Father, Mother, Soem, Mimn, and myself are returning from Kaer Maga. Although, mother, myself, and Mimn are sorely disappointed not getting to see Ud; Father seems somewhat pleased and Soem seems to echo Father’s sentiments. I personally don’t believe it not of Father and certainly not of Soem. Father hadn’t seen his youngest son in almost 7 years! No matter how strict Father had been with Ud, I know he still loves and misses his youngest son.
As for Soem, he was closest to Ud Nibbleaxe besides myself. in fact he was almost closest in age except that Mimn was born 3 minutes after Soem. Soem was/is the only one of Ud’s five brothers that didn’t relentlessly tease him about lack of facial hair and his personal choices about life. To be honest our two eldest brothers were already out of the house raising their own families when Ud came along. Rundl simple ignored Ud and still barely acknowledges him in public. However, second brother Delin was often the worst offender when it came to mistreating Ud. At family and clan gatherings, Delin would often openly embarrass Ud by talking about the latest brews and asking Ud his opinion in front of other male Dwarves. Once on Ud’s birthday he actually threw Ud a party only to humiliate him by giving him silver beard clasp as a present.
Ashamed, Ud walked out of his own birthday party. He later gave those clasp to Soem, who wears them now. It’s a pity Ud’s own kin and clan drove him away to that strange city. Kaer Maga isn’t much bigger than Janderhoff but it’s much more bizarre. We didn’t visit all the nine districts of the city instead sticking mostly to to the core Hospice district and the ring district of Tarheel Promenade district ( the district where the Aspu shrine and house of worship was located. )
It was an odd place Ud Nibbleaxe my brother, chose to run away too. The Dragon Dojo wasn’t even a true church by standard practices. It seemed just a collection of run down buildings arranged into classrooms and dormitories. There was a pretty central garden located among the buildings surrounded by a veranda that connected the various structures. In it’s midst was a large white jade statue of a regal Dragon that served as the Shrine to this makeshift temple.
We stayed overnight at the behest of headmaster Shunyi. Not many visitors came to pay homage to the Apsu shrine despite it being one of the only known shrines in Golarian. Headmaster Shunyi was kind enough to explain to me some of the teachings of the way of the Dragon, as the worship of Apsu is known. He explained very few humans or demi-humans worshiped Apsu because he offered few divine gifts in the form of spells. In fact not one of the students or teachers (also known as Senseis ) had any traditional form of divine magic. Instead they drew on a magical pool of energy from their deity known as Ki, to help augment their already stringent training.
Most of the school practice one form of martial arts or another. However, master Shunyi assured me their were others that had disciplined their minds enough to move objects with mere thoughts and even more marvelous things! I was very intrigued by all this and begin to see why Ud Nibbleaxe had left his home and joined this fringe cult. This collection of people were also outsiders among their own-kind. Many members of the monastery were from far away Tian Xia. Others were from Varisia , Cheliax, Galt, and even River Kingdoms. There was only one other Dwarf and she had taken a vow of silence. Few other demi-humans were part of monastery although I did see a couple half elves and one of the senseis was a halfling!
We learned early on that Ud Nibbleaxe no longer was being mentored at the temple. That, he had chosen to go on a life pilgrimage . Master Shunyi explained that most of the students eventually abandoned the monastery to wonder the world abroad in search of purpose and people to help. That their duties after taking on the life journey consisted of nothing more than battling evil at every turn and helping those in need. He further explained that Ud Nibbleaxe was under no ones authority but his own and only needed to keep his self-imposed vows and battle evil to fulfill his purpose in life.
It was particularly interesting to learn that worshipers of Apsu held a particular loathing of evil Dragons and lies. These teachings were not too far from the the Earth Father Torag. It seems both Apsu and Torag are mortal enemies of Rovagug. This knowledge pleased my father immensely. When he found out that Ud Nibbleaxe had taken the path of a life pilgrimage I could swear I saw a glimmer of pride in his eyes. He even mumbled to Master Shunyi that. " it sounds like my son has found an Honorable endeavor to fulfill his life purpose. "
It seems the only thing my father questioned was Ud Nibbleaxe’s vow of cleanliness. He dismissed it as un-necessary and still believed Ud was trying to get out of some of the dirty jobs just as he did as a boy back home. Master Shunyi had a different explanation however; he said that he felt Ud took this particular vow because he often journeyed to the Ankar-Te district in Kaer Maga to help with midwife duties on pregnant refuges.It seems the Ankar-Te district has some dubious practices including using the un-dead as servants and even more un-natural acts! In order to assure his monasteries honor Ud Nibbleaxe took on the vow of cleanliness. That way he could still help the needy while avoiding subversive talk about himself or the school. My father still thought this vow was un-necessary, especially if Ud Nibbleaxe still practiced it while out on his life pilgrimage. Father always says “if your hands aren’t dirty by days end, you’ve wasted your day doing nothin’ good most likely!” Perhaps that was the beginning of Ud’s self-conscious behavior. He always was a neat boy.
We are almost to Sirathu now. We spent a week in Kaer Maga trading and visiting distant clan members. No one knows where Ud Nibbleaxe is now or when or if he’ll ever return home. We’ll stop in Sirathu tonight and trade a few goods we got from Kaer Maga. The rest we’ll take back to our home in the hills Broken Column borough. If the weather holds in will only be a couple of days before we are home; under the shadow of the Storval plateau and a days journey from Janderhoff.
I look forward to my hearth and my husband Fafnir’s embrace. Our little community of seventeen families is important to the the larger settlement of Janderhoff. Why my very own sheep have been served as mutton legs at banquettes and parties of the Nobles of that city. Our little town’s root vegetables and cabbages also play an important part in the diet of that great city. We also have a some of the finest wood carvers among all of Dwarven kind, if I do say so. And lastly the leather made from my father’s own steers is in demand all the way to Korsovo!
Yes we live a happy sheltered life here in Broken Colum, I hope you can return to us one day little brother Ud Nibbleaxe and live in peace….