Posts Tagged ‘Nabua’

The Fifth Path (29/30)

November 30, 2016

Nabua’s Journal(2) Entry for Adar 25th

The year almost finished. Only five more days before end of last month. Then only five days celebration before turning of year. Strange think less than one year ago left homeland. Seems like forever already. Was on mind recent after get news from campaign. Still fighting there. Anatu has most followers now but Bel hold on tight to own. Not let go and pull out all tricks to keep hold. Fight dirty. Fight painful. Fight long. Hard help with economics or outside influence. Years isolation make people not care. Early appeals dangerous because appeal Hishtu. Seeming well liked by other means less trusted. Reason had to avoid seeming to close Anatu. Has to maintain feel of purity for hardline homelanders. Can not be corrupted by foreigners. Instead simply gained truth and protecting own people. Very strange how minds of many work. Want help getting over hard things but only if help of certain kind. Help too different or help seem too much or not make sense then not trust. All make feel glad not have to deal with each day.

Been asked help with propaganda bit though. Anatu wants push returned goddess angle bit. Creating demonstration with fire and jumping and danger. Like circus that can see in capital but free and apparent origin divine. Not sure about using fake divinity to try counter lying divinity but fun job and for good cause so have been working last few days. Get chance to try knowledge from sages on chemical fire though. Different colors of flame based different ingredients. Certain colors easier but been focusing on few for show. Straight red fire important to make seem very hot. Purple flames add drama. Green flames represent Bel trying to trick people. Then white flame for Anatu. She act as overpowering force. Makes Bel flee. Makes light of Bel seem weak within comparison. Hope is actually provoke Bel. Still hiding other gods. Not reveal have ready to help. Want Bel to commit so can ambush. Need Bel anger though first. Have to mock. Have to tear confidence of worshipers away. Only jealous angry god leave earth to be in striking range.

Good to visit too because get to see Hadia. Some awkwardness first now that have fiancee. Relationship between had change to be no romance. Better now though. Was too young anyway. Nice able to speak with her. She feel like not able help team well. Know do lot for Anatu feelings. Moral very important. Explain best can. Talk about new things learned for me. Talk about new things learned for her. Representatives from Xexan came to help with part of revolution force for bit. Had been able to work well with. Lots of new things talk about. Even talking about landscape be very strange. Xexan people never know desert. Hadia never know mountains.

Xexan group originally group to just meet current leaders but managed intercept before talking current regime many months ago. Able return Xexan an explain change situation. Changing of regime well understood by Xexan though less often overt war between factions. More subtle for them most time. Still conflict be powerful in local place like capital. Just never spread more. Not like homeland conflict now. Least less violent than was for last island. No burning of cities or killing in forests so far. Mostly moving of people. Followers Bel go one place. Converted go different place. Movement between places represent changing attitude. Lots of converts early but stagnated now. Thus need propaganda piece. Would been better maybe for Uras here. Still not want help with though. Says ex-Baals not good to save or rule homeland now. Need remove old structure. Because part of old structure not able really make new. If too important then old structure stick round. Need new people for new system. Understand on principal but think going to hard. Helping with words and ways to speak be very important. Taught all life to convince and speak with people of homeland. If can use training to save people from Bel seems worth even if Bel gave authority to get training first place. Even seem amusing because flip flop for me. But now Uras still stay away.

So revolution continue. Going on though. Early days think only few short months but changed prediction fast. Now thinking years maybe. People minds change slow sometimes. See better world for those accept change then will change self though. Slow adoption much better for many people. Too stubborn to change in one argument or with one show of facts. Have to be lulled over. Have to see everything working over time. So just living good life in area controlled by Anatu does much for efforts. Discussion about folks from outside coming.

Two different thoughts. For many outsiders source of fear. Only contact through bad stories. Think of as not man or false man. Assumptions bad. Now know true land not more true than others and not only small amount of world outside dream then is good change feel about foreigners. But same time also want convert those on fence to side of Anatu. If see dramatic change with many foreigners might cause fear which slow change in other direction. So bringing in people want immigrate be hard. Want let help make homeland strong but fear lead to slow change in traditional thinking people. More important change mind to better place in total or more important make first steps away from false words Bel.

So far Anatu listen to those want be conservative. Immigrants not let do much so far. Need able to earn citizen. Like Hishtu long ago. But better integration. Hishtu second class citizen need stop and not replace by new bad race. Focus different for different places. At edges of border with Bel try show still seem conservative. Make seem like nicer happier better version of same. Further away border then focus on change minds. All lead into each other. Enjoy thinking about. Lots complexity new in last few months. Missed out cause wedding. Very fun but came strange time.

Crew of Mae ship plan event as secret. Not know getting married till day before. Mae not know till hours before. Very well planned. Not give chance to freak out. Know maybe thinking about ahead might been stressful. This way no stress. Just simple calculations. Want spend life with Mae? Yes. Want have nice day and make bonds together next day? Yes. Not have to weigh effort of wedding vs reward because all effort done already. Just want to or not which easy choice. Mae seem like happy as well. Last whole month been kind of vacation post marriage. Crew still around mostly but lots of mysteriously empty ship decks and suddenly empty rooms. Crew really love Mae. Glad able meet expectations for them for her. Would been bad if they think not good enough. Being official Xexan citizen help lot.

Plus many games Xiwan help status lot. Game helped so much. Think about where be without Xiwan then not know. Uras talks about destiny. Or talks now about thinking not destiny. But so many small things need go right for journey work. Whole travels decided by simple board game at least once. Other small things. Feel like only destiny let so many lucky things in row. Maybe just lucky. Guess lots extreme unlucky in many places too. Lots of unlikely events both good and bad. Life like epic songs and tales of adventure. But suppose looking at backwards. Unlikely lives happen. Just more likely such lives get recorded in stories. Not story that make things more likely be unlikely but unlikely things make more likely become story. Strange idea for fiction in some ways but powerful. Games and stories tell so much.

Self reflection only go so far though. Have to look at future and other events outside own life and lives of friends often. World shifted in recent months in different ways. Learned many in post wedding travels to many different islands. Seems cyclone that saved from Green Sea also tore up much of Green Sea. Many more paths through in recent times. In months since then trade across Green Sea been much improved. This affect many things. Bring world together. More knowledge of Xexan outside Green Sea area. Lots of culture trade between west and east.

Speaking of west. Agaan cults seem to be in flux. Consolidated control over large area of islands. Capturing and converting all in area. But now different factions in area make less like one group. Still dangerous around Agaan area. Convert or slave labor usually still choice for new people. Or more like convert and slave labor or do not convert and worse slave labor. One big fear is Agaan expanding towards homeland. With civil war island in position weakness. If Agaan think can defeat homeland while in split situation might try and do so. Could also serve unite Agaan again to have focus of efforts. Potential reverse too. Maybe Anatu draw many to side by being effective general in conflict. Seem like could work out well if attack happen. But think attack will happen likely. If not from Agaan side then something will attack it. Because disrupting trade routes now. When boats not able to stop without being converted and stolen then ships either need protectors or sudden navy. But many islands not have good navy. Ships need lots of wood. Many islands not have lot of wood. Homeland is full of it but not in situation to build big navy now. Maybe other culture near will try fight. Hard though because islands tend be independent. Because Agaan united at least for now it is stronger than any one other island. Need create coalition of nearby islands to oppose together.

Seems like idea of island coalition against Agaan not new idea. When visiting islands near Agaan have many complaints about expanding empire of Agaan and defenses of islands from such thing. When common discussion and complaint then in public mind and much easier to enact. Again wish Uras was not giving up on this kind of thing. He traveled wide and knows how to negotiate. Able to unite different island perhaps together. Because foreign from each island then not think has favorite. Would do self but not good with speaking or negotiating. Not have status to talk with kings and rulers. Uras thinks not have for self either but loss of status mostly in own head and not true for much of world. Even if not Baal any more he still one that negotiate with many islands and reached agreements.

Being kind of ambassador might be good job for Uras. Can help old land without having to live there again since determined to keep Baal bloodline away. Also likely not want to fight brother.

Main opponent of Anatu has been Usil brother eldest and Usil brother twin. Not want to lose power of Baal. Together with priest been doing much to counter slow conversion to new ways. Dangerous because of history of power for Baal and because training during youth. Baals have much skill in convincing population things.

So many different things going on. Exciting be back to help out with things after period of sort of being alone with Mae. Very lucky Mae likes travel and good at finding jobs in all places. Only able travel so far because Mae ship can take. Been more like merchant than pirate lately though. Only piracy been against Agaan ships few times. Easier to pirate Agaan ships many times because when fight starts half of crew switch sides. So many unwilling converts means that chance to fight can be dangerous. Wonder what process to convert is. Has to be very public if being forced. Wonder if private if not forced.

Many interesting things in world now. Excited to be able to change things bit. Though not like Uras or Anatu. Still making difference now. Glad travels continue even after end.

The Fifth Path (26/30)

November 28, 2016

Nabua’s Journal(2) Entry for Av 8th

Too much of a good thing. Be careful what you wish for. Phrases heard many times. Never really understood till now. Tried start mutiny in crew of ship was on to save orphans. Succeeded. Then accidentally started full scale revolution on island of orphanage. Crazy civil war. Things beyond bizarre. Stuff never seen before. Battle viscous and bloody. Little mercy. Lots of death. Fight between men and women but also beasts too. Not quite understand how or why started. Have short time to write before have to fight more. Will try to assemble thoughts. Want to figure out how all came to pass. Maybe saw companions on battlefield. Not sure. Do not know if on same side or not. All is chaotic. This island is mad. Start from beginning.

Crew prepares to sneak onto island. Will be raiding orphanage. Taking items from them. Unclear what exactly. Saw those around. Not good at faces but still saw many look sad. In time before when tension is going up and all thinking of crazy knife guy that killed so many then talk to some that looked most sad. Ask if want to risk everything to steal from kids. Tell think captain tricked us. Not what we signed up for. Raiding civilization and raiding orphanage different. Plus islanders scary. Throw knives too fast. Move too fast. Not want to hurt kids. Seem like maybe good guys. Fill hearts and minds with doubt. Never really talked someone to something before. Kinda makes feel bad even though think good outcome. Like tricking even if think maybe better choice them too. Glad not have to do most time. But works. Those talk to then talk to other. When captain say move out everything go dark. All in charge of light be on revolt side. In darkness attempt to take captain before any conflict with rest of crew. If him dead then maybe rest of crew see no reason fight can get out with no bloodshed. Captain quick react though. Assassin not able to kill only wound. Shouts that islanders attacking. Everything goes crazy. No one knows who is who. Try to get lights back but hard. Lights on ground. People not knowing who with and who against. Tight hold of ship become filled with grappling and stabbing and cutting. Screams in dark. Bits of light illuminate grisly scene. Try not to get stabbed. Almost succeed. Light stabbing all things considered. Want revolt side win but really just want to make escape and get onto island not as raider. Use confusion to sneak off. Only little bit of bleeding from stab in leg. Move with limp. Think of next move.

Decide go to orphanage. Drag self to door. Knock. Door cracked open. Worried looking person peeks out. Must have heard some of screaming from boat. Try several languages fast as can. Able to understand one. Explain raid coming on orphanage. Tell that some trying to stop raid but that might not able to. Say got stabbed defending orphanage. Say felt like could not let children hurt. Not actually lies. Still feel bad. More manipulation. Person sees stab wound. Hesitates but lets in.

Dark inside. Taken to room to lie down. Person leaves me for moment. Comes back with child who starts washing out wound and fixing me up. Person lights lamp in corner of room. Interesting light source. Seems to run on oil. Seen few like it on journey but rare. Never seen attached to wall before. Require lots of oil and lots of glass made in specific shape. Wonder if this room special or if every room has own light source. With light able to see kid. Pretty adorable even while cleaning blood from stab wound. Very young. Ask about languages to person that let in. Says most kids only know local language though some know one or two others. As get older try and teach second language to ones know island language only. Girl knows two though. Before orphan family spoke two languages. Language one know little bit. Thank child in language. Gives me nervous smile then finishes bandaging up and runs from room.

Talk with orphanage worker. Speak about defending from attacker if revolt not win. Says will go get locals help defend. Nod. Say will do best hold down position till return. Looks at leg and face with suspicion. Shakes head then goes out. Hobble around bit. Find candle and light with lamp. Look around. Do not try to climb stares so only see bottom floor. Each room has lamp. Very impressive. Kids must stay upstairs cause no beds or kids seen down here. Find few different doors out. Make sure to bar and lock all that can figure out how. Find kitchen. Eat little bit bread. Drink water from basin. Wait back in room where got treated. Hear sound of whispers from upstairs. Whispers sound same in every language. Must be kids talking about strange guy downstairs. Consider trying go up. Decide not good idea. Just scare kids and hurt leg. So wait instead. Short time passes. Hear kids creeping downstairs slowly. Step by step. Step by step. Make sure not stare at staircase. Let kids keep creeping. Think maybe got bravery come down but then interrupted.

Orphan watcher return with many men and women to help defend. Leader seem to be young man. Shakes hand. Asks many questions. Gets people organized and prepared. Listen and wait for attack. Hope not come because that mean people tricked not dead because trick. Feel bad if died because me. Hear running outside. Frantic knocks on door. Watcher panics but young guy says to answer. Has me able to see out door when opened. See faces out window. Captain and woman loyal to. Wonder what happened captain wife and kids. Probably OK. Shake head at young man. Man orders attack. Group bursts from hiding. Captures captain. Kill woman. Three injured on our side. Tie captain down but still treat wounds. Then lock in room for little boys with thick door. Have discussion with people. Seems like running from something. So must be revolt won. Feel good. Still probably lot dead. But better than all.

After time of no more encounter people calm down. Late at night so decide all stay together here. Young man leader ask about me. Start to tell story. Early on face gets strange expression. Interrupts to ask questions. Asks about Uras and Anatu. Asks about homeland and Bel. Asks about old legends and our quest. Asks about path taken here. Shakes head. Laughs strange laugh. Not funny laugh. More like too excited or horrified. Not understand. No part of story told so far when stopped be too exciting or scary. Leader wakes people up. Has me repeat parts of story again and again to different people. Talks in island language. Not follow well but able to understand kinda. Seem to be giving information then giving orders. Some very happy. Others very seem somber. Some argue loudly. Others listen in silence. Some very big facial changes. Very surprised. Others make not expression. All march out after finished listening. When finished turns back me. Tries explain.

Hard to follow explanation. Kid jumps around. Seems too excited. Talks about destiny. About freeing someone from someone else to complete my quest. Says be best with Uras but that I can do. Says time of living under burden is near end, Talks of end times of new world order. Speaks of magical things becoming real. Maybe crazy person. Eyes look crazy. Also determined. Many crazy people determined though. Was in on situation now though. Even if not understand had to follow through. Know very few people so have to rely on those around.

Go to sleep. Meet with orphans next morning. Get to know kids and play with. Also many not kids together at orphanage though. Wearing colored armband. See weapons gathered. Some recognize but some not. But enough to not be coincidence. Not hunting expedition. Not random drop off of weapons. Orphanage become hub for kind of revolution. Seemed to be following along with me lately. Did not try start this one. Seem to be cause though. Or something in story did. Only thing makes sense. Something in first few bits of story provoked revolution. Obviously mostly there already. Had to just be spark. Not know what was though. Try to ask but leader act coy. Says will see.

As night approach people gather. Many more than night before. Overrun inside orphanage. Have to meet outside. Leader gives speech in local language. Then tells me battle to finish my quest starts. Follow along with army. No idea if on right side or if good or bad but end up following anyways. Strange experience. Mood seemed jovial for bit. Then get very somber and quiet after few minutes. Then something spotted. Large building.

Fighting. Miss most of it because in back. But bloody and painful sounding. Break into building then kill people inside. Then light whole thing on fire. Became signature in next days. Burn lots of buildings. Cannot describe all different things after this. Many buildings. First just like murder. Break in then kill then burn. Then after first few there is fighting back. Guards for buildings. Then counterattacks on this group. Raids from others attacking people am with. Lots of death. Many use of thing like hand cannon but smaller. Faster to shoot. Very dangerous. Fights blur together. Look for patterns.

Notice much breaking and burning of certain statues. Pass by many buildings without burn but any time see statue of woman with five heads then burn down and break building. Ask about woman but refuse talk. Say name gives power to. Better to kill and not talk. Realize from things seen and stuff over days that revolution spread. Groups like this all over island. People who hate five headed woman fighting those that like. Still not know who is right. Know nothing about woman or people really. But dragged along and sometimes asked to speak. Always just to tell the story of the journey. Over time able to see parts of story that cause most reaction. Describing quest of Uras always get very strong shouting. Talking about Bel makes reaction. Rest of story result in some shouting and enjoy but two main things. Bel and quest cause reaction. Could be some strange cult of Bel that ended up here? Not really make sense. Do not follow any of Bel commands. Do not chant Bel name. Do hear chanting of some words. Not know if names or just words.

Battles get bigger. Getting close to cities. In chaos of battle think see someone that maybe Uras on far side of battle. Try to get close but battle too intense. Able to reach spot but long gone then. Later think see Anatu. Could be crazy though. Try not to get stabbed during fights. Mostly in back not fighting but still have to sometimes. Crazed fanatic tried to kill me and shouted something. Get told not to speak it when repeat so must be five headed woman name. Do not believe in power gained by speech or writing. And none can read in code journal. But whole situation is crazy. Not want to push luck so wait tell name till after conflict. Sounds familiar. All things feel like on edge of understanding. Camp on edge of city tonight.

See brightness up close. Still not understand. Glass things like lamps but no oil and too bright. No flame just light. Able to ask about. Every city has large thing in center. Like temple but filled with smoke and noise. From smoke temples come many long strings of metal. Strings cause pain and death if touched but cause magic too. Can make things glow or move. Smoke temples sound like engine almost but very big. Using engine for magic seems strange. Tomorrow get to see up close. Get to experiment maybe. Tomorrow attack city.

The Fifth Path (23/30)

November 24, 2016

Nabua’s Journal(2) Entry for Av 4th

Traveling without Uras and Anatu weird. Had not been without homelander for longer than day ever before. New people alright. Too serious. Did not know what goal of trip was when signed up. Just knew was going towards goal. Hope companions can also find way there. If I not die then they be fine. Least good swimmer. Apparently goal of trip is raid. Trying to steal valuables from island off edge of world. Very stealthy though. Island very powerful. Will win if we discovered. Not sure what I will do. Maybe stay on island after raid. Or maybe we get captured. Will have to see.

New books on new ship. Been reading when not talking to crew or captain. Lots of info about lands around here. Everything about goal island very mysterious though. Lots of crazy stories by sole survivors and stuff. No maps. Seems like fantasy many times. Keep open mind though. Be stupid not too this point. Wait noise on deck. Go check.

OK. Open mind good. All stories about island past edge of world. Assume metaphor. Apparently not. Saw edge of sea. Just stops. Water fall into darkness. But island visible still in distance. Seems to be floating in darkness. Some crew very scared. Others seem unconcerned. First timers and veterans. If veterans not scared then must be something not understand. Maybe trick to it. People say world is flat but not know about science. Namesake proved was sphere long ago. All educated people know. And yet edge is in front of us. Falling water. Blackness beyond. Accept new evidence. Take into account. Figure out implications. Too many. Does not fit understanding of world. Understanding of world wrong or evidence wrong? Read too many books and learned too much to dismiss understanding right away. Double check evidence. Go ask veteran about.

OK. Double checking good. Edge of world kind of illusion. Water does fall but into crack in ocean floor. Still sea on other side of crack but very shallow. Black rock of distant island under the water. Makes look like empty blackness. Only problem is crack, then will be back on sea, just shallow sea over black rock. Glad all knowledge not useless. Good to ensure things. Accepting what sees important but doubting what sees be valuable too. Still can believe theory of namesake. Easy to see how stories started though. And not be able to see truth if not try and sail boat right towards apparent drop off into nothing. Wonder who was fool enough to try and find secret truth first. Seemed damn stupid but added to human knowledge. Want to be that some day. But also not want die for dumb reason. Tricky. Suppose just have to trust instincts some times. Or trust knowledge even in face of apparent contradiction. Maybe first who tried believed in round earth. Refused to accept edge of world because understood math saying not thing. Would be good story. Good reason to pilot ship towards endless drop. Faith in mind and mind of others.

Discovered new game to play with crew members. Not as fun as Xiwan but still good. Two phases. One is placing people. Then moving people after placing. Saw other games as well. One with many stones moved around in different little holes. One with white and black stones on grid. One with pieces carved into different shapes like horses and towers. Many people play different games with something never seen before. Use paper to play games. Like a bunch of thick pieces with different symbols on them that are all stacked. Pick up different amounts of paper and look at symbols and make decisions. Never seen so many different games from one thing. Guess games all come from different places. Very few games from homeland though. Wonder why. Will bring lots of them back. Or maybe not. Should make sure at least Anatu and Uras know some games and can teach them. Homeland needs Xiwan. So many different ways to play. Different set ups make game very different each time. Drafting team is fun.

Strange thing about captain of new vessel is that brought family. Ship filled with people going to go raid and steal in dangerous place but brought wife and three kids. One maybe old enough but two very small. Like talking to kids. Think my accent funny. Showed them stab wounds. Like my stories. Good practice for language. Plus only people not serious. Everyone serious even when playing games. Heard laughter from not kids maybe three times since got on boat. Assume goal very dangerous probably. Which makes kids strange choice. Maybe fatalistic. If going to die at least die with family nearby. Seems morbid. Not responsible. Feel like keeping kids safe important. But maybe showing them the world more important. Guess never thought much about kids. Made vow not marry so never even thought about. Could have been nice with Mae. But likely never see again. Ocean big place. Plus maybe all die on this voyage. More noise. Lots of interruptions today.

Went over gap. Was bumpy. Scary to watch. Really interesting though. Only long boats can make it. If was shorter then could have fallen through and been crushed underwater. But ship can skate over crack in the sea. Now looks like sailing in darkness. Can barely see water even now. Very clear. Just black stone down below. Getting dark too. Can see far island easily. Very brightly lit towns. Maybe bonfires? Color seems off though. Boat is changing sails now. Putting up black ones so harder to see as we get closer. Covering all things that could reflect with black cloth. No one allowed on deck except if need to be there. Apparently is certain place on island trying to get to where can hide ship. Far from bright cities. Place with rocks. Kinda nervous about rocks now after last time. But on ship now not little boat. Can deal.

Got job in few hours. All on ship can communicate but not well. Can translate orders into language each crew member understand well so no miscommunication. Really lucky learned Xexan. Very important out here. Even though Xexan self very isolationist language is wide ranging. Not sure if Xexan people spread out or if larger population that happened to also live on Xexan. Maybe used to be more expansive but retreated back to isolationism. Hard to find history of civilizations outside of each island self. And then books only talk about what want you know. Never get negative stuff. Only propaganda. Have to rely on personal accounts to discover info about old cultures. Just pick up details not even trying to record. Stuff they take for granted and assume that is different then me. Use that to figure out what world was like. Like puzzle or game. Very fun. Hard to succeed though or even know if right unless confirmed later from other source. Lots of guessing. Lots of almost knowledge. Feelings that do not have enough going to make full thoughts. Slowly build into ideas over time.

Managed to get some more fighting training. Had started on boat with Mae but not had chance since. Should have done when on island alone with Anatu so long but never seemed right time or forgot. But other crew willing to show me some tricks. Lots of different things from different people. Just a tiny bit of whole styles from different places. Guess can hope at least one trick works in fight. Just need so many that no one has seen all. Not sustainable fighting style but might be best for me. Only need to fight when situation desperate. Not want to get stabbed again. Hope not freeze up again. Will have t-

Froze up again. So many interruptions. Least not get stabbed. Some kind of guard or something for island. On tiny little boat that we not spot. Climbed onto ship then murdered people. Killed five before any managed to scream. Ran out to see what going on. Saw guy that taught new board game stabbed. Could not move. Watched other person try and attack but get stabbed too. Attacker very fast. Threw knives crazy fast. Moved fast. Dodged fast. Apparently bringing kids was counter though. Captain came out onto deck with kids in front. Attacker hesitated. Captain shot with crossbow. Dead attacker. Lost maybe quarter of crew to one guy. Had surprise sure but still crazy. Wanted to look at corpse check out equipment but captain pushed body into ocean then ran over the little boat the guy had come in. Managed to collect one of knives though from body of friend. Very small. Strange shape of hilt. Not big enough for holding. Not sure how thrown. Realized later that too many had died from wounds that should not kill. Realized knife poisoned. Glad did not cut self. Would have been dumb way to die. Guess most ways to die are dumb. Still.

Going to continue with plan. No way for attacker to have told anyone. Less crew members means more dangerous but already committed. Captain made speech for survivors. Tried to imply quitting would mean men died in vain. Still want to go so no complaint but speech seemed in bad taste. Was not grand ambition for most. Just job. Turning deaths into symbol seems strange. Whatever. Captain kind of a creep anyways. Using kids as shield was smart but still seemed wrong. Apparently islanders do not like to kill kids. Definitely going to jump ship once we are there. Do not think on right side right now. Wonder if any would go with. Probably not. Like said just job for most. Quest for me but not for others. Maybe for captain too but not understand why. Bringing child shields and trying to manipulate people seem extreme just for some loot. Maybe has ulterior motives too. Have to watch out for him. Make sure not in danger. Glad writing in code. Not for first time is very useful.

Got to plan what to take with when leave boat. Only backpack to hold things. Got to keep journals of past Baals. Only thing left from our supply. Had in backpack when crashed. But maybe need other supplies too. And could steal some new books. Tough decisions. Least will not have to make third journal. Still hope can secure old journal again. No way though. So far away now. Wonder if pirate lady decoded it. Doubtful but Anatu thought could. Not important now. Maybe some money? Not useful on this island but later. Generic useful stuff like rope and camping things. Maybe too much weight. Can get that later. Cities seem common on island here so not need to camp hopefully. Knives. Gotta do the stabbing and not reverse. Hopefully no stabbing but experience tells different. Little food. Usually useful. Clothes? Not likely useful. Can get in cities. Books. Money. Weapons. Food. Everything need. Pack light so easy to carry and easy to sneak away. Books already heavy enough.

Getting close to land now. Passing by some rocks. Everything dark where we are. Came from angle with no city lights. Gotta go translate orders. Maybe can translate something wrong to help me get away.

Realized bad idea before did it. Too many people know too many languages. Would need to have planned exactly what to say and who would hear. Not worth danger. Just have to figure out on fly. Planning seems to never go well anyways for me and companions. So many random crazy things. But we made it here. Or least I made here. Hope all did. Will see in next few days.

Bag packed. Not plan made. Mind is ready. Game of Xiwan planned for last hour before operation starts. Finally learned who stealing from. Glad leaving behind. Not want to steal from orphanage. Not understand what stealing but was told who. Saw faces of others. Maybe mutiny instead of escape. Will try.

The Fifth Path (20/30)

November 21, 2016

Nabua’s Journal(2) Entry for Tammuz 5th

Uras came in clutch. Tried to figure out way to get Anatu out of situation but could not find way. But Uras did. Maybe should have seen it too. More of people thing though. Not my area. Will explain. Was fight. Very cool. Or at least others seemed think so. Just people swinging things at each other and dodging in armor. Lasted way too long. Seemed to be more dramatic than life should be. Lots of times one side seemed to win then other would pull out new trick. Taunts and insults and counter taunts. Afraid at first that would result in Anatu getting arrested to but then realized was Battle and could not be trumped by Leadership. Insults can not be prosecuted in a fight. Our girl won. No surprise. At least to me. Everyone else went crazy. Guess he was bigger and stronger and more used to fighting in plate. But our girl was defending her Baal and angry and faster. Was not worried about outcome. Uras talks. I explain things. Anatu fights. Never expect those things to fail. After done with fight and crown guy recovered we moved to wedding. All very dramatic. Lots of music.

Was ceremony that lasted long time. During ceremony Uras released. Rushed to place of marriage. Talked to me for bit. Near end of ceremony question about any problems. Uras steps up. Captures rooms attention. Specifically seems to be talking to one of other two rulers that not triple crown guy. Talks about whole situation. Talks about him winning then prince guy finding weird rule to try and stop. Then talked about finding way to deal with by fighting. Then prince guy finding way to try and counter by using other weird rule. We sorta able to counter that by accepting marriage and then Anatu managed to win fight but we still end up losing out because of weird rule. Talks about how we came as foreigners hoping to negotiate with the noble and just people of island. Talks about the five virtues. Talks about how obscure rules do not seem so much to be leadership or battle or love or sport or craft. Then pulls final straw. Explains that all of this seems to him a bit unsportsmanlike. Gives knowing look to ruler of sport. Evil grin. Backs up Uras. Everyone goes crazy.

Prince dude tries to argue way out. Tries to use obscure rule again. No one wants to hear it. Everyone decided lost both leadership and battle and now does not deserve love either. Crowd sets upon him tearing his clothes and taking his crown and kicking him out of town. Companions offered crowns but turn down saying have to keep traveling. Huge contest to determine three new open seats. We stay to watch beginning but decide we should probably go. Lots of people been using obscure rules for power and now we managed to make no respect for use. Probably lots of angry people want revenge. So skip town. Already had agreement before jail. Get on boat and get out of town. Anatu managed to keep plate mail wedding dress thing. Helmet kind of bent because at end of fight took off to bludgeon ex-prince guy into unconsciousness. Still incredibly useful. Dangerous to wear on boat though. Have to store for emergency.

Journey continued. Had four out of six needed signatures. Only month four out of twelve. On track to get to try and make real new journey. One more island culture that in other journals. Past that is unknown completely. No one from true lands ever gone further. According to popular belief we are close to edge of world. Dream starts to break down. Things stop making sense. Sky and sea and earth all mix together as the dream ends and the nothing of madness begins. Say even great monster fear to travel beyond the edge of known world. Very excited.

Ask girlfriend about place beyond next island. Says she knows not. Has not traveled much outside Green Sea. Most of experience in that world. Only been outside few times. This her forth trip outside of it. Guess not outside. Does not make full circle. But first time either north or west of it. Says crew content now but might not be soon if go too far. Might mutiny if things start get strange. Concerning. Not want leave captain behind. Like to travel with. But quest is beyond edge of world. Will have to make choice. Not easy. Been dream to pass edge though. Will have to treasure time now because may end soon. Think she knows too. Very nice time together last few days.

Trouble on sea after leaving Adroth. Clouds gather. Air feels weird. Almost soft. Wind not move very fast. Things turn dark before night because clouds blot out sun. Then things glow. Ship seems like on fire. Peoples hair stands on end. Glowing bits of fire and fast moving light. Freaks pirates out. Heard of before. Really cool to see. Lightning later. Strikes mast but does not hurt it really. Small fire. Easy to put out. Thunder. Everyone huddles together. Fear and wonder. Most can not sleep. Next day clouds clear bit but have rough winds. Everyone cranky because of last night fear and little sleep. I OK. Lots of yelling and arguments. Girlfriend says next island is last. Can not take crew further. Had to promise to return after next to placate crew. Nod. Next island is next day. Last night together on ship. It was nice.

Arrive on next island. Dropped off with all stuff. Baal wants to argue but not let him. Just shake head and understands. Instead thanks captain. Hugging all round. No tears but closest been since child. Goodbye Mae.

Had to turn attention to new island quickly. No time for reminiscing. Port town very small. Residents very tall. Skin seems grey. Short blonde or white hair. Dark eyes. Speak few words of trade language but do not seem to like talking. Able to convert some supplies to local currency. Learn about leader. Back to normal after all weird leader styles. Just one leader. Passes down by blood or sometimes by being overthrown. Only problem is no palace. No house. Island big and wide but few resources in each place. Leader travels with big convoy around island constantly. Many tribes nomads. Ones that nomads rely on nomads for trade for different things. Only two or three towns on island able to survive without support. Leader makes sure all villages surviving OK. Takes from prosperous towns and gives to ones that need extra help. Could be anywhere now. Usually visits port town five or so times each year. Been about month. So not close likely. If want agreement need to find. Good thing lots of time left.

Only first Baal ever been to island before. Went out alone. Crew and companions were sick. Stayed on boat. Met with leader and formed friendship. Felled some mighty beast together or something. First Baal did not bring journal with him to island. Only wrote afterwords about this place and only a little. Seemed to really appreciate it. Seemed a bit changed though. Journal had many less words after visiting this place. Before can set out big problem is all stuff. Without boat to leave with is very dangerous. Too much to take with us. No one to trust with this much valuables. Make mistake and tell Baal about first Baal. Makes executive decision after only few moments. Anatu and I stay with stuff and guard. Uras goes alone to meet leader. Anatu tries to argue. First time seen Baal disagree with her in long time. Departs little while later after getting small amount of supplies. Anatu angry. Does not talk to me. Maybe blame for telling story. Job to tell info. Can not blame for that.

Now had to figure out where to stay. No inn in town. Not big enough. Even getting food hard. Manage to find family can pay to cook for us. Able to find empty shed can rent to hold stuff and sleep. Can see people watching as we move stuff. Know we have to guard or will be gone in instant. Understand. Seems like too much. Especially after going into house of family that cook. Have almost nothing. Anatu and I can only leave shed one at time. Spend most of time sitting together in dark in shed or outside in light. Finally starts talking to me after few hours of this. Nothing to do but talk.

Tells me story of childhood. Very poor as child. More things than people here but think maybe status wise worse. Lots of brothers and sisters. Have to start working very young. Does not want to do girl jobs. Gets brothers to take her with them for their jobs. Has to learn to fight. Gets beat a lot when very small. Talented though and gets better of people later. Baal travels through town. Has female guard. Becomes idol of Anatu. Talks to her. Learns what need to do to become. Saves up money from jobs. Travels to capital to enroll in school. Learns fighting but also learns about life in city. Lies deception court things. Gets betrayed few times by others in same job. Focuses on being best at fighting. Focuses on loyalty. Manages to make it by just being best. Gets job in palace. More intrigue. Tries to stay out of. Glad to get a chance to leave city. Wanted to be in capital and escape life of poverty. Wanted to serve the Baals. Wanted to raise status. But not like the backstabbing of city. Wanted to do job and not more. Chance to do that out here. Makes sense.

Had not known came from very poor family. Assumed grew up in city. Try to tell my story. Hard for her to understand. Does not really believe Hishtu treated badly in homeland. Likes and trusts me now but think am exception. Has same beliefs that make hard for us in homeland. Want to explain but not really know how. Thought maybe having seen so much would give perspective. Must be different for her. Outlands and homeland different places and different rules for her maybe. Makes feel kinda depressed. So much change but still so much the same. If even her after being out here can not see problem what of others back home. Worth to go back? Or have to go back to try change? Remember hallucination about flames. Really stuck with me. Want to help share the light. Help others to see and grow. But out here or back home?

Night not restful. Keep hearing noises. People keep tapping on outside. Keep trying to look inside. Had to shout at someone who tried to climb on roof. Even when people not close still hard to sleep. Sometimes people throw rocks at building. Large birds land on roof and make noises. Rats and bugs crawl around inside building and make noises. Get very little sleep. Not feel good in morning. Anatu slept better somehow. Would have thought been more paranoid but seems was confident could deal with anything actually try and get in or take something.

Day much like day before. Lots of sitting around. Clouds gone today so very hot during day. People not go outside. Some people try and get us to let them inside to get out of heat. Have to turn them away. Children come to point at us and ask us for food. Do not have food except what get from family which not that much but kids not believe. Saw all stuff and think means have lots of food too. Sometimes kids fun to talk to but sometimes annoying. Manage to take nap during day to get rest not get at night. No idea when Uras returns. Anatu goes out to find us water. Says something about hunting. Wait. Write.

The Fifth Path (17/30)

November 18, 2016

Nabua’s consolidated note pages assembled into a new journal on Sivan 12th

Notes for Iyar 16th: Got captured. Pirates have engine too. Eric dead. All stuff stolen. Got off boat. Only me. No companions and no notebook and no possessions but citizenship papers. Pirates had agreement with Xexan to release citizens captured. Hard to convince really Xexan citizen even with papers. Tried to get journal but failed. Black captain lady wanted it. Sent out on small boat to be returned to Xexan. Port authority surprised to see me. Let back in. Can only leave Xexan one more time before have to follow normal leave procedures. Went to find old man. Took a day. Was playing Xiwan. Explained situation. Could not help much because pirates technically allies with Xexan. Agreement specifically mentions Han not being able interfere. Said reminding me things not interfering technically. Talked about story others learned about while I playing with king. About problem in capital years ago. Then mentioned rumors about pirate leader targeting Xexan. Could put two and two together. Thanked Han. Had to get small bit of money. Went to poetry recital. People paid for foreigner to recite poems. Just enough. Hired boat to take me where I need to go. Got to recruit a notorious pirate captain to take down pirates.

Notes for Iyar 21st: Managed to get captured by right sort of pirates. First step after that hardest. Convince actually have useful info. Need to talk to absolute leader. Manage to talk to captain of ship was captured by. Lots of talking about reason. Hard. Not good at changing minds. Need Uras for diplomacy. Especially hard in Xexan. Still not good. Do enough. Transferred to lead ship. Have appointment with head leader admiral man. Hope can do this.

Notes for Iyar 29th: Able to convince leader. Hated that was citizen of Xexan. But hated pirates with agreement with Xexan more. Funny how things go. Man famous for killing pirates becomes most dangerous pirate after kicked from job. Vows revenge on people of Xexan for removing him. Still hates pirates though and wants only his to attack Xexan. Hates Xexan making agreements with pirates even more. Think sign of weakness. Wants pure isolationist Xexan free from outside influence. But working with one outsider to kill many more OK. That can play Xiwan and speak Xexan little helps I think maybe. Maybe just makes mad but he willing to work. Info also very important to have. If not had seen maps and notes in boat with old pirates then have nothing to trade. But saw where they would be in several weeks. Able to set trap at slave market because know when arrive. Spent last week surveying slave market and making plans. Show plan and admiral agrees. Exchange for info get safe companions and all stuff of ours pirates had taken. Hope in time. Pirate leaders seemed creepy. Could hurt companions. Annoyed so long till plan enact. Still weeks away. Have to be patient. Work on fighting little maybe. Mostly work on Xexan and work on plan. Got to make sure is secret. Get everyone in to town slowly. Set up places to hide. Set up disguises. Plan very complex. Many moving parts. Will work if careful though. Will make work.

Notes for Sivan 1st: Still working on plan enactment. Got some of more trusted people in town early. Managed to sneak several cannons into town without arousing suspicion. Slowly getting them to needed position. Need to ensure that no hint of plan reaches target pirates. Good plan for several cannons. Will have cannon sale that day. Bring out in front of all. Make too expensive to buy and pretend not loaded and ready. Others in houses of people trusted. Have to move in dead of night when no one can see. Next week most crew members start arrive. Do not want waiting too long or get bored. Give them chance to enjoy selves for few days then be ready for day of action. While not overseeing plan been spending time with captain of other ship. In charge of first attack group. Willing to talk to me and teach Xexan. Fun to discuss plan in context of strategy for attacks. Not know much about fighting tactics. Together have made plan better. Wish better with people. Maybe romance indicators but maybe crazy. Would only last short time probably but is very pretty and smart. Not know what is normal between genders in Xexan society though. Do not want to offend. Could throw everything to chaos if in bad situation with important leader in attack. Need to ask others about subtly. Research good first step. Maybe bad idea. Did vow give up stuff like romance when became scholar. Long time ago. Far far away. Hope can determine soon though. Not knowing very distracting.

Notes for Sivan 10th: Ship arrives tomorrow. Attack is day after. After bit of slave market. Bought clothes and have money to try and buy companions before fight even starts. All grey even veil. Not want to be recognized by enemy pirates. Need to be very careful now. Greatest chance of enemy suspicious is during next two days. Everything set now. Just need execute. Everyone either hiding or impersonating someone with reason to be here. Moved people in slow. No suspicion from locals. Cannons on target. Put small boats in certain places to force enemy ship to dock in one spot. Romance signals real. First kiss in very long time. Nice romantic dinners while planning to murder pirates. Promised to show me her ship. Promised to teach her Hishtu. Wonder if have to hide from Baal. Romance forbidden for Scholar but many rules ignored in outlands. Not know what do if forbidden by Baal. Want to finish journey. Really like lady though. Good at Xiwan. Maybe have Anatu ask as hypothetical. If OK then tell. If not then not. Think Anatu not be jerk and tell if ask not to. Plus goodwill from saving lives means better shot. Got to save lives first though. Moot point if they dead. Could try to finish journal alone but seem pointless. Want to finish with companions. Day after tomorrow will be ready. No flaw in plan. Get damn journal back.

Notes for Sivan 12th: Didn’t get damn journal back. Got everything else back. No journal though. Black lady captain took it and got away. Trying to crack code. Do not believe can but Anatu disagrees. Seems to think lady captain can do anything. Hard to talk about though. Kept getting quiet when we tried. Lots of thin scars on body. Uras stopped me after tried to ask too many questions about enemy captains. Told me later it was bad to do. Some kind of mental wound. Read about before. Not really believe in. Thought maybe only for weak people. Anatu anything but that. Makes hard to figure how to chase them if asking about is off limits though. Tonight is chance to relax though. Introduce to admiral and worry about next thing tomorrow. Today very exciting.

Early part of day nice. Spend with Captain Mae. That is name of lady friend. Walk casually through town while inspecting troops. Pose as lovey dovey couple. Double layer deception. Citizens only see couple and not know about inspection. Pirates see inspection and think couple is disguise. Was idea of Mae. She had to be with attack crew so left her after inspection. Gathered money and put on all of grey outfit. Had avoided parts of town with lots of enemy pirates for inspection because face not covered but now could head to slave market. Inspected slave stock. Saw pirate captains. Hard not to call out when saw Uras. Not see Anatu which worried. Try to listen in to pirate conversations. Hear no suspicion from them. Make happy. Plan go well. Wait for slave market start. Try to buy Uras. Random lady very rich and counters though. Starts taking Uras away. Consider timing. Worried will miss attack. Was only needed for planning. Nothing go wrong if I not there. Go after Uras.

Rent horse. Chase after carriage. Tail it. Stops at inn after few hours. Stop too then watch to see what room Uras in. Move around to try and break in window and rescue. Jumps out and stabs me before can save him. Not stabbed too bad. Worried about time left before attack. Get him to follow and try to explain while we ride on horse. Horse not like two passengers. Goes slow because tired. Tell Uras basic gist. About pirate fighting pirates tonight. Do not tell name of admiral. Want to be surprise. Maybe forgot name from story in capital but think possibility of remembering make worth keeping secret. Probably should not be thinking about dramatic reveals when racing back to save life of good friend. Nothing better to do though. Just riding on horse.

We make back after attack starts but before over. Able to get into ship. Move through ship. Able to go safely cause attack already wiped most enemy pirates out. Run into lady friend but explained about maybe having to hide relationship to Uras. She still gives wink and blows kiss when Uras not looking. She goes back to leading attack on well defended part of ship. Uras and I search for Anatu. Run into her in hallway. Seems to be leading small army. Good to see again. Hugs all around. Does not look so good. Both lost tons of weight. Uras hands rough and calloused with lots of bruises. Anatu looks ok at first but when really look covered in scars and small wounds. Both act sort of weird. Maybe just been a month without talking to them. But being slave for month maybe cause mental problems. Or emotional. Glad did not have to deal with for longer than day or two. Maybe could argue whole life has been slave to Baal but different sort of slave. Nothing quite this physical in my life. Go to gather stuff after quick reunion. Find most stuff except journal. Want to go after journal but Anatu does not want to. Annoyed because want journal. Figure to late for me to matter though. Either they have escaped already or they have been killed or caught already. Instead we go to help finish off pirates. Able to spend some time with Mae. Do not actually kill any but see many killed. Anatu and Uras both kill some. Seem pretty emotional about it. Saw Uras keep cutting a pirate after dead. Mae killed a few as well but in detached way. Well not detached. Seemed to enjoy the fighting but was not invested in the killing itself. Not too many casualties on our side. Surprise and attacking a split force with numerical superiority had won day. Or at least boat part of day. Wanted to know how slave market attack had gone. More open ground. Less cannons. More confusion. After boat finished we went to slave market. First made plans to meet up with Mae and admiral later. Captains had led small group of pirates in effective defense then managed to break out of area and flee. Most pirates killed though and all slaves freed. Journal still gone though so annoyed but can count day as success. Led group back to inn had been staying at. Both turned to journals right away. Or wanted to. Had food brought up and that drew them out of writing for bit. Uras devoured food like had not had in years. Not as bad for Anatu but still general food destruction. Once food gone then both returned to writing. Decided good idea too. Since journal officially missing decided to consolidate notes into new journal. Hope will be able to combine with old journal soon. Lots of time writing in code for nothing if lost. Messenger comes while writing. Apparently time to go meet the admiral. Thought could wait till tomorrow but guess not. Write more later.

The Fifth Path (14/30)

November 15, 2016

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Iyar 13th

Finally figured out that Bel cursed riddle. Got enough info in port town to solve. Needed to know parables. Also needed to know local history. Been learning much of both. Will need to write book when get chance. Learned so much here. Would be terrible to lose gained knowledge. Guide is a hero. Or maybe a heroes. He is legendary. Literally. People tell legends about him. People do not believe he is real. He is also crazy old. More than one hundred. Feel less bad about losing always in Xiwan. Can say almost beat master a few times. Better than most. To list accomplishments would take too much paper. Even with proof belief can be hard. Old man ended two wars. He defeated armies. He discovered lost treasures. He traveled many islands on this side of Green Sea. He slew giant beast. He solved ancient riddles. He toppled governments. He was known as Han the Seeker for long time. Then Han the Slayer. Then Han the Great. Then Han the Terrible. Then just Han. Full name is Ri Xu Han. Need to talk of other things or run out of paper. Very cool guy. Really interesting story.

Walking back from capital faster then walking to. Still too much walking. Fun to meet some bandits and not get stabbed. Seemed like nice people overall. Guess its hard to tell. Would not have been nice if they had actually robbed us. One played Xiwan. Managed to go even. Bandit impressed. Tried to learn story of Han in bandit group. Seems bandit group originally soldiers. Did not get paid after short war. Had weapons and training so paid selves. Famine in land so food hard to find. Han helped out at first because was responsible for soldiers. Left when food problem got better but stayed as bandits. Led group to successful attacks on storage places for food for rich. Sounded accurate.

When got to town found Eric. Had managed to sell all of stuff few days before. Getting bored. Ready to move out again. Enjoyed story of travels. Had some money left at end. Decided to spend most of it because could not convert back. Spent final night in town. Eric went on ahead. Decided to start loading his boat with goods he had bought and preparing for journey. Had been able to get boat fixed with part of money made. Said final goodbye to Han. Had figured out riddle during day. Was able to say goodbye using name. Smiled. Will miss him.

Now come to interesting part of story. We try and leave port. Wave wands over us. Say we can not leave. Question why. Say we have negative money and can not take out of kingdom. Seems very strange. We had gotten little negative money since first day. Had been able to enter town. True we had spent much of money but had still much more positive then negative. Asked them to show us money. Wand pointed to Anatu. Says she is negative by very large amount. Decide to search her for coins. Has very few. Use wand to locate source of negative money. Stored deep within her bag. Large green coin. Anatu very surprised. Guards look scared. Confused. Both talk at once. Hold up hands. Listen to one at time. Anatu says got coin before arriving Xexan. Lady in first port town in Hashim island gave her. Been carrying since. Thought Xexan coins seemed familiar. Guards talk. Say coin is very old. Known as cursed coin. From early days of negative money. Very high denomination coins. Made taking things from people dangerous. Could lose whole fortune in moment if given wrong coin. Now only have small value negative coins. But cursed coins still have their own value. Situation precarious.

Negative value of coin more than what we can make up with current possessions unless sell everything. Most of remaining money spent or went to pay our guide for all help. Can not leave to get things on boat because can not go on dock with negative money. Eric can not come back to give us help either cause he only allowed once and is now not allowed back. Look at agreement signed with leaders. Provisions for reentry? Nothing till Xexan expedition goes to homeland. Try to figure solution.

Need to give coin to someone or get enough positive coin to cancel out. Have little to bargain with. Old man left last night. Said had business in near town. Know it was to play Xiwan. Think hard. Ask to see legal code on law of negative money and leaving kingdom. Very long. Hard to read. Do best. Others can do little with out language. Tried to explain coin came from out of land but not believe. Few ways to leave even if negative. Can be dead. Can be king. Can be hero of the phoenix. Look up last one. Some kind of legend with Huang. Brighten up. Maybe someone who sees them? No. Need much more than that. Whole big list of accomplishments to be hero of the phoenix. Maybe Han could do it but is not here. Turn to section on negative money.

Printed only in capital. Can be destroyed only together with equal amount positive money or under small list of exceptions. Making gift to kingdom of greater value. Saving life of king or general. Eaten by huge serpent creature. None seem useful. Ask about how long to earn money enough. Long time. Could maybe go to capital and ask council or king for help. Long time to travel and maybe pushing luck. King might not willing to release if has good to reason to keep. Think about just breaking through and fighting way out. Maybe possible but probably ruin deal with leaders. Explain situation to companions. Hard time seeing way out. Unlucky. Ask about only some leaving. Say that after Baal leaves, any remaining become illegal. So we can leave Baal behind but if leaves us then maybe stuck here forever. Consider. Ask about people who horde negative money taking it all cause no need to leave town. Laws that make very dangerous. Possible to be imprisoned or killed if debt too high for too long. Giving money to people about to die? Can not be buried without debt paid. Without burial soul can not go to heaven. No one would accept. Sometimes other way around. People take old people money so they can die in peace.

Look at rules for people leaving and entering kingdom. Very few exceptions. Citizens can leave and enter somewhat freely. Even then there are limits. Journeys applied for in advance. Transfer of funds limited. Minimum and maximum trip durations. Others face more severe restrictions. Ways to become citizens few. Could marry a local but still takes a year to become after wedding. Could earn in military but takes long time. Could pass citizen test of language and culture. Hmm. Maybe possible. Ask about. Say only get one try. Taken to building to take test. Angry looking old woman scowls at me. Start test. Starts with language. Very hard. Think get low points. History and culture next. Know much about some nothing about others. Not sure how well done. Culture practical exam. Game of Xiwan.

Face off against old lady. Plays like old man. Have to step up game. Think like him. Remember games against him. Remember response to different situations. She still better. Losing. See long shot. Rely on underestimation. Done nothing too smart yet. Has shot. Make moves toward different objective. Pretend to screw up pattern. Set up attack at real target through apparent errors. Watch ladies face change expressions. Not sure what initial is and not sure what final means. Take lead but unable to finish. Lady starts to take seriously. Begins move seen old man do. Think about how develops. Try to find flaw. Can not see. Know normal response fails. Try something completely different. See own shape in woman position. Start pattern old man used against me. Strikes fear into lady. Backs down from plan that would have killed me. Begins to play defensive. Set up old man plays all over board. No idea what to do with them after first few turns but scares woman again. Press advantage into enemy side. Do stuff that makes no sense. Lady overestimates. Fears because does not understand that with no meaning. Push for victory. Board is a mess. Nothing pretty about game. Makes me cringe.

With victory though comes enough points to pass exam. Barely. Become official citizen of Xexan. Immigration policy gives me three trips abroad to bring stuff back to Xexan. Use first to go get enough stuff from boat to buy coins to make positive. Use second to leave Xexan and continue journey with companions. Maybe even come back some day. Good to visit king and Han if still alive when return. Thanked by companions. Handshake by Baal. Against Bel for Baal to shake hands with Hishtu. Maybe being corrupted from Bel? Hug from Anatu. Also violates Bel rules. Journey changes people. Is Hishtu only one to remember commandments of Bel? Not even part of Bel religion. Strange. All companions becoming heretics and hedonists. Not mind. Wonder why though. Anatu even seems sad to switch back to homeland clothes. Speaking of clothes. Figured out how special thin cloth made. Created from stuff like spider webs but from worms. Very strange. Bought a lot of fabric to take with though. Very comfortable.

Once on boat talk about next destination. Take out maps I bought. Eric wants to go to near port to sell new goods acquired. Turn into lighter goods. Look for route around Green Sea. Do not want to go through again. Unlikely be saved by tornado again. Upper route looks promising. Take few months but brings us close to end goal of journey. Can continue with original plan after that skipping islands we missed on other side of Green Sea then returning home using original plan. Takes us close to several near ports to try and sell goods. With Xexan identification card will make trading easier near Xexan. Eric worried about pirates. Does not understand Xexan well but kept hearing word for pirates many times while selling. Go out to ask port authority about. Indeed many pirates in these times. New pirate leader unites them. Should be very careful. Also warns of sea serpents and whirlpools. Tell everyone might be attacked by pirates. Engine should be faster than pirates. Everyone still worried. Nothing for it now though. Not just going to stay here. Have to keep moving. Consider buying weapon but after talking to port authority think it not good idea. Hard to carry weapons out of country. Fear of selling to pirates or rival nations.

We go anyways. Hope for the best. Watch out for other ships. Try to speed past as much as can. Baal asks to teach Xiwan to him. Wants to beat Anatu. Seen both play. Baal plays better against me then her. Plays with no fear against me even though win always. Seems afraid to lose and has no aggression against her. Explain this to him. Facial expression changes. Wish knew what meant. Say can help some. Teach for while. Of course no space on boat so Anatu joins in too. Baal not tell her is training to beat her so soon she learning too. Eric drops by with few tips. Not know he played. Says will play game next day. Got to do a lot of work with boat for today. Engine not fixed completely. Have Anatu and Uras play against each other. Nag him not to be wimp. Does better. Still loses. Tell to keep trying. Want to start writing about Xexan culture. Do that all night.

Next day Eric says pirates following us. Slow chase. Could take all day. Something to do with wind. Engine not fixed yet. Everyone plans. Still time. Bored. Write.

The Fifth Path (11/30)

November 12, 2016

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Iyar 6th

Getting close to solving old man’s riddle. Reached capital few days ago. Been able to stud more when not whole day walking. Too much walking to get here. Liked riding camel better. Mountains hard to climb. Very steep. Pretty at the top though. Few different things happened while walking. Saw second Huang. This one gold. Very rare. Read about in journal of first wanderer. Not sure if should believe in luck of bird. Assuming yes seems dumb. Assuming no seems dumb too. Reserve judgment. Also ran into soldiers. Had to prove Baal child is Baal. Good thing have crown. Baal been sick for while and not act like Baal. Woman act more like it. Almost called her Baal Anatu. Glad she helping with decisions now. Less work for me. Has good judgment. Seems more confident. Her flame has grown. Not sure why. Maybe old man help her. Maybe stepping up while Baal child is sick. Good thing either way. Afraid would have to lead if Baal could not. Hate leading. Nothing interesting after soldiers. Walking down mountain. Never saw bandits. Too bad. Or not. Glad not get stabbed again. Think I am better from that finally. No visions in days.

City very large. Lots of red. Same devices to measure money. Funky hats. Funky hairstyles. Darker colored clothes. Longer sticks to eat food with. More red. So much bureaucracy. Have to go to many different buildings. Each building has own staff. Each staff has own paperwork. Carry one paper from one building over to other building. Then fill out new form in order to turn in first form. Then take third paper fill it out and take it over to another building. This place is mad. Old man tells me that heaven is like this too. Even if you are good person you can get bad reward if you fill out wrong form or there is problem with paperwork. Says to always be careful and double check all forms. Could not live here if this is common. Need to be careful not to die here either based on their heaven. Bel religion is simple. Only two gods and one monster. Hishtu even easier only two gods and no monster. Xexan has two hundred seventy eight main gods and goddesses. Then it has eight thousand or more sub gods. Then more than a million angels and demons working for the sub gods. Some people memorize all of them here. Guide says he knows the name of every one. Not sure if messing with me. I guess memorizing stuff is not so hard. Just a lot of work. If life after death affected by memorizing names guess I would do it.

After forms filled out we entered palace. Impressively large. Many rooms. Constructed in pretty way. Was told palace built in spiritual way. Each door and staircase has meaning in relation to one another. If had floor plan could read a story. Seems plausible. Many doors and staircases make no sense otherwise. Managed to sneak away and explore a bit while others talked to bureaucrats. Found two staircases in one room. Each leads to a hallway on the next floor which loops around to other staircase. That part of the floor connected to nothing but one room twice. Must be a self referential part of story or something. Tried to talk to servants in Xexan. Got laughed at. Thought I was getting better. Maybe not. Find out later servants have no tongues. Laughing because try to talk not because talking bad. Made me feel better. And worse cause tongues being cut out is creepy. Guess it works for politics but seems wrong. Wonder at servants level in class structure. High because working with palace or low because servants that can not talk? Ask old man but get nothing but riddles. Says it depends on who you are that class is not a strict line. Servant has power over guards. Guards have power over bureaucrats. Bureaucrats have power over servant. Maybe will make a chart. Tried a few times but not enough info yet.

Rejoin companions when finished with bureaucrats. Get to meet king. Is a kid. Does not laugh at my Xexan. Become friends. Get little time to talk. Meet with council of eight. Leaders till king grows up. Ask later how many kings live long enough to grow up. More than thought. Still kinda low. Mostly become puppet kings for one or two of council of eight. All eight dressed all in red. Must be color of kingdom or something. Can make cool looking stuff with different shades of red. One of council ladies has bow in her hair that was wrapped to look like Huang. One man has hat taller than head. Mostly old. Two are young. Try and watch faces. Have no idea whats going on with faces. Always been bad with them. Try and listen to Xexan hear if translation different then original. Kind of hard. Use more formal type of Xexan. Not been able to study that. Book has info from peasant Xexan only. Able to understand some. Council uses many allegories. Guide translates meaning and not story. Makes sense. Must search for book of allegories. Be very useful to understand Xexan.

Talk takes long time. Would be bored if not learning Xexan from it. Discussions of culture. Talks of trading between nations. Talks of shared vision for future. Council wants to send group to learn in homeland. Sounds like good idea. At home many would reject. Here Baal child considers though. If wants actual trade and not just piece of paper then is only good move. Not sure true land really wants trade though. Bel expects rejection of outside culture. Rulers make agreements when traveling for Awakening but mostly fluff. Little real trade of goods or culture. Main purpose for Baal to see the outworld and not like it. Cause to continue with isolationist policies. If one thing good about Uras then real interest in outlands is that. Actually trying to connect homeland and learn new things. Still Baal but not the worst one. Gives hope for homeland. Still deciding if return or stay in outlands. Long time to decide still. Many months left.

Talking ends at last. More talking next day. Invited to dinner with young council people. Are a couple. Try talking Xexan with them at dinner. Are patient and willing to talk. Learn lots. Young couple from common origins. Man is born son of merchant. Woman is born on streets. Fall in love. Man good at money and organizing. Woman good at plans and inventions. Together make tons of money. Own ten percent of whole cities property. Basically bought there way to council. About half of council rich from making money. Other half born into wealth. Divides council. Those born in think others not good enough to be on council. Those that made money think the inheritors are not smart enough to be on council. Real shift in recent years though. Until young couple joined council most number of working rich was two. Always inheritors much more powerful. Now even. Kind of. One of four working rich is both. Started with tons of money. Made even more. Tends to play both sides off the other. Is bird bow lady.

Food is wonderful. Many many types of chicken. Each with different sauce. All are wonderful. Also many new vegetables never had before. Some parts very spicy. Accidentally eat raw spice and almost spit it out. Nose feels much cleaner now. After dinner we walk back to room. Get attacked by assassin servant. Anatu takes her out. Learn about not tongue thing. Decide to hold assassin hostage. Glad did not get stabbed. Sleep.

Wake up. Talk to Anatu about meeting. Hoping she will set up but is busy. After setting time have time to explore more. Cautious around servants now. Always looking for hidden knives. Do not get stabbed. Find more weird stairs. Find room filled with maps. Read maps till time for meeting.

Meeting about finding sender of assassin. Many schemes. Need ally on council. Money makers more likely to want trade. Inheritors more likely to want to kill new things. Young couple knew location better for assassin though. Decide to try and form alliance with third money maker. Negotiations might take more than two days. Remind group of Eric waiting. Send runner with message for him. Tell him we will be later than expected. Hope he is alright. My job in plan is discover info about each of the council members. Try to find who might want us dead. Seems fun. Head out to start research.

Tricky to find people to ask. People in palace might be spies. People outside not always patient enough to talk to. Find bar. Barkeep knows everyone. Likes to talk. Even knows bit of Hashim. Learn much from him. Compile basic info. Have to always be general. Appearance means all my questions will be known to anyone who wants to know what I want to know. Gotta do some tricky info warfare stuff. Ask questions that make people think I want to know one thing while actually learning what I want to learn. Lots of fun. Spend day following leads. Meet up with companions at night.

Learn about another assassin. Again targeting Uras. This one got away. Not servant this time. Tell companion what learned. Focus on important people. Guy we want to befriend works as a debt printer. Makes the negative money for the land. Government pays for coins then gives out as taxes on citizens. Confused as how government buys things if it never collects money only gives out negative money. Answer kinda clever. Prints negative money and positive money at same time. Total money supply stays same. No inflation. Then gives out negative money to citizens and keeps positive money to use for stuff. Bureaucracy means that citizens have to collect their negative money at regular intervals or be unable to do basically anything. Everyone has a card that is updated and used for everything. Beautiful in terrible way. Maybe could handle bureaucracy if done in clever way.

Other important people on list. Tall hat man inherited control of clothing and jewelry making groups. Fears foreign clothes and jewelry will cost him money. Another inheritor is church leader. Church is reason why kingdom isolationist. Could hate us on principal. All others would make money from more trade. If motive from others it is not monetary. More plans. My job same but with focus on two with motive. Before sleep Anatu calls me into room. Assassin servant still there. Needs me to tell the servant some things. Takes some work but able to translate. Seems like Anatu and assassin are friends now. Weird. Sleep.

Next day lots of work. Find out early in day that all in palace have public records about money transactions with government to stop corruption. Spend all day in room filled with charts and numbers looking for patterns. Very obvious many servants being paid by many bureaucrats and council members. Funny that corruption so overt. Hard part is figuring out who is bribing who. Can see who is being bribed. Can even see who is doing bribing with a bit more work. Transactions have dates though. With enough data can figure it out. Spend all day. Make friends with bureaucrat in charge of the data. Impressed by how long I spend there. Helps me figure some stuff out. Knows a few tricks I do not. Have many connections between different people at end of day. Only problem is that I know no ones names except council of eight. I know names of who is paying who but I do not know who these people are. Take info to guide. He will figure out on next day. Sleep. Dream of numbers.

Wake up. Set meeting time. Explore a little. Find room filled with bugs. Creepy. Must ask about. Write.

The Fifth Path (8/30)

November 8, 2016

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Nisan 28th

Bad at being depressed. Still angry at Baal child but now too excited to care. Crossed Green Sea. Trapped in Green Sea. Storm saves us from Green Sea. Picked up by tornado. Thrown to random part of the world. Land next to mysterious island. Research suggests island is home of Xexan kingdom. Row boat around island. Land in Xexan kingdom. Xexan is real. Get to explore it. First time any from homeland arrive here since the first traveler. Journal of first explorers gives some words. Had to make way to write down in Hishtu. Sounds are not quite right. Hishtu does not have right sounds. Close enough.

First traveler allowed to explore port town only. Never allowed to leave to explore rest of island. We get to go to capital to meet with leader. Likely not allowed to explore much though. Will need guide to leave port town. Strange restrictions to enter kingdom of Xexan. No foreign money. Few foreign goods allowed. Must wear local clothes. Can only enter once. Have to check belongings. Have to convert to local currency before entering.

Ask about guides. Say that maybe someone speaks a foreign tongue. Hope we find someone. Using Himkalc is tiring. Too many errors. Will try to learn Xexan. Seems hard though. Uses strange sounds and cares about parts of sounds we do not. Example. Neru means a shirt if the end of the word goes up in sound. Different meaning if it goes down. Means type of bird then. Can not write difference down in Hishtu. Journal of first traveler will help though. Guide who can translate will help more. Hope I can learn enough to add to knowledge.

Have to decide what to bring along on journey. Seems unwise to bring more than can carry. Sturdy backpack and a few books. Should be sufficient. Make sure we have enough cash. Setup seems dangerous if we run out. Might not be able to leave. Maybe our boat stolen if we fail to return quickly. New clothes are nice. Made from some fabric that is very soft. Incredibly thin. Feels impossible. Will need to ask about how its made. Nice that men can wear bright colors here. Many cultures seem to restrict to women.

People look kinda like homelanders. Black hair instead of brown. Paler skin. Clothing more colorful. Clothing shows more skin. More so for women then men. Interesting hats. Long strips of cloth seem to be popular style. Tied in very extreme ways sometimes. Can almost give people tails or bows. Woman sometimes use them in seductive way.

Seems there is trouble for Eric. Wants to sell goods. Port authority not have enough money to buy. Can not leave on boat and get buyers because boat is outside of country. Lots of frustration. Try to find a good solution. Difficult with language barrier. Lots of arguing. Misunderstandings are many. Solution is difficult. Eric converts some of goods into local currency. Uses currency to buy large cart from member of port authority. Will take goods from ship into country on cart and sell there. Slow process. All goods have to be checked for illegal smuggling. Will need to stay in town to sell goods. Will have to leave Eric behind. Our goods are checked. We leave. Promise to meet up with Eric in ten days.

After leaving port we must enter gate to country. Have paper to explain purpose of visit written in Xexan. Officials seem suspicious but allow it. Use strange device. Device gives officials numbers which they write down. Ask about it in very broken Xexan. Only reply I understand is money. Something to do with money. Numbers written down are close to total money when added together. Off by a bit though. Very curious how device works. Try and ask but do not understand explanation at all. Maybe word for push and pull. Something to do with rocks and metal. Much to learn. After short talk that means nothing to us we go in. Have to put ink fingerprint on paper.

Town is incredible. Smells great. Lots of food available on the street. Even food is colorful. Everyone hungry so we stop to eat before going on. Try some meat and some colorful balls. Meat has a sweet flavor. Never had sweet meat before. Very good. Balls are made from beans. Stick in mouth. Xexan people eat using sticks held in complicated way. Try. Fail. Will have to learn. Anatu looks like she did not like her food. Baal child seems as happy as can be. We finish and pay. Seem to get way too much change. Many coins look different then ones we got at the port. Green colored instead of bronze. Even found some of the coins in between my bean balls. Very strange. Will need to have guide explain money to us.

Needed to find guide. Hope we will attract someone who speaks our language. Searching will be hard with no language skills. Decide to explore town in hopes of getting approached. Many things to see. Counting devices. Bright vibrant cloth. Musicians playing in houses. Paper lanterns. Small statues of people wearing lots of clothes. Statues of snakes with legs. Many soldiers with very long spears. Many men and women with long scrolls of paper looking over things and marking them down. Whole town almost felt like a festival. One time thought we were attacked. Loud banging noise. Thought of cannons Eric talked about. Heard again and ducked for cover. Many children laugh. Look out at source of noise. Small tubes. Lit with fire then explode. Go get others. Bodygaurd lady doing job very literally. Had Baal child on ground. Covered his body with hers. Explained about tubes. Woman suspicious. Baal child curious. Kids happy to show off. Use book and manage to buy some to take with us. Kids refuse to take green coins. Seemed frightened of it. Really need guide. Decide to ask kids.

Long conversation. Kids very patient. Manage to explain after much miming and storytelling. Kids huddle together talking. Eventually one goes out. Short time later kid comes back. All kids move into a formation making two straight lines. Old man with long white beard shuffles around corner. Kids shout different things. Do not understand. One of the words is old. Another is powerful. Elderly man reaches us. Takes off hat. Begins speaking slowly in Xexan. Try to translate. Respond. Man smiles. Breaks into perfect Hashim. Then switches to Hishtu. Even speaks a few sentences of the speech of Bel. All of us shocked.

Uras recovers first. Greets the elderly man. Watch and listen to conversation. Realize old man is messing with Uras. Step in after a bit. Too funny to do at first. Man laughs. Turns serious for a bit before messing with us again. Might be a little crazy. Between bits of riddles and jokes we slowly start to come to an agreement. Man willing to guide us to capital. Discussion of price. We make offers and man laughs. Make offer involving green coins. Man grins. Starts offering to pay us with green coins for honor of guiding us. Think I understand. Seems crazy. Why coins not get thrown away?

Able to stop Baal child from agreeing. Explain concept to companions. Think me mad. Old man laughs and backs me up. Green coins are like debt. When you have them then you have less money. Good thing we made few purchases. Shop gave us extra debt as change. Tried to sneak extra debt into food. Somehow rule must be that can only give green coins to other people. Not able to throw away for some reason. Old man smiles at explanation. Formidable man. Seems clever and very tricky. Going to be a very different guide then Hadia. Long while later after other companions annoyed enough to leave without a guide we reach agreement. Old man is expensive but will be worth it. Based on conversation man seems to be friendly now that we have agreement. Having him on our side will be very useful.

Becomes very formal and efficient with companions after agreement struck. Think it is a kind of joke. Between me and him. Helpful for companion though. Think woman might have killed him if he had kept messing with her and the Baal child. Listen closely and still he is mocking. Just does so in way that is hard to catch or is ambiguous. Sort of compliments sort of insults. Think it is my fate to fall in love with all our guides. Not as pretty as our last guide. Damn smart though. Need to make sure he does not get himself killed though.

Food finished. Still much of day. Decide to buy supplies then head out. Split up. Uras goes to meet up with Eric and explain plan. Old man goes with woman to purchase supplies. Children take me to a cartographer. Maps are incredible. Beautiful colors and well drawn. Covered in Xexan writing describing things. Get map of kingdom and map of nearby islands. Expensive. Worth it. Will treasure maps forever. Kids not allowed in shop. Take maps out and show to kids. They point to there favorite places on the island. Take notes of parts I understand. Kids huddle together for a bit. Speak very slowly and formally to me. Translate even more slowly. Realize they are asking for money. Considering guide and polite nature of request I comply. Kids are great. Very thankful. All line up. Give me a deep bow all together. All run off. Reunite with others.

Success on all fronts. Eric has started selling his goods. Understands time line. Woman returns carrying a heavy pack filled with supplies. Old man is smiling but so is she. Apparently quite the charmer when he wants to be. With all complete we head for edge of town. Ask old man his name. Gives me a riddle in Xexan. Will have to work on it.

Leaving town checked by officials with devices again. Old man gets us through very fast. Record numbers again. Ask old man about devices. Explains. Tricky concept. Some special substance in coins. Attracts or repels certain kinds of metals. Device measures push or pull. Normal money pushes and un-money pulls. Total sum of money can be seen on dial. Explains that one can not leave city with negative money total. Kinda makes sense. Seems like magic to me though.

Land we walk through very hilly. Very green. We walk together in silence. Pace is slow because of old man. Begin to climb hills. Hard on the legs. View at top of each hill incredible. Can see land for very far distance. Lots of farming even on uneven ground. Will need to ask how done. If simple technique will be easy to bring back to homeland. Would improve land use. Help farmers. Been a while since thought about returning. Still not sure if I want to. The outlands are beautiful and wonderful. Do not need to be looked down on here. Outsider but not a lower type of person at least in some places. Could help many if return though. Remember dream of feeding flames. Vision of return or vision of spreading knowledge out here? The silence of the walk and the beauty of the scenery makes it easy to ponder. By fourth hill it begins to be dark. Start to make camp. Old man tells us story about a battle between two great warriors in these hills. Good story. Hidden wisdom and all that. Need to post guard says old man. Hills not as safe as they seem. First watch is for me. Stars are beautiful at night. Work on riddle of old man. Uses grammar I do not know. Need to ask about tomorrow. Maybe riddle is didactic tool. Would not put past man. Is a tricky one. Think I see something. Need to go check on it. Should be quick. Probably nothing.

The Fifth Path (5/30)

November 5, 2016

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Nisan 16th

Got stabbed. Stupid. Need to be better at not dying. Owe my life to all my companions. Carried across a desert on a sled. Had to stay in a bed for too long. Lied about recovery to make sure we can meet up with Eric. Might have been bad choice. Not feeling so good now. Gotta stay strong. Hide my pain. Companions have been nicer since I woke up. Sympathy through injury. Everything has some good and some bad. Wish I had been able to explore capital. Hadia told me what she could. Others got to explore a lot because of waiting for me to heal. Infection made me delirious. Even now, still see things that can’t be real. Hope it will fade. Sometimes have to guess though. Will get a chance to rest on the boat. Next destination is several days on the boat. Woman will be sick instead of me then. Or maybe both. Should get to port town by tonight. Leave on boat tomorrow unless something unexpected. Delirious dreams maybe worth writing down. Entertaining. Dreams fade fast so maybe now is best time.

First thing was just pain. Chest and stomach on fire. Falling down. Focused on eyes of attacker. Thought maybe last thing I would see. Saw Baal child charge in. Everything dark. Sounds of fighting. Everything mute. Drifting. Wake for a moment. Baal child over top of me. Lots of pain. Dark and mute again. Drifting. Guide and Guard over top of me. Pain. Dark. Drifting. Movement. Dragged behind camel. Dark. Drifting. Visions.

I am a fire. A small fire like a candle, not a large one like a house or bonfire. I am in danger of going out, not in danger of spreading. Around me I see many dark shapes moving swiftly. They get close and pass by. They pick me up, then set me down. Each movement brings wind, and I try not to go out. I see other sparks like me, small fires in a world of massive dark shapes. After enduring for a while, a small bit of wood, as small as dust, falls into my flame. I grow. As I get bigger I catch more bits of fuel. I consume and I grow, and the dark shapes get smaller compared to me, there wind becomes less fearsome. They need me more, and I fear them less. I think then of getting so big that I might consume even the shapes. They know this and they fear me. The dark shapes fight to stop me from growing. The fuel stops coming. The shapes surround me. They make a strong wind, trying to blow me out. I am too big though. Wind gives me strength now. I spread. The shapes fall back in fear. I consume and grow. I become larger. Just when I think I can’t be stopped, I notice one of the small flames, like the candle I used to be. Its flickering, about to go out. I am drawing so much fuel and air to myself that there is not enough for others. I pull back into myself. I reduce. I shall not be the dark shapes. I see fuel and I consume not. Instead I push it, move it with the wind made of my heat. I push the fuel towards the candle flame. It feeds and grows. This small growth fills me, a flame, with warmth. I look out over the dark world. I see a hundred thousand tiny flames, all struggling to stay lit. I am filled with resolve. I wake up.

Darkness. Bright light. Moving lights. Shouts and screams. The smell of burning things. Not a fire, though I remember being one a moment ago. Must be in a tent. Try to move. Pain. Weakness. Eyes adjust. Small slit in the tent flap. Horror. Torches and black crawling things. Must be dreaming still. Try to wake myself up. Can’t. Awake. Scorpions. Fear. Companions fighting. Should help. Can’t. Try again to stand. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I am Hadia. I see myself and the other companions. I also see more. The desert, so empty to my own eyes is a veritable forest of life through the eyes of Hadia. I see the passage of insects in the shape of the sand. I see the tiny imperfections that are signs of plants underground. I notice tiny movements with eyes trained for such sights. The sand is not all the same. It is a map, a novel, a story of the life that lies hidden in this place. I look at the horizon and I can see the passage of the scorpion swarms, the movement of many tribes. I see the way the sun commands the creatures of the desert, controlling their actions and movements. I see a hundred dangers that I must protect my companions from, and a hundred little miracles that I know they do not notice. In this place, the former me, and my companions feel like children, without knowledge or power. I feel a need to protect, to help those who act as my friend. I think back on the times in my youth when I was rejected because of my different nature, my different beliefs. I see that these people do not do so. They shall not be consumed by the desert whilst I can protect them. I wake up.

Hadia stands silhouetted in the doorway. Back lit by campfires. Torch swings in a fast arc. Hear the sizzle of a scorpion. Had all but reached my face. Smell my hair. Singed by the closeness of the flame. Hadia is gone. Out to fight the scorpions outside the tent. I try to stand. Pull my knees up to my chest. Push down with my arm. Leverage body up. Collapse. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I swim through a sea of scorpions. Their claws tear my flesh, while they drive their stingers again and again into every part of my skin. The poison fills my veins. There is more poison than blood. My skin is a mass of purple and green sores. I ooze puss. I swim on, through the scorpions. Each stroke of my arm crushes some. I feel them squish under my weight. I see them feed upon their own. I can not see. My eyes have been gouged out and replaced by sores. I swim on. I smell something that is not a scorpion. I can smell no longer, my nose is gone. I swim on. I reach out and feel. Though my skin and flesh is all but gone I can still grip. I feel something strong, something not a scorpion. I pull. I drag myself out of the sea of scorpions, hand by hand. My strength begins to fade. I cannot climb higher. The scorpions begin to drag me back down. The rope begins to move. Someone is pulling me, dragging me out of the scorpion sea. I wake up.

Behind a camel. Sun is bright and painful. Have skin. No scorpions. No scorpion sea. Whole body is in pain. Different pain then scorpion pain. Companions saved me from that. Remember the knife. Feel chill. Must be infected. Need help. Need to tell companions about infection. Will die. Try to turn head. Try to look up at companions. Dizziness. Darkness. No. Will not fall asleep again. Open eyes. Try to make noise. Try to speak. Hear something. Maybe me. Pulling stops. Heard me? See faces of companions. Try to speak. Say something. Not sure what. Companions worried. Success. Smile. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I am back home. I am dedicating myself to the male god. My mother is proud. I make the sign. I wake up. I am studying the great works. I read about my namesake, the great astronomer. I wonder if I too can leave behind a legacy. I wake up. I am in a tent. Scorpions are coming again. I wake up. I am walking through the desert with my companions. The camels are riding on our backs. I wake up. Darkness. Visions. I am a herder of sheep. I see myself walking the road below me. I laugh merrily, knowing my place compared to myself. To herd sheep as a man is better then to serve kings as a half-man. I wake up. I am writing in my journal. I write about my first love. I wake up. I am asleep. I wake up. Darkness. Scorpions. Fire. Camels are frightened. I wake up. I walk the path of the sage, outside the path of man, free from the wants and needs of those who seek more than knowledge. I have given up on worldly things. Neither power, nor wealth, nor woman shall I seek from this day and forever. I feel the fire as the brand burns my back. I wake up. Camel dragging me. Sun is bright. Face is burned. Thirsty. I wake up. The bandit forgot his knife in me. My companions forgot to take it out. My bandages wrap around the entire knife, the tightness pushing it further and further into me. I scream. I wake up. Darkness. Cool. Night time. No scorpions. Thirsty. Reach for water. Drink. Thirst quenched. Fall asleep. Peace. I wake up.

Hadia standing over me. Holding a flower. Smile. Bends down. Puts flower in mouth. Surprised. Chew. Swallow. Feel calmer. Fever fades a little. Sleep.

Stranger standing over me. Feel much better. Speaking Hashin. Respond. Stranger is doctor. Will be safe. Reached capital in time.

After that got better fast. Still saw strange things. Nothing like visions though. Dreams are strong and strange. Do not remember well. Days pass. Doctor asks about health. Lie. Know there is little time to reach Eric. Tell him no pain. Tell him no visions. Skeptical. Insist. Work hard to act like no pain. Doctor relents. Get to talk to companions. Greeted warmly. Embraced by Baal child and woman. Hadia too but later. Make plans to leave next day. Tell them when Eric will leave. Tell them very hard to get other ship. Agree to travel fast. Argument about caravan. Hadia and Baal child yell. Hadia wins. Traveling with others in caravan. Safe from bandits and scorpions. Others leave. Talk to Hadia for long time. Ask about her past. Learn she is not Kasim. Strange sect. Treated different. Like me. Ask her to travel with us beyond island. Confusion. Mixed reaction. Will consider. Decide in port town. Departs. Think. Need to convince her and Baal child. Life was saved. Important to pay back debt. Important to fuel other fires. Sleep.

Meet up with caravan early. Leader is very energetic woman. Treats Hadia bad, but respects Uras after he stands up to her. Given place in middle of caravan. Place of safety. Few weird visions. Some pain. Nothing major. More chance to talk with Hadia. Also talk with Uras and Anatu a bit. Like said much friendlier. Get full story of scorpions and desert travel. Thank everyone for saving life. Promise to do better to not die next time. Woman speaks with Uras for bit. Offers to teach me to fight. Against rules to teach my kind to fight. Uras says rule is gone in outlands. Everyone agrees is good idea. Accept. Will start once fully recovered. Maybe on boat if woman can stand. If not then at next stop. Communal bonding. Get chance to talk to Uras alone. Ask about Hadia coming with us. Seems reluctant. Try to argue. Becomes distant. Tells me he will consider. Reaction strange. Unsure what Baal child is thinking. Hope Hadia can stay. Talk to her late into night. Learn much about Hashim and about deserts. Become more valuable with knowledge. Get to know her better. Learn about her sect. Difference seems small to me. People are dumb. Tell her about Hishtu. Seems interested. Tell her Hishtu history with land of Bel. Tell her about Bel. Both learn much. Very good night. Sleep.

Woke up early. Wrote.

The Fifth Path (2/30)

November 2, 2016

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Nisan 6th

Lot to describe. Many things have happened. Got assigned to year long Awakening. Sets plans back, but opens new possibilities. Companions are ok. Both seem a bit slow. Baal child is better than most Baal. Named Uras. Is a twin and second oldest son of the Old Bastard. Thinks he is better than everyone, but isn’t a jerk about it. Actually paid attention in schooling. Knows a few languages and doesn’t need everything explained six times. Only thrice. Treats me a like a servant, but not a slave. Not a Hishtu hater. Bodyguard is a woman. Named Anatu. Pretty, and not terribly dull, but she doesn’t like me. Not sure why. Hope I can make both like me more. Journey is long, and traveling with enemies tedious. Neither knows anything about the outlands. At least they can speak Hishtu. My first time too, but I studied and I have spoken with out-men many times. Maybe they believe the lies, think that outland is cursed or not real. If not, don’t understand ignorance. Makes me more valuable though. Time to learn, for me and them. Must learn faster, if I want to maintain usefulness. Have maybe one months head start. Thinking I am smarter though, should be ok. Problem is usefulness means work. More work means less time to learn. Less work means more time to learn. Have to be careful. Enough with companions. Much time to speak of them.

Left after delays. Some kind of relparty. Very dull. Attacked twice. Drinking makes the hate more real. Glad for my quick feet and knowledge of grounds of palace. Invested all money. Not need it for a year. Hope wheat does well next year. Old Bastard took me aside. Gave me many names. Gave me maps. Gave me money and goods to trade. Promised to send a hunting party for my head if Uras died. Believe him. Party made planning harder, but gave more time. Long time since last year long trip. No records of where to go past the jade lands. Will need to acquire new maps and new plans as we go. First month smooth. After that, a mystery. Excited. Much for me to learn. Many ways to make life better on journey. Maybe I can stay in outlands. If I go far enough hunters can’t find me. If Uras returns, Old Bastard won’t care about me. Time will tell.

At last we left. Just me and companions. Ox cart travel was quick. Best trained oxen for Baal. Uras talked a lot. Likes to pontificate. Not terrible orator though. Could be much worse. Woman listened intently. Either fancies him or pretends to. Disappointing. Still, much time left. We made it to boat. Woman never seen outlander before. Reaction funny. Baal child has seen more. Outlander friend of mine. Named Eric. Had to hide friendship though. Not supposed to have talked. Eric not supposed to have been in our lands. Companions not know hand signs though. Also slow at Histu. Eric much better. We talk fast and sign for secret things. Eric not know about Awakening. Tell him that all rules gone, technology and magic is free for us. He is happy. Engine much faster than sails. Even Uras never seen engine before. Afraid woman would kill Eric. Seemed very frightened at first. Fear changes to wonder. Good reaction. Hope will continue. Woman becomes sick. Engine can cause in many people. Baal child tends to her. Much time to talk with Eric. Tells me about new changes. One of our destinations now controlled by aggressive religious leader. Might need to sneak through or skip. Need to see what companions know about outlander religion. Assume woman knows only about Bel, but maybe Uras knows more. Will need to teach or we will be killed. More info from Eric though. Not just political changes. New technology spreading. Explosive powder propels balls of different substances. Powder useful for many things, but mostly used for weapons. Most weapons are very large, used on ships. Eric says he heard of small version though. Kills like a bow, but needs less practice and is smaller. Ask about why small version is better than crossbow, but get no good response.

First night in ship is fun. We catch fish and eat them. Woman is basically unconscious, isn’t able to eat or talk. Uras good at stories, even when speaking in Hishtu. Talk about stopping at closer town because of sick woman, but decide it is safer to continue to original destination. Change course slightly to stay close to land if woman gets worse. Uras joins our conversation. We slow down. Tell him about different currencies. Exchange rate explained twice. Asks about appearance of outlanders. Tell him, but he doesn’t believe. Will see tomorrow. Thought he had seen many, but maybe only the pale ones like Eric. Ask Eric about plans. Tells me about chance to transport new powder. Make arrangements to buy some, and meet him on other side of island. We will travel across by land, see the capital of the island, then pass on and meet up with Eric. Time schedule made. Hope we can make it across in time. We wait too long and Eric has to leave. Other transport will be more risky.

Sleep ok. Fantastic dreams. Dream of lands I have read about. Chance to visit them is incredible. Even if I must return, glad I get this chance. Baal child seems to find wonder too. Maybe we can all run away together. Too soon to ask. Much too soon. Next day Eric is busy. Boat hard to steer close to land. Try to talk to Uras, but he is worried about woman. Sit down, plan, think. Long wait. We land in town of Imba. Trading town. Hub for many cultures. Rest of island controlled by Hashim, but Imba is free. Many Hashim islands close by. Again, must remember to tell companions about religions. Hashim are Kazim, which is not bad. Still need veils for travel though. Be careful with elements too. As soon as they wake up, I teach them. Still have time for a bit more writing though.

We stay at inn. Able to barter us two nights for some well made shirts. Prepare to exchange money on next day. Talk to innkeeper about where to go to get a guide to capital. According to map, there is a desert between us and capital. Turns out paying a guide might be too dangerous. Better to join a caravan heading that way. Ask about locations of both. Ask about money changing and precautions for desert travel. Ask about local dangers and anything a foreigner might not know. Tells me a lot. Helps that he is Histu. In retrospect, first outlander Hishtu I have met. Rare outside of the homeland. Books tell me that we all came from the outlands, but that Hishtu were mostly killed. Homeland is the only place that we were safe, though treated as slaves. Had not thought about in a long time. Always think of homeland as original place. Meet innkeepers wife when he invites me for dinner. Another shock. She is not Hishtu. Or she is not Hishtu race. She is Hishtu religion, but has the skin tone of those of the far southern lands. In homeland mixing is rare. Always Hishtu converts to religion of Bel. Never considered conversion other way. Dumb of me. Need to think like an outlander. If I can’t I will be useless. Dinner tasty. Spices I have never tried. New vegetables. Some kind of twisty bread with salt. Good times. I slept well.

Next day is crazy. Talk to Baal child in the morning. Says we need a guide and not a caravan. Something about the presentation of a ruler. First time he has done anything too stupid. Maybe we die and it never happens again. Try to explain, but doesn’t listen. Shake my head. Woman is awake and feeling well. She and Uras go into town together to explore. Stay behind. Talk to innkeeper for a bit. Head into town to find guide, get supplies so we don’t die. First, need to change money. Have a huge amount now, but keeping it all for a year might be hard. Take very small fraction for now. Can trust this innkeeper to watch stuff, but will need to be more cautious in the future. Erik mentioned something about banks, but I don’t understand yet. Find money changer. Much negotiations. Homeland money is rare. Hard to spend. Made of valuable metal though. Have to trade at only little above metal value. Still, should be enough. Will be harder to change money as we get further. Need to expect melting value. Change mostly to Hashim money. Little bits of others too, just in case. Agaan practitioners only take money printed at their temples. Money sorted out, I head out to find guide.

Even guides don’t want to go without a caravan. Many bandits. Something else too. Some kind of insect or spider. Dangerous if not in big group for some reason. Search long time. Find at last. Very young woman. Almost a girl. Test her knowledge though. She draws the whole island from memory. More detail even than my map. She says she can get us to capital, and then get us to port on other side. Reasonable prices. Agrees to help buy supplies. Very businesslike at first. Becomes friendlier when I switch to Hashim. Says accent is terrible, but praises grammar. Named Hadia. Reminds me of sister. Have not seen in years. Family can’t afford to visit capital. Too busy to visit them. If I don’t return, never see them again. Must consider. Hadia is better at bargaining than I. She speaks to the merchants, and we get the supplies in no time. Wonder if companions will balk at veils. Will be important for protection and for talking with Kazim. Almost all Hashim are Kazim. In retrospect, Hadia not wearing veil. Strange. Ask her about it. Says she doesn’t wear in the city. So many faces, demons won’t steal hers. Always wears in the desert though.

Finish shopping. About to return home when jumped. Wish bodyguard woman was here. Hadia distracts them. Leads us up on roofs. We escape. More respect for Hadia. Hope others like her. Sun is going down. Hadia to meet us in the morning. Return to inn. Others already asleep. Store supplies. Talk to innkeeper about animals to ride. Hadia said we would need at least one to carry supplies. Think we have enough for all to ride. Innkeeper has cousin in capital. We can rent some of his and give to cousin to return. Thank him profusely. Make the sign of male god. Returned. Talk late into the night about the turning of the world. When at last I move to retire, innkeeper stops me. Gives me a gift. Says to open once out in the desert. Am moved. Give him my family crest. Only one token of home remains. Can’t sleep. Too much to think about. Consider the morrow. Drift to sleep.

Dreams are strange. I am a bird flying high above the desert. My wings seem to extend forever. My shadow covers the sand and provides shade to my companion. Hadia flies before me, also a bird, one with bright plumage, colors not from this land. A feather falls from my wings and lands before my companions. They use it to fight bandits. Apparently my feathers are strong as steel and sharp as an axe. Wake up. Is early. Go down to prepare the beasts of burden. Am told they are called camels. Strange beasts indeed. Bizarre shapes, as if built to hold riders. We get three for our journey. One for our baggage. The other two to carry two passengers each. With the baggage stored, I return upstairs. Companions still sleep so I write. Now they are waking up. Perfect timing.