Nightfall of our third day travelling back to Callia. We made Downmarsh Station this morning, as predicted. Being on the upriver-travel side of the river, we did not waste effort to get ourselves across to the settlement.
As planned, Yissic and two lizardmen associates met us in the forest, out of sight of the journeymen. The druid shaman was marginally more engaging this time than when we first met. By this I mean he congratulated us on the success of our mission. The words, stated with no human-like emotion or inflection, came off as little more than a statement in the Common language to follow his initial greeting and precede the request for the prisoners and his indication of departure. His colossal crocodile companion was nowhere to be seen. Whether this is for our sake, or that of oxen who may sense proximity to massive predators, is unknown.
Spiritz claims that the crocodile is not “Colossal” in the classic sense, but rather, “Huge”. As I did a full year of Flora & Fauna at the Academy, and have the Manual of Monsters nearly memorized (or, select letters of the alphabet of it, at least), let us take my estimation as beyond reproach.
The Academy. I wrote on it yesterday, and did not finish my thoughts. The Silabrek campus of the Order of St-Jude took on seventy-six fresh, eager, scared, homesick teenagers that crisp autumn when I started. The summer heat did not linger that year, as I suspect it will here when the season turns in a month or two.
We were fifty-four exhausted souls by the end of the first year of study. Forty-two, I think, by the end of the second. On and on the attrition went. Not so many were sent away in later years, or for so light or capricious of reasons as in the beginning. Early on, the Clerics of the school, our instructors, dismissed only those who were obviously out-of-place and well over their heads. Later on, as they got to know us and our style, they pushed harder, looking for weaknesses, looking for gaps or cracks in our knowledge or our commitment, or our confidence, or in our methodology.
One of my class was sent away in the seventh year; she was the only one. I graduated and was granted title at the end of our eighth and final year at St-Jude’s; among the top student of nine left of my class. I and those who had grown to be great friends and keen rivals were commissioned with the title of Resident Doctor, Healing Cleric, from the school.
I was the only one with intention to travel and go forth into the wider world, and this desire was set early on. In fifth year as we completed our primary instruction and were promoted to Intern Doctors (a title more demeaning and belittling than any sort of compliment to our perseverance), some more ambitious members of my class began to write the courts of local government to promote themselves and link in to possible positions on graduation. In some cases this was a wasted effort. For others, I believe it served only to narrow their focus, not broaden their options.
Close as we were, I do not know where the others ended up. Set adrift in this wide world after so much rigorous Academy life, I dared not rest on my laurels lest I find myself rooting down with a local temple or palace, phobic of the wide world and suddenly free of rules and restrictions and endless learning and instruction.
I went home, or what had been home so long ago and now was the house of those who authored many encouraging letters and the visited me at the Academy. My stay with my parents was brief, long enough to gather supplies and plot a destination and gather all the adventurous hubris I needed to push away from the familiar and set out into the wild. The temptation to not-go grew each day that I had not left.
Spiritz cooked fish for dinner tonight, and Wilhelm some kind of game he trapped. Hedging my bets, I had a little of both. One may provide the energy that my body will need to fight the poisoning effects of the other. A note to self, I must recount that awful trip aboard the Bonnie Heather, in a future entry.
Journal of Dr. Marcus Grant
Healing Cleric of Pelor, Order of St-Jude Academy (Silabrek)
17th Day, travelling by river from Mid-Plain to Callia, territory of Ælim.