Callia has a new feel to it. Refreshing and comforting. Maybe it is our new vantage-point. I’ll get to that in a bit.
The night passed without incident. Dawn showed us that Xel’Xaran’s helpful cloud-cover fled overnight. All morning our group was tense, anxious, restless.
To torment us further for offenses we cannot imagine having committed against the gods, the day was even hotter than any day this past week. Even to walk from station to station was no comfort, for while it was shade in the forest, it was hot and sticky shade. And then that forest thinned out, replaced by homesteads and farms, fields burning green and gold under the sun, fences bleached and roads dust-white. The horizon shimmered. The sun was unrelenting.
We made Callia by an hour past noon. To arrive properly, the oxen were driven further up river, past Callia’s waterfront, to the last station we would need. The oxen were unharnessed and towing lines tossed to shore. Set adrift, our pole-men pushed us into the river current and steered us across to the far bank, expertly guiding us into an open stretch of wharf district.
Our return was anticipated; two escorts of our Guild approached us as we disembarked. There was little activity on the wharf at that time; laborers slumped in the shade of walls and cargo, waiting out the hottest hours of the day. Pulp stayed to manage the cargo in his trust. One escort stayed with him. The rest of us followed the other one away from the boardwalk and into the oven that was deserted main streets and back alleys.
Perhaps six people we passed in our travel; it seemed like the entire city was boarded up in shops and homes, seeking the lowest and coolest and darkest places one could find. The buildings radiated heat, and the streets were bright and empty.
Why we were escorted back, I do not know. Our unnecessary guide preferred to walk in silence. He was sweating as profusely as we were. The fellow was armed, and he did not fail to check every corner and eye every roofline and shuttered window. I wondered if there was some matter regarding our own safety.
Around the time when I ran out of water to sweat out, we found the Guild hall. Inside was less unpleasant than under the burning sky. The doors were closed quickly behind us, to seal out the heat and preserve what vague coolness the building’s insulation provided. All window shutters were closed up and no candles or lanterns were lit; our Guild house was dim save for thin slats of light forcing itself in from the desert of a street.
A servant ushered us to the dining hall. Here we found Gavin. Our Guild-master looked preoccupied, but not by the heat. I find he is often found with a look upon his face that suggests he is at once mulling dozens of options for dozens of problems.
He gestured us to one of many empty tables, but motioned Wilhelm away from our group. As we poured cold water down our throats and loosened our dirty and sweat-soaked garments, I saw Gavin speak quietly to our barbarian friend. Then Wilhelm came by our table.
Will was leaving our group for a while. He did not know for how long. Gavin needed him to depart immediately with another group of Guildsmen on an assignment. I gave him the Cure Light Wounds potion he had left in my care, Wilhelm offered thanks for our good company, and then he was on his way.
It was then we noticed that Gavin was not alone. Standing with him, waiting to be introduced to us, was a Dwarf Fighter. And, needing no introduction, was our embalmer associate, Alex. Alex had a bird on his shoulder. That was kind of unexpected.
Journal of Dr. Marcus Grant
Healing Cleric of Pelor, Order of St-Jude Academy (Silabrek)
20th Day, back in Callia, territory of Ælim.