The rain in the Pashhow Marshlands falls cold. By the time it finally stopped this evening, Leada had already fallen ill. She lay huddled into a ball on the ground, trembling.
The cold was closing in around us. Leada warned me, saying "No light fire in swamp. Is bad." But there was nothing else I could do.
Leada was right. Soon a Quadav soldier approached with sword drawn. He stomped out the fire and growled as he glared at me. I could not run and leave Leada helpless, so I grabbed my wand.
At that moment I heard another growl from afar. I spun and saw a second, larger Quadav approaching from the other side of the swamp. I would have been no match for both of them. But the first Quadav left when he heard the other growl; I had the impression he did not wish to deal with the newcomer any more than necessary.
The tall Quadav approached us and spoke to Leada in the Quadav tongue. I did not understand what they were saying, so I was stunned when he lifted Leada over his shoulder. I prepared to attack, but Leada stopped me.
"Is OK. Josea, follow. Is OK."
I followed the large beastman, who Leada said was called Topaz. We reached the underground Quadav city of Beadeaux before sunset.
We passed a machine like a large windmill and many dwellings made of metal as we were shown to our room. It is clear to me that the Quadav are far ahead of other beastmen in the ways of working metal.
Once we were alone Leada rested on the metal table where the Quadav had set her and explained to me what was happening.
She told me that Topaz is a Quadav priest. Apparently he will treat Leada's fever and we are considered his guests.
Goddess, I beseech you to bestow your blessings upon that beastman.
It seems that Leada has not yet told Topaz that I am a missionary. He brought us breakfast and bombarded me with questions.
Leada was still unwell, so she interpreted from her makeshift bed.
Are my parents still alive? Grandparents? Are my ancestors the subject of legend? Do I carry my family tree with me?
When I finished answering, he looked at me and said "Poor shell-less child." When I asked him what this meant, he related to me an ancient Quadav legend.
In the beginning, two giants emerged from the sea of flame. They were Gu'Dha and Do'Nhu. Gu'Dha pressed the flame into earth with his feet while his scales fell and became trees and beasts. Do'Nhu laid countless eggs and her tears formed the oceans and rivers.
Many Qua'dav were born from those eggs. But the eggs also yielded people and other beastmen.
That was because Do'Nhu loved Gu'Dha's creatures too much. Gu'dha did not blame Do'Nhu for this, and instead promised to care for all of her children. But he would not allow any but the Qua'dav, who resembled him, to wear shells.
Hearing this shocked me. This legend was, of course, a fallacy. But for beastmen, who were created to fight people, to realize that we can live as brothers...
The legend continued.
Do'Nhu raised the shell-less children together with the Qua'dav. But the shell-less children were unhappy. One day they killed the Qua'dav in their sleep and stole their shells.
Do'Nhu's grief transformed her into a swamp. Gu'Dha burrowed into the earth in grief and rage, leaving behind only the words "I shall return, someday, as darkness."
I decided against contradicting the legend, in the hope that we might one day grow to understand each other.
He says he will be back to visit us tomorrow and the next day. I will show him the light of Altana then.
Goddess, bestow your love upon the shelled ones.
Beadeaux has been ringing with shouts of "The Adamantking has returned!" Topaz told us that Za'Dha the Adamantking was leading the Royal Guard home from victory against the Orcs.
Topaz urged us to leave. He had led us into the city against the protests of his comrades by saying, "One should not fight people when the Adamantking is away." Now that the king had returned, Topaz's words carried no force.
Leada began to gather her belongings as soon as she finished interpreting. If this was her decision, it must be right. I decided to leave Beadeaux.
"If the Adamantking is Gu'Dha returned to us, the world shall fall into darkness. Unshelled brothers, have you awakened to the blessings of Do'Nhu?" asked Topaz as he showed us out.
His words sounded like prophecy, but I could not divine their meaning. I feel that something awful is coming. What it is, and from where it comes, I do not know. Chills run down my spine.
Leada is back to her old self, beside me and singing off-key. Perhaps she is just trying to distract me as I write.
Rich man, rich man
Scattering gold in the streets
If I could have just a copper piece
What it means, what it can buy
I don't understand
I don't know why
In any case, I should send word back to the Cathedral.
Goddess, shield our mother world from the darkness of Gu'Dha.