Explorations

These letters were found in a mine shaft in Blackstone, August 608ER.  They pertain to the history of the first expeditions of Draelonde and appear to come from the personal journals of one of the explorers.  Some Clans are mentioned which are still prominent now, as well as many names.  I do not know if it is wise of me to publish this, however I feel the document's historical value necessitates the risk.  I do not claim to know the significance of all of this, and so I leave my opinions to myself.  I present them here in no particular order.  ~S

 

The surface brings us nothing but trouble.  Sallow beasts with gleaming tusks attack by day and beasts of undeath arrive at night.  I prefer the latter to the former, for they, at least, can be commanded and sent away.  These tusked monsters we now call okiioni.  They are dispatched readily enough, but leave us tired for our nighttime travels.

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More of us have slipped away unnoticed amidst the turmoil that brews over Shubiata’s seat.  Okasan is wise, she will negotiate our place in time.  I suspect that Setsu will play more of a part than he wishes, in part due to my negligence.  She knows we bargain from a position of weakness for she cannot risk using me as the bait, at least not for a time.  Perhaps once Nokoraise is grown.  But I have been given my task and not by Okasan, but by my Shokanichi.  I’m not sure which guise is more to be feared.

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At first, the mountains fall…rly into the vast ocean which is so much more expansive than that which is seen from the cavern entrances of our southern range.  But once we continue south and somewhat westerly, it turns to hills and lesser mountains, though they spread widely enough to be worth exploration.  There are small islands at the peninsula before we turn, and some argue that they are but mountains pushed up through the sea and bear closer looks.

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First we travel the coastal range to see how far it extends beyond the place of the shirol-karada.  They disturb me.  Though they speak the common tongue I have come to know more of with each passing year, some speak with tones unlike any I have heard.  I have grown accustomed to the lively speech of those on the surface, and many of the shirol-karada have no such lively patterns.

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There are dark shakujochu here, not quite like the hanjochu we found on the surface.  These seem to be working the rock as we often do, but they are sullen and no words we speak at them in common or otherwise garner a response.  It has been decided that we shall leave Dohazoku here overseeing three others who will scout and chart what they can before we return.

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The debate continues as to the value of the islands, even as we travel away from the water, but when the hills flow down into a wide valley, there is talk that we should follow the coastline instead.  Perhaps…can travel that route northward on our…now, we move across the valleys to the…

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…spoke for the dead in the hills where we’d left them once sun set and we posted guards in case the Nakomaromu hunts here still.  Tomorrow we move south.  Perhaps I will find Setsu or he, me.

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There are pale shakujochu within the mountains here, tunneling as we would, but not nearly so deep.  These will occasionally grunt at us, and can clearly understand some common, but they go about their business safe if we interfere with their gathering of metals and stones.  Their work has obscured many marks left, but it seems that Setsu and his team may have decided to move still further south, away from these short, sturdy creatures.  Soon he will have to return home.  He must, for his only other choice wo…be death, and that would be in dishonor.

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It has been agreed.  We will cut across the surface to the coast again, in search of more ports into which we could bring ships, thereby giving us alternative routes to the caverns here.

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A certainty.  We have seen them now, but they do not behave as the Nakomaromu and do not leave us tingling with the sense of hunt.  They are also not as dark as the Nakomaromu.  But they are skittish, and when we try to approach, they run, quickly.  Some are striped, others sable, all bear fur like an animal, yet they clearly wear the furs of others as well, and bear well crafted weapons.  At night, we see them watching from the trees, eyes gleaming.  Many speak of returning but we can see the peaks of several vast mountains far west of us, so far that to be clear from this distance, they must be remarkable.

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Though several years have passed without word, we have indication that Ichiaki and those who traveled with her made it some distance beyond the vast lake of the gatsu and into the mountains beyond the great plain.  At first, they left markings of their journey that we could follow, through the mountains alongside the great lake, but if indicators were made beyond those into the low hills, they did not survive the surface weathers.  We found what may have been notations in the shallow caverns above the northwestern end of the lake, and long-dust-laden remnants that some had encamped within.  Perhaps…she will yet…happiness without her mate…

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Some days into our travel over the surface, we realized we are being stalked.  Something, or several things, track us and peer out from the woodline.  My people grow nervous.  They remember the tale of the Nakomaromu and see whiskers and snouts behind every tree.

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There are beasts that are worse than the shakujochu, dark wrinkled versions of them, hairy and smelling of rotting meat and bearing clubs of bone and wood.  We have dubbed them ugoku and, since they communicate not at all but instead attack upon seeing us, we keep careful watch.  The digging in these hills is quick and easy and many narrow tunnels already exist, naturally formed, it seems.  It may be worthwhile to map the largest tunnels throughout the range.

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The journey to the eastern shore has proven worthwhile.  A small but well positioned cluster of mountains sits on a spur that is almost in line with our own.  Several have agreed to begin preparations for an outpost.  This may be an ideal resupply point for our further explorations southward.  Meanwhile, the rest of us will return to our base, leave word and check for news of the others.  I will be pleased to compare maps and update mine with more recent assessments.  Some will return home, but those who stay will travel the inner range with me.  We will plan to continue westward from where the Nakomaromu attacked.  I feel certain there is more to be seen to the west.

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The closer we get to the site of the attack, the more sorrowful I become.  We have lost so much and risk even more with these expeditions, and while we have found many wondrous things, I wonder if the losses have been worthwhile.  I am glad to be away from the bickering and sniping, but I wonder if she will be treated with respect and honor, or if those few who know will ostracize her.  She, alone, makes my work worthwhile.  Now I must find a means to bring honor to the clan so we can thrive.  It is my hope that the negotiations with Tzumatzi shall be settled in our favor by the time I return.

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We have reached the mountains and they are truly magnificent at their height, though they are proving challenging to tunnel, for the old rock shifts and slips, shale interspersed with volcanic remnants making for sudden pockets and many rockslides, albeit usually small ones.  Attaining the peak, to the north and south the mountains extend, growing gradually closer to the ground, and also to the east, though the surface on either side is dark and does not seem to have much of the green growths we have seen elsewhere on the surface.  This area will need more experienced excavators than we, but the potential for gemstones is high amidst these rock formations and I shall recommend it as highest priority.  It may yet be distant enough from home tha…should…need arise, we will be safely enough away…

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I am lonely here.  I agreed to leave home again for the good of the clan, to distance myself from the child, but I had always dreamed I would see my daughter grow.  Shokanichi Hyokuroi is right, of course.  Political pressures are mounting and if it were known, I would bring shame to the whole clan.  We are fortunate that the scholars sent to us were able to return her to a more natural form.  But still I miss her, and I miss Setsu.  Would that we had not fought.  But Okasan knows; Stesu must prove himself in his own eyes and must distance himself from his sister’s unwise choices.  Still I have hope that we shall be able to return to the site where the Nakomaromu took so many of us and follow his path southward.  I fear he is haunted by those deaths and that he will forever be lost.

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After several weeks spent combing the surface we find few regions worth digging and so return south to the lower river, and west for a time to the next range.  The gatsu point us due west beyond the vast forests, claiming a more consequential range is to be found, but they may simply wish us gone.  Tensions run high.  We are each unused to the others and they to us, and they travel best by daylight, save for some of their “rangers” whose use of kyudo far surpass our own, but who seem fascinated by our knife throwing skills.  It is best we move on for now.