The Haunting of Harrowstone

Zaren: Design

[The only thing on this page is a detailed map of the route back to Daggermark. The margins are covered in scribbled-out words, but none of them are legible.]

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Memento Mori

“You don’t trust people, do you?”
“It’s not that.”
“Then what?”

“Look. I grew up with only Kaoris to rely on. I understand a certain…hesitance. With people. But after awhile it becomes a trap, you know? Just another barrier to doing what you want. Well, if you know what that is.”
“Of course I know what that is!”
“Heh. Finally got some emotion out of you. So what is it, then?”
“…it doesn’t matter.”
“Sure it does.”

“Ach. Forget it. Listen, all I know is, running away doesn’t solve anything. Believe me, I’ve tried it before. If you run away once, you’ll have to keep running for the rest of your life.”
“Are you…running from anything?”
“No—eh. Damn it. That’s a lie.”
“Aja— ! What are you doing?!”
“Kissing you. Why, do you object?”
“No.”

“…not at all, actually.”
“Gods above, are you BLUSHING?”
“NO.”
“Heh. I WOULD fall in love with a man who growls like an angry bear.”
“You’d…what?”
“Eh, I decided I should take my own advice. In for a copper, right?”

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not going to break in two if you don’t feel the same.”
“No! That’s not—I mean, I—I didn’t mean—Aja—”
“You’re blushing again.”
“Aja—”
“It’s very endearing. I’d commission someone to paint a picture, but I rather want to keep the moment to myself—”
“Damn it, Aja, I’ve been in love with you since we were seventeen!”

“…oh.”
“And that…is…not at ALL how I wanted to say that—shit. I’m not doing very well at this, am I?”
“You’re doing fine.”
“Really?”
“Promise.”
“I…don’t want to lose you. I don’t think I could handle that. If I can’t protect you—”
“Protect me? Ha! What the hell did you think I did before you came along? I can take care of myself, thank you.”
“I didn’t mean to offend you—”
“You didn’t. Just making a point. Believe me, I’m not going anywhere.”
“…good.”
“You’re stuck with me, I’m afraid— ! …going back to the kissing, I see.”
“Do you object?”
“Not in the slightest.”

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Zaren: Mire

Factory. Creatures turned out to be friendly. Good. Let us pass.

Went downstairs. Pool of water. Bodies in the water. Two of them weren’t exactly dead. Dead but moving. One of them almost got the holy man. Two shots for that one, right through the head, didn’t think, just snapped— For a moment, I could see them being torn apart again— I wasn’t helpless not this time

Next?

And the next?

Leave. this now

are you more afraid for yourself or for them

you have not been with them for too long leave now while it’s easier it will only be worse later

If there is a later

How long have I been traveling I’ve lost track of the days again

shit

this wasn’t what was supposed to happen you weren’t supposed to like them you weren’t supposed to get attached

they all just

closed-off smartass kid wary of everyone keeps his distance does he remind you of what you were like?

bit of a goof but strong enough for all that just wants to be stronger to fight what? and keep himself a mystery

not quite right in the head something is definitely broken there but a sweet kid she called you big brother

and [scratched out so roughly a hole has been torn through the paper]

if you keep pushing him away he really is going to leave is that what you want I just want to go back to Daggermark in peace that’s all I just want a bullet in the brain but you can’t even be arsed to do that I just want out

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The Red Knight: My Army -- an Analysis

I believe the Shaman can wait on a letter. There are far too many ideas I need to sort out before I write another letter. Instead, I will analyze the members of my new emerging army, and the latest events.

Sevda: I would be a fool if I could lead myself to believe that I held this group together more than Sevda. That is why our tribe has both a Chieftain and a Shaman – one to lead, one to guide. On that note, he is like my Shaman away from home – is this why I write home less? He has a knack for setting me back on the right track when I get… in over my head. What I truly appreciate is his absence of hypocritical, holier-than-thou, city-kind benevolence – he is aware that the world is a dark place. However, he still keeps me in line when I act too… outside the confines of proper city-kind behavior. (we’ll go with that) He keeps me from being a monster. Sometimes… I need that. I can lose sight of my goal, but whether he agrees with it or not, he always sets me back on the right Path.

Lectus: For city-kind, he is unusual. I’ve made a point about this before, but he never ceases to surprise me. For a young kid, an urchin by the ranks of city-kind, he knows a lot – too much? If it weren’t for the incident with Sevda, I would’ve pegged him to be the first to figure out what I really am. (‘first’? have I been expecting them to find out about me this whole time? What about the fear of Chieftain struck into me about killing them? I have changed…) There are few whose judgment I’d trust more – intellectual and instinctual. He is no doubt a powerful asset to the Red Knight army – in intuition and in magic. Someday, I will learn how to set things on fire with my eyes – live up to Shoku’Ra’s name. And like hell will he ever leave my militia. I will fight him if it comes to that, and as I had proven once before, I would win.

Zaren: He is one of the finest warriors of my battalion! His skills with that gun of his are very impressive – he must teach me some day. His fear of fire is becoming more and more apparent. I would harp on him more about this – no weakness in my army! – but my particular… aversion… to horses… has shown itself more as of late. I suppose that’s what I appreciate about him – we have much in common. We both have our own fears, our own pasts, our own personal secrets about who we are. And neither of us go around asking info from others that we wouldn’t give away about ourselves. Live and let live. Though, I fear he may take this idea too far. I get the vibe that he doesn’t want to stick around with us – too bad! Only through exile or death does one leave the Red Knight’s army!

Molli: I think she is part monster. …that is a terrible way to begin this – hurtful, and obvious. I have been reading many informational books as of late, and saw a tale of the hags of the marshlands. They have long claws, green hair, red eyes, and dabble in the arcane. The image… it looked far more terrible than Molli, but the similarities were too obvious to pass over – perhaps cursed by a hag, or even half-hag? It should not matter, for she is the mascot of the Red Knight’s army, and a loyal friend. (too loyal perhaps – she believes everything I say) She drew an image of me the other day. I had tentacles, horns, fangs, and other amazing features. I fear to show her what I am more than ever now – not in fear of shock, but disappointment. I must admit, she wouldn’t bat an eye over what kind of a creature I really am – unlike city-kind.

Nanya: The Terror of the Red Knight Army! Also, a very much appreciated member of the team. Her less than constant presence in the group gives me a vibe of aloofness. However, I’m starting to figure her out. She is most likely not Molli’s birth sister, considering what Molli is (unless she’s some kind of transcendent, super-hag – terrifying) She is protective of Molli to a fault, but fortunately she has more than enough of the capacity to do so. She has grown to protecting the rest of us as well – likely an extension of protecting Molli. She… doesn’t think highly of me, but this is most likely because I have a habit of teaching Molli things, pulling pranks on her, and getting her in trouble. If Zaren decides to desert, I can likely count on Nanya to whip him back into shape. (Sevda too, but that’s a given)

The Beast: The dreaded Beast of Lepistadt, or Mr. Ichabod. I don’t know where to begin with it. I may have surprised my compatriots with my knowledge of what this thing is – or my reaction to it. A flesh golem was responsible for the slaughter of about half of my tribe. Only the intervention of one Mr. Lorrimor spared our tribe from annihilation, and pushed me to pursue my Path. Now, here I am, confronting another one of those walking death machines, and I have to protect it – the Path works in mysterious and circular ways. I wanted nothing to do with this beast, but Molli’s attachment to all things (sorta) living, and Sevda’s reminder of what my Path stood for, brought me to assist in this. As much as I hate to admit it, this thing is more like me than I would give credit for.

The Trial: City-kind never fail to shock me, but never fail to surprise me either. Sometimes, it’s as if they create rules to live by, only to defy and abuse them, and then use them as a shield to defend the atrocities they have committed. My kind are far more straightforward – you break a rule, you get punished. The fact that some city-kind devote their lives to fabricating more laws and ways to abuse them confuses me. They have a ‘court of law’ that they’re using to punish the Beast. Then they back it with those biased towards one side of the verdict, then they ignore facts about this creature’s innocence, and ultimately they will riot and kill the beast anyway. Why even have a court and an endless number of laws if you’ve already decided on how you’re going to react? These are the people who rule the world? The people whose ways I want to embrace?

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Mollileen: How do I book?

Dear Diary,

I forgot to do the writing time because I have just been so so so busy doing all the things that needed doing! So many things! I talked a lot and I snuggled a lot and I got to go courting! It was super-fun! It is amazing that only three days have passed!

Day first: Day of the Angry-Spikey-Swampmonster-
We became law-yers and in order to do our job law-ing, we went on a trip to Swampland. It wasn’t really called Swampland but it had a hard name and that was like three whole days ago…(Shh, here is a secret: Molly forgets things sometimes). In Swampland we met a Chief who was also Lec’s best friend. He told us all about a beast that might be Mr. Ichabod that went swimming with croco-gators. After we heard his tale we went to an island because reasons.

While on the island we found clues. We were having fun until Lec made and Angry-Spikey-Swampmonster mad. He really made Mr. ASS mad…Lec, why you do these things? Mr. ASS chased everybody then we all went home.

Day second: Day of the Scarecrow Traps-
We went courting the morning of the Scarecrow Trap day. We all talked a lot except for Mr. Zaren who just drank a lot. I tried to be super-cute because I don’t know how to sound super-smart. Cute is just as good right?

After this we talked to some ladies then rode horsies to Otherplace. Mr. Red Knight doesn’t like horsies very much. I’ll try to teach them that they are good monsters like my bed. While we where sneaky-peeking in peoples homes we saw ghosties. That wasn’t so bad, we used to see ghosties all the time. The super-duper scary part was the traps: they turn people into scarecrows! I don’t wanna be a scarecrow! I would be the worstest scarecrow ever…all the crows would come to see Molly and they wouldn’t be scared at all. I would do such a bad job scare-crowing that I’d probably get fired. And an out of work scarecrow is just too sad to think about.

Day of three: Day off Mr. Fakeibomb
We courted super-good (even Mr. Zaren said things good! Clap-clap-clap!) Then we visited a no-seeing man and I got a sip of Mr. Zaren’s special drink. It made my head go all funny, no wonder he is so cranky! I’d be cranky too if I drank headache potions all the time. It didn’t make me any sneakier either. Boo.

We went and visited a burned place. (I hugged Mr. Zaren. I tried to be subtle, but I know about his fire allergies so I was being sensitive. I’m a good person.) It was sort of boring but then Mr. Sevda and Lec said we had to investigate a factory. Kays.

Then Mr. Zaren and Mr. Sevda got all shouty. It was…kinda really very sad and I got a little scared. But it was okay, I snuggled with Mr. Red Knight to make it better. He always makes me feel better.

We sneakied around a bit then we went in and made friends with the cute workers. Then we went downstairs and made friends with the cute dead people…or at least the one that Mr. Zaren didn’t get all shooty on. Then we were attacked by Mr. Fakeibomb and his angry friend. Nanya tried to give the Angry-Ceiling-Enemy a hug to get him to stop being angry. It worked great, she even cuddled him after the fighting was over…is that the type of man she likes? Hmmm….

Mr. Fakeibomb looks a lot like Mr. Ichibod (probably why his name is Fakeibomb, that and he has Stingy-Splash spells in bomb form…ouch!) We arrested him because he was doing bad while dressing like Mr. Ichibod.

Then we went home (after taking our friends to the circus) and I snuggled with Mr. Zaren. He was really warm~ He is such an nice person, even if he doesn’t know how to not shout. There was supposed to be a party that night but the party-crashers never showed up. Mr. Zaren and Mr. Sevda even went outside to wait for them but they never came. Oh well, I was sleepy anyway.

Maybe Mr. Ichibod will be not so jailed tomorrow! If so, I want to go dancing with him. I bet he got the moves.

All for now~
Molly~~~~~

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Zaren: Resolve

We found the creature that’s been committing all the crimes. It looks like Ich the beast. Apparently it was V-what’s-his-name, one of the ones who owned the factory. He had skin suits so he could go around town.

Shot him three times in the throat. The others wanted to subdue him so we could bring him in for questioning, so I aimed for his knee. Almost killed him, I think. The sister took my gun away. Panicked. She’s right, you ARE a wreck. What if you’d hit one of them? The holy man took it from her. Got him to give it back to me. He asked me to ease off on the drinking. Why do you give a shit, anyway? He wanted to investigate the factory. Didn’t want to let him go alone.

He called me “hon.” And “darling.” What the hell? Why doesn’t he take his good mood out on someone else? And you didn’t entirely mind

Found creatures. They put him to sleep. Shot them. Another one put me to sleep. When I woke up, Sev holy man had it in a bag. Said he wanted it as a pet. Damn thing’s gonna be the death of him. Tried to tell him to put it back, but he gave me a sad look. Like he was going to cry or some shit. Gods damn, it’s just a construct. It’s not even a real animal.

We found the things that the dead man needed to stay sentient. Brought them back to him. Said I was sorry for killing his friend. Uncomfortable.

Went back to the inn to get some rest. Woke up, in that half-stage between sleeping and waking, and there was someone next to me. And I thought it was Aja, thought the past four years had just been a bad dream, and I pulled her close because she was alive again. Opened my eyes and saw green hair. Almost flung myself into the wall. Who the hell just slips into someone else’s bed without them knowing about it? You didn’t have to scream at her. She didn’t know. Didn’t know what you’d remember, didn’t know you’d started missing having someone next to you. Your dreams are getting mixed up now.

Gods forgive me, some days I can’t remember what color her eyes were. I’m losing her all over again, and

It doesn’t matter. She’s gone, and soon he will be too.

We went to the courthouse, kept people from getting inside and attacking the beast. They made a half-assed attempt, but it wasn’t too hard to shoo them off.

The trial ends today.

And so does this.

I’m leaving.

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Zaren: Hold

We won the trial. Ichabod is safe.

And I’m still here.

I wasn’t supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be. This is a mistake.

I thought he was going to shout at me, but instead, he just…started crying. What was I supposed to do about that? I don’t know why it matters to him whether I go or stay. I don’t…could he…

You were going to protect them, remember?

He hugged me, after I promised to stay with them. It was

FUCK.

We headed off to meet Ichabod’s father. So far, the environment hasn’t been very hospitable.

Also, a bunch of tiny people are after the Knight for some reason. They think he’s an imposter or some shit. Who knows. One of them was apparently a decent fighter, but the other one was just stupid. We sent him off down the river. Probably won’t be seeing him again in a hurry.

What the fuck was I supposed to do? He was CRYING. I just wanted him to stop, not be upset anymore; I would have agreed to anything at that point

I’ll have to try renegotiating. It was stupid to make that promise. Should have explained. Should have gotten him to see.

I don’t think he’d change his mind even if he knew.

He said he’d always had good luck. He said that he’d balance me out. That he owed me-what the hell? That I had charm. That he was proud of me. And that he wanted me around.

I don’t know what’s going on yes you do but there’s got to be a way to get out of it.

What will you do if he dies?

What will you do if any of them die?

I can’t survive that again.

But I don’t want to leave, either.

Fuck.

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Zaren: Pitch

It’s happening again I knew this was a bad idea I knew we shouldn’t have come I was supposed to be gone by now But they would have gone anyway But maybe it wouldn’t have happened like this if you weren’t there

Leave them be.

Take me instead.

I am not afraid of falling.

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Zaren: Resign

They’re all still alive. Somehow.

Ran from the elemental. Found a goblin. He had a Whispering Way medallion. By the time we looked out the tower again, the elemental was gone. Still had to deal with the golem-dog.

Looked around the tower. It was a pretty nice house, kept up and everything. Still, nobody seemed to live there. Not your concern. Didn’t find much out of the ordinary. Don’t know why we’re still here. I think our lunch invitation’s expired, and I don’t much care to run around on the say-so of some shifty judge. My armor got rusted off. Annoying.

Found a bridge. Ragged boy started across it, since he can fly and it didn’t seem too stable. He got halfway across and something appeared. Don’t know what it was, but Se the holy man was scared. Said it was evil. Said we shouldn’t fight it. We turned and ran again.

Got back into the hall and it was waiting for us. Damn thing could teleport.

We fought it. Knight went down. I touched him and he stopped bleeding. At least that damned bloodline of mine does SOME good. And I…

I shot off light. Like the holy man does. Don’t know how. Heritage again? It didn’t seem to like that. Could only do it that once. Doubt I could manage it again.

They survived, though. They survived. This time.

Went back to rest. Holy man and I ended up in the same room. Had a talk. He…he’d figured it out. What I am. A disgrace to your kind, that’s what. Some lucky charm you are. He said…he liked having me around. That everyone goes back to his goddess when they die. It’s not neat, though, not peaceful; he may have seen people die, but he hasn’t seen them torn apart.

He promised he’d help keep everyone alive. And then you started babbling like an idiot.

He kissed me on the cheek. Almost returned it, except I knew that it wouldn’t have stopped there, not unless he stopped me.

I’d forgotten what

No.

For the past two months, I’ve had companionship. People to count on. People who cared whether you were alive or dead. It’s more—much more—than I ever expected again. It was…nice.

Enough now.

Enough.

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Zaren: Cede

They found me.

I told him.

What have I done?

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