This is a translation of the first few documents from a large stack belonging to Saranioth The Wanderer. According to our cross-referencing, Saranioth was a traveling sage originally from Alda-Chur. He left the Lhankor Mhy temple there in 1603 and started walking across Dragon Pass for some as-of-yet unknown reason, although we assume he just wanted to gain knowledge in general. As far as we can tell, Saranioth disappeared in 1623 after being caught in an avalanche in the Northern Dragonspine Ridge, but his body was never found. Thankfully, he had stashed all of his personal diaries up to about early 1622 with a colleague in Quackford at this time.
The particular stack of documents at hand collects his notes on the topic of spirits, with dates ranging from 1609 to 1616. These are all parts of Saranioth’s travelogue, but someone apparently grabbed any passage relevant to local spirits for some personal project. That individual also started what looks like an attempt at a geolocalized cross-referenced index of the spirits of Dragon Pass, but we don’t know yet which way is up and which way is down so we’ll translate and copy it later when we’ve figured it out.
The Dirty Stream
I talked to a young boy on the way to Two-Sisters. He was carrying a basket full of dirty clothes, and was on his way to wash them in a stream uphill. At this time we were standing near a lake, and I could see the boy’s small village near the shore in the distance. I asked him about washing the clothes in the lake, and he said that the spirit of the lake didn’t want that.
Curious about this affair, I asked for hospitality at the village, which I learned was called Eilian’s Landing, after the naiad of the lake. I was able to talk to Eilian rather easily, although she refused to face me during our conversation. She said that she was once a great spirit of the Water Tribe, and that she was stranded here in Stael’s Hills a long time ago. She wanted mortals to give her the respect she deserved, and indeed the local population seems to propitiate her every season with small offerings sent on leaves over the water. Eilian wants her waters to be pure, and nothing dirty is allowed to go on the lake. She requires the people of Eilian’s Landing to do any “dirty business” down at the “Dirty Stream”, which flows down from her lake. Still, Eilian confessed, she sees dirty waters coming in all the time, and this irritates her.
I got the impression that, if not for the gifts the receives every season, the lake naiad might flood the entire valley in anger. The youth of the village told me they can’t swim in the lake until they have washed themselves clean at home, so they usually prefer to play in the Dirty Stream, which has many pools and waterfalls and play areas.
I later went to this so-called Dirty Stream. I camped there for less than a day when the stream’s naiad responded to my calls. She was a playful and quirky naiad called Eilior, and she was Eilian’s younger sister. When I asked if her sister was always so demanding, she laughed and splashed, saying: “this is what makes it all the more funny!” I wondered what she meant by this, so she put a finger to her lips, and told me to follow her stream, starting from her bigger sister’s lake. I would understand, she said.
So indeed I walked from the lake shore down the Dirty Stream. I walked past the boy, who was back there washing more clothes, and I saw the dirt flow down the current. I followed Eilior’s twists and turns and ups and downs. I was getting a bit lost, to be honest, for this was one of the most crooked streams I had ever walked along. And as I was trying to find my bearings, I came upon the lake again. I smiled and I laughed. The stream splashed and I heard a laugh echo mine. I turned around and left the lake alone, still smiling.
While walking past a hamlet near Fox Hollow one evening, I saw woman engage in a strange little ritual around her infant’s cradle. The baby’s face was covered with dark makeup, making it look like it had facial hair. The woman did a little dance and, from what I can recollect, spoke these words:
Go to sleep now, dear child, you had a busy day!
Working so hard, herding the sheep, picking much hay!
Almost a man, yet look like one, in bed you snore
Go to sleep now, dear child, tomorrow work some more
Then she took the child inside, presumably for it to go asleep.
When the woman came back out, I asked her what this was all about, and she told me about the local stories of Jaleria Umda.
Jaleria was a member of the Culbri clan several generations ago. She was having trouble conceiving, and had gone to many Earth priestesses and Uleria temples in the hope of a good blessing. But the blessing never came, and her husband left her, for they had gone many years without a child, and she was becoming bitter and jealous of the other women. Some people think that she then turned to evil blessings, for she hadn’t been seen at the good Orlanthi worships in quite a while, and yet she was now pregnant with child even though no man was sharing her bed anymore. But tragedy struck near the time that she would have delivered the baby. She died of some unknown ailment, and yet when the clan performed the funeral rites she was not with child anymore. People say that she gave birth after death, and that the child was now living a cursed half life, although that is a different story.
People in the area say that Jaleria is still looking for her newborn. There are stories about a woman coming to steal infants from their home at sunset. Her feet and hands are backwards and her hair covers her face, so the parents think she is walking away and let their guards down. To protect their infants from Jaleria, before they put their babies to sleep, the locals draw facial hair on the baby’s face and say a poem that makes Jaleria think that the baby is all grown up, and thus not hers. Parents typically do this during the first two seasons of their child’s life, although more superstitious families do the rituals for up to a full year.
I wasn’t able to confirm that any newborn abductions had indeed been attributed to Jaleria Umda based on witness accounts, although the local scribes weren’t very helpful. When I looked into their poorly maintained population records, I did note disturbing rates of infant mortality, but with little complementary information. Further research is needed.
The Mole Bat
I met the Mole Bat about an hour’s walk Northwest of Hidden Valley, after being told by some local kids that this was a popular spirit with them. As far as I could tell from their increasingly outlandish stories, the spirit had giant claws to dig through the dirt, and could see through walls and rocks.
I camped near the Mole Bat’s cave for three nights. The local kids who pointed me to it told me to not go inside, for the Mole Bat didn’t like that. Indeed, it seemed to me like this was a pretty shy spirit. Luckily enough, on the fourth day, the spirit came out to accept my offerings, in exchange for its story. It didn’t say much, but I gathered that it was a spirit of Darkness who had been summoned, bound, released, and so on by several trolls from a local Indigo Mountain tribe. Its mistresses were killed during a fight against “evil wolves”, after which it was free to roam the area. It settled in this cave when humans took all the lands, which I assume would set the date of his freedom to the late 1570s.
The Mole Bat had mostly stayed hidden in this cave until some children found it in the early 1610s. They sacrificed small things to it every season. When one of these children got trapped in an underground cave a couple years later, the Mole Bat somehow came out of its cave and saved it. Ever since, children of the Bachad tribe give it offerings during Dark Season. A local shaman told me that she keeps a cordial and seasonal relationship with the Mole Bat in case its services are needed again.