The Fifth Path (27/30)

The First Draft of the Autobiography of Baal Uras, Soon to be Savior of the True Land

Running Title: Points in Time: The Conflux of a Thousand Years

Composed Abu 15th In the 1st Year of Baal Makru

Never in my wildest imaginings, gentle reader, had I though that the culmination of my journey would be as climactic as it turned out to be. I had thought to discover a new land, to see that which had not been seen before, to be awed by strange cultures and customs, and to strike an accord with those much different from myself. I imagined learning that which was new and unknown, not some ancient secret long lost to the people of the true land. I considered myself a pioneer perhaps, a king destined to be far seeing and respectful of the lands around us, but not some special individual, not a king with a destiny much greater than average. I never imagined myself a savior. And yet, as time passed and events conspired on the final island, my fate began to seem more and more akin to legend. The world around me seemed to focus in on me and my situation and the map of my journey seemed an arrow, each step preparing me for that which I was to do here on the island past the edge of the world.

I shall not ruin for you now, gentle reader, the surprise, for the figuring out and the realization of what was truly at stake on this island was something worth experiencing, and so I shall take you on that same journey of discovery, not skipping a step or a way, but leading you along just as I walked. In so doing, you will see the world as I saw it, and feel, perhaps, some small part of what I felt as my world was turned upside down and my understanding of all that surrounded me and my place in it was focused to a sharp point. This path shall be a gnarled one, but the view will be well worth the exercise required to follow it. So join me now, gentle readers, as I take you from the point I last left off, when I finally managed to convince my lovely admiral to allow me onto the island and I spent my first few day exploring the port town of the island past the edge of the world. From here we will move as I did, and the grand story shall be uncovered.

So our tale shall resume in the stables of the military barracks of the port town on the island past the edge of the world, a place which I had finally been able to name, the Island Udisur, a word that sounded much like a combination of words in the tongue of the true land. I assumed it was an amusing coincidence at first, but I would come to see soon that it was much more than that. I had slept in the stables, a place warm and dry, and honestly rather comfortable, despite the obvious attempt at flirtatious harassment my dear admiral had intended by getting me a place to sleep there. I was lucky indeed that I had no weakness to the long cuts of grass used to feed the horses of Udisur, for I knew some for whom such a bed would have been a living hell. Instead, I woke refreshed, prepared for a new day upon the island of miracles and wonders which I had barely begun to understand in that day before. The power of the God Towers was still incredible to me, that the divine would interact so directly with the world of humans. It was proof indeed that as the dream reached its furthest point, the border between fantasy and reality became less and less harsh. I knew not just how correct that thought was.

The day started out peaceful enough. I was able to get food from one of those assigned to work in the very stables in which I had slept, sharing an early morning meal, feeling togetherness through the connection of food and a mutual loathing of the sunlight slowly coming over the horizon. Perhaps I need not have woken so early, been able to sleep in and thus not so loathe the light, but I was excited to begin my day, and the prospect of spending any more time on the relative waste of sleep was something I could not allow. And so me and the stable hand met the rising sun, finishing our meal just as its full face crested the horizon. Belly full, I headed out into the town, interested in exploring a bit on my own before the admiral woke up. Her tour the previous day had been most enjoyable and I expected to spend most of this next day in a similar fashion, but the idea of getting a short period of time of self direction had a strong draw, which I gave in to.

I waved at the on duty guards, who motioned back, bleary with sleep and the coming of morning, who, if they had been more awake, might have stopped me, or at least asked questions. Then I walked. I heard strange chanting, and saw many people moving together towards a short, but wide building with marks I had seen many times the previous day, but not understood. Figuring the best place to start learning was from concentrations of people, I moved toward the group, then followed after them into the building. A woman at the door looked like she considered stopping me, but I gave her a confident smile, which was apparently enough. And so I entered into the building, amidst a large group of locals, all in somber attire and with serious expressions. Inside it was easy to see that this was some kind of temple, something I had guessed but it was distinctive in a number of ways. For one thing, the deity apparently worshiped was different than any others I had encountered on my travels. Seeming to be a woman with five heads, it was depicted in numerous situations, acting as a fighter and a protector, a sleeping man being defended often in much of the art within the temple. The second distinctive element was the coloration and style of the pictures within the temple. Each portrait seemed to have a color theme, but they were too, distinctive, colorful, and emotive. One could see strong emotions in each piece, the goal of the five headed woman clearly visible on its many heads, with mixed faces being found on painting in which the emotional response of the group was particularly susceptible to interpretation, or several distinct interpretations of emotion were very much both there.

The third noticeable thing was something that shocked me greatly. While there was often text upon the pictures, most of it was in the strange alphabet of Udisur. However, upon closer inspection of a few of the pictures I found something strange indeed. The runes of the true land were written under these pictures. The wording and phrasing was incredibly old, like something out of a direct reading from the ancient scriptures. Yet I could read it well enough, and the message was clear enough. The sleeping man was Anshur, the dreamer who gave form to all of the false lands. The five headed woman must then be some kind of guardian, for common was the depiction of the many headed woman defending the sleeping god of sky from a variety of beasts, who were perhaps possessed or mislead by the Monster. It seemed that this protector was greatly honored as a defender of the dreamer, and a defeater of monsters. I was of course too taken aback by the presence, not only of the presence of my language, a rare enough occurrence as it was, but also by the apparent usage of one of our prime religious figures within this place so far removed from the true land. How had this place, never visited by any member of the true people within recorded history, have the same deity as us, so far away? Then of course the answer came to me. It would have been instantaneous if I had not been so changed by the ways of the false world.

How might a civilization know of the dreamer, the spinner of all of the world outside of the true lands? How might they have encountered knowledge of the god who ruled over the sky, and slept out in the darkness of the false lands, dreaming worlds into existence around himself? The obvious answer, was that this place was either the place in which he had lain down to rest, or someplace close. Had I thought of own beliefs as true, as the stories of Bel and Anshur and the Monster as history, and not as legend then that would have been easy to see. Instead, I thought of them in much the same way that I thought about the religions of the other civilizations I encountered, as stories which could be spread and shared, but which came from man, and could originate only from them. I had not truly believed that somewhere out in the false world the still sleeping body of the god Anshur could be found, assuming instead, that it was more of a tale, or something outside the physical plane. But now, it seemed as though the stories of the priests might very well be true in the literal sense, instead of the way I had slowly been changing to think about them, as a good basis for life, but something entirely removed from the cause and effect of standard, every day, life. My faith, slowly weakened by my education, and by my travels had punched back in those swift moments, as I stared at the portraits of Anshur and his mysterious protector, lost in the wonder of it all.

I walked around the room, taking in each picture, trying to piece together the exact mythology of this place, the extension to the story that I knew as a denizen of the true land. For while we knew the tale of how Anshur was born, his adventures with Bel, their battle with the Monster, and his eventual departure from the realm of the real, that is where the story ends for us, when it comes to Anshur. We know he yet dreams, for the false lands remain, ever changing, yet eternal. But more than that, we know not. This place though seemed the opposite. They knew not, perhaps, the origin of the god Anshur, seemingly worshiping his protector more ardently than him. They knew the continuation of the tale, but not the beginning. I hoped to learn that part which I did not know, that segment of the story beyond the knowledge of the true land. And so I observed the pictures, read the text beside them, at least those parts in the true language, and listened to the congregation of townsfolk begin to worship, a process that was apparently just as filled with arguments as any political meeting. I did my best to understand the proceedings, discovering, too my surprise, that something of this foreign language too was similar to the language I spoke as a child. This place was a bent and fractured mirror of the true lands, a place thick in dreams and ideas.

After the service was over, I sought to speak with one of the congregation members, hoping to learn more about this religion, and about how it might compare and contrast with the stories of my own. To complete the legend was something I had never thought I might do. Strangely however, while I was able to get the attention of a few members after leaving the stocky sort of building, they all seemed reluctant to speak, looking this way and that, and giving me clear indications that while they might be happy to discuss such things in a private place, such things were not discussed out in the open where any might hear or mishear. And so I ambled back towards the barracks, considering if I might converse on the topic with my admiral, or if she would be angered by my self driven exploration. In the end my curiosity got the better of me, and I sought her out, wishing to learn more of this thing which seemed so incredible. That my final island, the goal of my journey would be the very location where the dreamer laid down his head seemed incredible beyond belief. Perhaps, my thinking went, I truly was blessed, given a destiny higher even than all the others who wear the crown of Baal.

When I finally found her, and told her of what I learned, she quickly took me aside, away from all the clerks and aides and lower ranking soldiers who surrounded her, bring us to a place where we could be alone. In hushed tones she explained that there were schisms within the island of Udisur’s religion. For centuries the faith which I had observed would have been considered the one true faith of the island, a depiction of what was valued and believed. The dreamer, Anshur, was not truly known, a sleeping being who’s sleep served either to sustain something or keep some terrible thing at bay. What was known, or at least believed by the vast majority of folks on the islands, was that some great calamity would fall if the dreamer would ever awake, and that the five headed woman, known to them as simply, the Lady, or the Protector, was the one responsible for preventing such a disaster. She had protected the sleeping god for centuries, preventing all things from reaching its place, and keeping him sleeping and content, and thus protecting the world from doom.

Such an indomitable spirit, a willingness to believe in, and act upon faith, and a general feeling of competence all combined together into a focus upon the Lady, relegating Anshur to something of a set piece roll, neither good nor bad, but a force of nature. And in his sleeping form, this might very well be true. Could one be truly described as good, if they help us not at all, but simply dream, thinking not of the world they inhabit, but merely describing it. The dreams of Anshur could be wonderful and good, but so could they be terrible. Had I not been met with a host of both sides of that coin on my journeys thus far? Without the context of the sleep, the reason why it had happened and what it meant, it was reasonable to think of the dreamer as something incomprehensible, and anyone who might protect him as someone more worthy of worship. I wished to learn more about the five headed woman, but of course, the comments of the admiral were such that there was only one reasonable response to such statements, a question about what had changed, what new beliefs had begun supplanting the faith of the youth all round the world. And so I asked, and so she answered.

It would seem that somehow, after a millenia of the peaceful sleep of Anshur, people got it into their heads that whatever he might be dreaming was not truly important, or that he was perhaps trapped in dreams, unable to actualize himself into this world. These heretics, for that is what they would have been considered for much of history, opposed the five headed woman, believing her not a Protector, but a Jailer. That it was her that kept the dreamer asleep, and it was because of her that the next section in history, the next pivotal time, would be a distorted illusion of a time, and not the true world that might be seen in an awakened world, a world in which the dreamer has woken from slumber. Thus it was, that each side opposed the other, each seeing each other as the ultimate foe. For those of a conventional bent, the heretics were yet another manifestation of the beasts which sought always to awaken the dreamer. For those heretics, the view was flipped, and the five headed woman was the ultimate evil, a creature which kept the world from changing, creating a decaying place for little to no reason, unable to be seen in the light of the awakened morning. For them, the earth and the sky were alive, which was technically true, places of beauty which ought to grow and progress as the times change. That the god of the earth seemed absent entirely, and that the god of the sky was asleep, unable to wake and change the world, created a fatalistic feel.

I was glad for the candid response, thanking the admiral sincerely. There was a moment of hesitation, where I decided whether to ask new questions, or seek further knowledge of the old, or perhaps to simply move on, leaving the questions of such things for a better time. Then, I asked the obvious question, a somewhat daring move at that point in our relationship. She hesitated, something uncommon for her, as she was almost always decisive and quick to decide. It seemed that she too was weighing both what to say, and what affect she wanted to have on our burgeoning relationship. And she too chose simplicity, a strengthening of the relationship through honest discussion. She told me that she was unsure, that while she was a member of the military, and the government, and as such sworn to the church of the five faced lady, in many ways, she had heard often and many, the arguments in favor of the other way of thought, and she felt hard pressed to dismiss it without cause. She was conflicted, not knowing who to believe, unwilling to accept other on faith alone, as each demanded. This was an answer which was true, and an answer that showed a certain level of vulnerability, which I had never before seen in the woman. I felt a great compassion for her in that time, and I did my best to exhibit the understanding and tolerance which I both felt, and knew that she was hoping to receive from me.

I was rewarded with a shy smile, again, something new and open, but before I had a chance to respond to perhaps take it further, there was a hard knock on the door of our secluded chamber, and moments later a soldier was reporting to the object of my affection, speaking rapidly in the language I could now understand small fragments of, interpret words I had not known to be cognates before. It was still incomprehensible in its entirety, as the crossover was low, and the speaking had been fast, but it was fun to listen and try to understand. What was less fun was the change that came over the admiral’s face as she listened to the rapid fire report. The soldier left once the report was finished, and Samunith Hailt spoke with me alone for a moment more. It seemed that the very things we had just been discussing had become significantly less academic. The heretic faction had begun a rebellion, burning the temples of the five faced goddess and killing all those followers which stood to oppose them. This behavior was spreading across the island, the heretical teachings having grown even stronger and further than any might have predicted. Her answer from before was now unacceptable. She was a soldier of the Isle of Udisur, and as such a defender of the five faced goddess. She would be fighting the heretics, and should I choose to follow her, she explained, so would I.

That she would invite me along was a strong sign of trust, and doing anything but agreeing would be throwing any shot at the relationship out the window, but I still stopped to consider. I had been guilty of not taking my religion seriously, and I would not commit the same sin again. I knew more of the story than those out here, and I should be able to determine the correct choice from what I knew. And so I considered, and, as you, gentle reader, might have seen straight away, it was indeed the side of the admiral which fit best with our own teachings. Thinking upon the story of Anshur, his love for the Princess of Flame, the tragic outcome of that love, the conflict with the Monster and with Bel, and the outcomes of all that, it was obvious that awakening Anshur before the proper and anointed day was doomed and foolish. His sleep was essential for the existence of all the world around it, and until the great shaper forged the dream bridge and carried the heart of the long dead princess to his resting place, any periods of awakening would be moments of horror and despair. I could not allow these heretics to succeed, and in so doing destroy all those things around us, and all the places I had been and visited. My journey had taken place in the world of dreams, and for it to have meaning, that dream must continue.

And so, after considering it carefully, I gave my admiral a nod, which was rewarded by a salute more filled with happiness than most smiles I had seen. Soon, I was assigned a place in the military structure, and was working to move out, assembling weapons and loading equipment on to carriages so that all could be moved to the front lines. Never had I been in a war before, though I had heard often of them, strange conflicts, largely between close islands. The feeling of being part of something larger, of being a small piece of a greater whole was infectious however, and despite the general lack of interesting features in my particular job that day, I found myself quite happy, when at last, later that day, we began to move out. I, by dint of my role as logistics coordinator, was allowed to ride in the middle with the commanding officers, including of course, my admiral, who was in charge of this whole section of the military, despite its currently land based maneuvering. It felt good as we marched along, or rather as I watched others march while I rode amidst a cart of spears and blades. Outside of my expectations for the island, but certainly an exciting twist. I would, in time, come to feel a bit bad about my initial enthusiasm, but it was perhaps inevitable. I think none could feel the movement of an army for the first time from within, and not be impressed.

We rested that night, set up in tents, slept well from a day spent in busy preparation and quick movement, then moved out again upon the first light. By noon the next day we had reached one front of the conflict, observing the smoke and hearing the loud noises of conflict as we got closer and closer. And then, but moments after having reached the scene, we joined the conflict. This was much akin, in many ways, to that first violent tussle with the bandits in the desert. I don’t know what I was doing, or what anyone around me was doing. The whole thing seemed a stream of still images and terrible fear. This was of course a thousand times worse, for it never ended. I would scramble for my life, stabbing and cutting, leaping and dodging, running and turning, looking around, helping others, being helped, a hundred little fights, a thousand attacks and counterattacks. Every moment was filled with the momentousness of danger and fear of death, but without any sort of conclusion, as every moment you lived, or killed, or were injured just led into another such conflict, no less deadly, bringing you no closer to any sort of resolution. I fought and wounded and was wounded in return. And in the end, the endless conflict ended, the battle stopped and things slowly calmed.

I could not seem to find any more to fight or kill. The conflicts became less, and I noticed the enemy was routed, running away into the forests. Some chased on, and I heard the fire of the pistols that were so common here, and still smelled the smoke of the many burning buildings around this place. But I was good and done. I had no desire to chase a fleeing foe into a forest I knew nothing about. So I got to work instead, searching the many bodies upon the ground for those that yet lived, and slowly helping them move, or carrying them to medical tents, which had been set up on the edge of the battlefield, even as the battle itself had happened. The thought of someone calmly putting up a tent that close to such a chaotic thing as this battle was not entirely comprehensible to me, but it gave me great respect for the healers within. For hours I moved the wounded, and when at last all those had been safely stowed in tents, I began to help moving the dead, bringing them together, laying them out to be identified before they were burned in a great funeral pyre. When that was finished, I pitched my own tent, and passed into sleep.

It was during the middle of the night that I was awoken from my sleep by the sound of something moving, opening a flap in my tent. I tensed up, fearing an assassin, or a random soldier from the enemy side, seeking to cause damage. It was the smell that stopped me from striking out as a shape moved through the darkness from the edge of my tent up to my sleeping bag. It was the smell of fresh apples, a scent which hung to the uniforms of the crew of my admiral, who always served apples with every meal, in order to prevent some special disease. I smelled that scent, and I realized then that this was no killer come to take my life, but instead the woman I had been courting slowly these last days. She slid in next to me, and we held each other. She was shaking a bit, and I could not understand why at first, knowing she had been in many battles before, but then, I realized that never before had her own people been the enemy. For me this had been a fight like any other, me against the evil foes trying to kill me. For the rest of the people in this conflict, their foes could be neighbors or family or friends. In winning this battle, she had caused the deaths of hundreds off her own people. I held her tight, and she held me tight, and we fell asleep like that, never letting go, seeking nothing more than to hold and be held.

When she snuck out in the morning, I wanted to hold her again, not let her go, but I understood that she could not be seen, could not have this sort of thing effect the moral of her people during a conflict such as this. So I stayed my arms, and feigned sleep. I kept up the illusion until I actually did return to sleep, only waking several hours later, with the loud sound of a trumpeter. I began the early morning process of taking down the tent, stowing my things, and reporting for orders and breakfast. And so began the cycle. The next days were much akin to this. There was the mundane parts of the day, when food was eaten, things were packed and carried and stored and catalogued, when we marched and set up tents and cooked and planned. Then, at some points, sometimes well planned, other times out of nowhere, we fought, and it was chaos and it was blood and it was death. And then, at night, I would get a chance to hold the woman I had come to love in the days or weeks since we had met one another. There was not much else to it than these things. There was occasional moments of exploration and deduction, when we looked at maps, trying to figure out where the rebels would strike next, or checked out a burned temple, trying to figure out something about there methods and members.

I saw some strange things during that time, and I am not sure now which of them were true, and which were the fabrications of a tired and frightened mind. Once, I thought I spotted my Scholar, dressed as a rebel, fighting and creeping around the other side of a battle. I tried to fight my way across the battlefield to see him, but when I arrived he was gone, and likely he had never been there at all. Another time, I thought I saw my Protector, cutting through the fight like an avenging angel, striking down friend and foe alike on some mission that I could not fathom. I have the memory, but I do not know when it was gained, as my memories of the battles are often jumbled and confused. I saw too my dead father on the battlefield, as well as several other people who had no business there, such as our many guides and captains that brought us this far, Bel himself, my brothers, and nightmarish creatures, like animals but fighting like men, tearing and ripping soldiers to pieces in tight formations and whirling dances of death. That time was chaos and I did not know what to believe. In the light of the slow times, when everything was normal, it seemed that none of those things could be real, that my mind was fabricating it all, but when I fought, and when I held tightly to my love, these things seemed more real, more possible. A world in which my destiny had brought everything to this point, where all the players had returned again for the finale seemed more real then.

Such thoughts, of my own importance and roll to play, were infrequent at first, despite the sheer implausibility of having reached this island, let alone days before this conflict erupted. But as the battles moved closer to the center of the island, and I began hearing tales of a great temple, the place where Anshur truly rested, and the possibility that we might literally defend his sleeping body from these heretics, the whole situation seemed too perfect to have come born from chance. That I might be at the right hand of the leader charged with its defense, that I might be one born with special knowledge of the secrets of Anshur and the scriptures about his return, that I might be here, on this island, in this scenario, defending a god from those who wished to wake him and end all the dreaming lands. I had come to love this place, this false land, and while some might say that it would be better if its temptations ceased, if Anshur awoke and forged a new true land beside or above the domain of Bel, the thought of all those that lived in dream dying for such a future could not be accepted. I would be fighting to protect each and every friend, foe, ally, annoyance, shopkeeper, traveler, and shipmate I had met on my journey. I would be fighting to protect the people of all the cultures I had made agreements with, fighting to protect the pirates who had enslaved me, fighting to protect the Green Sea, and fighting to protect my love.

We got closer to this great temple, and I started to hear about it in the strategy meetings, not just in the rumors of the troops. It was indeed a place, and it did apparently contain the body of a god. There was also some argument as to whether the five faced woman would be there to help us defend. Some believed she would be there to help, while others did not believe she would harm the citizens of Udisur, despite their dangerous intentions, that she was to protect the dreamer only from external forces, not from the mind and hands of men and women. That I might be fighting beside a pseudo god with five heads was something I had completely not considered at all, and the idea struck me as ridiculous, despite my attempts to really treat my religious beliefs as being factually accurate. Something seemed too fantastical about that scenario. And yet, as we got closer and closer to the great temple, things in general seemed to get more and more fantastical. The beasts I had been imagining on the battlefield began to appear more and more, and I started seeing them even outside the battlefield as well, limping away from the fight after it was finished, or eating the corpses of dead enemies. They had many shapes, but they all seemed off somehow, as though slightly to much like humans, and not enough like animals. They were also all the wrong side. Elephant beasts as small as a man, as well as rat beasts as large. I knew not what to think of these creatures, but after all I had seen in the campaign and on my travels I simply avoided making them angry, or even communicating with them much at all.

My admiral wanted to do the smart thing and win the fight before the enemy could make it to the great temple, or even just form a perimeter around it, and not let the heretics through. The one member of the military higher ranked than her had flanked around from the other side of the island as well however, and had a different plan. He wanted to have my admiral’s forces defend inside the great temple, drawing the enemy inside, before crushing them completely with a flank around from behind, striking them from both sides with nowhere to run. My love was angered by this, but she had no choice. Despite understanding it was dangerous, I was personally a fan of this plan because it would bring me into the situation I had been thinking about, an epic final confrontation to save the world I had come to love and the people within it. Still, as the heretics pushed in, us now not defending nearly as hard because of this new plan, the hugs became tighter and I could feel the worry and stress this plan was putting on her. I felt selfish for my own thoughts about the situation. Still, it would be happening the way I wanted it to, and there was no sense in fighting that. We retreated to the great temple. We planned our defense. I was not permitted to see the sleeping god. Instead I prepared the outermost defenses.

I had the dubious pleasure of working with some of the strange beasts that had been involved in the fighting. One of the soldiers claimed to be able to communicate with them with a little brass whistle, and they were able to direct the creatures this way and that. And so, not only was I directing soldiers into defensive positions, but so too was I directing animal creatures for the defense. It was not something I was really familiar with, but I supposed few really would be prepared for something like that. I did my best, which I think was pretty reasonable at that point. My love and I met secretly that day earlier than night, for we would be defending in different places that night. We had both been in constant threat of death for the last week of constant battles, but somehow this seemed even like a more precarious position. We kissed for the first time. They were much akin to the holding, something tender, but also rather desperate, wanting to feel each other and be connected in a sort of primal way. I was more determined than ever to survive this and make sure she did too.

There was one last notable event before the conflict. I had finished everything I could in terms of preparation. I had even reached into my bag of tricks and pulled out something of an inspiring speech, sadly not in there native tongue, but at least in one the troops all understood, or at least the human ones. But as I returned to my tent, preparing to record the events of the day and rest myself for the coming conflict, I suddenly realized I was not alone. The lighting was strange and I saw a shape, like a woman, but different. I saw a beautiful face, stunning in its perfection. Then I saw another, even more beautiful in a different way. Then another, and another, and another. I realized that the Lady, the Protector of the sky god was standing outside my tent. She looked me over with each of her five pairs of eyes, sizing me up, determining my worth. Then she spoke. It was five languages at once. Most I did not know, and the ones I did were hard to hear and seemed to be saying different things. I latched on to one of the languages, trying to block out all the others and at least understand the gist of one instead of only a fragment of all.

It was some rather simple stuff. Telling me to defend the dreaming god with my life. Telling me to strike hard and fast to kill the leaders of the enemy team, especially those who might be planning something or doing something sneaky. Explaining that brute force and quick action could trump crazy plans if executed well. I managed to get in a word edgewise before she vanished, asking who she was. The reply was just a name, Tia Matir. It was not a name I recognized, though something about it gave me a bad feeling, connecting to something half remembered in my brain. It kept going through my mind, something wrong about the name and the five faced woman in general. But I could not figure it out at the time, and so I had to let it go, let myself relax, write my notes, and then sleep. Even so it, nagged, and my sleep was not what it could have been. I had a lot to loose, and I was perhaps not at my best, but I was as ready as I was going to be. The next morning would be the climax of my adventure, the ultimate end to a journey that had been filled with crazy things. I was ready. At least I hoped.

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