From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove
April, the 1st year
Journal Entry 2
Upon our April adventure we happened upon a pack of Hyenas. In our nightly watch and early morning departure we did not see any pups but the thought of having tame Hyenas never left my mind.
Warrior Oonagh also had similar thoughts. After some concerning revelations about the Green Goddess’s subjugation and fighting similar shadow monsters at her temple we eventually claimed it and returned it to peace. I mentioned the pack of Hyenas on our way back and Oonagh revealed some intriguing information about taming wild animals. We began plotting for future pups to be brought back to Aspens’s Rest. Writing it down I realize this sounds heinous and terrible but if we are to hunt trolls and minotaurs and other beastly creatures hunting animals are extremely valuable then. The dogs in Aspen won't cut it as they aren’t used to facing monsters- Hyenas’ remind me of similar beasts from the Reverse and I think are similar in build as well.
They will be taken care of as well, we both agreed- Leader Gwion gave her approval as well on the endeavor so fingers crossed and I’m burning some fennel for luck!
Midnight update- OONAGH FOUND HYENA PUPS GOT THEM!! FORMAL WRITING CAN’T EXPRESS MY EXCITEMENT!!!! WE START BUILDING KENNELS IN THE MORNING!!!!
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove
May, 2nd week, 1st year
This week was better. The kids have learned that I like to have a morning routine and free afternoon to do errands and tasks. Every morning at the crack of dawn I scout the edges of the town and the woods- have to stay in shape and familiar with the territory closest to us.
Breakfast is warmed bread because I burn pancakes to a crisp if and of course- a hot cup of coffee with milk and a small sugar cube. I had been exhibiting terrible symptoms back in December when I was traveling with the Guild of the Black Sky because I didn't think it was something they had here in Osterra. I would pray to the God of Coffee in any religion as thanks for helping me survive so many terrible years in the Reverse and for being the literal light of my mornings here in Osterra.
Off topic, getting back. The first two days I spent entirely in my home researching and trying to mix healing salves. I’ve temporarily put on hold on trying to decipher the amazing fireball misshap. I didn’t come close at all last week unless you consider a brief fiery explosion ruining my chimney to be a breakthrough. No, thankfully I didn’t lose too many materials or plants, and nobody got hurt. The carpenters were not happy but that’s not something I can help- too much.
So I worked on the healing mixtures, gave myself some horribly heightened senses when I mixed the wrong herbs at one point, but overall kept a much better track of what I was doing this week. I’m grateful the shop isn’t built yet. I may finally have space to exercise more freely with my brews but at the rate that I’m recovering my skills I think slow is much better and effective. I at least have three completed recipes now to show the Grove members. And yes I’m ignoring the 30 incomplete ones in my report- they aren’t failures yet I just have to figure out if they will be useful or not is all.
The third day was the kids day- they usually sit in my living area looking at the books I have but staying out of ‘the danger zone’ while I’m mixing plants. The third day though I had had nightmares the night before and didn’t want to be inside so we went outside to the gardens. Most of them were fascinated with what could be done with plants, although the fascination was mostly destructive or poison related inquiries. If I were normal I should be concerned with this, but given the state of affairs Osterra is in I have no qualms.
The fourth and fifth days my afternoons were swamped with training. An ‘old’ warrior had requested my help as he was given a squad of what he thought were small and weak people. The warrior is called Kar, the same warrior who assisted me on both herb scouting missions back in march. The man is well muscled but slightly underweight currently but I knew he was a monster hunter still and had hoped to pass the knowledge on to others. Instead his group had people of similar builds to my own, petite, lithe, agile, but they lacked the tribesman ferocity he was seeking. They did however have plenty of spunk to learn and once we worked out to train them to fight in roguish tactics- stab, run away, harry from the sides in teams of two, avoid one-on-one if your opponent was CLEARLY in another league than your own like Kar was to all of us combined….He warmed up to them after the second day of training. My service request was removed and I alternated my afternoons with brewing, researching local flora, and helping Oonagh at the Kennels.
Oonagh made it very clear they will never be domesticated like dogs but if they aren’t properly socialized and dealt with regularly they will go savage towards anyone unfamiliar to them.
The last two afternoons I’ve been at the kennels, picking up feces and waste, working with the pups and their skills needed for the future, and enjoying the company of another Grove member. We talked about what we can do to make things better here at Aspens Rest, how we were coping with the cleansing of the Temple, and how different it was here in Osterra from our respective homeworlds.
All of this work in town and information about the Plains of Sorrow make me forget to be grateful for the little things like I did back in the Reverse- Lucienne has been cleared to walk around but still cannot do too much physical activity. Verona brings her to my place in the mornings via a small cart but when she is inside Lucienne walks on her own and stares intently at all of us. She hasn’t spoken a word yet to anyone since her arrival, but she laughs and smiles and gets excited about new things like the rest of them. For this I’m grateful.
Tristan has convinced the bookshop on the other side of town to let him work for them in exchange for borrowing books. They are fairytail books, stories of lore from Osterra, but fairytails are often riddled with truths hidden in between the words. He is definitely a merchant’s son though, he fixes my stock records of the plants whenever he comes in to help. The boy has a good sense for economics and business.
And I'm grateful for the little accomplishments I’ve made as an herbalist from another land. It is small compared to what I knew in the Reverse but I’m starting to come to terms with the fact most of my life in the Reverse was greatly aided by magical energy that resided within every aspect of existence. Here every accomplishment is my own and nothing else- results of my hard work and efforts made to make something from nothing. There is no innate energy in the air or divine interference to aid in my healing salves but I am so grateful for this. Tomorrow I will be shoveling hyena poop again but I am still grateful for the life I have been given.
I am home and I will continue to work in my endeavors for protecting the Grove.
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove
June, 2nd week, 1st year
I started a fire.
From all of my past experiences here in Osterra it was always unintentional or accidental but last week on the Grove’s search mission I officially and intentionally started a fire.
It’s been a few days so my memory is slightly bogged up with everything that happened but I’ll try to summarize for record keeping sake. I just laughed as I wrote that but I’m exhausted and tired and cranky and honestly not feeling great but here goes. Short and sweet.
We went off in search of more refugees with the hopes of capturing more demonically possessed pursers like Ja’Nuk- a man who was previously under the demonic powers of Wrath. With the help of Fonti and Aeriel we were able to free him from the demonic powers two months ago at least. Our most recent adventure included his little knowledge of some of the bandits working with the demons and hoping we could use that to capture and cure more to paint a bigger picture of what the demons might be planning. Anything to help in the fight against them.
It took us a week of traveling before we found people- farmers who had not been touched yet by bandits or the demon army. I’ll spare you the details but information gathering is not my skill set. People are not my skill set. It was a disastrous conversation and looking back I definitely should have waited for someone else to do the talking.
That night we camped elsewhere and moved on- that 7th night we found an encampment and set up the ambush plan Fonti had come up with for us to succeed. Bryxal and I tried to check out the campsites stealthily using the grasslands as cover, quite easy as it was a stall as me, but the guards heard us when we ventured too close. After they sounded the alarm Fonti, who was just beyond their sights halfway back to the ambush site, lit a torch and began riding away from us to lure the men away. She was shot and the torch fell into the dry grassland. A blaze started as she rode off and thankfully the horsemen pursued her- the footmen, not so much.
Bryxal and I tried to put the fire between us and armed men, who were terribly organized, and I could tell we were both scoping the chances of getting another look at the campsites with stealth. We both also came to the conclusion that it would take a miracle for that to happen and booked it back to the ambush site in different directions.
I had it in my mind that if the fire was bigger it would distract or deter the footmen- you know, because walking in the dry grasslands in heavy armor when a fire was raging would normally mean you should retreat to an already safe place like your campsite. I grabbed some flaming grass and booked it in a detour route back to the ambush site setting fire as I ran, hoping the blaze would spread between me and the footmen. I will have to ask Oonagh to help me ask the Green Goddess for forgiveness later since it was in vain. They started to chase me but thankfully they were so heavily armored, and slow, that I outpaced them back to the others.
Who had two unconscious people bloodied already and Fonti chasing after horses with one arm while mounted still on her own horse. I will forever be impressed by her.
Bryxal still hadn’t returned, and when I explained what had transpired two of the 3 men following me caught up. I saw Gwion rush off towards the direction of what later I realized was Bryxal engaged in combat, while Arion, Ja’nuk and I engaged the other two. One ran off cursedly and the one who stayed was wearing so much damn armor that he wouldn’t stay down or let us land a good hit. I took the first opening I could for the kill and hoped the other two men I had seen before were alive and useful for our cause.
Gwion, Bryxal and Aeriel returned with a third man, unconscious, and the other two horsemen who had originally pursued Fonti and were in questionable health, were enough for us to say the mission was accomplished at the time. We all mounted up and rode off, hard- we could see torches and men yelling orders and knew we were being pursued.
We stayed ahead enough from them to make it to some swamps where it looked like we might get caught but the Green Goddess answered the call from some of our devoted members and helped us find safe passage to a place to finally rest. Fonti, Gwion and Oonagh began their interrogation when one of the more awake prisoners attempted to charm us with flattery. ‘Pretty Lady.’ Worlds and civilizations away from my home world and men still have the same level of originality. I would say it’s disappointing but then again the expectations were never that high to begin with.
I became agitated with the interrogation as did Ja’nuk- my reasons being we had barely escaped the men chasing us and I wanted to be on lookout, while Ja’nuk was having a hard time dealing with the prisoners as they reminded him of himself while under demonic possession and wanted to kill them. Except they weren’t under possession- they had said something about a contract with a Lady and the commander coming after them. That was all I heard before walking off with Ja’nuk to check the perimeter.
By morning it was decided that two of the prisoners would be released, one of whom was trampled the night before and looking the worse for wear and needed serious healing that we could not provide. The second one was the chatty person who had given the others enough information and willing to convey to his leader that we would like to help them break free of their contract that is forcing them to fight on the demon's side. I was told they don’t have a choice in the matter, the contract is most likely magical or cursed based, someone in this group of mercenaries can captures soul and torture them, and something about a Lance and Standard. It was a lot of information given second hand and honestly- the mindset of this mercenary group, the Gray Brigade, reminds me of how I used to think before arriving in Osterra. Being held against my will, being forced to fight and do awful things for years, forcing all emotions and thoughts into a corner to allow the numbness that would let me survive to see another day be the normal.
Nobody asks for that kind of life, it’s just something that happens and requires one incredibly powerful form of intervention to break free of it. Mine was divine- hopefully theirs will be done by our efforts here in the Grove.
I guess we will find out.