Fire and ash, what the hell happened? A whole day gone? Two days? Three? More? What does that? Why does that? Questions without answers right now. I could try to go ask the dryad (tree spirits, right? Or are those druids? Nymphs?), but I really don’t feel like risking another timeskip. Pretty sure that wouldn’t help, plus people would notice. Maybe. They’ll at least ask where we go for a few days at a time without dying. And why. Questions I don’t want answered right now, at least without a few more ranks in Lie-my-ass-off or actual answers to give.
People are agitated since the screamer cats hit, but I couldn’t tell you how much. There’s a general sense of imminent threat and it’s got me on edge. Q’s ignoring it, or at least not expressing it. She’s sleeping much the same since we got back, maybe a bit better. Weird kid. I saw her with a knife the length of her arm earlier, blade sheathed. Not sure what she did with it, but at least one of us has a weapon now, although I suppose if I really wanted to I could smack someone with my forearm to get Nocalibur started on his rent.
Apparently I couldn’t interrogate my way to answers even if I wanted to. Tree’s gone. Clearing’s gone. Thought it was weird I couldn’t see it from the tower, went to investigate. Q skipped along humming a diddy that I can’t place but definitely know. Was pretty sure we went in the right direction, but after about forty meters there’s still no tree, so I turn us around and we try again. And again. And again. Still no tree. Not even a drawing of a tree, which would have been much more better. Get that reference, I dare you.
Found the dagger of stabbings, though. That hasn’t moved. Still embedded in that one Lorax tree, although said tree is looking super unhealthy now. The moss in particular looks like someone ran it through a fun-house mirror. Ordinarily these things (the tree and moss combined view) look like an orange lolly wrapped in a purple sock, but this particular tree is a half-eaten blue lolly being strangled by grey, brown, and purple shibari rope. The (un?)dead moss has peeled off of the Lorax tree, revealing solid black, uh, stuff around the embedded blade. I’m hesitant to call it bark or even go near the damn thing because the moss has started to reach tendrils out to the ground, nearby trees, and even the dagger’s hilt.
That took more words than I expected, and I kinda feel like it was both redundant and insufficient, so now we’re gonna take a crack at the poetical and get graphically metaphoric. You ready for this shit? Well you better be, cause I ain’t. Imagine this: you’re a dude walking down Shank Alley, minding your own business when you stop at the corner store for a ciggy. Then somebody (technically two somebodies) comes up and shanks you right in the cancer cells you use to breathe. They then skedaddle, leaving you standing there with a funky dagger in your lungs and God’s gift to cancer burning a hole in your face. Then your magnificent beard and the front half of your hair falls off, your rib-cage cracks itself open, and your intestines flail about like they just got shanked. They then proceed to wrap around anything they can get their stinking mitts on like the dagger of stabbings, your newly bald face, and your neck. Presumably at some point after that you’re dead, but I don’t think the tree’s dead yet so neither is the metaphor. Yay.
Graphic and imperfect, but I think it paints a clearer picture than what I had before. So I really don’t want to touch that dagger now, especially with that funky green liquid running down the blade. Heh, first Nocalibur and now the dagger of stabbings (shankings?). Keep this up and I could be a genderbent King Arthur, pulling swords and evil stabby bits from places they have no good right to be in. Yeah, pass.
In any case, I turn Q right the hell around after seeing that. Dagger’s busy doing its thing, we’ll come back when it finishes, cross my heart. I swear the dagger (and the tree, as if the dagger wasn’t creepy enough) shivers as we depart, which really only means I can’t leave fast enough.
Nothing kills us on the way back, no timeskips, and better yet no questions from the newly posted guards upon our return. I got spooked by them as soon as I saw them, thinking we missed another few days, but naw. They’re newly minted from Baldie, which costs them a few points, but they make up for it by just ushering us through. They’ve got pikes and some nice metal hats which means they’ll probably die from screamer cat tail whips, but they’re good blokes. Hope they make it.
Back in the tower again, going over the days notes and reading what I’ve put down for today’s entry (I’m allowed to edit my own work, anyone who tells you differently has a vested interest in denying you power or is a moron) when literally the previous paragraph and the opening to today catches my eye. Questions I don’t want answered? Why?
I’m an introvert. Hardcore, I-don’t-want-to-be-around-people-please-go-away, lock-myself-in-my-room introvert. I can do people if it’s one person at a time, for however many people you want me to interact with. Not wishing to interact with people as a group is a defining character trait. The blatant desire to not have a conversation about a particular topic is nothing new. But this? This is new. This is a secret (two secrets?) I’m apparently hoping to keep and willing to lie about. And that’s different, because I don’t know why.
Let’s talk about it, you and me. See if I can peel this back a bit, dig deep. First is the encounter with the burning tree. Different, fun (in a weird, scared-to-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of way), and relaxingly not hostile. First contact with something otherworldly and intelligent, and it played with a kid and waved at me when I left. It also disappeared, which might have something to do with why I haven’t spread the word. What good would it do?
“Oh hey guys, by the way there’s a giant, invisible tree that’s on fire and gave me a sword that turned into a bracelet. Here, look!” And we’d wander around for a while, never find the tree, and nothing of value happened. Meaning I’d be talking with people and guiding them for hours to absolutely zero benefit, mine or theirs. So I guess that one makes sense.
The dagger doesn’t. It’s still there, still eating (this phrase makes an uncomfortable amount of sense) the tree and still potentially (“potentially,” ha! Thing’s an armed bomb) dangerous to everything around it. I have no idea about the mechanics behind what it does, but if it works on, say, screamer cats the same way it works on trees, people will die if they get stabbed by this thing. About the only plus side I can find is that it only works on things it has continuous access to (otherwise I’d be the guy in Shank Alley right now). So, why do I not want to talk about it? People should know about the weird-ass magic dagger doing crazy shit to a tree and its poor sock. Should they, though? It’s one dagger. One. Of powerful effect but limited scope. People see this thing and eventually someone’s gonna want to use it. It’d be the ultimate Roosevelt stick to beat people with. I speak very softly, but my stick makes you speak not at all. No way in hell I’m letting people do that with my dagger.
Hold the fuck up. My dagger? I don’t want anything to do with this shit. That thing will kill people in extraordinarily gruesome ways. People tend to accept piles of dead people if there’s a stated reason or six for them (see: most wars and every shooting ever), but generally tend to frown on turning bodies into giblets. I cannot use this thing, and very much don’t want others using it either. So, hold onto it? Bury it? Hide it? Disguise it?
It’ll have to come out of the tree. That by itself is very noticeable, so noticeable I’m wondering why the hell no scout group’s brought it up yet. Maybe they have and there’s already been a big talk about it? Maybe, but no warnings about it? Unless I missed them. Shit, that timeskip was more inconvenient than I thought. Aight, let’s run the options again.
One: Nobody but Q and I know about the dagger, despite a few days of heavily searching the surrounding area with lots of people. That means people haven’t seen it, which means they either forget about it as soon as they see it or just plain miss it. Either way, there’s some kind of cloaking field around it that does not apply to us. Handy, until the field fails and people freak out about the brutalized tree and sandpaper shibari stranglers.
Two: Leadership knows about the dagger and hasn’t done anything about it. Giving them the benefit of doubt, why would they? It’s a single tree, unmoving, with weird decorations. Hasn’t harmed anyone. Removing the benefit of doubt, they’re all secretly plotting to take the dagger for themselves and shank people with it. Oh, and the scouts that found it. They’re plotting too.
Three: Everyone knows about the dagger. As before, why not leave it alone? Doesn’t appear to be spreading. Also as before, the dagger’s evil and people are greedy.
Fine, then. The dagger represents power I don’t want people to have. Which means my immediate objective has just become “Remove the Dagger of Shankings from the Tree of Poor Planning,” reward unlisted, duration TBD. Follow up objectives include “Hide the Dagger of Shankings” and “Apply Permanent Solution to the Dagger of Shankings,” which gives me a three-part questline to follow. Shit. Those always end with a surprise final boss.