Gin’s Journal Entry, Day 33, Page 51
We continued marching along the coast line without further incident and, by mid-afternoon, we arrived at the slippery flight of steps chiseled into the cliff walls that led up to Osmarren. After some difficulty climbing the stairs and entering the city proper, we were greeted by Constable Hannah Truebeard. She was overjoyed to see that we had returned and more so when she saw Balor in our company.
“But weren’t there two others with you?” she asked.
“They’re dead,” I replied, almost callously.
“My kitty is dead!” Tamar bellowed, on the verge of tears.
“Well, Eki, the cat fellow, is most certainly dead,” I mumbled, “but at least we have that dagger he took from us.”
“And the pretty elf girl?” Hannah asked.
“Not really sure, exactly,” I continued. “She disappeared in the chaos and we never saw her again. I can only assume she was crushed under the ship.”
“She turned into a toad,” Tamar added.
“A toad?” Hannah was confused.
“It’s a long story,” I said, “but rest assured, the Sahuagin are no more.”
“The Sahuagin are gone?” Hannah asked, excitement in her voice.
“They shouldn’t be bothering Osmarren anytime soon,” I said. “Their leader, along with their nest, is destroyed.”
“That’s wonderful news!” Hannah cheered. “Please, come with me. You must tell me everything.”
She led us through the city and to her private office. There I gave a recounting of our adventure with Merrill, the exploration of the giant ship, the battles that ensued with the Sahuagin, and the aftermath.
“Incredible,” Hannah said. “All of Osmarren will now have a good reason to celebrate the Blank God’s Blessing Day. Although the priestess Nathairue is lost to us, this news of the Sahuagin will revive the people’s morale.”
“The Blank God’s Blessing Day?” I asked. I had forgotten.
“Yes, our yearly festival to encourage Amenoth to awaken and return to us.”
I was never proficiently familiar with Amenoth and the common people’s belief in that unknown deity. My clan had no concern for such a god. My clan were Sentinels of the Umbra. We had concerns far greater than worrying about some silent god that seemed to have no care for world.
Hannah continued and told us that a new priest, Ormak, would be arriving in Osmarren within the hour, to replace Nathairue and begin the official celebration. She invited us to witness the new priest’s arrival and partake in the festival.
Tamar and Balor were eager to participate, but Happi declined, saying she had private business to attend to. I had no real interest in seeing another silly little man, pretending that he knew the will of his god, and force that made-up will on the simple minds of the common folk. But I had other tasks at hand and I didn’t want to be impolite. I agreed to come.
The whole community came to see the new priest. The road through the city and to the temple was clear and the people stood, knelt, or lay flat on their face on the curb, in silence and prayer in anticipation of their new priest.
I could sense a slight discomfort from Tamar. This was not the same god she had devoted her life to. Balor seemed to fit in with the people. But that was no surprise as he was from this city. I, on the other hand, was mildly interested and bemused by the entire hubbub, my only reaction being to roll my eyes.
The great gates of Osmarren opened and a procession of men robed in black marched through the gates, their arms locked at their chests and heads bowed. They made no sound as they slowly walked the road to the temple. The community was silent as they watched in reverence. At the end of the procession, four robed men pulled a small, wooden cart, gilded in shiny, white stones and sea shells. Standing on the cart was a huge, ten-foot tall man, of the goliath race, dressed in a red robe, covered in jewelry made of sea shells, and had a thick hide mask that wrapped around his bald head and covered his mouth. His eyes were black and all continued to be silent, expect for the barely audible sounds of the cart moving along the road. This was Ormak.
Once the goliath arrived at the temple, followed by the community, he turned to the people and gave a speech.
“Listen and live … We are not alone…”
I placed my hand in my pocket and slipped my ring on my finger. All went silent. Ormak, the goliath priest, had spoken to my mind and I did not give him permission. The priest moved his arms and head as if he continued speaking and all the people looked to him in reverence. I realized then that he was speaking to all of them telepathically. This felt wrong.
“Can you hear him, Tamar,” I asked. She only grunted.
“What’s he saying? I can’t hear a thing.”
“Be quiet,” she said. “He’s talking to me in my head.”
“And you think that’s normal,” I mumbled.
I had enough.
“Hey!” I shouted, breaking the silence in the city. “I can’t hear you!”
Everyone turned to look at me. The goliath’s body movements stopped and his eyes turned toward me.
“What are you saying?!” I continued shouting. “You have something around your mouth! That could be you’re problem there! Or is that some sort of sign language you’re using?! I don’t understand sign language!”
The goliath continued with his hand motions and a couple of the black-robed men began to walk towards me.
“What’s he saying, Tamar?” I asked her again.
“He’s talking about his god and how everyone shouldn’t drink and dance and stuff. Now be quiet.”
“What?!” I shouted. “He’s telling everyone to be chaste? I didn’t hear him!”
The robed men finally approached me and whispered, “His Reverence is speaking. Please be silent.”
“But I can’t hear him,” I said. “He’s not saying anything. He has something over his mouth.”
“His reverence will speak to you in private, once he is finished. But in the meantime, please, show some respect and be silent.”
I shrugged, continuing to fake my ignorance, and stayed silent. The robed men walked back to their priest.
Later in the day, I learned from Tamar what exactly Ormak said in his telepathic speech:
" Listen and live … We are not alone here on Ur-Delth. The Blank God is always with us. He always has been and he always will be. He is the only one left that believes in us. The only one that believes we are worthy of the paradise stripped from us. But you have been lied to by those before me that claimed to know the will of Amenoth. Yes, he does not hear our words. Yes, he does not answer our cries for help. Words and cries have no meaning to him. But he does know our thoughts. He does know our minds. And he does know our spirits. And he is our judge. No matter what words we say, no matter what we do in our lives to regain the humility needed for the Blank God to deem us worthy of approval, he can see deep into each of us. He knows if a man who helps another secretly covets that man’s wife. He knows if a woman who speaks kindly to another secretly despises that woman. Festivals, loud praise and revelry will not awaken the Blank God. Amenoth is already awake. He always has been. Your Blank God’s Blessing Day is a farce. A lie all the others before me have been telling you. A lie that has kept Ur-Delth from regaining Amenoth’s blessing. If you truly want the Blank God to hear you, you must embrace his silence. You must clear your thoughts and your spirit from the darkness of Ur-Delth. You must accept the way of The Blank God’s Voice. We begin today. On this new Blessing Day, you should not participate in festivities. You should not participate in loud revelry. You should all spend the day in contemplation, looking inward. Asking yourselves… are you truly following a path of humility worthy of The Blank God’s Blessing? Are you contributing to the return of the gods to Ur-Delth? Or are you keeping them away? Because if you are repulsive to Amenoth, you are repulsive to the other gods, repulsive to me and everybody else around you. Listen and live… it will be a new day soon on Ur-Delth. Whether you witness it or not is your choice. I am Ormak, The Blank God’s Voice, and I am done speaking."
After Ormak had finished his sermon, his entourage once again approached me and Tamar and asked us to follow them to temple. We were to have an audience with Ormak. They led us to a small sanctum to the side of the main chapel within the tent temple. There, Ormak stood in the center of what looked to be a small study, surrounded by his robed men. Ormak was still gagged and his eyes closed.
“Hello,” I said with a smile. “I’m Gin Okami of the Okami Clan and this giant of a woman, is my friend, Tamar.”
One of the robed men spoke, in a low monotone voice: “This is his reverence, Ormak, Voice of the Blank God. He would like to know why you disturbed his most holy of sermons?”
“Well,” I said, “I couldn’t hear him.” I kept my eyes on Ormak. I had a feeling the goliath was using the robed man as a medium to speak through. I pitied these fools following the giant. They were nothing but empty shells and puppets to him.
“And why couldn’t you hear him?”
“I have no idea,” I shrugged. “Maybe I’m special.”
“All are the same in the eyes of the Blank God.”
“Apparently not,” I added, “My friend here says you spoke to her in her head. But I didn’t hear anything. I guess your god doesn’t like me.”
“If you cannot hear the words of the Blank God, there is a reason, and we would like to know that reason.”
“As would I,” I lied. Again I shrugged. “Like I said, I heard nothing. Whatever power you or your god has, it has no effect on me.”
“It is not Ormak’s power, but a gift from the Blank God.”
“Yes, yes. But it is a neat trick you have there. “
“It is no trick.”
“Still, all the same, I’m curious how exactly you learned to tap into the heads of a whole community. That’s not an easy thing to do.”
“It is not a trick. It is the power of the Blank God, the one and true god of Ur-Delth.”
“Not my god,” Tamar huffed. “I serve the great Fire God who will vanquish all evil!”
The robed man replied, “The Fire God is a servant of Amenoth and obeys his authority.”
Tamar didn’t look convinced.
“While this theological debate is amusing, I’m not sure we’re getting anywhere with this,” I chuckled.
“Gin Okami, of the Okami Clan, and Tamar, you may leave now. But know this, the Blank God is always watching you and knows all.”
Tamar left the room abruptly. As I was about to leave, I turned my head to Ormak.
‘So your Blank God likes seeing me when I touch myself?’ This, I said telepathically to the mind of Ormak.
That got his attention. He immediately opened his eyes and bustled in, furrowing his brow in what appeared to be disgust.
I finally made eye contact with the giant, then winked, smirked, and quickly left the temple.
The majority of Osmarrenites didn’t heed Ormak’s ominous sermon and proceeded to commence with the festival as planned. Music filled the air. Games were played. People laughed and cheered. Food and drinks were aplenty. Had I not been so exhausted from the past few days, hell, few months, I would have enjoyed the festival much more. But I decided to sleep, heading to the Sea Inn. It was nice to see Tallalia doing well for herself and living in safety.
Tamar and Balor decided to enjoy the festival. Tamar took advantage of the pleasures of the flesh at the local brothel, choosing a somewhat rough-looking brunette elf women to cavort with indoors and out. Balor, for his part, gambled and drank himself into oblivion to ease the pain of the loss of his wife.
All of us have lost so much….and it was time for that to end.
I awoke the next morning with one of Ormak’s robed men standing in my room. I slowly reached to my side and gripped my Staff of the Umbra. He pulled out a scroll from within his robe and placed it on the vanity table. He bowed his head and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Jumping out of bed, I ran to the door and saw no one in the hallway. Walking back into my room, I read the scroll:
Gin Okami, of the Okami Clan.
You are a Heretic and will be treated as such. Osmarren is in danger while you remain here. Your deafness to the Blank God’s Voice will herald doom for you and those around you. Amenoth knows your thoughts no matter how well you think you keep them hidden and he will punish you for them.
Yours in silence, Ormak, The Blank God’s Voice
I sighed, shoving the scroll in one of my sacks.
That morning, I met with the leaders of Osmarren: Galen, Hannah Truebeard, and Dosha Marl. I explained every detail of my plan and tried to convince them that it was in the best interest of Osmarren to sponsor the expedition. I told them that for three weeks, we would need to gather supplies such as food, water, clothes, and whatever else that would be needed. During that time, Merrill would complete his ship alterations and we would ready ourselves for the trip. I even showed them the strange vegetation Merrill found as proof that the expedition could be worthwhile. They were at first hesitant, but once Balor offered himself to act as liaison on Osmarren’s behalf, they agreed to sponsor us.
The next step was to convince the Osmarrenite merchants to support us by offering the supplies we would need. Oddly enough, that task was much easier than I originally thought. Something came over me and I masterfully persuaded the merchants to support us and the expedition.
Everything was in motion, and now, all we had to do was wait.
For three weeks, Tamar, Balor and I were to get a much needed holiday. I spent most of my time befriending the people of Osmarren with my stories, music, and magic. It was nice retelling the tales of my people and the legends of the Sentinels. It had been so long since I had done such things, I feared I might have forgotten the stories passed down to me. But those stories do not come from the memory of my people but are a part of our blood. Tamar and Balor, on the other hand, took those weeks to help train the Osmarren guards in martial combat.
During those weeks, once a day, I would reconnect with Malum to get a status update. Near the end of the third week, Malum found a discovery and I ran to find Tamar and Balor. I found them in the mess hall for the soldiers.
“You were on fire,” Balor said to the half-orc. They were sitting at a table, finished with their meal. “But you were not burning. I tried to pull you out, but the flames were too hot. How did you survive? What happened?”
“My god spoke to me,” Tamar said.
“What did your god say?”
“I feel we will be leaving soon and my god said there is a place I need to go.”
“Tamar! Balor!” I shouted as I entered the mess hall. “Malum found land!”
“Really? What did she find?” Balor asked.
“It wasn’t what I had originally hoped, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. What she saw was a land mass filled with giant jagged rocks along the shore, as high as towers and sharp as swords. Hundreds of them shielded the coast line. But growing on those rocks were plants I have never seen. And all around were birds, flying to and fro from those rocks. There was light. The sky was green, but not as dark as here.”
“That sounds familiar,” Tamar interjected.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It is nothing. Continue.”
“Anyway, Malum went further inland and saw a massive man-made tower amongst the rocks. Flying around the tower was a great beast that reminded me of dragons from the legends I’ve read in my people’s story books.”
“A dragon?!” Balor exclaimed. “Nonsense.”
“I saw it with my own eyes, Balor. It was real. And riding the great, flying beast, like someone riding a horse, was a person clad in armor. It flew down in the mist of the jagged rocks and Malum followed. The dragon and rider went into a waterfall and disappeared before Malum could catch up. But she found, behind the waterfall, a massive stone door as big as ten Tamars. But sadly, it was shut and Malum could not pass through. But do you know what this means?”
“Merrill was right then,” Balor said, “there is land out there.”
“More than that,” I said, “there is life out there – a world of people beyond our own. There are other people, other communities, and cities, surviving. I did not see any undead.”
“What was that?!” Tamar spat. She stood up and drew her great sword.
“What’s wrong, Tamar?” I was shocked by her sudden outburst.
Balor stood up and took his weapon in hand as well. “Someone doesn’t like you, Gin.”
“What are you talking about?”
Tamar and Balor ran out of the mess hall, ready for battle.
“What in the Nine Hells is going on?” I followed my companions out. On top of the crushed tent temple was a giant man-like creature. It had the body of a man or woman but the head of a goat’s skull. It had black feathered wings and long, gnarly clawed hands. Putrid green smoke surrounded its body.
“I suppose the holiday is over now…”