I found I had some time before dinner and far more money than I knew what to do with, so I wanted Sentem. Preparations for the festival was evident everywhere, as people were moving to and fro. It was in passing just such a group that the attention of my nose was captured by the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread. The aroma took me back to the enclave where we would bake sweetcakes together, and I had a brilliant idea: I would share those sweetcakes with the town of Sentem at this festival! I found the baker, a man named Har, and bought everything he would have sold and then some and commissioned him to make the Hulathi sweetcakes and distribute them freely during the festival. I left him and made my way to Sameel’s house quite content with myself and eager to attend the festival and have that little taste of home.
Sameel’s ‘feast’ was a spartan affair, and I think we were all too polite to eat much. The conversation quickly took a turn toward the inner conflict Sameel had between what he wanted to do, what his father would do, and what he thought would be best for the surrounding lands. He recounted a tale to us of the Fountains of Amena Woami and how it was a place where the three people had gathered: the Hann, the Hulathi, and the humans. Sameel has a vision for this land to return to such a time…a time where people can come and go in peace. I was deeply moved by his vision, and promised I would do what I can to aid him in that.
Shortly after our ‘dinner’ and conversation, Dubar requested that we be able to see Jepeth, for he might be able to better ascertain what is ailing him. Sameel consented, and we found ourselves in a darkened, warm room with a crazed, naked man hunched in the corner. What caught my attention though was that the windows were boarded up from the outside. Glyphs had been scratched on the walls, and one of them matched the scrap of map that we had previously found.
In asking Sameel about it, he said that the ‘black-bound tree’ had long been used by the takan. That phrase reminded me of some ancient murals back at the enclave. Painted images of armies rising up against my people carrying banners with the symbol of the Iron-Bound Tree emblazoned upon them. That phrase whispered from my lips and Jepeth reacted violently. He hovered in the air while I felt my very soul begin to leech from my body. We both collapsed at the same time – he looking haler, and I feeling quite weakened.
Our course of action is confirmed. We must drive out that which is embodying that poor man. Its evil was a force that drove my people into hiding, and I will not stand by and let it be unleashed again. We will spend tomorrow gathering our supplies, then we will head East to look for the last ingredient needed for this ritual of cleansing.