Am I going mad?
Aelith is missing, we’re facing down a quiet invasion, we travel through perhaps the most dangerous part of the most dangerous city on Morkane, and I act as if possessed. Why? What possible reason would cause me to be so blind, so stupid?! Is it desperation? Is it psychosis? Is it… something worse?
We have retired for the night, settling again in another festering cesspool of an inn, but for the trouble I’ve caused today, Dear Journal, I expect little better. I have finally slowed my breathing, stilled my heart, and have now sunk into contemplation, and yet I continue to find myself empty-handed as to any explanations. Every conclusion is wrought with more puzzlements: I exposed Vimik to uncertain death, nearly opened fire on innocent civilians, and most reckless of all, returned to the accursed Plane of Shadow. I descended into the maw of the most dreaded place of my nightmares…
Dear Journal, I am afraid.
Was I truly certain that Aelith had somehow been pulled to the shadows, or was it something else? Had that place somehow enticed me to it, drawing me in as a flame draws a moth? To ask the question makes me tremble. In the past, it nearly did drive me to madness, but today… has that madness become me? Nothing now but confusion and questions.
Even the events leading up to the descent were scattered and disparate at best. We met with the head cleric of the church of Polisideus, hoping to find some lead as to our missing friend. Though my memory often fails me, I was certain enough of it to ask his audience, remembering vaguely some mention of his god from that aloof stranger who hands us down his orders and vanishes. I suppose I have you to thank for jogging that memory, Dear Journal. You have often been helpful opening doors to the past and unknown. I hoped perhaps the cleric might offer the same help in the continuingly pressing matter of Aelith’s whereabouts, but of course he was of little use. Really, what can you expect from clergymen, Dear Journal?
From the temple we headed north to the chasm that is settled amid the undercity. I had become convinced that somehow his kidnappers were moving underfoot. In hindsight, I do not blame my companions for questioning that paranoid conclusion. If I had heard the same thing from Aelith, or our new tag-along friend Tivis, I would have had them gagged, but it somehow made perfect sense to me. Deeper underground. Further into the darkness. Where else could he be, I remember thinking. While the obvious answer “any where else” was poised on the sensible tongue of the halfling, I felt… assured, almost as if something were whispering certainty into my ear. Something…
Yes, I am afraid.
I am afraid of what I might become, descending down this path of reckless abandon and hedonism. I sense a time, soon, when the friends I travel with will be destroyed by my indulgences. My hand trembles even now at the thought that that has already come to pass…
I am afraid because… I am not. Convoluted, I know, Dear Journal, but setting pen to paper tonight might reveal some truths on matter. It has always been what you do best.
With assuredness that my conclusions were unwavering, I took the hands of my comrades and shifted to the Plane of Shadow. With nearly a year behind me since I left this place, its memories linger all too well. The familiar scent of ash and mildew immediately filled my nostrils, and how could I forget the smoky tendrils of its twisted, mirrored landscape? I was reminded of all of the terrible sensations of my first arrival, but this time… this time was different. I tasted its poison and I did not flinch. I was not afraid of that place today, and that terrifies me most of all. I swore I would never venture into its darkness, but when I stepped foot onto its warped soil, I longed for it again. Despite my weakened state from ripping open its portal, I felt some how stronger there. I felt a sense of completeness. I felt… I cannot believe to admit it, but I almost felt safe.
No. I must be rambling again. Forgive the stream of thought. I have been running on high alert all day, and I find it hard to stay focused. I am both angry with myself for my actions, and anxious for my friend, not to mention the burden of this quest: informing the world of the danger to come, even though the Aequora Three is still seeking that answer to that very thing themselves. We have found none in the City of Wonders, nor its underbelly, and time grows shorter by the hour.
For now, I can only hope my desperation is staved off long enough to not interfere with our missions, be it the immediate finding of Aelith, or the far reaching mobilization of the world’s nations. I hope tomorrow bears better fruit than the last, but tonight, Dear Journal, I already dread the worst has befallen us…
Aelith, where are you?