The Oracle's Travels: Khimdale Volume I
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Dear diary,
After weeks of travel, I've found another place to stay. A human village near the mountains of Zakhara, called Khimdale. Based on what I observed back in Oracester, I almost expected to be met with prejudice here, but I had no choice but to enter the town. Tired and delirious, and finding it difficult to see anything in the thunderstorm, I failed to notice how beaten up the buildings here are. But the place is not entirely abandoned.

This morning, I've found a man. His name is Herman Baumbach. Apparently, he is one of the last few survivors of a recent orcish raid on this town. He and the remaining townmembers were hiding in an abandoned cellar under the town warehouse and waited out the raids, and he was startled to find me asleep in a haystack in the town stables when he had the courage to peek his head out on the surface. I guess I must have just fallen over into the first soft spot I could find.

He woke me up, and he's taken me to what was left of his house and has been taking care of me himself, since I seem to have caught a bit of a cold. I thanked him for his assistance but told him he really needn't bother, but he would not listen. I am humbled by the hospitality this man shows to a complete stranger even after living through a catastrophe. Herman's left now, out to wrangle up the rest of the survivors, and hunt. He told me to stay put, so I will. Besides, I have some questions to ask when they return.

Dear diary,
Herman and the rest of the town came back. They hauled some big game into town and set it out by the butcher shop to rest, until someone can get around to it. The butcher's dead, so his son has taken charge of the place and is going to get to work salting and curing the meat later. Then, Herman took some people in to his house to see me. The town was generally confused by my appearance, but they didn't seem to be opposed to my being here. In fact, many of them sat down and started asking me questions, which was quite surprising because I had been ready to ask them questions.

Regardless, I answered them all, told them who I was and where I'd come from. They expressed pity over what happened in Oracester and told me that I was free to stay with them, but that it isn't safe around here. An orcish clan with a symbol of a bear threatens Khimdale and was responsible for its near-destruction the day before I arrived.

We are going to be moving locations in a few days and re-establishing Khimdale, since it would be unwise to stay in the same place.

Dear diary,
Today, Herman brought me some deer stew. The butcher's son finished salting and curing the meat, and has put most of it up for jerky, but Herman requested some fresh meat just for me. I haven't had meat in a while — mushrooms and tubers have made up most of my diet for as long as I can remember. I tried to pass up his request, because he really needn't go to so much trouble for me, but he insisted.

Herman can be a bit strict at times, but he's generally very nice to me. He reminds me of… something… There it was again. A memory, skipped over as though it wasn't even there. The life of an amnesiac is a difficult one, but luckily I've more or less gotten used to it. It still troubles me when my mind skips over a blank, but it's par for the course at this point.

I'm over my cold now, and the ground around Khimdale is nearly dry after the heavy rain I arrived in. I got out of bed for the first time today, and was suddenly reminded that everywhere I go, I am floating a few inches off the ground. Herman was more than surprised, but got over it quickly. "When your whole town gets burnt to the ground, you learn to take things in stride." was his only explanation. Fair enough.

Dear diary,
We're on the move now. I've gotten to know some more members of the town on the trails. The butcher's son is a young man named Walter Klemenson. He's been training to inherit the business for years, he just didn't expect it to happen so soon. Thankfully, his mother is still alive, but she knows nothing about butchery herself. His father died valiantly protecting the town from the orcish clan, and lost one of his most prized meat cleavers in the process. Thick skulls, orcs.

Herman doesn't seem to have any living relatives. His wife left him some months before the orcs came, and he moved away from his parents to come to Khimdale. He lost his little girl to the orcs. Makes me feel even worse about the kindness he's shown me… I've been trying to repay it, slowly. I told him I was sorry for his loss.

We were quiet for a while after that. The rest of the town doesn't really talk to me. "They just aren't used to you yet." says Herman. I spent some more time talking with Walter because I wanted to give Herman some time to himself, and he taught me a bit about curing meat. In turn, I told him a bit about mushrooms and pulled out some of my samples. I was able to take back a couple of the species I brought with me on the surface from my farms in Oracester, though the rest were burnt. I never did find out who the man who was looking for me was. I hope I never do.

Dear diary,
The town's gotten tired and we've stopped to rest. Some people made humorous quips in my direction, saying it must be nice that I can go places without moving my legs. I must say, it is, but it does put a little bit of mental strain on me to stay afloat, I've realized. When I hit a certain limit, I sink back down to the ground, which is how I was staggering and stumbling through the mud on the way to Khimdale and how I stayed strapped to Herman's bed while I was recovering. Hopefully, I can learn to control this ability, because only being able to not float when I am stressed doesn't sound much fun.

Some women from town set up a campfire and went out to gather some plants and berries, and some men went out to hunt. The rations from the deer they caught last week are already dwindling. I must say though, Walter's jerky was very good. I look forward to some more fresh meat, though, because there's only so far dry meat can take you.

Herman went out to hunt too. He used to be a carpenter, but there isn't much use for carpentry out in the wilds, so he figured he might as well apply himself in a different way. I've sat with Walter and his mother and have been chatting with them and some more women, who I think are friends of Walter's mother. They teach me things about their history and what they did for a living before Khimdale was attacked, and I teach them about my travels beforehand and my skills in medicine and agriculture.

Dear diary,
It started to rain again, today. Everyone has been a bit disheartened, and I've come to realize that no one really knows where we're going. I suggested turning back, but everyone unanimously agreed we'd already gone too far, and besides what if the orcs came back, and continued trudging on ahead. We had to stop and rest a few more times because it got dark or there was risk of a landslide, something like that.

The rain's still going strong, and I've started praying to Amaunator to bring the sun back. The townspeople seemed confused by what I was doing, so I told them about Amaunator and how he was a deity of the sun and time itself. To my surprise, some of them started praying to him as well, and seemed content afterwards. Is this what religion is?

I have a bit of mixed emotions about my newfound role as a proselytizer, but as long as it gives them hope to keep pressing on, I am content.

Dear diary,
The sun's come up again. The townspeople are praising me as a hero for showing them the power of the gods. I don't have the heart to tell them that it was mere coincidence. Praying to Amaunator was only my last resort besides just waiting it out, I did not believe it would work, and yet the rain has actually stopped. Perhaps he was kind for once? Or perhaps not.

I've been doing my best to remain humble and dissuade the town from praising me too much. We're on the move again, stepping gingerly over the drying mud. We haven't seen any sign of civilization for oh… ever since we left Khimdale, so about a week ago. I've asked Herman about it and he said that he supposes Khimdale must have been built in a very remote area of Zakhara. I guess it's this area that I've been in ever since surfacing in Dhudgrir.

Dear diary,
We passed the plains today. I didn't see Dhudgrir, but I know that it's out there, somewhere. I hope those kobolds and gnolls are doing well for themselves. I haven't seen any sign of Oracester, it must be in a different direction. I hope Parvati and the other halflings are alright. I taught them about medicine and such, so I expect they will fare better than they did in the past.

The men went out hunt again, and I joined the women in gathering some berries and herbs. When the men returned, we helped Walter and his mother cut up and cure the meat and then got to cooking a stew for the whole town. It was quite nice.

Dear diary,
Today, we've lost some people as we entered the forest.

Herman organized a search party to look for them, and I volunteered to join. I can't help but feel it's my duty to find them, even though I know logically I had nothing to do with their sudden disappearance, or the raid on Khimdale back then. Yet I still just can't help feeling guilty. This town has been so hospitable to me and I have done nothing much for them besides show them a religion that I believe to be a sham, and help gather a small amount of herbs and berries. I suppose it's the little things that count.

But nevertheless, I felt obligated to do something more for the town. So now I'm with a group of five others, retracing our steps and searching for the lost members of our town. They were a young boy and girl, the former blacksmith's children, and a couple of teenagers, some of them the children of still-living town members. Why is it always the young that wander off?

I hope we find them soon. The forests are not a very hospitable place.

Dear diary,
I really can't believe this has happened, but… it would seem that I am lost now as well. The members of a search party are not supposed to get lost themselves, but I have never been known for sticking to the norm, I suppose. If only I had deviated in any other respect than this.

I tried to find my way back to the rest of the party and to our camp in the forest, but the mud from the rain a few days ago is still a bit wet and it seems to have loosened up the ground, because I am now sitting at the bottom of a landslide. I must have fallen last night. It's a miracle I survived. I suppose I am lucky that it was only a short drop.

And yes, I am writing in you from the mud, diary. I haven't bothered to get up yet because I'm too disgruntled by all this. After I'm done writing this entry, I'll stand back up and clean myself up however I can, and then I'll get back to looking for the people of Khimdale. Hopefully I haven't lost them for good. I didn't know Herman for long, but I expect he's worried about me.

I will be writing back to you whenever there are new developments. For now, it's time to get off my ass and try to find my way back.

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