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But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Byron has some odd way of speaking the words I'm always thinking... at least, words I might be thinking if there were a female anywhere in sight! God I hate this place.
[Day 4 of Carl hunt--4:15pm]
I managed to stalk these "Carls" to what appears to be their base of operations. At least, I assume so--in all honesty, the place feels like a ghost town. I've been scoping the place out for two days now and I've only seen them all together once; most of the time, it's just one person wandering about aimlessly muttering about "damned minkeys" being too difficult to work with. I've dubbed this particular Carl "Moe" due to the frequency of her imprecations against her none-too-frequent companions.
In the little time I've had to sniff about the place, I've detected notes of leather, mold, and an overwhelming stench of monkey feces--it seems the Carls have entertained visitors before. In the time I've spent observing her, "Moe" has rearranged and re-rearranged a collection of small figurines scattered everywhere in the hall. I'm beginning to think she has some sort of compulsion. Out of curiousity, I snatched one of the figures when she wasn't looking, just to see if she'd notice. Not only did she notice, she appeared to be unable to function properly until she discovered where she had stashed it. She tore through her pack like a warrior seeking something to smash, after which she moved on to the seemingly bottomless chest in the corner of the room. Realizing that I'd perhaps awakened something better left alone, I slid the figurine onto the floor below its shelf in order to make her think it had simply fallen. When she noticed where it had ended up, she scooped it back into its proper place, muttering under her breath about "minkeys" again. I'll keep an eye out for these creatures--they sound dangerous.
[Day 6 of Carl hunt--2:14am]
Finally, I have some peace! That miniscule armored beast with a penchant for axe-smashing (henceforth dubbed "Larry" due to the fact that he never really seems to know what's going on) apparently has an affinity for all things alcoholic as well--he has a rather impressive stash of various different grogs in the basement of this hall and he is certainly not afraid to use all of them. That said, he's not the problem; it appears I've encountered the creatures that Moe had rambled on about during previous evenings. Unfortunately, this also led me to discover the apparent source of this place's "homey" aroma. The Minkeys appear to have a somewhat regular tradition of raiding Tankarific's stash during the wee hours, generally after the Carls have wandered off. These ill-mannered simians not only consumed a fair portion of the substantial liquor cabinet, but they also "refreshed" what I had previously took to be markings made in mud on the walls. Imagine my dismay when I learned the truth about this "mud"...
I've finished my inspection of this territory for whatever traps or hazards the Carls may have placed about, and aside from a rather ... unusual waste disposal facility, the place appears to be relatively unguarded--a fact I found remarkable given Moe's evident obsession with her decorative figurines. Nevertheless, this obviously bodes well for my mission... whenever I decide exactly what it is.
[Day 9 of Carl hunt--11:54am]
My "intelligence gathering" has encountered a completely unexpected (and quite bewildering) obstacle in the form of a creature that for the life of me, I simply can't understand. I was creating an inventory of all the figurines scattered about when I sensed that someone was approaching. I barely had time to duck behind one of the mossy pillars supporting the hall's excuse for a ceiling before a ... man, I think, wearing the brightest pants I had ever seen appeared. Trust me in this: my words can never even come close to describing just how ostentatious his outfit was. This is due in part to the fact that I couldn't look directly at him (for fear of being blinded, both from the light and from horror), but more so to the fact that there are no words for this ... thing. As he entered, fireworks started going off throughout the hall, and it took a supreme act of will to keep my feline instincts suppressed enough to sit still, lest I be seen. Although to be honest, I doubt my emergence would've made the slightest difference to him; he appeared to pay no heed to anything at all, running about in circles and dropping snowmen behind. To him, I doubt I would've even registered as a novelty, which is largely what I find so inexplicable. At least with the previous two humans, I could sense their overall demeanor: Larry, like any other warrior, can't think beyond the point of his axe, and sees no need to change that; Moe, on the other hand, seemed driven to seek out the most efficient means to whatever end she had at the time, and most of those ends would've led through me. "Curly" (as I've dubbed ... him), however, didn't appear to have any motive for anything. His mindless wanton exuberance left me reeling--in fact, I believe I passed out briefly, and emerged dumber from the encounter. Thankfully, by the time I came to, he had moved on (hopefully to visit those Minkeys; *that* would be an encounter for the ages!), leaving me time to gather what few thoughts I had remaining to me. I'd never encountered a being with such ability to completely obliterate rational thought from himself and all of his surroundings... let us hope I don't encounter him again.
After my mind had cleared, I hastily sketched this portrait of what I experienced. I no longer know how accurate it is.
It seems these Carls could potentially put up more of a fight than I had anticipated, however inadvertent their efforts may be.
[Day 13 of Carl 'hunt'--1:11pm]
Tonight I decided to conduct an experiment and observe these Carls in their natural habitat. After all, thus far I'd only seen them being drunk, acting drunk, and obsessing over minutiae in the protection of their own home. As a result, I packed myself a ration kit from my remaining vending machine spoils and sauntered off after them (at a safe distance, of course) on a trip into a horrible region with water that appeared to be made of stone.
Larry appeared to be particularly excited about this foray, as it allowed him the opportunity to bring a small turtle that fired ping-pong balls at his enemies. Although the creature's attack didn't noticeably impair his enemies' abilities, his master derived great joy in the form of drunken giggling fits every time he glanced down and remembered that it was there.
[Day 14 of Carl 'hunt'--9:24am]
Scent carries forever in this lifeless ocean, and yet with all this expanse, the only other Charr I've managed to catch wind of is that vile traitor that follows the armored one around like a pathetic lapdog. I can see why he had to leave his own people, of course: he makes very poor combat decisions, drawing enemies near when his packmates are obviously recouping after a recent fight. After his targets have drawn closer, he runs like a cowardly human with his tail tucked between his legs until all the fire has been drawn to his compatriots, at which time he hails arrows down upon their heads (with no regard for friends or foes) at the rate of approximately one arrow per hour. Just for the hell of it, I decided to throw some of my own arrows into the fray, as my stalking was growing tiresome. As a test of this poor outcast's ineptitude, I decided to see if I could fire an arrow, have a snack, and fire another arrow all in the time it took him to finish applying poison to his quiver.
I actually managed to finish the entire bar before he had finished firing a single arrow. I'm not entirely sure why the humans keep him around, but Larry appears to dote on him like a den mother, praising his durability all the while ignoring the fact that his cowardice is a direct cause of said longevity.
[Day 16 of Carl 'hunt'--4:03pm]
Several days of observing these creatures in action have dulled my lust for revenge after what they did to my "friends". In fact, my smoldering disdain for them has given way at least in part to a sad sense of pity, at least for Moe. Despite her obvious addiction to miniatures, she appears to be the only competent being of the three. In the instances where the party is divided (which happens far too frequently, mostly due to Curly's unpredictable whims), Larry and Curly inevitably end up dashing about in endless circles; they obviously think they're going somewhere, but neither appears to be able to read a map, so they just continue wandering, oblivious to their surroundings. The drunken one at least has an excuse--after all, that dwarven ale packs quite a kick, and he never seems to put it down--but the other... well, he's simply an idiot. Or an idiot with a death wish. Or a remarkable savant at emulating the actions of an idiot with a death wish. Regardless, I have estimated that the party would've accomplished their goal 90000% faster without his influence. He reminds me Lumpy, in a way, but with less fur (at least prior to the flea egg incident). And, of course, uglier.
[Day 20 of Carl 'hunt'--12:34pm]
It appears the Carls' quest has reached an impasse; they have been instructed to deliver a box from one village into the hands of a grateful recipient across this ocean. In and of itself, this would seem to be a simple task. Any who would expect this to be so for the Carls, however, has never encountered Curly. Showing no regard for the task at hand, as soon as the box was in sight, he snatched it away from his leader and proceeded to begin opening it in hopes of discovering ... well, I don't know what he was looking for. Something shiny, I imagine. Moe, in a vain attempt to get the party back on track, tried to take the package back, resulting in a pathetic tug-of-war over something that was probably worthless to all involved.
This process lasted for the better part of an hour, at which point the miniature turtle vomited forth another ping-pong ball, which distracted Curly long enough for Moe to secure the cargo once again. Larry remained oblivious to all around him as he gulped down another tankard and waved his axe about menacingly at the rocky waves (coming dangerously close to decapitating Curly, I might add--I'm not entirely sure he would've regretted it if he had). At this point, I decided that I had little else to gain from further observation, and as my supplies were running low anyway, it seemed a good time to return to the hall and consider my next move. Just for fun, I fired a few arrows into a pack of irukandji that were drifting nearby (surprising the Charr with the Carls, who was about to do the same thing) and began to make the journey back. I do not know that this experience has clarified my future plans regarding the Carls at all; however, I do know I can't handle any more insanity for the time being. Perhaps next time I follow them, I'll wait until Moe is going out alone. She seems to be the most tolerable of the bunch. Plus, she doesn't appear to be as modest when picking out her clothes...