Harvest Time is Here Again

I met up with Dalish on my way north. We headed up to Nat’s house together, on a much more peaceful journey that the first time. Dalish, however, is looking like a dead husk, almost as bad as his mummy counterpart. He says he’s nearly finished with his plan. I’m just happy to be out of Atlantic City for a few weeks.

When we arrive, Nat greets us with skull-tattoo-covered arms. She explains that they are for battles she has fought and that she has marks on her back for deaths she has caused by the thousands. She seems both proud and depressed by all of this, and has marked herself in their memory.

We head inside for some dinner, and Dalish strikes up conversation about the mines. They cannot control the undead without Skull Grandpa, so they’ve had to resort to prison labor. Nat’s dad is not happy with this situation, and hopes that between Stephen, Nat, and Dalish, something can be done.

Gerhardt and Klyce arrive the next day. Klyce in the form of an eagle, and in a great big coat when he transforms back. They’ve both seen a lot of battle out west, but Gerhardt seems even more quiet than usual. Remy, Philomena, and Marybeth all ride up together from New Gnosis and they all look quite well. Marybeth has an ease to her that I’ve never seen, and Remy has filled out into his body a bit more naturally.

His eye, however, is glowing a dull orange. He fashioned himself a new eye and wanted to add some magic to it. It seems that some of the power he siphoned of Balor seeped into it. It beats ever so slightly. I warn him against it trying to grow a new god in his head, but he seems unworried.

We all have a conversation about how to keep Rictus from using me, but none of the solutions seem workable. Marybeth wants to put a geas on me, but that doesn’t last long enough, and it’s not my will doing the killing. We have to change the laws to stop him. And that’s going to take a while.

At dinner, conversation returns to the mines and the horrible conditions and resources required to keep prisoners alive an working. Dalish, Stephen, and Nat promise to start work immediately after dinner.

Talk turns to Dalish’s ‘solution’ for his crippling depression, and Remy pleads with him to find another way. Nat and Marybeth chat about Nat’s tattoos and Marybeth’s found peace and happiness. Marybeth found out west that she is fully capable of handling herself and staying alive without others looking after her.

Someone mentions Xin Yue towards the end of the night, and on my way to bed, I send her a message, asking how things are going. She tells me her clan has been destroyed, and there is no stopping the golden horde. This is awful, and lends itself to some pretty horrific nightmares.

The next day, after a morning run with the boys, I fill everyone in on what Xin Yue said. There’s nothing to be done about it from here, but I did offer her a place to stay when our military service is over. Marybeth, Remy, and I go find a seamstress in the village. Marybeth has some beautiful dresses, and I’m still stuck with military wear. With her help, we design a couple new dresses for me to wear to the Harvest Festival.

That night, a storm comes in with dinner. I so badly want to go out and stand in the rain and wind and lightning. The unbridled power of it calls to me. But, I stay at the table and eat and drink with my friends. Until a crash of thunder turns into knocking at the front door. A servant comes to get Nat because her parents have already gone to bed, so she’s in charge.

I follow Nat down to see who it is, and the others trail behind. Two figures are standing in the doorway. A hunched over figure with a hideous face, dripping water all over the floor, and a finely dressed older man who is completely dry.

“Good evening. I am Vlad Tepish, and I am here to see my son.”