Upon leaving Small Ville, we had traveled for several hours before coming across an odd sight. As we descended the mountain trail, a large insect swooped low over us. It appeared to be a moth or butterfly of some sort, but it was large, the size of a bison or a cow. Its wingspan was enormous, and its bulbous eyes refracted the light in a dazzling display. The large, leathery wings (roughly 20-30 feet from tip to tip, as I remember) snapped and groaned, and then the beast was gone, floating deeper into Grex.
I had previously deduced that magic is present in this land, as various fauna and animals appear drastically modified and evolved from those in our home continent. I can only presume that some sort of magic discharge radiates from the land, touching all around it. But I have never seen anything as exotic as this gigantic insect. It creates a large host of questions – are there more? Can they be harnessed? What else has changed? But I have neither the time nor the space to dive into this.
After this encounter, we continued along the road. After an uneventful trip, we happened upon the same daft half-elf as before, Dingle. We were forced into his ferry, and shepherded across the river. I am uncomfortable around the simpleminded, however, we were able to proceed without much conversation. When he attempted to have us all taste his fresh stew, Krawaal simply began walking down the road, with a hand raised in farewell. The rest of us quickly followed.
We continued, day and night, until we approached a river. The same river, in fact, that I had been swept into due to the brutish strength of Jack T. Buck. This time, however, our group was more prepared. Two members forded the river at a slow, shallow point, and we fashioned a makeshift rope bridge across. Upon each tree that anchored the bridge, I carved the following proclamation:
THIS FORD DISCOVERED BY THE DURGLE FAMILY
THIS BRIDGE CREATED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE
BY THE DURGLE FAMILY
After the river, we approached Breach. The city had changed in the short time we’d been away. A flurry of activity spilled over the city walls, dust and smoke rising into the sky. A caravan of wagons poured into the city, and a few trickled out. Everywhere, buildings had sprung up. They looked to be prefabricated, made of fresh wood with thin roofs of sparkling mica shingles.
We approached this revitalized town and searched out Captain Ephraim. He appeared tired and weak, and we quickly extracted as much gold from him as we could. Ephraim was nonplussed at our updates, but he did order scouts to Small Ville to help them rebuild.
We brought up the deed to the inn. Ephraim was not upset by this, merely annoyed that we demanded more of his time. I do not understand this. If the inn is truly as valuable as he says it is, why would he not keep it for Kolonia, or for himself? Why has this land not been claimed? I sense a trap, but I do not want to say anything just yet.
We questioned Ephraim on the mysterious “Mordecai” (from the bandit’s letter.) He had not heard that name before.
After leaving Ephraim’s quarters, we found ourselves among the main camp of the Rift Sea Trading Company. We were introduced to their leader, a man by the name of Artemis Rollston. It appears that the Rift Sea Trading Co. has entered into a contract with the Kolonian government to enter Grex. In exchange for the rights to supply and build in Grex, the company must pay dividends to the Government.
Rollston was impressed by our travels and our knowledge of the lore of Grex. Those of us who were drunk were able to hold their liquor, and we struck a sort of business agreement with the Rift Sea Trading Company. While not in their employ, we will continue this flow of information between each other, in a relationship that is, hopefully, beneficial for all.
Rollston also let us know that the Thousand Needles refers not to a pine forest, but rather two a large desert filled with spires of rock. It is near the Cloud Top Mesa, discovered by this mysterious Harford Jones. While this initially made me look a fool, I pinned my misguided hypothesis on Buck.
(Note: Rollston was very impressed with the “Durgle” ford; I have planted the seeds for the Durgle family in Grex. This Rollston could be a useful contact for the Family).
When discussing our future endeavor, Rollston mentioned that the RSTC was contemplating building an outpost in the town of Grave. Since our dwarf companions were heading that way, and our inn was also in that direction, we agreed to set off to Grave. We brought with us the mule and the dwarf couple. Tig had expressed the idea that the two could work in our employ, tending the inn while we explore. An excellent idea, I think.