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Hulean Correspondence 7

by Christian Constantin

Yablan, Flaurmont 3, AC 1010

Dear old friend,

My journey on the lazy Sarja River has ended without much trouble and now I'm in the big village of Yablan. What wasn't my surprise when I saw to centaurs at the village marketplace! Normally, these creatures tend to be secretive and live in remote forest; however, here in the Converted Lands they seem to be a not so uncommon sight. This was the only beginning of a series of surprises. Later on I saw a small group of fauns, that the locals call satyri, drinking at the same table as a group of peasant and fortune-tellers.

Since it seemed quite easy to talk with them I took the opportunity to learn a little more about the interaction of the Woodland creature and the humans in the converted lands. They informed me that most of their likes were expelled generations ago from the great forest of Niwhelm (now the Dark Wood) by the Master and the evil Leshii (which seems to be an evil kind of creatures from the forest allied with the Master). Since then, they were forced to mix with the surrounding human community. They also told me that the biggest communities of woodland denizens were concentrated in Bulzan and at the southern edge of the Zdredanyan Forest in Antasyn and Monzag where they could find more forested areas than here in Olgar. It seems that, as the Olgarians, they really like divination and fortune telling, and this is why so many of their kind are here in Yablan for this festival.

I was invited to demonstrate my powers as a fortune-teller, which forced me to impress the audience with carefully selected spells. If my art made great impression on the common populace, I should say that much of the other fortune-tellers and diviners are charlatans. Nevertheless, I've met a small black man who, according to the local populace, came from a distant jungle realm of the far south (I suspect the Yavdlom, but can't be sure). This man had great divining powers, I must admit, but I wasn't able to talk directly to him. He made some troubling predictions: he talked about a powerful object that sustains the Master's power, about three glorious beings fighting to reach immortality and of a great war to come between them for the control of this powerful item. I wonder if this story is connected with the diplomatic contacts that the Olgarian rebels have made with other forces opposed to the Master...

While I was eating and drinking at the fair's camp. I have been invited by locals to try the village bathhouse (I wonder if I should take that as a message after such a long journey and so many researches). I was quite interrogated by the local custom of giving offering to the local bath spirit, since my hosts enjoin me to do the same, I did. After the offerings were given, I was surprised by the tranquillity of the place and the feeling of peace that submerged me. I wasn't able to keep me from using a little Detect Magic to see if this feeling was magically induced. Again, to my complete surprise, I saw, in the corner of the bathhouse, a dog-like creature that glowed with magic. I'm sure that it wasn't there moments before I've cast the spell and as soon as the spell ended, it disappeared again.

At the sight of my surprised expression, my hosts told me that what I saw was the Bannik, the guardian spirit of the bathhouse. They also warned me that to see a Bannik was a bad presage, a sign that death would come around me. Intrigued, I've asked some more questions to them. They went on describing the four guardian spirits of the Converted Lands (the bannik, the domovoi, the dvorovoi and the ovinnik). They also told me that good care should be taken of these spirits since they provide a good protection from evil beings and also provides magical powers to their human summoners and since no one want to face an angered spirit. All this seemed at first very strange to me, but I have seen and felt the presence of this creature, and the strong discipline surrounding the offerings and rituals tell me that there is much truth into these believes.

Even here in the rural Olgar, you can sense the tension between the Olgarians and the Master's power. I've seen many Holy Men and dervishes around the fair, but they were looking more for the Church of Traladara and the rebels' envoys than to an old fortune-teller like me. Nevertheless, I know that a hard part of my journey still lies ahead. Indeed, the Huleans are particularly overlooking the frontier between Bulzan and Olgar since they suspect the rebels to try to export their uprising in the peaceful Voivodina. I hope that I will be able to board a boat with the same identity I already have. I've met many people who came to the fair from Bulzan and I'm looking to hide myself amidst them. Anyway, I'll take no chance and will memorise some powerful spells in case... well in case.

Your friend,

Zoran Dragovic