The party is currently sleeping in the branches of the large trees of the forests of Onin Habith Island. They sleep restlessly, trying to ignore the morbid moaning and the shuffling steps of the undead below, on the forest floor. Such is how nights will be in the forest of Onin Habith, where the dead walk the forests at night. Have the two groups ahead of them found a way to avoid the zombies as well? Are they fighting their way through the night? Are they even still alive?
Have they found the Tower of the Tireless Mageking already?
Meanwhile, the group that the party fought that morning bury their dead comrade. The sun has set on the life of Gansel Ut Sorainon, and that is what the group’s leader, Heidi Ut Sorainon, writes of in her diary that night.
Gansel is dead.
It happened during a fight with another group that was after the same treasure we were sent to find. I wanted to eliminate the competition, convince them to go home.
We started with the advantage. Those men were slow to react, and Miles managed a good shot at the big hobbo before he even knew what hit him. Dorothy managed to bind another for a moment, too, but the advantage didn’t last long. Soon we were all in the fray, except for Dorothy and Miles who, by some strange sorcery, were distracted by a group of badgers for several critical moments. Dorothy couldn’t get to Gansel, that idiot.
He put himself right in the middle of them, which is how he has always been: a little too rash for a monk, too impatient, but usually smart enough to get out of it.
But he was pummeled on all sides, and he realized he lost just before… He had that look in his eye, too. He was impatient, sure, but he knew when he was beaten. That’s how we met, after all. He was just about to forfeit, but he never had the chance.
That man came up from behind and butchered him. He was hurt and they knew it, but they showed no mercy at all. I think… I think that man enjoyed it! I don’t know that, but it certainly didn’t seem to bother them one bit that they killed my friend. That they ended the life of a man who has been following me for almost three years.
It’s like… they didn’t recognize us as people. We were just a means to an end for them, an obstacle in their way. It’s a good thing for them that Brutus called the battle to a halt. We may have all died if the battle had continued, but I would have gladly taken several of them down with me. Let them see what it’s like to lose a companion, to never hear their voice again, or to never see their smile again.
Maybe father was right. Maybe other races really are all savages, too far gone to redeem.
But no, that’s not right. Brutus is proof of that, a human more noble on his own than most of the ogre race combined. Dorothy is a lucky woman.
Oh, but Gansel, I knew how you thought of me, but I did nothing. I think you knew that it could never be, too, but you followed me anyway. For that, I’ll shed my tears and recount you, as far as I knew.
We met three years ago: you, an over-eager monk from the Sorainon ‘Stery on your very first pilgrimage, thought you could defend the country from my words using your fists. I showed you, there, in that dusty inn, exactly what I thought of my country’s ideals. Miles thought the whole things quite a laugh, the way I wiped the floor with you.
Ah, but Miles was never that fond of you, was he? None of them were, I suppose. The humans, Brutus, Seth, and Dorothy, you distanced yourself from them. I think some of the Sorainon doctrines stuck with you, after all. And Miles, well, I guess you just weren’t as intellectual a companion as he’d like. He has such high standards, I know.
But you were a good companion, and I will remember you well.
Brutus tells me I shouldn’t seek revenge for Gansel’s death. He believes it was an accident, a casualty of the sort that we risk in every battle.
I’ll believe him for now. But I do hope we run into those people again.
Maybe on opposite sides of a real battlefield. Brutus’s blessed strike did hit home after all, didn’t it? Who’s to say the intentions of those men.
Who’s to say?