Category: Journal

Fifteen Years

Lieve mamma,

Het is vijftien jaar geleden dat ik je voor het laatst heb gezien. Ik ben blij om je te vertellen dat het nog steeds goed met me gaat. Jouw afscheid werd met de jaren makkelijker, maar daar lijkt nu echt een einde aan gekomen te zijn. Ik schreef al eerder dat ik eerst je miste omdat ik bang was, en dat ik je steeds meer begon te missen omdat ik je miste als ouder. Dat gevoel wordt alleen maar sterker.

Ik begin mezelf nu pas goed te leren kennen, en er zijn erg veel eigenschappen en trekjes die ik heb waar ik de herkomst niet goed van ken, of niet goed begrijp hoe ze zich over de jaren ontwikkeld hebben. Daar heb ik jou voor nodig, iemand die mij dat vergezicht kan bieden. Ik besef me, natuurlijk veel te laat, hoe belangrijk dat is. Ik wou dat ik meer tijd met je had kunnen spenderen.

Ik heb je nodig om mij te vertellen wie ik ben.

Abstaining from Alcohol

Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that my tendencies around alcohol steadily became more and more dysfunctional. I never drank often, but when I did drink, I would drink more than was healthy. One autumn morning, after an evening of drinking which left me wondering, not for the first time, what the hell I was doing drinking as much as I had, I thought it was time for a change. My stepfather, whose birthday we had celebrated on the evening in question, had just quit drinking for two years, before slowly reintroducing alcohol, mostly a glass of wine or two during a nice meal. He had told me that during his time being sober, had reset his relationship with alcohol, and now simply could not drink to the excess that he could before. I decided that I wanted to try doing what he had.

After some thought about the length of time I would give up drinking, I settled on a year, with a minimum of six months. I knew it was unlikely that I would give up drinking altogether, but what I was looking for was the same that my stepfather had found; that the baseline frequency, amounts, excess, would be reset to a healthier level. Over time, a hangover went from a rare, once a year mistake, to a regular, once a month routine, which left me wonder where it would lead if I let it run its course. Extrapolating that escalation of behaviour over another decade did not look pretty.

So I started. The first few weeks, predictably, went quite easily. And then I noticed that the only hard part was finding something else to drink when going out for dinner, and what to tell people who offered you a drink. Both got easier over time. I found that sparkling water, or ginger beer, were a great substitute, and that most people applauded and encouraged the decision not to drink.

I was quite pleased to find that I did not have a physical addiction to alcohol, but rather that the challenge was one of habit. As the weeks turned to months, I found that all of the benefits of not drinking (clear skin, weight loss, etc.) were all a pretty big lie. The one thing I could confirm for myself was that I would get better sleep. I already knew that my sleep was worse on the days that I drank alcohol, but it became more and more profound the longer I did not drink, which showed me that I was also paying a compounding price in quality of sleep.

After a few months, things got boring. There were no new discoveries, no new improvements, and no new insights. After talking it through with Joasia, I decided to plan my return. I briefly wondered whether I was giving up before it was getting really hard, but I decided I felt I had learned what I was going to learn and my insights would not profoundly change whether I would stop drinking for six months or six years. What I was interested in was whether my return to drinking alcohol would reveal something. Would I achieve the reset I desired? Would my behaviour bounce back to what it was before? Would I find the effects of alcohol still worth the price you pay?

Seven months after that one autumn morning, I had a drink again. And it was okay. Since then, I’ve returned to having a glass of wine at a nice dinner and making some cocktails, which is still my favourite way to drink. The big revelation is that after about two drinks, I really feel the effects of it. I know that there is no physiologically change in my tolerance and that what I’m simply no longer treating the effect is normal, but it still feels like my tolerance has shrunk. It makes me less eager to have a drink, and it makes me realise that I’ve started pushing my boundaries more and more over the years. Hopefully that revelation will help me going forward. But let’s see what more I can learn.

Dr. Arkenward’s Ménagerie

Overview

The heroes found their way into Dr. Arkenward’s laboratory where they found a gruesome ménagerie of creatures. Here are the doctor’s notes on them.

Notes

Ludwig

The lowest ranked of the lesser infernal outsiders, though it will claim it still outranks the Lemure. There is quite a bit of writing which has survived the Age of Fear on imps; impervious to fire and all poisons, and incredibly resistant against attacks from non-silver weapons. Like all infernal outsiders, very resistant against cold-based attacks.

Quite a significant number of them survived through the Great Waning as they got stuck on the material plane. Through my interrogations I have concluded that this imp is not old and wise enough to have survived on this side of the seal since the Age of Fear. It is possible that it managed to be sent through the seal due to its limited strength.

It claims its name is “Ludwig”, but that name has not granted me the control over the imp that I had expected and I have therefore concluded that the name is false.

Grok

The dretch is the first form that abyssal animus congeals into, and while it hardly poses more threat to a trained mage than a goblin or a vodnik, leave it for long enough and it will grow to evolve into a far more loathsome and powerful demon as its animus hardens and matures. Immune to poison, able to emit a noxious vapour and very resistant to elemental attacks, and it has a remarkable aptitude for telepathy. Unlike its more evolved brethren, it has a normal susceptibility to attacks with mundane weapons.

I pulled this one from an abandoned house just outside of Blue Harbour. There were several others but this is the only one that managed to survive long enough to heal from the burn wounds it sustained. The others dissolved into black slag. I would have been worried about someone noticing a pack of missing dretches and coming to look for them had they been infernals, but no such loyalty can be expected from the tanar’ri.

Through the “experiments” I conducted on the dretch I have learned that it calls itself “Grok”, it hails from Pazunia, where it was fighting alongside manes and rutterkins for a demon lord named Baltazo. It does not quite understand how it came to be in Blue Harbour, but from the bits I have been able to compile, it seems that Baltazo has been experimenting with sending over low ranking demons and psuedo-demons.

Vetch

Vetch, as the skaven likes to call itself, is a sly one. It speaks the common tongue, albeit in a broken way. Duplicity, stealth and subterfuge seem to be its tools and trade. As a result, I’ve been having a very hard time getting information out of him that I can trust. I will have to independently verify each bit that Vetch shares.

It seems to have no great love for the rat ogre and considers its brutishness antithetical. It claims to be part of clan Eshin, which is a clan I’ve heard of, but not much is written about. I’ve got to be cautious with this one.

Vetch has shown some interest in my dissection of the tentacle-faced mind flayer and it has remarked that certain organs I’ve extracted can be used to create poisonous substances.

Rat Ogre

The skaven refer to this creature as a rat ogre, but it does not seem to have a particularly strong sense of self-awareness, beyond the primal rage what we see in some of the more monstrous humanoids. It does not have an ability to speak and does not seem to recognise words, names or a reference to it species.

My working theory is that the rat ogre is an engineered subspecies of the skaven, so for the purposes of categorisation I will consider it one of the servitor races.

Interestingly, not all of the skaven clans have turned to creating these abominations. There is a clan, clan Moulder, which specialises in creating not just these abominations, but others as well. The rat ogres are, however, the pinnacle of their achievement.

Buras

Smuggled to Kingsport from Farcorner, this khazra warrior is named Buras Blighthorn and he’s been given to me in order to interrogate him. The usual threats did not seem to appear effective, and applying force elicited a resigned response. To my surprise Buras was perfectly capable of speaking the common tongue and has turned out to be a rather pleasant conversationalist, intelligent and eloquent.

He’s explained to me many things, including his mission in Farcorner. I’ve reached a point with him that I think I’ll try a different approach and see if I can simply continue my conversations in order to understand the tensions and conflicts between the servitor races better, since there seems to be some animosity towards Enyalius from Buras and Vetch, and vice versa.

It has confirmed what the Circle already suspected, which is that the khazra hail from the Grey Waste of Hades.

Enyalius

What a strange creature the minotaur turns out to be. I have to be careful not to generalise, but from what I’ve learned by speaking to Enyalius, as it calls itself, is that it is a prideful and stoic creature whose only interest is duty. Not surprisingly, I have learned that its rank is that of “legionnaire”, a type of high ranking infantry and reports to Preclo, his “centurion.”

For all the effort I had to make in order to smuggle Enyalius out of the empire, he’s proven to be a bad source of information. It speaks both the abyssal and infernal tongue, but prefers infernal. This one will require more time.

Rogash

Retrieved from among some of the most northern orc, demon worshipping tribes, we have a strange, transformed orc. Blessed, the shamans would say, with the strength of their demonic overlords. They call them “tanarukks”, which seems to be an abyssal bastardisation of the orc word for “fury.”

It is completely useless to me. I have had to keep it unfed in order to deplete it of its destructive tendencies. I know its highly resistant to fire and poison as well as most magics, but its too aggressive to learn anything from as it has no interest in negotiations.

I have one or two more experiments to run on it, and then Rogash, as it calls itself, is bound for the incinerator.

Autopsy

When it became clear to me that some of the threats moved around the ancient waterways I charged some colleagues to investigate the rumours. They found a fair many problematic elements in those tunnels, none were more baffling than these tentacle-faced humanoids. When I went down myself I was eventually confronted by this one. It was tough; taunting me throughout with telepathy and flaying my mind with strange attacks. The source of its “magic”, if I can call it that, was alien to me.

I have yet to be able to dedicate time to understanding the nature of this creature, and a cursory scan of Tobin’s Planar Guide has yielded little of use, except that it vaguely resembled the aberrant denizens of the far realm. If true, it is completely unclear to me whether there are more of them, what they are doing here, what their designs are, and whether they make the waterways their home.

My investigation must continue and I must come up with a proper defence against their psychic attacks. If this creature is an example of the time to come, then we must expand our arsenal of attacks and defences.

Tottiford Reservoir

Yesterday I went for a walk along the Tottiford Reservoir, which is about 20 minutes away from Exeter. It was a grey day, but practically wind still. It was lightly wooded all around the lake. It was also nearly empty of people. During our one hour walk, we only saw four people (and about eight dogs.) And besides that, it was completely calm and quiet. The only thing you could hear were birds and the crunching of your own footsteps.