Tuesday 4th July 1498 – Evening
Fortified by a veritable feast of rations, we descended into the tunnels that we suspected the troglodytes had swarmed out from. The passages twisted and turned but Shanae lead us straight and true as she followed the creature's tracks by torchlight.
As we were starting to wonder whether we might actually be lost or not we stumbled upon a troglodyte. I'm not sure who was more surprised! It tried to fleet but I concocted a particularly powerful bomb that shredded the hapless creature with shards of glass and tongues of fire. Fortunately this meant that it couldn't call for help, unfortunately the noise of the blast probably meant that it wouldn't need to…
We traveled on more warily now, next coming upon a heathen temple. It was arranged with a gruesome caricature of a head at one end, a lit brazier on either side, straw around the edges of the room and the floor speckled with blood. We thoroughly investigated the profane shrine and I came across a sickle – clearly a ritual weapon of some kind.
What happened next though shames me to no end. Whilst trying to investigate the head for any hidden compartments or clues I must have touched something that had a strange effect on me – we think it may have been the blood caked upon it.
I was filled with a seething range for my companions, their good-natured jibes suddenly seeming like deathly insults and their eyes felt full of judgment and contempt. In a fit of rage I sank the sickle into the back of Lydia's leg. As she fell screaming I lunged at Guillaume but, fortunately, in my maddened state I did not have the presence of mind to find a chink his armour. As he tried to restrain me, Lydia cast a spell that knocked me out. By the time I came too I was pinned to the ground.
I apologies profusely to both Lydia and Guillaume, the shame gnawing away at me, but I'm not sure they forgive me – especially Lydia who's injury is quite grave! As I write this, I don't think even Hasdrubal's mirror could buoy my sunken spirits. I was also wracked by hallucinations – the feel of breath on my nape and chattering teeth in my ears. I will make sure to pray tonight.
After they had seen that I was back to good sense again, I pushed through the darkness to scout the end of the tunnels. It all seemed to open out into a massive, open cave and a troglodyte settlement. This was not a fight we wanted to engage in, especially given the wounds we had suffered until now, so we retreated back through the tunnels. We set the shrine alight as we left in an act of defiance.
Back in the lower chambers of the tunnel we slept the night in case the filthy reptilian beasts came to seek vengeance, but none did and in the morning we would set off back to Brehan.
Wednesday 5th July 1498
We said our goodbyes to the Earl of Brehan, handing over what we had managed to salvage from the lower levels of the tower and started the journey to Carnac as it was our only lead.
Woke in the night with pangs of hunger. Went to help myself to a share of rations but found Pierre already taking from them and eating his fill, ashamed but unable to help himself. We sat and ate in silence before going back to sleep full but still unsatisified.
Thursday 6th July 1498
The day passed slowly. I still don't think Lydia has forgiven me for what had happened yesterday, but I hope she does as I certainly cannot forgive myself. I can barely even bring myself to meet her gaze and I spend most of the journey with eyes fixed to the ground.
Delicious pheasant stew to be had at the Cross and Barrel inn.
Friday 7th July 1498
We passed a village today that had clearly been claimed by the Famine. A member of the townsfolk sat on the steps of his home chewing on leather, belly distended like the most corpulent man you have seen and eyeing us with suspicion.
We weren't intending to stop and as the noise of our horses drew more people from their homes we sped off on our horses. Glancing back the crowd of people stopped chasing us and turned on each other instead. I didn't look back again.
Saturday 8th July 1498
We arrived in Carnac today. A port town with a crumbing palisade, it has the walled Institute at one end and the abandoned, circular castle at the other.
The town is a gloomy place at the best of times, and being overcast didn't help. We made our way swiftly to an inn for some much needed food. As we stepped into the Drunken Skeleton inn it was clear that outsiders were not welcome here. The owner, Ol' Bill, and I were on fair terms, so we were served without much grumbling but we decided to overnight elsewhere, settling on the Fisherman's Arms instead.
News from the other assembled travelers reveals how bad things have been getting. The famine has spread far and wide, the Order of the Ermin is truing to help those in need but it is not enough. There are doomsayers on the street, fight and looting, and shortages of food in all places. Society itself is breaking down as noblemen and women are fortifying their homes and hoarding what food they can from the clamoring hordes of their countrymen. The feeling is that this is somehow Carnac's fault. Everything else is blamed on this place, so why not?
We are told that the castle has been abandoned for many centuries, although the protective wards around it have waned in recent times. It seems to be our most likely source of information so we will set out in the morning.