lives owing to you.
There's many a way to die in Wraeclast. Most of them are mercifully quick. But you get caught alive by the goatmen, you'll wish by any god you believe in that you hadn't.
I've heard some of the more superstitious exiles say there's a deity these goatmen worship. Abberath, Eater of Agony. Sounds like a right bastard, if you ask me. So if the goatmen hand you an invitation to go have dinner with their god, tell them where to stick it.
That medicine chest you found, it'll do more than you might think. The medicine will run out, it always does. But Nessa won't. Give that girl a sliver of hope and she'll carry it to the end of the world.
First we hear that Oriath has lost its bloody mind, and then you turn up. Doesn't take a scholar to work out how those two events might be connected.
I don't know what's going on out there, and I probably wouldn't understand it even if I saw it with my own two eyes. What I do know is this. The world we knew... it's gone. Now we have to do our damndest to make sure we don't go with it.
Nessa... I saw her one night, running out across the Coast, headed in the direction of the Mud Flats. Called out to her... but she didn't even turn her head. Maybe she couldn't hear me, maybe she didn't want to, I don't bloody know. I tried to run after her but she'd vanished into the darkness before my feet had barely touched the sand.
So I tracked her, all the way to the Mud Flats, and that's when her tracks... they just stopped. No sign of meeting someone or something, no sign of a struggle. It's like one moment she was running and the next... gone.
Look, I've heard some things, about what you've done. Things that beggar belief. Now, you can do this. Please, find Nessa. Bring her back to us.
I'd hoped for a chance to see Nessa again, dreamed it like some poor bloody child believing in fairytales.
No, she's not one of us anymore, but at least she's not like Merveil either. Can't overlook a mercy like that. Who knows, perhaps Nessa is better off this way. Not like this is much of a home to come back to, anyway.
Look, I know you did what you could, and for that, you'll always have my thanks.
I wonder how much Lilly squeezed out of those refugees from Oriath. Yes, she did risk her life and ship to save them, but I knew the Lilly of old. A damn fine smuggler, and that Lilly never committed a good deed without a good profit.
I had a life before Lioneye's Watch. Not much of one by some people's standards, but it was good enough for me.
Lilly and I, we'd smuggle a bit of booze to keep our purses full. We were good at it too. Made us a fine partnership, her quick mind and my steady nerves, right up until the day she left me drunk and trussed on Penance Quay. By the time the Blackguards unwrapped their present, she was halfway to Trarthus.
That's how I ended up here. Yes, it smarts a bit to look at her, but what right have I to say where the flotsam finally washes up?
The Fetid Pool's lost its stink. Washed clean, like the Autumn rain that gives Theopolis its only decent bath for the year.
And turns out, when you scrub away the fetid filth, there's a Karui fortress underneath. Probably built by King Kaom himself. Now home to... I don't even know what. Needless to say, I didn't get too close, but looks like it's big, Karui, and right royally pissed off about something.
You've killed the Karui war god? Can you kill a god?
Look, I can't even begin to understand what you've just done. Bestel will be able to put our gratitude into words more fitting of a legend. Me, I'll work with what I know. A solid reward for a damn fine deed.
That Karui relic you're carrying... looks bloody familiar. Yeah, I've seen it's twin stuck in that totem guarding Tukohama's doorstep. If I were you... and in this case I'm glad I'm not... I'd see about putting that eye back where it belongs. It might do nothing at all, but it's at least worth a shot, I reckon.
Axiom Prison has been fairly quiet since you saw fit to retire its warden. Afraid that's no longer the case.
Shavronne of Umbra, the very witch that made Brutus the man he was. I don't know if she's a ghost, a ghoul or some other death-scorning creature I've never heard of, but she's up there, tinkering away with her black arts and twisting nature around her bony old fingers.
Honestly, I don't care why she's come back or what cruelty she's brewing up there. She's a boil that needs lancing before the infection spreads.
With the road to the Phrecian Forest clear again, I trekked through to the forests beyond, to see if the strangeness we're seeing on the coast is also happening inland. What I saw nearly froze my heart solid.
The animals there, poor wretches... overtaken by some sort of parasite. As close as I can reckon they're like termites, burrowing into flesh and mind instead of wood. If I'm right, there'll be a nest somewhere, and a queen. If you can find it, destroy it. Those parasites aren't something we want to see around here any time soon.
Never took much stock in the stories Lilly told. Didn't sit right, those full moon sacrifices her and her ilk would do out on the open water. But now, in light of everything, I'm obliged to reconsider.
If it meant Nessa might be spared the attentions of that wretched Brine King, I'd even be inclined to slit a mutineering throat or two myself.
Those shambling 'nobles' out there on the strand? They left Oriath to die a bloody death. Rats fleeing a sinking ship. Seems they learned a bit of a hard truth though. Doesn't matter how much money you have, you can't outrun death when it comes for you.
Can't say they've actually noticed though. They're still the same flesh-eating bastards they've always been. Just a bit more obvious about it now.
Seems Tukohama's raised up a host out of whatever afterlife you Karui believe in. I feel for those poor bastards, if I'm to be honest. You Karui haven't had an easy history. Colonised, enslaved, used as pawns in many a war, and now abused in death by your own bloody god.
This is why I don't follow any deity. They're all as bad as each other.
Seems Tukohama's raised up a host out of whatever afterlife the Karui believe in. I feel for those poor bastards, if I'm to be honest. The Karui haven't had an easy history. Colonised, enslaved, used as pawns in many a war, and now abused in death by their own bloody god.
This is why I don't follow any deity. They're all as bad as each other.