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The Journal of Zong-Tossu, Entry 4 - The Indigo Lotuses of Guthay

This is the journal of Zong-Tossu, a master ghav-urath (life-shaper) from the Rhul-thaun capital of Thamasku. Zong-Tossu was sent by the har-etuil (judgment-makers) along with a detachment of junior life-shapers and lawkeepers to investigate a mysterious ring of standing stones and the strange creatures said to occasionally appear within. The expeditionary force was accompanied by a thri-kreen emissary known as Cho’ka.

After discovering the lone survivor Tr’Shadai, Zong-Tossu and his group travel across the alien marshes of Guthay.

A NOTE FOR READERS: The journals of Zong-Tossu, though fascinating, should not be taken as accurate. Even though he was considered a great ghav-urath, eventually many of his writings were dismissed as the products of severe psychosis by the ruling council of Thamasku and simply regarded as fiction or parody. It was rumored Zong-Tossu had a mental breakdown caused by his usage of the narcotic cam-rahn.

Once awakened, our party ventured to retrieve the lone survivor, Tr’Shadai, whom I had spied lying upon a floating Island. When we arrived, I checked Tr’Shadai for signs of life and was gratified to see he was simply asleep - likely from exhaustion, judging by the multitude of cuts and bruises that covered his body. I could only guess what had happened to my pupil and the missing vher-etuil, but my curiosity would have to wait, as when I moved to wake him, the curious island slowly began to lift itself from the sea.

Cho’ka looked alarmed and cried: “This is no Island, this is a giant sea creature!” as the island began to float gently into the sky, using great sail-like membranes to catch the wind and direct itself along the coast.

Soon, several other floating islands picked themselves from the great marshy sea and we glimpsed the true forms of these titanic entities - gray, bloated undersides with a great number of rubbery tentacles dangling from their bodies. These tentacles had feathery tips that seemed to filter small flying lizards, winged fish, and insects from the air into some kind of mouth beneath the great floating creatures.

Our voyage across the marshy sea with its golden grass lasted for several hours until the great flying island-creatures had traversed the sky to the far shore, granting us ample time to awaken Tr’Shadai. Once over his initial shock at awakening alive and upon a flying island-creature, he told us of his group’s ordeal with the terrible unseen predator and of the tragic deaths of Jari and Xelno. We mourned their deaths and I assured my party that our lost vher-etuils dwelt with the greatest of our ancestors now. I swore that Jari Tlekiee and Xelno would be the last of our group we would lose, but I secretly feared that many more would die before I could bring our expedition home again.

Once we reached the far shore, the island gently settled into the waters there, submerging again to appear as slowly floating islands once more. We disembarked and traversed across the slush and mud of the marsh for an hour straight until we came to a grove of indigo bamboo which gave us enough cover to feel comfortable stopping for a rest.

As we traversed the swamp, my head ached ever so slightly and my feet felt heavy, but I put these down to a lack of rest. Tr’Shadai at first seemed terrified that we were possibly back near the shore where his group was chased by the unseen horror, but studying our surroundings more, including the lack of cliffs, he realized that we were on a separate landmass that was unconnected to the one where the vher-etuils warriors were slaughtered.

As the marsh finally began to firm up beneath our feet, we could see in the distance a region of open ponds and decided to head towards it. As we approached, we noticed that the water was remarkably clear. Large iridescent dragonflies and one-eyed frogs inhabited the pools, and from the water sprung massive lotus flowers of a deep indigo color.

One of our vher-etuils, Vheur-Ghav, descended down into the marsh to take a closer look at these giant, brilliant-indigo lotuses, splashing the plants and disturbing the still waters as he ventured closer. Suddenly he halted his clumsy advance and slowly doubled over, falling directly into a large lotus with a splash. The lotus wrapped its thick, waxy leaves over him and pulled him underwater, deep under the waters of the pond.

Alarmed, we rushed to save Vheur-Ghav from drowning in the pond, crashing into the water. The giant lotuses seemed to awaken violently at the disturbance, firing their pollen in large clouds into the air all around us. My vision blurred, I saw double, and the world began to spin. My legs buckled and it felt like my head was swimming with drunkenness.

Suddenly I saw Cho’ka’s lanky form descend upon me, pulling me from the water. As I slipped into darkness, I could just make out Cho’ka frantically dragging myself and the others to the shore.

Then the narcotic slumber began to claim me and I dreamed. I dreamed of my ancestors leaving the Ringing Mountains, crossing through the forests and foothills west of the Mountains to settle in the recently established city of Thamasku… of my ancestors being followed by strange massive beings, stalking them through the hills, far taller and bulkier than those other races of the so-called “Rebirth”… their crude shamans coming forth to defend “their” lands… my ancestors suddenly hearing the buzz of thousands of angry insects. The choir of insects hits a fever pitch, and my ancestors scream as thousands of cicadas swarm upon them…

I awakened in terror, drenched in cold sweat and with my heart pounding in my chest. All around me were my fellows, themselves awakening from their soporific induced slumber - all are groggy and half-drowned. My body was weak and clammy, but as I looked up, I noticed Cho’ka standing above us protectively, his mandibles chittering furiously.

Around us stood a host of massive spiders with the torso and limbs of a Rhul-thaun where an arachnid’s head should have been. Instead of the face of a Rhul-thaun, they had multiple eyes and stiff, wiry, swept-back hair that looked more like quills than true hair. Their great legs were spread wide, touching the soft mud of the pond as they stood clicking their mouthparts at Cho’ka and flexing their fearsome fangs.

I asked weakly: “Cho’ka, can you …spea…speak to them?” Cho’ka replies: “Yes.” “What do they say?” Cho’ka turns and says “They call you star children and you are not welcome here.’Go back to City of Star Children’ they say…”

I could see then, there were at least two dozen of them, furiously chittering at Cho’ka, who could somehow understand what they were saying.

Cho’ka whispered: “They say, ‘Before we go to the City, their queen we must meet!’”