11:04 PM Sigil Mean Time
“Dear Log” is a rather charmless way to begin a piece of writing, wouldn’t you say, Log? Oh, it’s nothing personal, you understand. You, Log, have always been good to me. As good as sheets of dwarf skin bound in human leather and inked in elf blood could be. You sit there with your blank pages, waiting to receive my words. That is an admirable quality, Log. Others could learn from your capacity for subordination. No, it’s just the sound of that word. Log. Law-guh. There’s no poetry in it, just an ugly vowel sound followed by an ugly syllable. Log. It sounds like a rather dull expression of pain or disgust—not the kind of bright, exquisite expressions of pain that make for beautiful music. Log. So utilitarian. So humorless. I’d say “Dear Diary,” but I am not the twelve-years old girl pining about the boyfriend, no? So “Dear Log” it must be for the time being, until I can conceive of a better alternative.
We had new recruits today, Log. New members to join our happy family here aboard La Luz Oscura. While the number of Mezzoloths freed from demonic domination and rallying to our ranks grows all the time, I admit there are some things that Mezzoloths are not so good at doing. Like taking initiative, for example. Is this perhaps because I tend to tear their limbs off and shove said severed limbs down their throats when they exhibit any spark of personality in contrariness to my own? I wonder. At any rate, until I can recover a proper force of Nycaloths, Arcanoloths, and Ultroloths, I am forced to fall back upon whatever resources come my way. And sadly, such resources often take the forms of mortal adventurers.
What is that, Log? Do you upbraid me for my presumption? Do you chide me, and say that a reliance on mortals does not make for a fitting new beginning for my ancient and most honored race? Oh, Log. I warn you. You have been a worthy ally, but do not think that I will not throw you into the fire and re-burn your ashes until there is nothing left but the ash of ash. My temper is not to be tested, Log.
Very well, Log. I accept your apology. You are forgiven. This time.
At any rate, my people survived to be ancient and gained their high honors by means of their endless pragmatism. Pragmatism, Log, Pragmatism. Pragmatism and Practicality. The efficient and optimized utilization of resources. These are the hallmarks of my people, Log. This is what defines the Yugoloth. Not some hidebound adherence to convoluted regulations and traditions or a savage and short-sighed recklessness, but pragmatism. Responding to situations as the situations demand, and making the best use of the resources at hand. And so, in this regard, employing mortal adventurers to do my dirty work is not a compromise with respect to the grandeur of my people, but is rather the most elegant expression of that grandeur. Make your enemies fight each other, Log. It is the Yugoloth way.
Yes, Log. You may compliment me on my brilliance, if you feel so inclined. Esta bien.
With all of this in mind, I left our new recruits down on the brig deck for some time to become acclimatized to their new situation. I tend to find them it does a world of good to wake up in that utter darkness that no light can dispel, feeling around for the limits of their confinement and finding the walls made from fused flesh and the bars made of overlapping arms and grasping hands. I find it advantageous to let them fool and fumble around, sloshing through the sour-smelling digestive juices that flood the floor. I also find it advantageous to let the hands do what they will—sometimes slapping, sometimes grabbing, sometimes getting fresh. All of this, I believe, is an integral part of the introduction to life aboard ship. All of it leads up to my grand entrance when I become the sole source of light in all that oblivion, the magical orange lights swimming around me like a constellation of bound stars. Perhaps the metaphor is not too terribly artful, but have no doubt, Log, that it is effective. Pragmatism above all, Log, remember?
I took stock of the new fish that my recruiters had hauled in. It was a mixed lot. There was a taciturn dwarven fighter and a somewhat supercilious human bard and a skulky, sulky little halfling—tired types, perhaps, but tried and true. Then there was one of those Githzerai, and this one looked like it had some kind of gish thing going on. There was one of those charming mechanical men, too—how you say, Warforged?—all oversized swords and truncated sentences, but this one had some arcane energies in his aura, too. I could see it. And we also had one of those crystal people. A shardmind, I think it is. I don’t even know what that one did, it was so busy standing in a corner and staring down at its feet and uttering monotone proclamations about revenge.
It was no legion of Nycaloths, but it would have to do.
I promised the captives their freedom on the condition that they swear allegiance to me. Some of them were more eager than others to accept my offer of clemency. I gave them the option to either sign on with my crew of take up their complaints with the Human Resources department, by which I meant that I would take their human bodies and utilize them as resources for the construction of my ship.
What’s that, Log? You don’t like my joke? Ware that you don’t become a log on the fire, Log!
Alright, I admit it, that last joke about logs and fire was not my best. But that human resources joke is a good one. It always makes me laugh, anyway. You need to lighten up, Log. Too much seriousness es mal para la sangre.
After they had all quite sensibly agreed to bow and scrape to my every whim, I bade Roberto (he’s the jailor, did I fail to mention him? No matter.) to open the door. The adventurers shuffled out, and I led them through the brig level. I flashed my lights over the heaps of unidentifiable flesh, over the prisoners who shied away to the darkest recesses of their cells, over the piles of corpses. These things make the proper impression of the ship and its master. We went on to the galley, where we might discuss their new careers over a nice dinner. That is how mortals do things, yes? Talk while eating? Seems a rather stupid arrangement to me; the mouth can only perform one task effectively at any given time.
I’m rather proud of the dining table at the galley, and it saddens me that I have such infrequent cause to use it. Food-eating guests are a rare treat aboard ship. And me with two cooks on staff! But the table is a gem, and it deserves to be displayed. It was a real effort coaxing that solid mass of flesh up and arranging the surface to be covered with upturned palms frozen in a gesture of blessing or desperation; or both, art is wonderful in the way that it can simultaneously suggest conflicting ideas, don’t you agree, Log?
Ah Log, you do not have the soul of an artist, I am afraid. I could give you one—I happen to have several lying around—but I think I appreciate you for your practicality and your capacity for direct and honest feedback.
So we sat at the table. The dining room is well-lit compared to the dungeons filled with positive darkness, and it gave the mortals their first proper opportunity to take in all of my splendor. It’s not uncommon for ladies or the gay men to faint when looking upon me in all of my beauty; I told the mortals that they were free to faint if they so chose, but none of them took me up on my offer. So be it. I am not so vain as all that.
Kizzke and KH-47 came out from the galley to serve the guests. KH-47 offered to prepare his specialties of mold sashimi and liquefaction soup. The mortals declined—I have observed this to be a common reaction to KH’s cooking. I wonder if it was a mistake to make a modron my chief chef? You’d think he’d be able to follow recipes well enough, but perhaps the lack of a palette or a digestive tract inhibits one from becoming an effective chef. One more instance of personal experience surpassing theoretical knowledge; that is some serious wisdom for you there, Log.
KH seemed to bond with the warforged. The little modron seemed quite eager to please the towering battle contruct. Sadly, it seemed as though the affection was not reciprocated. I can understand. I had this cannoloth this one time—Fido, his name was. He would only take raw flesh from my own hand. One time, after I fed him, he proceeded to lick my face. Poor affectionate fellow. I had to have him gutted, quartered, and impaled for his presumption. That was several thousand years ago, I think, although memory has gotten tricky since the apocalypse. I wonder if he learned his lesson after three thousand years on the stake? Ah, I guess it is an academic question now.
Kizzke, being something of a poor affectionate fellow in his own right (that creampuff of a flumph!) offered the mortals stale bread and water, which was apparently the best non-rot food available. One of the mortals—I misremember which—inquired as to whether I would be joining them in the repast. I tried to explain, in brief, the exquisite refinement over dross biology that is the dolorivoric life form. I tried to make it clear how I did not extract second-hand star energy by crushing plants and flesh down to paste and then dissolving them in a bath of acid, or anything so distasteful as all that, but rather subsisted on pure thought and emotion. I tried to explain the subtleties of algophagy, the distinctions between a sweet slow suffering and a piquant fast agony, the complexity of emotional dolor versus the straightforward boldness of physical pain, but I felt that my explanations were lost. As well try to explain the stars to an eyeless burrowing worm, Log, as to explain the eating of pain to a dull mortal.
Kizzke brought them their repast, and I laid down my expectations for the new hires. They would serve as oddjobsmen, factota, and a crisis response team when required. Indeed, there are times when obliterating an entire plane of existence is not the most efficient solution to a particular problem (even if it is the most enjoyable), and in such cases where a greater amount of finesse is called for, I would call upon them for assistance. They would be my Away Team, as it were—my eyes and ears and swords and overall agents in extra-vehicular activities. The Githzerai asked if this position came with a red shirt by way of a uniform; I told him it didn’t, but I could make it so. And, of course, when they were not acting upon my behalf in dangerous missions to unexplored planes, they could fill their time by swabbing the deck. I supposed that I could make allowances for such mortal indulgences as sleeping and eating, as well.
The position was not without risk, to be sure. But neither was it without reward. If they served me well, the wealth of kingdoms and the magics of demon princes would be at their disposal. I am not an ungenerous captain, and I know when greed serves as a good motivator.
I asked them if they had any questions. They had surprisingly few. It seems as though they are quickly getting their astral sea legs, this lot. I bade them good evening and left them to finish their meal. They talked amongst themselves for a while, discussing nothing of terrible conseuence, and then consulted with Kizzke, the cook’s assistant. Kizzke told them that there was fresh meat to be had by venturing down into the meat locker, and they all agreed to go raid the pantry. The fresh meat they found down there was apparently an infestation of carrion crawlers (they are my shipworms, and ghouls my rats); which they dispatched with a moderate amount of effort. The dwarf got some good hits in, while the poor halfling spent most of his time drawing the worms attention by means of offering himself up as a sacrifice. It was clear to me, upon observation, that these fellows were learning the rythms of working as a unit, but that nobody perished in this first little fracas bodes well for the longevity and efficacy of this group.
Which is just as well, because those carrion crawlers were eating my last Away Team, which had proved to be most unsatisfactory in the execution of its duties. But for this group, I am having hope.
What is that, Log? You question how I was able to observe all of this when I had left the room? Log, you underestimate me!
That was most of what happened today. Oh yes—and earlier, we ambushed an elven astral caravel, killing forty-eight and taking eighty-two prisoners along with some relatively mundane magical loot. That was a reasonably good haul.
I think that’s all for today, Log. I seem to have gotten carried away! Duty calls. Those elves won’t torture themselves!