Journal of Hans the Oakhearted
I feel compelled to record my journeys on paper because, although the primary purpose of my travels is to further understand the many cycles within cycles of the natural world, it occurs to me that I am but one sapling in the forest of the world’s peoples. My hope is that, just as a traveler has a greater view from the mountain’s peaks, those who come after me might use this manuscript as a vantage point upon which to chart their own expedition through life.
The wheel of the season had turned to the depths of winter, and we had set about preparing some appropriate weather for the frigid months. While out in the wilderness, my party of (largely) like-minded travelers happened upon a zwergen bard of alleged fame. Though I had not heard of him, he had clearly heard of us and had an invitation bearing our names on behalf of the Crafty-Man Guild in Brigtoon. After inviting us to use his boat to travel there (and prematurely ending the life of multiple of the forest’s denizens seemingly for sport), he took his leave.
We were waylaid on the way to the boat’s mooring but common brigands. Although I had no objection to putting the poor cutpurses down, I had a stirring of empathy towards them. Before I was reborn as a follower of the earthmother I lived a life very similar to theirs. I can only hope they have found some measure of peace. We left the bodies unburied; to be reclaimed by the natural cycle. Some might call this cruel or careless but my retort would be that bodies that rot in the ground only benefit the worms and the trees. I body left on the soil’s surface benefits birds, wolves, worms, foxes, rats, flies and any number of other beacons of life.
Our riverbound journey to Brigtoon was where the first troubling signs became apparent. Where there should a natural flow of consumption, predation and replenishment in the lands immediately surrounding Brigtoon I saw a perplexing imbalance. Many starving animals were seen wandering the barren landscape where they should be hibernating. A bear, seemingly hungry and confused, stood alone on the banks of the river. One of my companions, despite my complaints, threw food to it; a further outsider’s impact on an already disturbed system. It is typical of so-called men of science to want to fix problem with further meddling.
The bridges of Brigtoon were a formidable sight, but I fear that for me they were only a symbol of man’s imposition on the natural order, though I suspect the problems I observed had a more tangible origin.
After negotiations with the watch captain on the bridge (who seemed more than a little odd) it became clear that my fears were not unfounded. Martial law, fighting in the streets and even talk of noxious gasses unleashed on the common townsfolk were among rumours we heard. The Craft-Man Guild may not be the gracious hosts we had anticipated.