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The Longest Day

There is no place to begin.

As if the horrible grief of Miranda's death were not enough, now we are outcasts in a nightmare. I had just claimed a huge stake in Three Dragon Ante thanks to Salivaar's gambit of playing the Druid. How could he have known that I was building a two or three flight because I had nothing greater than a Green four in my hand of six cards? Whatever satisfaction I might have gotten from winning a pot greater than my brother had just claimed was wiped away when Silas burst into the tent in the midst of an argument with Fortunato. There was fury in Silas' voice and anger in Fortunato's.

Silas yelled that he could still taste something horrible that it seemed Fortunato must have fed to him. I could only wonder if Fortunato had given Silas a potion or unguent to help him control the ferocious leopard he carries inside of him against his will. No, it was far worse than I feared.

I don't even remember how all the terrible news came to light, but soon, Silas told Anna, Bell, Julien, Gabrell, Salivaar, Pellam and me, over Fortunato's protests, that Fortunato had loosed him in on the full moon to set upon the noble whose carriage ran down Miranda. I was stunned. Such things did not happen in our circus. We fought, yes, but we were family. The depths of Fortunato's grief and anger such that he would use Silas to kill was unthinkable. But Silas had too many details and too much rage, and Fortunato used his power to try to wipe it from our minds and used his influence to try to silence Silas and the rest of us. It had to be true.

What came next was also unthinkable. Fortunato began gathering power to enact some vastly powerful effect, a power I could only guess would alter my future and those of my friends. So, I did what I have never done before, I quickly strung necromantic syllable after syllable and struck Fortunato with a ray that would weaken him considerably in the hopes that I would disrupt whatever power he was bringing to bear on us.

It did, but the aftermath was terrible. "Has it come to this? Have you turned against me?" Fortunato bellowed in rage and pain.

"Non! I deliberately used something that caused no damage!" I cried back in a less tangible state of pain.

My brother tried to reason with him, but Fortunato would have none of it. It seemed that every word we uttered made him more and more furious. In a powerful rage, Fortunato yelled a High Curse--"Mists Take you all. Mist take you all," he said. The effect was swift and terrible like nothing I had seen. The Mists poured into our tent and flooded the area. Just as quickly, Fortunato screamed and said something like "No. No. Please forgive me!" and ceased to be with us after we all vanished into the obscuring mists.

I believe it was Bell who took charge, asking us to count off so that we would know who the Mists devoured. Silas, Anna, Julien, Gabrell, Salivaar, Pellam and I answered Bell's call. For a few moments, we were as lost mentally as we were physically. I eventually went to the wall of the tent and looked outside to see if the Mists were only in the tent or everywhere. They were everywhere.

My brother recalled a story about the Mists and how easy it was to get lost in them. Salivaar also knew some tales about how the Mists contained horrible beings drawn to life and blood. Perhaps the only fortunate thing that happened that day was that the Mists seemed to be receding on their own. We waited, huddled together in the tent. Well, Pellam went outside after we realized that we could no longer hear the elephants or any of the noises that the circus usually had. He found heather and angelica, flowers that were not present in Chateaufaux, but rather in the highlands in the domains of Barovia, Borca, or Falkovnia.

After the Mists receded we found ourselves and our tent in a glade nestled somewhere in the highlands as Pellam's foray predicted. Whatever peace that would normally be in this place was overshadowed by our losses--we had lost Fortunato, the circus, and all the things we relied on. Gone were our wagons, some of our possessions, and many of the weapons (and numbers) we had to travel safely in the Domains. And, we had an immediate need of one of those lost things: An iron cage.

It was close to 4:30 PM by the time the Mists faded and the sun was noticeably in decline. There are three days each month that werecreatures are in particular danger of involuntarily shifting into their monstrous forms and losing their beasts on the world. this day was the third of those three for Silas. Were we to have any hope of containing him so that things worse than the killing of a nobleman would not occur, we needed some way to restrain him.

We thought of trying to use the tent in some way, but the rigging would be too weak. We needed iron or stone. Someone suggested that their might be caves in the mountains and those caves might allow us to survive and restrain Silas this night. With that plan, Bell volunteered to scout ahead in the way only she can. As a Fetch, she is able to offer her physical form repose as her soul wanders in the near ethereal. It is most disturbing to watch her body "die" and then have her roaming about. However, Bell is unimpeded in that form and we needed to know where we might hole up for the night, so off she went.

Perhaps there were two lucky things that day. Bell located a cave 10 miles upstream, behind a waterfall. When we arrived at the cave, we had a few choices to make. First, what might be in the cave and second, how to hold Silas in it. Well, before that, Gabrell had to be convinced that barricading ourselves in the cave and letting Silas roam was not the best plan. He has a big heart, Gabrell, but sometimes does not think of the larger picture.

With half an hour to sunset, Silas sequestered himself and did what we could to seal the smaller of two sections with a pile of stones. Silas was unable to resist the change a half hour later and suddenly our fears were realized. Nothing but a small cairn of stones separated us from a raging wereleopard!

Worse, Silas' leopard began to dig to try to escape. We needed everyone to bring more rocks continuously throughout the night. At times, when I was even more exhausted than the others, I stood by the cairn ready to conjure a web or enchant Silas with sleep should he get close to escape.

We were barely successful. Twice Silas nearly escaped, but we were able to contain him at the cost of a night's rest. When the night was over and Silas called out to us with his human voice, I dropped in fatigue. Someone, Julien or Silas, wanted to now go and look for signs of civilization. I apologize, I was too tired to be civil and simply overruled the suggestion. It was time to rest.

With Silas as our guardian now, I was able to sleep and replenish the spell I had used to stop Fortunato less than 24 hours before. With the time it took the others to strike camp, I had the opportunity to write this in my log and briefly reflect on just how unnerved I am without Miranda, Fortunato, and the circus. Sometimes, I feel that writing and reflecting is more damaging than just moving on. Sometimes.

Now, we need to find out where we are and what this world thinks of us.

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April 2010

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