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Against my own plans, I ended up spending a whole week in Cloudspore. I don't really get along with my own kind, having spent most of my life in the north amongst the khumos and ashkasi, there are cultural differences that racial affinity does not bridge. Still, we quesatera are famous for our families, and mine is no different. I met one cousin, Malachite Gillie Stonebrook, (the son of my mother's seventh sister) who introduced me to fifteen more members of my extended family who were all gathered in Cloudspore for a wedding. Corrina Rivermist Glimmerwing (distantly related to an Eesheeya bloodline, or so the story goes), married my cousin (3rd cousin actually) William Hillmere Splitrock, who is a member of the Driftwood Clan, who have cousins serving on the elder council in Ardrennan. By pure chance, William knew my cousin Yasus Elderflower Brennan, who lives in Ardrennan, and who I was actually planning on visiting when I made it that far. So now I have an address go to.

I complain about my own kind a lot, (hopeless windbags and shallow gossiping chatterboxes), but the wedding was lovely. Quesatera families are always large, and gatherings of this sort have a tendency to turn into festivals, as this one did. I learned songs from the old country, songs from the new country, and was given a very good description of the sort of land I was to travel, skirting the Great Forest on my way to the Meandering River. It seems I should expect a lot of eesheeya, and that I should under no circumstances go into the Forest. It might be on the map, but it is not to be considered part of the civilised world.

By my current estimate, it should take me five or six weeks to reach the river. Assuming I don't run into any serious delays, I hope to catch one of the last khumos trade barges heading downstream from the North Highlands, before Winter really sets in. If I am very lucky, they will still have some barrels of their famous Stonebrew. The khumos in the north were always arguing about whether or not it was better than their own ale, and I want to make up my own mind.

Some say that the Blacktwig Forest and the Great Forest were originally one, but that during the old times the people tore out and burned the Gloomtrees away, to quarantine the Gloom in the north. Some say they never pulled them all out of the Great Forest, and that over the centuries those few Gloomtrees grew and increased in number, spreading their age old curse into fresh lands again.

Tavern stories. I'm sure it's just tavern stories.

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