Darkest Diaries : A crumpled notepad, Part 2

Darkest Diaries : A crumpled notepad, Part 2

A Story by Alex L. Estival

(This notepad was found, seemingly hidden somewhere in the tavern. The writing seems hastily done and brutish, moreso than the last diary. However, it is still perfectly readable.)

Day 7, Entry #1
When we came back to town, there was no big profusion, no parade, no hero's warm welcome. We had packs, loaded with loot and heirlooms, and we had marked on the map the road we had taken in the Weald, and where we had stopped. Garland himself came to collect the map, though the one to collect the loot was the... caretaker, as he is called. He apparently does not have a name, though to be honest, it doesn't matter. The man gives me chills. Though not enough to prevent me from grabbing my share of the loot, even though Oagoz gave me a dark eye when I proposed that we did. I earned this, didn't I? And anyway, the caretaker announced that since we were in a good enough physical and mental state, we would be going on another expedition soon enough, although a party had just departed -- There was a vestal, a crusader, an arbalester and a thug within. I would have said it looked a bit alike to a ragtag band of misfits, but looking at my own team... I sincerely don't think I have room to talk.

Day 12, Entry #1
After a few days, the group that had gone into the Weald returned, though they looked... off. Slumped shoulders, a dead eye... And one of them was missing. The priestess that had gone with them, quite probably to make use of her healing capacities, was no longer there. The warrior carried a book, and a necklace of beads with a cross as a pendant. I assume they were hers. He looks more ravaged than any of them, pieces of his armor missing, his sword is dented, and his helmet is caved in at the side. I've seen things, but... For once, I actually feel... cold, and terrified, at the sight of this. They mostly look safe and unscathed, but a second look will tell a story to ravage the mind of the sanest man. I usually feel indifferent towards people I have never met or that I am not paid to care about, but... They came back from a place I am supposed to go to, and they're all ravaged -- one of them even died! We are going at first light tomorrow. I'm starting to question wether I should stay, or grab a horse, any horse, and leave this cursed place...

Day 13, Entry #1
Too late for regrets, we left. Oagoz acts like he didn't see the group of returning adventurers, and Ella is trying to act like him... though I'd say she isn't good at it. She shuddered a bit when I mentioned it. Willow knows, but he simply does not care. The bliss of insanity, I suppose. Despite acting like he didn't see them, Oagoz was noticeably more careful when choosing our supplies. We're on our way to the Weald, now.

Day 13, Entry #2
We're inside the damned forest -- it looks no better, maybe even worse, than when we came last time. We went to the crossing, where we had departed last time, without meeting trouble. The last party hadn't marked which way they went, so Oagoz picked a route at random. For once, I can't really blame his rash actions. Although it would get more work done to check each road to see which one we can get further in, and then progress from there and mark it on our way back... I don't want to spend more time here than absolutely necessary, and clearly neither do the others. Except Willow, but Willow is insane.

Day 13, Entry #3
Clearly, this wasn't the road picked by our so heavily damaged friends, unless they nearly died right at the start of their journey. Just about an hour -- judging by the sun ; the woods weren't as thick here -- into the road, we were attacked by... things. They had a human-like shape, but... They had mushrooms growing out of their bodies, and they expelled spores that make me gag whenever I simply think back on them. We were mostly uninjured, though we each had to take a dose of anti-toxin -- I insisted on that, we couldn't afford for someone to die because they refused to heal themselves -- and each had some medicinal herbs added into the mix, just to make sure. No one protested, at least. Maybe they're not all mad yet.

Day 14, Entry #1
We made our way, deeper into the woods. Again, a few rabid dogs, bandits, maggots, spiders... But no... no... shroom-men. I shudder when I think about them. Walking mushrooms, with human appendages growing out of them. Some had skulls stuck inside them, straining the flesh from the inside, as if trying to push out of the monstruous being. Oagoz called for a stop, and said some of us should rest, though no more than two at once, to avoid relying on a single person should danger arise. I am near starving -- we've only been eating half-rations so far, I am tired, I am aching everywhere, especially my head and my lungs. I felt like reminding him of how he fell asleep on guard last time, but... his proposition makes sense. I'll grab an hour or two of sleep, then switch out with him and Ella will switch with Willow, to allow everyone to rest.

Day 14, Entry #2
I woke up, feeling not rested, but content. Oagoz happily took my bag as a pillow, and I don't need much from it, hence I let him. My weapons are already on me. Ella is practically staring at Oagoz in his sleep, but Willow... Willow said sleep is for the weak, cackling at an Oagoz who was too tired to give a reaction. The jester kept strumming his guitar -- I'll admit, the man has a talent for it. The music is soothing and before long, we can hear Oagoz happily snoring. Night has reached us, and the light of a single torch is all that keeps us from complete darkness. We didn't bring firewood, thinking we could chop some wood to burn -- it made sense back then. Why burden ourselves? However, the trees themselves seem to be attempting to end our lives. When Oagoz tried to break off a branch, the fungus growing on the tree shot out some... gas, I think, and sent Oagoz sprawling to the floor, gasping for air. As much as I have distaste for the man, I felt bad for him. And this misadventure made us learn to keep away from the trees, though it seems the branches lying on the ground are safe to pick up, provided that they have no shrooms on them. Not enough to build up a fire, but enough to make for a torch. Not a good one -- we can't really spare the cloth and oil to make too many, but it is definitely better than the nothing that is our other option. I'll sharpen my axe and my grappling hook while we wait for Oagoz to wake up.

Day 15, Entry #1
Oagoz had been oversleeping. In the morning, While Ella decided to have some rest herself, I decided to wake him up -- he had slept enough. But... He wouldn't budge. Or breathe.
Oh gods, I shudder to think of Ella's reaction when she wakes up. I'm removing his armor as I write this, in case I end up dying in the midst of it, or lose my reason... I keep thinking someone may have use of this, and for all my sins, maybe this might help buy me some favors in this famous ''Afterlife'' the churches keep talking about.

Day 15, Entry #2
Oagoz's armor is off, and I can see why the man died. Out of his mouth started growing mushrooms. Fungus, like that growing on the... trees.
Oh. I see.
I know it is disrespectful, but... before waking Ella up, I'll have a look around Oagoz's bag. He wouldn't mind giving alms to the poor -- and there certainly isn't a man poorer than me in the world.

Day 15, Entry #3
Ella did not take the news kindly. For almost an entire hour after she found out, she cried over Oagoz's body, vainly attempting to mutter a full prayer without cutting it with her endless, sorrowful sobs. Willow said to let her mourn as he started playing a song I had heard once or twice, when played for the death of war heroes who are buried in public. Ella must have known this -- of course she would -- because she managed a weak smile towards Willow, despite the flow of tears constantly running down her face. After a while of praying over Oagoz's body, she picked up his sword and scabbard, slung it across her back -- she was stronger than she looked, I'll give'er that. We departed, leaving Oagoz's now near-entirely fungus-covered body behind.

Day 16, Entry #1
Ella had been asking for it. After Oagoz's death, she started throwing herself in the front lines, screaming and screeching about her blood being her penance for letting Oagoz die. The girl went mad. It was only a matter of time before she died. It happened rather quickly : One second she was handling a bandit in a one-on-one combat, and rather well... the next, rabid hounds came out of the shadows, and everything went down from there. She was ripped, limb from limb... And the bandit along with her. Both me and Willow shamelessly used this as a coverup, and retreated. We were exhausted -- it was the first time Willow showed any sign of exhaustion, but he started to. I don't think the man has slept in days. We're going back to the hamlet.

Day 16, Entry #2
Everything... everything went... so wrong... First, Oagoz dies in his sleep, consumed by the fungus in the very air we breathe, Ella practically suicides in combat... Then Willow falls to the ground and stops breathing... I'm alone... When I get back to the hamlet, I've taken a decision. When I get back, I'll grab a horse. Steal it if I have to. And I am leaving this accursed place -- forever! And this damnable lord can kiss my arse, because I'm taking my loot with me. No chance I'm walking away from this empty-handed.

Day 17
I'm stashing this in a corner of the tavern, and leaving it there. I'll hide it so that when it is found I'll be far away. My breath is lacking, my lungs, my guts and my head are all aching terribly. I have fits of cough, I am half starving, and I feel like I am slowly going mad... but it is over.
If you are reading this, leave this place if you still have your mind intact. You will be better off a beggar, if gold is what you are after. Here, you will find only death.

(This notepad was found seemingly hidden somewhere within the tavern. Its pages are crumpled, but most of it is still within reasonably good condition, and most importantly, readable.)

(This notepad was found seemingly hidden somewhere within the tavern. Its pages are crumpled, but most of it is still within reasonably good condition, and most importantly, readable.)

(This notepad was found seemingly hidden somewhere within the tavern. Its pages are crumpled, but most of it is still within reasonably good condition, and most importantly, readable.)

© 2017 Alex L. Estival

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Added on July 3, 2017
Last Updated on July 3, 2017


Alex L. Estival
Alex L. Estival

Quebec, Chicoutimi, Canada

-Writer in-becoming -Full-time student -Gamer -Anime lover -Wheel of time fan -IQ of about 73. -^Yes, that's a thing. -Roleplaying adept -Has played DnD before. -^Bladelock, yes please (5e ft.. more..