From the Private Diaries of Jacob Drax.
The 10th day of Eleasias in the Year of the Ruins Reborn.

This is a most strange and fascinating land I find myself in. As we explore further and further from our stronghold (for want of a better way to describe the basic defense our small outpost provides) we are uncovering more objects from our ancestors’ past.

Those clerics, the Pelor followers, are jumping around with glee everytime someone comes back to camp with a new find. I don’t understand it really, getting all excited over such things as a broken pot that has been covered in ivy for a hundred years. And there is me, bringing back the essentials such as fresh game and they barely give me a second thought.

Mind you, I think every one is aware of what I brought back earlier this week. You can’t help but notice it. This is what happened.

I was in the forest far to the west, following the tracks of a great bear. I could tell by the impressions that the beast was leaving that it was of considerable size and would be a challenge indeed for my hunting skills. Determination to find this wonderful creature got the better of me and before I realised it I had strayed much further into the forest than I had previously explored. Much, much further.

I paused upon the realisation of my situation and took a moment to gather my thoughts. It was at this point that I heard the rustling – not from the undergrowth around me but from above. My instincts told me that whatever it was, it was too large to be a bird, so, for caution’s sake, I quickly rolled to the side and raised my bow to the treeline above. The sight greeting me was perhaps the last thing I would ever have expected.

“Eeeeeek!” screeched the old man as he quickly dodged behind the largest branch he could find. Perched above me was, to the best of my description, a thin, bald, old man with a long grey beard, dressed in filthy rags.

“Better put bow down or you’ll be sorry, oh yes yes,” jabbered the old man from behind the safety of his branch.

“Eh?” was the best response I could muster at the time. Confusion and curiosity had me in its grip.

“DO… YOU… SPEAK… COMMON?” asked the man, very slowly, and very loudly.

“Erm, yes,” I responded, lowering my bow. “Why are you shouting?”

“SHOUTING? WHO’S SHOUTING? I’M TRANSLATING? YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME!”

“I understand you just fine, I just… who the hell are you?” I queried.

The man was clearly human but I was sure I had not seen him around the outpost, even though no other human had been on this continent, as far as we knew, for hundreds of years.

“Me Rasterslan, Great Mage. Oh yes.” He stroked his beard to prove it.

I considered the thin little man, dancing around in the branches of the tree. A mage? I seriously doubted it but decided to humour him.

“A mage you say? I see. Of what school?”

“Raster no go to school. Me master mage.”

This was going to be hard work. “No, I mean what school of magic. You know, divining, making illusions, blowing things up, things like that.”

“Oh, yes, yes, all of that,” chirped the little man, who had now stopped hiding behind his twig and was beaming down at me, quite proud of himself.

“All? You practice all schools of magic? You must be very powerful indeed!”

“Oh yes, yes, yes,” he practically sang, stroking his beard again.

“So where’s your hat then?” I teased, starting to get the distinct impression that this man didn’t have all his marbles in one place.

“Erm, I think I lost it,” he responded, giving the matter some thought. “Yes, methinks I lost it in a big magic battle with a very bad man. Me can’t remember, long, long time ago. Oh yes, yes.”

As fun as this conversation was, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. “Erm, that’s great Mr Rasterslan. Say, why don’t you come down here?”

“Oh, no, no, no,” he took firm hold of his branch.

“And why not? C’mon, we can talk properly down here,” my neck was starting to ache from looking up all the time.

“Ground bad. See?” he said, pointing at the underbrush a little way from us.

I turned just in time to see a huge, black bear thunder through the brush, coming directly for me. Time slowed, as I hear it often does in these situations. It seemed like it took an eternity for me to slowly raise my bow. The beast’s jaws opened as it towered above me, it’s paw raised in a striking position.

A coconut sailed over my right shoulder, bouncing firmly off the bear’s snout.

Time returned to its normal pace as the bear, which mere moments before was about to take my life, ran away. Actually, ran away. I turned and looked back up at this Rasterslan with bewilderment on my face. He shrugged.

“Told you me was master mage,” he stroked his beard.

Not that I wasn’t thankful for his intervention but this was silly. “Erm, you do know that you only threw a coconut at it don’t you? I am very grateful but it isn’t magic.”

“Ah, yes, but where did the coconut come from?” he said, trying to appear wise and sage-like.

“Well, they’re growing on the branch right next to you.”

“Ah,” he said, turning to look at the coconuts with much annoyance on his face. “Well that’s just a coincidence, isn’t it?”

Well, to be honest, I think you must be starting to get the picture of this strange and curious chap. To cut this rather long story short, after much persuasion, I finally convinced the fellow to come down from his tree and brought him back to Blackengorge.

Everyone seems to like the silly old fool, who despite being quite mad, is endearing in his own way. He still claims to be a great mage, although any sort of evidence of even the slightest bit of magic is still strangely absent. It seems best just to agree with him, to challenge him on this subject results in a lot of pouting and a bit of a sulk on his part.

He seems keen to be around Blackengorge and enjoys being in the company of people. No-one has yet managed to get any sense out of him with regards where he came from and how he came to be here but he seems harmless enough. Skillet is running a book, taking bets on peoples theories on him, most seem to favour the ‘he was shipwrecked many years ago, and has gone mad from being alone’ theory.

Feeling a little responsible, I offered to find him somewhere to stay within Blackengorge, but he declined. I think that although he enjoys the company of others, after being alone for so long he feels a little uncomfortable amongst large crowds. Instead he seems to be erecting some sort of structure just outside of town, on the beach.

Yes, good old Rasterslan was a most interesting find indeed. As I write this and think back to finding him and the encounter with the bear, it has just occurred to me, coconuts don’t grow in birch trees.

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