After how busy last week was I’ve been no less busy this week. It’s already nearly over and I’ve spent nearly all of it helping the Golem. We’re nearly done, there’s only a few more bits that need repairing and I had to stop at the village to get some mortar for it.
I’ve also spent some time with Olma’s circle again, sitting and swapping uses for herbs as well as telling them stories of my travels. There’s a sense of fitting in that I wasn’t expecting that despite my age they treat me as a friend rather than a child, even though I’m young enough to be their grandchildren!
Speaking of children Meg has become a little attached to me. When I was sitting talking she and Iris walked past having done some shopping and she immediately started tugging on Iris’s hand to come over. They stopped for a moment for some polite conversation and I could help but feel a little smug that her reception was much more cordial and while no less friendly less inclusive. Maybe I shouldn’t be smug about that sort of thing but I’m still not sold on doctors as a whole.
After a little begging and checking if it was okay Meg was allowed to stay with us while her mother sorted their shopping out and she promptly wandered over and climbed into my lap to get to the same height as us.
The others doted over her, the conversation continuing, but with frequent cookies being smuggled to her.
I’ve also started to read up a little on the new locales I’m able to visit. It’s amazing what Auria has researched and written, but again it’s all written like a lesson so there’s key gaps filling in with what amounts to her saying “go figure it out for yourself”.
The Strange particularly seems… well…. Strange. Snowdrop is laughing at me for writing that but honestly I can’t think of a better description! It’s the demon realm full of magical beings ruled by Dark Rulers who appear to hold a rank like a duke or baron? And they all follow the guidance of the Great Demon, which is possibly either a title or a lineage? Or maybe just one demon, I’m not sure.
It’s also a place where magic holds far more sway than things like physics or logic. There are apparently buildings as big as a mansion in the space of a cupboard, the space twisted and knotted around itself. Whole streets can be both miles long and only a few metres depending on how you look at them, and entire estates will be floating in their air held aloft by a spindly staircase. It sounds amazing.
I’m glad I did my research into the Strange because I need to head there now. I had a patient this week who was very unwell, but with the strangest cough I’ve ever heard. It’s very upsetting to see someone make all the movements of a cough without making a single sound, but that’s what happened. The poor lady who visited was in her sixties and while fit and active was struggling with a very heavy cough.
It looks like a typical case of Ventriloquists Cough, where someone else in the world has the cough and the motion is being unloaded to some random person somewhere else. In this case that random person is Leif. The lack of noise isn’t doing her any favours though. The violent coughing motion, and it’s one of the worst coughs I’ve ever seen, is leaving her breathless and sore. She’s already pulled a few muscles in her chest and if it keeps up she could do herself serious injury.
I’ve done what I can for the pain, some tea with a little bit of power to help keep it at bay, but I need to fix this quickly.
I’m going to need a few things, and thankfully while I can find them in Hero’s Hollow they’re much more common in the Strange. I’ll need some Darkwater which is a very sweet drink favoured by demons. The downside is that it puts people to sleep so I’m going to need the Whisper of a Cat to counteract that. The other main ingredient is Coldrust which I can get but is again more plentiful in the Strange. The Whisper I’ll get from High Rannoc later, plenty of cats to choose from and I’ll bribe them with some fish.
Well…. no more putting it off…. I’m about to go to the home of all demonkind….. Snowdrop is excited, as always, and I think so am I. Wish me luck.
I’m taking a break because honestly I’m overwhelmed. Things are a lot right now, and it’s taken me a little while sitting and petting Snowdrop to bring a little normality back to things.
I went to the Strange, the home of demons and devils, the parallel dimension that sits just beside our own. There are many connections between the two, and apparently those are all managed by contracts between a Dark Ruler, which is a job and also possibly a name, and a local leader of some sort. Here we have those contracts with the witch but in other countries it varies between magically touched people or cultural leaders.
I arrived nice and early at Hero’s Hollow so I had the most of the light, although I was pretty sure the time would go funny between the two places. The secret door near the entrance was still there and instantly took me deep into the dungeon to the Dark Ruler’s throne room. He wasn’t in so I just quickly activated the portal and stepped through.
The actual journey wasn’t particularly disconcerting, it felt as easy as walking through a bead curtain, but on the other side…. Where I exited was a freestanding doorway on the top of a green hill, impossibly vividly green. The grass rolled away from me in hills that were impossibly big. Nestled between two hills directly in front of me was a… town? City? It was difficult to put a size to it because of how bizarre it was.
Buildings were stacked at horrifying angles ready to topple, some were just floating in the air while a tiny bridge connected them to a neighbour. There were glowing orbs everywhere lighting up the shadows, pathways that rose up off the ground and twisted around the air, and the people! So many differences!
Mostly they were darker colours, a range of reds, purples, and blues. There were a few more brightly coloured or paler but no two were the same. Generally they also had two legs and two arms, but some had more or less (some had far more), some had wings or tails, some hard horns or antlers… it was a sight to behold.
I started heading down to the town to see if I could find anything, and just to explore a little. I was only halfway there when a familiar sight greeted me as the Dark Ruler strode out and up towards me. I headed over to meet him with a wave and he seemed apprehensive, which of course worried me that I was somewhere I shouldn’t be.
Instead he indicated the small gathering of demons behind him I’d not noticed and said how glad he was I’d come. Apparently it was something of an occasion I was there and that the Demon Queen, the Great Demon and person in charge of all the Dark Rulers, wanted to meet me. I almost turned around and left but I think fear kept me from running.
I was gently bustled along and quickly found myself walking into what looked like an ornate door set into a building the size of a shed, but as soon as I stepped in it was a hall bigger than anything I’d seen before.
The hall wasn’t particularly ornamental just large, huge pillars holding up a roof that was too dark to see, and fire pits lining the edges. The only furnishings were a long table set for a meal for maybe thirty people, and a huge throne.
I’m not sure what to write next, about either the throne or the being sitting in it, the “Great Demon”. The throne itself was made of something like glass, glass filled with every colour and pattern of light I could imagine, all swirling and colliding with each other. It was rippled and contorted with parts jutting out and twisting to re-join its mass but because of how clear it was I couldn’t make out what the overall shape was. The Great Demon was similar but very different, wearing black clothes that seemed to roil and churn in a non-existent breeze. I couldn’t make out much more about them than a vague humanoid form, their features hidden in a deep hood, the cloth blending with the throne.
It was an intimidating effect.
Her (and she did tell me she was feminine) voice was just as striking. Imagine dozens of voices all whispering just behind your ear. You try to not twitch or turn because you can hear them right behind you, but there’s nobody there; it’s her.
That all said she was polite, kind, and above all else strangely grateful. She explained the Dark Ruler had been stuck on the other side of the portal since Auria vanished and that she was personally glad he was back. She was also delighted the connection was reformed in general and glad to meet me. A new witch in an area was something of enough note that she personally arranged a meet.
We talked about how it was going, what was happening in the demon realm, other places in the world. Then she offered me a house? An entire house here in the strange. Apparently it used to be the house Auria used but has fallen into disrepair which in the Strange means space has twisted in it. It’s not free, but she said at any time I could pay the fee and it would be mine. At only 1000 silver too.
While it sounds like a lot (and it is!!) it’s not much for a house. It’s, what, 10 brooms? Okay it’s still a lot.
She did also add that every time I’m about in the Strange if I can bring her some honey from the bees she would knock 50 silver off of it. I was very incredulous, 50 silver for a jar of honey? But apparently it is one of her favourite delicacies and particularly the honey from Auria’s bees who feast on flowers in the Glimmering Grove. I promised I’d bring some by any time I could regardless, but thanked her.
So I’m saving up for a second home. I feel like a noble.
My net step is to head out and look for ingredients. The Great Demon had welcomed me formally to her realm and promised I would pass without hinderance, but that not all of her subjects were entirely motivated by honesty. She told me to be on my toes and watch out for pranks and tricks, a staple of this place.
Her parting gift was to ask if I needed anything, presuming I was on a forage, and when I mentioned darkwater she gestured to have a bottle bought over. Apparently it’s sweet enough demons routinely use it as a drink later at night to help them fall asleep.
This place. I thought it had shown me something amazing with the throne and the Great Demon herself, I thought I’d seen the limits of weirdness, and then…. Right, start from the start.
I’m currently back in Hero’s Hollow sitting in the Dark Ruler’s throne room (not on the throne) before I head back to the village. I don’t have long but I had to write this.
I didn’t find the ingredient I needed, it found me. I was thoroughly lost wandering round some back alleys and not really sure what to do next, or how I’d find a magical artefact that was rusting, when everything went still. It was a moment of potential, as one of my mentors used to call them. A moment when the world waits with bated breath for something to happen.
A young girl rounded the other end of the alley and walked towards me, and froze at the same time I did. It was… me. She stopped and looked surprised for a moment before walking up to me, she looked a little older perhaps but not much more, otherwise she was…. me.
She pulled out a potion, the exact potion I was currently trying to make, and a vial of Coldrust flakes. She pressed both into my hands and said “Nice to see me, this is what you need so go back and deliver it right away. You’ll be on this side one day soon, make sure you keep a bottle of this on you for then so you can pass it back to you. Trust me; you don’t want to not hand it over. Stay strong, you’re doing so well.”
And with that she winked at me and sauntered back the way I’d come before vanishing.
After she’d gone it was like the world took a breath and things kept moving, and I quickly found my way out of the town to the door home. And here we are.
I don’t think I should mess with time much, so lets go and get that potion to Leif and I can brew another one at my leisure.
Another lucky occurrence on the way to deliver the potion; I met one of the local hunters who was bringing back an entire Amethyst Deer! Similar to a normal deer but only found in magical forests they’re about half the weight again and the bucks (which this one was) have beautiful antlers that frequently have purple crystals growing off of them; hence the name.
He greeted me and after a moment of cutting (while I impatiently tried not to just leave for my delivery) handed me one of the horns “for later if I need it”! How kind of him!
I reached the village not long after that and headed directly to Leif to give her the potion, trusting I’d gotten it right. It worked almost instantly, one minute she was struggling to get a clear breath and the next she was fine. The ingredients I’d chosen even made it a sweet potion that gave her a burst of energy as well which she was grateful for. Another job done, payment collected, and I headed back out into the village to get a Cat’s Whisper for the potion I now had to keep on my person every time I went into the strange.
It was a little harder than I expected because Snowdrop kept spooking the cats so I had to tell her to wait with Meg while I went to get it. That made it much easier, as did the bribe of some mackerel. While the cat munched away I used my wand to siphon off a little energy into a vial.
The last thing I did was swing by the general store and buy a sickle as well as request another hive be sent up to me. I have the feeling I’m going to need more honey, and extra help gathering is never a bad thing.
With that, and a tricky day, I headed home to where I am now.
Honestly I think I’m going to brew this another time, I’m exhausted.
- +63 silver (21 extra)
- +1 reputation
- Gained: Sickle (-50 silver)
- Gained: Hive (-50 silver)
- Villager Met: Leif Mowbray
- Other Met: The Great Demon
- Event Triggered: House for Sale (1000 silver remaining)
- Event Triggered: Met Future Self (owed potion for Ventriloquists Cough)
- Reagents Gained: Darkwater, Whisper of a Cat, Coldrust, Amethyst Antler